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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Transcript but Not a Translation of Sarah Palin's Resignation Speech

Transcription by Greg Russak, July 5, 2009, from

If anyone can translate this into something meaningful,
I certainly would be glad to see it.

Begin transcript

"I will not seek reelection as governor.

And so, as I thought about this announcement…that I wouldn’t run for re-election, and what that means for Alaska, I thought about….well, how much fun some governors have as lame ducks. They maybe travel around their state, travel the other states, maybe take their overseas international trade missions….so many politicians do that…..

Then I thought that’s what’s wrong. Many just accept that lame duck status. They hit the road. They draw a paycheck. They kind of’ milk it. And I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.

I promised efficiencies and effectiveness. That’s not how I’m wired. I’m not wired to operate under the same old politics as usual. I promised that four years ago and I meant it. It’s…That’s not what is best for Alaska at this time.

I’m determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and is not so comfortable. With this announcement that I’m not seeking reelection I’ve determined it’s best to transfer the authority of governor to lieutenant governor Parnell. And, I am willing to do this so this administration, with its positive agenda and its accomplishments and its successful road to an incredible future for Alaska…..so that it can continue without interruption and with great administrative and legislative success.

My choice is to take a stand and affect change….and not just hit our head against the wall and watch valuable state time and money…millions of your dollars…go down the drain in this new political environment. Rather, we know we can affect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities and so we will for Alaskans and for Americans.

Let me go back quickly to a comfortable analogy for me and that’s sports. Basketball. And I use it because you are na├»ve if you don’t see a full court press from the national level picking away right now. A good point guard…here’s what she does…she drives through a full court press, protecting the ball, keeping her head up because she needs to keep her eye on the basket….and she knows exactly when to pass the ball so that the team can win. And that is what I’m doing. Keeping our eye on the ball. That represents sound priorities. Remember, they include energy independence, and smaller government, and national security and freedom. And I know when it’s time to pass the ball for victory.

And I’ve given my reasons now very candidly, very truthfully, and my last day won’t be for another few weeks so the transition will be very smooth. In fact, we look forward to swearing in Sean Parnell up there in Fairbanks at the conclusion of our governor’s picnic at the end of the month.

And I really don’t want to disappoint anyone with this announcement….not with the decision that I have made. All I can ask is that you trust me with this decision and know that it is no more politics as usual. And some Alaskans it seems today….maybe they don’t mind wasting public dollars and state time but I do and I cannot stand here as your governor and allow the millions of dollars and all that time go to waste just so I can hold the title of governor. I don’t know if my children are going to allow it anyway.

Some are going to question the timing of this. Let me just say that this decision has been in the works for awhile. In fact, this decision comes after much consideration….prayer and consideration. And finally I polled the most important people in my life, my kids. Where the count was unanimous….well, in response to asking, “Hey, do you want me to make a positive difference and fight for all our children’s future from outside the governor’s office?” It was four yeses and one hell yeah and the hell yeah sealed it and someday I’ll talk about the details of that.

I…I think though much of it for the kids had to with recently seeing their baby brother Trigg mocked and ridiculed by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently. And by the way, I…I sure wish folks could ever understand…. all that we can learn…. all of us from someone like Trigg. I know he needs me, but I know that I need him even more. And what a child can offer to set priorities right. Know that time is precious. The world needs more Triggs, not fewer.

My decision was also fortified during this most recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl to visit our wounded soldiers overseas….those who truly sacrifice themselves in war for our freedom and our security. And we can all learn from our selfless, selfless troops. They’re bold and they don’t give up and they take a stand and they know that life is short so they choose not to waste time. They choose to be productive and to serve something greater than self and to build up their families and their states and our great country.

These troops and their important missions… now …there is where truly the worthy causes are in this world and that’s where our public resources should be….our public priority….with time and resources spent on that not on this superficial, wasteful political blood sport. So may we all learn from them.

Really….we just got to put first things first…and first things first as governor….I love my job and I love Alaska. And….it hurts to make this choice, but I’m doing what’s best for Alaska and I have explained why…. though I think of the saying on my parents’ refrigerator, a little magnet that says, “Don’t explain. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe you anyway.”

But I’ve given my reasons. It’s no more politics as usual….and I’m taking my fight for what’s right for Alaska in a new direction. Now despite this, I sure don’t want anyone…any Alaskan…dissuaded from entering politics after seeing this real climate change that began in August. No, we need hard working average Americans fighting for what’s right and I will support you because we need you and you can affect change and I can, too, on the outside.

We need those who will respect our Constitution where government is supposed to serve from the bottom up and not move toward this top down big government takeover but rather will be protectors of individual rights who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when conditions have drastically changed and they’re willing to call an audible and pass the ball when it’s time so the team can win… and that’s what I’m doing.

Remember, Alaska, America is now more than ever looking north to the future and it’ll be good. So god bless you. And from me and from my family to all Alaska… you have my hearts and…. we’re going to be in really great hands… the capable hands of our lieutenant governor Sean Parnell and lieutenant general Craig Campbell then will assume the role of lieutenant governor and it’s my promise to you that I will always be standing by ready to assist. We have a good positive agenda for Alaska.

Take the words of General MacArthur. He said, “We’re not retreating, we are advancing in another direction.”


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vilifying the Poor Part II - Facts About the GOP, Poverty and Unemployment

Daniel Patrick Moynihan is attributed with saying, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

Many of my friends who are members of the GOP and proudly call themselves conservative - or at least would say they are way right of me - seem to cling to Reagan's belief in trickle-down economics. A recent email from one such friend said that his opinion was that "...the war on poverty and the Great Society are abysmal failures..."

My response was, "You can have your own opinions, but you don't get to have your own facts." The rest of this post offers some facts about the relationship between which party controls the White House and the affects on poverty rates and unemployment in America.
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Here are a few sources of data - facts - that should offer a clear picture of reality if only one takes some time to look.

Census Bureau Poverty Data, 1959 - 2007
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty07/pov07fig03.pdf (from http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/trends.html)

A Visual Guide: The Balance of Power Between Congress and the Presidency, 1945-2010
http://uspolitics.about.com/od/usgovernment/l/bl_party_division_2.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics' Employment status of the civilian non institutional population, 1940-2008
http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat1.pdf


Here's how I interpret the facts presented in these documents.....

1. Poverty rates declined dramatically in this country from 1960 to 1970, after which they remained pretty much flat before rising again in 1979
Unemployment in America, BTW, had risen from 2.9% in 1953, Eisenhower's first full year after taking the reigns from Truman, to 5.5% in 1960, his last year in office.

2. JFK and LBJ held the White House from 1961 to 1969
Unemployment drops from 6.7% during JFK's first year in office in 1961 to 3.6% by 1968, LBJ's last full year in office.

3. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress from 1955 to 1979
Unemployment ranged from a low of 3.5% in 1969 to a high of 8.5% in 1975 (the heart of Ford's administration).

4. A Democratically-controlled Congress seemed to somehow overcome what can only be characterized as the failed presidency of Nixon and the stagnant presidency of Ford from the years 1969 to 1977, at least as far as poverty was concerned.
Unemployment, however, rises during the Nixon and Ford administrations reaching a high of 8.5% in 1975 and falling back to 7.7% in Ford's last full year in office in 1976.

5. The second half of Carter's presidency was marked primarily by inflation from rising oil prices thanks to our "friends" in OPEC and the image of weakness over the Iranian embassy.
Poverty begins to rise as his presidency comes to an end.
Unemployment had fallen during his first two years in office and was back up to 7.1% for his last full year in office, 1980.

6. Reagan's platform of smaller government and Reaganomics helped him to win the 1980 election.
Admittedly, he came into a bad economic situation but his cure seemed to be worse than the disease. Reagan succeeded only in introducing us for the first time ever to the word "trillion" as part of the national debt.

"By buying into the supply-side notion that the U.S. could cut income taxes while simultaneously paying for massive increases in defense and certain highly popular domestic programs, Reagan may be justly dubbed the Father of the 12-Digit Deficit."
The Federal Deficit, Time. June 1992. p2. (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,975829-2,00.html)

Prophetic in many ways considering W did exactly the same thing 20 years later - cut taxes and increase spending. We never learn....


7. Reagan's election helps the Republicans to take back the Senate but not the House.

8. Poverty skyrockets in Reagan's first term and begins a modest downward trend in his second term
Unemployment continued to rise - in fact, leapt - hitting highs of 9.7% and 9.6% in 1982 and 1983, rates that hadn't been seen in 40+ years.
Unemployment begins to decline in 1984 (how could it not?), hitting 5.5% his last year in office, 1988, perhaps thanks in part to the fact that Americans returned control of the Senate, and thereby Congress, to Democrats in 1987.

9. Bush 41 is elected in 1988 and poverty skyrockets again.
Unemployment is back up to 7.5% by 1992, GHWB's last full year at the helm.

10. Clinton is elected in 1992 and takes office in 1993.
Poverty drops dramatically from the start of and throughout his presidency until.....you guessed it....W takes office
Unemployment drops immediately in Clinton's first year in office, going from 7.5% in 1992 to 6.9% in 1993
Unemployment continues to fall during the Clinton administration, hitting a low of 4.0% in 2000, Clinton's last full year in office

(GOP took back the Congress in 1995 and held both Houses essentially for the next 10 years until the 2007 elections. Republicans have W to thank for that.)

11. W is elected in 2000
Poverty skyrockets again during his presidency
Unemployment didn't climb dramatically, but it did go up to a high of 6.0% in 2003 and was at 5.8% in 2008


CONCLUSIONS
The number of people living in poverty has generally trended upward and unemployment tends to rise whenever there's a Republican in the White House. This is especially true since the Reagan years but can be traced back to Eisenhower at least as far as the affect on unemployment.

I really don't see how or why the poor keep getting blamed. This question of the affects the poor have on the economy is really a pretty sad and tired red herring of the Right.

So, it's perfectly fine to have an opinion about whether or not J-Lo has too much junk in her trunk (haven't seen her lately, but I say no), or whether or not you like Ted Nugent's music regardless of his politics (I love his music and now no longer believe he never did drugs because he's clearly brain-damaged!) but you don't get to have your own facts.

If you want to debate cause and effect, that's ok. But what you cannot debate is whether or not poverty and unemployment go up when Republicans have been in the White House at least over the last almost 60 years. This is quite evident from the data presented here.

Vilifying the Poor - Rebuttal to Star Parker

So, a friend sends an email to me containing a piece written by Star Parker summarizing (pitching?!?!) her 6 year old book, Uncle Sam's Plantation. This was my response....
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Let's face it. One has to deal in facts - true facts or lies that are claimed to be facts - to get the attention of Factcheck.org. Star Parker offers neither. She only has opinions. Maybe her absence from sites like Factcheck ought to be read as testimony to her utter irrelevance in the larger debate about federal spending, policy matters, budgets, and the poor.

In my opinion, she's nothing more than the African-American Ann Coulter. Have a listen to her at: http://www.urbancure.org/article.asp?id=3162 She and Ann make about the same amount of sense to me, too.......none.

And it comes as no surprise to me that only the yellowest of all the news networks, The Hannity/Beck Network, would even care about what she has to say.

If anyone is interested in some facts about the programs she vilifies, here are some links you might find useful.
* Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/tanf/about.html
"Under the welfare reform legislation of 1996, (the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act – PWRORA – Public Law 104-193), TANF replaced the welfare programs known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program and the Emergency Assistance (EA) program. The law ended federal entitlement to assistance and instead created TANF as a block grant that provides States, territories and tribes federal funds each year. These funds cover benefits, administrative expenses, and services targeted to needy families. TANF became effective July 1, 1997, and was reauthorized in February 2006 under the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005."

The Goals stated are
" States receive a block grant to design and operate their programs to accomplish the purposes of TANF.

These are:

  • assisting needy families so that children can be cared for in their own homes
  • reducing the dependency of needy parents by promoting job preparation, work and marriage
  • preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies
  • encouraging the formation and maintenance of two-parent families."


Now we can't have any of that, now can we?

*
Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS): was replaced 13 years ago by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) (see above and http://www.childtrends.org/Lifecourse/programs/JOBS.htm)

*
Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF)
One of the rare situations where you can actually stump Google.
Your search - "Emergency Assistance to Needy Families with Children (EANF)" site:.gov - did not match any documents.
If she's going to criticize a program - one that looks like it no longer exists (see above), was administered by states and, at least in New York, required conditions like you to be homeless with little or no food (http://www.dads.ny.gov/main/ta/default.asp) - she should at least get the name right. Those kinds of errors tell me a lot about the credibility of the source......again, none.


So what's my point? To point out what I consider to be the obvious, of course! ;-) Like most people with an agenda, she's not letting facts get in the way.


And why this fascination with vilifying the poor?
...They don't make laws
...They don't have lobbyists
...They don't have much, if any, money
...They don't own banks, brokerages, or insurance firms
...They aren't typically registered as members of the party who passed such legislative gems in the name of capitalism and free markets as the Graham-Leach-Bliley act which, as you all know, removed all the safeguards, oversights, regulations, and restrictions on financial services companies created by the Glass-Steagall act which, as you also know, had to be passed by a Democratically-led Congress in 1933 to try and protect us from the greedy motherf***ing capitalists who gave us the first Great Depression and are back with their sequel, "Great Depression II: You Dumb-Asses Didn't Learn a Thing the First Time, Did You?"
...The poor didn't create bullshit investment instruments like collateralized debt obligations that tanked the whole friggin' world's economy while the modern day heros of capitalism were still getting paid their obscenely large bonuses
...The poor weren't the ones buying homes they couldn't afford, nor were they the ones writing the mortgages without so much as a passing interest in anyone's ability to repay the loan because the mortgages were being bundled and sold to someone else which eventually turned into the CDOs which.....oh hell, my head is spinning.
...They don't lobby their Senators and Representatives for tax cuts to wealthy Americans that accomplished nothing except to piss away a federal surplus and didn't create any noticeable improvement to the economy
...They didn't leave the Obama administration with a wrecked economy, a $500billion deficit (which probably doesn't really account for everything since W did Iraq off the books), a financial system in total ruin thanks to a lack of regulation, and a world roiling in political, social, and cultural turmoil

Do I really need to go on?

So what's her message - all you poor African Americans stop sitting around pretending that there's no work and go out there and make your mark in the world? Is that it? Is that all that's needed to get our economy growing again?

So Obama should abandon social programs and keep funneling money to the wealthy? Will that solve our problems?

Or is she also complaining that the president didn't just let W's utter and complete disaster culminate in the closing down of the world's economy? Let them fail, is that it? No such thing as too big to fail? Now that really would have been poetic justice for those who really think there is such a thing as capitalism and free markets, now wouldn't it?

I've news for you.....there's no such thing. The world is run by an oligarchy of rich and powerful people. It's not James Bond versus Specter, but it's not truly capitalism or free markets, either. And Oboma ain't no savior and he ain't no devil. He's one of them, too, just a little further to the left than others.

Hell, it's starting to look more and more like how Bill Mahr recently described our two-party system, "Democrats have moved to the right, and the right has moved into a mental hospital."

So let's say that Star (is that really her name?) is right. How could she not be, right? Hell, just look at the facts.
1. Our primary and secondary public education is extremely well-funded, progressive, and effective especially in inner city neighborhoods.
2. Higher education is eminently affordable to anyone who wants to go.
3. And the Republican administration of the last 8 years with all of their free market deregulation, tax cuts for the wealthy, and sound economic and fiscal policies has left us with an economy so sound and robust that it's just chock full of great paying jobs whether or not you even have a degree and so long as you get your sorry, shiffless, ass of the front stoop and go looking.

Right........

;-)