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    • A World Without Poor People (Sort of)
      Because the last time it was done, it was not forbidden,  because good jobs cluster in only a few regions now and because of vast influxes of foreign money, we have charts like this: So, almost a 100% increase in five and a half years. (People living in Vancouver wish housing prices had only risen […]
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Obama Reacts To Reporter’s Questions

Oh, wait – that was the wrong clip. Try this one:

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Juanita Lunchbucket blues, part deux

francisco-jose-de-goya-y-lucientes-execution-of-the-rebels-25371

Francisco Goya, Execution of the Rebels - How much can we take?

For those that are going through lay-offs, job cutbacks, you have a friend.  I’m in the same struggle as you.  This is an extremely personal post, if you don’t wanna read, keep moving to the other great posts.

Remember when I got laid off, thanks to the October bailout & stock market collapse?

It happened again – yesterday in fact, and today was my last day.  Not just me, the entire staff except for the the owners (this was a small business).  I was working PT, while also doing an online course for state certification in a supposedly recession-proof industry, working at this small business and making minimum wage salary plus commission.  But in order to make that commission, you need a state license to do that.  It’s an insurance office that specializes in Medicare Advantage plans (Part A & B – plus D = Part C, aka Medicare Advantage Plan)  It rolls up Medicare (Federal), prescription coverage (Part D) all into one.  And if you’re of lower income, it rolls up your Medicaid too.

Mind you, I am a “creative classer” – aka, marketing/advertising/media professional.  I’ve been freelancing for about 6 years, with some concentration on the Health Insurance industry (I have other “concentrations,” but I won’t get into that now) and up until late 2006, I was doing really good.   I could pay my bills & do what I need to do for the FAMILIA (Puma Cub & Grandma Puma).  I even got to volunteer for Puma Cub’s school teams & activities.  Something a single working mom can’t do.

Well after the October 2008 fiasco – I started PT-ing just to try to cover basic necessities (my nest egg flew the coop),  hoping things would kick up and get better after the election.  Then I got sick.  Here I am, needing insurance- mind you, and I’m helping people worse off than me (disabled & seniors who need food stamps, lower co-pays for their doctors & medications),  to get something back for all the years they’ve busted their ass for in their working years.  Despite my illness, I kept working because I had to, giving my all and learning the trade that could be paying the bills for a while.

Not anymore.  Everyone from the cleaning lady, bookkeeper, receptionists, everyone – GONE.  Just like that.   Medicare cut back on the payments made to sub-contractors (private insurance companies and subsequently, independent agencies) which in turn, had to cut back personnel or absorb the cut until things balance out with the stock market.  The owners decided to cut personnel, aka, me and everybody else.

So what to do?  I can’t push for more child support – ex-hubbie is miraculously cooperating lately (which he wasn’t for 9 of 11 Puma Cub’s years) but it’s not enough.   During my 3 month PT, I’ve helped seniors & disabled people get the most out of their hard-earned working years, (which what the gov’t and their insurance company SHOULD DO since they are being PAID by the Federal Gov’t to do for them when Bush Privatized Medicare),  get the most out of their Medicare.  After learning exactly how much money goes into each recipient of Medicare, how much the state gives for low income cases, I KNOW UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE IS A POSSIBILITY in the United States.  But that’s another post to be written.  I’ve been a passionate advocate of this, BTW…but you all know this… moving on:

For the first time in my working single mom life, today I applied for Food Stamps & Medicaid- because for the first time, I have no other alternative.

I cried my eyes out while doing it.  I’m from a strong Amazonian stock of proud working immigrant people who never asked anything from anyone except to work & give the best we got for a living wage, but what else I am going to do?

I have a kid to support and a disabled senior under my care.  Under more normal economic circumstances, I would have a little $ put aside for a couple of months and hustle for that next gig – which always came through (thank God/Goddess).  But there’s no more bustle in the hustle.  There’s no money to hire a person like me.  There’s hardly any opportunities in Tampa for my skill set – and most of the money I’ve made in the past 5 yrs has been through NY, DC, CA projects that I get through my marketing network – who are suffering just like me.  Hell, even Checkers is on a waiting list.

So to all the O-bots that bullied, cheated and pushed their way to elect a MFer that doesn’t know shit about nothing – FUCK YOU.  We had that person that can save this economy – that can give both domestic and foreign investors 10 BILLION times more confidence in investing in domestic industry and services to pump back the stock market.

We could have had that leader who had the plan to undo the damage – SHE had the Solutions for America, for the invisible fuckers like me and the millions that are getting laid off and fucked up the ass thanks to Bush 2.0 just so you can expiate your nascent liberalism, while the rest of us BEEN fighting for the rights of everyone here in the US for decades while your asses were being wiped  and powdered by your moms or nannies.

BUT NO.  You had to have your fucking President Obama, come hell or high water.   Guess what – I ain’t seen a damn change, except for the worse.

In the meantime, I have HOPE, not in the mass merchandised Obama kind, but that whatever protects me, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, Yahweh (MadamaB, the Bat-Mitzvah is on!), Santeria Goddesses, Ancestral Spirits, that my world turns back to the ordinary and simple kind where I work and I am paid what my work is worth.  Where I can buy my Puma Cub that extra treat due to a good report card (she wants to be a scientist!) and put some away for her college education, where I can send my mom on a well deserved vacation once a year to Dominican Republic to be in her hometown where she was born during the colder winter months so her arthritis doesn’t fold her in half due to the pain.  Where I can make a living and have that satisfaction of participating in this great nation that opened its arms to my parents.

Here’s a song I heard this morning on my way to be laid off.   I’ve always been a Duranie since Planet Earth.  Normally Simon Le Bon is not making any kind of sense except in a sexy kind, but this hit home today- and I cried my eyes out.

What is happening to me crazy some would say
Where is the life that I recognize, gone away

And I won’t cry for yesterday, there’s an ordinary world somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way to the ordinary world I will learn to survive

We all have to learn to survive while we strive for that Ordinary World we once had.

UPDATE: NEW LINK FOR VIDEO

msnbc.com video: N.Y. Senate announcement

For those of you who might have missed it, here is Gov. Paterson’s announcement that Kirsten Gillibrand is appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat. She thanks a lot of people including Clinton and her Grandmother Polly Noonan, a political organizer from Albany. Nice job, Kirsten!

This is what a feminist looks like

This is what a feminist looks like

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dear Donna, Sit on it.

Myiq2xu found this comment from Donna Brazile this morning regarding the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand:

Political strategist Donna Brazile noted the contrast between the excitement surrounding Obama’s inauguration this week and the general public attitude toward women in office, one that she said helped drive Kennedy out of the running.

“Obama inspired us to turn the page, and now women seem stuck in the table of contents,” she said.

Donna Brazile, the most hated woman in America

Donna Brazile, the most hated woman in America

Noting that women still make up less than 20 percent of both houses of Congress, Brazile said: “The elevator to our future growth in the Congress is still stuck in the lobby. It’s time we hurry history.”

Ahem.  Where to start?

First of all, here is *my* comment about Caroline Kennedy from yesterday:

There are several legitimate reasons to not support Caroline:
1.) she is not nor ever has been a politician. She is a socialite. There’s nothing wrong with being a socialite but politics does require a certain passion for the job.
2.) she doesn’t have the right personality for being at the mercy of a lot of people who want her attention. Again, not a problem for a private person; deadly for a politician.
3.) given items 1and 2, why in Gawd’s name would she ever apply for the job unless she was being asked by her uncle and felt like her name would give her an easy pass? And yes, princess is the correct term and unique to CK. It is not sexist to refer to her as a princess since prince would just have easily applied to her brother. She gives the impression that she is contending for the seat out of a sense of noblesse oblige.
4.) she doesn’t have any opinions on policy. She’s an apolitical slow learner in a family of gifted pols. She resembles her mother, who was a terrific fashion plate and editor but not really a person you wanted to blog politics with.

My only question is: had we known all of this about Caroline when she endorsed Obama, would it have carried the same weight? Now that we know her to be a private but politically shallow socialite, would any one have cared who she endorsed? It was the magic of her name that brought Obama success. Now that magic is gone. She had one chance to be a serious contender and we found that she’s just an amateur with a royal pedigree.

There’s nothing sexist about that, Donna. Caroline was more unsuited to be an interim senator than Sarah Palin was to be vice president. Not only that but Sarah can talk very eloquently, uses million dollar words and doesn’t seem skittish around the press, provided they don’t bait her with inane questions and splice her interviews to ribbons.

Donna, you are confusing sexism with classism. Sarah Palin was a self made politician with humble roots therefore it was ok to treat her like a f^&*ing c^&t. Caroline Kennedy is a socialite from a well connected family therefore we must treat her like a lady. Sarah doesn’t deserve any respect because she’s a working girl. Caroline deserves to have her ass kissed because she is too removed from the revolting peasants to get her fingernails dirty. Which one of us is being sexist now? I mean, why don’t we bind the feet of all of the future female politicians that you approve of so we will know what they look like and stop wasting our time supporting people with actual merit?

Donna, why are you even bothering to cozy up to women now? Didn’t you go out of your way to tell us that we were the “old coalition” and we weren’t needed anymore? Is it the zeitgeist?  Have you figured out that we’re royally pissed at having to wait to see a well qualified woman make it to the top? You had a hand in that when you propped up Barack Obama’s blundering campaign by fixing the RBC committee to throw its weight behind him. Yes, you heard me right. Obama ran a terrible primary campaign. It was so bad that you had to help him cheat in order to “win”. He ran through money like a sieve in big states that he lost decisively, and he took his name off the ballot in Michigan. He screwed up in Michigan. Michigan should have been his death knell politically. What kind of f^%*ing moron takes his name off the ballot in a state he has to win? Everyone and their brother knew MI and FL were going to have to count. But when your committee realized he was in trouble, you socially promoted him, gave him a pass and redistributed the delegate wealth so that Obama could *look* like he was ahead. You helped to elect a weak candidate who ran a bad campaign and relied on psychological manipulation and stagecraft to score the WH. And he was even in danger of losing that until the economy tanked and his campaign took a hatchet to Sarah Palin’s reputation. YOU had a hand in that. Please do not lecture US on sexism. You burned Hillary Clinton, depriving her of possibly her only chance to be president and our only chance to have a president who actually understands government in a time of crisis. Thanks for nothing and STFU.

And what did Hillary deserve, Donna? Did she deserve to be treated like a corporate prostituting, calculating uber bitch? I think not. No, I think she deserved to be treated like this:

Now, go away, Donna before we taunt you a second time.

Friday: It’s a Girl!

Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to be appointed to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in an announcement this afternoon by Governor Paterson. Gillibrand is a centrist Democrat from a conservative district in upstate New York. She’s a two term congresswoman with a reputation for being bold and forceful. With this appointment, Paterson is hoping to secure the vast wilderness of NY that is not Manhattan.

Hillary campaigns for Gillibrand in August 2006.

Hillary campaigns for Gillibrand in August 2006.

Of course, he may not have secured the seat against primary challenges in 2010. Gillibrand will likely have a contender or two, most notably Carolyn McCarthy, a congresswoman from Long Island (pronounced Lawn Guyland). McCarthy ran for congress on a gun control platform after her husband and son were callously shot by a deranged gunman as they were commuting home on a train. McCarthy is angry over the appointment as Gillibrand is one of the few Democrats who is supported by the National Rifle Association. Given Gillibrand’s district, the rolling foothills south of the Adirondacks, it’s easy to imagine that many of her constituents are avid hunters. But country folk and city folk don’t always see eye to eye on these things. It would be great if the NRA recognized that there *is* a difference and that having a lot of guns floating around a crowded metropolis where they can fall into the hands of the not-so-stable is probably not such a good idea.

Still, Hillary Clinton was an enthusiastic supporter of Gillibrand so I suspect that she’ll be pleased with this announcement. The NYTimes seems to be busily trying to find a way to smear Paterson by blaming him and his office for the botched handling of Caroline Kennedy. Personally, I’d like to thank him for taking his time and allowing the vetting of Kennedy unfold as it did. We learned a lot about the reclusive socialite, who doesn’t seem to have a political bone in her body, and the people at the NYTimes who were behind her. Something seriously weird has been going on with the Times over Kennedy. The articles written about the event have been nothing short of bizarre with a defensive tone and disjointed, out of sequence reporting of what actually happened. The sooner Caroline Kennedy is off the front page, the better.

So, Kudos to Paterson for doing the right thing and congratulations to Kirsten Gillibrand, the second female senator from the state of NY. She has some mighty big shoes to fill but if she was recommended by Hillary herself, then I’m sure the state is in good hands.

Lily Ledbetter, unlikely heroine

Lily Ledbetter, our newest heroine

In other news, the Senate passed the Lily Ledbetter act. The bill passed by 61-36.  We need to get a roll call to see which of our nation’s 36 senators voted against fair pay for women and to find out what their rationale was.  They have a lot of explaining to do to their non-burqa wearing female constituents.   Some of you ladies out there should expect to see a raise as your employers rush to head off any potential lawsuits. But there’s more to paycheck disparities than just discrimination:

The Senate debate on Thursday reflected society’s debate. Civil and womens’ rights advocates hailed the new Ledbetter legislation, but others said it will leave companies vulnerable to potentially crippling lawsuits even though discrimination is only a small factor in the so-called “gender gap” between male and female earners.

A 2007 report by the American Association of University Women found that when experience, training, education and other factors are weighed, discrimination accounts for only 5 percent of the earnings differential between male and female college graduates one year after graduation — and only 12 percent after ten years.

Nevertheless, Catherine Hill, an AAUW senior researcher who co-authored the study, said the Ledbetter law is needed.

“Most companies do the right thing anyway, but some will only do the right thing when they see laws on the books. And some companies have to be taken to court. Without (punitive) damages for discrimination, there really is no way to make them take the issue seriously,” Hill said.

However, Warren Farrell, the San Francisco author of “Why Men Earn More,” said that much of the pay gap can be explained by men choosing higher-paying professions that are in high demand and short supply, such as engineering, computer science, and information technology.

Men are also more likely to take dangerous, grimy jobs, such as collecting garbage and driving cabs, which typically pay more than other non-skilled labor.

Eliminating overt discrimination is only the most obvious thing to do. Now we have to figure out how to make the nation realize that sexism has a cost. When we don’t help girls and women succeed to the best of their abilities, it costs all of us the loss of their ideas to propel business and the nation forward. Ending pay disparities starts in middle school where we must now turn our attention to advocate for our daughters and to make sure they have the same opportunities to succeed as their male counterparts. That’s where we need to fight the next battle against gender discrimination so that girls are as prepared to study higher level math and science as boys.

Sometimes, evolution doesn’t happen gradually but in leaps and bounds. Let’s seize the day and take Lily Ledbetter up to 11.