Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welfare Reform 2

August 22, 1966

Republicans still trying to undermine the country


The Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC. Originally entitled Aid to Dependent Children (ADC). The name was changed in 1962) program was put into effect when President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law back in 1935. It provided financial assistance to children of single parents or whose families had low or no income. This was the basis for the entire system that is commonly called "welfare," and lasted until 1996, and cost about 24 billion dollars a year at the time it ended.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands operated a AFDC program. It enabled states to provide cash welfare payments for needy children who had been deprived of parental support or care because their father or mother was absent from the home, incapacitated, deceased, or unemployed. The states administered the program or supervised its administration, and defined "need," set their own benefit levels, established (within federal limitations) income and award limits. The states were reimbursed by the federal government. The states were required to provide aid to all persons who were in classes eligible under federal law and whose income and resources were within state-set limits.
This program undoubtedly helped millions of low income families, and especially the children of those families, who would have been destitute without it.
And like any large government program, (the Defense Department's procurement services as just one example, where billions mysteriously disappear on a regular and continued basis without anyone seeming to bat an eye) there were those who abused it.
President Reagan's "Welfare Queen," for instance. He once described her in 1976, at which time he claimed "She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."
This was a work of fiction, as he never named an individual, and he was trying to get elected to the presidency. However, there have certainly been documented, and prosecuted, cases of definite fraud committed under the welfare program (one can only hope it were true for the DOD procurement program).
That's to be expected. But as did Reagan, opponents to the program have referred to this fiction time and again in their attempts to amend welfare, or end it all together (there have been many other criticisms as well throughout the programs history, some blatantly biased against the poor as a class, what some would call "class warfare."
During the 1960s through to the 80s, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, William Shockley, made the argument that AFDC and other programs like it, encouraged mothers to have more children and stay on welfare, especially among what was considered less productive members of society (particularly blacks, whom he considered to be genetically inferior to whites, which of course is inherently a racist point of view, and not backed up with any scientific evidence whatsoever). He purported that welfare was causing some kind of reverse evolution founded on the premises that: there is a correlation between financial success and intelligence; and that intelligence is hereditary.
Heredity factors almost certainly can be correlated to the level of intelligence individuals may or may not have, but intelligence is in no way connected to financial success. Not every smart person is wealthy, and their are arguably many, many people of lesser intelligence (George W. Bush, for instance) who gain positions of authority and financial wealth.
Many other arguments have been made that welfare causes dependence on welfare, and in many instances it may be true. But whether or not as a rule that argument has any merit, it was used as a basis to undermine AFDC, and set the conditions for its so-called reform by President Clinton in 1996.
On August 22, 1996, President Bill Clinton, after vowing to "end welfare as we know it," signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which ushered in the most sweeping changes in the welfare system since its inception in 1935.
In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, the Act was a sop to the Republicans in Congress, and a ploy to seem fiscally conservative at a time an embattled incumbent President was fighting to maintain the White House. What it basically did was place more restrictions and work requirements and time limits on those unfortunate individuals seeking or currently on welfare.
I'll be fair here and let Bill state his point of view in his 2006 New York Times essay: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/22/opinion/22clinton.html?emc=eta1
A lot of people don't see it as does our ex-President, and dispute the reasons for the numbers he sites in his piece.
"You have so many people who were pushed off welfare who didn't find work in the beginning, and today there are so many people who can't get welfare at all," said Peter Edelman, a Georgetown University law professor who resigned from a senior position in the Clinton administration to protest the President's decision to sign welfare reform into law. "As an anti-recessionary tool, welfare as we know it today is useless."
Edelman compares the paltry expansion of the nation's welfare rolls during the recession -- from about 3.9 million families in 2007 to about 4.4 million families in 2010 -- to what happened to the food stamp program. During the same time period, food stamp program participation rose from about 30 million to 44 million, reflecting real levels of economic need.
"What we've done is make things worse," Edelman said. "There are now people who cannot find work, and who can not get welfare."
Here's the entire Huffington Post article the above quote appeared in : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/23/welfare-reform-poverty_n_932490.html
Here's my take, Joyce's Take: Welfare does need to be reformed in the sense that the need for it decreases by the uplifting of the middle class and economy in general. A rising tide lifts all boats, the saying goes. This is the vision of the Democratic Party, to an extent. Corporate money still needs to be taken out of the equation by significant campaign finance reform. What has that got to do with welfare reform? Glad you asked.
Our Congress currently is as corrupt as a Mississippi Governor. Corporations, both domestic and foreign, own Congress, the judicial branch in the form of the Supreme Court, and to a large extent the executive brach as well. Why? Because they need corporate money to finance their reelection campaigns, and also, since the Supreme Court gave it's supreme gift to corporations in the form of the Citizens United decision, politicians are terrified of offending corporate interests fearing retribution in the amount of money spent against them in future elections.
The Republicans believe that their corporate masters have no interest in improving the overall economy, even though it has been proven in the past that overall economic prosperity occurs when the middle class has money to spend and inject into the economy. This benefits corporations, as well as everybody else.
And Republicans don't want to help the economy because that would help re-elect President Obama.
In a depressed economy more people apply for welfare at a time when Clinton's Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act lowers federal and state resources to supply that growing demand, as Professor Edelman pointed out above.
We need to improve the entire economy to get people off welfare permanently. To do that we need to get money out of politics and support public finance of our elections so politicians are able to work for America rather than General Electric, Goldman Sachs, and Boeing.
That's the real answer to true welfare reform. No one in Washington wants to talk about it, except Bernie Sanders and a couple of others, because it so easy to not face the truth, and keep on blaming poor people for the plight politicians got them into in the first place through lack of oversight of Wall Street pirates.
To sum up, true welfare reform requires embracing campaign reform, a Constitutional Amendment reversing the Citizens United decision, ending the Bush tax cuts and lessoning of income disparity, and ending corporate welfare.
We need to put people back to work. Permanent work at a true living wage, not the fake federal minimum wage currently set at $7.25 per hour (see the Living Wage Calculator here: http://www.livingwage.geog.psu.edu/
You want welfare reform America? Real reform? It's going to be hard to do.
But what job worth doing isn't?

P.S. Herman Cain is now unemployed and should blame himself. He now spends his time at home being bitch-slapped by his wife.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Norah (O'Donnell)!

Norah O'Donnell

Beautiful Lady

At work at MSNBC

Her 2nd Job

All Business

Cooking for Kids

With brother Larry

Still Beautiful


It is my great pleasure this morning to give a great big happy birthday shout out to one of my favorite television anchors, the lovely and Irish, Norah O'Donnell!
Norah was born at a very early age in the very city she would later work and report in, Washington D.C. She works there now for Jesus's sake! But somehow (no one knows) she wound up in San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated from Douglas MacArthur High School, named after Douglas MacArthur, who used to be a general in the Army. In 2007, Douglas MacArthur High School's varsity dance team, the Brahmadoras, won nationals in the kick category at NDA finals in Orlando, Florida.
I don't think Norah had anything to do with that though.
Norah is very smart and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, and a Masters Degree in International Affairs from Georgetown University, which is also in Washington D.C., and where the priest from "The Exorcist," worked.
Norah got her professional start as a writer for Roll Call, a D.C. newspaper, where she covered our dysfunctional Congress. She soon began working for NBC, which is a big time broadcast television station in the United States.
In 2001 she won the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Breaking News Coverage for the Dateline NBC story "DC In Crisis," which concerned the 9/11 attack, and aired that very night.
But before that, in June of that year, she got married to the successful restaurateur Geoff Tracy, who owns several restaurants, which is probably not surprising to many people when you think about it.
Norah continued her career with NBC as a commentator for the NBC News Today Show, Chief Washington Correspondent for MSNBC, and from September 2003 to May 2005, the White House correspondent for NBC News. She was also a contributing anchor for MSNBC Live, and a rotating news anchor on Weekend Today. I first became aware of her there as an everyday anchor on MSNBC, and her incredible laugh, which I find completely intoxicating. But I'm a sucker for things like that. Pretty ladies with incredible laughs.
I don't know why.
She's been on NBC Nightly News, The Today Show of course, hosted Hardball with Chris Matthews when Chris was off lollygagging somewhere, and Dateline NBC, as well as MSNBC. She also co-hosted the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade on WNBC beginning in 2007. You have to be Irish, like me, to do that. As a matter of fact in 2000 Norah was named to Irish American Magazine’s “Top 100 Irish Americans” list.
On May 20, 2007, she and Geoff (sounds like a foreign devil to me) became the parents of twins, whom they named Grace and Henry. Their third child, daughter Riley Norah Tracy, was born on July 5, 2008.
Her daughter's first name Riley, was suggested by Tim Russert, the anchor for "Meet The Press," when it was still a viable news program, and not a commercial for the Republican Party. Tim died just three weeks before Riley's birth.
That year Norah won an Emmy Award for NBC News' Election Night coverage in the 2008 General Election.
Two years ago she and her foreign devil husband published "Baby Love: Healthy, Easy, Delicious Meals for Your Baby and Toddler," a cookbook for parents with small human infants.
“I’m a better journalist and reporter and person because I’m a mom,” Norah says. “I’ve become less uptight on television. Many people have mentioned to me that I’m much better at my job because I’m less serious, I’m more fun. I’m not just focused on one thing, which was politics and the White House.”
This what she has said about sexual roles: “Men are never asked how they balance it all. That’s because women, at the end of the day, even if they have great, supportive husbands like I do, we’re responsible for making sure they get to their dentists’ appointments, their yearly checkups, and they get all their shots for school.”
Great, supportive husband huh?! Get the lead out Geoff! Help out with the kids once in a while, will you please. You had something to do with they're being here if you remember!
In June of last year, unfortunately for me, because I very rarely watch CBS, she moved to that network serving as their Chief White House Correspondent, which gets her right back where she began this wild ride called life, in Washington D.C.
She moved to CBS because there were just too many O'Donnell's at MSNBC (Norah, Lawrence, and Kelly). They couldn't keep track!
Well I can keep track by golly, and all of us here at Joyce's Take wish Norah and her wonderful family continued good health and success, and of course, a very happy birthday!
Happy birthday Norah!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welfare Reform

President Roosevelt signing the
Social Security Act, August 14, 1935

Rachel Maddow

Rick Santorum

Mrs Kravitz from "Bewitched"


It began during President Roosevelt's first term with him signing the Social Security Act at approximately 12:30PM my time, which is the only time that matters, on August 14, 1935. The world was in the midst of The Great Depression at the time, and until this act came into effect (despite numerous attempts by the Supreme Court to declare it and many other initiatives Roosevelt wanted, unconstitutional) there was no social safety net for America's citizens. One worked, if they could find work, until they grew old and died. That is what Americans had to look forward to throughout their lives, and that was the way it was pretty much throughout history up until that time. President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal government assistance for the elderly. The entire Act was meant to be a hedge against widespread poverty, unemployment, and to assist widows and fatherless families. Accordingly the Act contained different provisions for unemployment insurance (Title I), Maternal and Child Welfare (Title V), public health services (Title VI), the blind (Title X), and something called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (Title IV).
Opponents to the Act attacked it as they do to this day. They claimed it was a job killer. That it was socialist. If implemented Martians would attack the Earth in tripod machines, God would send his angels down from Heaven to wreck havoc among the populace, on and on. They said the same thing about the G.I. Bill which provided low interest home loans to thousands of servicemen and their families after World War II, and $20 a week for a year while they searched for work, and provided college (or high school or vocational education) benefits that thousands took advantage of, and which improved the common good of the entire nation buy helping to supply well educated and motivated individuals into the workforce. The G.I. Bill was considered welfare. Everything that helps the middle class and poor is considered welfare by Republican opponents. And they've successfully made the very word "welfare," pejorative... a bad thing. Something that needs to be stopped and avoided at all costs.
Welfare programs for the rich in the form of tax breaks, cuts, and loopholes are perfectly fine because after all those are for the "job creators," the "job creators," who never create jobs, and need to be constantly sucked up to.
Opponents to our national welfare system, mostly Republicans, say the same thing about our current welfare system. But the country is still intact with social security in effect, with federal funding of student loans, and with unemployment benefits, all of which provides desperately needed help for the poor, the elderly, the young, and the disabled. God doesn't seem to mind our social safety net, only Republicans, Tea Baggers, and their corporate masters.
These people just don't like giving assistance, cash or otherwise, to people who are not wealthy. That's it, pure and simple. Why? Because they are sociopaths and money going to the poor and middle classes is money that's not going to the rich. The thing is the Republicans are real good at propaganda and making a large amount of the American population belive their lies, that it is some kind of crime to be poor in this country, or that the poor are undeserving and lazy, even when it was the policies of the previous Republican administration, and past Republican administrations (Reagan) that have caused the huge income disparity in this nation which favors the rich, and which increases the very poverty they complain about. It's truly unbelievable. Oh yes, all of these people claim to be soooo Christian, and Christian values are the guiding factor in their lives. Yet you have Republican presidential candidates who would gut social security, end unemployment insurance and welfare, which would basically have the poor and jobless fending for themselves. I don't know what version of the Bible they've been reading (or smoking more likely), but it's always been my belief that Jesus Christ favored the poor against all others. In the case of Republicans, Tea Baggers, and the audiences at Republican debates, it's okay to pick and choose which Christian tenets are convenient to adhere to, at different convenient times. In other words they're hypocrites.
I just watched a commercial on MSNBC featuring the lovely Rachel Maddow. I've seen it many times, and she's right every single time it comes on. She was speaking of the dire financial crisis we currently find ourselves in, how so many Americans have suffered, entered poverty and homelessness due to uncontrolled corporate greed and the politicians that let them get away with ruining the economy. And she mentioned that one segment of our society is doing pretty well through all of this. "Older Americans. Older Americans are faring well, and that's because of social security. Social security works. It is not a Ponzi scheme. It is not bankrupting us. It is not an outrage. It works."
And the Republicans, if given half a chance, would turn it over to Wall Street in the form of private accounts and set Americans back to the way it was before 1935.
And I just watched a clip of presidential candidate Rick Santorum tell a group he was speaking to that President Obama wanted more people on food stamps. He wanted more people on social security benefits. He wants the majority of Americans dependent on the government. Santorum stated he wants people to make their own money, not for the government to give it to them. He says he doesn't want to help "black people," by giving them money.
Well there's so many things that are wrong with that statement I hardly know where to start. Besides it being inherently racist, it's premise is just untrue, or here's another way to put it... it's a freaking lie! What evidence does he advance to support his claim that the President wants more people on SSI or in the food stamp program? Well none of course because it's simply not true. It's a blatant lie told to his base who will believe it, so he doesn't mind saying it. How principled! As a matter of fact all of the evidence, which has been plainly documented and can be reviewed at anytime by anybody, is that it's the Republicans who wish to increase poverty in this country, and thereby the need for government assistance, which they then bitch about. No job program has been advanced in the Republican controlled House. They wholeheartedly rejected Obama's job program. Virtually nothing has passed in the House that would help the overall economy because that would make the President look good, and as Senate Minority Leader Mitch "Turtle Boy" McConnell has plainly stated, the Republicans foremost goal is to unseat President Obama. Let me repeat that: Their number one goal is to defeat the President. Not to improve the lot of the average citizen. Not to help the country prosper and grow... but to win an election.
That says it all about the current Republican party. All you need to know really.
But I digress.
There were a lot of problems with the initial Social Security Act. It didn't cover women directly for instance, or minorities, and certain job categories. However these discrepancies would eventually be amended to cover all of the countries citizens.
And these programs worked! They actually helped people who were out of work subside until they got jobs and back on their feet. They helped those who could not work because they were old, or disabled, or too sick to work. They helped children and families escape the vicious cycle of poverty. Social Security did not add a nickel to the national debt because it was completely paid for through payroll taxes. Social security is probably the most successful government program that has ever existed.
So of course the Republicans hated it, and from day one have been attempting to subvert it, or steal its funds.
We'll continue to discuss this in the second part of this post.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Our Moon

The Earth's size in relation to Mars

The GRAILs attack the Moon

Dr. Marie Zuber of M.I.T.

Planetoid smack down 4.45 billion years ago

The Moon's possible interior

Testing the GRAILs

Looking good

Getting packed

Ready for launch

And away we go!

Planned future missions

Let's talk about our good friend the Moon.
I see it almost every day as I walk over the Sixth Street Bridge in the early mornings. I can't help it. It's way up in the sky and in plain view. It's not trying to hide at all.
Of course everybody except Bill O'Reilly knows how the moon came into existence, but I'll go over the whole scenario again just to refresh our memories.
The whole solar system formed approximately 4,567,000,000 years ago. Our planet, the Earth coalesced about 60 million years later. The solar system was a very messy and inhospitable place at that time. The Earth was a big molten spheroid that rotated much faster than it does today, in 7 hours as a matter of fact. The Sun was only 70% as bright.
Then about 50 million years later, as the molten Earth was strolling around the Sun in it's orbit, minding it's own business, a planetoid about the size of present day Mars, which is a little more than half the size of Earth (picture above), sometimes called Orpheus or Theia, smacked right into us!
How rude!
Anyway, after the two bodies collided a big chunk broke away and eventually formed our Moon. At that time the Moon's orbit around the Earth was much closer, about 40,000 miles away. That's pretty close considering the Moon is now 238,857 miles from us.
Okay, to make a long story short (and I mean really long), after about 50 more million years gravitational tidal locking caused just one side of the smaller body, the Moon, to permanently face the Earth. Our original atmosphere of hydrogen and helium escaped into to outer space because to Earth's mass was and is too small to hold it, which is okay. We didn't need it anyway.
Our Earth's day would lengthen, and the Moon's orbit would increase, or get further away from the Earth. All of this happened in what is called the Hadean Eon.
Our fundamentalist religious friends who believe God created the Earth 10,000 years or so ago can take a small amount of comfort in the fact that there is no direct evidence of anything that supposedly happened during the Hadean Eon. No one was around at the time to record it!
Yet the fossil evidence fairly well dismisses their theory, and the above explanation of the Moon's formation is the only one that doesn't have a major flaw in it according to present day observations and scientific conjecture.
During the next Eon, the Archaean Eon, which took place 3.8 billion to 2.5 billion years ago, the Earth cooled down and it's surface changed from molten to solid rock, water began to condense into liquid form, and about 3.5 billion years ago life began to emerge in that water. Life that produced oxygen, which is badly needed for most life forms today. The Sun brightened, the Moon continued to drift away from the Earth and started working it's magic on the our ocean's tides, our day became longer, and a planetary magnetic field began to form. At approximately 3 billion years ago our atmosphere consisted of 75% nitrogen and 15% carbon dioxide with oxygen levels continuing to rise due to the emergence of life. Today our atmosphere consists roughly (by volume) 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.039% carbon dioxide, and small amounts of other gases. It also contains a variable amount of water vapor, on average around 1%. This means that every time you and I, or practically anybody else you may know takes a breath, they're sucking in a huge amount of nitrogen... which is kind of creepy when you think about it... so I don't. Sorry I brought it up.
This is all fascinating and all, but really has nothing to do with what this post is about so let's get on with it, shall we?
Last year, on September 10th to be precise, two spacecraft, GRAIL A, and GRAIL B, identical craft, were launched into space on the same rocket, their final destination... our Moon.
You may be wondering what the hell does GRAIL stand for. I know I certainly did, and I found out! It stands for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory. Isn't that wonderful!
It took America's Apollo astronauts only about 3 days to traverse those 238,857 miles to the Moon. The two GRAIL spacecraft took their sweet time so that NASA engineers could fully power them up before they arrived and play with them. When they got tired of playing with them they allowed them to insert themselves into the Moon's orbit. As a matter of fact GRAIL A fired it's insertion burn December 30th at 1:21PM my time, which is the only time that matters. It was still about 30,758 miles away from the Moon at that time. GRAIL B did the same thing yesterday at 2:05PM. Actually, I hope it will, because as I write this it hasn't done so yet, but is supposed to in about 45 minutes.
Anyway, these two craft are destined to achieve a polar orbit around the Moon, slowly positioning themselves on exact opposite sides of our nearest neighbor. They'll both be traveling at about 428 miles per hour, and once the final positioning burns have been completed they will be at an altitude of 34 miles above the Moon's surface, in a near circular polar orbit (orbiting above the Moon's North and South Poles), each completely circling the Moon every two hours. It will take until March of this year to get these guys in place just right.
Once they get in position GRAIL A & B will enter their science phase, which is why they're there to begin with. I bet you were wondering why they were going there. Well I'll tell you. They are going to measure the Moon's gravitational field as the moon rotates beneath them. You see as the two satellites orbit above the Moon's surface, the Moon's gravitational field will act on them in very minuscule ways, pushing or pulling them away or toward each other which the crafts will measure in some detail. They're very good at that, as that is what they were designed to do. They'll do this until May, at a cost of $496 million U.S., none of that Hong Kong stuff.
The purpose of these measurements is to learn what lies below the Moon's surface. It's like they're giving the Moon a big CAT scan. The Apollo astronauts brought back to Earth about 800 pounds of Moon rock, but that didn't tell us anything about what was going on below the surface, if anything. There probably isn't anything going on below the surface as the Moon is most likely dead geologically speaking, but we want to know what's down there anyway as this information will help us learn more about how the Moon, Earth and other terrestrial planets, like Mars, Venus, and Mercury formed. And it will of course allow us to eventually discover the Tycho Monolith Magnetic Anomaly featured in "2001, a Space Odyssey."
The lovely Dr. Maria Zuber, the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who also leads the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, is in charge of the GRAIL mission, or as in charge as one can be of two satellites a quarter of a million miles away. She says she hopes to find out a whole bunch of stuff from this mission. That's a scientific term... "whole bunch of stuff," or WBS for short. For instance there is a recent theory that postulates that there was once two moons orbiting around the Earth, each moving rather slowly in relation to each other. At some point the theory goes, the smaller moon nudged into the larger due to gravity, and the two eventually coalesced into one entity. Dr. Zuber thinks the lunar highlands situated on the side of the Moon facing away from the Earth may be the point where the two came together, and that the GRAIL mission may help to prove or disprove this theory. We shall see.
This one experiment is the only thing these two satellites were designed to do... except for this other thing. And it's a really good thing! For kids!
Aboard each craft is four cameras to take pictures of the lunar surface. Not for scientists. They already know what the Moon looks like. No, it's for school kids and their teachers to use. They can go to the "Moonkam" website, where they can find out the exact locations the GRAIL probes will be flying over. They can then pick a site and request that it be photographed. Isn't that wonderful too! I certainly couldn't do that when I was in Jr. High School. I could hardly do anything when I was in Jr. High School.
This is the first time ever that NASA has included this type of feature on a scientific mission specifically for educational purposes. Good for them! And good for the American tax payers who paid for it! All of us here at Joyce's Take salute you.
America's first female astronaut, Sally Ride, will be helping out with this part of the program. Leesa Hubbard, a teacher at Sally Ride Science, says “I think once they [the kids] begin to look at detailed images, when they go out in their backyard and look at the moon, they’re gonna look at it in a whole new way and I think that’s priceless.”
I couldn't agree more!
All students from around the world can do this due to the Internet machine. All they have to do is register a picture request, after which the process can be followed. From when the commands are sent to GRAIL, when they take the picture, and then when it's downloaded to the website photo gallery.
After the GRAIL science mission is completed both satellites will crash into the lunar surface in about 40 days and would have gone "BOOM" if there were an atmosphere available to transmit the sound.
One of the two good things that George W. Bush did as President was to initiate the Vision for Space Exploration program which called for a manned return to the Moon by 2020 (the other was the establishment of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Northwestern Hawaii). When Presidents put into place these long period projects they know that the next President can do anything they want, like replace the program. That's exactly what President Obama did when he gained office and initiated his U.S. National Space Policy, which canceled the proposed Moon trip, among other things. He did this as a cost cutting move which was basically politically motivated. He was wrong to do this.
Now China and Canada have announced ambitious plans to land astronauts on the Moon within this decade, leaving the USA in the dust. We can't even send very much up into space these days, like people, after the retirement of the Shuttle program. We now have to rely on the Russkies to do that, and you know how temperamental they can be.
There are a lot of reasons for men... and women, to return to space, especially other planets like Mars, and the Moon, though it is not technically a planet. America should be a leader in this exciting endeavor. We need to care less for short term political gain by restricting the budgets of our national space program, stop funding unnecessary wars and wasting money by giving it to the defense contractors and oil companies, and get our act together and head on out there. Our survival as a species may one day depend on it.
Still missions like GRAIL, and other robotic experiments to Mars and the asteroids, are an important step for the advancement of scientific knowledge generally, and for humanity as a whole, and should be looked at as a stepping stone for us to explore, and colonize, the rest of our solar system.
It's waiting for us to come say hello.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

President Obama and Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette

Mitt and the gang at Bain

Willard Mitt Romney,
Man of the People

"Here's looking at you kid."


We're back from our Christmas break now... back from visiting Santa down at the South Pole. Sure is cold down there, and I couldn't find Santa for some reason... the wily old bastard.
Lots of penguins.
Should of just went to freaking Santa's Village in Santa Cruz (they named the town after him it seems). It's certainly a lot closer... and warmer. No penguins though.
And as far as politics in America at the moment, all anyone is talking about is Tuesday's Iowa Caucus, which I couldn't care less about. The Republicans are getting so much free, uninterrupted publicity these days simply because there are no Democratic primaries this year since we already have the White House. And because they're having sooooo many freaking debates. But it doesn't matter at all. No matter who the Republicans finally nominate they won't stand a chance against Obama because the Republicans are running on ideology and make believe rooted in some parallel Republican/Tea Bagger universe, whereas Obama is running in a fact based, real world, problem solving mode, and most of the people in this country know it.
Here's just one example of what the Republicans have stored up in their mighty arsenal of attacks toward President Obama. Mitt (Mitt) Romney, the probable Republican nominee, stated last Thursday that Obama was out of touch with the average American, just as the French queen Marie Antoinette was toward her subjects.
"When the president's characterization of our economy was, 'It could be worse,' it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: 'Let them eat cake,'" Romney said.
What Mitt was trying to infer was that Obama is an elitist, while he himself was just an average Joe who was truly able to feel the pain of the average American citizen in these difficult times.
And here we have a rebuttal by the Daily Kos which reiterates what press people in the White House have said about the comment: This is the same Mitt Romney who is worth an estimated $250 million but refuses to release his tax returns because they almost certainly show he pays a much lower share of his income to Uncle Sam than most middle class families [or possibly doesn't pay any income tax at all]. That would also be the same Mitt Romney who nevertheless declared himself part of the "80 to 90 percent us" who are middle class. This is the same Mitt Romney who despite his retirement from Bain Capital 13 years ago continues to make millions annually from his old employer, a firm which the Los Angeles Times rightly concluded, "often maximized profits in part by firing workers." This is the same Mitt Romney who proudly declared that "corporations are people my friend," but insisted "I don't think we hurt the poor" by cutting programs like Medicaid. This is the same Mitt Romney who's advice to struggling American homeowners is "don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up." This is the same Mitt Romney who has five sons, none of which has elected to serve their country by joining the military during a time of war (Why? Because rich kids don't do those kind of things. They're above that... and they might get hurt. Oh yeah, Mitt didn't serve either... another chicken hawk running for President (to fully disclose, Obama didn't serve, but I'll give him a little slack due to the fact that he just ended the war in Iraq)) because his sons had made different career choices in life, but he did mention a niece whose husband had been called up by the National Guard. "One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping to get me elected," he said back in 2007. Wow, thanks boys! We sure appreciate your great sacrifice for the nation.
"It is actually laughable that the 'Quarter-Billion-Dollar Man' would call President Obama out of touch -- and use the example of a French monarch to make the point," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said in a statement to The Huffington Post on Thursday evening. "This is the same guy who joked that he was 'unemployed,' offered a $10,000 bet as casually as one might buy a cup of coffee, and said 'corporations are people.' He's also the same person who, as a former corporate buyout specialist for Bain Capital, made his fortune firing thousands of workers, cutting benefits, bankrupting American companies and outsourcing jobs overseas... Laughable."
Obama campaign Press Secretary Ben LaBolt quickly followed suit, tweeting out a link to a video of Mitt Romney speaking French for an introduction of the volunteers at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
This is the same Mitt Romney who doesn't even know there is not one shred of evidence that indicates that Marie Antoinette ever made that statement... the poor ignorant bastard.
Who is Romney telling this crap to? The Republican base of course, and/or Tea Baggers, who eat it up like cotton candy. They don't care if it's not true, because it's exactly what they want to hear... facts be damned. Ideology is paramount to them. They will believe they're right about everything... all of the time... in their deluded little minds, no matter how many times it can be proven again and again that their precious ideas are just... wrong. Their world view is based on fantasy, like the United States is a Christian nation for example, and all of its citizens should adhere to Christian principles, when that is clearly not the case. 60% to 76% of the population identify themselves as Christians (51% as Protestants and 25% as Catholic, who battle each other), which leaves a whopping quarter of the country exercising some other religion, or none at all. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," our founding fathers wrote in the First Amendment to the Constitution, and they did that for a reason, to establish the fact that they did not intend for the United States to be closely affiliated with any one religion. The Republicans, the religious right, the Tea Baggers don't like that so for them it doesn't exist, and they go on merrily believing that this is a Christian country. Candidates like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum, if elected to the presidency, would surely do everything in their power to make that true.
Republican fiscal policy is wrong, which has been proven, unfortunately, time and again in the real world. This is the party that cut taxes during a time of unnecessary war which they started, and who deregulated Wall Street to the point it became a casino which precipitated the global financial crisis we're still trying to deal with, and here are the Republican presidential candidates, hoping the American people can't remember that far back and vote them back into power so they can start their disastrous policies all over again! It absolutely amazing!
Sadly a lot of Americans can't remember that far back which is why the Republicans own the House of Representatives now. And those Americans who voted for them deserve exactly what their getting from their Congress... a great big heaping plate of steaming nothing! This is the worst session of Congress possibly in its entire history, and I'm not the only one who's saying that. Congress people are saying that as well, and they should know. No progress on jobs has been achieved. They blocked the Presidents efforts for a job program. Of course nothings been done toward making healthcare more accessible, or ease the home foreclosure crisis, or anything else for that matter. Why? Because the Republicans believe that the less they do the worse Obama will look, which will give them back the Presidency this year. But the American people are smarter than that, or at least the majority of them are. The approval rating of Congress, which now stands at around 11 to 12% proves that, as does the country's reaction to the House Republicans refusing to pass the payroll tax break extension as soon as they got it the week before last. America is watching them, and keeping them in mind.
So with this kind of weaponry going for the Republicans I don't even expect it to be a very exciting election year, despite the media's constant attempt to make the race appear close. That's good for their ratings, but way bad for the country.
This is what Rick Joyce predicts will happen in the 2012 Presidential and Congressional election. I believe Barack Obama will return for a second term, and it will be interesting to see what he does, or tries to do as a lame duck. I believe the Republicans will gain the majority in the Senate... I hope they don't, but the math says they probably will. And I believe the Democrats will regain the House of Representatives. John Boehner and the rest of his boys and girls have done such an awful job I just can't see them keeping it.
And what's up for the 2016 elections? What do the Republicans look forward to in regaining the White House? A 73 year old Joe Biden and a 68 year old Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's what. Yeah they'll be a little older, but Ron Paul is running for President right now just fine, and doing pretty well for a 76 year old Libertarian who wants to destroy the government. Who can the Republicans hope to put against either of these two and win. That fat bastard thug from New Jersey? Unlikely. Jeb Bush? There's too much Bush in his name for him to win. Marco "My parents fled from Castro" Rubio? Maybe, but he'll lose to Biden or Clinton if the economy is still improving, as would budgetman Paul Ryan.
No, I see the White House remaining in safe hands for the foreseeable future, which makes me happy. For myself, my family and friends, and the country.
And if Biden and Clinton decline to run we still have a slew of respectable and popular Senators, Representatives, and Governors who I'd put against any Republican any day.
Maybe Al Franken will run. I'd sure vote for him, and it would sure piss of Bill O'Reilly, which I'm alway for.
But we'll win, despite all of the dirty election fraud tricks, lies, and corporate money.
Because we have truth, facts, and beauty on our side. The Republicans have false ideas, greed, and psychopathology on theirs.
We shall see.

Happy 2012!!

Auld Lang Syne

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


(The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by" or "old times" -Wikipedia)


Happy New Year from all of us at Joyce's Take... and of course Herkimer, my invisible cat.

We just watched the movie "New Year's Eve," on New Year's Eve! Amazing!

Here's JibJab's salute to 2011: