Beyond Tea-Party Somnambulism!

Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Category

Andy, You Don’t Represent ME!

Andy, contrary to your rhetoric and misleading representations…you DO NOT represent the people of the 1st District and you do not represent me! You continue to mislead and misrepresent the facts about every issue that is important to the people. As an example, raising the debt ceiling has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with spending, except that it allows the Treasury to pay the ALREADY existing obligations of the United States. Included in that is the $4billion a year you have given to big oil companies…the same oil companies that continue to report BILLIONS of dollars in profit, EACH AND EVERY QUARTER!

Harris votes "NO" on bill to end the GOP shutdown of government.

Harris votes “NO” on bill to end the GOP shutdown of government.

This shutdown, contrary to your continuing rhetoric, occurred because you and your Tea Party cohorts, put ideology above the security of our country and the welfare of our people.

The thinking voters in our District see through your political double-talk and the nonsense you espouse. They will remember how you treated them, and the full faith and credit of the US. You are no better than a seditionist, putting ideology first, no matter what harm it causes. Here is your latest error in judgment:

Oct. 16, 2013 H.R. 2775: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014 – Bill Passes (285 – 144) HARRIS VOTED: NAY

 In true fashion, Andy “Dr No” Harris voted NAY to ending the Federal government shutdown. He voted, along with 143 of his fellow Tea Party seditionists, who wished to see the continuance of the shutdown, along with the loss of $24 billion to the American economy.

Even though it was clear to the majority of Republicans and all Democrats, that the stalemate was hurting Americans, from children and seniors who were cut off from food programs, to the millions of new home buyers, trying to get their FHA/VA-backed mortgages through the gridlock, not to mention the 800,000 Federal workers, kept from their jobs, Harris stood his ground and refused to vote for the best interests of his District and the country.

This is perhaps, the best example yet, of Harris’ inability to separate ideology from what is best for the country and the American people. Whenever he approaches a question that involves his political philosophy, he will always choose that philosophy over the needs of the people and the best interests of the country.

"Get over it" - Andy's attitude toward anyone who disagrees with him and his Club for Growth puppet masters!

“Get over it” – Andy’s attitude toward anyone who disagrees with him and his Club for Growth puppet masters!

He has shown this over and over, from his refusal to support Sandy relief, to his votes against the Violence Against Women Act, the 2013 Farm Bill, the SNAP program, the ACA, care for our Seniors and the Disabled, and his support to shut down the government and to keep it shut down…the list just keeps growing, on and on. He has done nothing to create jobs or fix infrastructure in our District, and continues to be a hypocrite about the security of our country and the welfare of our people!

Thankfully, our President has finally stood up to Harris and his Tea Party’s terrorist threats (remember, the US doesn’t negotiate with terrorists), instead, listening to the majority of voters who elected him…TWICE!  The President has tried, in the past, to negotiate with the GOP in good faith, only to see threats of a default, a shutdown and the sequester turn into a real shutdown and the 11th-hour rescue, by moderate Republicans and all Democrats, of the full faith and credit of the United States.

And what did this $24 billion hit to the American economy (not to mention the loss of international prestige) gain Andy and his fellow seditionists?  NOTHING! ZILCH! NADA! ZERO!  Correct; every single unreasonable, extortionist demand, made by the Tea Party GOP, was denied!  Many reasonable GOP members and voters are now abandoning their hopelessly sinking ship, realizing that there must be an end to “ideology over people and country.”  In so many ways, and on so many levels, this act of sedition, over the past 2 weeks, has brought the GOP closer to irrelevancy than even the candidacy and losing run, of Mitt Romney.  As the old saying goes, “You made your bed…now lie in it!”

 

What Would Sam Say?

About 250 years ago, English poet, essayist, moralist and lexicographer, Samuel Johnson, wrote,

“Patriotism is the last stronghold of scoundrels.”

Samuel Johnson, English Poet, Essayist and Thorn in the Side of Edmund Burke. His birthday was September 18th.

Samuel Johnson, English Poet, Essayist and Thorn in the Side of Edmund Burke. His birthday was September 18th.

Hard words, no doubt, especially for those, even in his day, who were more interested in ideology than substance and pragmatism.  It offended some and struck a chord with many. What did Johnson mean by this outrageous comment?

It seems that Johnson had Edmund Burke in mind when he made this epic statement. Johnson had no love for Burke and considered him and his party manipulative politicians, fitting for this petard.

Johnson believed that Burke’s false patriots appealed, emotionally, to the rabble, with their fruitless petitions and endless charade of ‘doing what is in the best interests of Great Britain.’

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same, since we, in 2013, are facing the same ‘patriots’, using emotion, fruitless legislative ‘petitions’ and the flag, to appeal to those who give truth and fact little attention.

If Johnson were alive today, I have no doubt that his Edmund Burke would be our John Boehner (or Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, et al) and his “party” would be the right wing of the GOP (read, Tea Party).  He may, in fact, be writing this very column, calling out the current day patriots, as scoundrels (or worse). He would very well be shaking his head at the hue and cry of the Tea Party patriots, who carry the flag as evidence of their love of country, as if no one else cares about the country or its future.

According to Merriam-Webster, a “scoundrel” is defined as, “a person (especially a man) who is cruel or dishonest.” If we concede that many, if not all, politicians are less than straightforward and truthful at some point in their careers, then all we have left is someone who is “cruel.”

How would Johnson define cruel, as it relates to these patriots in 2013?  He, as many of us, would look at the “fruitless legislative petitions” being advanced by them, determining if they can be considered as cruel.  Johnson would not be surprised to find that Obamacare, a program meant to provide health care for 40 million uninsured Americans, has had 40+ “fruitless legislative petitions” thrown at it, in hopes of reversing it.  He would also find petitions to reduce food subsidies to those who are at the bottom rungs of our economic ladder, along with petitions to reduce care for chronically-ill citizens and the disabled, cut

"Patriotism is the last stronghold of scoundrels!"

“Patriotism is the last stronghold of scoundrels!”

funding for education and government services, or reduce regulations to keep our air and water breathable and drinkable.

Cruel?  If we look at the people who will be harmed most by these fruitless legislative petitions: the elderly, children, disabled, students, the poor, hungry and unemployed, how could we answer that simple question with a no?  Whether we use the Golden Rule, introduced over 2000 years ago, or a purely moralistic or humanistic approach, Johnson is no doubt wincing, “The scoundrels have taken over the world!”

The IRS Scandal – A Different Perspective!

The following is a letter-to-the-editor of the Daily Times, Salisbury, MD.  It was written by attorney, Mike Pretl and he has given us permission to post it on Delmarva Progressive.  It is an authentic appeal to look at the IRS issue with a fresh face and to realize that when dealing with the IRS, there are no good guys and bad guys, only well-documented applications and questionable ones.         

Perhaps I am the last person who should be coming to the defense of the Internal Revenue Service, and its Exempt Organization office in Cincinnati.  I have had numerous legal battles – detailed requests for information, and a few arduous audits, initiated by overzealous agents at that office.  Nevertheless, I am convinced that the current “scandal” is overblown and purely political in nature.  I find it incredible therefore that Administration officials are grumbling excuses and apologies, rather than defending themselves by explaining clearly what that office does every day, and is supposed to do.

In 40 years as a Maryland attorney, I have been pleased to create more than 75 nonprofit, tax-exempt corporations.  I have represented nearly all pro bono (without fee).  With few exceptions, all of these groups operate at the progressive end of the spectrum – environmental activists, health care reformers (pre-Obamacare), community organizers, juvenile service providers, charter schools, church-affiliated entities, and “friends” of a scout troop and  child advocacy center.  Exempt status has been sought under various sections of the Internal Revenue Code, chiefly Sections 501(c)(3), (c)(4), and (c)(6).  Perhaps half of all the applications were greeted with IRS questions — a “request for further information” – sometimes elementary, and often  detailed and onerous.  In the past I would tell my clients to expect a determination letter in about 120 days. More recently I have had decisions delayed for months, or for a year or two, always without explanation.

And I repeat, these are virtually all liberal advocacy organizations, and the hassles and delays have occurred during the last seven administrations – four Republican and three Democratic.

In my ongoing role as unpaid counsel to these groups, it is my duty not only to collect data and file IRS applications, but to advise what they can and cannot do to retain their exempt status.  Many leaders of (c)(3) charities are surprised to learn that they may lobby the legislature to a limited extent, in support of their goals, but of course cannot engage in elective politics.  The (c)(4) (“social welfare”) entities are told that they may support candidates who support their goals, but under the IRS Code, elective politics cannot be their “primary” activity, or a “substantial part” of their daily efforts.

Which brings us back to the current “scandal.”  Despite some apparent excesses and unfortunate statements, it appears that the IRS agents have been caught doing just what they are paid to do – enforcing the Code.  Following the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2009, numerous organizations were formed, most of them on the right, and sought (c)(4) status so their contributors need not be disclosed.   Many Tea Party chapters and similar groups did not disguise their role as primarily political efforts, however, so the non-political career employees at IRS marked them presumptively ineligible for exempt status.  The agents perhaps went overboard in a few cases – but that zeal hardly suggests a conspiracy.

A final personal story:  A few years ago, the leading Maryland handgun control advocacy group –which had established separate (c)(3) and (c)(4) entities — was wrongly accused of improper election-year activity. IRS auditors promptly served each entity a series of 82 detailed document requests.  The IRS agents were far from friendly, and we spent nearly a year in proving our client not at fault.  At the end, however, we explained to our volunteer board of directors that occasional scrutiny, often unpleasant, is the price we must pay, to secure the invaluable benefits of tax-exempt status.  Perhaps Congressional investigators will soon  get the same message.

 Mike Pretl is a semi-retired attorney, residing in Riverton, in Wicomico County.

The Working Poor…Not Looking For Hand-Outs!

Judy Davis, an activist from Worcester County, MD, is involved with important issues in our state. She recently participated in the Marylanders Against Gun Violence rally, in Annapolis, MD and is a participant in the Emerge program, which trains women around the country to take more active roles in leadership positions in their communities.

It would be hard to ignore the working poor, while living in a seasonal beach town, as I do. Although many unskilled jobs are filled with visiting foreign-exchange students, “locals” hold about half of those positions.  These “locals”, some of who are lifelong residents, live in the area year-round and find that they’re without work when the businesses close for the season. The fortunate ones are able to receive a modest unemployment check, twice a month. Renting in our area is expensive and lodging is only available in the off-season. Those that choose to remain in a year-round room/apartment, pay much higher rent than a comparable living space, elsewhere.

During a recent conversation I had with two local business owners, I heard claims that people are living off “the system”, wanting “hand-outs”, and “those people” are not properly planning for emergencies or their retirement. When I asked how anyone, especially those of advanced years, could pay for living expenses at wages of $7.25 hour, there was no response.

Our society’s perception of the working poor has deteriorated, from one of providing an honest day’s work, to one of expecting entitlements and being shiftless. According to Charlie White (Think Reality: Wealth Inequality in America), 15.1% of the U.S. population (approximately 47 million people) lives below the Poverty Line.  An average worker needs to work one month to equal one hour of income that an average CEO earns. That equates to about 160 hours to 1 hour.  Some figures have shown that to be as high as 400 hours to 1 hour!

The working poor have no discretionary income. If they are lucky enough to own a vehicle and a tire goes flat, the choice is between buying groceries to feed their family or purchasing another used tire.  Trying to save money for deposits on utilities, medical emergencies, gasoline, school supplies, clothes or other basic needs, is impossible, as there isn’t enough money to cover everything. Many parents go without, in order to provide the very minimum subsistence for their children.

The frustration of “just scraping by” impacts a person’s self-worth, causing a cyclical, downward spiral, which is difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.  Don’t forget who also suffers, aside from the parents: Approximately 19% of children in my county live below the Poverty Line (One Maryland: The Plight of Maryland Distressed Jurisdictions).

Rather than blaming the working poor for their situation, how about giving a “hand-up” to help people have their basic needs met, especially where they are desperately trying? In my county, over 25% of female-headed households make just $14,900 per year. Most of our lives would look very different if we suddenly became unemployed, developed significant health issues, needed elderly care or had another traumatic event crossing our paths. Instead of criticizing and demeaning people who are dependent on some form of assistance, in order to survive, their critics should be saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I!”

The following is a video that clearly explains wealth distribution in America, including how Americans think it is, how they think it should be, and finally, the reality of the way it really is.  It will open your eyes and may, in fact, surprise even the most conservative among you!

V

A New Year…The Same Old Lying Harris!

Andy Harris begins the New Year by continuing his lies and misrepresentation of the facts! Instead of voting for the “fiscal cliff” legislation, he prefers that taxes on his cronies (i.e., rich doctors, along with the likes of the Koch brothers, Romney and the other wealthiest Americans) stay at one of the lowest rates they’ve been in 80 years! Remember the ’50s & ’60s, when the US was growing into the economic superpower that it became? Top tax rates were at some of the highest…90%…and so-called “job creators” didn’t blink an eye at the chance to start a business!  When I was starting my businesses, the tax rate was not as important as whether I felt the business was a good one and  I could make a profit.

"What's that, Mr. Koch? Vote AGAINST the 'Fiscal Cliff' legislation? You can count on me!"

“What’s that, Mr. Koch? Vote AGAINST the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ legislation? Sure…you can count on me!”

The truth be told, it was Harris and his cronies that created the “fiscal cliff” during the debt-ceiling debacle last summer; he and his Tea Party cronies refused to raise the debt-ceiling for monies that were ALREADY allocated by Congress, NOT for new spending, which was another lie that he liked to bandy about! So, they forced the plan to raise taxes on the Middle Class and the “sequester”, thinking that the GOP would take the White House and the Senate in the 2012 election. What he failed to realize is that the majority of Americans could see through his and the other GOP candidates’ lies and 19th-century ideas…and they were SOUNDLY rejected!

Instead of standing up and representing the people of the 1st District, Harris continues into 2013, catering to the rich, those who contribute to his campaigns, who are mostly from out-of-state, and ignoring the needs of the people who deserve his attention, including the farmers on the Eastern Shore! Oh, yeah, did I mention that he refused to support the 2012 Farm Bill? If saner minds hadn’t prevailed, we could be paying $6 or $7 for a gallon of milk!! Way to go, Dr. No!!

Ayn Rand = Paul Ryan = “I Got Mine, Screw You!”

The TRUTH about Paul “Ayn Rand” Ryan. Don’t keep this secret…share it with everyone you know.  Unfortunately, there is something here for everyone to hate!

Ryan: “I can’t believe there are people who are really buying my crap!”

1. His economic plan would cost America 1 million jobs in the first year. Ryan’s proposed budget would cripple the economy. He’d slash spending deeply, which would not only slow job growth, but shock the economy and cost 1 million of us our jobs in 2013 alone and kill more than 4 million jobs by the end of 2014.

2. He’d kill Medicare. He’d replace Medicare with vouchers for retirees to purchase insurance, eliminating the guarantee of health care for seniors and putting them at the mercy of the private insurance industry. That could amount to a cost increase of more than $5,900 by 2050, leaving many seniors broke or without the health care they need. He’d also raise the age of eligibility to 67.

3. He’d pickpocket the middle class to line the pockets of the rich. His tax plan is Robin Hood in reverse. He wants to cut taxes by $4.6 trillion over the next decade, but only for corporations and the rich, like giving families earning more than $1 million a year a $300,000 tax cut. And to pay for them, he’d raise taxes on middle- and lower-income households and butcher social service programs that help middle- and working-class Americans.

4. He’s an anti-choice extremist. Ryan co-sponsored an extremist anti-choice bill, nicknamed the ‘Let Women Die Act,’ that would have allowed hospitals to deny women emergency abortion care even if their lives were at risk. And he co-sponsored another bill that would criminalize some forms of birth control, all abortions, and in vitro fertilization.

5. He’d dismantle Social Security. Ironically, Ryan used the Social Security Survivors benefit to help pay for college, but he wants to take that possibility away from future generations. He agrees with Rick Perry’s view that Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme” and he supported George W. Bush’s disastrous proposal to privatize Social Security.

6. He’d eliminate Pell grants for more than 1 million low-income students. His budget plan cuts the Pell Grant program by $200 billion, which could mean a loss of educational funding for 1 million low-income students.

7. He’d give $40 billion in subsidies to Big Oil. His budget includes oil tax breaks worth $40 billion, while cutting “billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil.”

8. He’s another Koch-head politician. Not surprisingly, the billionaire oil-baron Koch brothers are some of Ryan’s biggest political contributors. And their company, Koch industries, is Ryan’s biggest energy-related donor. The company’s PAC and affiliated individuals have given him $65,500 in donations.

9. He opposes gay rights. Ryan has an abysmal voting record on gay rights. He’s voted to ban adoption by gay couples, against same-sex marriage, and against repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He also voted against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Obama signed into law in 2009.

10. He thinks an “I got mine, who cares if you’re okay” philosophy is admirable. For many years, Paul Ryan devoted himself to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness as a virtue. It has shaped his entire ethic about whom he serves in public office. He even went as far as making his interns read her work.

If there was ever any doubt that Mitt Romney’s got a disastrous plan for America—he made himself 100% clear when he picked right-wing extremist Paul Ryan as his running mate. Paul Ryan is bad for America, but we can’t beat him if Americans don’t know everything he stands for. 

The “New” (But Not Improved) Andy Harris

By Roger Burt, PhD

 
I had the great joy of attending another Andy Harris “Town Hall”, in Chestertown, the other day (dripping sarcasm here). He has changed his tactics from the previous one I attended in Easton. In a sense, he is now a kinder, gentler Andy because he says even less than he did before.
 
This program was dominated by him presenting charts about debt and deficit. In a low key fashion, the intent, obviously, to make the audience uncomfortable about their future.
 
His slides and accompanying graphs suggested considerable reason for concern, given his focus on debt. The graphs even displayed projections out to 2070. Oh, my! It is clear we are in trouble! (More dripping sarcasm).
 
But, there was just a teensy problem about the graphs and slides: Nowhere was the data attributed to anyone or any organization. The data could clearly have been made up and, I suspected, much of it probably was. If nothing else, there should be a question raised about the validity of projecting out to 2070.
 
At no time did he present any programs or solutions. We simply were supposed to be concerned and then, I guess, vote for him. Why I would want to do that was not apparent. There was no program or plan, no light at the end of the tunnel.
 
At one point, he proclaimed that we needed to have a serious discussion about the issues. It had a bizarre Rodney “Can’t-We-All-Just-Get-Along” King quality about it. Of course, since his Tea Party brethren do nothing but block legislative progress, it had a rather hollow ring to it. There is no discussion with these radicals. (ED. NOTE: According to studies by independent organizations, this is the least productive Congress….EVER! They beat, by 40%, the previously least-productive Congress.)
 
In short, it was a presentation that was terribly short on conclusions, forward-looking plans or programs, solutions or anything useful or illuminating. Fundamentally, it left us with his usual stance – “NO”. Only this time, he was not even edging into confrontation.
 
When it came time for questions, it was apparent that the environmentalists were at the ready. They have learned, and they had preambles ready, so they got to say something, rather than asking a question and yielding the floor to Harris, for his typical obfuscation and evasion. It was at this point that there was some heat generated from the interchange. In response to one question about the Clean Water Act, he challenged, “And how will YOU pay for it.” Nice touch. Once again, no program, no solution, just negativity and it is our problem, without guidance or leadership.
 
From this program, it seems likely that he is going to run a campaign that is mostly evasive, as if being an incumbent is enough to get him re-elected. He doesn’t have an impressive record to run on, especially since he has voted “no” on key jobs-creating and infrastructure legislation, among others. We will see how effective an evasive campaign can be, since it opens the door to being challenged; eventually, he will have to say something. 

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