Wednesday, October 26, 2011

End the Shortage of Organs for Transplant

Organ transplants save thousands of lives every year, but many more people die because there aren't enough organs available. In the US, about 100,000 adults and children are waiting for organ transplants, and over 6,500 people die each year while waiting on a transplant list. Recent polls indicate that as many as 85% of Americans support organ donation, but only about 30% have formally expressed their willingness to donate.

Most states have opt-in programs via driver's license or state ID card applications. But with the continuing shortage of transplantable organs, some are suggesting a switch to an opt-out system (also called implied consent). With implied consent if people don't specifically opt-out, they will be considered potential organ donors upon their death. Opt-out systems are unnecessarily coercive in that they force people to make a choice or have that choice taken away from them and they don't take into account the wishes of the family. Another variation on the opt-out system is one where those who opt-out are also eliminating themselves from any consideration for a transplant should they need one sometime in the future. 

There's a much better solution. We can dramatically increase the number of available organs for transplant by paying for them. Why is it considered immoral to pay for an organ but it’s not immoral to pay the medical staff, the hospital, and the pharmaceutical companies that profit from transplants?

While there are legitimate moral concerns about turning living organs into a commodity, those concerns should be directed at protecting the living from being exploited for their organs.  Once someone is dead, there’s no reason why we can’t pay at least a small amount to their estate for any organs they donate.

How many Americans would donate their organs if they knew how little chance they had of getting on a transplant list in the first place? The medical community and the insurance companies want all the free organs they can get, but they’re certainly not allowing equal access to those donated organs. There are numerous ways that people are discriminated against when it comes to transplants, but the most common way is financial. You can’t get a transplant if you can’t pay. Even with very good insurance, the out of pocket costs of transplants, care after surgery, and years of immunosuppressant medications are beyond the reach of most Americans.

The idea that the organ transplant system is being operated fairly is a myth. We’ve all seen examples of famous people who managed to jump ahead of the line:. If you’re rich, or famous, or so poor you that get free health care, you might actually get a transplant. If you’re not, well you either won’t get on the list in the first place or you’ll die long before your number comes up. Increasing the number of available organs for transplant by paying for them will save many more lives and help make the system work a lot better for average people.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Middle Class Republican Voters Suffer From Stockholm Syndrome

Why is support for Republican ideas so strong among many of the people who are suffering the most because of those same ideas? It’s because of how skilled Republicans are at framing issues in ways that are beneficial to them and because their messaging is more effective due to the fact that it is much better organized and better financed than Democrats.

Republicans would have you believe that Obama is solely responsible for the bad economy, as if everything was going fine till he took office.  However, the facts are otherwise:
  • Obama didn't create the economic crisis.
  • Obama didn't start the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Obama has never had a free hand to do what he wanted to do.
  • Republicans have openly bragged about doing everything they could to make Obama a one-term President.
  • Republicans have sabotaged every legislative attempt to promote job growth so as to improve their chances in the next election.

Of course Obama and the Democrats deserve plenty of blame for the current state of economic affairs, but anyone who thinks the Republicans will make things significantly better for the middle class hasn't been paying any attention to what they've been doing for the past 30 years, and apparently don't realize that they intend on continuing on with exactly the same things. Such as:

  • Republicans want still more tax cuts for the rich and corporations when taxes are already at their lowest point since the 1950s.
  • Republicans want to eliminate Medicare and Social Security.
  • Republicans want to continue tax breaks for corporations that move factories overseas.
  • Republicans want to continue tax breaks for oil companies
  • Republicans are awash in untraceable corporate money thanks to the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision.
  • Republicans have almost completely eliminated private unions and now they are in the process of eliminating public unions.
  • Republicans support a "race to the bottom" for worker's pay and benefits.
  • Republicans want to eliminate all minimum wage laws
  • Republicans want to lock up even more people and increase sentences, even though the US already has the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.
  • Republicans want a "Christian Nation" with all that implies.
  • Republicans want to gut all regulatory agencies.
  • Republicans will always support wars and spending that enriches the military-industrial complex.
  • Republicans will always side with corporations and money over people.

What has been the net effect of conservative “free market” economic policies supported by Republicans and Democrats alike in the past 30 years?

  • Workers are powerless.
  • The middle class is disappearing.
  • Jobs are being shipped overseas.
  • There has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the rich.

The future looks very grim and people are so fearful of it that a sort of Stockholm Syndrome has set in. Many actually believe that lower taxes for the rich and minimal regulations on business will result in greater prosperity for the middle class, despite the fact that pursuing those policies over the past 30 years has had the opposite effect.

If we are to reverse these trends then Democrats have to stand for something other than being Republican-lite. Democrats need to articulate a vision for America that relies on hope instead of fear, and that puts the needs of people ahead of business. And they have to do it in a way that competes effectively with the constant barrage of corporate-financed propaganda.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sarah Palin Rewrites History on Paul Revere

SARAH PALIN: "He who warned, uh, the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms uh by ringing those bells and making sure as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free and we were going to be armed."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oS4C7bvHv2w

What is even more laughable than this latest Palin word salad is the lengths that Palin apologists have been going to claim her comments are somehow factual:

"Clanging church-bells in the middle of the night probably did warn
British spies & double-agents that something was afoot. Sarah was
referring to the Revolutionary spirit of resistance to British rule as a
"warning" to the British that the colonists were fed up, and not gonna
take it any more. And, can any Sarah-bashing know-it-all provide video
or links to news reports of Paul Revere's Ride? Sarah Palin's history
lesson is as good as anyone's alive today, and she surely is a pretty
teacher."

"Palin has more knowledge about America in her little finger than the
lamestream media has in its entire libtard body."

"The point she was making is a political one, not an historical one. The
point is that Revere's actions were in open resistance to the British, a
warning to them that they weren't going to take away our freedoms
without a fight."

"Palin may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it's obvious
she's getting a fair bit of mileage out of trolling her detractors with
these nuggets of feigned missteps."

"Text books have been be so "rearranged" that the indoctrinated left
have NO clue about history....sad for them! GO SARAH!!!"

"I understand that Palin's statement that Revere was riding to "warn the
British" can be understood to mean that he was warning the colonials,
given that they likely still considered themselves British citizens."

Politicians misspeak all the time, but they usually know the truth and they usually correct their mistakes as soon as they realize they've made one. The difference is that Palin is a moron who really doesn't know anything, she never admits to a mistake and her supporters will go to any lengths to justify her statements.

Come on. Let's be real about this. Palin doesn't know what any 5th grader knows about American history.

Here's what Sarah Palin said last week about the Statue of Liberty:
"This Statue of Liberty was gifted to us by foreign leaders, really as a
warning to us, it was a warning to us to stay unique and to stay
exceptional from other countries. Certainly not to go down the path of
other countries that adopted socialist policies"

Huh? The Statue of Liberty was a "warning" to us?

Later she said:
"It is, of course, the symbol for Americans to be reminded of other
countries -- because this was gifted to us, of course, by the French --
other countries...warning us to never make the mistakes that some of
them had made."

So, France gave us the Statue of Liberty as a warning not to be like the French.

Ironically, some "scholars" have come out of the woodwork to throw Sarah a lifeline on her Paul Revere gaffe because she inadvertently almost got one thing right:

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/view/2011_0606you_betcha_she_was_right_experts_back_palins_historical_account/
"In fact, Revere's own account of the ride in a 1798 letter seems to back up Palin's claim. Revere describes how after his capture by British officers, he warned them "there would be five hundred Americans there in a short time for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.""

However anyone who asserts Palin knew about this letter ahead of time is delusional. Her distorted syntax and verbal stumbling, along with her deer in the headlights look while speaking, leaves no doubt that she was making things up. And while she almost got one thing right, she certainly got the rest of it all wrong.

Palin said "he who warned the British."  The phrase "he who" - used after the introduction of a historic figure as the subject matter - is always followed by whatever that person is most well-known for. The purpose of Revere's ride was not to warn the British.

Revere rode to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock
Revere didn't ring any bells or fire warning shots
Revere didn't ride his horse through town
Revere didn't "warn" the British, "that they weren't going to be taking away our arms"
Revere lied to his captors when they had a gun to his head. He didn't warn them of anything.

Fox News's Chris Wallace asked Palin: "You realize that you messed up about Paul Revere, don't you?" You could see Wallace nervously smiling in stunned disbelief as Palin doubled-down.

Palin still claims her answer was correct but she also claims she responded to a "gotcha question." She can't have it both ways. And what was this supposedly "gotcha question?"  This: "What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?"

Right-wingers have been twisting themselves into knots trying to justify Palin's comments. They even started a battle over editing the Wikipedia article on Revere in order to rewrite the history to match Palin's comments. What is most disturbing about this latest Palin gaffe is the same thing that is most disturbing about all Palin gaffes; her unwillingness to ever admit to an error and the lengths her and her supporters will go to justify every stupid thing that spews from her pie-hole.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why we should stay out of Libya


Creation of a no-fly zone is not the easy solution that saber-rattling right-wingers seem to think it is. The first step in creating a no-fly zone is to destroy all radar and missile sites and airfields. That's an act of war that requires a substantial commitment of US forces at a time when we are already involved in two wars we can't pay for or staff now. Our military is also exhausted and their equipment is worn out.

And what happens when the no-fly zone doesn't stop Gaddafi from destroying the rebels, which he is in the process of doing right now with mostly ground forces? Once we've made a military committment, do we just walk away when that doesn't work, as it surely won't, or do we then send in the Marines?

And why do right-wingers seem to think it is our responsibility to insure Gaddafi's defeat? He is no threat to us and we are not the world's policemen. If the Europeans want to take him on let them do all the heavy lifting for a change. They've been getting a free ride on the backs of our military long enough. They are the primary beneficiaries of Libyan oil anyway, not the US.

It would be very unfortunate if Gaddafi manages to crush the rebels, but as a practical matter it's no skin off our nose. Would a responsible Republican President be called a coward by right-wingers if he made the tough call to stay out of the Libyan situation after facing up to the realities of the situation rather than reacting to the childish taunting of chicken hawks? These chicken hawks are always calling for military intervention even though few of them have ever even served in the military themselves. If it were up to many right-wingers we'd be at war in several other places by now. Hey, why stop at Libya? Let's go kick some ass in Iran, North Korea, and a few places in Africa while we're at it.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Storage Solutions for Home Theater PCs and Home Networks


Hooking up a computer to a plasma TV has opened up many possibilities for playback of DVDs I've purchased and media files that I've downloaded off the internet. Since playback from a hard disc is much more reliable than it is from a DVD, I copy all DVDs to my computer that I plan to watch. 

It wasn't long before I was adding a couple of 2TB drives to my computer to hold a giant library of media but even that has turned out to not be enough storage for everything because my library keeps getting bigger and bigger. But, where there's a will (and money) there's always a way.

Want lots of storage for your home theater PC?  I built this one myself:
 
10TB USB Disc Array for Home Theater PC

This 10TB USB array cost about $565 for everything and all of the parts were purchased from Amazon.

Western Digital 2TB External Drives 5 @ $89 each = $449
American DJ PC-100A 8 Channel Power Strip = $30
Penn-Elcom R1194/3UK Rack Shelf 3U = $45
Power Strip Adapter Liberators = $10
Kensington Dome Hub 7-port USB 2.0 Hub = $20
USB extension = $10

Some of these prices have gone up a little since I put this together. The 2TB drives are currently going for $99 and the Dome Hub is currently $29, but you can still buy all the components for just over $600.

Notes:
A power director is used so that each hard disc can be powered up separately when needed.
"Power Strip Adapter Liberators" (short extension cables) are used because each drive has its own transformer, aka "wall wort." 
A Rack Shelf is used to keep everything tidy and make the entire unit easy to transport.

The only real downside to this system is that it's tied to one computer that has to be on whenever any other computer on my network wants to access the files. Of course there's a solution for that as well...

Network Attached Storage
If you don't want your storage array tied to any individual computer then you need a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. They come in various configurations, and the one I own is called a Drobo-FS:

The Drobo-FS

The Drobo-FS I bought from Costco came with 3, 2TB drives and two additional empty slots for $900. The fans are quiet and the unit really looks impressive and attractive. You can mix and match any capacity drives and installing a new drive is as easy as just plugging it in and letting the Drobo do its thing. This unit is not as fast at transferring huge amounts of data as my USB array but it has something else my USB array doesn't have -- fault tolerance -- any single disc can die and you won't lose your data. But that fault tolerance comes at a price in storage capacity. It takes about 1.8TB of total available storage to maintain the fault tolerance, no matter how many discs you have installed.

So with 5X 2TB drives installed you have a total usable storage capacity of about 7.2TB out of a total of about 9TB. Why 9TB instead of 10 when you have 5X 2TB drives? Because the drive size is different than the formatted capacity. A 2TB drive has a storage capacity of only 1.81TB after its been formatted.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs?

Republicans took control of the House last November by taunting President Obama and the Democrats with "Where are the jobs? Republicans said their campaign was about creating jobs, but since they took office it’s clear that cutting government spending comes first, last and always -- now that they've cut taxes for the rich.

How can Republicans fight for massive tax breaks for the rich and as soon as they get that immediately pivot into being reformed big spenders who now claim to be deficit hawks, and do it without looking like hypocrites? Good question, but it appears that they ARE getting away with it and, much to the dismay of many who supported him, President Obama has also bought into this nonsense. 

Republicans say a smaller government eventually will spur private-sector job growth. Yeah, eventually. However in the mean time, government spending pays for research, infrastructure, education and other programs that create or protect existing public- and private-sector jobs.

GOP leaders already acknowledge that thousands of government workers would lose their jobs in the short run under the $61 billion cost-cutting bill they are pushing. The Economic Policy Institute says that overall, the House GOP plan "would likely result in job losses of just over 800,000."

If that happens, "so be it," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "We're broke." After the outcry over that remark, Boehner told reporters, "I don't want anyone to lose their jobs," but "we've got to make tough decisions."

The evidence that federal spending hurts job growth "is thin to nonexistent," says Princeton economist Alan Blinder. If the economy were running at full capacity, he said, Republicans would have a valid argument in saying that an extra federal hire or expenditure might displace a private-sector hire or expenditure. But there's a lot of "slack in the economy," he said.

Alexander J. Field, an economics professor at Santa Clara University, said “spending cuts should be pursued when economies are strong, not weak,” and “the House Republicans' agenda would probably increase unemployment.”

Republicans are repeating an economic policy right out of the 1930s — they want to cut spending before a recovery is assured. As the country began to recover from the Great Depression, Republican complaints about rising budget deficits forced President Roosevelt to agree to steep budget cuts. From 1933 to 1937, the United States economy expanded more than 40 percent, even surpassing its 1929 high. But the recovery was still not durable enough to survive the spending cuts, and in 1938 the economy shrank 3.4 percent and unemployment spiked. It took the increased spending from the military buildup prior to the start of World War II to create a lasting recovery.

Corporate profits are up. Stock prices are up. So why isn't anyone hiring? Actually, many American companies are hiring  -- overseas. This is why unemployment remains high in the United States, edging up to 9.8 percent last month, even though companies are performing well: All but 4 percent of the top 500 U.S. corporations reported profits last year, and the stock market is close to its highest point since the 2008 financial meltdown.

But the jobs are going elsewhere. The Economic Policy Institute says American companies created 1.4 million jobs overseas last year, compared with less than 1 million in the U.S. Those 1.4 million jobs would have lowered the U.S. unemployment rate at least one percentage point.

Manufacturing of durable goods is moving overseas along with the jobs. Congress needs to do something to reverse this trend before the American middle class disappears completely. America cannot survive without a strong middle class because without their purchasing power economic activity and job growth will continue to suffer.

The answer is not lower wages for workers and lower taxes for business who are headquartered in the US but do all their manufacturing overseas.  American workers cannot compete with workers in developing nations who work for poverty-level wages without lowering their standard of living to poverty level as well. If we’re going to continue to give tax breaks to business they should be used as an incentive to create jobs in the US.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fox News = The Propaganda Organ of the Republican Party

In December, a study from University of Maryland researchers found that Fox News viewers were vastly more misinformed than news consumers who depended largely on other outlets for their information.  Fox News immediately attempted to discredit the study, but leaks from Fox News staffers and consistency in messaging have shown a disturbing pattern of talking points that are repeated on Fox News throughout the day.

A June 4, 2009 internal memo from top Fox News Channel editor Bill Sammon was leaked recently,that said, “FYI: My cursory check of Obama’s 6,000-word speech to the Muslim world did not turn up the words ‘terror,’ ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism’.” Immediately, numerous Fox personalities grabbed the ball and ran with it; Megyn Kelly, Brett Bauer, Shep Smith, and other personalities on supposedly unbiased ‘news’ shows, even Sammon himself, used the fact that the president’s speechwriters had chosen to avoid that particular word choice as unnecessarily inflammatory to mislead viewers, suggesting that the President did not address Muslim extremism and intolerable violence during that speech.

Here's an excerpt from another leaked Sammon memo instructing on-air talent in how to refer to the health care bill:

1) Please use the term "government-run health insurance" or, when brevity is a concern, "government option," whenever possible.

2) When it is necessary to use the term "public option" (which is, after all, firmly ensconced in the nation's lexicon), use the qualifier "so-called," as in "the so-called public option."

3) Here's another way to phrase it: "The public option, which is the government-run plan."

In another leaked Sammon memo, on-air talent was instructed to NEVER mention "global warming" without also calling the theory into question.

One of the most egregious examples of Fox News' acting as a propaganda organ was prior to the President's visit to India when some obscure Indian blogger claimed that over 200 million dollars a day would be spent on President Obama's trip. Right after the blog post appeared, and without bothering to do any fact-checking, Fox News anchors and commentators immediately began repeating the following lies:

1. The India visit is not an official state visit but more of a sightseeing trip
2. 40 planes, 3 Helicopters and 6 armored vehicles will be used to transport Obama's entourage
3. An entourage of 3,000 people will be traveling with the President to India
4. A flotilla of 34 warships will protect the President
5. Obama booked all 570 rooms, banquet rooms, and restaurants at the 5-star Taj Mahal Hotel

Fox News continued repeating the lies long after they were refuted. And even afterwards, as embarrassing as this incident should have been for them, they never did admit that their reporting was factually incorrect.

Fox News' cheerleading during the Bush administration reached its peak during the run-up to the Iraq War. Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan admitted he saw “FOX television as a tool” to get the White House’s “message out” while he was in the Bush administration. “Certainly there were commentators and other, pundits at FOX News, that were useful to the White House,” replied McClellan, adding that they were given “talking points.”

A former Fox News insider recently told MediaMatters:
"I don’t think people would believe it’s as concocted as it is; that stuff is just made up...It is their M.O. to undermine the administration and to undermine Democrats...They’re a propaganda outfit but they call themselves news...anything—anything--that was a news story you had to understand what the spin should be on it. If it was a big enough story it was explained to you in the morning [editorial] meeting. If it wasn’t explained, it was up to you to know the conservative take on it. There’s a conservative take on every story no matter what it is. So you either get told what it is or you better intuitively know what it is.”

Given what we know about the sources and the quality of the news that Republican voters regularly consume it's no wonder that they are so woefully misinformed and angry, and they vote accordingly. Watch the first five minutes of Fox and Friends in the morning and you can easily make a short list of the anti-Obama and anti-Democrat daily talking points that will be repeated by every anchor and commentator over the next 24 hours.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Republicans: The Party of Disinformation and Dishonesty

For the Hannity show on Fox News, GOP pollster Frank Luntz gathered some Republicans in Iowa together to watch Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Obama during the Superbowl Pregame Show.

During Luntz’s questioning, one person claimed that President Obama's religious convictions guide his policies. Luntz asked her to clarify and the woman said, “I believe that he (Obama) is a Muslim.” Luntz then asked the rest of the group how many believed Obama is Muslim. Nearly half raised their hands.

Many Republicans believe that Obama is a Muslim despite Obama's repeated and well publicized identification with the Christian faith. Sadly, the Iowa focus group did reflect the national Republican consensus. Last August, in a Time poll 46% of Republicans said they believe Obama is a Muslim.

46%!!!  Why are Republicans so ill-informed? It’s probable that some of them know better, but they repeat the lies about Obama because they think it helps their cause. As for those who actually believe the lies they repeat, they are getting their information from the well-oiled (financially) far right propaganda machine and its associated echo chamber.

There have been emails circulating since 2007 that say, “Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim“ and then go on to offer up lots of bogus “proof.” The entire case, such as it is, rests on a confused and error-ridden recitation of Obama's upbringing and purported childhood influences. It also exploits a deep fear and mistrust of the Muslim faith.

What began as a stealth email campaign to label Obama as an "outsider" and "not like us" was quickly taken up by the right-wing blogosphere and repeated endlessly on right-wing talk radio. Meanwhile Republican leaders have either actively assisted in perpetuating the lie or have been giving it a wink and a nod.

Speaker Boehner was questioned on Meet the Press about the persistent belief among nearly half of Republicans that Obama is a Muslim and he was asked whether he, as speaker of the House, had a responsibility to "stand up to that kind of ignorance," Boehner told host David Gregory: "It's not my job to tell the American people what to think."

Gregory then asked, "But that kind of ignorance, about whether he's a Muslim, doesn't concern you?"

"The American people have the right to think what they want to think," Boehner replied. "I can't – it's not my job to tell them."

Not his job? Really? Republicans expend vast amounts of money and effort to tell people what to think about various issues. Indeed, Speaker Boehner, spends many of his Sundays on talk shows like Meet the Press pushing his party's agenda and being critical of Democrats. Apparently the only misinformation that is not Boehner’s job to dispel is misinformation about Democrats that benefits Republicans.

When asked what they personally believe about Obama’s religion, Republican leaders always give the same answer, “I take him at his word.” This answer is so uniform among the Republican leadership that it cannot be a coincidence. Republicans don’t want to alienate the crazies and the birthers who make up almost half of their base by openly refuting the lies so they equivocate, and that equivocation only serves to perpetuate the lies.


Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

On Egypt: Conservatives See a False Choice

The following statement from Bill O'Reilly represents the view of most Conservatives:

"For decades, the choice in Egypt has been: Does America support Mubarak or the Islamic fundamentalists? Obviously we take Mubarak."

It's not a choice between Mubarak and Islamic fundamentalists, and it never has been. After Mubarak, the Egyptian Army has the most power and they will be the ones who take over when he is pushed out. The Muslim Brotherhood is relatively weak, but Conservatives are quite happy to use them as a boogyman to justify continued support for Mubarak. Supporting dictatorship over self-determination during a popular uprising against a despot that we have financed for many years will only further damage US relations with the Egyptian people.

Popular uprisings in the Middle East are fraught with danger for US interests, but are we going to be true to our core value of self-determination for everyone or will we continue to do what is expedient? Conservatives always pay lip service to core values, but they are always the first to abandon them when they conflict with goals like making money or stability in the Middle East -- which is also mostly about making money.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Republicans Economic Policy: Take from the poor and middle class and give to the rich

The Republican party has been waging class warfare since Reagan and they have been so effective that they have all but destroyed America's middle class. Here are two important Republican code phrases everyone should understand:

Cut Spending -- When Republicans talk about cutting spending they're not talking about that welfare program for corporations and the rich called the Defense Budget. They're not talking about ending the military adventures overseas. They're not talking about cutting subsidies for huge agribusiness like ethanol. And they're not talking about the hugely expensive and failed War on Drugs that has left America with dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the entire world.

No, they're only talking about cutting "entitlements."  Republicans would steal from the middle class by taking money they've spent their working lives paying for through payroll deductions for Social Security and Medicare.

Actually the money has already been stolen. Republicans and Democrats have spent the money that was put aside to pay for the Baby Boomers' retirement. That money was supposed to be held in a trust fund, but both parties raided the trust fund to cover short-term budget shortfalls because they couldn't be honest about budget deficits. But only Republicans are now proposing to resolve this problem by cutting benefits that mean the difference between poverty and security for the middle class in retirement.

Tax breaks are good for the economy -- Tax breaks add a huge additional debt burden, but that kind of debt is OK by Republicans because they have fought for and won tax cuts that are heavily weighted towards the wealthy.

Republicans claimed that extending the tax cuts would be a good way to stimulate the economy but that's simply not true. Most of the tax cuts go to high-income households, and they don't spend as much of their income as the middle class and the poor. The government could more effectively stimulate the economy by only cutting taxes for the middle and lower classes and using the money for aid to the states, extensions of unemployment insurance benefits and tax credits favoring job creation. Dollar for dollar, each of these measures would have about three times the impact on GDP as continuing the Bush tax cuts.

Republicans want to eliminate Social Security and Medicare

Phase one was to "starve the beast" by cutting taxes while at the same time spending so much money that budget deficits and the interest on the debt cause a crisis that cannot be ignored.  That has already been accomplished.

Phase two is to propose massive cuts in Social Security and privatization. The amount of guaranteed retirement income would be reduced to a pittance, and folks would have to invest in the stock market and accept the risks involved. This would be a great boon for Wall Street speculators as they fleece millions of unsophisticated investors out of their retirement money.

Republicans are also now proposing vouchers for Medicare so that people could supposedly buy health insurance on their own. Another "free market" solution by Republicans that sounds promising till one examines the details. The vouchers would start out being totally inadequate, and according to the schedule proposed by Republicans, the value of Medicare vouchers would eventually dwindle down to almost nothing.   

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
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Friday, January 21, 2011

House Republicans focus on politics over substance

Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives, but after all that was said prior to and after the midterms about how the "adults" were now going to be in charge let's take a look at what they've done so far:

1. They read the Constitution
What was the point of reading the Constitution? According to Republicans, House members needed to be reminded of what was in it. Anyone who paid attention to the reading would have noticed that nearly all members left the floor just as soon as they read their tiny bit. So it's doubtful that any benefit was derived from that bit of political theatre.

2. They debated and then repealed healthcare reform.
Instead of the groundswell of Democratic support that Republicans predicted, only 3 Democrats voted for repeal and these were Blue Dog Democrats who who had already voted against the bill the first time around. The repeal bill will now die in the Senate despite Republican whining that Senate Democrats won't let the bill come to a vote. This whining by Republicans is particularly ironic considering how many bills the Republicans have blocked in the Senate over the past two years, because they were intent on denying Obama any credit for doing anything.

Republicans want to repeal the healthcare law that was passed before actually proposing a viable alternative. And it's quite clear that they have no intention of ever passing any law except those that benefit private insurance companies at the expense of the people they claim to represent.

3. They attempted to redefine rape to further restrict federal funding for abortions.
Current law allows federal funds to pay for abortions resulting from rape or incest. The “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” narrowed the definition of rape to “forcible rape.” Anti-abortion zealots don't want the federal government to pay for any abortions so they sought to eliminate funding for ending pregnancies resulting from rapes where force is supposedly not involved; such as date rape, statutory rape, rapes where drugs or alcohol render the victim unable to fight back, and rapes of mental incompetents.

The backlash was swift and it caused Republicans to remove the forcible rape language, but the bill would still eliminate tax breaks for health insurance premiums on policies that cover abortion expenses and it would prevent women from paying for an abortion with funds from a health savings account. 

And what's next on the agenda for House Republicans?
Republicans plan to rewrite the Clean Air Act so that it can't be used to fight climate change. This is another example of political theatre that will accomplish nothing because this bill will also die in the Senate. Republicans don't care about clean air or climate change. They frame everything in terms of how it will affect job growth, as if turning America into a toxic waste dump is OK as long as a few jobs are created in the process.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
Ken Padgett on Facebook 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Tucson Tragedy
Where do we go from here?

The far right has been trying to inoculate itself against any criticism of its role in stirring up anger and hatred to unprecedented levels in the past 20 years. We've all seen the rallies with nasty signs, the faces contorted in anger, the display of weapons, and we've heard the vitriolic spew from Tea Partiers and others on the far right who claim Democrats are destroying America. The fires of hatred are being stoked daily by far right talking heads on radio and television, the blogosphere and through chain emails.

Some on the Left did speculate on the motivations of the Tucson murderer without any evidence whatsoever, except for the fact that the intended victim was a Democrat and a supporter of immigration reform. That was wrong, but it was also somewhat understandable given the way cable news operates after a breaking story of such magnitude.

However the Right has seized upon this as an excuse to claim that they were being victimized and are still being victimized whenever anyone says anything about the unpleasant tenor of political debate. They are trying to stifle any discussion of the desirability of perhaps dialing it back some. They don't want anyone talking about "Don't retreat, reload" or "Second Amendment remedies" or "We came unarmed, this time" and the like so they have been using their favorite tactics in times like this:

1. Deny that words have consequences -- as if the entire advertising
industry has been wasting its money.

 2. Claim equivalency (falsely) by trotting out a few examples of
intemperate speech by the Left -- as if there was any comparison between
a few (or even a lot of) remarks that the Left shouldn't have made and
the tsunami of right wing hate speech that washes over America every
single day.

3. Claim they are being victimized by the Left and their allies in the
mainstream media

The Right's political strategy has always been quite clear:

Keep Americans fearful and:
They will vote for Republicans.
They will support tax breaks for business and the rich
They will support more funding for the military-industrial complex
They will support wars of aggression
They will support torture and other violations of human rights
They will support more cops, more prisons, more domestic spying...

Because the Right benefits so much from hateful speech and the anger it stokes, they will always shout down any attempt to discuss its negative consequences and they will divert attention with false equivalency arguments. However this time they may be going too far. Fox News and the rest of the far right propaganda machine has been pumping out a steady stream of talking points of denials, false equivalency arguments, and victimization claims, and those talking points have been reverberating in the echo chamber to a degree that is almost unprecedented. This gross overreaction may well be what undermines the entire effort. The "Silent Majority" (to steal a phrase) is sick of the hateful speech and frightened by the acts of violence, and they're not buying the arguments put forward by the far right propaganda machine and its echo chamber.

Another blog post by Ken Padgett
Ken Padgett on Facebook 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ken Padgett's Blog

Ken Padgett grew up in a suburb of Washington DC. He joined the army at 17 and spent the majority of his 3 years of military service in Germany. After the Army Ken worked several years as an electronics technician and a master scheduler. He has been self-employed since 1984; first as a desktop publisher, then a network engineer, a freelance writer, and a webmaster.

Padgett created his first personal web site in 1997 and his first business web site in 2000. Since then he has become a very successful internet entrepreneur.

Ken's interest in writing has led him to create several web sites devoted to publishing his articles. Agilewriter contains many of the biography and history articles he wrote as a freelancer. His Guide to Hopi Kachina Dolls describes their history and how kachinas are made, and also explores the origins and history of the Hopi Kachina Cult. Ken has written a History of Blackface and Minstrel Shows that is often assigned as required reading for classes by college professors and high school teachers. Ken Padgett is currently working on a History of Yellowface that details the history of Asian racial stereotypes in the media.

Ken Padgett lives at 3134 Mercer Lane, San Diego, CA 92122. A more complete biography is located at the Ken Padgett Home Page

This is a blog containing the key words "Ken Padgett" and "3134 Mercer Lane" that is intended to be fodder for search engines. Please visit my blog called, Have You Been Google Bombed? to learn how to protect or restore your online reputation.  Click here to visit the Ken Padgett Facebook page.