(An Oldie, Sept. 2011, But Still True)
By plf515 
Daily Kos

Why would anyone vote Republican? Well, here are 10 reasons.

1. You are a bigot

It's true that not all Republicans are bigots. But if you ARE a bigot, the Republican party will be much more your group than the Democratic party. Remember that there are lots of ways to be a bigot: You could be a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, or lots of other things.

2. You like eating, drinking and breathing poison.

Many Republicans are calling for or voting for shrinking or eliminating agencies that protect us against poison. They seem to think that the corporations will do the right thing, without any pressure from the government. Uh huh. Read The Jungle.  Look at the way Monsanto is hiding facts about Round Up. Look at food safety and outbreaks of E. Coli.  

Corporations exist to make money. They will do so any way they can. The government needs to stop them from doing so in ways that hurt people.

3. You think the rich don't have enough money

The idea that giving more money to rich people (via tax breaks) will help poor people is nonsensical and has been shown wrong time and again in history. Huge tax breaks for the rich (a la George Bush) don't work.

4. You don't support our veterans

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran's Association (IAVA) rates every member of congress on how well they support our veterans.  In the Senate, 9 people got A or A+: All were Democrats. 30 got D or F: 29 Republicans and one Democrat.  More on this

5. You like big deficits

Since the end of WW II the ratio of debt to GDP for the nation has gone down in 9 administrations (3 Republican and 6 Democratic) and up in 7 administrations (6 Republican and 1 Democratic).  The largest increases by this measure were GW Bush's 2nd term; GHW Bush, and Reagan's first term. The largest decreases were the three terms right after the end of WWII (Truman and Eisenhower). The last decrease under a Republican was in Eisenhower's 2nd term
source

6. You don't believe in free speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union is the premier defender of our civil liberties, including the right to free speech.  That's free speech for EVERYONE; from Nazis to Marxists to Fred Phelps to anyone else. They rate politicians, including governors, senators and representatives.  12 people got a 100 rating: All were Democrats. 65 people got a score of less than 10: All were Republicans. Only 6 Democrats got a score under 50 (Joe Donnelly,  Michael Ross, Collin Peterson, Joseph Shuler, Mark Critz and David Boren). Only 2 Republicans got scores over 50 (Olympia Snowe and Mark Kirk)  
Full list

7. You like big government

The Republicans like to claim they are against big government. It's a lie. They only object when government helps people. But they are supporters of the Patriot Act; they want the government to say who you can marry; they want the government to forbid abortion; they want the government to be able to spy on you without restraint. Unfortunately, many Democrats agree with them on some of these, but to find opposition to these big government ideas, you have to look to the Democrats.

8. You want government to hurt people, but not help them

This is really just a summation of some other points.

9. You are greedy, short sighted and rich

You really have to be all three for this to work.

If you're rich but not short-sighted, you know that, in the long run, when there is huge income inequality, it leads to things like stock market crashes and revolution, and everyone loses.  In a revolution, it is often the rich who lose most.

If you're rich but not greedy, you recognize that helping others is a good thing, and that the government assuring that people have a safety net is a good thing as well.

10. You like torture

The Democrats don't exactly shine here, but the Republicans are much worse.  It was, after all, Dick Cheney who bragged in his memoir about being a war criminal. It was Don Rumsfeld who opined that a problem in Abu Ghraib was that they weren't torturing prisoners enough.  And it is mostly Democrats who have objected to torture.

Torture is wrong.  It's also stupid. It doesn't work. People who are tortured will say ANYTHING (true or not) that they think their torturers want to hear.




 
 
 
This morning, speaking from the Roosevelt Room, the President announced that the State Department determined that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States.
Here's the full text of his remarks -- they're worth a read.

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Several years ago, the State Department began a review process for the proposed construction of a pipeline that would carry Canadian crude oil through our heartland to ports in the Gulf of Mexico and out into the world market.

This morning, Secretary Kerry informed me that, after extensive public outreach and consultation with other Cabinet agencies, the State Department has decided that the Keystone XL Pipeline would not serve the national interest of the United States. I agree with that decision.

This morning, I also had the opportunity to speak with Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada. And while he expressed his disappointment, given Canada’s position on this issue, we both agreed that our close friendship on a whole range of issues, including energy and climate change, should provide the basis for even closer coordination between our countries going forward. And in the coming weeks, senior members of my team will be engaging with theirs in order to help deepen that cooperation.

Now, for years, the Keystone Pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an overinflated role in our political discourse. It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter. And all of this obscured the fact that this pipeline would neither be a silver bullet for the economy, as was promised by some, nor the express lane to climate disaster proclaimed by others.

To illustrate this, let me briefly comment on some of the reasons why the State Department rejected this pipeline.

First: The pipeline would not make a meaningful long-term contribution to our economy. So if Congress is serious about wanting to create jobs, this was not the way to do it. If they want to do it, what we should be doing is passing a bipartisan infrastructure plan that, in the short term, could create more than 30 times as many jobs per year as the pipeline would, and in the long run would benefit our economy and our workers for decades to come.

Our businesses created 268,000 new jobs last month. They’ve created 13.5 million new jobs over the past 68 straight months -- the longest streak on record. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. This Congress should pass a serious infrastructure plan, and keep those jobs coming. That would make a difference. The pipeline would not have made a serious impact on those numbers and on the American people’s prospects for the future.

Second: The pipeline would not lower gas prices for American consumers. In fact, gas prices have already been falling -- steadily. The national average gas price is down about 77 cents over a year ago. It’s down a dollar over two years ago. It’s down $1.27 over three years ago. Today, in 41 states, drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than two bucks a gallon. So while our politics have been consumed by a debate over whether or not this pipeline would create jobs and lower gas prices, we’ve gone ahead and created jobs and lowered gas prices.

Third: Shipping dirtier crude oil into our country would not increase America’s energy security. What has increased America’s energy security is our strategy over the past several years to reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels from unstable parts of the world. Three years ago, I set a goal to cut our oil imports in half by 2020. Between producing more oil here at home, and using less oil throughout our economy, we met that goal last year -- five years early. In fact, for the first time in two decades, the United States of America now produces more oil than we buy from other countries.

Now, the truth is, the United States will continue to rely on oil and gas as we transition -- as we must transition -- to a clean energy economy. That transition will take some time. But it’s also going more quickly than many anticipated. Think about it. Since I took office, we’ve doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas by 2025; tripled the power we generate from the wind; multiplied the power we generate from the sun 20 times over. Our biggest and most successful businesses are going all-in on clean energy. And thanks in part to the investments we’ve made, there are already parts of America where clean power from the wind or the sun is finally cheaper than dirtier, conventional power.

The point is the old rules said we couldn’t promote economic growth and protect our environment at the same time. The old rules said we couldn’t transition to clean energy without squeezing businesses and consumers. But this is America, and we have come up with new ways and new technologies to break down the old rules, so that today, homegrown American energy is booming, energy prices are falling, and over the past decade, even as our economy has continued to grow, America has cut our total carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.

Today, the United States of America is leading on climate change with our investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. America is leading on climate change with new rules on power plants that will protect our air so that our kids can breathe. America is leading on climate change by working with other big emitters like China to encourage and announce new commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In part because of that American leadership, more than 150 nations representing nearly 90 percent of global emissions have put forward plans to cut pollution.

America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership. And that’s the biggest risk we face -- not acting.

Today, we’re continuing to lead by example. Because ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.

As long as I’m President of the United States, America is going to hold ourselves to the same high standards to which we hold the rest of the world. And three weeks from now, I look forward to joining my fellow world leaders in Paris, where we’ve got to come together around an ambitious framework to protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.

If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it’s too late, the time to act is now. Not later. Not someday. Right here, right now. And I’m optimistic about what we can accomplish together. I’m optimistic because our own country proves, every day -- one step at a time -- that not only do we have the power to combat this threat, we can do it while creating new jobs, while growing our economy, while saving money, while helping consumers, and most of all, leaving our kids a cleaner, safer planet at the same time.

That’s what our own ingenuity and action can do. That's what we can accomplish. And America is prepared to show the rest of the world the way forward.

Thank you very much.

-- President Barack Obama

Watch the President deliver his statement here.
Learn more about the President's Climate Action Plan here.
Follow @FactsOnClimate to get the facts on how the President is combating climate change in the United States and mobilizing the world to take action.



 
 
Editorial Board,

GAINSVILLE SUN
Published: Tuesday, April 28, 2015
What is going on in the Florida Legislature right now is morally and fiscally indefensible and threatens the well-being of Florida and its people.

It isn't complicated but has been made so by ideologues with power. The state has more than 800,000 people who are uninsured because they do not qualify for Medicaid or cannot afford insurance. The federal government has a contract with Florida, as with other states, to provide what is known as Low Income Pool funds to pay for hospital charity care when the poor go to an emergency room.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration told states the LIP money would be going away and urged them to replace it with a Medicaid expansion plan. So far 28 states have done so. The idea is it is more efficient medically and economically to provide regular health care to the poor somewhere besides a hospital emergency room.

The Florida Senate understood. So did Florida's major business groups, hospitals organizations and voters. A Senate Medicaid expansion plan calls for recipients to be working or in school and pay a small monthly premium. The plan, approved by Washington, would provide more care at less cost - saving an estimated $1.7 billion over five years - and create tens of thousands of jobs and pump tens of billions of dollars into Florida's economy over the next decade.

The Florida House leadership, however, has opted to play politics. Anything tied to Obamacare is anathema. From the start, Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt island, and his lieutenants have stubbornly refused to even discuss Medicaid expansion. At all. Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott, who should be providing leadership toward compromise, is only exacerbating an already horrible situation. Not only is he opposing Medicaid expansion - after he was for it - he is suing the federal government for the LIP money, a case he is almost sure to lose on our dime. Scott says he does not trust the feds to provide the Medicaid expansion money - even though it is codified in the ACA law - but instead is demanding the feds keep the LIP money flowing. His stance is weak and hurts Florida and its residents.

But the damage does not stop there. Now the House and the Senate cannot complete a state budget - their singular constitutionally required task - by the end of the legislative session Friday. Their budgets are $4 billion apart, largely because of the health care impasse, and new funding for education, mental health care and new prison guards as well as some modest tax cuts are all at serious risk.

All so Scott, Crisafulli and Co. can make some ideologically driven political point that ultimately hurts real people.

Thank goodness for the adults in the Florida Senate. What Scott and the House membership are doing is endangering the health and well-being of Florida, which, contrary to the governor's economic hosannas, is still limping out of the recession.

Giving poor people access to health care while at the same time saving the state money and boosting its economy is good public policy.

Refusing to even discuss it is simply morally and fiscally indefensible.
 
 
Historic or horsefeathers?

What should we make of Wal-Mart's decision last week to raise its minimum hourly wage for 500,000 employees? Is this a belated decision to improve the lives of low-paid workers? A white flag to the increasing national labor calls to boost low wages in America?

Perhaps it's an inevitable attempt to remain competitive as the economy gathers steam and workers see more options of where to work. Or is this Wal-Mart blowing smoke, announcing what is in effect a cheap public relations ploy that — for a company approaching a half trillion dollars in annual revenues — won't make much difference?

I'm putting a check mark by "all of the above."

Wal-Mart used to be, hands down, the poster child of low-priced goods and poorly paid workers, or "associates" as the company calls them. But even that brand is fading as consumers find the rise of dollar stores, second-hand thrift stores and the Darwinian pricing of online goods make Walmart store prices seem less rock-bottom than they used to be.

Wal-Mart said Thursday it would raise the base pay for all employees to a minimum of $10 per hour, but only after a yearlong apprenticeship at $9 per hour, or $1.75 above the federal minimum wage.

In the same week, a national survey ranked Walmart last among major retailers in customer satisfaction. Walmart's satisfaction among consumers fell to the lowest level since 2007 on the recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

As Tampa Bay Times retail reporter Sean Daly reported Friday, Wal-Mart workers are certainly celebrating a clearly out-of-the norm decision by Wal-Mart management to up the pay of its least-compensated workers. "Everyone at the store is going to be feeling great," Tampa Walmart worker Angelo Escano told Daly, adding that workers often borrow from one another to make it to the next payday.

This is no worker windfall.

The company's average full-time wage will be $13 an hour, up from $12.85 — a 15-cent-per-hour gain. That translates to a $1.20 gain per day, $6 per week and $312 a year. Part-timers will get $10, up from $9.48, a bigger pay hike but for fewer hours.

Even Walmart department managers will get a bump to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.

This is good news for many, given how Wal-Mart is (at least) the fourth-biggest private employer in the Tampa Bay region. The bottom line is Wal-Mart is giving raises to a good chunk of 12,000 area employees.

But one thing is certain. Wal-Mart never would have contemplated a wage hike if the U.S. economy had not started gathering strength.

When Tampa Bay's unemployment rate topped 10 percent, folks held on to any job they had and were glad to have it. Now Tampa Bay's jobless rate has dropped to 5.5 percent, a signal that businesses are looking to hire and workers are more motivated to seek better-paying opportunities.

Wal-Mart, notorious for high turnover among its vast base of workers, hopes a wage hike will help keep more employees. In 2014, turnover in retail generally averaged about 66 percent for part-time hourly sales associates and 27 percent for full-time workers with benefits, according to the Hay Group consulting firm.

This is the same Wal-Mart ridiculed after one of its stores in Canton, Ohio, held a food drive that asked employees to donate items to fellow associates.

Retail industry observers say that, given its sheer clout, Wal-Mart's action will ripple across other store chains.

"Target will feel the pressure to respond," Burt Flickinger, managing director at New York's Strategic Resource Group, told Bloomberg News. "It's a competitive market for workers." Target pays its cashiers $7.42 to $10.09.

Struggling retailers like Sears will now feel even more pressure to hire and keep workers. And fast-food chains, recently facing a series of protests seeking $15-an-hour pay, will certainly be rethinking their options.

Some businesses already have opted to raise their wages. Stores like the Gap and Ikea recently chose to set hourly wages at or above $9. On the higher end, Costco's pay scale is known to be close to $20 an hour, no doubt a strong contributor to Costco ranking tops in the ACSI ranking among specialty retail stores.

It's not just retailers. St. Petersburg recently agreed to set a $12.50-per-hour minimum wage for city workers, with an eventual goal of $15 per hour. And financial service giant Aetna last month said it will boost the pay of its lowest-paid workers to $16 an hour.

The investor world treated Wal-Mart's wage move with skepticism.

Barclays analysts on Friday downgraded the company to "equal weight" from "overweight" and lowered its price target to $85 from $90.

"Like many other global companies, we faced significant headwinds from currency exchange rate fluctuations, so I'm pleased that we delivered fiscal year revenue of $486 billion," Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said in reporting earnings.

"But, we're not satisfied," he added.

Wage bump or not, I doubt if Wal-Mart's bottom-rung workers are either.

For a Wal-Mart employee earning $9 per hour, it would take more than 1,360 years to make the $25.6 million in compensation CEO McMillon received in 2014.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.


10 reasons why Wal-Mart still matters

1. The 1.2 million jobs Wal-Mart provides in the United States alone roughly equals the number of employed folks in the entire Tampa Bay metro area. Worldwide, Wal-Mart employs 2.2 million.

2. Its market value of $269 billion dwarfs the combined value of every publicly traded company in the Tampa Bay area.

3. It remains the largest retailer on the planet, the largest private employer in the United States.

4. In the grocery business, it is second only in market share to Publix in the state of Florida.

5. Among the 10 richest U.S. billionaires, four are related to Wal-Mart's founding Walton family.

6. In Hernando County, it's the biggest private employer.

7. In Pasco County, it's the fourth-biggest private employer.

8. In Hillsborough County, it's the fourth-biggest private employer.

9. In Pinellas County, it's the fourth-biggest private employer.

10. In the entire Tampa Bay area, it's the fourth-largest private employer, and probably rising.


Will long awaited wage bump by Walmart really make a difference? 02/20/15 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2015 5:12pm] 
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