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“Don’t expect too much from me,” says the POTUS

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The B.O.T., Barack Obama Teleprompter.

I’m just lucky that I still have some Tums handy:

From Yahoo News/AP

Obama seeks patience, warns of expecting too much

LOS ANGELES – Facing largely adoring crowds far from Washington, President Barack Obama on Thursday asked Americans to back his far-reaching economic and health policies, but warned them not to expect too much from him or the federal government. With many Republicans and even some Democrats in Congress resisting his budget plans, Obama went into full campaign mode in California, using television, friendly audiences and his massive e-mail list to counter his critics.

Also known as propaganda units and NBC, owned by General Electric, a massive donor to Obama’s Presidential Campaign.

Without naming names, he mocked Republican officials who call his plan too costly even though they presided over huge deficits while they controlled Congress and the White House.

“Where have you been?” he said to several hundred people at a raucous town-hall meeting in Los Angeles. “What have you been doing?”

Was that on the Teleprompter?  (Who by they way, The B.O.T., a.k.a, Barack Obama’s TelePrompter, has a new blog all on his/her/it’s own, here).

In his second California town hall in as many days, Obama mixed cockiness with humility.

Humility only is shown when it’s on the B.O.T.

He told Americans not to expect “something for nothing” from their government. Improvements to the economy and health care will take time and require unusually large deficits for a while, he said.

Only if you’re AIG or one of the 13 bailed out conglomerates that didn’t pay taxes.

“Nothing is free,” he said. Responding to a woman’s complaint about cuts in jobs and salaries for teachers in California, Obama urged people not to ask the federal and state governments to cut taxes and improve services at the same time.

So which are you going to do, Obama?  You already promised that 95% of the population is going to get their taxes cut, which equals about $13 extra dollars a week to the average working American.  How about concentrating on the economy instead of picking out your NCAA teams? Nero Dribbles while Rome burns.

“At some point you’ve got to make some choices,” he told the crowd, which loudly cheered him repeatedly. Obama also asked the country for patience and forbearance. “We are not always going to be right,” he said. “And I don’t want everybody disappointed if we make a mistake.”

Uh, how many are you going to make?  I’ll leave to WMCB to comment on that:

WMCB, on March 19th, 2009 at 8:15 am Said: I point out to them that this ENTIRE election was all about what a big mess Bush would leave, and who had the experience and work ethic and smarts to clean up that mountain of mess. Obama and his supporters assured us all that he was fully aware of the scope of the task, and could do the job. Could do the job handily, with great success, like no other! So no use now whining “But…Bush left such a huge mess!” Yeah, dipshit, we knew that. Cleaning up that mess is the job he APPLIED FOR, and wanted so badly, and insisted he was qualified to do, so STFU and do it or face the people’s anger.

Oh but Obama needs a compass apparently:

The important question, he said, is “are we moving in the right direction” and is he keeping his main campaign promises.

Then there’s a little dribble of “Hope” for foreclosed homeowners:

Obama also announced fresh aid to struggling homeowners in California. He said California was receiving $145 million to help communities hardest hit by the home foreclosure crisis. He said the money would be used to buy up and rehabilitate vacant homes, and provide loans to poorer and middle-income families to help with home assistance. He announced a new Web site to help people around the nation:http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/.

We all here at the Confluence support aid to homeowners a la Hillary’s plan adopting FDR’s plan like she proposed in Fall 2008.  We believe that taxes are good if the general public is receiving and benefitting fromn these services, as all card carrying liberals that we are.  We know how important it is for the government to do FOR the people, BY the people.  But what Obama is saying is, “if we f___k up, hey, don’t blame it all on us” while AIG and and other bailout baneficiaries skip out paying taxes while taking the bailout money in hordes out of our Treasury. If we can’t count on our government, or expect you to do the right thing because appraently you’re pre-empting the clusterf__k you’ve created, President Obama, then WHO do we trust?  This happened on your watch not on Chimperor’s and Darth Cheney’s.

Is integrity above your pay grade?


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Hump Day Afternoon Open Thread

This video is dedicated to all the Obama worshippers justifying their love for Mr. Teleprompter Jesus.  Too bad Ireland’s not laughing.  Keep holding on to that Precious!

On a more serious note, watch this next one, from HBO’s miniseries John Adams.  Jefferson, the flawed, but brilliant founding father that he is, WAS RIGHT.

What would Thomas Jefferson think of the AIG Bonus giveaway bonanza?   Would Hamilton be passing blame to a crony senator who actually tried to block the bonuses?

Open thread-it!

Tuesday Ramblings plus a Caption This Photo!

CAPTION THIS PHOTO:

whitehouse

Write your caption in the comments section!

Hello my dearest Conflucians!  We’ve been doing a lot of money talk here at the blog.   Even though I don’t know jack about finance or economics like my more illustrious brethren here, I thought I’d add my two cents (about what we all have in our wallets and purses now) regarding the crisis.

So, anybody feel that Obama brand of Hope pouring through your soul?

Yeah, me neither.

Instead, I feel fear and cynicism all rolled up in a ball of “f__k you” and it’s the same kind I felt during the Bush 2.0 years.

Remember 7 years ago when Bush took office and brought us the Iraq war based on false information?  Yeah, and 7 years later we are still fighting that war.   BASED ON FALSE INFORMATION.   From my view at the bottom of the totem pole, I can’t shake the feeling that our financial meltdown is engineered the same exact way the Iraq War was.  And since it’s Tinfoil Tuesday (h/t to Stateofdisbelief), I’m betting that all this financial meltdown is an illusion made to appear like a crisis/catastrophe.  Here’s a quote from Conflucian Resident Economist DakiniKat that really stuck out at me:

The market seems to have stabilized for awhile as Ben Bernanke has been giving speeches and making appearances every where he can.  For those of you  that really want to take on empirical studies in Economics (econometrics and all), this is a part of a strategy he outlined in  Monetary Policy.

From my simplistic, peasant, lay-woman’s point of view, Wall Street is just some glorified Las Vegas gambling casino without the neon lights and flashy shows, although it very well could be.   It’s all speculation, opinion-based gambling.  For example, if there’s a rumor that corn farmers are scared that next years crops aren’t going to be as plentiful as last year, suddenly you see corn stock (pun intended) plummet and by the end of the day thousands of workers are laid off.   All based on speculation.  There’s no gradual or incremental adjustment to curtail the possible loss of corn, no riding out the storm, none of those things.  Actions are taken swiftly and severely in a matter of hours.  You punch in at 8 am, rumor gets released at 9:30am, stockbrokers go bezerk on the trading floor by 10:00am and you walk out with a pink slip by 5:00pm.   Who suffers?  You and me.  Who started the rumor?   No one will ever know (because no one is held accountable anymore), maybe a sugar ethanol lobbyist firm, who knows?   Then the fear/hope peddling cycle goes wash, rinse, repeat.

Yet in the same way Wall Street reacts to bad news via the government, all it takes are positive words and Wall Street shall be healed.  Here’s what Big Dawg said:

It used to be gospel in the nation’s power center: Presidents didn’t talk publicly about what the markets were doing. The notion was that anything a president said on this subject could be too easily misinterpreted, sending Wall Street into a dive.

Now, former President Clinton says he thinks President Barack Obama should talk more optimistically about the prospects that the nation will recover from its current deep economic woes.

Remember Obama’s quote regarding pressuring Congress to pass the stimulus package because a failure to act “could turn a crisis into a catastrophe.” President Obama learned that fearmongering got Bush 2.0 what he wanted, so he’s continuing the fear-peddling push.  Scare the masses into submission!  Worked for Stalin & Bush 2.0.  F__k Hope.

Color me a rainbow of stupid, but I ask myself the following questions:

  • If Wall Street is the gear that keeps America afloat since so many of our conglomerates which own everything trade publically, why do they depend on the government for morale-boosting if they are that powerful?
  • Why is it that Wall Street trading goes up when positive words are spewed by the President and the Cabinet, or it goes waaaay down when negative words are said, like “stimulus package?”
  • Who the f__k is really in control?  Is it truly Wall Street?  Who controls who?
  • And why is it that the only people that are benefiting from everything are banking conglomerates? And like MYIQ said below, where’s the money?
  • Bush 2.0’s agenda was clear as a bell.  Bush 2.0 started a war to get the oil speculators going batsh_t crazy and hike the price of gas and oil, which made Exxon-Mobil and other oil companies VERY happy while many families around the world choose between fuel or food.   But what is Obama’s agenda? Instead of oil, Obama is favoring the super elite global bankers.   What is it that global bankers want?
  • And what happens to us, the people who sweat and bleed to make this country the great place it should and could be?

Well, looks like Obama and the O Cabinet are heeding Big Dawg’s words, because some of the pesky peons that Hillary and Bill understand so well  (i.e. the people footing the bill a.k.a you and me) aren’t as drunk on the Hopium as Obama (and the media) would like.  Daily Telegraph from the UK has this to say:

Barack Obama goes upbeat on economy after popularity declines

President Barack Obama has launched an upbeat strategy over the economy in the face of approval ratings that have dipped below those of George W Bush at the same stage of his presidency.

As well as sounding more optimistic, the president will push more aggressively against Republican critics – painting them as belonging to a “party of no” – and sharply remind the public that the problems he has to cope with were very largely inherited from Mr Bush.

Mr Obama is changing his rhetorical course after criticism from fellow Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, that he has sounded too negative in the first weeks of his presidency.

This week he will speak forcefully to Congress and the public about the need to pass his $3.6 trillion budget, which will double the national deficit, while stressing his belief that there is hope ahead.

The new president has already told an audience of business leaders that the economic crisis “is not as bad we think”. Over the weekend, Mr Obama assured investors of the soundness of investments in the US economy, after Chinese premier Wen Jiabao expressed his alarm about the safety of the “massive” number of US Treasury bonds Beijing was buying.

“There’s a reason why even in the midst of this economic crisis you’ve seen actual increases in investment flows here into the United States,” Mr Obama said. “I think it’s a recognition that the stability not only of our economic system, but also our political system, is extraordinary.

“I think that not just the Chinese government, but every investor, can have absolute confidence in the soundness of investments in the United States,” he added.

And of course, let’s make China super confident that their investment in the US of A is safe and sound.   Ni Hao, Wen Jiabao!  A-OK in the USA!  Mi casa es su casa, right Wen?

But wait, here comes Larry to add his input as well:

Lawrence Summers, chairman of the national economic council, exemplified the administration’s new approach with a populist swipe at AIG for paying in excess of $100 million in bonuses to staff, despite receiving $170 billion of taxpayers money.

“There are a lot of terrible things that have happened in the last 18 months, but what’s happened at AIG is the most outrageous,” he said on ABC on Sunday.

Mr Summers has also said Americans are showing “too much fear” about the economy.

Ok, let me stop right there.  Larry Summers???  Populist???  Outraged over AIG getting bonus money from the bailout???  BWAHHAHAHA!!!!   Slap on the wrist for AIG!  Bad little bankers!   Americans showing too much fear?  So it’s now OUR FAULT we’re feeling fear?  BTW, China, it’s not our corrupt government giving banking conglomerates unlimited amounts of money that’s at fault, it’s our citizens freaking out over nothing!  Nothing to see here.

Earth to Larry Summers:  When you are at your job and 1/2 of the workers on your floor are suddenly asked to leave at the bat of an eye, wouldn’t you be afraid?   When you’ve scrimped and saved for retirement only to watch that 401K lose 10-15 years worth of investment, with businesses suddenly shutting down, industries coming to a screeching halt, wouldn’t you be afraid?   It’s like RD said this morning:  it’s financial terrorism.  And with oligarchal and misogynist assholes like Larry Summers (among the many in Obama’s cabinet), running this whole speculation game from his cushy office, betting on fear/hope and gambling away the future of America like a craps game in the Bellagio, I’m very frightened.  And there is nothing Larry or his puppet prince president can do or say anything to change that except saying the words “I RESIGN FROM OFFICE, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.”

Despite the control the financial sector has on the White House, Wall Street also controls the financial sanctity of our nation.  If all they need are inspiring words to invest and trade confidently for our nation to prosper, I hope that they can see these:

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

  • Thomas Jefferson, (Attributed)
    3rd president of US (1743 – 1826)
  • Let Thomas Jefferson repeat that last part again:

    The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

    And with the 2 or 3 bailouts (I’ve lost count) – WE, THE PEOPLE, are the owners of these institutions.  We always had the power, it’s just that the perception buttons of hope/fear is what controls Wall Street and in turn, Wall Street controls our livelihoods and/or survival.

    And I’m f__cking tired of it.

    I was going to post Rage Against the Machine’s – “Killing in the Name,”  but for some reason the video’s not showing in the preview, so here it is.

    The financial machine  is killing the name of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I don’t know what to do next, except the only thing people do when they’ve had enough.   Protest.

    PS:  To the Irish Conflucians, Happy St. Pat’s Day!

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    By request – Unemployment (and Uninsured) Chronicles

    2091340338_3618420daf

    (Photo source, Darth Dragon on Flickr)

    As I did in last weeks’s Unemployment Chronicles, (and many thanks again to Laurie again for suggesting it), I’ll talk about some of the things that I’m going through now that more than half a million Americans are unemployed.  While the President parties in Camp David this weekend, probably to oversee the construction of his brand new basketball court,  a country is left alone, rudderless – and without a clue to what’s going to happen next.  Nero dribbles while Rome burns.

    Ok, so what’s the first thing one does when out of a job?  Look for a new one, of course!  I’m enrolled with various headhunter and employment agencies since I started freelancing.  Some are more industry specific than others.  If you belong to a particular industry, there’s a good chance there’s an agency for your industry, so search the web.  I’m also signed up with Yahoo HotJobs, Monster, CareerTracker, etc.  I’ve had better luck on industry specific employment/contract sites vs. the ginormous job sites, I’m doing an “all of the above” approach, so try everything.

    I went to a job interview earlier this week that was a bit deceiving.  What I thought was going to be a one on one interview was basically a cattle call – similar to a open audition casting call.   There were probably about 50-75 people there applying of all ages.  It was for a high pressure commission only sales job, which you had to buy or already own certain resources before doing this job.    And of course, these items were being sold there.  If it smells like a scam, walks like a scam, talks like a scam – it probably is one.  Please look out for those.

    There are some Job Fairs coming up in Tampa which I am planning to attend.  Chris Martin over at No Quarter wrote about the atmosphere at a job fair he recently attended.  It’s a good post, so please read here when you get the chance:

    To the disgust of many there–and you could see it in their faces–this was exactly that, a job fair. Most of the companies there were advertising entry level jobs, many temporary or part-time. Here were thousands of people, many with decades of work experience being asked to wait in line an hour to beg for a low-paying job. One young female–a recent engineering grad–asked about jobs in her field but was told there wasn’t anything like that available. That’s the story in today’s market: there are either no jobs available or dozens of people with more experience than you.

    So now the market is flooded with experienced, older workers against recent college grads.  Who do you think an employer is going to pick?  It’s not going to be the experienced older worker, I can guarantee you that.  What sucks about this job market the way it is, more women are vulnerable to employer abuse.

    Retail used to be a safe bet, but I tried it out anyway.  Many stores have a hiring freeze, even my local supermarket.  I even went to a local Borders book store and I got the “we’re not hiring now, but just apply online anyways” schtick.   Most of the people I saw working at Borders, BTW, were no younger than 40.

    RD suggested to me to apply for a Federal job – which is at USAJOBS.GOV, the Federal Employment website run by Monster.com.  But then I read it was hacked recently, so I’m going to hold off for a couple for days before I start entering my info on there.

    The kicker to this week was between yesterday and today.  Remember the reason why I took a break from blogging, i.e. I was sick like a dog and a doctor at the country clinic said I probably need a tonsillectomy?

    Well my Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman was right.  My strep throat infection is back and it’s kicking my ass.  I couldn’t do Conflucians Say last night because it’s very painful to talk. This shit is scaring me because repeated infections back to back can lead to more serious conditions.  I’d list them but I don’t want to think about it right now.

    So after reading RD’s Friday post this morning, I head to the county clinic.  While waiting, I saw people of all sorts: mothers with young children, seniors, teens, 40 something year olds, of all ethnicities.   It certainly wasn’t like the posh medical center my mom goes to (hooray for Medicare!) but it’s clean and well staffed.

    I also noted they recently converted to an electronic health records system.  My drivers license and Social Security Card was scanned and when the triage nurse took my vitals, she annotated everything on a small laptop.  I asked her how safe was the system and she said “there are procedures in place to protect patient privacy.”  I prompted her again regarding hackers, selling records to third parties, etc.  The triage nurse, annoyed that I was asking her this while trying to take my blood pressure, assured me that all of the information was secure.  So I let it go for now.

    After a loooooong wait (ok, it was about a 45 minutes), Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman saw me.  Since I am allergic to penicillin (which could do the bacteria killing job better) and the cephalosporin antibiotic didn’t kill the infection completely, she gave me Zithromax to try out and urged for me to see an ENT as soon as possible.   I reminded her again that I don’t have insurance, I was just laid off and I recently placed an application for Medicaid.

    Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman recommended to also apply for the Hillsborough County Insurance, which is available to all Hillsborough County residents based on a sliding pay scale.   A small county sales tax funds the insurance program, since I may or may not qualify for MedicAid.  This is the best chance I have of seeing an ENT specialist without selling my car to help pay for it.

    If you are without insurance right now, please check your county’s Health Department Services website for information on county-funded insurance.  Hillsborough County Insurance info is here, just to give you an idea.

    Anyway, that’s the story for this week.  I want to thank everyone who’s donated via Liberalcrat.  Since I don’t qualify for Unemployment Insurance because I’m a contract worker, I’m literally living on Blogger Welfare!   Thanks to you, I was able to get Zithromax, pay bills, gas & groceries, etc.    I’m truly very lucky and blessed to be a part of such a great community.  In these precarious times, we have to hold hands and look out for one another, and you’ve held mine.  I hope that somewhere, somehow,  I’m able to return this kindness.  But I know Karma has a way of repaying good deeds and I hope she finds her way to you.  Here’s a song for you, because I’m truly getting by with a little help from my friends – literally.  Thank you!

    By request: Unemployment Chronicles

    2091340338_3618420daf

    (Photo source, Darth Dragon on Flickr)

    When I wrote that I was laid off for the second time in 3 months here, Laurie recommended the following:

    Laurie, on January 24th, 2009 at 4:30 am Said:

    SM plz keep us posted. If you can, do an unemployed diary. You know, where you have to go, what forms you have to fill in, how long you have to wait to get food stamps. What food stamps look like, what kind of food you get for them-can you get organic? How long the line is etc etc

    I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to write about this.  Being unemployed and having to ask for help to feed your family because you can’t find a job is demoralizing and embarrassing.  I’ve worked my ass off all my life, from working as a cafeteria clerk serving food at a hospital, cleaning offices, to paying my dues in the marketing advertising world, then becoming the first female and Latina COO of a small marketing firm, to then quitting because I was overworked (12-14 hour days, 6, sometimes 7 days a week) and not get overtime (and figured I could make the same amount of money and try to at least participate more in my daughter’s life) to then enjoying the luxury of freelancing – and then as of two years ago… SPLAT…  living off the nest egg, working whatever project came ever other month, to then working minimum wage PT jobs while the next big project comes, to being laid off completely with no new project in sight.  And no nest egg.  It royally sucks.

    I know I could’ve done it better.  I coulda would shoulda… but I believed in that American dream of entrepenurialship and ultimately got f__cked while getting there.  I’m not a homeowner.  I’m a single mom and  I don’t live excessively out of my means.  I learned to live modestly according to my income to cover the bills & make sure no matter what the fridge has food, rent was paid on time, utilities were paid for the month.  All I wanted was a chance to spend more time with PUMA cub while working – and found that opportunity by freelancing.  I did it successfully for almost 6 yrs.

    The only reason why I’m doing it is because this experience is now a nationwide crisis.

    Some Conflucians are going through the same thing I am.  Others are lucky enough to miss a layoff wave at their jobs- at least this week.  Some are lucky enough to have that nest egg still there.  What we can’t ignore is that we are living in very precarious times – and I can bet that employer abuse will continue and will rise.  This is why I wasn’t celebrating the Ledbetter Act, because without the PayCheck Fairness Act, women are still vulnerable.

    But I digress…as usual.  Let’s get to topic.

    To answer Laurie’s first query, the state of Florida cut funding for the Dept of Children and Families (which is where Floridians apply for Medicaid, Food Stamps, Cash assistance for Rent & expenses, etc.)  Everything is done online here.  If you go to an office to apply, what you’ll find are computers and phones where you can call someone on the other side of a wall.  You do not speak to anyone face to face.  Only in rare cases, such as child and elderly abuse investigations, you’ll see a social worker’s face.

    If you are a person with zero computer skills, you’re SOL.   They have to find someone to help them fill out the application online.  There is a phone number that you call, but this is the ONLY phone number that is available for the entire state of Florida which is the 4th most populous state in the nation.  It’s a 1-866 number, and it’s always busy.

    If you get through the application, you’ll either get a phone call or a notification in the mail requesting proof of loss of income, any financial help you may have received from friends, proof of child support payments, etc.  Sometimes they won’t ask for anything at all, it just depends on what category the computer classifies you as.  Yes, a computer determines whether you are eligible or not.

    I just got my letter today asking me to provide loss of income and proof of child support to receive Medicaid.  The income limit in Florida to receive assistance is roughly $1,500 per month.  I laughed when I read this, because this past year, I’ve made much less than $1,500 per month & didn’t think I would be able to qualify.   So far in Florida, you may qualify for MedicAid and Food Stamps even if you have up to $5000 in the bank, own your own home and own your own car.   Your actual present income is the determining factor, then minus your living expenses.  I think this all changed because of the foreclosure crisis and out of control inflation costs, rising cost of oil & bubbled property values.  Before, it wasn’t like that.  The income index levels for qualification were much lower than this.  So some of you out there reading this, you may qualify right now in your state and not even know it.

    Food stamps aren’t actually “stamps.”  They are now in Debit Card form which every month, your approved amount is electronically transferred.  You can only use this for “food”, and thanks to supermarket UPC scanning, you can’t sneak a pack of cigarettes, wine or Bounty paper towel roll and charge it against your Food Stamp EBT card.  And you can’t exchange it for cash either.   Back when I was in college in the late 80s-early 90s (aka Bush 1.0 years), I used to PT as a clerk at my cousin’s bodega.  Food Stamps were actually coupons you tore off of a book.  The policy was to accept them for any item that was the equal value – no exception.  So the EBT card does work to prevent misuse of Food Stamp Funds, which is great.

    I don’t qualify for unemployment insurance because I filled out W-9 forms – which means that taxes are the employee’s responsibility.  When I was making bucks, I had to submit my earnings every quarter to the IRS, pay my taxes -and then wait to get all my 1099s for the year to file for the year.  This year, I made enough money to exempt me from filing taxes.  Can you believe that shit?  For the first time in my adult life – I am actually exempt because I was under the tax index level.  I know owe the IRS about $1800 from 2 years ago and I haven’t been able to pay that (hello, survival mode here!) and they told me, just pay 25 dollars a month if you can.  So I have.  But the IRS knows what I’m making (or not making).  They know I can’t afford to pay them now – so they leave me alone until I can.

    Here’s the Unemployment Insurance qualifications depending on the state you live/work from a link at the US Dept of Labor which explains more:

    Eligibility

    1. You must meet the State requirements for wages earned or time worked during an established period of time referred to as a “base period”. (In most States, this is usually the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters prior to the time that your claim is filed.)

    2. You must be determined to be unemployed through no fault of your own (determined under State law), and meet other eligibility requirements of State law.

    I don’t qualify under these perimeters because I am considered a “contract” employee.  But let’s say that I was pre-eligible.  I would have to file an unemployment claim, then based on the reason why I no longer am working, Unemployment will determine whether or not I could receive unemployment benefits.

    Here’s more from the US Dept of Labor:

    Benefits

    • In general, benefits are based on a percentage of an individual’s earnings over a recent 52-week period – up to a State maximum amount.
    • Benefits can be paid for a maximum of 26 weeks in most States.
    • Additional weeks of benefits may be available during times of high unemployment (see Extended Benefits). Some States provide additional benefits for specific purposes.
    • Benefits are subject to Federal income taxes and must be reported on your Federal income tax return. You may elect to have the tax withheld by the State Unemployment Insurance agency.

    With regards to this, some of the work I did part time was helping seniors and disabled people on Medicare – and people on Unemployment Insurance –  apply for Food Stamps and Medicaid.    All the people I helped were mostly working class people who couldn’t afford to pay the 20% that Medicare doesn’t cover, or were people who were referred to the office because they didn’t have computer skills to apply online.

    Some of them were earning 800-1000 a month from their Social Security pension and had to pay 200-300 dollars a month for medicines, doctor co-pays, lab exams, etc.

    But there were many people that were the in-betweeners, the 45-60 something yr old laid off workers from blue collar jobs.  The only income they had was unemployment insurance.

    I remember a Cuban gentleman who was 61, got laid off from his job in a food processing plant and has diabetes.  He spent 300 dollars a month buying insulin and other diabetic supplies, but unemployment only paid him 160 dollars a week.  His wife (57 yrs old) came down with MS shortly after he got laid off.  She stopped working and is in the process of getting disability from Social Security.  They spent all their savings (about 10,000) on medical expenses after COBRA ran out.

    When I asked him to show me all his documentation to fill out the application for Medicaid/Food Stamps, he started to cry.  This is a macho Cubano man  crying.  In front of a much younger woman.  This is a sin in my culture.  But he couldn’t take it anymore.  He told me the story of how he immigrated to FL after Fidel took over, he came first, then years later was able to bring his wife & young daughter over to the US.  He lived in Miami, then moved to Tampa after Hurricane Andrew.  He found a job at a food processing plant outside of Tampa and then – the entire company closed down last year.  He said that he never imagined that he had to live this way.  His daughter works at a day care center and moved in with them to help pay bills.  But everyone’s strapped.  His daughter makes 10.00 an hr.  Thank God, he says, his mortgage was paid off 5 yrs. ago, but how can he pay property taxes, house insurance, food & utility expenses, help his wife who was diagnosed with MS with her health needs, plus get his diabetes under control.  He told me he can’t die now, but if he didn’t get help from somewhere, he very well could be.  He sold his car to pay for the bills, so they rely on public transportation (which royally sucks in FL, how about waiting 2 hrs for a bus?)  He put his house on sale with hopes that someone will buy it, but there are no buyers.

    About  week before I got laid off, the same man comes back with a box of candies for me.  He and his wife were approved for Medicaid and Food Stamps and he wanted to thank me for helping him (food stamps covers chocolates!)

    I think about him & his wife, and the people I can no longer help because I’m laid off.  I think about the people who do not have a friend with a computer that can help them.  I think about the overwhelming and increasing cases of unemployment that have to depend on a now fragile and overextended system.  This is not the 70s-80s.  We have over 300 million people in this country – and shit ain’t getting better.

    This is a song for the Cuban gentleman I mentioned and his wife, for all of us trying to survive.  This is the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz’ version of Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive.  The melody’s the same, but the translation in Spanish refers to a survival of spirit, of outliving bad times and facing the future with strength.

    Para Don Avelino y Doña Carmen, and for everyone:

    Barack Obama, The Underachiever’s President

    bart-bad1Beforehand, my apologies to scrubs57 for breaking my penance!   It’s been all family the past few days.  Grandma PUMA had outpatient surgery yesterday so I wasn’t bombarded all day with President Obama’s Inaugural Bacchanal.  While it is a cause for celebration,  I would have respected Obama 2.0 a lot more if a more austere, more organized (see MYIQ2XU’s Purple People Eater a.k.a. Tunnel of Doom post) event had taken place.  A missed opportunity of fiscal responsibility and conscientiousness towards millions of Americans suffering from the economic crisis would have fared much better public relations-wise,  IMHO.

    But nooo, this is time for an all out PAAAARTAY!!!!!!!!   Not quite, thanks to a Boston-area sisterfriend who sent me this sobering piece written by Marc Lamont Hill (Fox News/Temple University):

    Still, as we celebrate this watershed moment, it is important that we not become too self-satisfied, too pleased with our collective maturity. Indeed, it is one thing for a nation to finally accept that a black man can represent its interests.  It is another thing entirely to question the nature of those interests. The working poor will be no happier to know that a black man is undermining their prosperity. Gays and lesbians will see no moral victory in having their civil rights stripped away by fellow minority. Continental Africans will find no solace in the fact that one of their sons is aiding and abetting its exploitation. For America to truly mature, we must not only acknowledge its bright light, we must also come to terms with its dark underside. Militarism, violence, consumerism, homophobia, patriarchy, anti-intellectualism, and countless other hallmarks of the American empire must die in order for a new, more mature America to be born. Otherwise, we have done nothing more than put a slave in charge of the plantation.

    Of course, the responsibility of seizing this moment does not start and end with President Obama. As Rev. Jesse Jackson aptly stated, the inauguration was merely the wedding; the marriage begins today. To keep this marriage healthy, we must commit ourselves to its continued growth and development. This means pushing Obama to become the leader that he can be by being the citizens that we must be. This requires being just as critical of our new president as we were with his predecessor. This demands that we not retreat to the political sidelines until the next presidential election. To do so would be to squander one of the greatest opportunities that our nation has ever had. While I am not optimistic, I remain a prisoner of hope. Not in President Obama. But in our collective ability to not only grow old, but grow up.

    Marc is right on all points, except he missed MISOGYNY.   Marc is still hopeful that Obama will come through for us.  But we all know if he didn’t come through during the primaries, he sure as hell won’t now.   And no Marc, America didn’t vote for a slave to run the plantation, it chose Bart Simpson to rule the roost.

    Who needs to study when you can bum off your smart sister’s homework, then blame her for you stealing the answers?  Why even bother playing by the rules  when you know they’ll be somebody to W.O.R.M. you out of it?  Why bother earning your stripes in the Senate when you can spend your first term running for President without any major achievements except for being really good at reading a teleprompter?

    While I waited for Grandma PUMA at the hospital waiting room, I did catch a moment where President Obama and the First Lady got out of their car and walked a piece of the Inaurgral Parade. An older African-American woman (probably in her 50s) sitting next to me, who I’d chat with on & off during our collective wait, gleamed as she turned to me and said,   “Look at that, he’s so tough to be out there in that cold.”

    I looked up from my book and just about lost my cool.  I turned to her and said, “Michelle is out there too and in a skirt with heels, don’t you think it’s harder for her? And that’s always done in every inauguration, there is a piece of secured path on the parade where the President and First Lady get out of the car then walk for a block then get back in the car.”

    She said, “oh but it’s never been that cold, Only a black man can take that kind of cold.”  I snapped back to her, ” It’s always cold in January in DC!  It’s the least he can do for his country given his lack of experience – let him walk 10 miles, 20 miles because there have been a whole lotta people who deserve that presidential spot and have given a helluva lot more than him.”

    She said, “But this is a BLACK man, just enjoy the moment that we finally got one!”

    I said, “There are tons of more qualified Black people to take that spot, and you know it.”  She said “Yes, I know, but it doesn’t matter now. ”  I said, “It matters to me because we could’ve had a great woman who earned that spot and comes through with what she promises.  She said, “You mean Hillary?”  I nodded, then she said,  “Oh yes, I love Hillary, she is the best there is.”  I said, “So you actually think that Obama is going to be just as good as Hillary?”  She said, “It don’t matter, she’s going to be there to help him.”  I said, “Don’t you think that’s wrong though, to have a more experienced qualified woman be looked over for the inexperienced younger man?”  She said “James Brown said ‘it’s man’s world’, so we just gotta deal with it.”  I said, “Remind me never to tell my daughter what you just said.”

    At that moment was a pregnant pause, then it was saved by a nurse who called the very nice, but quite Obamatized woman into the recovery area – her husband had just woken up from anesthesia and was doing fine.  We said our polite nice to meet you’s – but I was fuming inside.  Is this the kind of asswiping we are going to endure for 4 years?    I had 8 asswiping years from Republicans – now we’re all going to deal with asswiping O-pologisists cleaning up Obama’s skid marks.   And like Bush 2.0, Obama Porniacs will sober up soon like reluctant Republicans.

    Well I have a message for the O-pologists:the-simpsons-lisa_sexismAlas, my dear Lisa, the answer to that is: BOTH.

    PS:   S.O.S Hillary!!!!!!! Much better than VP.  True hope is not all lost.

    Black Friday

    R!$@#%#!$%!!!  Get me out of here!  They’re driving me crazy!  My mother is talking about wills and affadavits and family friends who are swindling each other over property.  I am being forced to watch The View and defend why I don’t like Joy Behar and why I DON’T CARE ABOUT BARBARA WALTERS’ INTERVIEW WITH OBAMA!  I DON’T CARE, I DON’T CARE, I DON’T CARE.

    My sister is going to rescue me and take me to the YMCA for two hours of exercise followed by sauna.  Then I might hit Circuit City for a new LCD TV for my basement. Meanwhile, here is the latest installment of the “Who could have predicted?” series.  Today’s entry is from Paul Krugman in Lest We Forget.  Actually, it is The Shrill One who is saying No $#@% Sherlock to his buddies:

    A few months ago I found myself at a meeting of economists and finance officials, discussing — what else? — the crisis. There was a lot of soul-searching going on. One senior policy maker asked, “Why didn’t we see this coming?”

    There was, of course, only one thing to say in reply, so I said it: “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man?”

    Why did so many people insist that our financial system was “resilient,” as Alan Greenspan put it, when in 1998 the collapse of a single hedge fund, Long-Term Capital Management, temporarily paralyzed credit markets around the world?

    Why did almost everyone believe in the omnipotence of the Federal Reserve when its counterpart, the Bank of Japan, spent a decade trying and failing to jump-start a stalled economy?

    One answer to these questions is that nobody likes a party pooper. While the housing bubble was still inflating, lenders were making lots of money issuing mortgages to anyone who walked in the door; investment banks were making even more money repackaging those mortgages into shiny new securities; and money managers who booked big paper profits by buying those securities with borrowed funds looked like geniuses, and were paid accordingly. Who wanted to hear from dismal economists warning that the whole thing was, in effect, a giant Ponzi scheme?

    Well, there were *some* people who saw it coming but they were laughed at.  Peter Schiff is the classic example.  Of course, he comes from the Austrian School of economics, which is as austere and uncompromising as it sounds.  For Schiff, it’s all laissez faire and all natural law all the time. It must be a legacy of the Hun invasion.  Who knows?  But this little clip that has gone viral is a thing of beauty:

    Who’s laffing now?

    Still, Krugman is indulging in a bit of wishful thinking of his own:

    Now we’re in the midst of another crisis, the worst since the 1930s. For the moment, all eyes are on the immediate response to that crisis. Will the Fed’s ever more aggressive efforts to unfreeze the credit markets finally start getting somewhere? Will the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus turn output and employment around? (I’m still not sure, by the way, whether the economic team is thinking big enough.)

    No, Paul, it will likely not be big enough.  *Someone* spent $600,000,000 to install Obama over our objections (BTW, Gov. Jon Corzine was a former CEO at Goldman-Sachs.  Fancy that!).  Obama has been running from The New Deal like it was the ebola virus.  But he sure has a lot of nice things to say about Reagan.  Ah, yes, the Reagan Era.  Those were the days.  I was a student, Pell grants dried up, tuition skyrocketed, there were no jobs to be had…  Those were the days when a person who was the first in her family to attend college could build her character by mopping floors in a fast food joint at 2am, stay up until 4am studying and fall asleep in psych 101 at 8am the next morning.  It made me the old, bitter, uneducated (with a degree in a hard science) working class (professional researcher) sino-peruvian lesbian I am today!

    Grrrr, I need a good aerobics class.