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January 31, 2008

Health Insurance

I learned today that our health insurance decided I can't have Lipitor anymore. I've been taking it for years. It works, and I don't have side-effects. But they know better than my doctor.

They also decided my wife can't have one of her prescriptions, either.

And they raised our prescription co-pay to $40. We also have co-pays and deductibles for office visits as well.

The two of us pay between $1200 and $1300 a MONTH for health insurance, and now we will also pay about $200 a month more for prescription co-pays - if they let us have the drugs at all.

And if we DO get sick, will they decide not to cover us?

This is what private health insurance companies are about.

The ONLY solution is setting up a Medicare-for-all system, run by the people for the people.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:57 PM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Collapsing Economy Post - Jobs Down, Stocks Up

Do these headlines have anything to do with each other? U.S. first-time jobless claims rocket higher in latest week, U.S. Economy: Consumer Spending Slows, and finally, U.S. Stocks Rise.

For Wall Street everything, everything, everything is about the Federal Reserve bailing them out with interest rate cuts. So the worse the economic news, the more they expect the Fed to cut rates, and stocks go higher. Seriously, just listen to the talking heads on CNBC or the other networks - everything, everything is about what the Fed will do and about what the dealmaking companies will do and not about how well WE - you and I - are doing.

Just who IS our economy for, anyway?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 30, 2008

The Public Interest

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

Whatever happened to the concept of "the public interest?" What about "the common good?"

In 1961 John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural speech, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This statement inspired an entire generation to dedicate themselves to public service or other pursuits that helped the public-at-large ahead of narrower, selfish interests. And they thought that was a good thing to do with their lives, not a foolish waste of their time.

Many today would scoff at that notion. In the decades since JFK's call to public service the idea of government as a force for good has been severely denigrated. For so many years conservatives and business interests have been getting their message out, trying to convince us that people should be selfish -- that they shouldn't care about others because it is up to each person to take care of themselves. They say that we are not our brother or sister's keeper, that each person should be responsible only for themselves.

But there are some basic facts and realities that get in the way of conservative philosophy.

For example, if a person has a contagious disease and is not given treatment, each of us is at risk. This is because we really do share a common humanity. This is not only a philosophical or spiritual concept - as human beings viruses and bacteria can pass from one person to the next. If we do not provide treatment to the sick we can catch the sickness ourselves. (Many would argue that this applies psychologically and spiritually as well.) So the roots of community and mutual interest are not, as conservatives say, just an ideological concept that liberals try to force on others.

Another example of our shared interest is that it is near-impossible for a person or even a family to be self-sufficient. We just can't by ourselves grow or raise or build everything we need to live. The traditions of neighbors raising a barn for others, of community meals, even back to tribes in which some hunt and some gather demonstrate that people just are not physically prepared to be on our own. We are meant to share and take care of each other. The conservatives are just wrong.

The American institutions that are so much under attack by conservatives today - public schools, progressive taxation, public transportation, public health, almost everything with "public" or "community" in its name, and even government itself - evolved over time as the best solutions to common problems. They didn't just spring up out of the mind of some dictator, they were worked out by trial and error. America was founded as a country ruled by its people and We, the People built those schools and public roads and libraries and the rest of the infrastructure that conservatives deride as "tax and spending programs." We built all of this to serve us, not to tear down or sell off (privatize) so that a wealthy few can increase their profits.

This idea of "the public interest" has merit. It is time to understand that our progressive values have proven themselves superior, time and time again. Progressive ideas are the best way to approach our problems. They are better for people and communities.

It's just the way it is: each of us has a vital interest in the welfare of all of the rest of us.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:25 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 28, 2008

Bush On Social Security in SOTU

"I borrowed a ton of money from Social Security and gave it out as tax cuts to my buddies. Now I'm supposed to start paying that money back in a few years. It is crucial that we reform Social Security so it doesn't pay for people's retirements, and therefore won't need the money I owe."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Is Hillary Corporate?

I just came across this: The Left Coaster: Is Hillary Clinton a "Corporate Democrat"? - Part 1

Leave a comment.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:00 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - New Home Sales Fall by Record Amount

Yahoo: New Home Sales Fall by Record Amount:,

Sales of new homes plunged by a record amount in 2007 while prices posted the weakest showing in 16 years, demonstrating the troubles builders are facing with a huge backlog of unsold homes.
CNN: New home sales: Biggest drop ever,
New home sales posted the biggest drop on record in 2007, according to the government's latest look at the battered housing market, as a year that saw a meltdown in the mortgage market and a drop in home values ended with yet more signs of weakness.

December sales came in at an annual rate of 604,000, the Census Bureau report showed, down from 634,000 in November, which was also revised lower.

The reading was well below the consensus forecast of 645,000, according to economists surveyed by Briefing.com.

. . . No bottom yet Adam York, an economist with Wachovia, said the report confirms fears that the housing market won't bounce back anytime soon.

"We're expecting sales to decline into at least mid-2008," he said. "We think housing still has a long way to go." [emphasis added.

What is there to add to that? I keep hearing that "we're at a bottom." I got yer bottom, right here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Right-Wing Blog Says Yes, Romney Wears Earpiece

During the recent Republican debate TV listeners heard a whisper that appeared to be prompting Mitt Romney with an answer.

A blogger at Red State says that on another occasion Romney's staff said to him that Romney wears an earpiece that his staff uses to talk to him. Who Is Whispering in Romney's Ear? | Redstate,

During Gov. Romney’s speech, one of his handlers mentioned to one of our staff people that any time Gov. Romney needed to wrap things up, he would be happy to let Gov. Romney know through the ear-piece that he wore.
Remember that Bush was caught wearing a device after he actually said "now, let me finish" to the earpiece!

We need to know if Romney was cheating in the debate.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 27, 2008

Stealing Our Future

Please read Stealing Our Future: Conservatives, Foresight, and Why Nothing Works Anymore | OurFuture.org. This is a must-read post for anyone who cares about government and about America.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:27 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Clinton and Obama WILL Vote Tomorrow To Support Constitution

Never mind what I wrote Thursday, there has been a new announcement. See Firedoglake - Hillary Clinton To Vote “No” On Cloture Tomorrow UPDATE: Barack Obama Will Be There Too

Hillary Clinton will be in the Senate tomorrow to vote "no" on cloture on the Intel version of the FISA bill. The vote is scheduled to take place at 4:30 pm tomorrow.

I've also been trying to confirm whether Barack Obama will be there. His campaign people have not gotten back to me, but Obama does have a 4pm fundraiser scheduled in Washington DC.

Bravo, Senator Clinton. Well done.

UPDATE: The Obama campaign confirms that Senator Obama will be there too, and voting "no." Way to go, Senator.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - What Would A Big Corporation Do?

There is a discussion over at Calculated Risk on whether it is "smart" to just walk away from a house that is worth less than you owe. Many states allow you to do that, without owing the difference. In those states, giving the house back pays the loan in full if it is a first mortgage. (Yes, it ruins your credit rating, but you could save hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

What about the moral question? Aside from whether it is smart or not, is it moral? I wonder if a better question is, when dealing with a big corporation, should you ask what the corporation would do if the shoe was on the other foot? I'm thinking about corporations that use the bankruptcy laws to get rid of union contracts and pension obligations, and that always do the "smart" thing at the expense of the employees, customers, public and even shareholders...

What do you think? Especially our conservative commenters?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:22 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 26, 2008

What Does Corporate Control Of Media Mean?

Think about this: When was the last time you heard, read or saw anyone in the major media explain the benefits of joining a union?

Almost all of the outlets for news and information in the United States are now owned by five corporations. From The New Media Monopoly,

When the first edition of The Media Monopoly was published in 1983, critics called Ben Bagdikian's warnings about the chilling effects of corporate ownership and mass advertising on the nation's news "alarmist." Since then, the number of corporations controlling most of America's daily newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations, book publishers, and movie companies has dwindled from fifty to ten to five.
Think about that. Five corporations control almost everything that most people in the country "know."

Again, think about this: When was the last time you heard, read or saw anyone in the major media explain the benefits of joining a union?

So, do you think these five corporations are using this near-total control of information for their own benefit, or not?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:10 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Anti-Government Propaganda E- mail

This one is also anti-Mexican, rather insulting, and has the obligatory anti-government message at the end as the oral of the story. It arrived on a "humor" e-mail list.

Neighborhood Trash

Wallace Lewis is the president of his homeowners association in the TOPEKA, KANSAS suburbs. They were having a terrible problem with litter near some of his association's homes. The reason according to Wallace is that six very large, luxurious new houses are being built right next to their community.

The trash was coming from the Mexican laborers working at the construction sites and included bags from McDonald's, Burger King and 7-11, plus coffee cups, napkins, cigarette butts, coke cans, empty bottles, etc. He went to see the site supervisor and even the general contractor, politely urging them to get their workers not to litter the neighborhood, to no avail. He called the city, county, and police and got no help there either.

So here's what his community did. They organized about twenty folks, named themselves The 'Inner Neighborhood Services' group, and arranged to go out at lunch time and 'police' the trash themselves. It is what they did while picking up the trash that is so hilarious. They bought navy blue baseball caps and had the initials 'INS' embroidered in gold on the caps. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand what they hoped people might mistakenly think the letters really stand for.

After the Inner Neighborhood Services group's first lunch time pickup detail, with all of them wearing their caps and some carrying cameras, 46 out of the total of 68 construction workers did not show up for work the next morning -- and haven't come back yet.

It has been ten days now.

The General Contractor, I'm told, is very mad, but can't say anything publicly because he could be busted for hiring illegal aliens.

Wallace and his bunch can't be accused of impersonating federal personnel, because they have the official name of the group recorded in their homeowner association minutes along with a notation about the vote to approve formation of the new subcommittee -- and besides, they informed the INS in advance of their plans and according to Wallace, the INS said basically, 'Have at it!'

SO, FOLKS, I THINK YOU COULD SAY THAT KANSAS INGENUITY TRIUMPHS AGAIN!

***************************
Reminder: Don't forget to pay your taxes.......12 million illegal aliens are depending on you

Aside from the profoundly racist tone - Mexicans leave trash, are trash, are too stupid to know that the INS caps aren't from the INS (which no longer exists) etc, it ends by saying your taxes are wasted by the stupid government, which gives the money to "illegal aliens."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:03 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 25, 2008

Another Anti-Government Propaganda E-Mail

I received one of those anti-government propaganda e-mails today. Look how they do it. It's a really funny story, until they inject the propaganda point as the last line:

The Firewood Story

It was already late fall & the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold & that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea.

He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service & asked, 'Is the coming winter going to be cold?' 'It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,' the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the chief went back to his people & told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared. A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. 'Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?' 'Yes,' the man at National Weather Service again replied, 'it's going to be a very cold winter.'

The chief again went back to his people & ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. 'Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold' 'Absolutely,' the man replied. 'It's looking more & more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we've ever seen.'

'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked. The weatherman replied, 'The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.' Always remember this story whenever you get advice from a government official!
As if a corporate weather source would somehow be different. The government is US, and stories like this carry a profoundly anti-democracy message, intended to make people think that somehow privatizing government functions to corporations would be better for us.

But a corporate information source would be about screwing the customers and the employees and the public so the CEO could get a bigger jet. No one except a very few already-wealthy power brokers benefit when we hand over our common interests - even weather reporting - to corporations as they are presently constituted.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:14 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 24, 2008

Senator Clinton Too Busy Campaigning To Help Save Constitution

Senator Clinton will not come to the Senate to help save the Constitution. At Firedoglake, FISA Debate In Senate, Part VII:

UPDATE: -- According to Howard Wolfson of the Clinton Campaign, Hillary Clinton will not be taking the 1 1/2 hour trip from South Carolina to Washington DC to join the Dodd filibuster
Ewards has already said he supports Dodd on keeping telecom immunity out of the FISA bill.

I am not aware of any statement from the Obama campaign. Obama so far is not even voting "present" on this one.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:09 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Big Government

Conservatives always say the government is "too big," and that their goal is to balance the budget by "cutting spending."

But have you ever, ever heard a conservative what outline spending they would cut to reach that goal? Of course not. Why is that?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Pushed The Wrong Button?

I'm not endorsing Hillary or Obama or Edwards. My own philosophy leans more toward Edwards but I would be happy with any of these three.

That said, if there is ONE thing I do NOT want a President doing, it is pushing the wrong goddam BUTTON!

Obama said oops on 6 state Senate votes:

according to transcripts of the proceedings in Springfield, he hit the wrong button at least six times.
It only takes hitting the wrong button ONE time in the White House, and the world has a bad day.

nuclear-explosion.jpg

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 23, 2008

Republicans and Economies

Ladies and gentlemen, there was a REASON that Americans were loath to elect a Republican into the government for an entire generation after the Great Depression: They remembered.

Update - I was waiting for a comment asking me to explain what I mean, because it would make my point.

Previous generations REMEMBERED. There was nothing to add. Over time people have forgotten how Republican economics caused the depression, and how they fought every single program that helped the people at the expense of the wealthiest and the powerful corporations. (And in fact led to the prosperity that the wealthiest and corporations enjoyed since.)
But now people do not remember how concentration of wealth, corporations preying on citizens, anti-union policies, etc. LED TO the economic collapse.

The depression was ended by pro-union policies, redistributive taxes, REGULATIONS on businesses and the fuinancial sector, and an understanding that We, the People run the government, and the reason we have corporations is for OUR benefit, not just the benefit of the few.

Over time, as I said, people forgot. And here we are again.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:04 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Republican Senator Get Navy Veteran Fired For Opposing War

Please read this DKos diary: Daily Kos: Must Read: McConnell Ignores Navy Veteran, Then Gets Her Fired

If they can get away with denying jobs to people who oppose the Iraq war, people will be afraid to speak out.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Distractions

My wife and I just got back from Cloverfield. She got motion sickness from the camera movement.

She's recovering with a cup of tea and watching Star Trek while I read blogs. McCoy just say "He's dead, Jim."

She told me to mention that a show we saw last nigh had the profound insight, "the more you know the less you don't know."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Lied

Here is something that blog readers know, but people outside the blogosphere have only had the smallest inkling of. We've been over many of the lies told countless times. We take it for granted, but the regular person on the street has not been exposed to this information at all. Has the TV ever once said Bush lied? No wonder there hasn't been serious support for impeachment - politicians go ask regular people and they don't know of Bush's crimes.

Maybe they will now. Read the following, and follow the link to read more.

Study: False statements preceded war,

A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

How much lying?
The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Go Read

Go to The Agonist to read today's housing bubble post: Most Clueless Banker of the Year Award. It is a comprehensive explanation of that happened, including a timeline.

[. . .]Like the real estate industry in general, banks believe and tell their customers that home values never go down. Their internal models are predicated on this assumption. Everything communicated to the consumer tells them that their home is a piggy bank of ever-increasing value. Withdrawing cash from the piggy bank is made as easy as possible. Consumers are given loans allowing them not to pay any interest at all and build up a balloon balance, which will assuredly be taken care of down the road by market appreciation. These option characteristics allow the banks to charge even higher points up front and stick penalty clauses into mortgages forbidding the homeowner from paying off the loan until the bank receives all fees due them.
Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Not Getting It

I get so tired of press stories about rich people written by well-paid comfortable people. What relevance do these stories have for regular people?

Example: in the story Thinking Twice About That $400 Handbag - New York Times,

"You had a lot of people who graduated to a level of consumption they could not really afford," said Adrianne Shapira, a retail analyst at Goldman Sachs. "Two-hundred-dollar pairs of denim were plausible when home values soared, but now $100 jeans are looking more reasonable."
Do you see what is wrong in that paragraph? You can't afford $200 jeans, so you have to settle for $100 jeans?

That is Just. Not. Getting. It. REGULAR people NEVER DID buy $200 jeans. Regular people go to Costco and pay $15 for jeans. And now the economy is forcing them to cut back on the $15 jeans.

Dear New York Times: I might start paying attention to you again when you're writing about people who wear $15 Costco jeans.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Women Voters Dominating at the Polls

A guest post by Bettina Duval

First Iowa . . . then New Hampshire . . . and once again in Nevada! Women voters are dominating at the polls!!!

In all three contests the percentage of female to male voters was a consistent 60% to 40%. The reality behind these percentages is even more significant because the number of total voters is also greater than ever before.

Why is this happening? It was former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neil who said, “All politics are local.” Local issues are often about education, health care, child care – issues which resonate most strongly with women. Our individual experiences define our needs and our dreams and in turn our needs and dreams mold our opinions. Women are voting in greater numbers in this primary because there is a woman running for president.

The "near death" experience in Iowa did several things. One is that it raised the possibility of NO HILLARY. Up until that time, the thought that Hillary Clinton wouldn't at least be a contender until the very end was unthinkable. But 3rd in Iowa made her candidacy look like it could fail. Then, instead of shooting at her flaws, woman had to consider the alternatives. The alternatives were not just Barack Obama or John Edwards, but the alternative of no Hillary Clinton.

So, suddenly, a whole segment of the electorate -- i.e. women -- had to decide if they were really for Hillary or not. Many have decided that they are not supporting Hillary Clinton. Many women are for Hillary Clinton. It was, in my opinion, personal.

It sounds so cliquish to assert that women are voting for Hillary because she is a woman. It might seem socially and politically incorrect, but if you are a woman it isn't a cliché, that is your reality. The cliques are reality. Women are still paid less than a man for the same job. Women are still underrepresented in government. It's even worse for women of ethnic minorities.

I was raised during the 1960’s by a single mom who was a teacher. I clearly remember purchasing our first house . . . and that my grandfather had to co-sign the loan documents. Just 35 years ago, in California, a woman could not get credit without a male cosigner. By law, her husband had management and control over their community property. Experiences like that have shaped my life and motivated me to continue to support women running for office. A woman’s point of view is essential to the political future of our country. I am reminded constantly that women’s rights, beginning with the right to participate, are born of struggle, not of privilege. It is a struggle which is truly just beginning, a struggle critical to the future.

Today we have a woman running for president. My how things seem to have changed! With the passing of the Equal Opportunity Act in 1974, women began to claim their place in business and politics. So called "girl power" and other ideas about feminism were all the rage throughout the eighties and nineties. But gender politics still exist today, just in a different form. We have been thrust into a new paradox – bringing women and their point of view into the process, but “dressing” it in a grey pinstriped suit. The alienation of femininity, and the isolation from “all things female” that we embraced in an effort to fit into a system created by men and for men was, in some ways, a deal made with the devil.

As I write this, I am at a volleyball tournament for my 14-year old daughter. I'm surrounded by at least a hundred 14-year old girls. As I look around I can’t help but wonder what experiences will shape their political voice – will it be Hillary Clinton’s run for president or America’s Next Top Model? I don’t know the answer, but just having Hillary Clinton as a candidate can only help today’s young women at least believe that they can be president themselves.

Bettina Duval is the founder of the California List, a political fundraising network that helps elect Democratic women to all branches of California state government.

Posted by Guest at 9:09 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Fed Drops Rates 3/4 Percent

Update Market has been open for four minutes, Dow down 439... NASDAQ down 118.

Update 2 Market open 15 minutes, Dow down 369 ... NASDAQ down 78.

Update 2 Later, markets recovered for now, DOW down 50 ... NASDAQ down 23.

People are nervously waiting for the stock market to open. So the Federal Reserve made and "emergency" 3/4 point drop in interest rates. This is a very big drop.

The backdrop: stocks around the world plunged yesterday while our market were closed for the Martin Luther King holiday.

Stock markets across Asia plunged even farther and faster on Tuesday than they had on Monday, as anxious sellers dumped huge numbers of shares on worries that an economic slowdown in the United States could drag down growth around the world.

. . . The Japanese stock market dropped 5.7 percent, for the worst two-day loss in 17 years, while the Australian stock market tumbled 7.1 percent, its worst single-day loss in nearly two decades. The Shanghai market lost 7.2 percent while the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong plummeted 8.7 percent.

Inflation is running at 4.1% and the Fed's interest rates are now 3%. The Fed will PAY banks 1.1% to borrow.

What this means: bailing out the stock market by dropping the dollar, increasing inflation nd trying to trigger an asset bubble like the bursting housing bubble. Remember, it was ridiculously-low interest rates that caused that bubble.

By the way, I'm not sure if I have mentioned this: Do not leave any money in "money-market funds" right now. Make sure that your money is in FEDERALLY INSURED ACCOUNTS. 'Federally' is the key word there. And learn the rules on how much you can have in any accounts and still be insured.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:17 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 21, 2008

Repost - OF COURSE I SUPPORT HILLARY!!!

Because of the hysteria in the blogosphere I am reposting this post that I wrote in August:

A recent post I wrote with James, defending Hillary from a racist Republican attack, has evoked e-mail and comment "accusations" that I am a "Hillary supporter."

OF COURSE I AM A HILLARY SUPPORTER -- I'M A DEMOCRAT!!

I also support Barack Obama, Chris Dodd and John Edwards! Duh!

I think I prefer Edwards and Dodd right now, because their polices and thinking and approach lines up more with my own. Obama sure is winning me over, too. I am more progressive-oriented than Hillary.

But let me suggest something to you -- If Hillary Clinton becomes President, she will be the most progressive president America has ever had.

So relax. We have a great group of candidates this time.

That was August.

Now with that said let me add that our candidates should all be going after Republicans and defending each other. I will strongly support candidates who have an instinct to defend fellow Democrats against Republican attacks, in any race for any office. I will strongly support candidates who make it clear that they understand that the current Republican party has devolved into something unknown in American history, something dangerous and undemocratic and particularly dishonest.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Stocks Plunge Worldwide

The problems of the housing bubble are catching up to us. The real estate crash has started, bringing big losses to the big financial firms -- over $100 BILLION in write-downs so far!

And in the past few weeks the stock market has been catching on that things are not so great anymore. But today - with markets closed in the U.S. in honor of Martin Luther King Day - stocks have been plunging around the world. Markets in Asia down as much as 7%, even more. Europe as well. Canada down.

Dow futures are down dramatically - 540 points, more than 4% - which could mean a very bad day tomorrow - or not.

Stocks Plunge Worldwide on Fears of a U.S. Recession - New York Times,

“There is indeed some panic,” said Thomas Mayer, the chief European economist at Deutsche Bank in London. “What we’re seeing, in Europe and Asia, is that the markets are pricing in a recession.”

The sell-off was evenly distributed from West to East, with indexes plunging in London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul and Bombay. The Frankfurt Stock Exchange’s Dax index plummeted 7.2 percent, its steepest one-day decline since Sept. 11, 2001. The 7.4 percent drop in Bombay’s Sensex index was the second-worst single-day tumble in its history.

Remember what I said about money market funds. Make sure that your money is in FEDERALLY INSURED ACCOUNTS.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Want A Raise?

Do you want a raise? Better working conditions and job security? Better benefits?

Try leaving a few union organizing flyers around where you work. It's the worker's counterpart to management hinting that they could outsource all the jobs to other countries.

Unfortunately it is very difficult to locate downloadable flyers that explain the benefits of joining a union. I have been searching around and have located only two. Download and print these and leave them around your workplace for others to find:

The Union Advantage By The Numbers.

Unions 101 - A quick study of how unions help workers win a voice@work

Please let me know of others, and I'll post them here. UNIONS - please make downloadable flyers available explaining the benefits of joining a union, how to organize a union, etc., for people do print and distribute. You don't have to have local info on these flyers, they are ust informational and get people thinking.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:30 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 20, 2008

More Wedge

Why would the right-wing Drudge report have a headline that reads as follows?

OBAMA RIPS INTO BILL CLINTON MONDAY... DEVELOPING....

Could they be trying to ... DIVIDE US???? D'ya think?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

EPA Refuses To Say WHY It Denied California Emission Waiver

EPA won't give details on denying emissions waiver,

Invoking executive privilege, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refused to provide lawmakers Friday with a full explanation of why it rejected California's greenhouse gas regulations.

. . . The refusal to provide a full explanation is the latest twist in a congressional investigation into why the EPA denied California permission to impose what would have been the country's toughest greenhouse gas standards on cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.

In denying the waiver last month, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson told Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that the federal government is implementing a national fuel efficiency standard.

Johnson's decision spurred congressional investigations and a legal challenge this month by California and 15 other states.

But we know why they did it. They did it because the oil companies are paying the Republican Party. DUH!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - Cashing In Before Crash

Also titled "I told you so!"

In the LA Times today, How we cashed in before the housing crash,

Our friends said we were crazy. Relatives asked whether we were in financial trouble. But in April 2005, my wife and I bailed out of the American dream. We sold our two-bedroom Pasadena condominium and became renters again.

We got nearly three times what we had paid for the place nine years earlier. It seemed to us like a staggering profit -- and a sign that the market had been pumped up beyond reason.

. . .But at the time, a lot of people thought we had sold too early. To stay on course, I adopted a personal anthem. It was a Public Enemy song that hit big in 1988 during the previous real estate run-up: "Don't Believe the Hype."

Sold too early. And now they're saying "We're at the bottom." Right.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:24 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 19, 2008

Trying To Drive A Wedge

Here is a glimpse of the right's operation at work, trying to drive wedges between Democrats. A Drudge Report headline links to Murdoch's Times Online: Women turn on ‘traitor’ Oprah Winfrey for backing Barack Obama

What is the basis for this headline story? Anonymous messages left in blog comments:

It started with a message on her website entitled “Oprah is a traitor” and rapidly expanded to include several discussions that attracted hundreds of comments.

In the original post, a reader called austaz68 said she “cannot believe that women all over this country are not up in arms over Oprah’s backing of Obama. For the first time in history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She’s choosing her race over her gender.”

In a subsequent comment, 2nurselady wrote: “I don’t think Oprah is a ‘traitor’, but I do think she may be alienating a lot of her fans.”

Don't fall for it. Stick together.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

It Is Time to Undo Past Tax Cuts

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

California faces a large budget deficit, and the Governor has declared an emergency. The Governor has proposed "across-the-board" spending cuts -- which means cutting all state services by an equal amount.

This inability to prioritize the importance of any particular spending cuts should be taken as a de facto declaration that there is no waste or unimportant spending left to cut -- that all spending is equally crucial. Driving home this point, the Governor is asking for the release onto the streets of prisoners.

If we don't want prisoners released onto our streets the legislature must raise revenue.

The first place to look is toward taxes and fees that were cut when times were good. The vehicle license fee is the most obvious place to start. A letter-writer in today’s San Francisco Chronicle makes this point:

"When Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, he immediately repealed the increase in vehicle registration fee that Gov. Gray Davis had used to help close the budget gap. This returned money to the pockets of Californians with cars (I received a check for $1) and took $4 billion from our state's budget. This is roughly the amount he now wants to cut from our public education. … It is hard for me to feel empathy for people who complain about a 1.5 percent tax increase on their $100,000 car when there are families that will lose their ability to have a home if these cuts go through."
We should examine the record from past tax cuts. Have they helped or harmed us?

The record shows that tax cuts actually harm state economies and finances. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in a 2005 report titled, TAX CUTS AND CONSEQUENCES: The States That Cut Taxes the Most During the 1990s Have Suffered Lately found that tax-cutting states actually performed worse fiscally and economically than other states. From the sumary:

Those big tax cuts do not seem to have contributed to state fiscal and economic health. In fact, when the economy began to weaken in 2001 and states fell into a fiscal crisis, those big tax-cutting states generally faced larger fiscal problems, and had worse economic performance, than other states that had been more cautious about tax cuts.
Since these cuts were clearly a bad idea it is time to repeal them.

Beyond this, we should learn from this emergency. What happened to us that we got talked into cutting taxes at the top while cutting services in the middle?

Click to continue

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:33 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

I own Debra Bowen, the California Secretary of State

... or, at least, I do on Facebook.

Notice the purpose to which I put my ownership. :)

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 1:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 18, 2008

Commissar Goldberg: If you want a vision of the future, imagine a daycare worker giving a toddler a sugarfree bran muffin -- forever.

[Discussion of Jonah Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism Also see this.]

Goldberg's weird definition of fascism was customized to make it possible to say things like this:

The quintessential Liberal Fascist isn't an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore.

But that's just loony. If Goldberg had written 1984, at the end he'd have O'Brien saying:

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a daycare worker giving a toddler a sugarfree bran muffin -- forever.

Or how about this:

A hug is liberal fascism's equivalent of a pistol shot to the back of the head.

You can have infinite fun with Goldberg. Who was the first liberal fascist, for example? Wasn't it Cardinal Biggles with his terrifying Comfy Chair?

Jonah Goldberg's book has no importance at all from a scholarly point of view, but the Jonah Goldberg phenomenon is extremely important. He's the most recent of a long string of Movement Republican mouthpieces who have gained places in the legit media, and he's put a few new tweaks into the formula. Unlike Coulter, Malkin, Limbaugh, Savage, and Beck, Goldberg speaks in a nice NPR voice and has a professorial manner, and while what he says is no more than cheap taunting, the way that he says it seems scholarly. So responding effectively to him will be tricky.

Conservatives hate liberal notions of tolerance, open-mindedness, and civility, and Goldberg is setting a trap: "OK, buddy, tolerate this!" If you argue civilly, he gains legitimacy, since his target readers are the ones who don't pay close attention and will score the debate as a draw. But if you lose your temper or ridicule him, Goldberg will smirk down at you from the moral high ground. This is an old game, and in my opinion it attacks (albeit dishonestly) one of liberalism's genuine weak spots.

Goldberg's book is also intended to inoculate Republicans against the charge of fascism -- "We're no worse than the Democrats" is the standard Republican response whenever they're caught behaving indefensibly. Goldberg doesn't really need to make his case: he just needs to plant a few doubts and give the Republican mouthpieces some new talking points. Even if his book is mostly rejected, there will be some residue, the way accusations tarnish reputations at the unconscious level even when presented from the beginning as false (e.g., "Obama has never been a Muslim and has never attended a Muslim school").

When a legit publication features someone like Kristol or Goldberg, a clear message is sent about what is expected and what is permissible. Movement Republican plants are turf markers, rather like the illiterate commissars holding high positions in Soviet universities or the thugs sent from national headquarters to oversee mobbed-up union locals. The media are free, all right, but they still have to give the Republicans a voice and a veto. The stupider the mouthpiece, the clearer the message -- it's not really possible to pretend that either one of these guys was hired for his talents. And everyone else in the organization will get the message about what the management wants.

What about the substance of Goldberg's book? Is there any? If you take the book seriously, you play into Goldberg's hands, but it's worth pointing out briefly that there's no there there. So:

Like fascists, American liberals are more populist and futurist than classical liberals and traditionalist conservatives, but so are Republicans. (The classical liberals and traditionalist conservatives are nostalgia items -- dead as a doornail.) Like fascists, American liberals are willing to intervene in the economy in a way that classical liberals weren't, but so are Republicans -- and like Republicans (but unlike liberals), fascists favored big business with their interventions. It is true that in the late Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century many left groups were racist, but in the contemporary U.S. the racists are Republicans (the paleoconservatives and the neo-Confederates). Some early Nazi leaders were closet homosexuals, but so are many contemporary Republican leaders. The Nazi SA used anti-capitalist rhetoric at first, but the SA leaders were all massacred in 1934 and the group lost its influence.

And so on. As far as authoritarianism, militarism, contempt for legality, xenophobia, and the cult of personality go, the Republican Party which Goldberg automatically supports is remarkably more fascistic than the Democrats or any liberal group, so Goldberg just obscures these issues.

There's really only one reason why the Republican Party cannot be called fascist yet, though it's a big one. The Republicans (so far) don't have a paramilitary branch using violence and illegal means to intimidate opponents. But multiply the anti-abortion terrorists by a few hundred, and they'll have that too. (And you have to wonder what the Blackwater paras will do once they're brought home).

Repeating falsehoods with a straight face is Jonah's job. He can do this with confidence because he knows that his Republican sponsors and his media employers will accept anything he says. He was hired as a Republican mouthpiece, and if the Republicans like what he's saying the media can't object. Goldberg can also be confident that with a very few exceptions (Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann, and Paul Krugman) no one in the major media will ever call him out on his fraud.

I expect the rest of the media will disgrace themselves by treating him as a reasonable man making a reasonable argument, and that in itself should be enough to tell us what desperate shape our country is in.

-- John Emerson

Posted by John Emerson at 9:29 AM | Comments (12) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Progressives, the Left, and President Wilson

[Discussion of Jonah Goldberg's book, Liberal Fascism]

Several issues which come up repeatedly on Jonah Goldberg threads (in enormous numbers of posts by two or three guys) can be rather easily dealt with.

During the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, many leftwing groups were openly racist. President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, was extremely racist and also (during World War I) highly authoritarian. American Progressives during the first part of the Twentieth Century were authoritarian, explicitly racist, and suspicious of foreigners. And finally, several famous progressives of the statist persuasion (for example, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw) had sympathies with Mussolini. All these things are true.

I am now 61 years old, and all this happened before I was born. World War One ended ninety years ago. World War Two ended sixty years ago. During that time, a lot of things have changed. The Progressives (who were Republicans as often as they were Democrats -- think Theodore Roosevelt) ceased to be a factor about 1940. Whatever Mussolini had seemed to be at the beginning, and however he portrayed himself, as he gradually showed himself for what he was (a Fascist in the strict sense of the word) he lost support.

While it may be true that many Nazis and Fascists were ex-radicals or ex-Communists, the prefix "ex-" is important here. (There's even an old joke about this: "An anti-communist? I don't care what kind of communist he is!") At crunch time, most traditionalist conservatives in Italy and Germany supported the Fascists and the Nazis -- against the Communists, of course, but also against the Social Democrats who were the nearest European analogue to American liberals. And of course, the Nazis and Fascists learned violent tactics from the leftists -- but what that means is that they killed leftists. Killing a leftist isn't the same thing as being one.

Finally, during the civil rights movement forty or fifty years ago (during my lifetime, at least), there was a major political realignment in the United States. Authoritarian Woodrow Wilson racists like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms switched to the Republican Party, where they became important leaders and were highly honored.

Goldberg and other conservatives use events in the distant past to prove that liberals are Fascists, or like Fascists, or something (Goldberg is extremely evasive about exactly what he means), while at the very same time not only ignoring recent and contemporary cult-of-personality proto-fascism, but actually strongly affiliating themselves with it. This is really beneath contempt. (The Democratic Party is more than 200 years old, and awhile back I wrote a little satire using President Van Buren's indecisiveness during the 1838 Aroostook War with Canada to prove that Democrats are unable to handle foreign policy. I'm sure that Goldberg would have sneaked that into his book if he'd thought of it.)

All this is just more evidence that the argument about Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism is a waste of time. Goldberg's significance is in the media space he controls, rather than in his ideas or in what he writes. Wingers will continue to throw all the shit they can find at liberals, hoping that some of it will stick, and Goldberg and others will continue to debase the American political discourse with ignorant slander without being called on it.

-- John Emerson

Posted by John Emerson at 9:25 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 17, 2008

How The Right's Machine Works

Atrios notes,

It would be wrong to discuss Mitt Romney's actual religious beliefs, but perfectly fine to discuss Barack Obama's fictitious ones.
Somehow it reminds me of 2006, when anyone who brought up that Bush went AWOL during Vietnam was unpatriotic, while at the same time it was unpatriotic to mention that Kerry was a war hero...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:58 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

McCain Ahead Of Clinton, Obama and Edwards

So many are so sure that Democrats have the Presidential election in the bag. But progressives do not have an idea/communications infrastructure to tell the public how their ideas benefit them, which creates demand for progressive candidates and policies. Hundreds of millions of progressive/liberal dollars go into election-cycle spending, but none into creating an overall public attitude environment that is ready to accept those election-cycle messages. If a fraction of that election-cycle money went to organizations like the Commonweal Institute, Speak Out California, Netroots Nation, etc. these organizations could reach out to the public all year, every year and help to create demand for progressive policies and candidates. Sheesh, how many lost elections is it going to take before people get that?

In What I Expect In 2008 I wrote,

The election is a year away and the Republicans are working hard to set the stage and prime the public for their campaign themes.
. . .
1) Iraq will not be in the news, and the Dems will be blamed for any failures. [...]

3) Accusations that we have a Do-Nothing Ineffective Congress [. . .]

5) Dems will face a hostile media that favors Republicans.

Later that month I wrote,
Conservatives and Republicans talk to the general public, and use a megaphone. Fox News is still there, just like they have been for a while. Rush Limbaugh is still there, spreading his lies, and his audience is still huge. Same for the rest of their machine - newspapers, other talk radio... And then there is their online effort, including the viral e-mails.
And already we have a Republican polling ahead of all Dems,
If the general election were held right now, McCain would beat New York Sen. Hillary Clinton 47% to 42% and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 45% to 43%, the survey revealed.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:51 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Polling Firms Drop Edwards!

The message is clear: if you oppose the corporations, they will oppose you. Polling firms have decided, on their own, to leave John Edwards out of their polling. Remember, Edwards came in second in Iowa.

Lefty Lane: Oregon Poll Leave Edwards Out,

This has become a national trend. Numerous polling organizations have decided on their own that Presidential candidate John Edwards is not worth including in the polls anymore. Whether it's CNN, or Survey USA they want to keep to a two candidate narrative. It doesn't matter that Edwards is only five delegates behind Clinton and upset her well financed campaign in Iowa.
Go read the whole story.

Corporations were created by We, The People, for the benefit of We, The People. Why ELSE would we have created corporations in the first pace? But these entities have an ability to concentrate money and power, and are now being used by a class of wealthy elites to control us by controlling our government.

We need to bring the corporations back under OUR control.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:35 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Apple's New Tiny, Thin Notebook Computer

Who will buy Apple's new expensive, ultrathin laptop? It doesn't even have a CD drive! This post gets it exactly right: Why does the MacBook Air make so many so dumb?

... [T]his notebook will be Apple’s next step in a strategy to infiltrate the enterprise.

[. . .] [T]he MacBook Air is aimed at a narrow upscale segment of the market. These customers care about style and what that style says about them. It’s all a part of their personal brand.

. . . When they open this machine at a meeting, it may say more about them than a $300 haircut, or a bespoke suit.

Will these users worry about connecting FireWire for digital video or external storage? They may worry more that a heavy briefcase filled with a heavy notebook could wrinkle their suit before a meeting. Listen, if one of these persons needs an power outlet because the battery is heading towards critical, someone will find them an outlet. And besides, there’s plenty of juice for notebooks and mimosas in the first class cabin.

What’s great about the MacBook Air is that this machine appears to be a new twist in Apple’s stealth campaign into the enterprise. The MacBook Air is all about switchers.

Who will be customers of this classy machine? Captains of enterprise and commerce. Traditionally, these customers have been Windows users. But now they will buy Apple’s new ultralight and join the ranks of switchers.

Yes, that's me all right.

But I do want one.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:55 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A National Security Levy on Oil

Update Jay Buckey has posted this as a DailyKos diary. I suggest giving it a recommend to get this idea into discussion.

I just came across this. Jay Buckey is running for the Senate in New Hampshire, and he just came out with a proposal to put a National Security Levy on Oil so WE, THE PEOPLE benefit from high oil prices, instead of just sending all that money to others. Go see his post on this over at the progressive blog Blue Hampshire: Taking Back Our Future and Our Freedom: A Policy Proposal. Excerpts:

Right now, every time we fill up our cars, we're sending money to foreign countries -- where roughly 60 percent of the more than 20 million barrels of oil we use everyday is produced. It's like they're taxing us, for their benefit.

Some of those countries, like Canada, are close allies, but others aren't. And whenever we put a gallon of gas in our cars, we're using our hard-earned dollars to help fund foreign oil producers in the Mideast, in Russia, and elsewhere.

Moreover, OPEC and other oil-producing countries have been able to lower and raise oil prices like puppeteers pulling the strings. Alternative energy companies have often failed when oil prices were low; American consumers - especially lower-income citizens - have been stretched almost to the breaking point when prices spike.

It's time to put a stop to this.

The National Security Levy will move us toward energy independence and secure the future of our country for our children.

Here's how it will work: the National Security Levy will be a fee on all oil consumption in the United States - combined with a price floor that guarantees oil will not sink below a certain price.

. . . If the world price of oil falls, the National Security Levy will be increased, so that the price in the US remains above a certain established floor. This means that alternative energy producers won't be wiped out by temporary declines in world oil prices, as happened in the 1980s; they'll know that the price of oil in the US would not be allowed to fall below the floor price.

If, however, the price of world oil spikes dramatically, then the National Security Levy would be suspended during the spike.

I love this. A levy, so WE, THE PEOPLE get the benefit of the price fluctuations, either through a tax that we can use to pay for important things like schools, or through alternative energy incentives!

This guy is great. Go read. Here is his campaign site. If you agree that WE THE PEOPLE should be receiving the benefits from the high oil prices, instead of others, give him a few bucks. In fact, give Jay a few Buckeys!

A bit more from Jay's post,

But you might ask, if a National Security Levy on oil is such a great idea, why isn't it already in place? Well, the basic idea isn't new, but according to conventional wisdom a serious proposal like this is politically unacceptable.

I believe that for too long the politicians in Washington have underestimated the will and determination of the American people. I believe that Americans are ready to change, ready to make a commitment to our future, and ready to work to make that future a reality.

And I believe that what is truly unacceptable is to have American servicemen and women risking their lives overseas -- in part to protect our access to oil -- and yet not do everything we can here in New Hampshire and across the country to end our dependence on foreign oil. We need to take positive action to protect our nation's security and our future.


Disclaimer - I am not working for Jay Buckey but might do so later on. I wrote this because I strongly agree.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:24 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 16, 2008

Republican Solution To Economy

Republicans are proposing a "stimulus proposal" for the economy: an additional 25% cut in corporate taxes. Guess who will make up the difference, one way or another?

Think Progress captured this:

At a press conference today unveiling the stimulus proposal, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) justified the conservative plan to give tax breaks to corporations — instead of working Americans — by arguing that people actually like working long hours:
I am so proud to be from the state of Minnesota. We’re the workingest state in the country, and the reason why we are, we have more people that are working longer hours, we have people that are working two jobs.
Got that? Republican economics are GOOD because people WANT TO work long hours, and two jobs.

As for paying for corporate tax cuts? You either have to pay higher taxes to make up the difference, or the money has to be borrowed. In 2007 we paid $433 billion interest on previous Republican borrowing. But there are other, serious costs as well. The plunge of the dollar is a consequence of the borrowing. The rising cost of oil is, too. And soon we will all be experiencing more costs of the borrowing as the economy collapses.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bush Says Will Veto Mine Safety

Lest anyone ever forget just who Republicans represent: Bush threatens to veto House mine-safety bill.

The House just passed a bill to strengthen mine safety. Mine owners complained to Bush this will cost them some money.

Among other things, the new legislation would grant stronger enforcement powers to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, require closer monitoring of a dangerous practice called retreat mining and provide for independent investigations when more than one miner is killed in an accident.

Mine operators also would be required to use new coal-dust monitors, worn by miners, to reduce exposure to coal dust, which causes black-lung disease.

So Bush will go with the mine OWNERS (rich people) instead of the WORKERS (the rest of us).

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:44 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 15, 2008

Today's Government and Party Merge Post

A few years ago I used to put up occasional posts, shocked and outraged that the Republicans were getting away with using our government to promote party interests in the way that the Soviet Union used to work. In fact I have a whole category dedicated to the subject.

But lately I have tapered off with my posts. I mean, it's an old story at this point. The Republican government is corrupt, and has been hijacked to be used as a vehicle for enforcing Party discipline. These blatantly illegal operations are ignored by the Congress, and people sort of get used to it. Most of the Democrats in the Congress has even stopped issuing strongly-worded statements.

So that said, here is today's petty, blatant illegal Party-Over-Country story. Talking Points Memo | Banned at The DoJ. The Department of Justice has stopped sending press releases to Talking Points Memo because they uncovered criminality in the department. Go read it. This is what OUR government has been up to.

When are the Democrats in the Congress going to call them to account? I am sick and tired of strongly-worded memos, witnesses who are allowed to ignore subpoenas, government departments allowed to act as an arm of the Republican Party, government funds that are sent to cronies and redirected to the party or just stolen and all the insults to democracy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:27 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Hillary's Victory

A guest post by Bettina Duval of the California List

Senator Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire was the first time in our history that a woman won a presidential primary*. Her win was a momentous achievement that the early suffragettes could only dream of. It was a triumph for all women – a giant step forward in the drive for equality.

The nation's political attention has wrongly focused on why Senator Clinton won New Hampshire. The most important fact, that she is the first woman ever to win a primary, has been lost. Does it matter that Hillary Clinton won the primary – YES. Senator Clinton's victory cannot be brushed aside with political positioning or media downplay. Make no mistake, it was an historic moment.

As the founder of the CALIFORNIA LIST, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to California state government, I have dedicated my life to building the pipe-line of future leaders and helping support Democratic women running for office. When a woman becomes a candidate she brings a different voice to the conversation and valuable diversity to the political process. She will inevitably face challenges because of her gender. After all, it took more than 40 years for California women to gain the right to vote. In 1911 when suffrage finally passed in California, it did so by fewer than 3,600 votes – an average of one vote per precinct!!! Women's rights have been born out of struggle not privilege.

In 1994, the year of the woman, the number of elected female Democratic officials in California was at an all time high. Twenty per cent, or 24 out of 120 elected officials, were women. Today we have only 16 elected Democratic women, over 30% less than ten years ago. In California we lose 2 or three elected women per election. It's the slow drip process. Elected women and candidates are in decline – a frightening trend that must be reversed.

The full impact of Hillary Clinton's win in New Hampshire on her run for President is as yet undefined, but I hope it will at the very least encourage more women to run for office. Seeing a Democratic woman governor in California is a dream. When Hillary Clinton won the primary she moved us closer to that goal.

Women need to run and win on every level of the political pipeline, from the local school board to the presidency. Their voice is critical to the balance of decision-making and the future of our state, our country and our world. Reversing the decline in the number of women candidates and office-holders, not only in California but across the country, is essential to the health of our political process.

I see it as our moral opportunity as well as our moral obligation to continue the fight for individual liberty. It is my belief in Democracy – a Democracy that is made stronger by diversity – that motivates me to encourage you to applaud Hillary Clinton for her achievement.

* - It has been pointed out at DailyKos that Shirley Chisholm win the 1972 New Jersey.

Posted by Guest at 2:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

A Budget Shock Attack

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

California is said to be having a budget "crisis." Last week the Governor signed an emergency proclamation forcing the legislature to meet and act on the budget within forty-five days.

"Crisis" and "emergency" are serious words, and the public is upset about hearing them. This is, of course, the intent of those using the words -- to get the public upset and demanding action. When people are shocked and worried they will accept solutions that might not be what they would accept if they had time to think, consider all reasonable alternatives and weigh all the consequences. In an "emergency" the public just wants the problem solved. (This is a "Shock Doctrine" approach.)

So having created a crisis atmosphere the Governor is asking for "across the board" cuts in state government spending. This is a tactic that let's him avoid specifying any particular cuts. The reason the Governor does not want to specify any particular spending cuts is because people will realize that such cuts are not a good idea.

Asking for cuts "across the board" sounds so fair. But not specifying also means not prioritizing. By setting no priorities for spending cuts the Governor is saying that one area of spending matters to him no more than another.

Let's be clear about what the Governor is doing. He is cutting police and other law enforcement and public safety. He is cutting schools -- when California already is 43rd in spending per pupil. He is letting prisoners out onto the streets. He is cutting disaster assistance. He is letting roads and bridges deteriorate. That is what government spending is -- and we are who it is for.

Each and every thing the Governor is asking to cut is important to all of us, the people of California. We, the people need and want what the state spends its money on. We need our police and public safety departments. We want our children educated in good schools. It is rare to find a person who claims that the state "spends too much" who can tell you just what we, the people of the state actually spend our money on. (Try it yourself - see if you can get specifics from anyone who claims that the state spends "too much.") That is why the Governor is calling for "across-the-board" spending cuts and not specifying where he thinks cuts should be made.

Meanwhile the Governor is not presenting the public with alternatives to spending cuts. There ARE alternatives, but they are only going to be part of the process if people pay attention to what is going on. Here are just a few examples of alternatives that should be considered:

Alternative: Restore the vehicle license fee. This would bring back $5 billion that we, the people should be collecting and using.

Alternative: Tax oil as it is taken out of the ground. The oil belongs to the people of California but we don't ask companies to pay us when they pump it. A California oil-severance tax would go a long way toward helping solve our budget problems. Alaska, for example, has no income tax, and in fact the state instead sends a check to citizens each year because they understand that the oil is a common resource and tax the companies that pump it out of the ground.

Alternative: Impose a surtax on upper incomes to balance the budget and pay off the bonds. Consider that the reason some people receive so much more income is because the infrastructure we Californians have built and the benefits that we the taxpayers have granted to corporations helps build prosperity. And one effect of having very high incomes is that they have large amounts of disposable income with which to pay taxes and still have plenty left over. This money can also be used to pay off the bonds that the Governor has issued to avoid making touch choices in the past. Currently we pay approx. $4 billion each year toward interest on these bonds. Paying down these bonds and reduces these interest payments and THAT is a spending cut we all want to happen.

Click to continue.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 14, 2008

The Political Compass - where I stand vs. the candidates

The graph on the Political Compass web site, which analyzes the positions on the political compass of the various candidates for President in the primary elections, demonstrates why many many Americans like myself feel so disenfranchised by the current political process and the "choice" it has given them. Every single candidate of significance in both parties falls into the upper right hand quadrant: Authoritarian/Right - the Democrats just fall closer to the lower left-hand corner of that quadrant, the Republicans, the upper right hand corner.

Me? I fall into the extreme lower left-hand corner of the lower left quadrant: Left/Libertarian... my views on social and economic issues are almost diametrically opposite that of every single candidate. And exactly in the same quadrant as my political party: the Green Party (globally and in the U.S.)... although that party is much closer to the center than I am, amusingly enough.

Kucinich and Gravel, both in the upper right hand corner of the lower left quadrant, Left/Libertarian, are the closest candidates to my preferences. You can look at the 2004 Election diagram, which shows that the two closest candidates to my position (in the same region as Kucinich) were David Cobb and Ralph Nader (no surprise). John Kerry and GWB both, of course, fall into the lower left hand and upper right hand corner of the Authoritarian/Right quadrant (also no surprise).

... and guess where Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dali Lama all fall? Desmond Tutu. Michael Moore. Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation")? Just to name a few folks. You guessed it: the lower left hand quadrant. The first three are sourced from the Analysis page (the site strongly recommends that you take their test before reading that page), the last three are sourced from the site's Libertarian Left thinkers page. You might also want to take a look at who the guiding intellectual lights of the Authoritarian Right (and thus the American political mainstream) are. Take a look at those two pages, and tell me which one has more books on your reading list. :)

Where do you fall on the Political Compass? Which individuals would you rather be associated with? Do you feel "represented"? Do you feel that the Democratic Party, in the form of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, folks that in other areas of the world would be described as "moderate conservatives", truly represents YOUR political beliefs?

Look at where the Labour Party in Britain has gone over the past three decades (middle of lower left hand quadrant to middle of upper right hand quadrant)... is there any doubt that a graph of the Democratic Party in this country would show the same pattern?

Dave wants to drag the Democratic Party back to Left/Libertarian quadrant it occupied thirty years ago. Me, I think: "Why spend the effort to do that, when there's already a party that truly represents my views?" We have a difference of opinion on tactics. I'm curious as to which side of the discussion the readers of this blog fall on.

Of course, as the site mentions, if we had a rational political system, with proportional representation, then this entire discussion would be unnecessary. Dave and I would happily both be members of the Green Party of the United States (and so would vast numbers of other people), and we'd be working in coalition with the Democrats occupying the "moderate conservative" lower left hand corner of the Authoritarian/Right to frustrate the efforts of the Republican party to destroy everything we hold dear.

P.S. I'm going to write them and ask that they include Cynthia McKinney, one of the leading candidates for the Green Party nomination, on the primary page. I don't think there's enough information available for him to easily make an analysis of the other candidates' positions, although I'm sure they'll all fall into the same general region (based on what I heard today when I attended the Green Party Presidential Candidates debate - soon to be available on the KPFA web site).

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 12:33 AM | Comments (4) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 11, 2008

Huckabee - Heh

It's hard to dislike this guy. Watch this:

And read this GREAT column today from David Sirota,

Stay Classy, Mike Huckabee
[. . .]
Recall that the media portrays Bush's alliance with the religious right as proof of his convictions. Huckabee's alliance with the same religious right is subtly cast as a sign of supposed ignorance. Bush's rhetorical gaffes are often painted as endearing — evidence that despite his silver-spoon pedigree, he is the authentic "average American man" thinking "in a common-sense way," as Republican commentator Peggy Noonan wrote. Huckabee? The Weekly Standard calls him "a village idiot" and a "rube," while Noonan derides him for "populist manipulation."

Bush, you see, was always an aristocrat underneath the "windshield cowboy" veneer. He is the son of a president, a Skull-and-Bones man — ruling class all the way.

Huckabee, on the other hand, is a real-life regular guy. He views religion as more than just a convenient political cudgel, truly did pull himself "up from the bootstraps" — and his class grievances are personal. The well-heeled narcissists in the media and political Establishment are appalled. They see Huckabee as a country bumpkin getting uppity.

AND, is this ad brilliant, or what?

Democrats, you'd better be ready for what's coming. This is another Ronald Reagan. If we don't start stating progressive VALUES and the BENEFITS of progressive values, we're toast. No more lists of issues, like you're trying to buy groceries, please.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:27 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Remember Fahrenheit 9/11?

Do you remember Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11?

I think now would be a good time to watch it again. We understand so much more now... Facts were supposedly in "dispute" then - are they still?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Full-Scale Attack On Social Security "Welfare"

Headline at Drudge: US TRIPLE-A CREDIT RATING UNDER THREAT FROM SOARING WELFARE COSTS...

It links to: FT.com / Home UK / UK - US's triple-A credit rating 'under threat',

The US is at risk of losing its top-notch triple-A credit rating within a decade unless it takes radical action to curb soaring healthcare and social security spending, Moody's, the credit rating agency, said yesterday.

The warning over the future of the triple-A rating - granted to US government debt since it was first assessed in 1917 - reflects growing concerns over the country's ability to retain its financial and economic supremacy.

OK:

1) Social Security and Medicare are not "welfare."
2) Social Security is not the problem. The problemis that the government owe money to Social Security. Reagan and then the Bushes borrowed money from the fund to give tax cuts to the rich, and now the fund wants sime of it back. (Clinton was paying it back.)

Update - How come the people so concerned about the financial condition of the country - namely the massive debt - never call for tax increases to start paying down that debt? It worked for Clinton and resulting economy of the 90's was good for everyone.

Update II - Why not a call to reduce the huge, vast, unbelievable military budget?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:28 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 10, 2008

Was The NH Vote Hacked?

You can't open an e-mail list without reading that the New Hampshire primary vote was hacked.

Here's the story. New Hampshire used paper ballots that are scanned by Diebold scanners. The name Diebold serts off alarms. But the ballots are paper and can be counted to see what the voters intended. So it doesn't matter that they are scanned by Diebold machines.

Paper ballots. All anyone has to do is pick a few precincts and count the paper ballots. If they don't match what the scanners reported, then you count all the ballots. If they don't match the count, everyone knows what happened.

The point of having voter-verified paper ballots is that the record exists. So no one would bother to try to screw with the election because they would get caught as soon as anyone compares the paper ballots with the machine count.

The primary wasn't hacked. That's the point of having paper ballots. DEMAND paper ballots everywhere. If you want touch screens, that's fine. In fact, they help prevent errors -- just as long as they are used as input devices for printing paper ballots that YOU look at and put into a separate ballot box.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:33 AM | Comments (7) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Federal Reserve To Inflate

Buy gold. Buy non-US currencies. The Fed is going to try to inflate us out of the mess. Dow bounces back as Bernanke signals more rate cuts

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 9, 2008

Iranian Navy Threat

From this story, comes this photo:

IranUSNavy.jpg

That is the huge threat you're hearing about on the news.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Sent To Iraq - Your Job Is Gone When You Return

Pink Slips Greet Many Returning Iraq War Vets,

When reservist U.S. Army Maj. Phillip Davis left his job as a dispatcher for a national trucking company a year ago because he was called up to fight the war in Iraq he received an unexpected going away present. His employer promptly hired someone to replace him within days of his deployment.

Davis of Victorville is not alone. For tens of thousands of members of the National Guard and reserves who are called up to serve in Iraq, returning home safely may be just the beginning - not the end - of a long road back. Reservists lucky enough to return home often find their civilian jobs gone and face unsympathetic employers and recruiters fixated on offering incentives and huge bonuses to keep them fighting.

Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 nearly 9,376 veterans have lost their jobs in both the private and public sectors while serving a tour of duty, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Those numbers are expected to skyrocket as more and more soldiers are returning home as multiple deployments to war takes its toll on them and their families.

Go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:29 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Do Taxes Drive The Economy?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

Do taxes drive California's economy?

The governor says California is in a budget crisis. He says we need to cut the state's spending "across-the-board," and the Republicans insist that tax increases and other alternatives are off the table. The media largely seem to be going along with taking discussion of alternatives off the table, and consequently Democrats are too intimidated to bring them up.

But what they are missing is that taxes drive the economy.

Tax-cut proponents say that increasing taxes on the wealthy "takes money out of the economy." I wonder where they think the money goes? Do they think it just goes up into the air and disappears?

They don't seem to -- or pretend not to -- understand that taxes come right back into the economy. It is taxes that pay the salaries of teachers and police officers and that build and maintain our roads. Then that money circulates from those teachers and construction workers to support our stores and movie theaters and restaurants and to buy homes and cars.

What would the effect be of a cut? In California there are approx. 308,000 teachers. The Governor is proposing a 10% "across-the-board" tax cut. Imagine the economic consequences if this cut means laying off 10% of those teachers -- 30,000 people? This is not the precise plan but it illustrates that spending cuts do not help the economy of California. In fact it is spending cuts, not tax cuts that "take money out of the economy."

And anyway we want what our taxes buy us! We want our teachers and firefighters and roads and courts and water & sewer systems. Cuts are not what we want.

Borrowing more money is not the solution, either. One result of the conservative tax-cutting fever of recent years has been massive borrowing at the state and especially the federal level. But people have not been told that borrowing is in reality a spending increase because we have to pay interest on that debt. California is spending $4 billion this year to pay interest on bonds and that is spending that cannot be cut. That is a lot of spending, and we would not have such a serious deficit if we did not have to pay out that $4 billion.

So the solution to the budget shortfall has to include all the tools in our toolbox. First, we have to close tax loopholes. We need to restore the vehicle license fee (which the Governor calls a tax). Then we need an oil-severance tax - we are the only state in the country that drills oil that doesn't have one! And we have to stop being a "donor state" to the federal government. We send over $50 billion to the feds that we do not get back for programs or services.

Finally, we need tax increases on corporate profits and the wealthy. Here is why: tax money is used to build the very things that ensure our prosperity. It is used to build the economy that enables some of us to become very wealthy and stay that way. Our tax-supported legal system enables and protects businesses and investors. Our tax-supported economic infrastructure defines and regulates the financial system under which investment occurs to build these businesses. Taxes built the physical infrastructure (like schools and roads) that helps us all in ways that everyone understands. But taxes also built and support the legal and economic infrastructure that is crucial for economic growth as well. The Anderson Forecast states that the two keys to a successful economy are infrastructure and education, and that is tax dollars. Entrepreneurs and businesses look for those qualities when determining where to set up shop.

In other words, the wealthy and businesses have benefitted the most from government investment and they have the most money as a result, so they should be contributing the most. And middle-class taxpayers are currently being hammered by a different kind of oil tax -- huge increases in gas prices at the pump while the oil companies are recording the most profits by any companies ever. And because of previous spending cuts, the middle class, and particularly our students, are experiencing increases in fees such as college tuition while the benefits of the taxes they pay are going disproportionately to the wealthy.

Of course taxing the very wealthy and corporations might very well take some money out of the Cayman Islands' or other tax-haven economies, bringing it back to California. (One building in the Cayman Islands is the business address of more than a thousand American corporations.) And increasing taxes on the wealthiest might even cause someone to have to buy a slightly smaller yacht or private jet in order to be used to pay a few hundred teachers or firefighters.


Click to continue

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:12 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Mike Huckabee Singing Beyond the Sea

For your musical entertainment:

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January 8, 2008

It's The Economy, Stupid!

1) The inevitables weren't. Iowa tan New Hampshire. Excellent. My California primary vote will count this time.

2) It's the economy. I saw some info that indicated a lot of people voting in New Hampshire had the economy as their #1 concern. I saw other info that said that of people whose number 1 concern was the economy, a large majority voted for Clinton.

Question, do a lot of people heat their houses with heating oil in New Hampshire? More than Iowa?

Update - Here is CNN's Political Ticker saying much the same thing:

The economy was the top issue of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters with 39 percent citing it, according to CNN exit polls. Sen. Hillary Clinton was the clear favorite of those voters as 44 percent of them went for her compared to 35 percent who went for Obama.

Clinton also performed well with those voters who said they were falling behind financially. Nearly a third of Democratic primary voters identified themselves in this category and those voters broke for Clinton over Obama by a 10-point margin.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:08 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What People "Know"

We who read and write blogs are what I call "hyper-informed." We not only know about everything that is going on, but we often know about it within minutes or hours.

This can cause us to forget that most people are not up to speed with the kinds of things that you and I take for granted. For example, most people know nothing about the billions of dollars in cash that disappeared in Iraq. You and I know all about it. It was widely reported in the blogs and everyone who frequents blogs read about it. And it is discussed as a given. It forms a foundation of our understanding of what is happening in America - yet it means nothing to most people. There are so many examples like this.

The information gap is so wide that people think something is wrong with you if you try to explain to them what is going on.

Where am I going with this? Yesterday someone told me that most people where she works think that Barack Obama is a Muslim. It's one of those "everyone knows" things.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:36 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Hillary's Tears

Matt Stoller at Open Left:: Clinton's Sincerity Moment,

I thought her appearance was one of the sweetest, toughest, and most forthright expressions of Hillary Clinton's belief system I have ever seen. She genuinely believes this country is lost without someone who knows how to deal with the massive problems we're facing, and she genuinely doesn't think Obama can do it. Moreover, she looks kind of lost in the politics, unable to comprehend how her decades of hard work and compromises could be rejected by voters. Don't they see that Obama isn't ready? Can't they go beyond the rhetoric and look at substance? She has gotten plenty of liberal policies done, why are the liberals voting for someone else? Whatever you may think of Clinton, she has put her whole life into public service.

I was on the trail for three days last week, and it is incredibly tiring. Candidates go from event to event, eating pizza, sleeping little, surrounded by press and fans and opponents in a high pressure atmosphere. That Clinton does it, and expresses herself so sweetly in this appearance, is to her credit, even if the cynical, nasty, and misogynistic press corps doesn't get it. She understands just how mean and unfair they are. What she doesn't understand is that liberal politics are winning politics.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:12 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Progressives Worry That Obama Is Bringing A Knife To A Gunfight

Over at AlterNet, Joshua Holland writes, Obama Can Win; If He Does, Let's Hope His Sunny Bipartisan Talk Is Just Rhetoric. A snippet:

The Republican establishment is fully aware of the fact that they can't win on any substantial issue of public policy on the merits of their arguments alone. There is no broad constituency in America for showering the top 1 percent with tax breaks, handing huge subsidies to energy firms and giant agribusinesses and pharmaceutical firms, starting wars of choice, cutting social services or privatizing broad swaths of the public sector.

So they emphasize social issues and conjure up fear of foreign bogey-men in order to remain relevant. And they marginalize and demonize their opponents, which has been a central thrust of conservative messaging since the days of Spiro Agnew and Joe McCarthy. In logic, it's known as "poisoning the well" -- making one's interlocutor out to be such a heinous beast that anything he or she says will be perceived, without examination, as an assault on our core values.

At heart, there's a fundamental divide between Obama's post-partisan rhetoric, and the hunger among many progressives for a fighter who will stand up to the Right-wing noise machine and effectively slug it out with the GOP. That goes a long way to explaining why Obama, despite an almost perfect biography and the caché of being a Beltway outsider at a time when the insiders are so widely loathed, never seemed to catch on with the left "blogosphere" the way one would have expected him to.

Much more, go read.

If Obama can pull it off, it will lead to a great progressive future. But does he really think the corporate right is going to work with him? I think they're going to do everything they can to destroy him.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:53 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 7, 2008

New - Sustain newsladder

The Sustain newsladder is the newest addition to the Newsladder family. This newsladder focuses on sustainability, environment, ecology, etc. Go take a look.

The way the newsladders work is you sign up, then add and recommend stories. The top recommended stories appear in the newsladder feeds - there are a few in the right column here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:45 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 6, 2008

Comments

Comments MIGHT be working. Please leave a comment and we'll find out.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:29 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Impeach!

Every American should read Why I Believe Bush Must Go byGeorge McGovern in today's Washington Post.

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January 5, 2008

Dem Debate - They All Won - We Won

The New Hampshire Democratic Debate just wrapped up. I am so impressed by ALL FOUR of the Democratic candidates! My doubts about Obama have largely been addressed. Edwards is there to fight for the people against the entrenched corporate and special interests. Hillary is ready to hit the ground running. And Bill Richardson finally had a chance to present himself without a big crowd there making it difficult to see who he is.

That ALL did well. It is a very tough choice, and that is a great thing for the people. I support ALL of them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:41 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Change Change Change

Watching the Dem debate. Every third word is "change."

Change change change.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

ABC Repeats Social Security Lie

Watching the debates. ABC just ran a clip that told the public that Social Security runs out of money in 2017. Then they didn't even give the candidates a chance to correct the lie - if they were going to.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Welfare, Welfare, Welfare

How come suddenly all the Republican candidates are talking about "Welfare?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

January 4, 2008

Did Richardson Only Get 2%?

I have to point this out, because I am not seeing it in any reporting or blogs. The Iowa caucuses have a 15% threshold. If you are in a precinct and your candidate does not get 15% then you either go to another candidate of go home. Getting 2% in the Iowa caucuses means that you got over 15% in enough precincts. In other precincts it could mean you received anywhere from 0% to 14.9999% support.


Disclaimer, I have been consulting with the Richardson campaign.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:42 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Republican Nightmare: Youth and Minorities Showing Up And Voting

Brown is in. It isn't an all-white game anymore.

Minorities have historically been low-turnout and consequently haven't received much political power. I think Obama's victory in Iowa could change that equation. No matter what happens with turnout, politicians from now on will feel that they had better give minorities a place at the table. Just like when Ned Lamont won the primary against Leiberman and DC realized that the netroots are part of the equation now, they can't ignore minorities anymore. They are part of the power structure now - whether Obama wins or not.

And then there is the youth vote. Young people turned out in significant numbers - for Democrats! Does Obama completely change the equation? Is the "old" America with white elites in control starting to crumble? Could this be a sign of the progressive transformation coming at last?

Dare I use Obama's word, 'Hope'?

At Huffington Post, Arianna feels it, too:

Obama's win might not have legs. Hope could give way to fear once again. But, for tonight at least, it holds a mirror up to the face of America, and we can look at ourselves with pride. This is the kind of country America was meant to be, even if you are for Clinton or Edwards -- or even Huckabee or Giuliani.

It's the kind of country we've always imagined ourselves being -- even if in the last seven years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.

And Nathan Newman writes at TPM Cafe:

The payoff from those organizational skills were obvious last night but the deeper significance could be a realignment of a whole range of voters into the progressive column, not just in November but over time.

I'm still deciding if this is just an organizational insurgency or a true political mobilization that could reshape American politics, but there is real promise there.

He voices the netroots concern:
My worry is whether he is really mobilizing them on the content of his substantive message or just the vagueness of "change" in a time when people are angry and distressed. I'm not annoyed like some at his "post-partisanship" message, since the best way to build a big partisan majority is to assert this kind of non-partisan inclusiveness. No, the concern is that the ideas and policies filling his "change" message actually connect with people beyond momentary distress to shape a real analysis of what's wrong with the nation.
To deliver that change, though, Obama has to go after the problem: Corporate Power.

Some more quotes:

Firedoglake:

. . . People wanted change, and their votes were cast based on who they see as best embodying that change. Obama did a great job energizing the youth vote. . ..
One of the best statements comes from Chris Bowers at Open Left:
The youth of America isn't navigating a path between the two parties, they are overwhelmingly siding with one party. What they want is change and youth within the party, not an older generation's status quo. They want a change in America, and a change in the Democratic Party.
Obama represents the change that Democratic youth want, and he does so in a way that neither Clinton nor Edwards could ever hope to match.
[. . .]
Congratulations to Barack Obama and his supporters. This is a historic victory for change. John Edwards should also be proud that despite facing a massive deficit in spending and media coverage, he still managed to finish ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. That is a testament to the strength of a populist, progressive message. Tonight, we saw a new generation take charge in the Democratic Party, and a populist, progressive message perform very strongly. This isn't exactly the result I hoped for, but I'm still pretty happy.
AmericaBlog:
. . . On the Democratic side, change won. Real change - neither Obama nor Edwards are considered establishment figures (though Edwards obviously isn't exactly some yokel just come to town). No doubt this was a huge win for Obama -- and correspondingly, a devastating loss for Hillary Clinton. There is no other way to spin it. Her campaign was built on inevitability -- and she simply wasn't in Iowa. Obama and Edwards had to run against the Clinton machine -- and it was (is) a machine. Bill and Hillary and all their friends, very powerful friends, put everything into this campaign. And tonight they lost.

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January 3, 2008

Open Convention?

Lots of people seem to think this ends the election season. 38-30-30 gets you an open convention. (Same on the Republican side, by the way - you need 50% going in to lockup the nomination.)

Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your election year. Dick Gephardt and Pat Robertson both won one year... How did that turn out, anyway?

Update - Robertson came in second.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:04 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Change

I think Chris at Open Left has the narrative: Youth turned out, wanted change, and to them Obama represented that change.

Jane at Firedoglake says something very similar:

People wanted change, and their votes were cast based on who they see as best embodying that change. Obama did a great job energizing the youth vote.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:52 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Iowa

I'm not sure how much difference Iowa should make in the choice of a Democratic candidate. We know the top three are close in the polls and the will come in with one of them in first, one in second and one in third. The real race is for fourth place.

It isn't a secret ballot, and I think this can affect this in interesting ways. If you know your boss is a huge supporter of one candidate you are not that likely to go stand up for one of the others with your boss watching you. So in this way there can be an influence. So which candidates does that benefit?

It's the ballot in New Hampshire that will start to make a difference.

AND with Iowa less than a week away there really isn't any reason for any candidate to drop out. The only expense is a few plane tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. If there were a big time gap between them, it might be different.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:55 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

If You Are In LA Area

James Boyce will be a guest on the Mario Solich Show, Los Angeles AM 1150, 4:20 pm Pacific time talking about the California Newsladder.

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January 2, 2008

Republican Prosecutors Drop Another Abramoff-Linked Investigation

Funny how all those corruption investigations stopped when all those prosecutors got fired, isn't it? Here's another: Burns no longer part of Abramoff probe,

Former Sen. Conrad Burns is no longer part of a federal investigation of jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Burns, R-Mont., narrowly lost re-election to a fourth term in 2006 after Democrats made his relationship with Abramoff a central issue. Abramoff is the key figure in a corruption investigation that has led to convictions of a former congressman, legislative aides, lobbyists and officials in the Bush administration.

I'm not saying Burns was involved with Abramoff or not. I AM saying that there is no reason to have any confidence that anyone in this Justice Department is interested in finding out. He's a Republican, so the case is dropped. We know that the reason those prosecutors who were fired was they wouldn'[t "play ball" with the politicization, and we know the ones who did and dropped investigations of Republicans and/or initiated investigations of Democrats kept their jobs. They are still there, the Congress isn't doing their job of getting to the bottom of this, so we're left with the assumption of political interference and corruption.

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Benny Lava (Updated)

My loonie bun is fine, Benny Lava!

Update -

Nipple Song

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The Appeal of Ron Paul

Insiders talk about Huckabee as the Frankenstein's monster the Republicans created with their strategy of stirring up religious strife. They worked so hard to divide us along religious lines to get votes - but then a candidate shows up who is an actual right-wing Christian, not just a vote-pandering corporatist, and they don’t know what to do about it. It’s fun, in a way, to watch the right's machine -- Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing blogs. etc. -- in total panic, trying to get their audience to pull back from voting the way they’ve been telling them to vote for so many years.

I think the DC Democratic leadership has made the same mistake with their cautious, pander-to-the-so-called-center strategy (as conservatives move that "center" ever rightward). Like the Republicans, they thought they owned their base. They paid lip service to get progressive votes but then engaged in the kind of strategerizing and "afraid Rush Limbaugh will say something bad about them" approach we have had to endure rather than just doing what is right. (The point being that Rush will say something bad about you anyway, no matter what you do.) They let the war go on, took impeachment "off the table," wouldn't force Republicans to actually filibuster (thereby requiring 60 Senate votes for Democratic interests but only 50 for Republican), let Bush continue to violate the law and Constitution with impunity - even refusing to enforce their own Congressional subpoenas! They think their “base” has to stick with them no matter what.

So then along comes Ron Paul. HE says the war is wrong and illegal and must be stopped. HE says we have to enforce the Constitution above all. And surprise of surprises, he is drawing support. A letter in Tuesday’s San Jose Mercury News illustrates my point:

Ron Paul stands up to examination
For the first time I can remember, we have a presidential candidate who is actually saying elected officials should keep their oaths and follow the Constitution. I was vacillating between choices, but after a closer look at Ron Paul, all doubts are put to bed. As commander in chief, he would end this financially ruinous war for the right reason: because it is illegal. He would also restore sound monetary policy and stop the "inflation tax" that nobody talks about. It is amazing how many of our problems would be mitigated if officials simply lived up to their oaths. For me, voting has always been selecting the best bad apple, but this is the first time I've actually been inspired. Google Ron Paul and be convinced.
Ron Paul is this year’s Howard Dean. You can’t go to a farmer’s market around here without encountering a Ron Paul volunteer. In their enthusiasm to help fix the country many new voters are being drawn into the Ron Paul sphere.

Bringing in new voters is always a good thing. And opposing illegal aggressive war. torture, and demanding that the Constitution and laws be followed are to be praised no matter who is doing it. Heck, listening to Paul talk about these things almost makes me want to support him!

But then these recruits are then subjected to the other side of the far-right libertarian agenda. First there is the lunatic "Secret NAFTA Superhighway" conspiracy stuff. It's a catchy phrase that seems to affect people's brains, but it doesn't mean anything. It's just nut stuff. People's understandable concerns about trade deals that practically require the destruction of jobs and the environment are used by Paul as a way to mainstream far-right "black helicopter" thinking.

Then comes a dose of really bad economics. There's the "get rid of the IRS" and gold-standard nonsense. And the talk that the Federal Reserve is some kind of secret internationalist cabal has a hint of the old-time antisemitism of those who say that Jews have a secret conspiracy to control all the money.

And I don't fault a candidate based on who supports him or her, but Ron Paul sure does have a lot of militia, white supremacist, etc. groups endorsing him. So I do have get a bit suspicious about where he is coming from.

Unfortunately he is also a possible Ralph Nader whose independent run could siphon off enough votes that would otherwise have gone to Democrats to throw the election to the right. Anti-war, pro-Constitution support draws votes away from the Democrats, not Republicans. That guarantees the war continues and the shredding of the Constitution is completed.

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January 1, 2008

Chris Dodd Thanks The Netroots

Senator Chris Dodd thanks the netroots for fighting for the Constitution:

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