An American Hero Celebrates 100th Birthday

Friends, family mark 100th birthday of a Florin hero

Published Monday, Jul. 25, 2011

More than 150 relatives, friends and neighbors filled Florin Community Center on Sunday to celebrate a true American war hero.

Bob Fletcher – who officially turns 100 on Tuesday – didn’t see combat in World War II. But he was shot at for being a Japanese sympathizer when he quit his job to save three local Japanese American farms whose owners were sent to internment camps.

Most of Sacramento’s 3,000 Japanese Americans who were shipped off to barbed-wire camps from 1942 to 1945 lost everything – even though most were U.S. citizens. Their farms and homes were stolen or foreclosed on by the banks.

But Fletcher, a UC Davis-trained agricultural inspector, knew many Japanese farmers throughout Northern California and hated to see their hard work and life savings disappear.

“They were the same as everybody else – it was obvious they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor,” Fletcher said.

At his neighbors’ request, he agreed to work three farms – 90 acres of flame Tokay grapes on Florin-Perkins Road – while the Tsukamotos, Okamotos and Nittas were locked up.

Continue reading An American Hero Celebrates 100th Birthday

SEIU Calls Protest at Altmire’s office Monday July 25 3:30pm: Hands off Social Security and Healthcare


JULY 25TH at 3:30

Service Employees International Union HAVE RECEIVED WORD THAT


Disabilities Groups to Obama: Do not cut Social Security

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 22, 2011

35 National Disabilities Groups Representing Millions of Americans Urge President Obama & Congress Not to Cut Social Security Benefits

Groups Send Letters Opposing Changes to COLA Formula that Would Result in Significant Benefit Cuts

(Washington, DC) — Two leading disability group coalitions – the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and the National Disability Leadership Alliance – sent letters to President Obama and to members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate recently, urging them to oppose any effort to reduce the Social Security and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) by adopting the chained consumer price index (CPI) formula during debt-ceiling negotiations.

The letters, which were signed by a total of 35 organizations, identified specific and significant cuts to benefits that would occur in programs that people with disabilities greatly depend on – Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income – should the chained CPI be used to calculate the annual COLA. Those cuts are detailed in this fact sheet.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities letter said: “Although some might describe use of the “chained” CPI as a mere technical change, it will likely have dramatic impacts on current and future Social Security beneficiaries. For a beneficiary receiving the average Disability Insurance benefit, benefits would be cut by $333 per year (2.6%) after 10 years, $692 (5.4%) after 20 years, and $1,710 per year (13.34%) after 50 years. These cuts could be devastating and force people to make terrible life and death choices between paying for a prescription or buying food.”

The National Disability Leadership Alliance letter said: “For many of these citizens, changing the COLA formula this way will mean taking them one step closer to a life below the poverty level. Rather than finding ways to decrease the COLA, our country should increase it to better reflect such realities as the higher out-of-pocket health care costs experienced by people with disabilities and seniors.”

A list of the organizations that signed one or both of the letters is below.

Continue reading Disabilities Groups to Obama: Do not cut Social Security

Eighty Congress Members Demand No Cuts to Social Security or Healthcare Programs

Eighty Members Sign on to Progressive Caucus Letter Demanding No Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security


July 22, 2011

Press Contacts

Adam Sarvana (Rep. Grijalva)

(202) 225-2435

Jennifer Gore (Rep. Ellison)

(202) 225-4755

Washington, D.C. – Eighty Member of Congress have now signed onto a letter spearheaded by Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) leaders to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisting that cuts Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid be off the table in any budget deal. Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American have also signed the letter and are encouraging their respective Caucus members to join them.

Originally sent by CPC co-chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison on July 8, the letter is still open for signatures and has become the primary vehicle for House Democrats to express their support for the programs during budget negotiations. The letter says that middle-class families “have sacrificed enough, and a deal that pushes the American Dream further out of reach, in order to pay for extending tax breaks for the rich and corporations, is simply unacceptable.”

“We are united as Democrats in saying that it’s time to stand up to the Republican hostage-taking. We will not be forced to vote for a ‘final agreement’ that we do not agree to — and that the American people do not agree to. We stand united with you in insisting that benefit cuts for working families, our seniors, children, and people with disabilities must be off the table, and we stand united with you in fighting for millions of Americans who need Democrats to be firmly on their side,” the letter says.

Signatories include CPC Co-Chairs Grijalva and Ellison, along with Reps. Baca, Karen Bass, Bordallo, Brown, Carson, Christiansen, Chu, Yvette Clarke, Hansen Clarke, Clay, Cleaver, Cohen, Conyers, Critz, Cummings, Danny Davis, DeFazio, DeLauro, Deutch, Doggett, Edwards, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Frank, Fudge, Garamendi, Al Green, Gutierrez, Hahn, Hinchey, Hirono, Holmes Norton, Holt, Jesse Jackson Jr., Sheila Jackson Lee, Hank Johnson, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Kaptur, Kildee, Kucinich, Barbara Lee, John Lewis, Lofgren, Lynch, Maloney, Markey, McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Moore, Nadler, Napolitano, Olver, Pallone, Payne, Pingree, Rangel, Reyes, Richardson, Richmond, Rothman, Roybal-Allard, Tim Ryan, Sablan, Schakowsky, Serrano, Stark, Sutton, Bennie Thompson, Tierney, Tonko, Towns, Waters, Waxman, Frederica Wilson, Woolsey, and Wu.

The full text of the letter is below.

Continue reading Eighty Congress Members Demand No Cuts to Social Security or Healthcare Programs

Turn the Tables on a Rigged Game

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

Our local conservative newspaper, the Pittsburgh Business Times, carries an instructive story this morning, July 21, 2011, about how to solve our revenue problems, only it fails to make the critical point. So I’ll lend a hand. It says:

“Pennsylvania casinos brought in $81.4 million in tax revenue from table games during the fiscal year that ended last month, according to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Of that, about $71.3 million went to the state’s general fund and another $10 million went to local municipalities and counties that host the state’s 10 table game casinos.

“The Rivers Casino on the North Shore was responsible for $8 million in state tax revenue and $1.2 million in local payments through its table games operations during the past fiscal year.”

It goes on to break the numbers down even more.

Now I can enjoy a day at the Casino. I recently took my Mom and stepfather, a retired J&L worker, to the Rivers for his 84th birthday. I hit the nickel slot for $1.50 on my first try, but ended up leaving $5 in the hole.

Continue reading Turn the Tables on a Rigged Game

House “Gang of 70-Plus” to Senate “Gang of Six”: We Outnumber Your Plan to Slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security


July 19, 2011

Press Contact: Adam Sarvana (202) 225-2435

(202) 573-2562 cell


House “Gang of 70-Plus” to Senate “Gang of Six”: We Outnumber Your Plan to Slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security


Washington, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) co-chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva today released the following statement on the Senate “Gang of Six” budget proposal:


“This terrible plan could cut Medicare and Medicaid to unsustainably low levels and put seniors’ well-being at risk. Anyone who wants to pass it through Congress should remember that more than 70 House Democrats have already pledged their opposition, and more are signing on every day. The letter we sent to Leader Pelosi July 8 vowing to oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid as part of these budget negotiations has become a growing wave of House resolve to protect these programs. We’re keeping it open for more signatures, and our Gang of 70-plus has the ‘Gang of Six’ completely outnumbered. Newly minted Rep. Janice Hahn signed on as one of her first official acts as a Congresswoman – that’s how quickly it’s picking up momentum.


Republicans have already said they won’t vote for any package, period, because of their opposition to a functional economy. House Democrats hold the key to whatever plan can pass Congress. That’s why the Senate ‘Gang of Six’ proposal is dead on arrival. Instead of toying with ways to slash vital programs in just such a way as to make different budget numbers align on paper, Congress and the White House should follow the path of our People’s Budget: creating jobs, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, ending corporate subsidies and millionaire tax giveaways, and ensuring our economy works for everyone rather than a greedy few.”


Statement on “Gang of Six” Deficit Reduction Plan


Statement on Gang of Six Plan

Tax cuts for the wealthy, and Social Security cuts for ordinary workers

For Immediate Release: July 19, 2011
Contact: Alan Barber 202-293-5380 x115

Washington, D.C.–  Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research  (CEPR), issued the following statement on the Gang of Six deficit plan:

“The  budget plan produced by the Senate’s “Gang of Six” offers the promise  of huge tax breaks for some of the wealthiest people in the country,  while lowering Social Security benefits for retirees and the disabled.   Despite claiming that they will “reform” Social Security on a “separate  track, isolated from deficit reduction,” the plan includes cuts to  Social Security that would be felt in less than six months, as the plan  calls for a new inflation formula that will reduce benefits by 0.3  percentage points a year compared with currently scheduled benefits. The  plan also calls for a process that is likely to reduce benefits further  for future retirees.

“The proposed cuts to Social Security  are cumulative. This means that after ten years, a beneficiary in her  70s will see a cut of close to 3 percent. After 20 years, the cuts for  beneficiaries in their 80s will be close to 6 percent, while the  reduction in annual benefits will be close to 9 percent by the time  beneficiaries are in their 90s. For a beneficiary in her 90s living on a  Social Security income of $15,000, this means a loss of more $1,200 a  year in benefits.

  “The plan also calls for large cuts in tax  rates including a targeted top rate of between 23-29 percent, which will  be at least partially offset by elimination of tax deductions. For the  highest-income people, this is likely to mean a very large reduction in  taxes. For example, Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein, the CEOs of J.P.  Morgan and Goldman Sachs, respectively, are both paid close to $20  million a year at present. If this pay is taxed as ordinary income, then  they would be paying close to $7.5 million a year in taxes on it after  2012. However, if the top rate is set at 29 percent, they may save as  much as $1.9 million a year on their tax bill. If the top tax rate is  set at 23 percent then the Gang of Six plan may increase their after-tax  income by more than $3 million a year.

  “It is striking that the  Gang of Six chose to respond to the crisis created by the collapse of  the housing bubble by developing a plan that will give even more money  to top Wall Street executives and traders. By contrast, the European  Union is considering imposing financial speculation taxes to reduce the  power of the financial industry and raise more than $40 billion a year  in revenue.

  “The plan calls for substantial cuts elsewhere in the  budget which are likely to cut into the incomes of large segments of  the population, especially the sick and the elderly. The cuts it  proposes to the military are just over 1.0 percent of projected spending  over the next decade.

  “In short, this is a plan that should be  expected to please the wealthy since it will mean large reductions in  their tax liability in the decades ahead. On the other hand, most of the  rest of the country is likely to feel the effects of lower Social  Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, in addition to other cuts that  are not yet fully specified.”


Why ‘Middle Class’ Drives Me Bonkers

By Carl Davidson

Beaver County Blue

Here’s a perfectly decent chart showing how the value created by increasingly productive Pennsylvania workers ‘trickles up’ to the top. Fine, then comes the claim that the ‘middle class’ is shrinking because workers aren’t getting a fair share.

What drives me nuts is that the same people are called ‘middle class’ and, indirectly, also ‘working class.’  Why do we need to be in two classes? The first is entirely arbitrary and, as the chart shows, only has to do with income levels. The second is about your relation to production, and not owning any means of production, ‘be your payment high or low’ (Marx).

Here’s the rub. The use of ‘middle class’ can be heard to be dismissive of those workers in greatest need. We need unity between both groups, those in greatest need and those more recently pushed down. ‘Working class’ is a fine inclusive term for that. Let’s brush aside the disdain from those who think themselves our ‘betters’ and take more pride in who we are.

Bob Dylan, for goodness sake, even uses the word ‘proletariat’ in his last album, another fine Latin word for ‘people of no property.’ But I’ll settle for ‘working class’ for now.

Tell Rep. Altmire Hands Off Social Security & Medicare Noon Wed. July 20th

by Randy Shannon

The 4th CD chapter of Progressive Democrats of America is holding a noon vigil at Congressman Altmire’s office at 2110 McLean St., Aliquippa on Wednesday July 20th to demand he back off threats to cut Social Security and Medicare.

The vigil is one of over 100 PDA actions at Congressional offices across the country. PDA is also sponsoring a national call-in day on Wednesday to demand hands off Social Security and Medicare.

Social Security and Medicare are paid up national insurance programs and do not contribute a dime to the deficit. These programs actually reduce the deficit by transferring money into the hands of people who will spend it.

The only solution to the deficit is fair taxation of wealthy individuals and corporations and a full employment program that puts people to work.

Is Wider Unity on the Shale Issue Possible?

A Stronger Steelworkers’ Voice Is Needed

in the Marcellus Anti-Fracking Movement

A Stronger Steelworkers’ Voice Is Needed

in the Marcellus Shale Anti-Fracking Movement

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

There’s a specter haunting Western PA. It’s the prospect of a working class divided by a fear of water pollution destroying the property values of small homeowners on one side, and on the other side, by the promise of new wealth from the exploitation of natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits.

A similar fear divides West Virginians over ‘mountaintop removal’ mining. Little towns are split between those who want food on the table and those fearful of poisoning their children.

Steelworkers can certainly see the problem in our own terms. It takes a lot of steel pipe to drill down two to four miles, then drill out a horizontally for another mile in a dozen directions. The tube mills are getting the orders and steelworkers are back to work. On the other hand, steelworkers know the dangers of poisoning the ground and the rivers better than most.

Continue reading Is Wider Unity on the Shale Issue Possible?