Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can You Take The Frightmare Manor Challenge?

UPDATE: Learn more about Frightmare Manor 2011 here!!

The weekend approaches, which means it's time to suit up again in them scary monster clothes and work to bring fear to life at Frightmare Manor, right here in beautiful downtown Talbott, TN.

The local paper shot some video of what goes on inside ... where all that uneasy laughter starts turning to screams. It's not just a haunted house - it's 4 haunted attractions that almost anyone can survive ... can you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Historic Moments Of Life Over Death

Boston's The Big Picture has some great images from the amazing rescue operation in Chile, as so many work tirelessly to help free 33 miners trapped for 10 weeks some 2,300 feet below the surface. In the photo above, Chilean miner Osman Araya (right) is welcomed by his wife Angelica.

The Chilean government has also set up a Flickr page full of images of this amazing story.

UPDATE: The work that went into this rescue was a worldwide event - the drilling expertise from companies in Pennsylvania, the rescue cable from Germany, video equipment from Japan, expertise on how to feed and aid the trapped miners from NASA, who also contributed to the design of that small rescue capsule. Full story here.

Who's Paying For Those Political Ads?

Along with a bulk mail ad for the Hamblen County Republican seeking a seat in the state legislature, Don Miller, there was another ad mailer which called Miller's opponent, Larry Mullins, the Democratic candidate, a "democrat" who was to blame for all the ills of the nation. Gasp! Democrats!!! In East Tennessee??

This ad says it was paid for by a group called the Republican State Leadership Committee Inc.

Who are they and where does their funding come from? Not Hamblen County - the group is based in Alexandria, VA. They're backed by major Wall Street firms and PACs who seek to protect the status quo.

A web search via The Virginia Public Access Report lists some 8 pages of donors (none by individual names, just by the corporations which send them cash). Here's a sample from the first page, dating donations from 2009 to 2010:

$250,000 American Justice Partnership Washington, DC 06/26/2009
$175,000 American Justice Partnership Washington , DC 10/21/2009
$150,000 American Justice Partnership Washington , DC 09/22/2009
$150,000 American Justice Partnership Washington, DC 10/09/2009
$150,000 Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America Washington , DC 10/14/2009
$130,000 Reynolds American Winston Salem , NC 10/14/2009
$100,000 American Justice Partnership Washington, DC 09/25/2009
$100,000 Devon Energy Corporation Oklahoma City , OK 10/02/2009
$100,000 Living Essentials Novi, MI 08/11/2009
$80,000 Exxon Mobil Corporation Houston, TX 06/12/2009
$70,000 Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation East Hanover , NJ 10/23/2009
$65,000 Monsanto Company St. Louis , MO 10/26/2009
$65,000 UST Public Affairs Inc. Stamford, CT 05/15/2009
$65,000 Verizon Folsom, CA 07/02/2009
$55,000 AT&T Services, Inc. Dallas, TX 01/16/2009
$55,000 General Electric Company Fort Myers, FL 05/29/2009
$50,000 Ace Cash Express, Inc. Irving, TX 08/14/2009
$50,000 AT&T Services, Inc. Dallas, TX 01/09/2009
$50,000 Edison Electric Institute Washington, DC 01/09/2009
$50,000 Entertainment Software Association Washington, DC 04/30/2009
$50,000 Hewlett Packard Colorado Springs, CO 08/14/2009
$50,000 ServiceMaster Memphis , TN 10/23/2009
$50,000 The Home Depot USA Atlanta, GA 04/17/2009
$45,000 Community Financial Services Association Alexandria 03/06/2009
$45,000 Intuit San Diego, CA 02/06/2009
$40,000 Allergan Inc. Austin, TX 02/27/2009
$40,000 Allstate Insurance Company Northbrook, IL 09/22/2009
$40,000 AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP Wilmington, DE 01/23/2009
$40,000 AT&T Services, Inc. Dallas, TX 02/13/2009
$40,000 eBay Inc. San Jose, CA 03/13/2009
$40,000 Fox Group Beverly Hills, CA 09/03/2009
$40,000 Great Southern Wood Preserving, Inc. Abbeville, AL 05/21/2009
$40,000 Kraft Foods Global, Inc. Northfield, IL 07/24/2009
$40,000 Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company Springfield, MA 08/21/2009
$40,000 National Restaurant Association Washington, DC 04/03/2009
$40,000 Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation East Hanover, NJ 03/13/2009
$40,000 Pfizer Inc. New York, NY 03/26/2009
$40,000 Purdue Pharma L.P. Stamford , CT 10/15/2009
$40,000 Select Management resources LLC Operating Account Alpharetta, GA 04/03/2009
$40,000 State Farm Automobile Insurance Company Bloomington , IL 10/09/2009
$40,000 VISA U.S.A. Inc. San Francisco, CA 09/14/2009
$40,000 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Bentonville, AR 03/13/2009
$40,000 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Bentonville, AR 03/13/2009
$40,000 Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA 09/14/2009
$35,000 ACLI Political Activity Fund Washington, DC 04/17/2009
$35,000 Best Buy Purchasing LLC Minneapolis, MN 07/02/2009
$35,000 Dominion Resources Services, Inc. Richmond 05/29/2009
$35,000 Pitney Bowes Inc. Stamford, CT 02/20/2009
$35,000 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Bentonville , AR 10/14/2009
$30,000 BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Columbia, SC 06/12/2009

Why so much money from out of state aimed at our small county? Because next year the state will be re-drawing political districts based on the most recent census, and more Republicans in the legislature will help create political districts. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The three main Republican groups that focus on state-wide races plan to spend more than $100 million on the November elections. That's about double the $44 million they spent on state races in 2006.

Groups supporting Democratic candidates in state races will spend about the same amount. The Democratic governors group and the state-legislative entity are on pace to spend a total of $62 million.

"The fortunes of Democratic state legislators are truly the firewall for Democrats this year," said Michael Sargeant, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee's executive director.

The Republican State Leadership Committee created the Redistricting Majority Project, whose sole purpose is "dedicated to keeping or winning Republican control of state legislatures that will have the most impact on Congressional redistricting in 2011." The group is on pace to raise and spend $40 million to help GOP candidates in state races.

The state races can be critical in determining control of Congress."

Here's Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander talking about campaign donations back in 1999 (via HuffPost):

I support campaign finance reform, but to me that means individual contributions, free speech and full disclosure," said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) declared, back in 1999. "In other words, any individual can give whatever they want as long as it is disclosed every day on the Internet. Otherwise, you restrict free speech and favor super-rich candidates -- candidates with famous names, the media and special interest groups, all of whom can spend unlimited money."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Republicans Blocking Jobs and Economic Growth

Let's take a break from the Spooky Happenings at Frightmare Manor (search the keyword "halloween" for those tales).

Escpecially since weird and oddly convoluted tactics from Republicans seems to be hellbent on scaring voters, especially when it comes to our economy and on job creation.

"So where are the jobs? Republicans have been working hard to block them."

Why anyone in East TN or beyond would support the Republican candidates who back them is a pure mystery to me ... maybe folks need to stop swilling down Tea Party Koolaid and stop watching Beck, Hannity and that whole deranged crew ... read on:

Conservatives will predictably spin these newest numbers into attacks on Democrats, but in reality, the GOP's policies would be a disaster for the American people.

On September 15th, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) unveiled a two-point plan to maintain George W. Bush's tax rates for two years and return spending to 2008 levels. Despite his claim that returning to Bush's economic policies would "create jobs," analysis finds that it would actually kill over a million of them.

The GOP's "Jobs Plan" Would Kill Over 1 Million Jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, "The adverse impact of the spending cuts, meanwhile, would overwhelm the limited growth impact associated with the tax cuts, substantially decreasing output on net. Using a rule of thumb for the impact of government spending on employment, we estimate that this loss of GDP will correspond to a loss of roughly 1.1 million jobs, relative to a fiscal path that maintains spending at the president's proposed 2011 levels and a tax policy that did not extend tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers." [Economic Policy Institute, 9/23/10; emphasis added]

As Boehner's plan touches on and the Pledge to America reiterates, the party's main proposal to boost the economy is to make President George W. Bush's income tax rates permanent. While this is apparently the best the GOP can do, the Congressional Budget Office says it is the worst way to grow the economy.

CBO: Among Eleven Proposals To Spur Economic Growth, Cutting Income Taxes Ranks Last. Below is a chart created by the Congressional Budget Office to show the "cumulative effects of policy options on employment in 2010 and 2011":

[Congressional Budget Office, 9/28/10]

The Pledge to America indicates that Republicans will help small businesses to spark job creation. Unfortunately for the GOP, though, their plan doesn't actually help small businesses.

CAP: The Pledge To America Does Not Help American Small Businesses. According to the Center for American Progress, "The proposal is an 'upside-down' tax break that gives the largest benefits to those who already have the highest incomes. A deduction reduces the taxable income and thus the taxes that somebody has to pay. A business owner with lots of business and other income will thus get a government subsidy of 35 cents for each dollar in deduction, while a small business owner in the 15 percent tax bracket will get 15 cents for each dollar in deductions... Larger businesses already enjoy advantage over smaller businesses in terms of access to credit markets. And smaller businesses have greater needs to invest and to hire than larger, well-established businesses. The GOP proposal, though, shovels the money where it is not needed and thus exacerbates the advantages of large over small." [Center for American Progress, 9/27/10; emphasis added]

When it came time to offer a helping hand to those hit hardest by the recession, Republicans simply said "no." The GOP refused to renew unemployment benefits, allowing them to lapse, which left thousands of America's jobless alone in the dark for six weeks. Republican candidates across the country have declared war on unemployment benefits, saying they are unconstitutional and the jobless are "spoiled."

Not only do unemployment benefits help the very people who need it, but they are also the most effective way to stimulate economic growth.

CBO: Extending Unemployment Benefits Is "Both Timely And Cost-Effective In Spurring Economic Activity And Employment." According to the Congressional Budget Office: "Extending additional unemployment benefits would directly help those who would otherwise exhaust their unemployment benefits between March and December of this year. Households receiving unemployment benefits tend to spend the additional benefits quickly, making this option both timely and cost-effective in spurring economic activity and employment. A variant of this option would extend assistance with paying health insurance premiums, which would allow some recipients to maintain health insurance coverage they would otherwise have dropped." [Congressional Budget Office, 2/23/10]

CBO: Unemployment Benefits Are The Most Effective Way To Boost The Economy. Below is a chart created by the Congressional Budget Office to show the "cumulative effects of policy options on employment in 2010 and 2011":

[Congressional Budget Office, 9/28/10]

And worst of all, Republicans have fallen down on the job when Americans needed them most. During the worst of the recession, as progressives fought to create jobs and help those who were hurting, Republicans failed to act.

Republicans Opposed The Recovery Act, Which Provided Up To 3.3 Million American Jobs. Republicans opposed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the Congressional Budget Office, "CBO estimates that ARRA's policies had the following effects in the second quarter of calendar year 2010... Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million." [HR 1, Vote #46, 1/28/09; Congressional Budget Office, August 2010]

Republicans Fought Increased Investment In Clean Energy Technology, Which Would Create Up To 1.9 Million American Jobs. Republicans fought bills to increase America's investment in clean energy technology and reduce carbon pollution. According to the University of California-Berkeley, "new analysis by the University of California shows conclusively that climate policy will strengthen the U.S. economy as a whole. Full adoption of the ACES package of pollution reduction and energy efficiency measures would create between 918,000 and 1.9 million new jobs." [HR 2454, Vote #477, 6/26/09; UC Berkeley, accessed 1/22/10]

Republicans Opposed Health Care Reform, Which Will Create Up To 4 Million American Jobs In The Next Decade. Republicans voted en masse against the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform bill signed into law. According to the Center for American Progress, "Relative to baseline employment forecasts from the Employment Projections Program at the U.S. Department of Labor, we estimate that moderate medical savings from health care modernization as envisioned under the legislation now before Congress would lead to an average of 250,000 additional jobs created annually. Under the larger assumption about savings due to health care reform, 400,000 new jobs a year would be created on average." [HR 3590, Vote #165, 3/21/10; Center for American Progress, New Jobs Through Better Health Care, January 2010]

Republicans Blocked Program That Supports 250,000 Jobs. Republicans have repeatedly blocked the extension of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, supports "jobs for some 250,000 parents and youth who are otherwise unemployed, many of whom have been without work for some time." [Huffington Post, 9/29/10; CBPP, 9/2/10]