Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gift Horse, My Ass

Late last year, the Brookings Institution released statistics showing Youngstown has the highest concentrated poverty rate among core cities in the United States’ 100 largest metropolitan areas. Given that the Youngstown/Warren area easily qualified for Walmart’s Fighting Hunger Together initiative. The initiative was a charity campaign where  Walmart chose 200 U.S. metro areas in which unemployment rates were the highest. The community that clicked “Like” on Walmart’s Facebook the most was to receive $1 million in grants from the Walmart Foundation. The next 20 communities each would receive $50,000. The Youngstown/Warren area capture the number one spot and the $1 million dollar grant by racking up 98,690 votes. The local TV stations heavily promoted the initiative and many local schools had their students get on the school computers to vote at Walmart’s Facebook page. Trumbull Mobile Meals took home $10,000 of the total prize. The biggest share $715,000, went to Second Harvest Food Bank. Catholic Charities got $275,000. “This kind of money in one shot gives an incredible opportunity to really be creative and do some things that are really needed in this area,” said Nancy Voitus of Catholic Charities.

I have to admit I was not one of the 98,000 votes to “Like” Walmart. I just couldn’t bring myself to go to Walmart’s Facebook site let alone click the “Like” link once I got there. I do understand as Nancy Voitus said that some things are really needed in our area and the money brings an incredible opportunity. I just happen to believe more the part of her quote that says that we need to be more creative. Yes we need to help the poor and hungry but instead of temporarily being satisfied with feeding the poor how about we try to end poverty? The unemployed, children and the homeless are the first people we think about as being hungry. Today, people who earn minimum wage, those who can only find part-time work and the retired are also having a hard time making ends meet. Organizations like the Catholic Church and other churches that jumped on board to promote the $1 million in grants from Walmart are not helping the hungry and poor in the long run. They need to be creative as MS. Voitus said. The Catholic Church doesn’t have to be very creative to help end poverty it has only to look to one of the major themes of its Catholic Social teachings. That would be, the Preferential Option for the poor and vulnerable. The Preferential Option points out that the moral test of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members. The poor have the most urgent moral claim on the conscience of the nation. We are called to look at public policy decisions in terms of how they affect the poor. As for other Christian religions they could help by living the call of the Gospels to work to eliminate poverty, to speak out against injustice, and to promote the common good.

Given the Preferential Option and Gospels background anyone Catholic or any other Christian faith should have realized they were in bed with the Devil when they promoted “Liking” Walmart. Walmart/Sam’s Club doesn’t pay a livable wage, keeps people part-time so they don’t have to offer healthcare, discourages overtime, forced employees to work off the clock without pay, promotes men more than women and denies workers the right to unionize. These company policies make Walmart/Sam’s Club employees the working poor. It also entitles them to be eligible for many forms of public assistance. Because Walmart does not take care of its employees the federal and state governments (read taxpayers) are subsidizing Walmart for its substandard wages and benefits.  With so many of its employees in need of government support some larger Walmart stores actually have welfare offices in the store — for the people who work there. One Congressional study entitled “Everyday Low Wages” estimates that a single Walmart “employing” 200 people would cost taxpayers over $400,000 in added social spending. Walmart costs taxpayers an estimated $1 billion per year subsidizing low wages and benefits.

Conservatives throw around the term, “entitlements” when describing fellow Americans on welfare, getting Social Security or Medicare. Who are biggest welfare cheats that demand their corporate welfare “entitlements” and have communities and legislatures throw all manner of tax breaks and subsidies at them? That would be corporations like, Walmart/Sam’s Club. The $1 million that Walmart gave the Youngstown area was not a donation. It was our own tax dollars coming back to us and a mere drop in the bucket of what they have stolen from taxpayers at that. I don’t even have the time and space to talk about Walmart’s sweatshops, destruction of mom and pop stores, exporting manufacturing jobs, environmental issues etc. Suffice to know that Walmart is on the wrong side of every social justice issue that you can think of. That alone should have any church or honest organization refusing to have anything to do with them.

I know I’m living in a dream world when I believe justice should always prevail. If justice would have prevailed in this Walmart Initiative the Catholic Church, other churches, Trumbull Mobile Meals and Second Harvest Food Bank would have won the money and then given it back. Then they would have made a statement that corporation like Walmart/Sam’s Club are not part of the solution but a major part of the problem of poverty and hunger. Heck, I’d have been ecstatic if our local organizations that got the money would have kept it and said it is just some of the corporate welfare money that our local communities’ taxpayers paid out to the local Walmart and Sam’s Clubs to locate here anyway. I don’t see any hypocrisy in taking the money and still pointing out that Walmart/Sam’s Club are bad fellow citizens. The Supreme Court declared them fellow citizens so it should be pointed out they helped export jobs to China, then filled their shelves with Chinese goods they want us to buy. That makes them a double-crosser and a betrayer in other words a traitor. They should be in court being charged with treason or at least boycotted for being disloyal to this country.

If the Catholic Church and other Christian Churches really believed in the Gospels concerning the poor they would be outside of these big box corporate welfare queens with picket signs demanding jobs that pay a fair wage that includes healthcare for employees. A recent study showed that paying a fair wage would only result in a price hike of around 1 percent for Walmart shoppers. The researchers noted that the increase would be “well below Walmart’s estimated savings to consumers” – in other words, the big-box retailer could continue to offer “low prices” without impoverishing their workers. The study’s authors noted that the 1 percent price hike was the “most extreme estimate, as portions of the raise could be absorbed through other mechanisms, including increased productivity or lower profit margins.”

Let the truth be told Walmart is not a gift horse it is a Trojan Horse.

No franchise big box music here just local homegrown Kenny Greco: Say a Prayer

also Kenny with: All the Words I Can’t Say (check out some of the Youngstown background).

“More and more Americans are asking about the price that we have to pay when Walmart comes into a community, treats workers poorly, violates immigration laws and squashes small businesses.” ~ Anthony Weiner



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Boom Town or Kaboom Town?

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my sleepy little borough of Vienna, Ohio. Our school district is known as the Mathews School District. This district also includes our neighboring community of Fowler, Ohio. My sleepy borough might now be facing a dangerous nightmare because of something that happened just a couple of miles away in Fowler. I had mentioned that what is best about living in a small town is how people come together in times of need. I now need to add that you can also be put in danger when even a few of your small town neighbors put personal greed before their community’s safety.

Several dozen Fowler families celebrated this week as they signed the shale mineral rights away for their properties for deep-drilling. James Brumbaugh, president of Shale Investment Fund, said the 50 to 60 checks being given out could change the families’ lives significantly. The going rate is about $3,000 per acre. Richard (a minister) and Ida Faber his wife received a bonus check for $701,580 for leasing the mineral rights to 240 acres. “The real money comes when we get products out of the wells,” Faber said. As if $700,000 is not real money. Ninety-five year-old Frank Domjancic, received a check for more than $70,000, for his 24 acres. “This is something good for the Valley,” he said. “Hopefully these leases and the resulting drilling will bring jobs,” said Anita Goodhart. “I would like my children to be able to get jobs here and stay here,” she added. Troy Mollohan plans to sign deep-drilling leases for at least 40 acres and possibly more, he said. “I haven’t heard anything bad from anyone in the community about this drilling,” Mollohan said. “Everyone I’ve talked to is happy about it.” Are his neighbors geologists or EPA workers? One minute of research on the computer and Mollohan would have read about the towns these companies ruined. Ironically Mollohan took a check on Wednesday the very same day Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law the nation’s first state ban on fracking. One would have thought Mr. Mullohan would have got some seat of his pants research Christmas Eve and again on New Year’s Eve when earthquakes, measuring 2.7 and 4.0 on the Richter scale, happened in Youngstown. Had he picked up a local newspaper he could have read, “A northeast Ohio well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling almost certainly caused a series of 11 minor quakes in the Youngstown area since last spring, a seismologist investigating the quakes said.” There is a ton more facts he could have found out about the dangers associated with drilling by the oil & gas industry if he cared more about his community’s safety than about money.

As for the jobs coming to the area that Goodhart and Domjancic expect don’t hold your breath. An analysis of the local economic effects of natural gas drilling in shale concluded that it offers few jobs to local residents because the industry requires a relatively small workforce. Oil and gas is a typical “boom and bust” business so local jobs are usually temporary. The oil and gas industry employs specialized workers who travel from well site to well site and do not stay long in any one place.  Carrizo Oil & Gas now has an office in Vienna I often pass. I can tell you I’ve seen their parking lot have as many as thirty cars in it. The plates on the cars are from: Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama with no Ohio plates to be found. I suppose the local Vienna economy is benefiting to some degree with all these Southerners working here temporarily. I expect to soon go in the local IGA grocery store and see fresh okra and crawfish. The Yankee Kitchen Restaurant will I suppose be serving grits, catfish, hushpuppies and sweet tea. Once that happens locals will be calling it Confederate Kitchen. We also need to ask if we want jobs at the risk of our environment. I remember hearing that the mayor’s of towns under German occupation promoted the building of Nazi concentration camps as jobs, jobs jobs.  Not a legacy I’d want to have my community known for.

While the cash will change those who took the checks it quite possibly could change the Fowler/Vienna area by putting the communities citizens in danger of heavy noisy truck traffic, chemical spills, radioactivity, earthquakes, pipeline explosions, fires, contamination, pipeline ruptures, water and air pollution, release of toxic natural gas and other environmental hazards. Then there is the cancer risk as hydraulic fracturing fluids contain dozens of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, biocides, ethylene glycol, and hydrochloric acid, chemicals which have known to cause cancer. Studies on economic benefits funded by the oil & gas industry don’t even factor in the high costs communities end up paying in road and bridge repairs, declines in farming and tourism revenue, and reduced property values and property tax revenues. Even after the oil & gas companies have taken all they want and capped the wells there is a failure rate of 16.7%, meaning approximately one in every six abandoned wells will leak into the surrounding area.

 It is also ironic that the company handing out the checks in Fowler was Shale Investment Fund from Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh along with, Quebec, Morganstown, Buffalo, North Rhein Westphalia (Germany) and Christchurch in New Zealand (which suffered a recent devastating earthquake)  have also banned fracking.  This is the list of cities the check takers can afford to safely move to if Trumbull County ends up with toxic air and water, an earthquake,  radioactivity or cancer outbreak. A commenter on Vindy.com known as, UticaShale has been verbally attacking anyone who says we need to go slow and cautiously with this shale drilling. He recently said, “No wonder why Youngstown is the armpit of Ohio, here are two examples. Thank God oil was discovered here, the local entitles can’t produce a product. When all of us energy workers really get going up here, I will smile when we put the entitled takers in the pipe ditches experiencing work for once in their lives.” The entitled aren’t someone on unemployment or welfare the entitled are the oil & gas companies that think they can ruin our land, water and health for money. If a corporate tool moron like UticaShale is any indication of the energy workers who are drilling wells we are in serious danger. The modern version of Judas’s thirty pieces of silver paid to sell Jesus out now translates into accepting $3,000 an acre to sell your neighbors out and even a minister has bitten.

Kris Kitco:  Frack That Oil

David Rovics: No Fracking Way

The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun. ~ Ralph Nader

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Slavery, Polygamy, Concubinage, and Incest are Bible Family Values

The Youngstown Vindicator’s headline on Thursday May 10 read, “It’s been slow, but it’s progress.” Underneath that it said, “Couple with Valley ties applauds Obama’s support of same-sex marriage.” There also was a photo of former Youngstowners Glorianne Leck and her partner Susan Savastuk. They both now live in Bloomington, Indiana. I attended a going away event for Glorianne and Susan before they moved. They were both activist that you could count on to be specialists at fighting any social injustice happening in our valley. I hate seeing activist who don’t know the meaning of the word surrender leaving our valley. Instead of specialist fighting for a better community we are left with spectators who do nothing but bitch but won’t get off their ass. You know the complainers to Vindy.com and the radio-talk show callers like that do nothing Bob from Ausintown I talked about on my last post. If I were to create a utopia I’d trade a 100 Bob’s from Austintown for every Glorianne and Susan. I guess I should admire the fact that Bob is able to call several radio-talk shows everyday despite the fact he is in a straight jacket. Last post I talked about how callers to Ron Verb’s talk show trashing inmates didn’t know that Jesus said to visit those in prison and care for them as you care for him.. This week the callers mentioned how Jesus damned gays which of course is not in the Bible.

In the article Glorianne said, “Attitudes about same-sex marriage are changing and the president’s statement mirrors that.” I would tend to agree with Glorianne but I realize some people are still living in the 15th century. Those would be people like Pastor Kenneth Donaldson of Rising Star Baptist Church on the city’s East Side. In the Vindicator’s article he said the president’s comments haven’t changed his opinion. “It does not surprise me one iota. It doesn’t surprise me because he’s always supported [same-sex marriage.] That’s why I never voted for him,” he said. “The Catholic Church has been very clear in its position on same-sex marriage, said Monsignor Robert Siffrin of St. Edward Parish. “We are very concerned about supporting family and traditional marriage because of the good that we see that comes from it. We’re not taking a stand against anyone; it’s a stand for marriage and family life,” he said. Since the Catholic Church has commented I’ll change my opinion that it is not 15th century thinking that is against same-sex marriage but 14th century. I wonder if Monsignor Siffrin explains how 50% of those traditional marriages end in divorce and if he sees good coming from that.

Online at Vindy.com 14th century thinker LoserNeverWin says, “I hope all the gays Burn In hell! GOD never planned it that way; otherwise Adam would have been having sex with John!” I’d ask Loser, “Did you know Adam and Eve’s children married one another?” They had to marry their own brothers or sisters because there was no one else around for them to marry. Marrying your brother or sister is against our modern cultural values. The words in scripture have not changed but our cultural perceptions and our family values have changed. Bible scripture calls Abraham “the friend of God. Abraham had multiple wives and concubines and had an incestuous marriage with his half-sister, Sarah. Yet, Christians today hold up Abraham as an example of faith. I could go on forever about such practices in the Bible that certainly wouldn’t be considered acceptable by Christian’s today even though God doesn’t speak against them in the Bible.

The claims by today’s Bible thumpers that they are upholding family values seems ignorant of the family values in the Bible they profess to believe. Same sex marriage expresses the willing desire of gay men and lesbians to settle down, and embrace faithful, monogamous relationships. That is pretty tame compared to all that slavery, polygamy, concubinage, levirate marriage and incest that God had no problem with in that holy book know as the Bible. I had a conservative tell me that if gays can marry what is stopping men from marrying sheep. I had a suspicion all along that the only thing stopping conservative men from marrying sheep was the mere fact that there is a law against it. I am generally an animal rights activist but if marrying a sheep will make angry white men conservatives a little less angry and a bit more human than I’ll support their effort to marry sheep.

I recently got confirmation that supporting same-sex marriage is the right thing for everyone to do. I realized that because of an e-mail I got from one of my blog readers. He informed me about something that Traci and Jeff from, ‘Traci and Friends” on WSOM radio said. They said that God sent Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans because the city was going to have a gay parade. I knew that Traci and Jeff were angry morons but now I realize they are the local personification of evil (which they share with Warren Tribune editor, Frank Robinson).

Glorianne and Susan I hope this finds you well and I hope in the near future we come into the 21st century and legalize same-sex marriages.We certainly miss you in Youngstown.

Times are changing: Republican mayor reverses his stand against gay marriage.

Marriage Equality Song: Waiting All My Life

“I saw with so many of the gay couples, they were so devoted to another. I saw so much love. When this hearing was over, I was a changed person in regard to this issue. I felt that I understood what same-sex couples were looking for.” — Maryland state Del. Wade Kach (R), Feb. 23, 2012, telling reporters how meeting with gay couples led him to vote to legalize gay marriage in the state.

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The Right Path and Avoiding the Potholes

I have stayed true to my word and quit listening to the “Traci and Friends” radio talk show on Salem’s WSOM radio station. I grew weary of Traci and Jeff portraying African-Americans as being stupid people. They did this by being African-Americans and being stupid. They saw that portraying black conservatives and bashing other blacks for not embracing the angry white man GOP would be a ticket for a career in right-wing talk radio. It was great to hear black callers like, Diva who disagreed eloquently with everything they said. Jeff and Traci would scream over her so I think she is getting discouraged and calling less and less. Two conservative white “friends”  who often sit in the studio as the “Friends” are named Sticks and Ben. These two show that even being around Traci and Jeff puts you at the risk of second-hand idiocy. Ben and Sticks prove that there are even dumber white people in the media than the three morons on, “FOX and Friends.” Those three are so dumb they have been hit by parked cars. It was best for my health to quit listening to “Traci and Friends” as I’m sure it was raising my blood pressure hearing their constant lies and misinformation.

Now my blood pressure is up over something I heard on WKBN’s “Ron Verb Show.” I turned the radio to WKBN  Friday afternoon in my car as I was on the turnpike for a few hours. Ron Verb and his callers were bashing my friends, Attorneys Staughton and Alice Lynd. They had in the past filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the Supermax prisoners that led to a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to use a due-process procedure in assigning inmates to Ohio State Prisons and in the decision to keep them there. The Lynds reported to the media that they received a telephone call from an OSP inmate they know late Wednesday, during which the inmate said about 48 of his fellow prisoners were taking part in a hunger strike. The hunger striker demands are lower commissary prices, an end to a ban on books and music, the opportunity to earn more recreation and out-of-cell time through good behavior and programs to teach them trades and help them cope with sensory deprivation linked to 23 hours of solitary confinement daily. The Lynds wanted to make sure the media knew about the hunger strike that the prisoners have decide to do on their own as a direct action.

Ron was attacking the Lynd’s as were all of his callers. Daily caller, Bob from Austintown called the Lynds the worst thing in his book, “Activists.” Bob could never be called an activist because he is too lazy to get off his ass and do anything. Bob spends his day calling and bitching on every local talk show on WKBN radio. In between he calls radio talk shows at WNIR in Akron, KDKA in Pittsburgh, WTAM in Cleveland and several more. You’ll recognize Bob as he will call politicians, activists or whoever he wants to spill his illogical venom at, “clowns.” Bob is like lots of talk radio callers and like the people who comment at Vindy.com and the Trib.com angry assclowns who do nothing but tear down other people who are trying to make a better community for all. Callers to Verb bashing Staughton and Alice said, “What kind of people are these two who only care about criminals and not about the victims of crime?” Since I was driving on the turnpike and won’t drive and talk on the cell phone I will answer that question here. The Lynds care about prisoners because of their membership in a tiny group of people in these United States. That group is called, Christians. They follow a book called, the Bible that say things like Matthew 25:40, “And the King shall answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, In as much as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.” Matthew 25:35, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Hebrew 13:3, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

The Lynds are not as one-dimensional as the callers to WKBN. They can care for those in prison and still care about the victims who were harmed, mistreated or killed by the prisoners. The Lynds have been “activists” for the civil rights of African-Americans, the end to wars that affect us all; for the rights of workers and to help retired workers get the health care and pensions they worked hard for. In other words they have fought for decades for all the social justice issues that are talked about in the book so many own but have never read called, The Bible. The Lynds aren’t Bible thumpers like many people who call themselves Christians. They are real Christians as they live the Bible. We need more people like the Lynds who are more than one-dimensional. They have found the true path in life involves extending your hand to pull all people up. The Bob’s from Austintown of the world do nothing but act as potholes on that path to a better world. Let’s work toward patching those potholes for our children’s future.

FOX NEWS Theme: Yes We Klan

The Avette Brothers: The Ballad of Love and Hate

Head Full of Doubt

“Just about every year, Congress passes another crime bill – spending billions of dollars to build more prisons, to place more band-aids on society’s scars.” ~ Carrie P. Meek

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