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Member since: Thu Mar 16, 2006, 02:07 PM
Number of posts: 8,867

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The first responders

These are the police who were the first to see the children inside the school and had to tell their families. There are no words.

Quote of the Day from Ezra Klein

"Talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t 'too soon.' It’s much too late." - Ezra Klein

Read the whole article here. It's fantastic.

He Tried To Break Down My Door

Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 11:55 PM PST
He Tried To Break Down My Door
by leavingthezoo

The wind is blowing. The news is threatening us with snow flurries. Nothing major. Most likely I will see no evidence as it is not expected to accumulate over night. I'm huddled in my living room wishing I were in bed asleep. I tried to be. But sleep isn't coming easily to me lately.

Last week, Wednesday night, or really Thursday morning, I was sleeping as peacefully as I ever have. I live in a trailer. (Yes, yes, I know all the trailer trash jokes, and no longer cringe when I hear them.) It's a temporary abode. I will be gone from here in six more months. But for now, it is affordable as I finish up at a local community college before transferring to my home state's pride and joy. My significant other has moved ahead of me so as to make the move as easy a transition as it can be. So, I am here. Alone.

I awoke to what I thought was an earthquake. We've felt a few here in recent years. Small ones. Just enough to register in your head that its an earthquake, but not severe enough to drop to your knees in prayer. This one was different. It was jolting. With it was a distant booming sound that I couldn't quite identify. I sat up as I tried to get my bearings, still groggy and confused. It wasn't until I made my way halfway down the hall that I realized the booming sound was someone throwing themselves against my front door. It wasn't until then that I understood the jolting of the trailer was from the force. And I could hear a man yelling.

I instantly panicked.

My first thought was something had happened to my mother, and my stepfather in his grief was beside himself as he wailed and pummeled my door trying to wake me. They live a couple of spaces down from me, so it just made sense. I moved more quickly towards the living room, then suddenly realized it was not the voice of my stepfather. It was not a voice I recognized, and the concern for my mother suddenly turned into fear for myself.

My second thought, once I realized what was happening, was, "Great! I'm going to die before I get my degree!"

And the absurdity of the second thought gave way to the third, "If this guy succeeds, there is nothing I can do. I really might not survive this..."

It's difficult to be rational when nothing around you is in your control. So, irrationally, I immediately called my parents home. I guess when you don't know what you're facing, you seek comfort. By the second ring, my mind started clicking and I realized this was a futile route. I hung up before they could answer and called 911.

I stumbled through the words as I explained my emergency. "Someone is trying to break down my door. Where do I live? I live... I'm at... He's screaming. He's ramming my door and he's screaming to let him in. No, I don't know who he is! Please, please help me. I don't know what to do..."

The operator told me to stay on the line until the sheriff arrived. I hid in my bedroom behind a door that doesn't lock. Call waiting signaled someone was trying to reach me, and I knew it was my stepdad. It was then that I heard the first gunshot.

"Oh my God! I just heard... I think I heard gunfire! Please hurry! He's still beating my door."

I heard the operator radio that a gunshot had been heard, and not long after, a second caller confirmed there was gunfire. I got down low to the ground, and started telling the operator, "I have to call my parents back. I have to hang up. I'm afraid my dad is going to come check on me and get shot."

By the time I heard the second and third gunshot, I could also hear the sirens. The calvary was coming! But in moments, I would hear them go a different direction.

"No! No! They're going the wrong way! I heard them and now they're going the wrong way!"

There was a lot of confusion for me. In some ways, I am sure things were happening more quickly than I realized, and in others, they weren't happening fast enough. The operator told me the sheriff was in pursuit of a car that sped away from the area.

"But what about the guy on my porch? What about my dad?" I cried out. It was only then that I noticed I no longer heard the chaos coming from my living room. Trying to make sense of it all, I asked, "What do I do? What if there is a dead guy on my porch? What if my stepfather..."

"No, you're ok."

The operator told me that a second officer had checked the area, and no one was lying dead on my porch or anywhere else for that matter. I was safe. It was all ok. I wouldn't trust them until I saw my stepdad. And like me being so afraid he'd been killed, he was dealing with his overwhelming fear that something terrible had happened to me.

In the end, the man was arrested. He totaled his vehicle in the pursuit. He didn't even mean to be on my porch. He thought he was somewhere else. The gunshots came from a neighbor across the street. The man had been there originally, and gotten into a fight with one of them. Instead of calling the police, someone yanked out a gun and shot into the air. I didn't hear the first shot. I only heard the three that followed once he was at my door, ramming it with intensity. The neighbor next door to me is the mother of the man's girlfriend. He thought he was on her porch. The terror wasn't meant for me. The fear instilled didn't have my name on it. These sleepless nights aren't mine. This racing heart when unexpected noise jolts me awake doesn't belong to me. The chronic checking of locks, the hesitation before opening the door, the unwillingness to open the shades, or even sit on the porch in broad daylight are not my penance. But I pay them anyway.

All I can think is how silly this is to still be scared. I tell myself how fortunate I am. How there are so many whose doors have been broken down. How there are those who did not survive. That there are those who are dealing with so much more than a temporary instance of loss of control. That there are those who will live with both physical and mental scars for the rest of their lives.

And it make me wonder, are we protecting our neighbors? Because only two calls went to the police that night. Mine and my stepfathers. But multiple neighbors have admitted to hearing the chaos, and doing nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So, do something. If you wonder if you should, the answer is yes. Make the call. I can promise you, if you find yourself in a similar situation, you will be praying someone makes the call for you.


I know it's infantile, but I still think it's funny...

Rolling Jubilee Poised to Retire $9,000,000 in Medical Debt!

Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:37 PM PST
Rolling Jubilee Poised to Retire $9,000,000 in Medical Debt!
by jpmassar

While New York City's Mayor is once again attempting to squash Occupy by ordering Occupy Sandy off the streets, another group of Occupiers and allies is continuing unimpeded in its efforts to do something to make the world a better place. Rolling Jubilee, an action by StrikeDebt, an "offshoot" of Occupy Wall Street, has now raised enough money to retire over $9,000,000 in medical debt.

A week and half ago I reported that donations had topped $400,000, enough to retire $8,000,000 in debt. The debtometer has been turning continuously since then, and a few hours ago it hit $450,000.

It would only take $50,000 -- $5 donations each by 10000 people -- to hit that magic next decimal: $10,000,000. (Mayor Bloomberg could do it on far less than the interest he earns in a single day, but I digress). When it does hit, that will probably connect with the lame stream media much as the original effort did.

The point, however, of the Rolling Jubilee is not so much to forgive a certain amount of debt for a certain number of people -- although it is and will continue to do that -- rather the goal is more to restart the conversation about debt and how people got into it in this country. From medical bills that no person in any other industrialized country has to deal with, to fraudulent home loans from banksters who should be in jail, to usurious credit card rates and fees, to unforgivable student debt that is causing grandparents' social security payments to be docked, debt has because a plague upon the land.

When Iceland can jail its banksters and bail out its people, the only reason we cannot do it is a lack of understanding by the people of just how badly they have been screwed.


#austerity isn't working. #Jubilee really works, just ask Iceland. It's time for a #GlobalJubilee strikedebt.org

30 Nov 12

(For specifics on the Rolling Jubilee, please see the FAQ on this page. For an in-depth discussion of the tax issues (or non-issues) surrounding this endeavor, you can try to wade through the comments in my previous diary).


Joe Klein at TIME Taunts "Republican Drama Queens"

Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 12:54 PM PST
Joe Klein at TIME Taunts "Republican Drama Queens"
by Ian Reifowitz

This is almost too good to be true, coming from a Villager like Joe Klein:

The Republicans are, reportedly, outraged by President Obama’s opening bid in the fiscal cliff talks. Republicans always seem to be outraged. It’s getting boring. They need to step up and make a counter-offer.

(snip) it is time to stow the Republican intemperance. It might have seemed “righteous” indignation when the GOP was deluding itself about representing a majority of Americans; now, it just seem puerile and petulant.

Puerile and petulant. Alright, I'm a lover of alliteration (!). Klein then delivers the hammer blow:

What is difficult for the Fox talking heads to understand is this: We had an election. The President won....the assorted Republican drama queens seem so two months ago, don’t they?

They sure do. Well played, Mr. Klein. And if this attitude reflects the growing consensus of the Village -- and Joe Klein is usually a quite good representative of those attitudes -- this could play out well for the President, and thus the country. Here's hoping.

PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published last month by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.


Tom Tomorrow: Election aftermath

Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:00 AM PST
Election aftermath
by Tom Tomorrow


It's official: Mitt's Vote is down to 47.49 Percent

Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 08:13 PM PST
It's official: Mitt's Vote is down to 47.49 Percent
by Spider Stumbled

From the Twitter feed of Dave Waserman.....

Mitt Romney is down to 47.49%.

Rounded down............47%!


From Dave Waserman's Twitter Feed:

First... CA: Los Angeles County reports 45,326 new @BarackObama votes, 12,469 @MittRomney

Then... And with that, the moment many have been waiting for has arrived. @MittRomney drops to 47.49% of the popular vote:

I know it's a meaningless milestone but I've been savoring the Schadenfreude for almost 3 weeks and this may be the last bit for a while...


Ezra Klein: Why rich guys want to raise the retirement age

Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 04:12 AM PST
Ezra Klein: Why rich guys want to raise the retirement age
by teacherken

is a must-read piece which somehow I had missed before this morning's email from Reader Supported News.

Ezra takes words Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, made to CBS, about raising the retirement age for Social Security. This is a common argument, usually offered by people who really do not themselves need Social Security, that since we now live longer than when the program was established, the age should be raised. People are now getting so many years more to get benefits from the program.

Ezra totally takes that apart. For example, he offers a chart on life expectancy for people retiring at age 65. Since 1977 those in the upper half of income have seen their life expectancy expand by six years, while those in the bottom half have gained only 1.3 years.

Ezra then writes

If you’re wealthy, you do have many more years to enjoy Social Security. But if you’re not, you don’t. And so making it so people who aren’t wealthy have to wait longer to use Social Security is a particularly cruel and regressive way to cut the program.

But there is so much more.

Many people do not do work they enjoy. They do jobs to support themselves and their families, they take what is available and provides an income (and perhaps some benefits). Klein writes

You know what age most people actually begin taking Social Security? Sixty-five is what most people think. That’s the law’s standard retirement age. But that’s wrong. Most people begin taking Social Security benefits at 62, which is as early as the law allows you to take them.

When they do that, it means they get smaller benefits over their lifetime. We penalize for taking it early. But they do it anyway. They do it because they don’t want to spend their whole lives at that job. Unlike many folks in finance or in the U.S. Senate or writing for the nation’s op-ed pages, they don’t want to work till they drop.

First, Ezra is a bit out of date. For my age cohort, full benefits were not available until one is 66, and that age is continuing to creep up under the "fix" to Social Security made in the 1980s.

But there is more. Klein quotes from Nobel economist Peter Diamond, who is a Social Security expert, and who pointed out to Dylan Matthews that those retiring at 62 lived shorter lives and drew less income than those who retired later, and that proposals like those of Blankfein and far too many in the chattering class and in politics are effectively cutting benefits for those who need them most.

Klein then writes

That’s what’s galling about this easy argument. The people who make it, the pundits and the senators and the CEOs, they’ll never feel it. They don’t want to retire at age 65, and they don’t have short life expectancies, and they’re not mainly relying on Social Security for their retirement income. They’re bravely advocating a cut they’ll never feel.

He got that right. He points out that Blankfein, whose 2011 compensation was over $16 million, paid Social Security tax on less than 1% of his income because the taxes are capped at salaries over 110,000 - and I would add are not applied on things like stock options which represent a major part of the compensation of people like Blankfein.

We then get this observation from Klein:

If we lifted that cap, if we made all income subject to payroll taxes, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would do three times as much to solve Social Security’s shortfall as raising the retirement age to 70. In fact, it would, in one fell swoop, close Social Security’s solvency gap for the next 75 years. That may or may not be the right way to close Social Security’s shortfall, but somehow, it rarely gets mentioned by the folks who think they’re being courageous when they talk about raising a retirement age they’ll never notice.

When I was younger, the cap was so much lower. As you can see by this chart, when I began working in the mid 1960's, the cap on wages from which the tax was deducted was only $6,600. For my work career before I left to get trained as a teacher in mid-1994, I had the experience of hitting the ceiling sometime in Autumn, after which it was like receiving a temporary pay raise when the taxes were not deducted from the remaining pay checks that year. Now as a teacher I pay those taxes on all my wages.

Someone like Blankfein and other captains of industry almost do not notice the few times the tax is deducted from them. Rank and file members of the House and Senate currently make $174,000, which means they stop paying the tax in the summer. And if the voters decide to keep them in office, they may drawing a salary from use into their 90s (Robert Byrd) or even when they hit the century mark (the late Strom Thurmond), even while they can simultaneously draw Social Security.

There is no consideration in proposals to raise the retirement age of the toll of the kind of work some people do. It is one thing to be a lawyer or a politician or a banker. It is something far different to be a coal miner, work on a loading dock, stock shelves in a supermarket. Heck, some jobs even force you out after a certain age. The FBI requires agents to retire at 57, 5 years before they are eligible for early Social Security. It is hard to imagine an ordinary fireman running into burning buildings at 66 or older.

Far too often our policies are made by people with insufficient knowledge or regard for the lives of people not like them. Thus in education policy we had in No Child Left Behind the option to transfer from a failing school to a more successful school. But how does that work in the rural part of western Nebraska where some communities still have one-room schools? Raising the age for Social Security - and before the Affordable Care Act Medicare - is an action that ignores the reality of the lives of too many people.

I am retired and on Social Security. I have gone back into a classroom in a setting that most people could not handle because I wanted to. Many of us if we do work we enjoy will continue working, conceivable even as we draw Social Security.

We should not be balancing our finances on the backs of those who have already labored enough, and who should have earned the right to some time away from jobs that were necessary but not enjoyable.

Ezra Klein has written an important piece.

I hope the policy makers pay attention.


Bill O'Reilly's "Leave It to Beaver" nightmare

Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:00 AM PST
Bill O'Reilly's "Leave It to Beaver" nightmare
by RubenBolling
Reposted from Comics by Tom Tomorrow

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