December 30, 2008
Your tax dollars at work: Former Merrill Lynch executive pays 37 million for NYC apartment (with taxpayer money).
He worked there 3 months, received $25 million bonus from TARP funds, quit, bought apartment. Go read.
December 29, 2008
Go see Food Democracy Now and sign the petition asking for good appointments for a Sustainable USDA! (US Dept. of Agriculture)
December 24, 2008
Cue the Republican core constituency:
Stolen election! Stolen election! Stuart Smalley, ha ha ha! Franken wasn't funny on SNL! Franken asked for the recount because he was a sore loser! Ballots found in the trunk of a car! Somalis!!!!!!!! People voting twice with "duplicate ballots"! ACORN!!!!!! Franken wants to count invalid absentee ballots! Minnesota sucks! Worse than Chicago! Communists!
Republican losers have all the class of tweaking Wichita Falls Cowboys fans after another blown game.
I put this widget in the right coloumn for a while:
Seeing the Forest is getting a flood of comment spam all of a sudden, so I am turning on the requirement that you be authenticated before a comment is automatically published. If you are, your comment will immediately appear. If not I have to approve it. Sorry.
India is having none of it: The Left Coaster: Greenspan (U.S.) v. Anti-Greenspan (India)
Tom Friedman wants to know why America has fallen so far behind the rest of the world in keeping up our infrastructure.
Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.In 1981 we stopped asking the richest to pay taxes. To pay for that the country started borrowing, deferring maintenance and cutting what the citizens get from the government.
. . . The next day I went to Penn Station, where the escalators down to the tracks are so narrow that they seem to have been designed before suitcases were invented. The disgusting track-side platforms apparently have not been cleaned since World War II. I took the Acela, America’s sorry excuse for a bullet train, from New York to Washington. Along the way, I tried to use my cellphone to conduct an interview and my conversation was interrupted by three dropped calls within one 15-minute span.
So yes, we stopped fixing things, and now everything is breaking. You didn't notice this before now?
There was another effect of this huge tax cut for the rich. By changing tax policies to let people keep fortunes made in a single year everyone started trying to make a fortune in a single year. Business became entirely about making as much as you can as fast as you can instead of building up solidly over time. Theft at the top became rampant. Everything became schemes. Manufacturing went away because it was easier to make a quick buck from schemes...
Friedman's solution? Use the Obama stimulus,
It has to go into training teachers, educating scientists and engineers, paying for research and building the most productivity-enhancing infrastructure — without building white elephants. Generally, I’d like to see fewer government dollars shoveled out and more creative tax incentives to stimulate the private sector to catalyze new industries and new markets.In other words, back to where things were before Reagan.
December 23, 2008
Dave Johnson, Speak Out California
Sunday's CBS show 60 Minutes featured our own Governor Schwarzenegger! One of the things said on the show was the following,
"The governor proposed to close that budget deficit half with tax increases and half with budget cuts. Republicans and Democrats opposed him."
This is why California does not have a budget.
I don't mean that we do not have a budget because "Republicans and Democrats" oppose the Governor, won't compromise, won't "meet half way," etc. or that "Democrats won't agree to cut spending" as most of the public is told. I mean that we do not have a budget because the public is told that this is the reason. If the public understood the real reasons that we do not have a budget, representative government would work and the citizens would apply the necessary pressure to bring about the passage of a budget.
It is simply a fact that the reason we do not have a budget is that a small number of extremists are blocking the passage of a budget and are doing so because they can. They have voted against every budget compromise offered. They have been able to get away with this because the public believes that both sides are refusing to compromise. The Democrats have agreed to cuts and have moved more than half way. The Republicans refuse to move at all.
Our news outlets are not meeting their responsibility to keep the public informed. This failure is contributing to our state's inability to govern itself.
And by the way, we at Speak Out California wish you a Happy Holiday Season!
Click through to Speak Out California
Ford pardoned Nixon, which led to the crimes/bribery/theft/fraud/lies/wars of the Reagan/Bush I administration. It also led to a common understanding that in America the big fish operate under different rules and are held to a different standard.
Reagan was let off the hook for Iran/Contra and Bush I pardoned everyone who otherwise might have testified against him. Then under Clinton they let bygones be bygones, bribery remain unpunished and stolen money stay stolen which led to the crimes of Bush II. (It also paved the way for Clinton's impeachment because they knew the Dems would let them get away with anything and the public was ready for a story about people at the top not being let off the hook.)
If you don't prosecute lawbreaking and hold accountable the lawbreakers, it will just happen over and over, worse each time. Throughout the Bush II administration the Dems refused to hold anyone accountable and look what's happening today.
December 22, 2008
Think past today and picture the economic world after this crisis is over. Our economic paradigm will necessarily be different.
There is no longer the mask of calling something a "private" company. We have finally acknowledged the interlinked and interdependent nature of our economy in which many kinds of large companies play crucial roles. These components of our economy are resources that affect us to such a degree that they are public resources. They just are. When they affect all of us to the degree they do, so that when the crisis arrives we step in and exert the necessary control and provide the necessary backing, it demonstrates that they are in fact too important to us to allow them to fail. By the fact of these massive bailouts the mask has been removed.
Until now calling large companies "private" entities created an illusion that has worked to the benefit of a very few. By pretending they were "private" a select few received the bulk of the benefits they generated. But now the question is, since these companies are public resources whose importance requires our public intervention and infusion of massive public resources when needed, then why does this flow only go one way? Why is it public resources in, private benefits out? Why do We, the People pump our public resources into these entities, without sharing in the benefits created by these entities?
A select few end up with private jets, multiple mansions, huge yachts, and incomes in the hundreds of millions. WE don't even get health care, many of us don't even get sick or overtime pay.
The mask has fallen off. When a company grows up, it is a public resource. "Too big to fail" means public resource by definition. Whatever you want to call it, it affects us to the point where we have to prop them up.
So when do we start getting the benefits back? Who is our economy for, anyway?
December 19, 2008
Go see: cartoon: The Bush Legacy
Everyone understands that the root cause of this economic catastrophe was corporate money's influence on our politics. Corporations are able to concentrate money. We, the People let them do that because it enables them to undertake large-scale projects. But currently executives can access that money and use it to influence politics through bribery and/or manipulating public opinion. Deregulation, unfair tax codes, loss of consumer and worker protections and decades of falling wages and benefits have been the result -- hardly in the interest of the public.
Until we stop allowing use of corporate money to influence politcians and the public these problems will only increase.
When are we going to come to grips with that?
December 18, 2008
Nationally and in California Republicans are clearly trying to sabotage economic recovery efforts. Why? Do they have some strategy at work here?
But Schwarzenegger said the Democrats' package lacked deeper cuts to welfare and senior assistance programs, flexibility to reduce school spending, and the elimination of two of 14 state employee holidays.After months and months of trying to pass a budget, compromising, giving Republicans everything they wanted, they still refused to allow a budget. So the Democrats found a way around that and passed a budget. The Governor's veto means a near-immediate layoff of as many as 200,000 workers. That will have a cascading effect on California and the nation's economy.
The governor also wanted assistance for homeowners facing foreclosure, broad authority to relax environmental regulation on public work projects and more toll roads.
Why are they doing this?
December 17, 2008
Safe? SAFE? What about 9/11? We lost the World Trade Center and more than 3,000 lives! That's not SAFE! That's about as big a failure to keep us safe as can be imagined!
December 16, 2008
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
California Republicans finally, finally submitted what they claim is a plan to attack the budget deficits, detailing specifics of the cuts they are demanding. The plan they submitted only cuts the deficit in half, thereby admitting (but not admitting) the urgent need to raise taxes to cover the other half of the deficit.
The Republican plan guts public schools, community colleges, Medi-Cal, transit, mental health and many other programs. And yet it still leaves half of the deficit in place. So it isn't really a "plan" at all. It is just one more extremist demand that we gut public schools.
A phrase like "guts schools and programs" becomes abstract when it is heard often enough. So what does this mean to the average Californian? What kind of education will children receive as we push to 40 or more students per classroom? Will they be safe if the district cannot afford crossing guards or buses? Will any of us be safe after police and firefighters are cut back? Do we go another decade without improving mass transit or even repairing roads and bridges? Will epidemics spread as health care is cut back? What about three-hour lines at the DMV? And what happens to people's ability to train for jobs when community colleges are cut way back?
The Republicans demand that we sacrifice the education of an entire generation of school-aged Californians, so that a few wealthy people and corporations can become even wealthier! Their benefactors are covered -- with their kids are in $20,000-a-year private academies. But what will this do to the economic future of the rest of this generation, and to the future of California? They don't care.
This process as it has unfolded over so many years has shown us that California is ungovernable until we remove the current 2/3-requirement system that allows a small group of extremists to hold the state hostage.
Click through to Speak Out California.
This chart explains where the economy must go, and why. Sorry.
It wasn't just the housing bubble, it was debt in all of its forms.
For extra credit, see if you can identify the year Reagan and the "supply-siders" took office and any changes that occurred at that time.
P.S. I will not accept any cleaning bills.
Question: How does it help our economy for our government to borrow money from China and use it to lower interest rates in an attempt to persuade people to borrow even more money to buy even more stuff that was made in China?
Update - What I am trying to say is, loosening credit does not help the average person. If you can't afford something, buying it on credit doesn't help you afford it. Who you need is higher wages, health care, etc. Then you can afford things.
This is a solvency crisis, not a liquidity crisis. Predatory capitalism harvested the consumer, ate the consumer, shat out the consumer, and loose credit isn't going to revive a consumer that has been through that.
James Boyce, in one of his best posts ever, says that if something is unsustainable it can't be sustained. And here we are. Go read James Boyce: The Darwin Depression: Time To Say Goodbye To How It Should Have Never Been.,
It is very dangerous for an empire such as America's, faced with ebbing influence around the world, to amp up on cheap credit and buy out the store. At the end of the day, you have a frustrated country, swamped in debt and merchandise it doesn't really need, wondering how to pay the bills. Japan has never really recovered from its bubble, and its bubble is looking pretty small compared to the one we're popping.Of course, you have to click through to see the charts.
Look at this. Consider this image.
I'm going to give credit where credit is due. Pat Buchanan has written a column on the auto industry and American manufacturing and jobs that everyone should read. So I am linking to it, and even linking to the repugnant Human Events site where it appears.
Please read The Toyota Republicans. Excerpt:
What are Republicans thinking of, pulling the plug, at Christmas, on GM, risking swift death for the greatest manufacturing company in American history, a strategic asset and pillar of the U.S. economy.
The $14 billion loan to the Big Three that Republican senators filibustered to death is just 2 percent of the $700 billion the Senate voted to bail out Wall Street. Having gone along with bailouts of Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie, Freddie and CitiGroup, why refuse a reprieve to an industry upon which millions of the best blue-collar jobs in America depend?
. . . Is the Republican Party so fanatic in its ideology that, rather than sin against a commandment of Milton Friedman, it is willing to see America written forever out of this fantastic market, let millions of jobs vanish and write off the industrial Midwest?
December 15, 2008
The Minnesota recount is going along pretty smoothly considering everything, and routine small problems are being routinely corrected. But in this freakishly close race, every vote is important, and a lot of people are getting unduly excited. The Star Tribune's headline ("Minnesota's vote: Cast into doubt") is entirely wrongheaded, and unfortunately it encourages the Republican goons -- for example, Sarah Janacek:
Coleman supporters say their man won on Nov. 4, is still winning and will be certified as the winner: "If that gets refuted, then the whole system will be throw into chaos," said Sarah Janecek, a Republican strategist. "So far, at the grocery store and gas station, everyone is very tired of the whole thing, but there's a basic sense that, yep, we had an election and we had a recount and the result was the same, so the system must work." (Star-Tribune, December 14, 2008)
Coleman did not win on election day, because his margin then threw the race into automatic recount. No one wins until Friday when the recount (hopefully) will be finished.
Janacek knows that, but she doesn't care. She's setting up the "stolen election" meme, and she's threatening chaos if the recount doesn't match the election day count. But that's what recounts are for -- to check the original count to see if it was correct. Recounts are meaningless if you insist that they don't change anything.
Here's the kind of thing we'll be dealing with:
How to steal a senate seatThey're absolutely convinced that Franken is committing fraud even though they have no accurate information about the recount (and not even very much inaccurate information). Furthermore, they seem completely unfamiliar with the idea that when you accuse someone of a crime, you have to provide evidence that a crime was actually committed -- more than once they ask me to prove that there was no crime. Finally when I persist in asking that same obvious question, they declare me a troll and stop responding.
By Richard Baehr
The Minnesota senate race is being stolen as you read this. Rejected absentee ballots may be counted at discretion of counties. Which ones do you think will find more to count? There is no uniform standard for determining which once rejected absentee ballots should now be counted -- just as with Florida in 2000 (basis for Bush v Gore decision in U S Supreme Court). My guess is that Minneapolis/St. Paul and Duluth/Iron Range areas will decide on acceptable ballots. Coleman's lead may well disappear. (Read more)
At the moment I'd say that Franken has a 50-50 chance. He's only 190-odd votes behind, and some signs are pointing his way. If he does win the recount, we should prepare ourselves for a flood of enraged screams, and we have to give tit for tat and push back hard. We can't let them intimidate the ref this time.
Most scientists believe that only objective factors are real and try to eliminate all subjectivity from their explanations -- subjectivity is seen primarily as a source of error. Economists are the most objective social scientists, and they customarily sneer at dumber so-called scientists who fail to reduce human behavior to hard facts.
When things are going well, that is. During times of prosperity economics is a hard science like physics. It's only when things go badly that they kick the can over to psychology and reach for mental factors like "irrational exuberance" and "mental depression" so that they can blame other, stupider sciences for their failures. (Quantum physicists also reach desperately for The Mind at times, since after sixty or seventy years their data are still impossible to interpret.)
So here's my explanation of the present Collapse of Western Civilization: amphetamines. The world of finance is a rather small one, populated entirely by supersmart, extremely aggressive and competitive men (mostly) who have to go at top speed twelve or more hours a day, day after day. How do they do it? Performance-enhancing drugs, that's how: legally-prescribed amphetamines. (Cocaine is uncool, and so Eighties.)
And since finance controls the world, when the tweakers crash, the whole world crashes with them. Like a football team collapsing in the fourth quarter, the world has run out of beans. We've had our jag, and now we're crashing. Not much fun.
In my small experience, amphetamines are very nice. The world becomes a happy place. You get smarter and have lots of energy, and you can keep on going indefinitely. Complex ideas seem simple and all of your ideas look good. The crash isn't even that bad if you use in moderation. But amphetamines are not conducive to moderation.
A friend working in a major science research institute has told me in confidence that a psychologist had told him (also in confidence) that the majority of the researchers there were using amphetamines or something of that kind. Paul Erdős, one of the greatest mathematicians of our time and probably the most prolific, was famous for his reliance on amphetamines. Science magazine has recently suggested that we seriously look into the possibility that the use of amphetamines for performance enhancement should be medically authorized, allowing scientists to do openly what they're already doing under the table.
Erdős always worked with collaborators, and maybe this is the reason for that. While it's working, amphetamine only shows you the bright side of things. It doesn't enhance your judgment, your capacity for self-criticism, or your awareness of problems. Maybe Erdős needed a ground man -- someone to point at his work and say "You know, Paul, I think that you skipped about seventeen steps right there."
The mathematics community is self-policing, but finance absolutely isn't, at least in the short term. A rising tide raises all boats, and when things are going well a clever but foolhardy investor can keep winning for years. Furthermore, someone's who's already persuasive will be even more persuasive while in the grip of amphetamine-induced enthusiasm. Optimists who believe what they're saying are the best con men, and speed gives them the sincere optimism they need. (Have Glassman and Hassett ever been pee tested?)
Negative thinking is necessary and good. The disseminated optimism of crowds is not to be trusted. If we'd had fewer people lighting candles and more people cursing the darkness, we wouldn't be in this fix.
The crash phase of amphetamine psychosis is now before us.
December 14, 2008firedoglake.
You may have heard the term “progressive infrastructure.” We need it. Let me explain.
Bush and the Republicans are out, but we have to consolidate that victory, keep them out and implement progressive policies. We need to elect progressives to state office and we have to get “centrist” Democrats to do the right thing or run primary candidates who will.
“Progressive infrastructure” is the key to getting that done.
Look at how conservatives became so successful in elections and legislation battles. Starting in the 1970s they built well-funded organizations employing researchers, writers, pundits, speechmakers, marketers, talk-show guests, operatives etc. all using channels like talk radio, Fox News, the Washington Times and blogs to tell the public one or another form of a basic propaganda message: “liberals and their ideas are bad, while conservatives and their ideas are good.”
Movement operatives infiltrated churches, sports (NASCAR), interest groups (NRA) ... always working to convince people to identify as conservatives. After a few decades of this the public had a negative view of liberals. In surveys many people say they are conservative even though they line up with us on the facts and issues. Their candidates rode that wave into office and their policies rode it into law. In some races all a candidate had to do was point and shout “liberal!” to win!
Meanwhile progressive candidates start from scratch in the late summer, have to decide "issues" to run on, develop a message and then reach their voters – on their own from scratch.
Like the frog in heated water, progressives didn’t see what was happening. It took Clinton’s impeachment and the 2000 election theft to really shake and wake people up. Then came the blogosphere. People started to study and understand the right and began to see a model for responding. (The Commonweal Institute was a pioneer in this effort, and I have blogged and spoken about it through the years.)
Kerry’s 2004 loss was another shock. and now progressives are building organizations outside of the election process, working between elections, developing policy ideas and researching how to talk in ways that create demand for progressive policies and candidates. Media Matters, Center for American Progress, Air America and others are engaging in the national discussion.
Look at the difference this effort has already made! But the record is spotty and funding is minimal to nonexistent. For example, George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute had to shut down due to lack of funding.
That is why I am writing today. I am asking all of us to start donating to progressive infrastructure organizations (not issue organizations) because of the tremendous leverage it offers. Let me throw this down: donating a dollar to a progressive infrastructure today is like giving ten dollars to each progressive candidate in every local, state and national race two years from now, and every election following.
Look what we have been able to get done in this country with the smallest, minimally-funded hint at an infrastructure of organizations and media outlets. We fought back against the conservative machine and we got the Democrats to start fighting back themselves. Imagine what we could do if we actually started funding serious progressive infrastructure (not issue-based) organizations nationally and in every state, building an ecosystem where young people get training and jobs, writers and advocates actually make a living and activists receive speaking fees. Imagine progressive non-profits having the budgets to reach out past the blogosphere and talk to the general public.
By explaining the benefits of a progressive approach these organizations can help build greater public acceptance of and demand for progressive policies and candidates. As more people understand why progressive solutions benefit them more than conservative proposals, they develop a lasting positive identification with the progressive "brand." Then during the election cycle they vote for progressive candidates.
Donating to progressive advocacy organizations today builds long-term support for every progressive candidate and policy tomorrow -- lowering the need for massive last-minute election-cycle funding. By helping the public understand what progressive candidates are trying to achieve we all benefit.
We may be approaching climate change tipping points, where the amount of warming to date causes increases in warming that can't be stopped. For example, Arctic ice reflects sunlight back into space. But as that ice melts the sunlight is not reflected, which further warms the planet, melting even more ice. As Siberian temperatures warm CO2 is released from the permafrost, which increases the warming.
One alternative to carbon-based fossil fuels is nuclear power. We can close coal plants that put CO2 in the air by opening nuclear power plants. But nuclear power plants create very dangerous waste, and we don't know how to safely store it. So it is possible that one day this waste might cause very serious problems. We can temporarily store it today, but it is possible that this waste can one way or another escape storage and harm people.
But here's the thing. The waste from burning fossil fuels is literally destroying the planet's climate today. We are simply putting it in the air, not safely storing it.
So the question is, do we offset waste that we are putting in the air today, that is destroying the climate today, with the potential future problems of waste from nuclear power plants?
Of course we need to be doing everything we can with wind, solar and other alternatives. But I believe that it is imperative that we stop climate change and we should be building nuclear plants as well.
This is the translation of what the Iraqi show-thrower said as he threw the shoes. (Also -- In Iraq throwing a show and calling someone a dog is an extreme insult.)
This is the gift from the Irakis this is the farewell kiss you dog.
This is from the widows, the orphans and those killed in Irak.
Now the HUMANE SOCIETY are "terrorists." Who's next, nursing home workers who want to join a union?
Here’s the gist of the ad: a Humane Society vice president is speaking at a holiday event sponsored by the Humane League. ... the Humane League has members from a group “Hugs for Puppies,” and Hugs for Puppies had members from SHAC Philly, and SHAC Philly had members from SHAC USA, and six members of SHAC USA were convicted on “animal enterprise terrorism” charges for running a controversial website.
A quick thought about Republican opposition to unions. I keep reading that Republicans are "ideologically" opposed to unions.
Republicans are opposed to unions because they are paid to oppose unions. Is this really "ideology?"
If they oppose unions because they believe America should be ruled by a few wealthy people, and that democracy is a bad thing, that is an ideology. In my opinion, if they oppose unions because those wealthy people pay them to work to destroy people's ability to fight corporate power, that isn't ideology, that's opportunism.
This is interesting, and demonstrates that we are heading into a new era of transparency in government. Watch this short video, about the Congressional Oversight Panel that is looking at how that $700 billion is being used.
December 13, 2008
Your tax dollars at work Just go read it: Firedoglake - Bank of America Spends $7 Billion on Chinese Bank, Then Lays Off 30,000 Workers
December 12, 2008
I'll have a post up, and will be sticking around to talk in the comments about progressive infrastructure at 11am PDT (2pm EST) Saturday over at Firedoglake.
Update The post is up, and there is a lively discussion, come leave a comment.
The Republicans killed the auto copany bridge loan in the Senate. Here is my prediction for what happens next:
Bush will "rescue" the auto companies using the TARP program. But, of course, to do that, they will need the next $350 billion immediately. Any Democrat who opposes giving Bush this next $350 billion to hand out to his friends before leaving office is, of course, voting to kill the economy and the UAW, etc...
December 11, 2008
Twenty years from now people will mark today as the official end of the U.S. economy.
Suppose we place a tax on the use of fossil fuels. Anyone burning coal, oil, gas, etc. has to pay a really big tax for doing so.
Then suppose the government give every penny back to the public by giving the exact same amount to every person over 18*.
This means that MOST of us will get a check each year for much, much more than we paid to the carbon tax. AND it means that everyone will have an incentive to use alternative energy sources.
This is called a "revenue-neutral" tax because the tax money all goes back to the public. Since every dollar is returned this is not a tax increase.
*(Over 18 because we really, really don't want to encourage people to have more babies -- overpopulation is part of the problem.)
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Tuesday I wrote that Republicans were demanding mass layoffs of public employees -- during a recession. And they are getting away with it because the state's corporate-owned media outlets are not explaining to the public what is going on.
The history of how we got to this point of budget stalemate is that Republicans in the legislature have blocked every single budget and gone back on their own Governor and every negotiated compromise, demanding that all budget shortfalls be solved by laying off teachers, construction workers, DMV workers, firefighters, etc. And through the whole process they have refused to offer any plan for the cuts they demand. But this is explained to the voters as a problem caused by "both sides" or "the legislature" or "refusing to work together" or to "reach a compromise" or "pointing fingers." Some even manage to blame the Democrats for not completely caving in to every single demand! The result is that effective public pressure does not develop to get this solved.
Now, rather than compromise and work with the Democrats and the Governor, they have come up with a new list of demands, on top of their previous demands. And this list is really something:
"Democrats have to capitulate to GOP demands for the 8-hour work day, meal breaks, looser environmental regulations, permanent budget cuts and a stiff spending cap, among other things.
Then, and only then, will Republicans come to the table to discuss -- but not necessarily agree to -- new taxes"
Even if Democrats agree to all of the new demands, then the Republicans demand that we "sell state property!" Note that the entire list of new demands involves more tax cuts for businesses, revoking labor laws, removing environmental protections, removing worker and consumer safety regulations, making a very few wealthy people richer through lower pay for working people, etc. They even want to get rid of meal breaks and overtime pay for employees! These demands have nothing to do with helping regular Californians get through the day, they are about making things harder and less safe for us, just to make a few people ever richer. These stunning new demands have nothing to do with the budget.
This is an attempt to apply the 2/3 requirement to remove existing laws that have been in place for years, agreed to by majority votes of the Legislature, signed by the Governor, that are now established (and well-accepted) practices of the state.
In an interesting observation, David Dayen at Calitics asks if these demands possibly violate Section 86 of the California Penal Code. Take a look at his argument.
One thing for sure, this is not the time for Democrats to cave in to extortion like this. This extortion comes because Democrats have enabled the power to do this by trying to work with the other party to fairly govern the state and compromising in the face of these tactics in the past. But these are not negotiations with an opposition that is interested in governing, so this time Democrats have to put their foot down and protect Californians and protect our form of government. WE elected them and WE made them a majority for a reason. WE want our government to function, not to be hijacked to serve only the interests of a wealthy few.
Click through to Speak Out California
I've been going around the internet posting comments on blogs spreading the "stolen election" meme. It's not futile: one guy basically accepted my argument, and another took his post down.
I am unable to post at the following sites, for whatever reason, and maybe someone else can give it a try.
More slanderous sites can be found here.
What I've found is most effective is the quiet, businesslike enumeration of the facts, without rhetoric -- most of these people are ill-informed. Just point out that both sides are playing the same game, and that that's as it should be, and that so far nothing scandalous has happened, contrary to the winger allegations.
I do believe that this is worth it. Not everyone reading those thread is a confirmed winger, and we need to blunt the rumor-spreading before it reached critical mass.
UPDATE: This site specializes in Republican recount spin.
December 10, 2008
Go to this site, sign in, leave a question, and most important, vote Yes or No on the existing questions before right wingers show up and skew things: Change.gov: The Obama-Biden Transition Team | Open for Questions
CNN has an "economist" on my screen saying Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi are "European statists" for trying to save America's auto industry.
December 9, 2008
The big cost problem with the American car companies is that Japan, Germany and other countries provide health insurance and good pensions, while the United States does not. This means that the American auto companies have to try to compete while providing these benefits to their workers against companies that do not provide those benefits.
Republicans say that the cure is for companies to stop providing these benefits. And the way to get that is to break the unions. That is their beef with the auto loan discussion. They want to break unions across the board, and stop companies from providing any benefits. (Remember that McCain's health care plan was to stop companies from providing health care benefits.)
So, who is our economy for? And are we going to continue to make things in this country?
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
How do California's Republicans think California should solve the state's budget crisis, which results from people being laid off and losing their houses? They are demanding nothing less than mass layoffs of state employees.
Every single budget compromise that has been negotiated has been rejected by the Republicans. They say there is one, and only one, budget solution they will vote for: mass layoffs of state employees and contractors. They want the state's teachers fired, construction employees fired, firefighters fired, DMV workers fired, medical workers fired and mass firings from the rest of the state's departments. And when they are done with that they demand cutbacks in medical care for the elderly, disabled, blind, and everyone else.
How are they getting away with this? Why aren't these few members of the legislature being recalled by enraged citizens? Part of the problem is the way this is being presented to those citizens by the information sources. The issue is presented as "the Legislature" and "politicians" who "won't compromise" as if "both sides" are at fault. They report on the people who are working hard to solve the state's problems as if they are squabbling children and the public takes away the idea that government is a distant unsavory game that should be avoided. Take this Merced Sun-Star headline, for instance: "Our View: Governor, Democrats and Republicans need to compromise." The editorial begins,
"As California's financial troubles intensify daily, leading Democrats continue to blame Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for failing to win Republican votes for a budget solution.
. . . Democrats will have to offer concessions if they want their counterparts to compromise on tax hikes. So far, Democrats have failed to make even the most reasonable of concessions to save California from insolvency."
The editorial just misinforms the public about what is going on! Repeatedly the Democrats have compromised, giving up more and more, but the Republicans have refused to compromise in any way. They just say, "No taxes" and that is that. THIRTEEN paragraphs down, the second to last paragraph, begins,
"To be fair, Democrats in the last special session made some real concessions -- agreeing to $8.1 billion in cuts to state programs -- in their elusive search for a budget deal."
Oh, really, to "be fair" they mention this, in spite of the headline and the rest of the editorial, any members of the public who are still reading can learn that the Democrats have offered BILLIONS in cuts to state programs to try to get the Republicans to move even an inch away from demanding mass layoffs.
California will remain ungovernable and will slip further into economic distress as long as a small minority is able to block budgets, and as long as the public's sources of information continue to mislead.
Click through to Speak Out California
I just found out you can do searches to see what people are twittering about. Click here for a Twitter search on layoffs. What you read will be sad, though.
George W. Bush bought his ranch just before running for President. The former cheerleader, scared of horses, who travels with a special pillow he calls his "Pilly" understood that Americans want to vote for the Marlboro Man. So the ranch was a prop to trick the press and the public into believing they were voting for the macho man.
And now, leaving the Presidency (thank God!) Bush will not return to the ranch, preferring to live among the white and wealthy. Bush's New Neighborhood Barred Non-Whites Until 2000,
"Said property shall be used and occupied by white persons only except these covenants shall not prevent occupancy by domestic servants of different race or nationality in the employ of a tenant."
December 8, 2008
Just in time for Christmas!
We attribute a lot of thought to conservative ideology. But is it thought, or just smoke? For example, isn't deregulation really just, "Look the other way while I steal all the money," and then later DIFFERENT people argue about how to pick up the pieces? The people who proposed deregulation and spent a bunch of (their company's) money pushing it, they're already gone with the money at this point.
Profound: Economic Growth is Political.
Really, go read.
I can't get to Google. Wow. It just disappeared. Is anyone else experiencing this?
December 7, 2008
I am reading about how we got out of the Great Depression, and I think there was a clear sense of adversarial relationship between wealth, corporate power and democracy that we don't see today, but which I believe defines what is happening to us. For example I am currently
reading FDR's 2nd inaugural address. I know this address comes four years into The New Deal, but I think it reflects what I have read from when the New Deal began as well.
"In fact, in these last four years, we have made the exercise of all power more democratic; for we have begun to bring private autocratic powers into their proper subordination to the public's government. The legend that they were invincible above and beyond the processes of a democracy has been shattered. They have been challenged and beaten.
Our progress out of the depression is obvious. But that is not all that you and I mean by the new order of things. Our pledge was not merely to do a patchwork job with second-hand materials. By using the new materials of social justice we have undertaken to erect on the old foundations a more enduring structure for the better use of future generations.
In that purpose we have been helped by achievements of mind and spirit. Old truths have been relearned; untruths have been unlearned. We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics. Out of the collapse of a prosperity whose builders boasted their practicality has come the conviction that in the long run economic morality pays. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.
This new understanding undermines the old admiration of worldly success as such. We are beginning to abandon our tolerance of the abuse of power by those who betray for profit the elementary decencies of life."
I think this strongly shows that FDR's believed that the depression was caused by wealth flowing to the top (as today) and would be corrected by asserting that We, the People must take back control of our common resources.
In other words, real democracy -- We, the People controlling and making decisions about our common resources, instead of corporations and the wealthy -- is the only form of government and economics that can work for all of us.
Wait -- my headline is wrong. Coleman isn't stealing the election, and neither is Franken. Both sides are going to fight the recount battle all the way to the end, and that's the way it should be.
And the election isn't in chaos. Routine problems are being handled routinely, with one precinct still up in the air. It's just an unbelievably close election, and no one knows who will win.
What is happening, though, is that the national Republicans (Ann Coulter, Powerline, Wall Street Journal) are setting the stage for a "stolen election" claim. (It's amusing that some of the people talking about a Florida-style stolen election are Republicans.) At the moment the Coleman people themselves are playing it cool (though they made fools of themselves right after the election) and most Minnesota Republicans, who will still have to live in the state after the dust settles, are behaving decently.
We don't have to just sit and watch. Besides contributing to Al Franken we can also push back at the Rovian spin about the recount we see on the internet and in the media. We've already had one small success. The first dozen or so responses to
all politely and carefully explained to the guy that he was misinformed, and you'll note that he's taken the page down, though the link still takes you to his site.
Here's a couple of useful links:
and I've posted some good informational sources below the fold.
Looking back at the consequences of the 2000 Bush v Gore decision by the Supreme Court -- 9/11 "on his watch", Constitution shredded, end of rule of law, hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, world's economy literally in ruins ... you know what I'm saying -- shouldn't we be talking about impeaching the Justices who put Bush in office even though Gore won?
Update - I really, really hope that the Supreme Court DOES take up the "Obama birth certificate" case. Really. I mean, imagine them trying to say Obama can't be President. HA! Talk about a trigger for rapid change in America, that would do it.
December 6, 2008
To what extent is the bailout fighting the last war, instead of addressing the real issues of this crisis?
Obama's massive infrastructure investment will do a lot of good, but how much is this just another bandaid on a failed economic paradigm?
While I completely favor giving the auto companies a loan to keep them going, it must be under several conditions (including banning lobbying.) In the Congressional hearings on this Brad Blog wants someone to ask
What Happened to GM's EV1? Go read.
I have Tivo. I have loved it, and especially if you move to HD you need Tivo.
More and more Tivo is becoming about making money for Tivo, and not about features for the customer. Today the Tivo downloaded a new version, which emphasizes their Video On Demand feature. What this means is you pay Tivo even more than the monthly fee you already pay Tivo. And as you look through what this new feature offers, it also tries to sell you their Desktop Plus, for more features.
I am tired of the American corporate business model that involves harvesting the customer instead of serving the customer.
Seeking to end a weeks-long stalemate between the Bush administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senior Congressional aides said that the money would most likely come from $25 billion in federally subsidized loans intended for developing fuel-efficient cars.They got rid of the fuel efficiency funds. Great. Democrats cave, Bush and oil companies score another victory. For old time's sake.
December 5, 2008
Who is our economy for?
Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist was paid $68,400 and her hair stylist received more than $42,000 for roughly two months of work, according to a new campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.Remember this the next time you hear a Republican talking about "elitists" and "expensive haircuts."
Actually, remember this the next time you hear a Republican talk about anything.
Cutting taxes on business only gives a boost to companies that are ALREADY MAKING A PROFIT after all costs -- the very ones that do not need a boost.
All it does is drain resources that could be available to We, the People to use to solve problems. It puts even more money into the pockets of the very rich, further reducing the ability of the consumer to pay the bills and buy.
What if we had financial reporters based in Michigan? What if the people we see, hear and read from the corporate media were paid the national average, and didn't get health insurance?
Would policymakers have a different perspective? Would we have pledged $7.4 TRILLION to the black hole of financial companies? Would we already have health insurance?
Contractors don't get unemployment pay. A significant portion of the workforce has been called contractors instead of employees in the last several years, allowing the corps to get out of responsibilities they would have if the same people were called employees.
This is going to have an effect on efforts to revitalize the economy. For example, extending unemployment benefits won't help them.
December 4, 2008
I realized today that a collapse of any American auto companies also means a loss of tens of thousands of jobs in Mexico, further increasing migration pressures.
Before reading this, realize that people who are called contractors instead of employees -- the first to get laid off as things get worse -- do not get unemployment benefits so they don't file claims for unemployment benefits. Jobless rolls at 26-year peak, factory orders drop
While first-time claims for benefits unexpectedly fell last week to 509,000 from 530,000, a four-week moving average of new claims, a better gauge of underlying labor trends, rose to 524,500, also a 26-year high.The economy has shifted much more towards contractors, who do not get unemployment benefits. So this number of new claims understates the problem and does so much more than in previous recessions.
Also, the lack of benefits for contractors, including unemployment, means this recession will hit much harder on those unemployed than on previous unemployed. Extending unemployment benefits for 13 or 26 weeks will make no difference. What we need to do is ban this contracting scam and call an employee an employee.
December 3, 2008
A top tax rate of 90% removes the incentive to cheat and steal and exploit others and corrupt our democracy in hope of a rapid path to immense wealth.
But someone "earning" $30 million would STILL take home $3 million. (Plus the amount below that top tax rate.)
A bit late, but...
Credits: Conceived and Written (six weeks later than he shoulda) by-Marc Shaiman Directed and Staged by: Adam Shankman Produced by Adam Shankman, Marc Shaiman and Mike Farah Edited by Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis Cast (in order of appearance) California Gays and The People That Love Them Jordan Ballard, Margaret Cho, Barrett Foa, J.B. Ghuman, John Hill, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Rashad Naylor, Nicole Parker Proposition 8'ers and The People That Follow Them Prop 8 Leader- John C. Reilly Prop 8 Leader's #1 Wife- Allison Janney Prop 8 Leader's #2 Wife- Kathy Najimy Riffing Prop 8'er-Jenifer Lewis A Preacher- Craig Robinson Scary Catholic School Girls From Hell-Rashida Jones, Lake Bell, Sarah Chalke The Frightened Villagers Katharine "Kooks" Leonard, Seth Morris, Denise "Esi!" Piane, Lucian Piane, Richard Read, Seth Redford, Quinton Strack, Tate Taylor Jesus Christ Jack Black A Very Smart Fellow Neil Patrick Harris Piano Player Marc "Marc" Shaiman ---- Co-Choreographer: Anne "Mama" Fletcher Recorded and Mixed by Frank Wolfe & Greg Hayes Director of Photography: Michael Barrett Camera Operators: Jake Szymanski, Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis Production designer: Nelson Coates Costume designer: Shanna Knecht Costume assistants: Leslie Schilling, Annalisa Adams, Elizabeth Abate Hair: Laura Sanchez Make-up: Shauna O'Toole, Atticuss Sharp Production sound: Bradford Craig Music editor: Lisa Jaime Music assistant: Brian Naguit Snacky: "Snacky" Special Thanks to Adam McKay for the nudge.
My wife is a graphic artist. She has a Mac. Because Adobe has a virtual monopoly on graphic design software she has to use Adobe's Creative Suite, and the cost for this is hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars. In fact, it is much more than the Mac itself.
She recently upgraded to Microsoft Office 2008. This brought out a bug in DreamWeaver CS3, where you cannot copy from Word and paste into DreamWeaver. Adobe won't patch the bug, instead requiring users to upgrade to CS4. The cost to upgrade just DreamWeaver is about $200.
The modern corporate business model is about harvesting the customer, not providing quality and service.
This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
In Santa Clara County they want to extend Bay Area Rapid Transit down to San Jose. To fund this they put Measure B, a 1/8 cent sales tax, on the ballot. In California all tax measures must pass by a 2/'3 margin and on Election Day the voters approved Measure B by a 2/3 margin.
That would be the end of it, except the vote was very close to exactly 2/3. For several days it looked as though the measure would fail because it reached a few votes short of exactly 66.66% but when the last ballot was counted the result was 66.78% in favor. So in the face of a 2/3 vote by the people, a group sued to block certification pending a recount. Yes, with 2/3 of the public voting for this, a group sued to stop it!
My observation is that this demonstrates something important about the "anti-tax" forces in our state. Their intent is to hobble our democracy and thwart the will of the people. It is time for us to take back democracy and return majority vote to tax measures!
It is nearly impossible to get 2/3 for anything, ever, in an election. Clearly this 2/3 requirement is about hobbling democracy, not protecting rights. The public wanted to bring BART to San Jose. A remarkable 2/3 voted for this, yet a group sues based on the count being close to exactly 2/3. And in our state legislature the budget process has completely broken down as a 1/3 minority blocks every budget, every compromise and every last attempt to pass sensible measures to run our state! We are now in a "Fiscal Emergency," cutting back our schools and laying people off during a recession. This is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing and of what the public wants, but there is no choice because we are hobbled by rules that anti-government extremists managed to sneak past misinformed voters decades ago.
We must get rid of the 2/3 requirement. It is time. Democracy and good government are back in fashion so let's get on with it!
(By the way, California's Secretary of State ruled that the law says automatic recounts occur when the vote count is very close to 50/50. Since the vote count was 2/3 the law does not apply even though the election was close. A judge ruled Tuesday that the attempt to block Measure B came too late.
Click through to Speak Out California
December 2, 2008
Hey, a few years back I was hearing a big hullabaloo on the news about something being proposed called the "Nuclear option." Also there were ads for it all over the TV. As I remember it, there was this big campaign demanding "an up or down vote" in the Senate, the proponents saying that it was terribly unfair to allow fewer than half of the Senate to block votes. People were so unhappy with filibusters that they wanted to change Senate rules to prevent them.
So tonite I'm wondering, all of those Republican Senators who demanded "an up or down vote" become the rule of the Senate, maybe they were right and maybe now the Democrats should join them -- they'll certainly still want to vote to end filibusters, right? -- and end this obstructive practice.
Here are some Republicans who will certainly join the fight for reviving this idea for a rule change:
And tons of gems like this:
"This is the time to unite, Republicans. It’s no time to weaken. Quit the back-and-forth on the part of a few Republicans. That only fires up the Dems to think they can work for defeat on any issue coming before Congress. Don’t give the Dems any breathing space. None. They don’t deserve it.
The Red States are anxiously awaiting the Republican United Party to act against the filibuster tradition. It’s a worn custom and way past its profit. It’s time to oust the filibuster as the game playing, day care center maneuvering any thinking American has always regarded it to be. Enough is enough."
It's time to Break the Bailout! | BreakTheBailout.com,$7.76 trillion. Is this a wise use of tax dollars? Are there better ways to use this money? Will this trickle down approach work this time, even though it has failed in the past?
It is time to break the bailout and put in place an approach that builds a new engine for economic growth from the bottom up. Liberty Tree has the joined the new campaign at BreakTheBailout.com and pledged to help Break the Bailout. On December 7, we take the first step toward taking back our economy and transforming it into an economy that puts the people’s interests first.
Join us BreaktheBailout.com, and pledge today and help build a movement that will stop the top down trickled down Wall Street economics and build the economy from the bottom up.
A "Christian" news site called Christian Examiner has an article, Proposition 8: Separating the fiction from fact. Note this objection:
FACT 4: Also in October, a Hayward, Calif. school hosted a “Coming Out Day” in conjunction with “Gay and Lesbian History Month.” In addition, a kindergarten teacher at the same school passed out pledge cards, created by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, to her young students asking that they sign the cards as part of their pledge to avoid using anti-gay slurs and to protect homosexual students. Parents were not notified of the activities.They OBJECT to students being taught not to hate other people! The want parents to be notified that their children are being taught not to bully gay people!
These are some nasty, hateful people. Shame on them!
December 1, 2008
It is official that we have been in a recession since the end of 2007.
So I am hearing people on the news channels saying that because most recessions do not usually last longer than this, it must be almost over, just about to get better.
It literally burns to hear this stuff.
WE are all in the pot like the proverbial frog. And when the water boils and everyone is dead, they'll say, Oh, Yes, we see that the water really is warming up.. (I stole that line from Ron S)
Montana Senator Max Baucus, flush with millions in corporate (including insurance company) money, is a gatekeeper for any health care bill. He recently said:
The only thing that’s not on the table is a single-payer system. That’s going nowhere in this country.So he is target number one. Can we get him removed from those important committee assignments? Can we get him recalled? Can we get him impeached for accepting bribes with a quid quo pro of blocking health care reform? How can we get a health care system that works for us instead of harvests us past this guy?
See the comprehensive diary Daily Kos: Naughty Max Baucus: "The only thing that’s not on the table is a single-payer system."
I said it before but I want to repeat it: "Too big to fail" necessarily means a company that should be under the control of the public. Our economy should not just be at the mercy of a select few. We, the People should be involved in making decisions that affect us. This is the very definition of self-governance.