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February 29, 2008

Domain Name Scam

I checked a domain name to see if it is available. Network Solutions' Whois says it is available. So I go to my web hosting service to register it and set up a site, and they say it isn't available. I check the Whois there and it says Network Solutions registered the name FOR ITSELF right after I checked it.

What a scam. If you CHECK a domain name, they immediately take it, assuming it has some value. And, being Network Solutions they can do that without paying for it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:35 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 28, 2008

Reflections On Corporations II - Corporate Philanthropy

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Who should decide whether our communities have museums, concert and dance facilities, parks and other cultural programs? Who should decide on priorities for funding for disaster assistance or research into cures for diseases?

Should the public make the bulk of these decisions, through the transparent and accountable systems of our democracy? Or should a few individuals who control vast wealth and resources make these decisions for the people?

Because of dwindling tax revenues many communities have come to rely on "corporate philanthropy" for assistance with cultural programs, or to supplement their schools, or for other community benefits.

The people who run corporations are in a position to decide to donate the corporation’s money to various causes. Many of these are things that the people, through our government, no longer have the resources to support. For example, the executives and Board of a corporation might decide to donate to build a museum. They might decide to fund a school.

And they might decide not to do these things.

So look at what is happening -- as discussed in the Feb. 26 post, Reflecting on Corporations, we have corporations using their resources to influence the public and government to change the rules of the playing field on which corporations operate - deregulating, lowering taxes, etc. As this corporate influence brings cuts in corporate taxes (as well as cuts in taxes paid by the owners of the corporations), our society is left with fewer public resources for building museums, conducting research, etc.

And then we have corporations stepping in, using some of their earnings to provide those benefits, with their executives deciding where to direct the resources. For which the public is supposed to be grateful, and feel more favorable to the corporations, and perhaps grant them further benefits.

These are functions that the public once prioritized and controlled. But today the balance of control of the country's resources continues to shift more and more to fewer private individuals. This massing of assets and resources into corporate hands takes away the people's ability to decide to build museums and fund schools. It puts more and more power to make decisions that affect the public into the hands of corporate executives. Is this compatible with our understanding of democracy?

And a related question: Should corporate earnings be diverted from the shareholders? Is it the proper function of corporations to make decisions about funding museums, etc?

Perhaps there should be controls that guarantee that corporate funds and resources are used solely for the benefit of the shareholders and broader pubic interest. Perhaps corporations should be prohibited from engaging in any activities that influence our government or lawmaking or public opinion. Perhaps they should operate on the playing field that We, the People lay out for them -- and not be able to influence that playing field for the benefit of a few individuals who control the corporation. Perhaps.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:58 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 27, 2008

Today's Money Warning Post

Today's money warning comes from : Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis,

Last Warning

If you are over the FDIC limit at any bank, do something about it immediately.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Is Freedom's Watch Legal?

I'm reading what some Republican blogs are writing about the Republican front group called Freedom's Watch, which is expected to spend as much as $250 million against Democrats in the coming election. Here is an example of a right-wing blog's understanding of this group, writing about a December Congressional special election in Ohio: Meet the New "Bad Boys" of Conservative Politics: Freedoms Watch,

. . . Freedoms Watch, a new conservative powerhouse backed with funding rumored in the hundreds of millions of dollars, also showed up on the field of battle. And they brought something which we bloggers lack -- money.

. . . Freedoms Watch is actually a 501(C)4 and not a 527. But seriously: $200 million to help defeat Democrats, folks. That's going to change the landscape for 2008.

In fact, in the last few days of the campaign, Freedoms Watch aired this TV ad with a media buy rumored to be close to $500K in the Toledo, OH media market helping educate voters on the Democratic opponent, Robin Weirauch.

. . . Freedoms Watch is a new force in conservative politics and I'm glad that they showed up on the field to help us hold Ohio-5.

The understanding on the right is clear: Freedom's Watch is a Republican "on the field" campaign organization, working to defeat Democratic candidates. There is simply no question about it. There isn't even a wink and a nod going on here.

It is flat-out illegal for a C4 to be operating in campaigns or involved in electoral politics. But who is going to go anything about it?

James Boyce also has a post today following some of Freedom's Watch's money. And take a look at the Freedom's Watch Newsladder.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:33 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Surge

The right's big thing now is to claim that "the surge is working."

OK, fine. It's working. Does that mean the troops come how now?

If now, then what does "working" mean? Does "working" mean that the troops stay in Iraq? Was that the goal of the surge?

Why are they in Iraq, again? Oh yeah, to find the WMD, to get Saddam out of power, or whatever reasons they are giving this week...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:44 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Reflections On Corporations

This post first appeared at Speak Out California

How is it that corporations have the rights that individuals do, but not the responsibilities?

Let's reflect on what a corporation is. A business is formed by a few people. The business asks the government for a corporate charter, pays a fee, and is then this special entity called a corporation with special rights granted by the government.

Under our laws, corporations are fictional persons with certain rights. They can own assets, employ agents and engage in contracts just like people. But unlike you or me they have special benefits including limited liability and unlimited life.

Corporations enjoy limited liability -- if you or I commit a crime, injure someone, go bankrupt or get sued we're in big trouble and have to suffer the consequences. But this is not what happens to the owners of corporations. Their liability is limited and if their corporation is involved in any of these things they can just fly away in their private jets. In some jurisdictions corporate officers and directors are even shielded from liability for criminal acts the corporation commits.

Corporations have unlimited life -- which means the entity continues beyond any individual. The assets owned by a corporation can stay and grow in that corporation, and be controlled by its owners perpetually. So the corporation is able to amass significant assets and resources.

A corporation is not taxed the same as individuals. In most case they pay much lower taxes, the dividends they pay their owners are taxed at lower rates, as are the capital gains. In fact there are many circumstances where corporations do not have to pay taxes at all! So the burden of paying for the roads and schools (and wars) falls on the rest of us.

Corporations are able to compel large numbers of people -- employees, contractors, other corporations and other paid entities -- to do certain things. They can even tell people what to wear, how to wear their hair, even to wear makeup or not.

These special rights help corporations build up tremendous resources and power far beyond the ability of any individual in our society. So individuals finding themselves up against corporations face tremendous disadvantages. Many of the mechanisms for mitigating this disparity, including unions, the right to sue, taxes, even government regulation, have been reduced as a result of corporate-funded lobbying, ballot initiatives or other efforts. The ability to amass tremendous assets and power enables the people at the top of corporations to have great influence over our government and the laws it makes -- even to the point of granting them ever greater rights and benefits and tax cuts -- helping them to amass even greater assets, resources and power.

Corporations make decisions in ways that are very different from how We, the People of America and California make our community decisions through our governments. In our government all decisions and spending are participatory and transparent, meaning all of us can vote for representatives and can watch or otherwise look at how decisions are made and understand where all money is spent. In California it is even illegal for a city council committee to meet in secret. This is certainly not how things are done with corporations. (By the way, this is why some people say corporations are "more efficient"-- they do not have the procedures for the degree of transparency and accountability that governments and other public entities require.)

Question -- are these differences between public and corporate accountability and transparency compatible with our understanding of democracy? What about the ability of corporations to influence how our government regulates corporations? Keep in mind that corporations are nothing more than the creation of our laws. So discussing questions like these is essential to the maintenance of that democracy.

Click to continue

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Because Drudge Says It's True?

All over the progressive blogosphere there is outrage at the Clinton campaign. The Drudge Report had a great big headline "CLINTON STAFFERS CIRCULATE 'DRESSED' OBAMA" and people are outraged.

People, you are being played like a violin.

I posted about this photo yesterday, because several right-wing blogs were carrying it. Not one said anything about it coming from the Clinton campaign. Today the Drudge Report takes the opportunity to inject the photo to the mainstream and gets a twofer bonus, getting all the Obama supporters to blame the Clinton campaign.

Why is it so hard for people to understand that the right wants us divided? Why is it so hard to see that they are working to set us against each other? Come on, people, Hillary Clinton is not your enemy, she is on our side.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 24, 2008

Today's Right-Wingnuts Going Absolutly Apeshit About Obama Post

These people are absolutely nuts. Unfortunately, they also have huge influence over much of the country's media. I might support Obama just because he drives them even crazier than Hillary does.

Nuts: Atlas Shrugs: Obama: Islam's a wink and a nod ;),

...Hussein Obama is Islam's candidate.

... Expect the fantasy mongerers in the mainstream media to continue to scrub and whitewash (no pun) Hussein Obama's Islamic bonafides.

Nuts: WorldNetDaily: Obama worked with terrorist,
The board of a nonprofit organization on which Sen. Barack Obama served as a paid director alongside a confessed domestic terrorist granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe" and supports intense immigration reform, including providing drivers licenses and education to illegal aliens.
I still think yesterday's beats these, about how Obama is the result of a secret Jewish-Communist conspiracy to generate half-black babies...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:17 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 23, 2008

Right Starting To Unload On Obama

A lot of blog readers weren't really old enough to fully experience the Clinton-hatred of the 90's. So they don't really understand why Hillary Clinton is seen as "divisive."

I think they're going to get a dose of the same sort of stuff again, because the right is starting to do its thing on Barack Obama now.

Example, at National Review, Obama's Political Origins,

Political correctness was invented precisely to prevent the mainstream liberal media from persuing the questions which might arise about how Senator Obama's mother, from Kansas, came to marry an African graduate student.

. . . It was, of course, an explicit tactic of the Communist party to stir up discontent among American blacks, with an eye toward using them as the leading edge of the revolution.

Oh, PLEASE go read the whole thing. There's going to be a lot worse coming.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:26 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 22, 2008

It Is Important To Understand This

The Bush Justice Department politicization case is about the corruption of our government to work in support of one political party.

They used our government to reward their friends, including financially, and to punish their enemies. And their enemies were Americans like you and me. In one case they were able to put a Governor in jail for being a Democrat. If you don't believe me, 52 former states’ attorneys general from both political parties are making the same case.

Kagro X writes about this over at Daily Kos. Every American should read his post: Daily Kos: If it can happen to a Governor...,

Nobody indicted by the Bush-Cheney DOJ can possibly help but wonder whether they're being targeted by the White House political machine. Not Don Siegelman. Not Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio. Nobody.

And once America realizes this really can happen (it's previously been unimaginable, and therefore all too easy to dismiss as "conspiracy theory"), you can bet your last dollar that any Republican indicted by a Democratic administration will be making that claim, too.

We've already watched in horror and amazement as Bush-Cheney, flouting the law left and right, painted the Congress into the "impeachment is off the table" corner for fear (among other things) of being tarred with the "revenge for Clinton" and "tit for tat" brushes. One hardly need stretch the imagination to foresee precisely this hurdle being thrown up in the path of a Democratic administration elected with a mandate to clean out the Republican Culture of Corruption.

If it could happen to a Governor it could happen to anybody -- including you.

Watch your backs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

What You Eat If You Eat Meat

This is the Humane Society's video, that led to the huge beef recall. This is what was going on at ONE slaughterhouse, where the Humane Society managed to get video.

Do you trust the American corporate system with your health?

Does the corporate system have the capacity to be humane to animals? (Does that matter to people?)

If you eat meat in America, this is what you are eating.

Warning, graphic

Humane Society video page.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Today's Housing Bubble Post - If Prices Fall Further

Do Reporters Realize that House Prices Can Fall?,

If they did realize that house prices could fall then they would be discussing this possibility in the context of the Office of Thrift Supervision's proposal to have the federal government buy up bad mortgages, paying the current market price of the homes. The plan would give the current holders of the mortgage a certificate equal to the difference between the money outstanding on the mortgage and the current value of the home. The reports then tell us that if the house price does not rise back to the amount owed on the mortgage by the time it is sold, then the mortgage holder will eat the loss.

That's fine, but what happens if house prices fall further? I didn't hear this scenario mentioned in Market Place's discussion of the proposal on the radio this morning, or indeed in any other reporting on this proposal.

Answer - if prices fall further, the taxpayers get to hand even more dollars to the banks. Republicans bail out big business and let the rest of us pay for it. Always. The branding is that Republicans are anti-government and fiscally responsible, but it's just words. Look at what they do, not what they say. They get into office, destroy the government, destroy small businesses, and hand all of our tax dollars to their cronies. Did I leave out the part about getting rid of all oversight (regulation and law enforcement) so the big corporations can rob us blind?

Government buying bad mortgages? Great, just great.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:49 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Bad ROI -- Really Bad

Pam Spaulding asks, Where did all the money people donated to the Clinton campaign go?,

According to the filing, detailed in the New York Times, Clinton paid strategist Mark Penn and his company $3.8 million for "fees and expenses" in January alone. In sum, the firm has billed $10 million in total, which included expenditures on direct mail.

The Times said other Democratic strategists called this sum "stunning."

I'm stunned, so I guess "stunning" may be the right word.

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

February 21, 2008

Some History on McCain and Lobbyists

Does anyone remember this story, about McCain's Abramoff hearings?

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has assured his colleagues that his expanding investigation into the activities of a former GOP lobbyist and a half-dozen of his tribal casino clients is not directed at revealing ethically questionable actions by Members of Congress.

. . .

"It's not our responsibility in any way to involve ourselves in the ethics process [of Senators]," McCain said Wednesday, explaining the comments he made to his fellow GOP Senators. "That was not the responsibility of the Indian Affairs Committee."

. . . Because of those stories - and several other news reports touching on Abramoff's relationship with Members - McCain said he wanted to let Senators know that he was not trying to air any of their dirty laundry.

He used the hearings to shield, not investigate, his fellow Republicans

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

February 20, 2008

Obama's Blueprint For Change Document

I just finished reading Obama's Blueprint For Change Document. (This is a PDF document.)

This is a solid plan, with specifics. I recommend everyone read it.

Naturally I have some disagreements, but this is a great incremental plan for beginning to restore the country to pre-Bush conditions, and hopefully moving towards progress.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 19, 2008

Just How Bad Are The Economic Indicators?

Just how bad are the economic indicators?

This bad:

Due to budgetary constraints, the Economic Indicators service (http://www.economicindicators.gov) will be discontinued effective March 1, 2008.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:34 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Tax And Budget Priorities: Schools No, Yachts Yes

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

Do you know about the California yacht tax loophole? Here is how it works: Regular people like you and me have to pay sales taxes on the things we buy, even on big items like cars. We even have to pay these taxes if we buy outside of the state. (Technically that is called a "use" tax.)

But California has a special tax loophole just for the things rich people buy. That's right, if you buy a big yacht, airplane or "luxury recreation vehicle," you don't have to pay sales tax. The way this loophole works is, you buy it outside the state, hold it there for three months, and then you have a sales-tax-free yacht.

Summary: Regular people pay sales taxes, rich people don't have to.

Last week there was a budget battle in Sacramento that resulted in a number of cuts that will have a big impact on regular Californians. But the Republicans held firm and blocked attempts to do away with the tax loophole that lets rich people get out of paying the taxes that the rest of us have to pay.

From Saturday's San Jose Mercury News, Cuts hit schools, social services, MORE TRIMS LIKELY; GOP BLOCKS YACHT-TAX BILL,

"... lawmakers Friday chopped more than $2 billion from state programs, with schools, social services and health care providers that serve the poor taking the biggest hits."
That's right, more than $500 million was chopped from our schools! Meanwhile,
"Republican lawmakers in the Assembly voted down a proposal to close a loophole in the so-called "yacht tax," which allows people who buy yachts or planes to store them out of state for three months to avoid state use taxes."
Summary (in case you missed the point): Regular people pay sales taxes, rich people don't have to.

At California Progress Report, Frank Russo explains, "The California Senate passed a repeal of a loophole that allows the multimillionaire purchasers of yachts and private planes from paying a sales or use tax." But the Assembly failed to pass this because of "the opposition of most elected Republicans."

Just to short-circuit the usual arguments about taxes, Frank Russo notes that the Legislative Analyst's Office looked into this and found no change in yacht and plane sales from times when the tax is collected to times when it is not.

As Russo explains, the fight over closing this loophole occurred just after "... medical, dental services, and other programs for children were cut and cost of living increases delayed for the blind, aged, and disabled poor who qualify for Social Security."

Here is what I want to know: Why in the world are the Republicans so confident that they can get away with this?

It is generally understood that the average citizen has been fed enough unanswered anti-tax and anti-government propaganda that they reflexively oppose taxes. (The operative word there is "unanswered.") But this is a very different thing. This is a special exclusion, just for rich people, that one way or another has to be made up for by the rest of us! Why aren't the people of California more upset about this?

The only conclusion I can reach is that the Republicans understand that regular people are not going to find out about this! And they may well be correct. Yes, the story was in a few newspapers, but really, who reads newspapers? This is not how large numbers of regular people get their information about politics in California. They get some of it from TV news, but I really fear that most people in California get their information about the issues facing the state from ads that run during prime-time television shows. And I think that conservatives understand this, while progressives/liberals do not quite "get it."

For example, if regular people were accurately informed about California issue, then people would understand that most of the factors that were used as justifications for recalling Governor Gray Davis are today almost the same with Governor Schwarzenegger. One big difference I see is that the energy companies are not running an ad campaign blaming Governor Schwarzenegger for anything, they way they ran ads blaming Governor Davis for the energy-company-created energy shortage back then.

So, in summary, again, this is about regular people having to pay sales taxes that rich people don't have to. And it is about Republicans being confident that the public isn't going to find out.

Click to continue.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Right Going After Obama, Too

Senator Barack Obama might be the Democratic Party candidate for President. So I thought I would take a quick look at some right-wing sites.

Some people feel that Senator Hillary Clinton has been too badly "damaged" by years of hysterical right-wing attacks. Will Senator Obama be similarly damaged? (This is not a pro-Hillary or anti-Obama post so no hate-mail please.)

Here are some of the headlines at right-wing site WorldNetDaily:

Obama campaign: Mum's the word!
Refuses to respond to drug accusations

WorldNetDaily Exclusive: Sleaze charge: 'I took drugs, had homo sex with Obama'
Minnesota man takes his case to court, YouTube, $100,000 polygraph challenge

WND POLL: Barack, paper, scissors
What do you think of WND being only news agency publishing Obama drug-sex story?

Obama, Clinton trade plagiarism snipes
Barack says he usually gives credit when quoting people, using ideas

Hillary aide accuses Obama of plagiarism
'He's breaking his promises and his rhetoric isn't his own'

Obama responds to plagiarism charge
'I really don't think this is too big of a deal'

Obama faces open season from right if nominated
Barack's relationship with Chicago developer Tony Rezko could prove costly

And a quick look at a few other places:
Human Events: Che Guevara and the Obama Campaign
Associating with communist murderer Che Guevara says a lot about the Obama campaign.

RedState: To the left of Hillary

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Green Business -- W/Schedule Correction

I had a very short conversation with Gary Hirshberg, "Chairman, President and CE-Yo" of Stonyfield Farm, the organic dairy. Gary has a book out, Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World, in which he uses his 25 years of experience to "try to shatter the myth that environment and commerce are in conflict."

Gary was boarding a delayed plane so we didn't get a chance to talk for long, but the plane is coming to my area of California so we're going to try to pick up the conversation in person. I'll write more then, but I wanted to let you know that he will be talking about the book tonite in San Francisco and also tomorrow at a couple of locations: (See this link)

February 19th Commonwealth Club, San Francisco, CA, 5:15 reception, 5:45 program, tickets required.
February 20th University of California at Berkeley – Hass School of Business, 12PM. NOT AT Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 12PM as previously posted
February 20th Book Passage Bookstore, Corte Madera, CA, 7PM

If you get a chance, stop by and hear him talk about the book.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 18, 2008

Creating Demand For Progressive Candidates And Policies

Before the California primary I was at a house party put on by supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton. (I have also attended Obama events - no hate mail, please). Clinton advisor Ann Lewis phoned in to talk about some of the issues. (Ambassador Joe Wilson also called.) At one point one of the guests asked Lewis whether progressive challenges in primaries is the best way get more progressives elected to the Congress.

Lewis gave a response that I feel should be repeated. It shows that the Clinton team has an understanding of the need to build a progressive movement outside of the electoral process if we want the country to make the changes that we progressives feel are necessary. (I am not saying that the Obama team does not have a similar understanding - no hate mail, please.)

Here is Ann Lewis’ statement about how Sen. Clinton thinks we can increase our chances of electing progressives into office in Congress.

"Hillary believes that the most effective way to elect progressive Democrats to office – and thus enact progressive policies – is by building and maintaining a progressive infrastructure, including institutions, organizations and blogs."
At the YearlyKos Presidential Candidate Forum, Sen. Clinton gave an answer to a question that also showed an understanding of the need for non-party infrastructure, and that answer stuck with me. She said something to the effect of the reason things will be different under a Hillary Clinton presidency is that "This time, we'll have YOU," meaning that the Netroots will be there to watch her back, and to keep Democrats honest. (Obama also was at this forum, no hate mail please.)

If we really want long-term, structural changes in the way the public votes, the way to do this is to reach them outside of the electoral process. We need to help them understand what progressive values are - why democracy is important ad community benefits them, and conservative "you're on your own" policies do not. This effort leverages the electoral effort by "preparing the ground" and helping the public understand what progressive candidates are trying to achieve. This way ALL progressive candidates benefit from the SAME contribution. Each $1000 given to a progressive infrastructure organization accompishes more than $1000 given to EACH candidate at every level during the election.

If we can fund organizations like the Commonweal Institute and Speak Out California, which will then work to reach the public and help restore public understanding and appreciation of progressive values and ideas, then we will start to create demand for progressive candidates and policies.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Get Out Of Money-Market Funds

"Suspended Redemptions."

Yes, I have been harping on this, but once again: if you have money in a money-market fund, transfer it to an insured bank account.

This is not about a money-market fund, but it shows what is happening in the financial markets. This could happen to your money, too. (I actually know someone who has lost a bundle in a hedge fund.)

Citigroup Stops Withdrawals from Hedge Fund: WSJ,

Citigroup has barred investors in one of its hedge funds from withdrawing their money, and a new leveraged fund lost 52 percent in its first three months, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The largest U.S. bank suspended redemptions in CSO Partners, a fund specializing in corporate debt, after investors tried to pull more than 30 percent of its roughly $500 million of assets, the newspaper said. Citigroup injected $100 million to stabilize the fund, which lost 10.9 percent last year, the newspaper said.

What does this mean? It means that people who parked money in this fund can not take money out, and are likely to lose much of it -- even after Citigroup pumped $100 million of their own money in to try and save it. This has been happening to other hedge funds as well.

If you are getting a "good rate" on your money right now, you should be worried. There is a reason they say "risk equals return." That means that you have to take greater ricks to get a higher return. Banks are paying squat right now, but what rate of return is worth losing all of your money? This is not a low or moderate risk environment. This is a time of very high risk. People and companies are defaulting on their loans left and right. Put your money somewhere safe and insured right now. Pay off your debts. Tie down your finances because the storm approaches.

Did I say "insured"? I mean Federally insured. And that means a bank. Period.

If I'm wrong and you do this, what do you lose? A little bit of higher interest. If I'm right and you do this, what do you NOT lose? Everything.

(Through Atrios)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:47 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Meat Recall

The government was forced by an animal rights group to recall 143 million pounds of beef, after videos showed obviously sick animals being led to the slaughterhouse.

Because of Republican policies there had been fewer and fewer inspections of the slaughterhouse or meat.

USDA Orders Nation's Largest Beef Recall: Financial News,

Authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing "downer" animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse. Some animals had water forced down their throats...

[. . .] Officials estimate that about 37 million pounds of the recalled beef went to school programs, but they believe most of the meat probably has already been eaten.

[. . .] Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease because they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak.

This is why I do not eat meat -because of the way animals are treated in corporate America.

And this is why the public needs to understand the harm that comes from unbridled corporatization of everything. We, the People are supposed to be in control, but we are instead being herded and harvested for our cash.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:02 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 17, 2008

Bring Back Protectionism

America used to have a policy of protecting our wages against unfair competition from low-wage countries. We placed a tariff on imported goods made by workers who were paid substandard wages. We protected our national interest.

The idea was to encourage the companies that made those goods to pay better wages. This way their countries' economies would improve and their workers would be able to buy the things that we make. Thus, the policy of protectionism was a way to improve living standards for workers everywhere, growing our own economy and improving our standard of living in the process.

The money collected from the tariffs was used for our common good: for example, it was spent on improving our country's infrastructure and education system (including science, research and development) so we could retain and improve our competitive position, as well as retraining workers whose industries were affected by changes in trade patterns.

Protectionism was generally our country's policy until a few decades ago. That was back when our country was OUR country -- for We, the People -- and our economy was OUR economy. And it worked. Our living standard continually improved. Then we changed to a "free trade" policy, meaning our workers work pretty much for "free" and big corporations are "free" to do anything they want. Additionally, without the revenue from tariffs, we have to tax our manufacturers more heavily, which makes them even less competitive internationally.

Since then average wages have stagnated and our pensions and health insurance have been disappearing, as have our savings. The country's trade debt has been increasing alarmingly. And corporate control over all of us has become near-total. Corporations are able to get their way by intimidating employees with the fear of losing our jobs to outsourcing, and intimidate governments by threatening to move to lower wage countries.

So it is time to bring back protectionism. It worked.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:40 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 16, 2008

A Real Alternative to the Status Quo

I wrote the letter below, in response to this fairly revealing article, The Chicken Doves, in Rolling Stone magazine - about "How the Democrats Screwed The Anti-War Movement". All about how the Democratic Party establishment sold out the anti-war movement (and the people of Iraq) for political gain. Note: Links not included in original letter.

Dear Editors,

Matt Taibbi's suitably condemnatory article on the political pusillanimity of the Congressional Democrats in their so-called "fight" to end the war in Iraq wimps out on a crucial component of the discussion: what alternative do we have to these corrupt bastards? He says, "... if we don't pay attention to this sorry tale now, while there's still time to change our minds about whom to nominate, we might be stuck with this same bunch of spineless creeps for four more years. With no one but ourselves to blame."

... and that's as far as he goes. No details on how we organize to "throw the bastards out" (clearly more than 2/3rds of the Democratic Congressional Caucus) in the few short weeks we have left (if that) before papers have to be filed for the party primaries. No suggestions on who these alternative candidates might be... or why we should expect them to not sell out the moment they're elected, like the vast majority of their predecessors. Perhaps because he knows that "reforming" the corporate dominated Democratic Party is a lost cause - and that the vast majority of "anti-war" Democrats, are nothing of the sort: they're just opposed to ineffective war-mongering. Clinton and Obama are quintessential examples of this philosophy, both of whom advocate what is in essence nothing but a "kinder, gentler" form of American imperialism.

However, there is a real alternative - a political party that has been against the war in Iraq, and Afghanistan (the $2 billion dollar a month war everyone seems to conveniently forget), and indeed, all wars and other forms of American imperialism abroad since it was founded: the Green Party of the United States. A party that, in all likelihood, is likely to nominate an African-American woman for President later this year: Cynthia McKinney, and offer Americans a chance to make history for *both* women *and* people of color. If you want real change, if you want to elect candidates who will really end the war in Iraq ASAP, who'll have the shredders in Washington running day and night from election night till January 21st, who'll precipitate a mass exodus to countries without extradition treaties by CIA and NSA bureaucrats and make corporate America shake in its boots, then vote Green this November.

Or you can go ahead and cast your vote for more of what you've seen for the last two years (and longer), and you'll have "no one but yourselves to blame" when we're still caught in the Iraqi quagmire four years from now, a trillion dollars more of your blood, sweat and tears have been poured down the drain, and our children's patrimony has been that much further diminished. I know I'll be able to look my kids in the face, ten, twenty years from now, and say I didn't buy into the hype; will you?

Thomas Leavitt
Santa Cruz, CA

Posted by Thomas Leavitt at 3:00 PM | Comments (5) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 15, 2008

Political Suicide II

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Earlier this week I wrote about how "conventional wisdom" says that politicians acknowledging reality and offering solutions that could actually fix the state's problems is considered "political suicide."

Here is something else that is considered political suicide: Acknowledging that undocumented residents live and work here and are members of our communities. But it is a fact. A lot of people have come across the country's borders and settled in California, especially across the southern border.

Economic conditions have forced people to come here to try to find work. This is something that each of us would do if the situation were reversed. Heck, if the financial crisis that we are reading about in the news continues we might be doing just that very soon.

It is especially dangerous for a candidate to acknowledge that undocumented residents drive on the state's roads and suggest that while we work out solutions to the documentation problem, we test and license them so they can be insured. And so instead there are lots of unlicensed and therefore untrained, untested and uninsured people driving. This endangers all of us. But woe to the politician who actually tries to suggest realistic and workable ways to fix this.

Second to this on the political suicide scale is acknowledging that these undocumented residents are human beings, just like the rest of us.

The challenge here is to find solutions that fit our progressive value system. As progressives, we recognize and celebrate the humanity of every person. We don't ignore reality and we don't condone lawbreaking. We must look for practical, humane, innovative, equitable and democratic approaches to resolving these difficulties. We must always look for progress.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 14, 2008

House Votes Contempt

When Clinton was President the Republican Congress issued more than 1000 subpoenas, and the Clinton administration complied with every single one.

Under the Republican Congress, President Bush was not issued even one subpoena. Not one. The Bush administration was allowed to get away with anything, anything it did. Impunity.

But then the Democrats took control of Congress and asked for some onformation. The Bush administration refused to provide it. So they issued a few subpoenas, and the Bush administration refused to comply. For months and months the Congress negotiated, and the Bush administration continued to stonewall and refuse to comply. Literally the definition of contempt.

So finally, finally the Congress has started to enforce the law: House finds White House officials in contempt of Congress,

The House voted Thursday to hold White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before a panel investigating the firing of several United States attorneys.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

The Stories You Will Be Seeing In The News

Here is how it is going to work between now and November.

1) Think up something that will divide the Democrats and cause a lot
of hurt, hopefully to the point where many voters will decide not to
even vote.

2) Distribute that as a statement through various information channels
- Drudge, Fox, Insight, Washington Times, NewsMax, CNS, blogs, etc.-
with the story attributed to Democratic Party or campaign "insiders."

3) Go back to step 1 and do it all again.

Don't fall for it. Develop an instinct to defend fellow progressives when they are attacked.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 13, 2008

Further And Further Towards Police State

People take their queues from the top. A torture-accepting mentality trickles down. Over time America becomes more ruthless, less humane and people get used to it. It happens in little ways that add up. But add up they do...

Pam's House Blend:: The police state continues: quadriplegic dumped from wheelchair. Just go see for yourself.

And then go read This is your police state - woman violently strip searched and The Blend TASER brutality files

Pam is sounding a warning, and she's right.

Watch your backs.

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February 12, 2008

Something Very Big To Pay Attention To

Open Left:: Consolidated Potomac Primary Returns Thread is tracking today's primaries.

But one of the primaries is very, very important. In Maryland's 4th district there is a Congressional primary between progressive Donna Edwards and incumbent Al Wynn. Wynn is a "corporate Democrat" and beating him tells the entire establishment that they are no longer safe, that they have to listen to progressives or lose their jobs.

Chris Bowers writes,

With every precinct coming in with at least a 10% improvement for Edwards over 2006, let me reiterate this point: the new primary voters who are coming out for Barack Obama are also going to result in the first progressive displacement of a centrist, corporate, congressional Democrat via a primary in years. This it it. This is what we have been working for and building for. This is our emerging majority. We finally have the organization, and the voters, and the whole ball of wax. The movement has thoroughly come of age.
You can track results of that race here.

Update - Donna Edwards won the primary!

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Watching Freedom's Watch: The Donors

Since 2004, we have been very involved in investigating, exposing, and uncovering the roots and exposing the tactics and lies of the right-wing smear machine. James was involved not only in John Kerry's campaign, but also in the Truth and Trust Team, a group of Kerry friends and family who attempted to fight back against the Swift Boat Veterans.

Dave, of course, followed the campaign and those attacks closely, and then worked with James and others, including our friend, Taylor Marsh, on The Patriot Project in 2006. Created by John Kerry, David Thorne and others, The Patriot Project helped veterans such as Joe Sestak, Patrick Murphy and John Murtha defend themselves -- even looking into previous attacks on John McCain. We also were part of the team that exposed the Economic Freedom Fund, a group created with a $5,000,000 donation from Bob Perry that attacked moderate Democrats, primarily in red states.

Why do folks like Bob Perry give money like that? It's strictly business.

Take, for example, the global warming arena where we have shown folks how the same tactics, the same strategies, the same people sometimes who created this whole smear empire with the tobacco companies, are now doing the same with global warming.

ExxonMobil has given these groups $25 million over the years - often, incredibly, as charitable donations. This past quarter, they had $11.7 billion in record profits. That's a return on investment we all would envy.

Now, we are looking forward not back.

And what we see is a front group on steroids, a massive death star of right wing machinery, floating, ready and waiting.

Freedom's Watch, operating like the opposite of a grassroots-funded progressive group like MoveOn.org, was founded by major donors like

... Sheldon G. Adelson, the chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, who ranks sixth on the Forbes Magazine list of the world's billionaires; Mel Sembler, a shopping center magnate based in St. Petersburg, Fla., who served as the ambassador to Italy and Australia; John M. Templeton Jr., the conservative philanthropist from Bryn Mawr, Pa.; and Anthony H. Gioia, a former ambassador to Malta who heads an investment group based in Buffalo, N.Y. All four men are long-time prolific donors who have raised money on behalf of Republican and conservative causes.
as well as
Richard Fox, one of the major building, development and real estate management companies in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey and a longtime GOP activist. He co-founded the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Gary Erlbaum, owner of Greentree Properties in Ardmore, Pa., who tried to rally Orthodox Jewish support for last year's failed reelection bid of conservative Christian Sen. Rick Santorum.

Freedom's Watch has direct connections with the Republican Party and is staffed by Republican Party operatives like Ari Fleischer, former White House Spokesperson; Bradley A. Blakeman, a former deputy assistant to George W. Bush; Kevin E. Moley, a senior adviser to Dick Cheney during the 2000 campaign.

Check out their site and their rhetoric. It is a major right wing group and here's the scary part:

Freedom's Watch says it plans to raise over $250,000,000 to play in this election. But Freedom's Watch is a 501(c)(4) organization, which means they can engage in political activity but not as their primary mission. They are allowed to lobby on issues but not support candidates. Yet the group appears to be primarily designed to influence elections in favor of Republican candidates

But who is going enforce the laws? The FEC? The Justice Department? Perhaps Senate Democrats can issue one of their strongly-worded statements of disapproval.

So what do we do?

We watch them -- and we start exposing them now, every day, all day.

We are going to post these articles frequently and often.

We are going to launch a Newsladder where we would appreciate everyone joining and linking up anything they see about this group.

We are going to launch in the coming days a new site, www.watchingfreedomswatch.com where, again, will write and expose this group.

The issue isn't you - and what you know. If you are reading this you are a blog-reader and already know more than most people about how these things work. The issue is whether we can drive narratives and how much knowledge we can give the average American about who these folks really are and what they are up to.

Posted by Dave and James at 12:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Political Suicide

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Conventional wisdom considers it political suicide for a candidate to talk about the need to raise taxes so the state can pay its bills -- especially if it involves reforming Proposition 13.

Much of the public thinks that government "spends too much" and that much of the state's budget goes to "waste, fraud and abuse."

Much of the pubic also thinks that the primary beneficiaries of Prop. 13 were little old ladies who otherwise would lose their homes to increasing property taxes.

Reality, rarely consulted, understands things very differently.

California faces another budget crisis. The Governor proposes solving the problem with budget cuts.

California's budget pays teachers, fights crime, maintains roads and bridges and other necessary activities. There simply is no room for cuts to balance the budget. In fact, budget cuts just make following year shortfalls worse. If you lay off teachers they aren't paying taxes. If you don't fix roads the economy gets worse. In the long term, if you don't educate kids employers move jobs to states and countries that do. And, of course, it is always a really bad idea to cut back on police and courts -- especially after years and years of cuts in education.

Budget cuts don't work, so how about the modern solution to budget problems? I mean, of course, just borrowing the needed money. But Governor Schwarzenegger proved that the state can't borrow its way out of budget crunches: A major reason for this year's budget problems is the interest owed on Schwarzenegger's past easy fixes of issuing bonds.

The reality is that the budget cannot be fixed with budget cuts or more borrowing. We need to increase taxes. We need to start by reforming Proposition 13, raising corporate taxes, closing tax loopholes and taxing oil that is pumped from the ground. If we decide to do these things we might find that we not only fix California's budget problems for good, we might even be able to lower income taxes.

Reality also shows that the major beneficiaries of Proposition 13 were not little old ladies but large commercial real estate holders. It would be so easy to put a "little old lady" exception into property tax rules so they are not forced from their homes. But it would be political suicide to even discuss reforming Proposition 13 because of the power of the large commercial real estate owners. They want their tax break and don't care if the whole state goes broke and everyone else suffers. They are able to put a lot more money into the election process than regular people. That is why it is political suicide to talk about raising property taxes.

Why is it political suicide for a candidate to propose ways to fix problems, but not political suicide to cause them or make them worse?

Click to continue.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 10, 2008

Driving A Wedge

The Drudge Report is a right-wing site that is used to drive right-wing propaganda into the large, corporate media outlets. When a story is featured at the Drudge Report, you always have to ask why, and ask what is the right's intent behind getting this story into circulation.

Today Drudge points us to a story, Wilder Still Sore Over Clinton Comment. This story is obviously an effort to drive a wedge between supporters of Senators Obama and Clinton. It uses out-of-context, incomplete quotes and mischaracterizes the intent and meaning of the quotes to drive up tensions.

The nation's first elected black governor said Saturday he is not ready to excuse comments former President Bill Clinton made about Barack Obama.

In campaigning for his wife last month on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, Clinton called Obama's opposition to the Iraq war "a fairy tale." Clinton suggested Obama had toned down his early anti-war fervor during his 2004 Senate campaign.

. . . Clinton also implied that an Obama victory in South Carolina would amount to a reward based on race, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson's 20 years earlier.

Wilder said the former president's comments stung him and other black voters and diminished their respect for Clinton.

"It's not just me (who) feels that; any number of people feel that," Wilder said. "A time comes and a time goes. The president has had his time."

This is propaganda at its best.

Readers know that I do not favor one candidate over the other. I think they are both great candidates who would make excellent Presidents, but neither offers the transformational, progressive change I believe would most benefit the country and world. I defend BOTH of them from attacks -- and wish they would defend each other and us from attacks.

This is an attack. It is an obvious attempt to split the Democratic Party and its supporters, going into the elections. Duh!

Are you going to let them play you like a fiddle? Keep in mind who the enemy is here. The stakes are high: If we let the primary contest divide us how many hundred thousand Iraqis or Iranians will be killed before the 2012 elections, how much more will corporations take over our democracy, how much more concentration of wealth at the top will we see? Please do not be fooled by this stuff! If it appears at DRUDGE, you KNOW something is going on.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 8, 2008

Taxes And Unions Got Us Out Of The Depression

I wonder why no one has pointed out the real reason the Republicans filibustered the "Stimulus Bill" this week? They blocked an expansion of Food Stamps, an extension of unemployment benefits, assistance for disabled veterans, help for seniors and a boost for renewable energy.

Here is the reason: Those were not about taxes.

The Democrats caved (of course), so the public now has validation of the notion that taxes harm the economy.

Message: Economy in trouble? Tax rebates and tax cuts will "stimulate" things.

So will this "stimulus" help? Maybe a slight bit. The government will borrow another $150-or-so billion and pump it into the economy. The deficit will be even bigger. The world will trust the dollar even less.

Here is something to think about. This economic problem is about debt. Since Reagan the country and the people in it have been borrowing huge amounts of money to keep things going. (Except for the years that Clinton balanced the budget and was paying back some of the debt.)

Taxes and unions got us out of the depression. Redistribution of income. Taxes on the rich, the money used to build infrastructure and provide good jobs, and unions to force the corporations to give raises and benefits. In a consumer economy you want more money in the hands of the consumers - not the rich. DUH!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:00 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 7, 2008

Why Does Kleenex Use Old-Growth?

Kleenex is made from old growth trees! Why doesn't Kimberly-Clark switch to sustainable logging, instead of clear-cutting down old-growth trees to make their products?

We all need to move them to change. Go see: Kleercut.Net | Kimberly-Clark and Kleenex are wiping away ancient forests and the "How you can help"items in the right column.

Watch this video:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Romney's classless exit

"If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror."

Romney is a no-count loser and a mental lightweight, so we probably shouldn't read too much into his words -- McCain and the Republican Party no longer have any reason to take him seriously. But I have trouble imagining an uglier, more demagogic concession speech.

How about "In the fight against al Qaeda and the Democrats, all Americans of good will must join together"? That makes the same point more effectively.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter love the guy.

Posted by John Emerson at 10:28 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 6, 2008

Republicans Filibuster Stimulus Package - Because It Gives Unemployment, Senior & Disabled Veteran Beneits!

The Republicans blocked the stimulus package from passing because it contained unemployment benefits, a small payment to seniors and some money for disabled veterans.

John McCain didn't show up to vote on this.

Republicans block Senate plan to boost economy,

Senate Republicans on Wednesday narrowly blocked a Democratic-backed economic stimulus plan valued at about $157 billion that would have provided benefits for the long-term unemployed and expanded proposed tax rebates to include retirees and disabled veterans.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 5, 2008

Primary Election Day Thoughts

This post appeared today at Speak Out California

It’s primary election day in California. Don't let yourself forget to vote, and check our voter guide to help you figure out what those initiatives are about.

Here is a scary thought: People who are just old enough to vote for the first time in this election were ten years old when the 2000 election brought George Bush to the White House, and likely don’t remember much from before that.

They certainly don't remember California before Proposition 13 cut taxes, back when we had great roads and schools and colleges. They don't remember that there was a debate over whether the people should be allowed to decide how much to tax ourselves. Instead we now have a requirement that 2/3 of voters approve taxes - a level that can almost never be met.

They don't remember California before term limits. Proposition 93 is just a tweaking of the term limits rules, and there is no discussion over the merits of term limits generally. Young people don't know that there was a debate over the idea that people should be allowed to decide for themselves if they want to return their own representatives to office.

Last week I was caught in traffic so I couldn’t get home in time to watch the Clinton-Obama debate. I scanned the radio and not one single AM or FM station was carrying it. (Oddly one station was carrying an older Republican Presidential candidate debate.) FM was a sea of really bad commercial music, ads, and a few good Spanish music stations. AM was a sea of right-wing opinion, and ads. And then more ads.

I remember when it was considered a duty of a broadcaster to inform and serve the public. It was unimaginable that a candidate debate was not available. In exchange for licenses to use OUR radio spectrum for commercial purposes the broadcast companies agreed to serve the public interest. They would limit the number of ads and devote a large percentage of programming to documentaries, news and other information that served democracy. It was understood that WE owned the resource, and WE set the terms for commercialization of that resource. Imagine!

Yes, We, the People used to set the terms for licenses to commercialize the public resources. Now it's the other way around - the corporations give us credit ratings.

It seems like such an old debate over ideas like these. But younger people they have never heard these debates and likely don't even know there even was debate over these ideas. They don't know about a time when the people were considered to be the owners of the state's and country's resources.

If they ever did get an opportunity to hear about these debates they might even think it is a good idea for the public to make decisions. (Hint.)

Click to continue.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:42 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 4, 2008

Make Them Accountable

Have you visited Make Them Accountable lately?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

Health Insurance Mandates

Here is the main reason I am not endorsing Hillary or Obama. Hillary's health care plan has "mandates." Everyone must buy insurance. Obama's does not have mandates. The government will make it easier to buy insurance. Neither has a Medicare-for-all health plan.

Paul Krugman is in an argument
with Obama, because he points out that not having mandates means that you won't get to universal health care. The young, healthy people will decide not to get insurance, others will decide not to spend the money for whatever reason, and soon only the expensive people will have insurance and we're back where we are now. Obama's plan can not work. On top of that his ads against Hillary's plan, saying it is wrong for the government to mandate that you join a program, reinforce the right's anti-government arguments, including those against Social Security.

But Hillary says her plan will have a mandate to buy health insurance. FORCING people to give money to greedy, corrupt corporations? This is political suicide. Readers know how I feel about insurance companies. I will never vote for someone with the brilliant idea of forcing me to give my money to greedy corporations so their CEOs can buy bigger jets. This shows that Hillary now (correctly) feels it is safer politically to go up against the needs of the people than the wishes of the insurance companies.

Hillary's "mandates" plan proves that the only way we can have health insurance is with a Medicare-for-all system. Period. She may be trying to tell us that.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:22 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 3, 2008

Clearing Something Up

As you know I am not a Hillary or an Obama supporter. However, I feel the need to clear this up. At BuzzFlash: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama: Who is Better at "Framing" Progressive Issues?,

Clinton spent many years as a corporate lawyer for the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock. . . . She has said that she has been an agent of change because she has worked with the likes of Bill Frist.
Hillary Clinton was appointed to the Board of the Legal Services Corporation by Jimmy Carter in 1978. Legal Services provides legal aid to the poor, working to ensure voting rights, as well as suing corporations on their behalf.

At the Rose Law Firm she worked on patent infringement and intellectual property, not corporate law. While there she worked for free on child advocacy issues. At the time,

Rodham maintained her interest in children's law and family policy, publishing the scholarly articles "Children's Policies: Abandonment and Neglect" in 1977 and "Children's Rights: A Legal Perspective" in 1979. The latter continued her argument that legal competence of children depended upon their age and other circumstances, and that in cases of serious medical rights judicial intervention is sometimes warranted. An American Bar Association chair later said, "Her articles were important, not because they were radically new but because they helped formulate something that had been inchoate."Historian Garry Wills would later term her "one of the more important scholar-activists of the last two decades", while conservatives said her theories would usurp traditional parental authority, allow children to file frivolous lawsuits against their parents, and considered her work part of legal "crit" theory run amok.

Rodham co-founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, a state-level alliance with the Children's Defense Fund, in 1977.[

There, that clears that up.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 2, 2008

Hillary and Obama

I'm not endorsing either Hillary or Obama, for various reasons. Both would be great Presidents. Hillary is ready on day 1. If Barack can pull it off, he could be transformational. But I'd like to see Medicare-For-All, an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions along with massive green infrastructure investment, bringing corporations under citizen control, balancing the budget and paying of the debt ASAP by taxing the rich and corporations (get the money from where the money went), cutting the military budget by about 3/4, and a few other things.

Here's a couple of Obama videos that are great.

Baby Got Barack:

Yes, I Can (through Culture Kitchen)

Go here to see a video of Bobby Kennedy Jr. talking about Hillary.

Here is Bettina Duval of California List, writing about Hillary in a Calitics diary:

Why I Am Supporting Hillary Clinton

Super Tuesday is only a few days away when thousands of Californians will cast their votes in the Democratic primary. It seems this has become a race where campaign issues have become dwarfed by the diversity of the candidates themselves. Amazingly, the two most diverse candidates, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, are the only contenders for the Democratic nomination. It has made this election one of the most fascinating and inspirational elections in our history.

I'm sure it will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the work of the CALIFORNIA LIST that I personally support Senator Hillary Clinton for president.

Yes, I support Senator Hillary Clinton because she is a pro-choice, Democratic candidate, but more importantly I believe she can potentially accomplish more than the other contenders in this presidential race. Senator Hillary Clinton has a plan and the experience to bring that plan to fruition.

I support Senator Hillary Clinton because she is tough. Working with women candidates here in California, I have learned that when a woman runs for any office she inevitably faces challenges because of her gender. During the recent presidential contests, some of these challenges made front page news - most topics have little to do with her ability execute the office for which she is running. We have discussed Senator Hillary Clinton’s laugh, her clothes and now her husband. She has been held to a much higher standard than her opponents and to her credit has risen to the occasion. Too bad we are not talking about the issues that really matter, because when you actually listen to her speak it becomes clear that she is knowledgeable, articulate and understands of the issues facing our country.

I know that women aren't the only proponents for what we call “women’s issues”—issues of wage fairness and reproductive health and work/family balance. Thankfully the women’s movement has sensitized many men to these concerns and certainly men have taken up the gauntlet on such issues. However, by and large women still experience problems in these areas more forcefully than their men. In this particular instance, Senator Hillary Clinton’s gender and her focus have coincided. These are the issues of particular concern to me personally and to the CALIFORNIA LIST, so her work and advocacy on them is another strong reason for my support.

If you doubt that a woman can win, just remember Senator Hillary Clinton won her Senate seat twice in a state where she was a first judged to have an unlikely chance of winning at all. She won both the Michigan and Florida primaries - two large, diverse states that are important to win in the general election.

And, maybe most importantly, I like Senator Hillary Clinton. In my role as the founder of the CALIFORNIA LIST, I know that in politics, “likeability” counts. I find her warm, personable and funny.

According to a poll released by Field Research on January 22nd, Senator Hillary Clinton leads California with the largest margins amongst women at 43% compared to 24% in favor of Senator Barack Obama. In a state where so many delegates are up for grabs, this is where the discussion among women gets especially interesting...because it calls into question whether, as a gender, we can accurately be considered a single group—or courted as a single group—demographically. As the CALIFORNIA LIST continues to work to elect women to government in California, we hope to capitalize on what we are learning to help build the pipeline of future women leaders.

Whether on the sidelines of the soccer field or volleyball court, at a Boy Scout dinner, or during my son’s sixth grade field trip, I have been so energized by the debate about the different candidates. For the past six years I have been traveling the state of California talking about the importance of being engaged politically. My personal life has always been divided between my political friends, my carpool mom’s and my social friends, until this primary season. I think that both Democratic candidates have equally inspired political activism.

While I support Senator Hillary Clinton, I also want to make it perfectly clear that I truly respect those who think otherwise. I believe in the Democratic process. I look forward to the day when all people have an equal voice – regardless of race or gender. We have come a long way. We have a long way to go. But, the most important thing is to make your voice heard and vote on Tuesday, February 5th.

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 Dave Johnson at 12:28 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

February 1, 2008

Today's Collapsing Economy Post - Jobs DROP

Payrolls see first drop in 4-1/2 years,

Nervous employers cut 17,000 jobs in January — the first such reduction in more than four years and a fresh sign that the economy is in danger of stalling.
The unemployment rate declined a notch, from 5 percent in December to 4.9 percent in January. The jobless rate — calculated from a different statistical survey than the payroll figures — dipped as people, perhaps discouraged by their prospects, left the labor force for any number of reasons.
And U.S. says construction spending dropped 1.1% in December,
Spending on U.S. construction projects fell by 1.1% in December as outlays on private residential construction took another tumble, government data showed Friday.
The drop was bigger than expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch, who were looking for a decline of 0.5% in December.
Where is all the money going?,Exxon Mobil posts record profits,
Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company — $40.6 billion — as the world's biggest publicly traded oil company benefited from historic crude prices at year's end.

Exxon also set a U.S. record for the biggest quarterly profit, posting net income of $11.7 billion for the final three months of 2007, beating its own mark of $10.71 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Here we go. And remember, get your money out of money-market funds!

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