BevW

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FDL and the Book Salons Need Your Help

By: BevW Sunday June 1, 2014 10:28 am

The FDL Book Salons are coming up on eight (!) years in July. That is approximately 800 salons and 1600 hours of discussions with authors, hosts, and newsmakers. Sometimes even making the news.

The Book Salons were developed for you, but now you also provide the recommendations as to what you want to discuss, and you direct the trajectory of the salons. Your discussions are what make the salons interesting, important, and a must-read for newsmakers and authors.

The Book Salons / FDL bring you the facts, current events, analysis, newsmakers, authors, and subject matter experts. FDL provides the Progressive Voice. FDL gives whistleblowers a voice. FDL allows open and honest discussions about events and allows the members to voice support for progressive causes.

I’ve been here at FDL for a long time, and I’ve had the honor to work with many outstanding, nationally-recognized journalists on the staff, and with the best members (you) that any site could want. Please help us continue the excellent reporting and analysis of important topics.

The Book Salon / FDL was affected by DDoS attacks, interrupting the Progressive discussion.

DDoS attacks are taking away your ability to get the facts
DDoS attacks are attempting to silence the Progressive Voice
DDoS attacks are attacking your 1st Amendment right to discuss what is on your mind in public

Recently the DDoS attacks prevented the discussion in the Salons about the failing middle class, the poor, the homeless, how lives are destroyed by inequality, the economy, and the lack of jobs – also about drone technology, US drone policy, the killing of “enemies of the State” and US citizens.

We need your help, financial assistance, to keep FDL open for your Voice and all Progressive Voices. Please give what you can.

What do you get out of the Salons and FDL? What is on your mind?
Let’s discuss.

 

One View of Government Shutdowns

By: BevW Sunday January 20, 2013 11:16 am

non-essential personnel

This week the rhetoric about the debt ceiling, sequestration cuts, and basic funding of the government for the next year, the Budget, came to a head with the new threat of “shutting the government down“.

This week:

Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (TN) insisted that shutting down the government should be “on the table” as Congress and the Obama administration deal with passing a continuing resolution, raising the debt ceiling, and addressing the sequestration cuts.

Jansing warned that should the government shutdown, the FBI would stop working, “prisons won’t operate, the court system closes, tax refunds won’t go out, the FAA would go off line.” But Blackburn dismissed these concerns by arguing that Republicans will set priorities for government spending and start eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Also,

Each representative reiterated the dangerous consequences in store, should Congress fail to extend the debt limit, thereby forfeiting the government’s ability to make payments of any kind. One result, which Republican Tom Coburn recently called “a wonderful experiment,” would be a government shutdown.

Those of us who spent their life working for the government and lived through the last Federal Government shutdown in 1995-1996 (twice, Nov 14-19 and Dec 16-Jan 6) know what the emotional and financial toll is on federal workers.

As a government employee, you are singled out by your Supervisor, your Agency, and by Congress and told you are not needed, you are excess, “non-essential”, to the effort of supporting the government. Some of your co-workers will be left in place to continue essential services. In my case, I was one of the people sent home to wait until the crisis passed while my co-workers worked a normal schedule. I had over 23 years service at the time.

Throughout the shutdown the news coverage was intense with interviews of Republican Congressmen saying, look, the government is still working without the furloughed employees, they are “non-essential” to the needs of the government; they are not needed. Hearing that message every day for weeks from elected officials is hard. There was a lot of anger and resentment from the furloughed employees towards the government that allowed this to happen to us.

One of my memories is of a Republican Congressman saying he was not a government employee, the shutdown did not affect him. Actually, he was paid by the Federal Government. (There is a law that allows Congress to be paid even if the government is shutdown.)

After the government shutdown was over, we went back to work as the other, the person who was sent home as “non-essential”.  Every time the shutdown/furlough was mentioned in casual conversations, everyone discussed what they did during it. We remembered being told we were “non-essential” by the government, our employer. We furloughed employees were paid after the fact, our checks came later – after the bills came in and sat on the desk.

The non-government / citizens could not go to the National Parks, Museums, or to government offices to discuss issues – that was the visible manifestation of the shutdown to us. They did receive their Social Security checks on time, the military was on duty, so were “essential government services” (prisons were operated, etc.,). Their lives went on normally.

We  government employees were used as pawns in the “crisis”- we were abused emotionally (told we were “non-essential”) and financially, our bills and mortgages were not paid on time, our credit ratings were affected. There was stress in families, not knowing when the furlough would be over, when would we be able to pay the bills, would we have a job.

Looking forward to this coming financial crisis – will the government services and employees be used again as “pawns” by the politicians to making a powerplay to gain political advantage and harm the U. S. Government’s standing in the world?  Will the Republicans be remembered as the party that shut down the government – again?

Study Finds Government Pays More in Contracts – Really?

By: BevW Tuesday September 13, 2011 5:32 pm
"Do Not Overpay" by Timothy Valentine on flickr

"Do Not Overpay" by Timothy Valentine on flickr

In an article in the New York Times, Government Pays More in Contracts, Study Finds, the conclusions are that:

Despite a widespread belief that contracting out services to the private sector saves the federal government money, a new study suggests just the opposite — that the government actually pays more when it farms out work.

The study found that in 33 of 35 occupations, the government actually paid billions of dollars more to hire contractors than it would have cost government employees to perform comparable services. On average, the study found that contractors charged the federal government more than twice the amount it pays federal workers.

When I worked for an agency in the DoJ, as a Telecommunications Program Manager, one of the duties included radio systems for federal law enforcement. I watched DoJ and Treasury force contractors on to a big money project, a nation-wide radio system for all federal law enforcement in the 1990s-2000s.

Starting in 1993, Department and Agency radio / telecom managers (think “techs”) in DoJ and Treasury (pre DHS) got together and we started designing a nation-wide, interoperable, radio system for all federal law enforcement agencies, with sharing to State and Local agencies. This was driven by the mandate of upgrading every radio system in the Federal Government, for frequency reasons, by 2005.

As our research and design progressed, first the radio equipment manufacturers took notice, then Congress.

Senator Mark Warner’s Response To No Cuts To Medicare

By: BevW Friday June 17, 2011 12:21 pm
Mark Warner - Caricature

Mark Warner - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

 

I have just spent the last eleven months at the bedside of my mother providing Hospice care, until she passed a few weeks ago from a long and painful illness.  Without the support from Medicare, I don’t know how I would have taken care of her over the years, Hospice, Nursing Homes, and prescription medications alone.

I wrote an email to Senator Mark Warner today, strongly urging him to not allow any cuts in Medicare / Medicaid.

This is the response I received:

Dear Ms. Wright,

Thank you for contacting me about Medicare benefits and ensuring the long-term solvency of our Medicare system. I appreciate hearing from you about this important topic.

Millions of seniors in America depend on the Medicare program for their health care needs and they deserve affordable, quality care. However, the program as it now stands is not fiscally sustainable. In May, the Medicare Board of Trustees report projected that Medicare spending will grow from 3.6% of GDP to 5.6% by 2035 and that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which funds Part A of Medicare, is projected to be insolvent by 2024. Without meaningful reforms there will be no Medicare in our future; we need to take the responsible and necessary steps now in order to continue to care for our elderly and disabled, and keep our promise to those who have paid into the system.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released a 2012 budget proposal this spring that would transform Medicare into a voucher program. Under Chairman Ryan’s budget, starting in 2021, seniors would receive a lump sum of money to purchase private health insurance through a newly created national exchange. The Congressional Budget Office estimates this plan would raise out-of-pocket costs for seniors, reduce their benefits and some would even lose their coverage. Further, rather than actually lowering the growth of health care costs, it simply transfers those costs from the government’s balance sheet onto the backs of beneficiaries. When Chairman Ryan’s plan came before the Senate, I voted against it.

Experts agree that there is no “silver bullet” that will solve the problem of growing health care costs; a patchwork of targeted policies must be applied to drive down the growth rate while continuing to ensure quality and value of care. Last year, the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform released its report, which detailed proposals for deficit reduction and included reforming our entitlement programs. In an effort to build on the Commission’s work, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and I have spent several months working with a bipartisan coalition of Senators who are willing to tackle our debt and deficit challenges to bring fiscal sanity back to the budget process, and we are hopeful that we can produce a reasonable, fair and balanced approach to strengthening entitlement programs, including Medicare.

Bradley Manning Treated More like Supermax Convict than Pre-Trial Detainee

By: BevW Wednesday January 26, 2011 9:00 am

photo: KGBKitchen via Flickr

Details about the conditions of Bradley Manning’s incarceration — specifically the denial of in-cell exercise allowed described by his attorney — surprised me.

“He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop,” his attorney said

Based on my experience with the incarceration of federal inmates and pretrial inmates in Special Housing Units / Solitary Confinement, federal regulations allows for a regular exercise period (see Code of Federal Regulations, 28CFR541.12, Inmate Rights and Responsibilities). There is no mention of restrictions of in-cell exercise (recreation).

The description by Manning’s friend David House of Manning’s incarceration conditions appear similar to the Administrative Maximum Facility (highest security level) conditions. Again, after more than 20 years working in the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBOP), I do not remember any restrictions on in-cell exercise (baring personal safety). The time and manpower to oversee this restriction would be prohibitive. By using Suicide Watch, the staffing would have to be made available to provide the 24/7 supervision.

What happens if Manning does exercise or recreate in his cell? Is he medicated, tasered, restrained, denied food? What procedures do the military use to enforce their rules considering Manning is in pre-trial detention? He has only been charged — not yet prosecuted, not found guilty or nor remanded for punishment — what punitive codes could possibly be applied? . . .