Benny's World

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Change I can Believe In: Blackwater Out

I read in the news the State Department is not renewing Blackwater's contract in Iraq--with the best reason: the Iraqis don't want them there, and under a new agreement that went into effect at the first of this year, Iraqis have say so in the matter. Of course, the DoD and the State Department will have to hussle to find some security help in protecting our diplomats, but I believe this is an excellent beginning in leading us out of Iraq.

I hope the DoJ follows up and asks Blackwater how the money was spent. Needs to be done in a Federal Court, not just in front of Henry Waxman. Hearings on Blackwater have been fruitless.

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Yo Mr. Vice President: Call John and Elizabeth Edwards

Yesterday, President Obama announced a Middle Class TF to hold public hearings on how to strengthen the Middle Class. VP Joe Biden is the chair of the TF, and I applaud out POTUS in picking the VPOTUS to lead it. Here are two video clips, the first by President Obama about the TF.

I think it is a good idea and VP Biden is a good person to chair it. However, I take a small exception with something the POTUS said about the poor. He said they would be front and center as a part of it, but only if they are willing to work for it. That sounds like Rethug (or what I term the "biscuits and gravy crowd"--who often say they didn't need welfare when they were downright poor in eating gruel everyday) rhetoric to me, as though poor people are lazy and only want to collect welfare.

But perhaps our POTUS doesn't understand the working poor who need to be put front and center. They have been working their hearts out for years and can't get anywhere as it is, and now, they are sliding further into the ditch. Bankruptcies are up due to health care emergencies requiring lengthy care in the hospital, and often due to out of pocket expenses, even if the person is insured, according to the National Coalition on Health Care:

  • A recent study by Harvard University researchers found that the average out-of-pocket medical debt for those who filed for bankruptcy was $12,000. The study noted that 68 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had health insurance. In addition, the study found that 50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses.
  • Every 30 seconds in the United States someone files for bankruptcy in the aftermath of a serious health problem.
  • A new survey shows that more than 25 percent said that housing problems resulted from medical debt, including the inability to make rent or mortgage payments and the development of bad credit ratings.
  • About 1.5 million families lose their homes to foreclosure every year due to unaffordable medical costs.
Yes, a middle class issue, but it hits the working poor the most, many who aren't eligible for Medicare or Medicaid.

Here's VP Biden's Speech about the TF:

Biden says protecting the middle class lifts up the poor. I would argue John Edwards' position of lifting up the poor into the middle class strengthens the middle class, and it starts with EFCA, doing something about the abuses by lending predators, extending health care to all, affordable college or training for those who seek further education, incentive pay for urban and rural teachers, and of course, Head Start, which is in the Recovery Act.

VP Biden, I know you already have an executive director, Jared Bernstein. He's learned, has lots of statistics, but I'm not certain he knows how to talk to the working poor or common man if he cannot illustrate an affinity. But I implore you to also ask either Elizabeth or John Edwards to be part of the Task Force as they understand the common man and issues of poverty better than anyone. Remember, JRE grew up from a working class family that was poor when he was born.

JRE took a poverty tour during the campaign, one that the M$M (yeah, that includes the Internet media too)largely ignored, but nonetheless an important listening tour. Here is a clip from the Cleveland stop:

JRE knew a train wreck was coming thousands of miles before it happened. He had solutions long before the other candidates did. Why anyone didn't listen to him in the campaign is beyond me, but most weren't, and that's why he dropped out of the race a year ago yesterday. But it's not too late to utilize John's expertise, or if the Administration is concerned about JRE's political reputation, then invite Elizabeth to meet the TF and ask the hard questions, especially in the area of health care.

We don't have a minute to waste. President Obama, are you listening? If there is a sense of urgency, don't worry about how JRE appears politically at the moment. He is ready to serve if you would give him a chance.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Buh-Bye Blago

(photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune)

I have not written much about Gov Rod R. Blagojevich as my governor. There were various reasons why I held back. Now that he has been removed from office, I will finally say my piece. He was wrecking most of higher education in Illinois (except for Chicago State, which did deserve some funding)--and all to raid my university's funds to pay for mainly junk in Chicago. He would approve funding for half a bridge and not the other half if it was known that someone was not a fan of his. He wouldn't live in the mansion provided for him and his family. Oh no, Springfield was not good enough for his family.

I hope he is indicted by Patrick Fitzgerald. The man is seriously corrupt and I believe he is guilty of many allegations against him to come. I'm more annoyed that it took the Illinois Lege as long as it did to bring about his removal, but at least the man cannot hold any public office in IL for the rest of his natural life. (Just read at CFB that one of my Senators, Mike Frerichs, made that motion) And good riddance to his wife, the ungrateful First Lady.

As JRE said about Karl Rove when he left the WH in 2007, "Good-Bye and Good Riddance" to the anti-Nixon.

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Kumbya Doesn't Work in Congress

President Obama learned a lesson. You can have happy hour at the White House, but it doesn't help unemployed people. Look at the vote yesterday in the House on the Stimulus Package.

JRE understood this all too well. The special interests still got to the Congress. You cannot sit at a table with lobbyists or else they will take all of the food.

Taylor Marsh has the important parts the Dems gave up in this bill.

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