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February 28, 2010

Join The Coffee Party USA

It's for real. Watch the video below. Coffee Party | Wake Up and Stand Up

MISSION: The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

You can join their Facebook group, and take other actions, from their website.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:19 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

1.2 Million Lose Unemployment Checks Tonite

1.2 Million to Lose Unemployment Benefits Today

Reid let the Senate adjourn and go HOME for the weekend! And Obama, who has the power to call the Congress into session for emergencies, didn't.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Remember Tobacco?

Tobacco is still killing over 400,000 Americans each year.

Does anyone remember lawsuit by the US Government against tobacco companies, and the Justice department asked for a huge damages award? Then with their usual corruption the Bush administration set that aside and asked for only $10 billion? See Prosecutor Says Bush Appointees Interfered With Tobacco Case.

Well guess what?

The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to allow the government to seek nearly $300 billion from the tobacco industry for a half-century of deception that "has cost the lives and damaged the health of untold millions of Americans."

But the tobacco companies know that 5 of those Supreme Court justices are likely to dance with the once that got them there. They are now claiming it was all just "free speech":

The companies also say the courts' decision to brand their statements about smoking as fraudulent unfairly denied them their First Amendment rights to engage in the public-health debate about smoking.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 27, 2010

Dems Adjourn Senate, Letting Unemployment Expire

Senate adjourns without extending unemployment, COBRA benefits,

This is horrifying. 1.2 million people are about to lose their unemployment benefits because of Senate rules.

People who lose their unemployment benefits are not going to think "oh, this happened because one Senator refused to agree to a unanimous consent on a motion to proceed, so I'll blame that Senator." No. That isn't going to happen.

Democrats are in charge, and they are going to get blamed for this. Democratic attempts to blame this on Senate procedure will ring utterly hollow. Not only do people not understand, or care about, those rules, but it simply sounds wimpy and pathetic for the people running the United States Government to throw their hands up in the air and say "our procedural rules prevented us from doing anything to solve this huge problem. Sorry."

Democrats did not have to adjourn. They could have kept fighting Bunning. Further, they all agreed to the rules under which the Senate operates, and most of them are still defending those rules. Blaming Senate procedure is not going to extend anyone's unemployment or COBRA benefits, and its not going to win many hearts around the country.


Where is President Obama? Where are the Democratic leaders? What the hell - don't they care that all these people are going to lose their unemployment benefits now? People will be thrown out of their apartments, etc., and the Senate leaves for the weekend???

What is the matter with these people? Blaming Republicans for this is like blaming scorpions for stinging people. It's what they do -- they hate government and they hate working people. It was supposed to be the Dems' job to help the country. Where are they?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:34 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

February 26, 2010

Unemployment Expiring Sunday -- Reid Lets Senate GO HOME???

In the news Unemployment Extension Fails in Senate,

The Senate failed late Thursday to extend programs for laid-off workers, jeopardizing unemployment benefits scheduled to expire over the weekend.

... The Senate adjourned just before midnight with no further votes scheduled until Tuesday.

Harry Reid LET THEM GO HOME!

Heck of a job, Harry!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:57 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

February 25, 2010

NYTimes Owes Us An ACORN Smear Retraction

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

A month ago while covering the arrest of James O'Keefe after his attempt to tamper with the phones at Senator Mary Landrieu's office the New York Times repeated conservative misinformation that smeared ACORN, and is now refusing to retract their "reporting."

James O'Keefe previously had released videos that purported to show ACORN employees supposedly advising a "pimp" on how to evade the law. These videos were widely publicized in conservative outlets as part of a larger conservative campaign to destroy ACORN, because the organization registers poor people to vote. Usually-careful major media outlets like the New York Times then picked up the "story" from these conservative outlets and repeated the false accusations against ACORN.

An an example of how the Times has repeated the misinformation, this Times story, High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur, contained the following:

Mr. O’Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn — eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn’s undoing.

In fact, O'Keefe was NOT "dressed as a pimp." He represented himself as a candidate for Congress who was trying to help women who were being exploited. He then doctored the resulting videotapes to make it appear that ACORN acted improperly. He only dressed as a "pimp" when publicizing his videos, using the racist stereotype to amplify his false claims. This preposterous 1970's blaxploitation-movie costume seemed to resonate with media outlets like the Times. (The woman who played the "prostitute" in the videos has herself been videotaped verifying that O'Keefe DID NOT wear a "pimp" costume.)

Compare the impression left by this NY Times story with other independently verified facts of the case as explained in : ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct, which describes former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger's investigation of the accusations. Among the investigation's conclusions,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O'Keefe's and Ms. Giles's comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

The Brad Blog has taken the lead with efforts to get the NY Times to retract their reporting. From yesterday's post, Exclusive: NYTimes Public Editor Declines to Recommend Retraction for Multiple Erroneous Reports on False ACORN 'Pimp' Story,

We've spent the last several weeks here reporting and demonstrating how the O'Keefe/Breitbart ACORN video hoax was exactly that --- a political partisan scam that was publicized uncritically by the New York Times, and dozens of otherwise reputable outlets.

Despite the Times' repeatedly misreporting that O'Keefe was dressed or posed as a "pimp" while meeting with ACORN employees in those videos, and even after being shown in no uncertain terms that he did not, the Times' Public Editor has declined to recommend the paper retract its reporting on this story.

The next day, in NYT Public Editor Accuses The BRAD BLOG of 'Political Agenda' on Par With ACORN Smear Artists, Hoaxsters Breitbart and O'Keefe, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt offered the following stunning statement,

The story says O’Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time

Also at this Brad Blog post are links to a number of other blogs following this story.

You can take action by clicking through to: Tell the NY Times: retract anti-ACORN reportage.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Now Whirlpool Threatens Workers Who Protest Plant Closing

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

The other day I posted Whirlpool Bites Hands Of American Taxpayers That Feed It saying, in summary,


    • Whirlpool closes a plant in Evansville
    • Taxpayers will shoulder the unemployment and other costs.
    • All the local supplier, transportation and other third-party jobs are destroyed.
    • Even more home foreclosures in the area as a result.
    • Local businesses are stressed or have to go out of business.
    • They are playing nearby Iowa against Indiana for tax breaks and subsidies to keep just a few of the jobs.
    • Whirlpool is profiting from making all this someone else's problem.
    • And, of course, Wall Street celebrates the move.

A Whirlpool spokesperson responded, leading to the post, Whirlpool Exec Responds: The System Made Us Do It, taking a look at the bigger picture that forces our companies like Whirlpool to do these things that destroy people, communities and our economy,
"The spokesperson for Whirlpool is exactly right. It is the system that makes them do this. They are only following the market’s orders."

I thought that was the end of it, but whoa, what's this? Whirlpool Threatens Workers: Protesting Plant Closure Risks 'Future Jobs'

A major corporation planning to shut down a factory in Indiana has warned its union workers that they'll endanger their future job prospects if they protest the plant's closing.

. . . Activists planned a high-profile protest for this Friday, with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka visiting the plant for the first time. But Whirlpool says the effort is futile -- they are fully committed to shutting the plant down. The company, however, still seems quite wary of the potential for bad publicity. In a memo sent to its employees and passed along to the Huffington Post, Paul Coburn, division vice president for Whirlpool's Evansville Division, offers a fairly explicit warning to his workers: If they join Trumka's protest they would seriously risk future employment opportunity.


Threatening workers who show up at the protest that they risk future employment? Click through to read the entire report and to see Whirlpool's letter.

And take action: Tell Whirlpool: Keep It Made in America and Save Our Jobs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:12 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 24, 2010

$108 Million Income = NO State Taxes

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times today,

To everyone who claims that our wealthiest citizens pay more than their fair share of income taxes and we should cut them a break because they're the ones who, you know, create jobs in our economy, I have four words for you:

Frank and Jamie McCourt.

The McCourts, who own the Los Angeles Dodgers (so she says; he says he's the owner and she's not), jointly pocketed income totaling $108 million from 2004 through 2009, according to documents Jamie McCourt recently filed in the couple's divorce case in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

On that sum, they paid zero federal and state income tax. Jamie suggests that some tax breaks will apply this year too.


The McCourts have eight houses.  Eight.  Houses.

California is laying off teachers, closing parks, etc. -- killing the state -- just to protect the wealthiest and biggest corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.  Millions of dollars in corporate contributions pay for the nasty smear campaigns -- and all the lies about how the wealthy are "hurt" by taxes and will "leave the state" -- all to protect THIS!

California needs to take a cold, hard look at the game-playing and the holes in our tax system that allow the rich to get away with paying less taxes than "the help" while at the same time we're telling teachers we can't afford to keep them teaching our kids.

And please, let's stop all this nonsense about "they'll just leave the state" if we try to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share.

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:36 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 23, 2010

On Health Care Mandates

FORK IT! Fine me, tax me, whatever, but I ain't gonna pay,

Mandate? Bullcrap!

I am uninsured for a good reason. I CAN NOT AFFORD IT! I am unemployed now, but even when I was fully employed I still couldn't afford health insurance. Why? BECAUSE IT WAS TOO EXPENSIVE! Subsidies won't fix that without NON PROFIT COMPETITION to drive prices down. So sue me for not having an extra $700 lying around at the end of the month on my gaudy $10+ per hour wage. I didn't have it then and after the Wall St clusterf$%k that still hasn't been re-regulated or resolved, I don't have it now.

I don't need mandates to force me to buy shit I don't want or subsidies paid with my own tax dollars to help me want it more, I need a fucking job. If the fools on the Hill can't help me get a job but can spend my money for me before I have even earned it I have news for them, and it isn't suitable for any children in the room to hear.

As for a mandate to buy junk insurance from the private insurance industry that has bled my countrymen and women dry for over half a century, BULLSHIT!

Congress, you could have just passed Medicare-for-All, which is what everyone wanted. But you just had to keep the profits going for the monopolies.

And you think anyone is going to vote for you? HA!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

California Closed

GO HERE: Meg Whitman's California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:18 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

What is the Puzzle with Jerry Brown?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California

Why won't Jerry Brown just announce that he is running for Governor?  Why won't he campaign?  Why is he letting Meg Whitman get so far ahead of things in this campaign?  Does he just assume he has it "in the bag?"

I suspect that is exactly what he assumes.  My take on Brown is that Democrats who were around when he was Governor and later when he ran for President in 1992 are going to support him, many quite strongly, and they regularly let him know this.  I suspect it is hard for him to go anywhere without stopping to shake a hand and hear from someone who tells him what a great Governor he was, that his ideas on energy and the environment were so far ahead of their time, that he should have been elected President, etc.

So he probably feels a wind at his back wherever he goes.  This is for sure: the "moonbeam" things Brown was about like energy and the environment and unions have proven to be the right things.  I wrote about this almost a year ago,

He was called "Moonbeam" and mocked, but he was right, and we were right, and the country needs to come to terms with this so we can move on and finally DO right.

. . . It is 30 years later and the country needs to get past that mocking of the people who were right. But the mocking and obstruction by entrenched interests are still in the way of letting us move on and do the things we need to do for the economy, the country, and the planet.

The problem with this is that it really is 30 years later now.  This is 2010, and that pool of people just isn't big enough by any means.  You have to be "a certain age" to even care.  He needs to find a way to reach out and be relevant to people who were not around when he was Governor or when he ran for President.

Does he realize this?  If he is not meeting a lot of the people to whom he just isn't and who just don't care, he might not be picking this up at all.  But it just is the case. He needs to start campaigning and saying things that are relevant to the 21st century of he is going to win this election.

Click through to Speak Out California

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:59 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Jobs: Bail Out States, Yes Or No?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

In Big Push Needed For Win 60 Votes For State Aid ... And More Private Sector Jobs, Bill Scher writes of the need for,

...a major grassroots push to secure critical aid for fiscally distressed state governments and help tackle the jobs crisis.

There is good reason for this. The warnings are dire. Just yesterday, for example: Recession Tightens Grip on State Tax Revenues,
The recession can now claim another troublesome record: state tax collections shrank at the end of 2009 for a fifth consecutive quarter, the longest period of continuing state revenue declines since at least the Great Depression...

How dire? States and localities face a 3-year, $469 billion shortfall,

Ethan Pollack, a policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, .. estimates the combined shortfalls for state and local governments at $469 billion over the next three fiscal years. "At the best, that can lead to a protracted, slow, jobless recovery, and at the worst, a double-dip recession."

Here is the problem. In this recession shortfalls at the state level - and resulting job cuts - can cancel out federal job-creation efforts. If we want to get out of the recession, we need those jobs! This is why the "stimulus' gave aid to the states. A lot of last year's "stimulus" money - about $87 billion - went to states through the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FAMP).

And, of course, now the states are asking for more. Jobs Bill Missing Medicaid Money For States, Governors Call For Change

The $15 billion jobs bill that passed the Senate Monday does not include additional matching funds for state Medicaid programs, but governors are continuing to ask for its inclusion as they look for other ways to plus state budget holes made from Medicaid liabilities.

As I said above: If we want to get out of the recession, we need those jobs!

BUT

There are some problems with "bailing out" states. Let me explain.

I live in California. We, the People of California, in our wisdom, have decided through ballot initiatives to make it impossible to fix our budget problems. We have a "2/3 rule" allowing a minority of legislators to block budgets from passing. So a small extremist minority that hates government is able to block everything, and is trying to force the state into bankruptcy. They insist on cutting the budget but refuse to specify what to cut, all the while insisting on tax cut after tax cut. (Does that sound strangely familiar?)

Did you know that last year, in the middle of our state budget crisis (caused by a revenue shortfall), while firing teachers and gutting essential government services, California gave a big tax CUT to large corporations? Did you know that California won't tax oil companies for the oil they take to sell back to us?

Should the federal government be sending billions of taxpayer dollars to states like California so they can cut taxes on big corporations and keep from raising taxes on the wealthy?

So there are some problems with assisting states during this crisis.

* What if, like California, they use that money to pass tax cuts or give subsidies to a favored few?

* What about states that give breaks and subsidies to big corporations to move jobs there from other states. Should federal tax dollars be sent to these states?

* What about states that act responsibly, like Oregon. Oregon voters recently passed tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. So they have less of a budget shortfall than other states. Should they receive less federal tax dollar assistance because they did this?

Any aid to states should be passed with oversight, conditions and restrictions. They should be required to raise taxes to cover the shortfall in future years. States that act responsibly should receive cash consistent with states that have budget shortfalls. States that give tax breaks and subsidies to lure jobs from other states should not receive this aid. States that refuse to sufficiently tax corporations and the wealthy should not receive this assistance.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Were Founding Fathers REALLY For Limited Government?

Go read Did the Founders Want Government Small?

America’s revolutionaries had read their history. Every previous attempt to establish republican rule, they knew from that history, had failed. Athens. Rome. Venice. Florence. The cause of that failure, as the Founders came to see it: a deep and divisive maldistribution of wealth. The Founders came to believe, notes Huston, that a republic could only endure with “an equal or nearly equal distribution of landed wealth among its citizens.”

The founders of this country wanted democracy. Democracy requires equity. Concentration of wealth destroys democracy - and we are seeing this in action today.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 22, 2010

2010 Midterm Election Prediction

Here is my 2010 midterm election prediction:

Gasoline prices are about to start climbing, and will continue to climb through the summer, and well into the fall. No one will be able to pin down exactly why.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

"Both Sides Do It" -- Senior Republican Leader Equated With Guy On A Blog

I wrote a post a few years ago, Who Is The Crazy Person In The Room? that California's Debra Bowen used in her campaign stump speech. It was about how if you try to describe to people who do not follow news very closely what is going on with the Repubicans these days, they'll think YOU are being crazy and extreme.

This is one area where I feel "mainstream" news outlets like the New York Times and major broadcast networks are failing their readers/viewers. Someone who only gets their news from those sources is not being informed about what is really going on inside the Republican party, and just how extreme things have gotten. These news outlets feel they have to "present both sides of the argument" so they won't be accused of being "the liberal media." Imagine the howls if they described a typical Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck speech and the audience reaction - and then pointed out that she is not on the fringe but is standing next to perhaps Dick Cheney or Mitt Romney on the stage! And readers just would not believe it if they carried the transcript from even a minute of Rush Limbaugh.

For example, this weekend AP wrote about the many flat-out untruths that Mitt Romney told in his speech at the conservative CPAC convention: Analysis: Untruths have consequences in politics. But they had to make it a "both sides do it" piece. To accomplish that, the piece equates a speech by a senior Republican Party leader, one of their candidates for President, with a pseudonymous "liberal" blogger.

"While Romney and fellow Republicans were filling the air with red-meat distortions, liberal Democratic activists were torturing facts online as they wrote commentary about the conservative gathering."

So what example is given of "liberals" torturing facts?

"And so it was this week, when liberal bloggers reacted to the CPAC distortions with false attacks of their own. On the Daily Kos Web site, one blogger noted the standing ovation given to "the self-confessed war criminal Dick Cheney."

The "false attack" against Cheney? The blog post reported that Cheney himself said on ABC's This Week the other day, "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" -- a war crime for which the United States government has prosecuted people.

So a senior Republican Party leader and Presidential candidate telling whoppers is equated with a guy on a blog who points out that Cheney said he had in office approved of torture.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:44 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Conservatives: Against The Community

Here is Glenn Beck addressing the conservative convention CPAC:

In an apparent reference to John McCain, Beck condemned a "guy in the Republican Party who says his favorite president is Theodore Roosevelt." He then read disapprovingly the Roosevelt quote that "we grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used . . . so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community."

"Is this what the Republican Party stands for?" Beck demanded. He was answered with boos and cries of "no!" "It's big government, it's a socialist utopia and we need to address it as if it is a cancer."

Let it sink in: The crowd boos the very idea of benefit to the community.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Radio Show Today 1:30pst

On my regular segment on the radio show The Fairness Doctrine today at 4:30est or so, on WDIS in Boston, I will be talking about today's post Whirlpool Exec Responds: The System Made Us Do It. You can listen by clicking "Listen Live" and there will be a podcast available later.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Whirlpool Exec Responds: The System Made Us Do It

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

In last week’s post, Whirlpool Bites Hands Of American Taxpayers That Feed It, I wrote about Whirlpool closing a factory in Evansville, Indiana. In summary,


    • Whirlpool closes a plant in Evansville
    • Taxpayers will shoulder the unemployment and other costs.
    • All the local supplier, transportation and other third-party jobs are destroyed.
    • Even more home foreclosures in the area as a result.
    • Local businesses are stressed or have to go out of business.
    • They are playing nearby Iowa against Indiana for tax breaks and subsidies to keep just a few of the jobs.
    • Whirlpool is profiting from making all this someone else's problem.
    • And, of course, Wall Street celebrates the move.

This would be just one more “dog bites man” story – a company closes a plant and moves production out of the country, destroys workers’ lives, devastates communities and small businesses, sets states against each other, increases their profit margin, and Wall Street cheers. We read the same story over and over again for decades now, and the economy and the country of course have reached a limit of what can be lost. So what? What else is new?

But at Huffington Post a Whirlpool spokesperson responded, saying the post is “based on misinformation that’s floating around the Internet.” He wrote that their decision was based on “competitive factors.” In other words, Whirlpool says that the system made us do it. (The response in full is at the end of this post)

The spokesperson for Whirlpool is exactly right. It is the system that makes them do this. They are only following the market’s orders.

Set aside for a minute the lack of humanity in Whirlpool's response, the lack of patriotism, the placing of market values (privatize the profits, socialize the costs) above human values, and the lack of concern for the destructive effect of their moves on the larger American economy. The system - the market - lets Whirlpool plead that those things are not Whirlpool’s job or concern. They are only trapped in the rules of the playing field and it is the job of We, the People to set those rules. It's OUR fault, not theirs...

So to the extent that we are upset that Whirlpool moves jobs to Mexico, devastates surrounding communities, sets Indiana and Iowa bidding against each other for a few scraps and killing off the supplier and other businesses it isn’t Whirlpool’s fault, “WE” have fallen down on the job. WE have allowed a few large monopolistic corporate giants to take over the job of defining national policy. And of course those monopolist giants set the rules to their own advantage and against the interests of the rest of us, including all of the Whirlpools (unless Whirlpool becomes lucky enough to be the biggest, then THEY get to set the rules.) A few monopolistic giants benefit greatly from keeping this system the way it is, so their lobbying power keeps the country from changing the rules to benefit anyone else.

The rules are what they are. Yes, that’s a huge part of the problem.

BUT while Whirlpool pleads a “competitive factors” case, let’s look at Whirlpool’s competitor GE. GE isn’t perfect, but they are finding ways to move jobs BACK to the US. For example, look at this recent news report,

General Electric announces new product coming to Appliance Park

GE announced Appliance Park will get a new product - a "hybrid" or energy efficient water heater. The product line will arrive in 2011 and bring with it 400 new jobs.

How was GE was able to make Louisville work for producing durable goods, when Whirlpool is not able to make Evansville work? Is it a lack of corporate imagination on Whirlpool’s part? Why isn’t Whirlpool inspired to go the extra mile to find ways to keep jobs here, to help the communities that surround them and to help the workers who build their products for so many years? Are Whirlpool's executives just happy enough with their profit margins, and this is all that matters? Will Whirlpool work to change the system that makes them do the things they do?

And more importantly in the big picture, I conclude this post with the same question as the previous post concluded: Will Congress listen?

Here is the Whirlpool spokesperson’s response:

Dear Dave Johnson and readers of the Huffington Post:

In reviewing your blog post, I noticed it appears to be based on misinformation that’s floating around the Internet. I’d like to contribute the following facts for the sake of context and clarity.

• Whirlpool has approximately 17,000 U.S.-based manufacturing employees - more than any of our competitors.
• We produce the majority of our major appliances in the U.S., while some of our competitors do not produce any of their major appliances in the U.S.
• The economic downturn and other factors lead us to expect lower demand for the refrigerators produced by our plants in Evansville, Indiana and Apodaca, Mexico, and we therefore decided to consolidate their manufacturing in one location.
• We based our decision to consolidate in Apodaca on a full analysis of all the competitive factors between the two plants.
• We worked with Indiana state and local officials to keep the company’s Product Development Center of 300 design engineers in Evansville.
• As a recipient of $19 million in stimulus funds from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Smart Grid Investment Grant program, we are required to match that amount with an investment of equal value in the development of new smart products. The grant and related investment are completely unrelated to the manufacturing of existing product lines such as these refrigerators.
• We have honored the Union and others’ requests for meetings to discuss the decision, but given the competitive nature of the industry and the state of the markets, no combination of changes proposed at those meetings could make the plant competitive.

We appreciate the support shown for our Evansville employees, and hope that this message helps clarify the facts.

Thank you,

Christopher Wyse
Corporate Director
Communications and Public Affairs
Whirlpool Corporation

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:13 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Homework

Assignment: from last July: http://bit.ly/du6Trc Is Bipartisan Stance Destroying Obama's Presidency?

That was 7 months ago. Wow. Does anyone ever learn?

Now, please read Chris Bowers' important post today: Republicans gained by obstructing, Democrats lost by reaching out

The bloggers are always right. My post on this is coming soon.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 21, 2010

Create Real Jobs That Pay Off: Update Our 1970'S Infrastructure

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

One legacy of the Reagan tax cuts is that we stopped maintaining - and never mind modernizing - our infrastructure. As a result there is a LOT of work that needs doing. And there are a very, very large number of unemployed people. Hmmm...

There are so many more ways our economy suffers as the consequences of Reagan-era choices come home to roost. The current economic doldrums are in great part the result of Reagan-era choices:

* The deferred infrastructure maintenance and modernization that resulted from the tax cuts mean that our economy is no longer world-class. Bob Herbert has been writing about this problem for a while. From his most recent,

Schools, highways, the electric grid, water systems, ports, dams, levees — the list can seem endless — have to be maintained, upgraded, rebuilt or replaced if the U.S. is to remain a first-class nation with a first-class economy over the next several decades. And some entirely new infrastructure systems will have to be developed.
So here we are with a massive infrastructure deficit that is harming our ability to compete economically in the world. Just one example: China has 42 high-speed rail lines coming into operation connecting their major cities, and we are just starting our first one connecting ... Tampa to Orlando?

* The education cutbacks then are really hurting now.

* Energy. Cancelling all of Carter's efforts to solve our energy problems has left the economy dependent on last century's expensive and polluting energy sources and the monopolistic giants that control them.

* Debt. Tax cuts creating "structural deficits" have built up tremendous debt and the accompanying burden of paying interest on that debt and dependence on those who fund our borrowing habit.

* Militarization. We spend more on military than every other country on earth combined. The big defense corporations keep us from doing anything about it. Historically this kind of military spending and the resulting debt has ruined empires and kingdoms, and here we are.

* Government. Outsourcing/cutting/destroying/hating government and the commons has left us ill-equipped to catch up with China and others, and deal with monopolistic multinational corporate giants.

Schools, highways, power grid, ... everything. And all this work needs to be done on top of the need to retrofit all of our country's buildings to be energy efficient. Or we will just continue to fall forther behind. There is so much work that needs to be done. I wonder how the cost compares to the amounts that have been transferred to the very rich since the tax cuts started.

Hmmm... Let's see ... high unemployment ... lots of work that needs doing ... massive wealth accumulated at the very top ... hmmm... dot. dot. dot. And on top of that, there is all that evidence that past investment in infrastructure leads to great prosperity in the years following the investment ... dot. dot. dot. hmmm... Ideas are forming... connections are being made...

I can hear the shrieking from the "free market" conservative bunch now, just for thinking such thoughts: "But ... but .. that would be just WRONG to just ... give people jobs doing what needs to be done!!! and taxing the RICH -- the very beneficiaries of past infrastructure investment -- to pay for it? How can you even dare suggest such a thing???!!!"

Public works projects -- infrastructure. Example: In the 1950s, with top tax rates at 90%, we started the massive public works project that is the Interstate Highway System. How did that investment work out for our economy? How many companies benefitted from the ability to deliver trucked goods across the country in a short time? How did those top taxpayers do economically as a result of such investments?

Hmmm...

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

February 19, 2010

Whirlpool Bites Hands Of American Taxpayers That Feed It

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Whirlpool, recipient of federal stimulus "smart grid" dollars, is closing an Evansville, Indiana freezer-topped refrigerator and icemaker production plant and moving the 1,100 jobs to Mexico.

Whirlpool knows that taxpayers will shoulder the unemployment and other costs. Closing a plant like this also means all the supplier, transportation and other third-party jobs go away. For example, 100+ Disabled Workers Could Lose Jobs

Whirlpool employees aren't the only ones losing their jobs when the plant closes. More than 100 blind or disabled individuals could also be left jobless. The Evansville Association for the Blind has issued a public plea, asking businesses to consider using their employees.

There will be more home foreclosures, and local businesses are stressed or have to go out of business. Whirlpool is profiting from making all this someone else's problem.

Whirlpool is even playing nearby Iowa against Indiana, shaking the state down for millions to move just 60 of the 1,100 jobs there.

So, of course, Wall Street celebrates the move, the setting states against each other, the cost-shifting and the resulting "increase in margins."

The workers are still trying to do something about this. Inside Indiana Business writes about a rally on February 26,

Organizers have invited guests including AFL/CIO President Richard Trumka and Jim Clark, president of the IUE-CWA union with which Local 808 is affiliated.

Employees with the least seniority are expected to lose their jobs first, March 26. The remaining workers will be let go until production ceases in early summer.


Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, writes:

The Whirlpool Corp. is closing a refrigerator manufacturing plant in Evansville, Ind., putting more than 1,100 people out of work. Even worse, Whirlpool will continue to produce these refrigerators, but not in Evansville and not anywhere else in America. They are planning to manufacture them in Mexico, where weaker labor and environmental laws make them “cheaper” for Whirlpool to produce.

This is outrageous and unacceptable, especially in light of Whirlpool’s profitability and the $19 million dollars in economic recovery money Whirlpool recently received from the federal government as a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those are OUR economic recovery funds, not Mexico’s.

You can sign their Whirlpool: Keep It Made in America petition here.

Will Congress listen?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:32 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

Pass Health Care With Strong Public Option Or No Votes For Dems

Here is something that the Democrats in DC need to understand: the "base" has not forgotten about health care with a public option. They have not dropped it. They have not run from it.

Pass health care with a strong public option, or a LOT of people are not going to show up at the polls in November.

I am not advocating this, I am afraid of this. Out there in "the real world" people are not tuned into the finer points of the legislative process. ALL they know is that the Congress spent the year on health care, and nothing has been done. And the polls still show that the public option is what the pubic wants. None of this has changed, even if Washington is tired of it.

Meanwhile, if you are watching the CPAC convention of crazy conservatives this week you are seeing the people who are going to be in office if people are not given good reasons to show up and vote.

The Republican agenda is Tax Cuts, Torture and Triggering a depression. We really don't want that. Democrats, get your act together and pass that health care! The country need to you get this done.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:58 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

February 18, 2010

Blog Hero Award - Terrance Heath

Terrance Heath is hereby awarded the coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award for this post: On Bearing Grudges | OurFuture.org.

Please go read.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Yes, Nuclear

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

I believe that global warming is the most serious threat humanity faces. So we need to use every possible technology we can to replace energy sources that put greenhouse gases into the air. This includes nuclear energy.

One big problem with nuclear is figuring out what to do with the dangerous radioactive waste. But here's the thing, when we burn coal and oil we're just putting the dangerous waste product into the air and it is destroying the planet. So we can't make the perfect the enemy of the good -- nuclear waste is not destroying the planet and fossil-fuel waste is. We simply have to replace coal and oil as our energy source.

Climate change is an emergency. We need to do everything we can. This means we need to put up every windmill we can, every solar panel we can, every solar power plant, biofuel and geothermal facility that we can. We need to retrofit every building to be energy efficient, switch to electric cars, stop eating meat that is not grass-fed. We need to do research into finding ways to sequester carbon from coal. And we need to build nuclear power plants. What part of "everything we can" did I miss?

Please, let's make this a discussion. Please join the discussion and leave a comment with your thoughts on this.

BUT

As we proceed with this, we need to learn some lessons from the past. As we build a new generation of reactors there are some things that need to be clear from the outset.

Make them safe. This means a highly regulated effort, not a free-for-all for profits. Tax dollars are involved, and even if they were not public safety must be the primary focus. Newer reactor designs eliminate Chernobyl-style "meltdown" fears but we need close supervision by government. We need the government "meddling" and "interfering" and "snooping" every step of the way. We, the People need to be sure that every best practice is followed and no corners are cut to make a buck.

Buy American. If we are building nuclear power plants we should regulate that they create American jobs, not offshore in China or anywhere else. There are federal funds guaranteeing loans for these projects and they should specify that we Buy American. Use American –made components, right down to the steel. China's and other country's governments are helping their own economies, let's us help our own economy this time.

There are also safety concerns for Buy American. We need very close inspection of every component and material that is used in these plants. How would we monitor the manufacturing of the components and the quality of the steel if it is done outside the US? Do you remember the faulty welds in the Chinese components that shut down San Francisco's Bay Bridge last year?

Protect the environment. There is also the environmental impact of making steel in China and then shipping it versus making it here -- in our highly productive steel industry. China creates three times the greenhouse emissions when they make steel that our own steel plants create. This is one reason their steel costs less. What is the point of building nuclear to lower greenhouse gas emissions and using greenhouse gas-creating processes?

So I say Yes, Nuclear, and make sure that we use Big Government oversight to keep it safe, create American jobs and mostly to protect the environment.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:06 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

A Short Video About The Economy

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 17, 2010

Huge 2009 Budget Deficit -- Just One More Conservative Failure

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

Conservatives claim that President Obama "tripled the deficit" and point to the huge 2009 budget deficit as proof. The fiscal-year 2009 deficit, as reported in October was, indeed, about triple the prior year's borrowing. But the 2009 budget was the last budget year of the prior, conservative administration. It is just one more demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.

Basic math: A budget year that ends 8 months into a President's first year wasn't that President's budget.

Yet we hear, over and over, that "Obama tripled the deficit." Recently, when President Obama spoke at the Republican caucus retreat, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas said that Obama had "tripled the deficit." A CNN fact check addresses this,

Obama was essentially correct when he said he inherited a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion. Though the budget deficit for 2008 was a then-record $458.6 billion, the CBO issued a projection in January 2009, just days before Obama took office that the budget deficit would reach $1.2 trillion that year, before the cost of any new stimulus plan or other legislation was taken into account.

Don't believe me? See the conservative Cato Institute on this: Don’t Blame Obama for Bush’s 2009 Deficit | Cato @ Liberty,

Listening to a talk radio program yesterday, the host asserted that Obama tripled the budget deficit in his first year. This assertion is understandable, since the deficit jumped from about $450 billion in 2008 to $1.4 trillion in 2009. As this chart illustrates, with the Bush years in green, it appears as if Obama’s policies have led to an explosion of debt.

[chart]

. . . But there is one rather important detail that makes a big difference. The chart is based on the assumption that the current administration should be blamed for the 2009 fiscal year. While this makes sense to a casual observer, it is largely untrue. The 2009 fiscal year began October 1, 2008, nearly four months before Obama took office. The budget for the entire fiscal year was largely set in place while Bush was in the White House.

[corrected chart]

Please click through to see the charts. And then look at Cato: Who's To Blame for the Massive Deficit? for an even better explanation,
What about the so-called stimulus, they will ask, with its $787 billion price tag? Or the omnibus fiscal-year 2009 appropriations bill? And how about Cash for Clunkers and Obama's expansion of the children's health insurance program? Didn't these all boost spending in 2009?

The answer is yes. But these boondoggles amounted to just a tiny percentage of FY2009 spending — about $140 billion out of a $3.5 trillion budget — as the pie chart nearby illustrates.

Here are some examples of how this propaganda is applied. Keep in mind as you read these and look at the charts that the 2009 budget was Bush's last budget, and began before Obama even took office.

Heritage Foundation: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures. Look at how the colors on the chart trick you into thinking that 2009 is an Obama budget year. This is just outright deceit.

Here is Heritage directly labeling the 2009 budget as Obama's in a chart.

Here is a similar use of deception in charts, by right-wing blogs.

More examples: Federal budget triples under Obama – yes TRIPLES, and After Tripling The Deficit, Obama To Try And Create Jobs With More Government Spending, and Obamanomics: Deficit Tripled in One Year

Fox News: Obama Triples Budget Deficit to $1.4 Trillion (they have since changed the headline but here is it as it appeared:) fox nation clip

Here's a good one, using a Heritage propaganda chart: Obama’s Tripling of the National Debt in Pictures

The right's noise maching is good, though, there are 27,000 websites listed if you search for "obama tripled the deficit" in quotes.

Conservative policies since Reagan have led to massive debt. Don't let them trick you by changing the colors on a chart.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Easy Way To Comment To FDIC On Bank Pay

If you think excessive bank pay creates excessive risk-taking, here is something you can do. http://bit.ly/djiYod Leave a comment to this thread at Open Left and it will be submitted to the FDIC.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Cut Taxes At The Top And Pensions For Old People

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

Today's new York Times has a front-page story (really an editorial) that promotes cutting the Social Security pensions of Americans and other things that we as citizens are entitled to.

Many analysts say the president and Congress could send a strong signal to global markets by agreeing this year to a package of both long-term tax increases and spending reductions, especially in the popular entitlement programs, that would not take effect until 2012.

Let's remember how we got here.

For decades following the depression and WWII the country had operated with a budget that was in or nearly in balance while maintaining our infrastructure and investing in our future. Past concentrations of wealth were decreasing, the middle class was expanding, and we led the world in growing prosperity.

The trouble all started when we dramatically cut taxes on the rich. For decades the top tax rate was 90%. Then we cut it to 70% and then 50% dramatically from there all the way to around 30%. The budget immediately went completely out of balance. The tax cuts created a "structural deficit."

At the same time as we cut taxes for the rich we raised taxes on everyone else, saying the money would be used to pay for peoples' retirement. However, that money instead was used to defer the damage caused by the tax cuts for the rich.

And we started to dramatically increase the military budget. Today we spend about $1 trillion a year on military, veterans, intelligence, nukes, and the share of debt interest from past military spending -- more than every other country in the world combined.

And we started cutting everything else back. We cut back investing in R&D, schools, transportation, you name it. We stopped even maintaining the existing infrastructure. The very investment that could have led to economic growth was cut because of those tax cuts.

And now because the debt and continued borrowing -- caused by those huge tax cuts for the rich and huge increases in military spending -- has gotten SO bad, the corporate and media elite demand that we ... cut back the pensions of old people, further decrease infrastructure maintenance and investment, etc. ? As the SNL Church Lady used to say, "Isn't that conveeeeenient?"

They are trying very hard to keep the public from noting that we spend more on military than the rest of the world combined, and that the budget and economy worked so much better when tax rates at the top were very much higher. If you want to fix the borrowing you need to fix the cause of the borrowing. You need to get the money from where the money went.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:34 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 15, 2010

Elizabeth Warren Should Replace Geithner As Treasury Secretary

Here is Elizabeth Warren talking about problems with commercial real estate and what it means to banks. This video accompanies the release of a Congressional Oversight Panel report on this problem.

Elizabeth Warren should replace Geithner as Treasury Secretary!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:16 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Toyota Coverage In Corporate Media

Did you notice how coverage of Toyota dried up right after Toyota dealers pulled some ads and threatened to pull more?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Here Is When Obama Could Have Passed Health Care

Yes I'm writing about this again,

Way back in July President Obama had the option of keeping the Congress in session until they passed health care.

White House officials negotiated furiously on Thursday to keep major health care legislation on track after the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said his chamber would not vote on a health measure until after Congress returned from its summer recess.
The summer recess was when the corporate-and-Wall-Street-funded astroturf groups put so much effort into building up the tea party movement and reviving the Republican Party.

Just sayin'... He had the option to be tough and insist. So why didn't he? From the news story:

As Mr. Obama took questions from his audience in Shaker Heights, he was asked whether he intended to call on Democratic leaders in Congress to cancel their August recess to try to reach a compromise on health care. For now, he said, he had no plans to do so.
Here is the thing: THIS weekend President Obama had the chance to exercise his legitimate, Constitutional power to get things done for the public, and fill several vacancies in his administration. He could have made recess appointments of nominees that Republicans are blocking. Previous Presidents have done this. Bush did it more than 100 times! But he didn't.

I just don't understand this President's unwillingness to work for the People of the United states.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:10 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

News Flash: Nations Compete

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

I have a regular spot on the radio show, The Fairness Doctrine, currently in Massachusetts but going national. The show has a liberal and a conservative host and they present and discuss differing viewpoints -- without shouting.

On the show today we talked about my post from last week, With Washington Stalled, China and Others Race Past Us. In that post I wrote,

One party in Washington is following a strategy of obstructing everything, believing that the public will blame the other party for nothing getting done. The other party refuses to use the powers it has to act on the nation's agenda, fearing that the public will thing they're being mean or something. So we're stuck, standing still, getting nothing done. And the rest of the world moves forward with the green manufacturing revolution, taking the jobs, taking the industries, taking the momentum, taking the future.

Here is my point: We're standing still, and other nations are moving ahead. Literally. High-speed rail is an example of this difference. Compare China's investment in public infrastructure like high-speed rail with our own.

At Open Left Saturday, Paul Rosenberg wrote a post about China's wonderful new high-speed rail system, Whose near future is our far future: Europe, China or California?, saying,

"It's really amazing how much rail they're going to have built within the next two years, 42 lines including connections between China's most important cities. ... The US, in contrast, will have one line built in four years, connecting Tampa and Orlando. Tampa and Orlando? That's not so much a high-speed rail line, more an overgrown Disney ride."

China has a national strategy of massive investment in public infrastructure to create jobs and stimulate manufacturing. This investment then leaves behind a modernized manufacturing infrastructure as well as a much more efficient transportation system. This is part of a larger strategy to develop an economy that is much more energy efficient than their competitors, which means they will be better able as a nation to compete economically.

President Obama has been trying to get our own country to invest strategic projects like this. If we can invest in a more efficient economy then WE will be more competitive in the future than we are today. This means more jobs and a higher standard of living in the future, as these investments pay off. But his efforts meet resistance every step of the way. Just one example of this is how the entrenched oil and coal interests take advantage of the corruption of Washington, especially the Senate, to block these efforts. They also invest heavily in poisoning the information that reaches the public, like funding "climate skeptics" and think tanks that pump out "ideology" that isn't really ideas but is propaganda that serves their own financial interests. They and others are doing everything they can to block us from investing in the green manufacturing revolution while the rest of the world is moving ahead.

America is stuck in this weird ideology that says government is bad, and it is wrong for government to help the people by planning and investing in our future. There is a "market fundamentalism" that says that markets must decide things, not democracy. They say our people through our government will make bad decisions, that companies are much more efficient at making decisions, so we should instead let the people who run the largest companies decide how to use our country's resources, labor force, and capital. They say this is much more "efficient" than letting democracy make decisions.

Here is a fact: nations compete. You might believe this is an outmoded concept. It might not fit with the business model of multinational corporations. But we still have countries that see themselves as unified nations with a shared identity, and these nations compete. They compete with US. China is competing with US and the rest of the world, to bring manufacturing to itself, and using national strategies. We are not responding as a nation.

When someone is in a fight with you, you have a much better chance of winning if you at least understand that you are in a fight and get yourself organized to do something about it! How hard is that to understand? China and other countries are in a fight with us for economic dominance. Manufacturing is the key to economic power, and they are fighting to win manufacturing business away from us.

I don't say this to particularly criticize China. The Chinese don't owe me a job. China is just taking care of its own. It should. That is what nations are supposed to do. So to the extent that we still see ourselves as a NATION, we need to take care of OUR own. We need a national economic/industrial strategy, where we say THIS is how WE are going to compete.

If America is still a nation with a democracy we're going to have to step up to the plate and compete as a country and as a people.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:58 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 14, 2010

What Would You Think About Without Marketing?

It's Valentines Day. Did you buy a card, candy or flowers?

It's just marketing.

Have you ever wondered what you would think about if your whole life had unfolded with only normal human influences acting on your psyche, and not any modern corporate or political persuasions subtly planted into the process?

How subtle? How pervasive and powerful is marketing? In 1934 Edward Bernays, the father of modern marketing, was tasked by Lucky Strike to come up with a new package design to replace the current green design. "Green was out" and women were wearing other colors; they didn't want to have a green package that didn't match their dresses, so sales were down.

How did he fix this?

When surveys showed that women objected to Luckies because the green package with its red bull's-eye clashed with the colors of their clothes, he swung into action to make green fashionable.

Instead of redesigning the package Bernays organized a "green fashions ball," and
worked with manufacturers of accessories, dresses and textiles, and sent 6,500 letters and kits to department stores, fashion editors and interior decorators, telling them of the green "trend." At his urging, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue featured green on covers on the date of the Green Ball. He also sent press releases with psychologist stories suggesting benefits of the color green, as "color of spring, an emblem of hop, victory (over depression) and plenty." According to the New York Times, "sales figures" proved that the "campaign was a brilliant success."

Lesson: It was cheaper and easier to change the fashion culture of the country than to redesign and reprint a cigarette package.

And that was only 1934. Marketing has gotten much more sophisticated since then.

So do you think your thoughts are your own, uninfluenced? Not a chance. But have you ever wondered what it would be like if they were? If not -- if you don't even know to wonder -- then your thoughts really, really aren't your own.

Happy Valentines Day. By the way, Starbucks will be changing all the interior store colors from pink to St. Patricks Day green overnight.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tea Party Nonsense

All you need to know about the Tea Party people:

CONFUSION-BASED RAGE...

Indeed, it's easy to forget this, but the first Tea Party crowds started protesting in March 2009 -- exactly one month after President Obama signed one of the largest tax-cut packages in American history into law. The protestors wanted to make clear that they are "taxed enough already," choosing to pretend that they hadn't just received a tax cut from the president they hate so intensely.

One more thing - the rant by CNBC's Rick Santelli that is supposed to have spontaneously started the Tea Party movement (even though the websites were all ready to roll out and the corporate astroturf groups already had the strategy mapped) was NOT about taxes, it was a protest of the government helping out people who might lose their houses, and about how Wall Street and rich people were who should run the country. Never mind that...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:45 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

February 13, 2010

Will He Govern?

President Obama has the power to do a recess appointment and get the NLRB functioning again. One of his nominees was approved by a majority of the Senate, with confirmation blocked by filibuster.

This weekend is the test of whether the President wants to get things done for Americans or not. He could appoint the nominee to the NLRB and get it functioning again. Will he or won't he? Will he choose to govern or will he let the government continue to stagnate?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:40 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Must-Read! Senate Republicans: Filibuster everything and win in November?

Senate Republicans: Filibuster everything and win in November?

This McClatchy Newspapers story explains that the Republicans are employing a strategy that has nothing to do with governing, policy, etc. Just block everything, while the country falls ever further behind, and in November their energized base will turn out while everyone else is so demoralized they won't bother to vote.

And the Democratic leadership is helping them get away with this. In the Senate the Dems refuse to use "reconciliation" to pass things - something routinely done by Republicans under Bush. President Obama refuses to use recess appointments - again, something Bush did routinely - so his administration remains poorly staffed and unable to govern.

The Democrats and Obama appear to be afraid the Republicans will say bad things about them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:00 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

With Washington Stalled, China And Others Race Past Us

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Bob Herbert has a column today, Watching China Run, asking our country's leaders to get moving on the country's problems,

Our esteemed leaders in Washington can’t figure out how to do anything more difficult than line up for a group photo. Put Americans back to work? You must be kidding. Health care? We’ve been working on it for three-quarters of a century. Infrastructure? Don’t ask.

Meanwhile China and other competitors are moving ahead with their national plans. (We don't even have a national economic/industrial plan to move ahead with.)

“China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world’s largest maker of wind turbines and is poised to expand even further this year.”

China also has become the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and is pushing hard on other clean energy advances. ... “These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China.”

We’re in the throes of an awful and seemingly endless employment crisis, and China is the country moving full speed ahead on the development of the world’s most important new industries.

One party in Washington is following a strategy of obstructing everything, believing that the public will blame the other party for nothing getting done. The other party refuses to use the powers it has to act on the nation's agenda, fearing that the public will thing they're being mean or something. So we're stuck, standing still, getting nothing done. And the rest of the world moves forward with the green manufacturing revolution, taking the jobs, taking the industries, taking the momentum, taking the future.

Mr. Herbert concludes,

And what’s at stake is the future of the American economy. The low-carbon era is coming. We can be dragged into that newer, greener world by leading countries like China; or we can take up the challenge and become the world’s leader ourselves.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 12, 2010

Obama Blocking Labor Board From Functioning

President Obama is refusing to do "recess appointments" to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), even after a majority of the Senate voted to confirm one of his nominees.

Some background: The NLRB is supposed to have 5 members of its Board. It currently only has 2 and requires 3 to do anything, so it is unable to function. Republicans have filibustered the two candidates that President Obama nominated 7 months ago. The President has the power to make recess appointments when the senate is not in session. President Bush's anti-labor nominees were confirmed unanimously, and Bush made a total of 171 recess appointments.

President Obama has said he will not do recess appointments. He feels being "bipartisan" is more important than getting things done. This at a time when the Repubicans have said in the open that their strategy tis to keep the President from getting anything done.

If you want to call with your opinion of this, the White House Switchboard is: 202-456-1111 OR 202-456-1414

Richard Trumka, head of the AFL-CIO, writes, No Deal,

Senate Republican obstructionists are working overtime to block the interests of working people. Today we hear the White House and Senate have cut a deal with Republicans that will keep President Obama's nominees off the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for even longer.

The NLRB's job is to protect workers' rights--but for more than two years it has been functioning with only two members instead of the five it should have. Working people need an NLRB that can enforce the National Labor Relations Act--not one hobbled by vacancies.

President Obama's nominees--Craig Becker and Mark Pearce--are highly qualified, well-respected labor lawyers who were nominated seven months ago, in July.

But Senate Republicans have ignored the working people they represent and blocked the appointments.

Yesterday, in a deal with the Republican minority, the Senate confirmed 27 non-controversial Obama appointees. The White House apparently has agreed not to make Presidents Day recess appointments--a process that allows the president to temporarily appoint his own nominee while Congress is out of session. That means NLRB nominees--and working people--are out in the cold.

A big win for the Republicans. A big win for corporations that want to file down the teeth of the NLRB. A big loss for working people.

We're used to the Republicans playing the role of Lucy and yanking the football away each time Charlie Brown tries to kick it. We've seen it on health care, jobs legislation, you name it.

President Obama has to end this farce.

Becker already received majority approval from the Senate, but apparently majority rule isn't good enough any more. A Republican filibuster--joined by Democrats Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (Ark.)--blocked his nomination from going forward. By contrast, when President Bush made his initial appointments to the NLRB, a package of nominees including three management lawyers was approved unanimously.

So today and every day through the congressional recess, union members and other activists from working America will be calling the White House and demanding a recess appointment now for Craig Becker and Mark Pearce.

These next few weeks will be crucial in building support for a fully functional NLRB. Progressives should take every opportunity to let their congressional representatives and the White House know that protection of workers' rights is one of the first and most important changes working people expected to see when they voted in 2008. It's been 13 months since the inauguration--it's time.

Give recess appointments to Craig Becker and Mark Pearce during the Presidents Day recess so the NLRB can do its job.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Union Values and the Test of Time

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

A couple of weeks ago I bought a hat with "AFL-CIO" written on it. Inside the hat there is a label that reads, "Union Made in the USA." I was thinking about how unions wouldn't buy cheap hats made in China or by some non-union sweatshop even if it was in the US. They stick with their values.

There are many examples of unions sticking with their values. Union locals don't use non-union print shops - and you might notice that many candidates for office recognize this and use union printers to print their own campaign materials, because they know that union members look for this. Union members stick together when other workers are trying to bargain for wages, benefits, rights and respect. People who work directly for unions get good wages and benefits. And union members generally show up and vote for candidates who support broad American values that say "we're in this together" rather than the conservative "you're on your own" philosophy.

This got me thinking about where we are with the economy, following the decrease of union membership and how-many-years of corporate/conservative domination of the "marketplace of ideas." Decades of this "market" stuff has been driven into our heads, the media is entirely corporate and you just will not see or hear or read someone from labor talking about how joining a union benefits workers or how labor values are good for us. Everything we hear is entirely the conservative/corporate/Wall Street perspective now that we are protected from having to hear other opinions. How has that worked out for all of us?

Let's look at some of the core values of America's labor movement, and see how these are standing up to the "stress test" our economy is undergoing.

First, the law. According to the National Labor Relations Board,

"Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act ("NLRA") in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy."

This statement reflects American values: Employees and employers, together. Protecting rights. Encouraging collective action: demcoracy. Promoting the general welfare of workers, businesses and the economy. This is a statement that says promoting democracy, justice and equality boosts all of us, helping us to prosper together.

Please take a moment to read Section 1 of The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In summary it says that lack of bargaining power by workers against corporations leads to depressions (we call them recessions now) because of depressed purchasing power. And it leads to strikes which disrupt commerce. Therefore it is the policy of the United States to encourage collective bargaining. If you have more time, read through some of the things this law says because you will be shocked at the extent to which our government now ignores its own laws, acting in a one-sided way allowing businesses to fire organizers and intimidate workers but doing so little for working people. How has that worked out for us?

Take a look at the AFL-CIO mission statement:

The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families—to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation.

This doesn't say they do this for AFL-CIO members only, it says they do this for all of us. How would sticking with values like these be working out for us?

Change To Win says they are,

... a new movement of working people equipped to meet the challenges of the global economy and restore the American Dream in the 21st century: a paycheck that can support a family, affordable health care, a secure retirement and dignity on the job.

If only values like these were dominant in our economy today.

The SEIU says they are.

... an organization of 2.2 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

Wouldn't it be great if these were the dominant values that our economy operated under today?

Union values: To improve lives. Social justice. Dignity. Just and humane. Security. People in unions believe things like: Solidarity: Stick together. Protect jobs. We're in this together. Good wages and good benefits for any of us help all of us. And this means workers and businesses together. Seriously, working people take pride in what they do, and like every else they want the organizations they are part of to succeed. In the case of businesses of course the interests of working people are that their companies do well because then they do well. Everyone is happiest when there is harmony and good times are shared.

These are values that so many of us agree with. When these values were more widespread our economy was functions in a better way. The middle class was strong, and gains year after year. But in recent decades we have seen a Wall Street/big-corporate/conservative campaign of propaganda against these values. We hear praise for the wealthy CEO cult and the largest monopolistic corporations, and are confronted by an attitude that all of us should serve the interests of the entitled wealthiest, as if we exist at their behest. For them it is about getting as much money and power as they can, for themselves and only for themselves. We hear about how a few "top performers" deserve vast fortunes. We hear, "Greed is good," "The market should decide." We hear divisive class-warfare, like, "Rich people create jobs" and, "Did you ever get a job from a poor person?" We hear that if we dare tax them to pay for the infrastructure that enables their prosperity they will pack up their companies and take their jobs with them. These slogans come from a different kind of business interest -- the Wall Streeters and monopolistic giant corporations who want everything for themselves and to leave the mess behind for the rest of us.

The result of the conservative-values approach is that a very few at the top do better and better while the rest of us -- including most of the businesses in the country -- find it harder and harder to just get by. Jobs and factories are shifted out of the country - beyond the protections of our business, labor and environmental laws and regulatory protections. Local and regional businesses are knocked out or swallowed up. As a result of this shift toward Wall Street values today's workplace is characterized by increasing working hours or just workload, high stress, fear of layoffs, low or reduced wages, jobs sent overseas, loss of health care, loss of pensions and a general loss of dignity and security.

So again, how is this shift away from labor's values -- working America and small/medium business' values -- to Wall Street/ Wal-Mart values working out for all of us?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:53 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 11, 2010

"But" Watch

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.


"But" Watch is when you see Republican junior propagandists write letters to the editor, call radio stations, etc. and begin them with, "I'm a Democrat, but..."

Today we have this comment to the post: Senator Reid: Why Should We Help You Win Re-election? | California Progress Report,

I'm a Democrat, but I appreciate that we have an opponent party. It's too bad that both parties cannot work more harmoniously together. Bi-partisan is a funny word the way it's usually interpreted...when one party is in the majority, it says that bi-partisanship is for the other to roll over dead.   

If it were not for the Republicans, we would be in a worse financial mess than we are with "pork" gong hog wild.Of course, they did not to a very good job of balancing the budget when they were in power under Bush.

More and more "pork" comes to the surface everyday. E.g., BART wants billions to build a not-needed train to the Oakland airport. Or, Fremont wants $385,000 federal dollars to study how to use the about-to-be empty NUMMI plant. If the city fathers and city staff are not capable of doing that, then they should be voted out of office or fired.

It's interesting the liberal media don't use the word "pork" anymore; they use the cleaner word: "earmarks;" or , more recently "stimulus." In any case, it's all "pork."

This is from a "Democrat"? Seriously, how many Democrats talk about "the liberal media?"  

And considering that Republican deregulation caused the financial crisis this line is astonishing: "If it were not for the Republicans, we would be in a worse financial mess than we are."

Nice try.  Didn't work.

Click through to Speak Out California.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

COBRA Runs Out Soon For Many

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

The unemployed have a lot to fear, including losing COBRA itself.

Congress is considering passing an extension of COBRA subsidies for the unemployed. But a bigger problem is not just the subsidies running out, but COBRA itself running out.

COBRA allows people to continue to buy the same health insurance they had on the job, at full price (plus 5% to cover the administrative overhead of handling the paperwork.) COBRA lasts 18 months. It is very expensive, but the way insurance works in the U.S. many of these unemployed people would not be able to buy health insurance at any price.

Everyone had assumed that Congress could get its act together and pass health insurance reform by now, so the problem of COBRA's 18-month period has been ignored. But Congress didn't and that 18 months is running out soon for many, many of the people initially laid off after Wall Street deregulation caused the financial crisis. A subsidy does no good if it subsidizes insurance that you can't get.

These millions of people were not laid off because they scammed people and sold them CDO bonds fraudulently rated AAA. They didn't run "free" credit-card scams with incredibly small print or the ability to change the terms of the contract at will. They don't hold payments and then charge "late fees." They don't charge huge "fees" that drain your accounts. These millions of people don't get million-dollar bonuses paid for by taxpayer dollars and Fed guarantees or zero-percent "windows." So maybe this means they don't qualify for consideration by our Congress .

Congress: EXTEND COBRA FOR AN ADDITIONAL 18 MONTHS. There is no cost for doing this, it only allows people to buy health insurance that they would not be able to buy otherwise. AND pass another extension of the subsidies.

Oh, and pass health insurance reform, too.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 10, 2010

Rachel Maddow

Have I mentioned just how good Rachel Maddow's show is?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Rachel Maddow's MUST-SEE From Last Night

One after another, Republicans speaking out and voting against stimulus $$, then taking credit for it in their home districts. Just watch:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Who Is Really "Anti-Business"?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

In the Bloomberg story today, Obama Doesn’t ‘Begrudge’ Bonuses for Blankfein, Dimon, President Obama, spoke up about the huge Wall Street bonuses handed out this year,

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”

Free-market system? These huge bonuses are for the Wall Street robber-barons that caused the financial collapse, took taxpayer dollars to prop up their fortunes, and get free money from the Federal Reserve with which to "trade" -- speculate, gamble, call it what you want. Meanwhile they spend hundreds of millions of dollars "lobbying" (bribery) to fight any kind of financial reforms or consumer protections from enactment, and to make sure that no such think as a "free market" with honest competition never threatens their dominance of business and government.

So why is the President talking like this [note: see update below], at a time when so many Americans are out of work, losing their homes, and falling into poverty? Because he doesn't want to be perceived as "anti-business." From the story,

Obama sought to combat perceptions that his administration is anti-business and trumpeted the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic policies. He plans to reiterate that message when he speaks to the Business Roundtable, which represents the heads of many of the biggest U.S. companies, on Feb. 24 in Washington.

Meanwhile a Senate filibuster blocked the President's great nominee, Craig Becker, from serving on the National Labor Relations Board. So the Labor Board remains non-functional. The filibuster kept workers from being fairly represented, and the Board itself from having a tie-breaking vote so they can resolve labor disputes so the "free market" can function as it should, with workers able to bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

These two stories this week present quite a contrast, and send mixed and demoralizing signals to the country. President Obama doesn't want to "appear" to be "anti-business." Meanwhile giant, monopolistic corporations and Wall Street are chewing up Main Street and keeping smaller businesses from competing, while their lobbyists keep the legislature from getting anything done at all.

Let's talk about this "anti-business" label and how it is used.

I wrote a post the other day titled, Tax Cuts HURT Small And Medium Businesses, championing small and medium businesses in their struggle to survive against the giant monopolistic corporations that are crushing them. Summary: struggling businesses don't pay taxes, so tax cuts only give more ammunition to the giants that are crushing them. In the comments at one of the places it was posted I was accused to being “anti-business.”

Apparently championing small and medium businesses - America's job-creating, innovative engine - is "anti-business." If you look around, being anything but a servant to Wall Street and the giant monopolistic corporations earns you the label, "anti-business."

The Power Of Words

This got me thinking about the ways this label, "anti-business," gets used. It is always used by corporate/conservative types, against anyone who questions the power of Wall Street and the giant monopolistic corporations that are strangling smaller businesses, workers and democracy.

The President nominates a great candidate for the Labor Board, then worries that he is perceived as "anti-business." Labels like "anti-business" are powerful accusations and come from very, very powerful people. (Like this or this.)

Last year, in the post Misuse Of The Words Protectionism And Trade Is Making Us Poorer I wrote,

Language has tremendous power. People like George Lakoff and Drew Westin, who study the use of language in political discussion, say that our choice of words has the power to actually affect the “wiring” or neuron circuits that our brains use to think.

The corporate marketers and political persuaders have certainly learned the power of language to influence us. It has even gotten to the point where “neuromarketing” uses MRI and EEG to study how our brains react to certain stimuli so they can be used to market and persuade.

In politics I think that we have even reached a point where we give words more power and importance even than the ideas the words represent. In the Bush years we learned that the persuaders believed they could “create their own reality.”

[. . .] words are used as weapons by professionals who wish to distract us from things that are in front of our own faces.

So how do we fight this? One way is to recognize our own power as citizens in a democracy. In America the people – Main Street – are supposed to be in charge of things, and the purpose of business and finance is supposed to be to serve our interests and needs, not the other way around. Why else would We, the People have set this system up, anyway? So we need to internalize this understanding, and believe in it. We are supposed to be in charge. We, the People are supposed to be telling businesses how they are supposed to operate, setting the rules and regulations, defining the playing field on which they operate. We need to have a sense that it is improper for businesses to be involved at all in the decision-making about the rules under which businesses operate. It must be this way because business interests will always, always try to tilt the rules against the free market and in their own favor, giving them advantages over other businesses.

This isn't about being "anti-business" at all, it is about being in favor of a level playing field, where the innovative small and medium companies have a fair chance to compete. It is the giant monopolistic corporations that are "anti-business."

Believe it.

Update - Greg Sargent looked at the transcript and has a more nuanced interpretation.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:09 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

February 9, 2010

Larry Summers Says Unemployment Benefits CAUSE Unemployment??!!

See for yourself: Unemployment: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics | Library of Economics and Liberty

To fully understand unemployment, we must consider the causes of recorded long-term unemployment. Empirical evidence shows that two causes are welfare payments and unemployment insurance.

[. . .] by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work. Each unemployed person has a “reservation wage”—the minimum wage he or she insists on getting before accepting a job. Unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs increase that reservation wage, causing an unemployed person to remain unemployed longer.

[. . .] Unemployment insurance also extends the time a person stays off the job.

. . . Another cause of long-term unemployment is unionization. High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy.

. . . There is no question that some long-term unemployment is caused by government intervention and unions that interfere with the supply of labor.


I haven't been able to locate the date this was written, but it references a 2003 paper so it is 2003 or later.
Why is this guy allowed anywhere near our government?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:04 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

NYTimes "Stands By" False Reporting

Last month I posted NYT Propels Anti-ACORN Propaganda,

The NY Times ran a story today about the "high jinks" of the right-wing smear artist O'Keefe, repeating the smears on ACORN, without mentioning the investigations that concluded his ACORN videotapes were doctored and that ACORN employees did nothing wrong.

The Times reported as fact that O'Keefe was "dressed as a pimp" - he was not, he was representing himself as a candidate for Congress - and that ACORN employees gave advice on setting up a brothel - when an investigation concluded that the videos were "heavily edited" and had "substitute voicovers" inserted to make it sound like ACORN employees said things they did not.

Brad Friedman pressed the Times on this. The Times said it "stands by" the story and cites FOX News as their source.

Go read the whole thing - it's really quite stunning.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 8, 2010

Tax Cuts HURT Small And Medium Businesses

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

Much of the public believes that tax cuts "create jobs." A recent Rasmussen poll found that 59% of voters believe cutting taxes is better than increasing government spending as a job-creation tool. This proves that repeating a slogan over and over can effect what people believe.

But here is some news: Corporate taxes are on profits. So a tax cut means that the more profitable companies -- the Wal-Marts, Exxons, and other giants -- benefit. They pay back less to the government for their use of the roads, schools, courts, police, fire & military protection and all the other services that helped them get so big and powerful. So the giant monopolistic corporations that are chewing up small businesses, destroying local and regional retailers, take those tax cuts and use them to turn themselves into even better small-business-destroying machines.

For example, giants like Wal-Mart are destroying local and regional retailers. But it is the Wal-Marts, not the local and regional retailers that are the beneficiaries of tax cuts. They already have every advantage in the world and tax cuts are just more ammunition helping them destroy the small and medium businesses that are the job engine of our economy. This is why the "usual suspects," the politicians who get their campaign funds from the giant companies and work with lobbyists for the largest corporations and the right-wing talk show hosts who always advocate what the largest companies want are the ones who always advocate corporate tax cuts as the solution to everything.

Meanwhile, since smaller businesses that are struggling don't pay taxes, the tax cuts do nothing for them. They're already being walloped by these giants, then walloped by the government giving their competitors even more advantage with these tax cuts, and then they get the infrastructure they depend on cut out from under them. When taxes are cut the infrastructure that supports building new businesses is weakened. The services these companies need are cut back. The schools get worse, the government services are cut back.

If you ask the managers of a small or medium business, they will tell you they want customers, not tax cuts. Customers cause companies to hire people, not tax cuts. All the tax cuts in the world won't "create" a job, if there aren't enough customers coming through the door or ordering products because there is nothing for the new employee to do. And if there are more customers and orders the company will hire people whether they get a tax cut or not. (A job-creating tax credit for small businesses like President Obama is proposing is a different story, and will incentivize hiring.)

So remember, businesses need customers not tax cuts.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Dear Conservatives Please Explain What "Big Government" Means

Conservatives complain about "big government." Can any conservatives reading this please leave a comment explaining what you mean by "big government?"

Thanks.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:48 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 6, 2010

Did Bush Leave Us Bankrupt, Corrupt, Ungovernable?

From Open Left

When you sell the farm, the farm's gone.

Is it already too late for America? I’m starting to think that the anti-tax, anti-government conservative movement that started in the mid-70s, elected Reagan and led to the terrible Bush Presidency may have effectively destroyed the country, leaving it bankrupt, corrupt,ungovernable, ruled by a wealthy elite -- and we're only now just starting to realize it. To cover tax cuts we stopped maintaining the infrastructure and started borrowing. To satisfy their hatred of government we increasingly stripped away rule of law, regulation, and belief in one-person-one-vote. We are seeing the consequences of all of that coming back to roost now.

Reagan left us with massive debt and ever-increasing interest payments. Bush left us with $1.3 trillion deficits and a destroyed economy that would force further increases in the borrowing for years - to be blamed on Obama. The "free marketers" gave away our manufacturing base that will take decades and massive capital investment to recover. Obama can try, but it may just be too late to do anything about the borrowing. We need massive investment in jobs and infrastructure, and a national economic/industrial plan. But, with their own Reagan/Bush debt as ammunition, conservative ideologues continue to block every effort at investment to get out of the mess we are in.

The conservatives destroyed the regulatory structure of the government. They removed the inspectors, administrators, regulators and replaced them with corrupt cronies.

The conservatives killed off, contracted out or sold off - "privatized" - so much of our in-common resources and heritage of public structures. Water systems, oil and mineral leases, government functions, elements of the military, etc.

The conservatives destroyed the rule of law, leaving behind public perception of rule by cronyism, favoritism and mob.

The conservatives destroyed public understanding of democracy, leaving behind a one-dollar-one-vote system that their Supreme Court just formalized, along with a corporate media that works to keep people uninformed. And to make matters worse, now the telecoms can argue before Federalist Society judges that their "speech rights" are violated by rules making them carry labor and progressive websites over the internet lines they control. And forget about the idea of them ever letting anti-corporate-rule candidates raise money on "their" internet.

I hate to reference Friedman but this from last week has been sticking in my mind. He says the world is looking at the mess in the US and is turning away from democracy as a result.

[Foreigners] look at America and see a president elected by a solid majority, coming into office riding a wave of optimism, controlling both the House and the Senate. Yet, a year later, he can’t win passage of his top legislative priority: health care.

“Our two-party political system is broken just when everything needs major repair, not minor repair,” said ... who is attending the forum. “I am talking about health care, infrastructure, education, energy. We are the ones who need a Marshall Plan now.”

Indeed, speaking of phrases I’ve never heard here before, another goes like this: “Is the ‘Beijing Consensus’ replacing the ‘Washington Consensus?’ ” Washington Consensus is a term coined after the cold war for the free-market, pro-trade and globalization policies promoted by America. ... developing countries everywhere are looking “for a recipe for faster growth and greater stability than that offered by the now tattered ‘Washington Consensus’ of open markets, floating currencies and free elections.” And as they do, “there is growing talk about a ‘Beijing Consensus.’ ”

The Beijing Consensus, ... is a “Confucian-Communist-Capitalist” hybrid under the umbrella of a one-party state, with a lot of government guidance, strictly controlled capital markets and an authoritarian decision-making process that is capable of making tough choices and long-term investments, without having to heed daily public polls.


It is too late to recover?

Accountability is a first step. If the current administration would hold the corrupt actors accountable, maybe we could begin to restore governance. And the public would know who to blame for what has happened to us, enabling them to support policies that will get us out of this. But so far they won't. If they won't even investigate torture and illegally invading a country why should we expect any accountability for the financial collapse, corrupt government contracts, bribery, embezzlement, corruption and other crimes of the Bush era?

More equitable distribution of the fruits of our economy is another step. Our system worked so much better back when the top tax rate was 90%. The returns from our investment in infrastructure were more widely shared. And back when it took many years to build a fortune businesses had an interdependence with their communities. Executives needed the schools and roads and other public structures functioning well. They needed long-range business and community planning. But just imagine trying to do something about the concentration of wealth today.

So where do we go from here. Is democracy over? Is rule of law a thing of the past? Is predatory monopoly control by the largest corporations the way things are and will be? Does the world now move to governance by a wealthy elite?

Or is the winter and the rain and the snow just getting to me?

What are your thoughts?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 5, 2010

Jobs Chart Everyone MUST See

Look at this chart of jobs under Bush vs Obama:

jobs_chart_obama_bush.jpg

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Senator Shelby's "Holds" Show Need For National Industrial Policy

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Senator Shelby is placing "holds" (filibusters) on ALL OF the President's nominees, all by himself

Richard Shelby puts hold on President Obama's nominees

Shelby is frustrated over the Pentagon’s bidding process for air-to-air refueling tankers, which could lead to the creation of jobs in Mobile, Ala.

Over at firedoglake, emptywheel writes,

The key issue is that Shelby wants the Air Force to tweak an RFP for refueling tankers so that Airbus (partnered with Northrup Grumman) would win the bid again over Boeing. ... Airbus calculated that it would not win the new bid, and started complaining.

Essentially, then, Shelby’s threat is primarily about gaming this bidding process to make sure Airbus–and not Boeing–wins the contract (... this is the truly huge potential bounty for his state).

. . . But underlying the refueling contract is the question of whether the US military ought to spend what may amount to $100 billion over the life of the contract with a foreign company, Airbus. Particularly a company that the WTO found preliminarily to be illegally benefiting from subsidies from European governments.

$100 billion contract to build air to air tankers -- that's a lot of jobs and lots of them in Alabama.

This shows why we need a national industrial policy. The country has no policy to promote jobs and manufacturing so members of Congress are forced to do things like this to try to keep manufacturing in their district or state - competing with every other district or state. And in this case, even fighting to lose the contract for an American company!

Senator Shelby is fighting for jobs in his state, because the country is not. It is time for a coordinated national economic/industrial strategy -- just like every other country has -- so we're all working together instead of fighting over the scraps that are left behind.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 4, 2010

Roots Of Conservative Failure: Bush Called Deficits "Incredibly Positive News"

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Lest we forget where the huge deficits and debt came from...

On August 25, 2001, just seven months after taking office, George W. Bush learned that his budgets had already erased the previous administration's huge surplus -- that was paying off our country's debt at a rapid rate -- and had instead forced the country to start borrowing again. Bush said it was "Incredibly Positive News''

President Bush said today that there was a benefit to the government's fast-dwindling surplus, declaring that it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." He said that was "incredibly positive news" because it would halt the growth of the federal government.

Bush certainly wasn't the first conservative to think deficits and debt were a good thing. Conservatives had for years advocated a strategy to "starve the beast" by intentionally plunging the country into debt, forcing cutbacks in government oversight of corporate behavior such as regulatory oversight, safety inspections and consumer protections.

In the 1980 campaign for President, Reagan explained his tax cut strategy, after candidate John Anderson called for spending cuts,

"John tells us that first we've got to reduce spending before we can reduce taxes," Ronald Reagan declared in reply to the independent candidate, John Anderson. "Well, if you've got a kid that's extravagant, you can lecture him all you want to about his extravagance. Or you can cut his allowance and achieve the same end much quicker."

In his two terms Reagan quadrupled the federal debt.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

A Song About Buying From China

Buy, Buy American Pie by The Capital steps

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:46 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Who Is On Main Street's Side?

Republicans Chase Wall Street Donors

Last week, House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio made a pitch to Democratic contributor James Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of J.P. Morgan, over drinks at a Capitol Hill restaurant, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Boehner told Mr. Dimon congressional Republicans had stood up to Mr. Obama's efforts to curb pay and impose new regulations.

In case it is lost on Tea Party readers, John Boehner, the REPUBLICAN leader, was the one bragging to Wall Street that REPUBLICANS have been blocking efforts to reign in the bonuses and consumer protections.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:33 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Low Taxes Destroy Our Small Businesses

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

Remember last year when the Republicans laid out the price of a budget deal and it was a giant tax cut for the biggest corporations? So in the middle of a revenue crisis they forced ... less revenue. Well, imagine that you are a struggling small or medium business in California, and the Republicans gave your nemesis even more power to crush you.

Corporate taxes are on profits. So a tax cut means that the more profitable companies pay back less to the government for their use of the roads, schools, police and fire protection.  The very infrastructure that supports new businesses is weakened.

Meanwhile, smaller businesses that are struggling don't pay corporate taxes, so tax cuts do nothing for them. And small businesses that make modest profits only pay modest taxes, and don't care.

On the other hand, the giant monopolistic corporations that are chewing up small businesses, destroying local and regional retailers, take those tax cuts and use them to turn themselves into even better small-business-destroying machines.

For example, the giant Wal-Marts are destroying local and regional retailers.  But it is the Wal-Marts, not the local and regional retailers that are the beneficiaries of tax cuts.  This is why the "usual suspects" who get their campaign funds from the giant companies, and work with lobbyists for the largest corporations are the same ones who always advocate corporate tax cuts.

Businesses Need Customers Not Tax Cuts.

Click through to Speak Out California.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 3, 2010

Understanding The Credit Crisis

Tonite we watched the 2006 documentary movie MAXED OUT. This movie came out two years before the financial collapse and you see it coming every second as you watch people being scammed into taking on more and more debt, and the tricks that are played on them, the fees, the lies, the bush complicity, the lobbyists...

And now that the bank lobby is buying off Congress to keep the Consumer Financial Protection Agency from becoming law, please watch this movie to understand why it is so badly needed.

And, if you have Netflix you can see it on your computer at any time!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Who Owns The People's Resources?

Who owns the resources -- oil, gas, minerals, water, etc.?

Over at Open Left David Sirota writes about The Politics of Oil/Gas Taxes Moves to New Geographic Battlegrounds

Twenty-eight states have severance taxes on such commodities - that is, taxes assessed when the commodity (in this case, natural gas) is severed from the earth. The idea behind these taxes is that these natural resources are inherently both a public resource and a finite resource, and therefore the private corporations severing them should give back to the public coffers a small fraction of the value of that resource. In many states, these tax revenues are devoted to trust funds for public goods like education.

If people had a strong understanding of democracy, they would look at the issue this way: We, the People want to develop a resource that we own in common. We want minerals extracted and processed for us to use. To do so we "hire" a company to do this for us. As payment, as the company sells the resources they get to keep some -- only some -- of the proceeds for themselves.

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

Obama's Radical Agenda

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

Conservatives are constantly talking about Obama's "radical, far-left agenda."

"At last!", I said. Hearing their whines and complaints I became hopeful that our government would finally serve We, the People instead of the big corporations and the wealthy.

But then, looking around for the change that conservatives were denouncing, I couldn't find any signs of it at all! What in the world have they been talking about?!

Finally I came across a whisper of change: The Quiet Revolution | The New Republic,

Yet there is one extremely consequential area where Obama has done just about everything a liberal could ask for--but done it so quietly that almost no one, including most liberals, has noticed. Obama’s three Republican predecessors were all committed to weakening or even destroying the country’s regulatory apparatus: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the other agencies that are supposed to protect workers and consumers by regulating business practices. Now Obama is seeking to rebuild these battered institutions. ... Taken as a whole, Obama’s revival of these agencies is arguably the most significant accomplishment of his first year in office.

OK, I get it. Obama's "radical agenda" is to undo the failed conservative radical agenda that destroyed the government and the economy, restoring the government to minimal operation.

Well, that's something, anyway. Sigh.

But my own gauge of a return to actual governance by rule of law is when I open my morning paper here in Silicon Valley and see that the government is going after a few companies for age discrimination. Never mind prosecuting people for torture, illegally invading a country, crony capitalism, or destroying the country. No, I'll believe that radical change is beginning when they are willing to take on something so blatant , obvious and wrong as the firing of people when they reach 40 or so that is going on here in front of everyone's eyes out here.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

February 1, 2010

Cut What?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF). I am a Fellow with CAF.

Here’s an easy way to win an argument with a conservative over taxes and spending. Hand the conservative a piece of paper, a pencil and a calculator and ask him or her to write down exactly what spending they would cut, and by how much. And ask them to keep writing until they balance the budget.

There is a reason they are always calling for spending but they will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever say WHAT spending they mean to cut. That reason is simple: except for military spending the problem is not spending. It is the tax cuts, first under Reagan and then under W.

Monday Bill Scher posted, Sen. McConnell, If We're Really Spending Too Much, Why Can't You Say What You'd Cut?,

The fact is the only way to eliminate deficits solely by cutting spending along is to completely hobble our retirement security, shred our social safety net, condemn us to energy dependence, prevent the next generation from competing in the global economy and ensure a jobless recovery.

And there is no way conservatives are willing to spell that out and have a honest debate about their dark vision for an austere America.

The conservative movement is eager to shift the frame of debate away from how to deliver on the mandate for progressive change that swept Obama into office, and towards a debate on who can gut government the most.

There you have it. It isn't about spending, it's about government and democracy. We, the People paid taxes and built up an infrastructure and that infrastructure enabled the prosperity that we enjoyed for decades. Then came Reaganism and the tax cuts, the dramatic increases in military spending and the gutting of government services meant for the people. We started borrowing and borrowing. We stopped modernizing our infrastructure -- even stopped maintaining it. We started selling off ("privatizing") the public structures that had enabled all of us to live well. Income and wealth and power shifted up and up as wages and opportunities went down and down. And here we are.

So the next time you hear a conservative talk about how bad the deficits and debt are -- the deficits and debt caused by the failure of conservative policies -- ask that conservative this question: cut what? And don't let them stop answering until their cuts add up to the $1.2 trillion deficit that the conservatives left behind.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:45 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Republicans Wont Ever Say WHAT Spending To Cut

Have you ever noticed that while always calling for spending cuts Republicans will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever say WHAT spending they mean to cut?

Bill Scher noticed, too: Sen. McConnell, If We're Really Spending Too Much, Why Can't You Say What You'd Cut?g

We're supposed to believe that even though he has been in the Senate for 25 years, and he is quite sure the spending is THE problem, Sen. McConnell can't figure out where to cut without a super-special spending commission?

Don't believe it.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:41 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

SOTU - A List Not a Vision

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.

In last week’s State of the Union speech President Obama talked about jobs. It was a great speech. It was SO satisfying to see him scold the Supreme Court for enabling monopoly corporatocracy to replace democracy, scold the Republicans for obstructing every single bill, and scold Democrats for being chickens**ts and running for the hills. But in the end he presented a laundry list – a good list, but a list – instead of a vision for a new economic structure.

First, he summarized the effects of the “stimulus,”

“Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders.”

Then the jobs list:


  • “I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat.”

  • “I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit-– one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.”
  • “let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.”

  • “put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow . ... There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.”

  • “put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities…”

  • “and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs.”

  • “it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.”

On Exports - Also A List

  • “we need to export more of our goods”

  • “a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America.”

  • “launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports”

  • “seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are”

  • “enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules”


What’s missing?

The most important jobs item missing from the President's speech was aid to states. The problem is that the states are cutting their budgets, which means layoffs and cutbacks from maintaining their infrastructure and investing in new infrastructure. With this happening in many of the 50 states, the scale threatens to undo the positive effect of the stimulus.

But President Obama faces two problems when considering aid to the states. First, helping the states would mean even more borrowing, on top of the borrowing forced on us by the years of conservative policies. Second, many of the troubled states are in their predicament because of their own conservative anti-tax policies. California, for example, is cutting jobs because the conservative minority is able to block any revenue-raising measures, and last year was even able to force even more corporate tax cuts in exchange for letting the state pass any budget at all.

But maybe Oregon is showing other states the way out of this trap. Last week voters raised taxes on corporations and the wealthy. Oregon voters pass tax increasing measures by big margin,

Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-[government] sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services.

If the people in the states rise up and start demanding that the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, they can dig themselves out of this mess.

Buy American

Another path out of the jobs mess is to include Buy American procurement clauses in stimulus, infrastructure and jobs bills. A report by Alliance for American Manufacturing, titled, Buy America Works: Longstanding United States Policy Enhances the Job Creating Effect of Government Spending argues for a strong “Buy American” clause in the new jobs bill.

“Including domestic sourcing requirements in job creating legislation would be the most effective way to ensure taxpayer dollars are used to create and maintain jobs and manufacturing capacity to the maximum extent possible, thereby vastly improving the stimulative effect of government spending.

[. . .] Given the dire problems the economy has experienced and continues to experience, the inclusion of domestic sourcing requirements in an upcoming job creation bill is the smart thing to do.”


Reinforcing this, a recent Gallup poll finds that Americans think the “best way to address the problem of growing unemployment in the United States [is] … to keep manufacturing jobs in the U.S.”

Keep Jobs Here

Bloggers have pointed out that the job-creation tax credit doesn’t prohibit offshore outsourcing of the jobs that receive the tax credit! Come on people, this is pretty basic.

Finally, Tell The Senate: JOBS NOW!

Campaign for America's Future is reaching out the 27 million Americans who have lost their jobs and are scrambling to get by – and the rest of us who know them and stand with them – to contact their Senators and say: Tell the Senate: We need action on jobs NOW! Click here to take action.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Need Financial Reform

How long now since the financial crisis, and not one reform has passed? But they're giving themselves $150 billion in bonuses this year.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos