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Occupy K Street

Nicole Sandler live:

Last night’s show

Jay Ackroyd and I discussed a lot of things, including the Affordable Health Care Act’s pre-existing condition coverage. Listen here!

Some questions just answer themselves

Why isn’t the media covering the uprisings in Saudi Arabia?

Running out of toys

This makes me sad. If you have the means to donate, please do so:

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program in Philadelphia has been flooded with requests for toys this year, far outstripping supply, say organizers.

And local marines are asking for help.

“We are way under supplied,” said Staff Sgt. Marc Palos, the Toys for Tots coordinator for Philadelphia and Bristol.

“We are running out of toys and people keep requesting them,” he added. “We just don’t have enough to give them.”

Palos cited continuing economic troubles as the culprit, but says he is unsure why this year would be worst than last.

Last year, the program produced over 113,000 toys by Christmas.

“This year, I seriously doubt will make that marker,” Palos said. “We’re just not receiving the toys we have in the past from the public.”

However, Palos said corporations are still donating, and he said there is still time to make up the slack. The Marines have collection sites at all Philadelphia Fire Department stations, as well as four Toys R Us locations.

“In years past, we really didn’t have an issue,” Palos said. “We need to get the word out … I guarantee you that by the end of this week, we might not have any toys to distribute.”

Remember when

Those Tennessee firefighters let a house burn to the ground because the owners didn’t pay their $75 fire fee?

It just happened again.

Why, that makes as much sense as letting someone suffer from an illness because they haven’t bought insurance… oh, never mind.

Austerity for cancer patients

Look what they’re doing in England to cover the bankers’ gambling debts:

Thousands of seriously ill cancer patients will be forced to take medical tests and face “back to work” interviews, despite assurances from ministers that they would not make it harder for the sick to get welfare, charities have warned.

Buried in a report to ministers by Prof Malcolm Harrington, the government adviser on testing welfare recipients, are proposals to force cancer patients who are undergoing intravenous chemotherapy to prove they are too ill to work.

At present, patients who are unable to work because of cancer and the side-effects of treatments are allowed to claim the highest rate of employment support allowance (ESA), worth up to £100 a week. More than 9,000 cancer patients were placed automatically on the welfare payment from October 2008 to June 2010. However, the expert report says this “automatic entitlement” has encouraged dependency on benefits, “encouraging wrong behaviours from employers and stigmatising cancer as something that can lead to unemployment or worklessness”.

Instead, cancer patients on chemotherapy in hospitals will now have to prove that they are too sick to work, and take part in the controversial work capability assessment to determine whether someone is eligible for benefits. If cancer patients are found able to return to employment they may also be required to participate in work-related practice job interviews, as a condition of receiving their benefit.

Such assessments have been attacked by charities amid mounting evidence that people with serious illnesses are being judged fit for work when they are not.


Christmas Time in Harlem

Happy Holidays, from Delco Nightingale!

Site maintainance

Two things: Barring any last-minute glitches, we’ll be switching over to the new design sometime this weekend. So if you want to save a copy of the girls with guns header, grab it now. (I think you’ll like the new one just as much. Someone designed it for me, and it’s pretty cool.)

Second, if you use the blogroll links from Banter Media, you need to bookmark your faves or put them in your RSS feed. They won’t be here much longer.

This was written by Janalee Filer, an unemployed worker from Pueblo, Colorado. (She’s the blonde woman on the left.) She was in D.C. yesterday to tell her congressman she wants to work as part of Take Back The Capitol, an event organized by unions and activist groups:

I came to Washington, D.C. with a group of fellow Coloradans to tell our Congressman, Representative Scott Tipton, to create jobs and put Colorado back to work. What I heard back from him fell short.

As a construction worker for 26 years, I moved up through the ranks, saw my wages improve over the years and really enjoyed my job. But over the past 10 years my wages steadily declined. In 2008, my wages fell to $10 an hour, that’s $2 less than what I made in 1985!

I decided to leave work and take care of my ailing grandparents for a time, trusting that I’d have a job when I was ready to return. Well, here I am trying to get a construction job now for 2 years without any luck. My unemployment insurance has run out, and I am desperate for a job.

Unfortunately, my story isn’t unique. Pueblo, where I’m from, is experiencing an unemployment rate above 10%. Every family is affected. I believe in extending unemployment insurance for other people who still qualify, who are still struggling just to get by, who are still searching high and low for work.

That’s why I marched into Rep. Tipton’s office today and demanded a meeting. There is a crisis in Pueblo—and across the country—that requires leadership and commitment, and so far we have seen neither from our representative.

Rep. Tipton came and spoke with us for a few minutes in the lobby. When we asked him if he would vote to extend unemployment insurance, what I heard is that he is “pondering” it. I don’t understand how there is even a question about it!

One of his aides met with us in the lobby as well. When we asked him again about if Rep. Tipton would vote to extend the unemployment insurance, he told us he had to listen to both sides and then he told us a strange story. He heard about a disheveled guy going in for an interview and purposefully not getting hired just to get an unemployment check. We all sat there for a minute in disbelief. When I realized, that he was saying that my representative was considering not voting for unemployment insurance because he thinks there are lazy people milking the system, I was compelled to act.

I jumped out of my chair and told the aide that there are a lot more unemployed, hard working, good valued people in Pueblo and across Colorado who are looking for jobs than a handful who may not want work. I said, “I’ve worked for 26 years in road construction and paid into the system. Here I am, without a job for 2 years and my unemployment insurance has run out. I can’t milk the system. I want to work. What will you do for people like me?”

It was so offensive to hear him say he thought the unemployed were largely a lazy group looking for a handout. I am looking for work every day.

This visit actually opened my eyes to how Congress thinks—they live in a different reality. I didn’t expect to hear that they think of the unemployed as people just looking for a handout. It was shocking.

Congress is supposed to be supporting the people, their constituents. I came to him, basically begging for help, and they told me they wouldn’t help because I am lazy.

Well, lazy I am not.

I will be writing more to my local newspaper, organizing my neighbors, and speaking out more. I want to tell my Coloradans back home not to lose hope. You need to raise your voice. They can ignore a few of us, but they can’t ignore all of us. Let’s unite. It takes everyone.

And of course, I’d be very dismayed if any unemployed readers called Rep. Tipton’s Capitol Hill office (202-225-4761) and told them what they thought of his position.

America’s secret wars

Go read the rest. Charlie Pierce:

Secret war is anathema to free government. Period. Now, you can argue that it’s necessary, that the world has changed, that dangers come upon us too quickly, that the length and breadth of the evil in the world has made the perils Madison described quaint and irrelevant. You can do all that and people will applaud you and elect you president. But you cannot make the argument that secret wars conducted by the Executive are consonant with constitutional government, because they are not, and they never will be, and because, sooner or later, you wind up lying about the rape and murder of nuns.

(Hell, you can’t really even argue that open warfare conducted by the Executive, even with fig-leaf legislation from a cowardly and compliant Congress, is consonant with constitutional government. The Founders would laugh at you.)

I bring all of this up because I just recently caught up with this piece in National Journal which describes how “comfortable” Barack Obama has become with waging his secret wars in Pakistan and in other places. Some of the quotes in the piece, especially from the people at the CIA, are mindbogglingly banal in their illustration of just how far from the Constitution our presidents have strayed, and how happy everyone is that they’ve done so….

One senior official inside the CIA is forthright about the issue, at least when speaking anonymously. “It’s a lot simpler and easier for a sniper to shoot or to use a Predator to launch a lawful attack than to detain and interrogate prisoners,” he says. “Once they’re dead, then Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International doesn’t bring a habeas [corpus] case for them. If we’re not going to hold them, we’re ‘pure.’ We may not have information or intelligence, but we do ensure that no one in the human-rights community is yelling and screaming at us.” 

Well, god forbid that should happen. It might ruin an entire afternoon.

And, no, this is not about killing Osama bin Laden. This is about conducting a general war overseas in an ad hoc fashion entirely from within the Executive branch. The constitutional distance between what President Obama is doing and “The Enterprise,” which was the Reagan administration’s term for the foolishness that ended in the Iran-Contra scandal, is not vast.

We can applaud the president’s “strong leadership” in this area. We can even re-elect him based on it. But it doesn’t have anything to do with what we were designed as a nation to do. We can fool ourselves that all of this is constitutional, but it’s not, and no hack White House lawyer can make it so. Secret wars are lies institutionalized and, sooner or later, we’re all praying for the repose of the souls of nuns murdered so long ago that hardly anyone remembers them.

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