Friday, September 24, 2010

Hilarious (shocking?) - Jon Stewart / Daily Show clip

The Republicans had a "Contract with America" in 1994, and America trusted them.

But as soon as we turned everything over to them, they broke that contract and, over the following decade and a half, proceeded to drive us off a cliff and into the worst economic collapse this country has seen since the Great Depression.

Their "Contract" cost over 10 million Americans their homes, their jobs, and their life savings.

But NOW they say they have a "BRAND NEW" Contract with America -- and this time they say it's better than their last "contract" because this time they really, REALLY mean it.

And to prove to you that this time they're REALLY telling the truth, I present you with this hilarious clip from Thursday's Jon Stewart show (the fun part begins at 1:23, but the killer is John Boehner at 2:52):

What else can I say? Except that I want to add a clause to their contract that says if Americans are stupid enough to fall for it twice -- and they screw us all over again -- we get to strap all of them into electric chairs and collectively pull the switch. Now, that's a contract even I might be willing to sign!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Is Hatred Really Freedom of Speech?

Note: I recently stumbled across this letter to the editor I wrote just over a year ago.  Sadly, it's still all too true. -- John

I agree that freedom of speech is a paramount American liberty. However, at what point does YOUR freedom of speech impinge upon my own freedoms?

We have all come to learn that giving a soap box to those who spew anger and hatred towards others encourages action and, often, violence. You can veil it any way you choose, but promoting hatred towards others seldom leads to promoting freedoms. In fact, it almost always promotes the exact opposite.

When Glen Beck encourages his audience to believe that Obama is a racist and hates white people, it stirs up a deep-seated anger and provides a "cover" beneath which to justify actions which could, otherwise, never be justifiable. Same goes for Bill O'Reilly's anger toward George Tiller. And it is not just Beck or O’Reilly or the hosts at Fox News.

When the people we entrust to conduct the national dialog, use their positions to incite anger and (eventually and unavoidably) violence, we ALL lose our freedoms.

It's one thing to address people's existing fears and concerns.

It is entirely something else to CREATE them.
John Epstein
August 2009

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Good News -- Bad News

The good news is that President Obama is proposing to extend tax cuts for 98% of all Americans.

The bad news is that the Republicans are threatening to block President Obama’s proposed tax cuts for 98% of Americans -- unless he also agrees to extend an expensive tax break for America’s wealthiest 2%. This extra Republican demand is specifically targeted to benefit people who already earn over $250,000.00 a year.

And, if the Republicans get their way, it will add an extra $700 billion to our deficit.

Here’s the background:

In 2001 President Bush and the Republicans put through tax cuts with the biggest cuts going to the wealthiest Americans. While those tax cuts arguably helped all Americans, they added over $1.7 trillion dollars to the deficit and, by 2007, resulted in the top 1% of earners taking 23.5% of all income earned in the United States. By original plan, those cuts expire in 2011.

Due to the economic crisis, President Obama wants to extend those tax cuts – but only for Americans who earn less than $250,000 a year. The Republicans want to the cuts to include America’s wealthiest people (and the biggest donors to Republican causes) at a cost of an extra $700 billion dollars tacked onto the deficit.

The Republican's argument is that wealthy Americans own business and if we don't give them tax breaks, they won't create new jobs. That claim is absurd, disingenuous and absolutely false. There is only ONE reason business owners hire new employees: because of increased demand for the goods they manufacture or for the services they sell.

This Republican scare tactic is just another attempt to get hard-working middle-class Americans to voluntarily shift the tax burden from the wealthy onto themselves. The truth is that no business owner in their right mind is going to spend money to hire workers they don't need . . . simply because we lower their taxes.

But as you read this, Republicans are demanding that those breaks, which diverted so much money to the already-wealthy, be extended at a cost of another $700 billion dollars to the deficit. And they are holding YOUR tax break hostage unless President Obama gives into their demands.

If you think that’s right, then do nothing. If you believe that YOUR tax cut should be contingent upon extending more tax breaks to people who are already earning over $250,000.00 a year -- then just delete this e-mail.

But if you believe what the Republicans are doing is wrong, you need to speak up and you need to act QUICKLY – before it’s too late. Call your Republican Senators and Representatives today. Tell them that you don't make as much as they make or as much as their wealthy friends make. Tell them that every dollar you save on taxes gets spent into this economy, keeping people employed and helping to create new jobs. Tell them they need to start doing what’s best for you and not what’s best for their wealthy Republican friends. Tell them they need to stop blocking things that will help Americans recover from the recession they caused.

Here’s how to contact your U.S. Senator:

Here’s how to contact your U. S. Representative:

In 2010 the Republicans voted to block Wall Street and bank reform. They voted to block aid to small U.S. businesses. They voted to block numerous jobs bills and unemployment extensions during this economic crisis. They even voted to protect BP from paying full damage claims from the Gulf oil spill. They say they are on your side as they sound the alarm about deficits from one side of their mouth, yet they want to give their wealthiest friends (and donors) a $700 billion dollar tax break from the other.

Whose side are they REALLY on?

It’s time to read between the lines.

Forward this to your friends who earn less than $250,000.00 a year. Urge them to get involved. If we don't do it, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Related Reference and Research:

Here’s a PBS video explaining both sides of the issue:

Here’s Stephen Colbert’s amusing take on it:

More reading, including references to how the wealthiest 1% of Americans jumped from taking 9% of America’s income in the late 1970’s, to taking 23.5% of America’s income in 2007: