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Username: KathyinBlacksburg
PersonId: 8
Created: Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:17:51 AM EDT
KathyinBlacksburg's RSS Feed
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I've lived in Virginia for 29 years and been a Democrat for longer. I'm passionate about progressive issues, media reform, and advocating for the populist change we need.

Why Didn't They Think of That?

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 14:25:37 PM EDT

Cross-posted at Blue Virginia.

It has been nearly three years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the related malfeasance of Lehman and other Wall Street firms.   Hank Paulson has admitted Lehman's balance sheet was bogus.  According to Robert Reich, Goldman Sacks helped Greece hide its public debt and then bet against it with credit default swaps, those risky derivatives, in the news so much in 2007-2009, to avoid risking its own capital.  If you think the scenario is familiar, think AIG.  By any stretch of the imagination, these overpaid and overfed hacks and flacks should have been left to suffer the consequences, stripped of their wealth and in prison.  Why hasn't this happened?  We have waited and waited for economic reform we can believe in, which Wall Streeters are fighting tooth and nail.  We've been told that we can't have the meaningful reform we crave, that we must accept "bipartisan" compromise.  The GOP slings its empty "free market" bull (bull, because they never actually mean a free market, but rather a rigged market, in practice). Then they blame an administration inheriting the effects of their party's utter lack of fiscal stewardship.  Now they fight reform to fix it and assure proposed re-regulation is toothless.  And of course, it's everyone's fault but their own.  The faux-helpless foxes at the SEC guarded the hen house then.  Even our own side has acted fairly helpless in the face of so many misdeeds. Should the administration not use the tools and methods available to it, it will deserve later scrutiny and judgment.  I reserve judgment for the time being. However, as Reich observes, it turns out that we do not need "reform" to do something about it.

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April 9th, Stand on the Side of Love (Again, and Always)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 12:26:00 PM EDT

(I will cross-post at Blue Virginia.)

April inches ever closer to the dreaded anniversary.  The regional paper for our area began its opine this way: "As if Blacksburg and Virginia Tech have not endured enough in recent years..." Yes, as if... We relive that day every time the emergency alert system is tested.  We relive it nearly every day our loved ones go to work or class.  They relive it every time they walk past Norris Hall, or the Drill Field Memorial.  They relive it when nut-cases send them hate mail, or when, recently, an internet psychopath threatened the campus once again.  (It turned out to be sourced in a distant land, but not without stirring up much anxiety.)

They relived it when right-wing pols tried to use these events for political opportunism to turn their sites on the academy, teachers who work long hours year after year so that their students may learn.  Some (such as Phylis Schlafly and Lynn Cheney's anti-faculty organization) did that following the original April 16th horror.  They blamed the victims.  So did talk show hosts and television "evangelists," whom I will not name here.  Their names get far too much play already.

No, we need no annual reminder because it never goes completely away. For the families of the victims, life is forever changed. In such matters it would be appropriate to extend sympathy and support toward the victims. That's what most people do.  But not the psychopathic fringe minority.  Each year, for all the wealth of positive support and good will, comes a reminder of the kind of hate that brought us to this point, the kind of hate that caused all of this in the first place. Now we have learned that one of the primary national architects of hate will be here this April:  The infamous, so-called Rev. Fred Phelps and his shrieking Westboro "Baptist Church" accomplices.  

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No, Eric Cantor, the GOP Has Fanned the Flames (and It Should Stop)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 15:22:00 PM EDT

The threats have come in by the dozens...  Congresspersons have been threatened and even received death threats.  Offices of congresspersons have been vandalized.  Thinking it was the home of Congressman Tom Parriello, vandals cut the gas line to his brother Bo Parriello's home.  Even now the threats against members of Congress continue.  

In thirty years, we have only had only 2 Democratic presidents.  And the GOP is so hysterical that its "imperial" reign is disrupted that it implodes, but not without taking out everything on Democrats.  It's vile rhetoric, not just in the health care debate, but across the board, is a huge part of the problem.  They have gone too far.  And they still do not get it.

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Dick Armey's Waterloo?

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 11:36:00 AM EDT

Jim DeMint thought he would bring about President Obama's Waterloo. Instead he may have brought forth Dick Armey's. At least one can hope.  

Dick Armey, one-time GOP House Majority Leader, is said to have written the Contract for America, which became more of a Contract on Americans. He was part of the crew that brought us the infamous government shutdown of the 1990s, when Congress refused to pass a budget, thanks to him and The Newt. It turned out that the people want their reps to work for their salaries, not shut things down. Over time, and possibly due to Newt's ego, the Contract came to be associated more with Newt Gingrich.

Following his departure from the Senate leadership, Armey was a lawyer/lobbyist for DLA Piper, whose clients include the governments of Afghanistan and Turkey. With 3,500 lawyers in 29 countries, the firm represents corporate interests around the world. Among other companies, Lorillard supported his reelection campaign. Here are some backgrounders here and here.

His break from DLA Piper notwithstanding, his current activities spawning Tea Party groups around the country through his new Freedom Works is still "astroturf," through and through.  (So non-grassroots is the effort that the wife of Clarence Thomas is organizing one Tea Party group.)  

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Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh, But...

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sat Mar 20, 2010 at 14:07:15 PM EDT

You have to laugh at Jon Stewart's remarkable satirize and spot-on impersonation of radical ideologue Glenn Beck. You can find it here. I recommend the Daily Show clip.  It's very funny.  But I know that too many low-information or high-hating voters take this man seriously. How low-information?  Take a look at this article by Bruce Bartlett at Forbes. Tea Partiers are so ignorant they think that President Obama raised their taxes instead of cutting them.  That's only one of the items they do not get.

On a daily basis, Beck tries to fan the ignorance and hatred of (and possibly foment violence toward) millions of America's people for no reason but that he disagrees with them and they are progressive.  He's Ann Coulter, with a crew-cut and on steroids. (You'll recall Coulter once said that you should talk to liberals ("if you must") with "baseball bats.") But Ann Coulter always comes across as smug and snarky. Glenn Beck cries on cue.  It is on cue because he conjures up the same tears during rehearsal (yes, rehearsals).  This is staged to fire us the masses. It's a dangerous act and Roger Ailes is playing with fire.

Recently, Beck has taken to referring to progressives as "the cancer that is destroying our values," "socialists," "communists" and more.  Daily his rants defame us. And we let him get away with it, or at least some of us do.  

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Compare the Versions: ProPublica Puts Senate and Reconcilliation Versions Online, Side-By-Side

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Fri Mar 19, 2010 at 18:24:37 PM EDT

You can go to this link to get the two versions.
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Under-reported : Small Businesses Would Benefit From Health Insurance Reform

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Thu Mar 18, 2010 at 16:34:48 PM EDT

In the 1960s my father-in-law provided health insurance for employees of his small business.  Little did we know how ahead of his time he was.  A survey by the Small Business Majority found that even today only 46% of small business owners provide health insurance, but 76% of them struggle meeting their premiums.  The 54% who do not provide coverage say they cannot afford it.  Let me pause here: The majority of small business owners do not provide health insurance for their employees. It is their employees who most likely are caught in private individual plans which get slammed over and over and which get canceled at the drop of a hat.  Some companies drive up the cost of policies solely to induce "high risk" patients to drop their policies.  It is clear that both individuals and small businesses need both relief and reform.

Meanwhile, the upward trajectory of health care costs for small businesses continues.  In 2009 costs are around 3.42 billion.  MIT economist Jonathan Gruber estimates they will go up to around 7.43 billion in 2018.  One of the most vocal opponents of health insurance reform is the national Chamber of Commerce, which runs particularly troublesome and questionable ads.  They do not get it.  Not only would health insurance reform reduce personnel costs, a real public option would could ultimately produce far greater savings.  With Medicare overhead costing only 4%, private insurance pales in efficiency of delivery.  Further efficiencies in delivery of Medicare services, such as elimination of over-payments to the so-called (fake) Medicare "Advantage" plans and greater effort at fraud reduction will drive home even more savings.  (Proponents of reform failed utterly to explain these over-payments and their ruinous effect on the future of Medicare.  It is the absence of reform which hurts Medicare.)

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Too Bad, Glenn Beck, We're Not Quitting

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 14:20:00 PM EDT

Last week, increasingly neo-fascist and radical flamethrower, Glenn Beck, ironically urged his followers to leave their churches if they ever mention the words "social justice." It didn't occur to him that nearly every faith does.  And so he bandied about absurd charges that social justice is "code word" for communism and socialism.  It isn't.  However, we do have abundant corporate socialism, which apparently floats right by him. As if the main thrust of his rant weren't enough, in such finely honed neo-McCarthyism, he added, turn in your minister to "the authorities," if they mention social justice.  

The most outrageous aspect of this was his effort to turn American against American due only to their personal religious beliefs.  Additionally, there is an (anti-) establishment clause in the Constitution.  The framers would not be please, Beck's ignorance notwithstanding.  The conservative answer to this no doubt will be to ban separation-of-church-and-state founding father Thomas Jefferson from school curricula, as they are trying to do in Texas.

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FCC's "Exciting" Broadband Plans, Not So Exciting After All, Says Watchdog Group

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Wed Mar 17, 2010 at 11:26:44 AM EDT

Here we go again.  The cable layers and their  ditch-witch are just a block away.  It appears, one more time we will have to redo our lawn. Contractors will do their usual dig, fill (no smoothing), seed-and-straw toss.  And homeowners will take two seasons to get our lawns back as they were.  Even as I roll my eyes, I realize that upgrading the speed and quality of our service is long overdue.  And we are among the lucky ones here in Blacksburg.  At least we have "broadband."  But it usually falls short of "real" broadband speeds.  Many in rural Virginia don't have "high speed" at all.  Enter the FCC.  In its widely hyped announcement of expanded national broadband service, the FCC perhaps thought we'd cheer and go about our business.  

However, Neiman Watchdog of Harvard University cautions that the FCCs plans to improve this nation's broadband position is far less than it appears.  Here is just the teaser:

Bruce Kushnick writes that giant telecoms and cable companies -- and the lobbyists, think tanks and astroturf groups they fund -- have so corrupted the debate over broadband that what may look like progress actually amounts to small steps toward antiquated standards that taxpayers have already paid for many times over.
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BREAKING: The New Budget

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 18:52:55 PM EDT

Note: What follows is a press release from the Democratic Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus.


~ House of Delegates move towards Senate's position on K-12 education, public safety and health and human resources ~

RICHMOND-The Virginia General Assembly adjourned "sine die" today following passage of a 2010-2012 biennial budget that reflects many priorities of the Senate Democratic Caucus. While unwelcomed cuts were required, the Democratic-led Senate prevented the devastating and job-eliminating cuts favored by the House of Delegates and Governor McDonnell. The final budget agreement includes approximately $30 billion in general fund spending. The agreement makes reductions in K-12 education, health and human resources, and aid to localities, but does so in ways that will minimize the impact on services and jobs.

           "As we worked to craft a Senate budget it became very clear that many previously unimaginable cuts would be necessary to produce a balanced budget. Since Governor McDonnell and the House of Delegates forced $4.2 billion in cuts, our priority was to make cuts in a way that would cause the least harm," said Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), chair of the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus. "This budget process was about minimizing the damage and I think we have found the best way forward. We successfully reduced the devastating education cuts proposed by the House, found ways to keep cops on the street, and will preserve the healthcare safety net for vulnerable Virginians."

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Virtual Education: More Assault on the America's Public Education System

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:50:54 AM EDT

Virginians have barely awakened to the nightmare that is their own public school system under the dominion of the dominionists.  Thanks to Bob McDonnell and the Party of No, schools upon schools will ultimately close. NCLB has already rendered 1/3 of all US schools as "failing," based upon its rigged measure. Buildings paid for with our tax dollars will be given away via Mickey D's charter "initiative." What then?

Thanks to new legislation, "virtual schools," and their virtual "education," enabled by one of their own literally writing a recent bill to "regulate" such "schools," are poised to proliferate even as public schools are shuttered.  One more governor refuses to get that starving public education hurts Virginia and the nation.  But the incessant tax-cutting monster must be served (sarcasm).  See Elaine in Roanoke's article here and numerous diaries by teacherken's for more on this subject.  According to the Roanoke Times, Carroll County, VA is now the "model" for the entire state.  (Bet NOVA thought it was.)  "Virtual school" get virtual results. Education is not packaged online "curricula." The PC is no substitute for teacher-student and student-class face time and cooperative learning.  But the educational bloodletting via the massive cuts to education will likely never be overcome in our lifetimes. The evidence for this mounts...  

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Dead Again: The Public Option's Second Life is Apparently Over

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sat Mar 13, 2010 at 11:49:28 AM EST

The ill-titled public option's second life is apparently over.  Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi declared the public option dead yesterday.  You can read more here.  It's not in the reconciliation, she said.  Thus ends any hope that real competition will occur in health care insurance.

For at least a couple of weeks now, progressives have been taken for a ride.  The public option was alive and well.  As you may have heard, as of yesterday we had fifty votes (plus Joe Biden to break the tie).  But wait!  Claiming she didn't have the votes, Pelosi killed off the public option anyway.  Something doesn't add up.  

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Breaking: For it After He was Against It (Bob McDonnell's New Non-Discriminiation Policy)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Wed Mar 10, 2010 at 18:15:16 PM EST

Update: What McDonnell proclaimed was an executive "directive," not an executive order.

Shortly after his swearing in, Governor Bob McDonnell broke recent tradition by refusing to advance an executive order forbidding discrimination regardless of sexual orientation. Many of us here, including the editorial staff of BC, stand in opposition to discrimination based upon sexual orientation.  

But today, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bob McDonnell shifted his non-policy concerning non-discrimination.  He reversed himself by issuing such an order.

"Discrimination based on factors such as one's sexual orientation or parental status violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Therefore, discrimination against enumerated classes of persons set forth in the Virginia Human Rights Act or discrimination against any class of persons without a rational basis is prohibited," McDonnell said in his directive.

"Employment discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated by this administration," the directive said. "Consistent with state and federal law, and the Virginia and United States Constitutions, I hereby direct that the hiring, promotion, compensation, treatment, discipline, and termination of state employees shall be based on an individual's job qualifications, merit and performance.

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Limbaugh Incites Hatred of Pelosi with Inflammatory and Defamatory Remarks

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Wed Mar 03, 2010 at 10:54:19 AM EST

I'll let the video speak for itself and leave it to you to characterize it.
Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Jim Bunning Rides Again ("I Object," Part 2)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 16:09:55 PM EST

If you thought Jim Bunning's callousness "only" affected 200,000 federal employees, who  now will lose jobs and insurance, guess again.  Bunning had much more in store for his second act of the same play.

Having gone along with Bush's wars costing trillions, and the entirety of George W. Bush's economically profligate economic policies, Jim Bunning also this week went gunning for America's seniors and he did it, he says, to save $10 billion.  Somehow I am not buying that explanation.  Jim Bunning may be an older American himself (he's 78), but he doesn't need Medicare.  He's got Congress's health care plan.  But he set out to hurt other seniors' access to Medicare.  As it turns out, that is much easier to do in one fell swoop than most people would imagine.

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"Anybody Can Object" (Then I do.)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Tue Mar 02, 2010 at 14:43:57 PM EST

On the floor of the US Senate (R-KY) Jim Bunning claimed anyone (senator) can object (implicitly, to anything).  And he complained of missing a basketball game, while his obstructionism has cost over 200,000 their jobs and their health care.  And he gave the middle finger literally to CNN's Jonathan Karl and figuratively to Americans. "Anybody can object," he said.  Well, I do.  I object that he has performed this act of violence against American families.  He's done it repeatedly since last Thursday. And he's proud of himself.
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Microcosm: Reflections on Blacksburg's Collapsed School Gym Roof

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 16:53:43 PM EST

(Subtitle: With Distant Devastation Much Larger)

Blacksburg's High School's collapsed gym roof and its subsequent disruption is but a small sampling of the chaos the citizens of NOLA, Haiti, and Chile have lived.  And if this is any indication of the power of just one building's collapse, then it is hard to comprehend what is in store for Haiti and Chile (and is still in store for NOLA).  Here is what the microcosm looks like.

It happened on a Saturday earlier this month, shortly after the girls basketball team had practiced.  That there were no injuries or deaths owes in great measure to the action by those present as cracks appeared suddenly in the gym wall.  The coach sent the girls outside the building.  

The news reports told the story of the gym roof collapse.  They told how no one was injured, much less killed.  And they told how, after a week off, Blacksburg high school students were back at school--sharing another school in the afternoon and evening.  You see, the school will probably be inhabitable on into the future.  No one knows yet if the adjacent main school building, which shared support beams, and used the very same structural steel, will ever be structurally sound enough to house students and teachers again. This is a town with one high school, one middle school and three elementary schools.  The options are not great. But it must be said that at least school children do not have to go to school in the open air.

And so, Middle Schoolers now head to school at the crack of dawn, at this time of year even before.  They still struggle getting up so early.  They leave school earlier now too.  Their after-school care is disrupted, in some cases lost.  Their activities and schedules are significantly changed.  All this is because high school students now share their school.  Imagine the change for a sixth grader!  Children just getting used to middle school suddenly are "invaded" by high schoolers.  Middle schoolers, all 900 of them, prepare to leave just as 1200 high schoolers arrive to take over what was once their school.  

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Beastly Economic "Starve-the-Beastie-Boys,"

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sat Feb 27, 2010 at 17:51:17 PM EST

In his column called The Bankruptcy Boys, economist and Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman, warns of the perverse logic of the Starve-the-Beast folks.  The ironically-named Club-for-Growth-ers lust for the day the "Beast" (whom they assume is government) is starved.  And they continue trying to amass contempt for "gubment," until, they hope, they can destroy programs people need.  

The real truth is that government provides services people both need and want.  "Keep your hands off my Medicare" even rings forth from the ignorant among Tea Partying wing nuts, who don't even know Medicare IS a government program, paid for by payroll taxes.  The specific Medicare payroll tax was demarcated in hopes (by the wrong-wing fiscal extremists) that it would sour people of Medicare.  It hasn't. Still, they will not stop. Peter Peterson's Starve-the-Beast refrain is an old song he's been singing for twenty years or more.  Others carried the banner before him. They have been at it for forty years now.  They do the bidding of corporations and the rich.  Along the way, they hope to con enough of those who dream of being rich, but never will be because these dreamers are pawns in a dangerous chess game.  

Ironically "Starve the Beast" tends to result in increased federal spending, according to the conservative Cato Institute here.  

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WH Summit: Check in at the Live Stream

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Thu Feb 25, 2010 at 10:04:35 AM EST

As I post this at shortly after 10 AM, the Summit will begin shortly.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)


by: KathyinBlacksburg

Wed Feb 24, 2010 at 20:39:43 PM EST

I cried as the hero teacher spoke to the media about how he tackled the shooter.  I cried as a young boy, no older than your son or grandson (or mine) described the scene.  I cried as the students ran from the scene hands above their heads.  How is it that kids this young must learn the drill.  Run, keep hands up and behind the head, so neither shooter nor police mistake their intent.  (They could probably run faster if not for this awkward position.  But they know the drill.) They know the drill because Deer Creek Middle School is located Littleton CO, where the shooting took place yesterday, is only three miles from Columbine High.

The good news is that the students survived.  The bad news is that the shooter tried to make it otherwise.

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