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May 31, 2010

Flotilla Raid

Israeli commandos attacked a flotilla of relief vessels because "Gaza flotilla activists tried to lynch us"?

What am I missing? Israel says the people on the flotilla attacked them, so they had to raid the boats and shoot them in self defense? What?

Update - OK I was being snarky. I'm reading some of the conservative blogs, and they're saying that the people on the flotilla "ambushed" the Israeli commandos who were trying to take over the boats in international waters, tried to "lynch" them, attacked them, etc. This is beyond absurd.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:31 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

May 29, 2010

Dems Kill COBRA For Older Unemployed - Health Care Reform Subsidies Next?

House Dems killed COBRA subsidies for the long-term unemployed -- generally older people -- last week, which means they won't be able to get health insurance.

This group — comprising generally older workers — has pulled up the average length of time that a current worker has been unemployed to a record high of 33 weeks as of April. The percentage of unemployed people who have been looking for jobs for more than six months is at 45.9 percent, the highest in at least six decades.

Think ahead to what this means for the recently-passed health care "reform." If you think there are "subsidies" to help people afford the insurance they are ordered to purchase from the giant insurance corporations, just remember how Democrats treated workers who can't find jobs.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:20 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Bob Herbert Should Be A Blogger

Because he tells it like it is, not like the DC insiders think it is!

Please go read!

With all due respect to the president, who is a very smart man, how is it possible for anyone with any reasonable awareness of the nonstop carnage that has accompanied the entire history of giant corporations to believe that the oil companies, which are among the most rapacious players on the planet, somehow “had their act together” with regard to worst-case scenarios.

These are not Little Lord Fauntleroys who can be trusted to abide by some fanciful honor system. These are greedy merchant armies drilling blindly at depths a mile and more beneath the seas while at the same time doing all they can to stifle the government oversight that is necessary to protect human lives and preserve the integrity of the environment.


If he was a blogger he could receive a coveted Seeing the Forest Blog Hero Award. Maybe I'll come up with an honorary award...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:25 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 28, 2010

Guillotines And Green / Tea Party Thinking

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

Update - Digby calls it "simple cruelty."

Congress is a big FAIL on jobs and unemployment. The Senate is heading home instead of helping the unemployed, the House is FAILing on jobs unemployment and COBRA subsidies.

Congress says they are worried about the deficit, but the deficit was The Plan. It is right in front of your faces:

Step 1: Cut taxes to "cut the allowance" of government so that it can't function on the side of We, the People. Intentionally force the government into greater and greater debt.

Step 2: Use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. When the resulting deficits pile up scare people that the government is "going bankrupt" so they'll let you sell off the people's assets and "privatize" the functions of government. Of course, insist that putting taxes back where they were will "harm the economy."

Congress: If you are so worried about the deficit, why don't you fix what caused the deficit instead of taking it out on unemployed people?

Anything else I write about this will quickly devolve into a post about setting up guillotines, and joining the Tea or Green Party.

Except the guillotines will probably be made in China.

If you are as mad as I am you might want to come to the America’s Future Now conference, where we are going to be talking about how progressives can get more done, June 7,8,9 in DC. Click here to see the agenda, then click here to register.

Update - In case anyone foolishly believed this was about cutting the deficit: House defies Obama, OKs F-35 engine funds. And not even a guarantee it will be made in the US!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 27, 2010

Millions Lose Health Insurance Starting Tuesday!

The Democrats in Congress have apparently decided to let millions of unemployed people lose their health insurance, beginning next Tuesday, June 1. They lose COBRA subsidies, making insurance unaffordable, and lose COBRA as well because it reverts to an 18-month program.

According to Dems cut health subsidies to salvage jobs bill,

House leaders have proposed dropping billions in aid to states and letting health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers expire in an effort to round up votes for a bill to extend unemployment benefits.
I suspect that millions of unemployed people will also lose any interest they may have ever had in voting for Democrats, as well.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

"Government Doesn’t Have The Resources To Stop It"

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

People want the President to exert leadership to turn things around.

The oil leak. Unemployment. Credit card scams. Foreclosures. Predatory corporations. Environmental destruction. Global warming. Roads and bridges crumbling. Incomes stagnant. Schools getting worse. Companies moving overseas. Problem after problem.

People want to know, "Why doesn't the government push BP aside and take over?" The answer is, "Government doesn't have the resources to stop it."

People want to know why the government can't do more to help unemployed people, help with health care, help provide good educations, help with college, maintain the infrastructure, and all the other things that government does.

The answer, these days, is always, "Government doesn't have the resources." And that, in a nutshell, was exactly the plan.

We, the People no longer have the resources to solve our problems. We now must depend on and defer to the corporations and the wealthy few to make the important decisions and get things done instead of being able to decide and do on our own.

This is the legacy of 30 years of conservatism. They called it "starving the beast." Reagan called it “cutting their allowance.” President Bush, told that his policies had turned the country back to massive deficits, said this was, "Incredibly positive news'' because it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." He came into office with a $236 billion surplus. His last budget left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit. "Incredibly positive news."

They disemboweled the regulatory agencies. They "privatized" government functions and resources, letting a well-connected few profit at the expense of the rest of us.

The Reagan deficit plan was right there for everyone to see:


    Step 1: Cut taxes to "cut the allowance" of government so that it can't function on the side of We, the People. Intentionally force the government into greater and greater debt.

    Step 2: Use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. When the resulting deficits pile up scare people that the government is "going bankrupt" so they'll let you sell off the people's assets and "privatize" the functions of government. Of course, insist that putting taxes back where they were will "harm the economy."

    Step 3: Blame liberals for the disastrous effects of spending cutbacks.

And here we are. Every time you hear someone say that we have to fight the deficit instead of getting things done that We, the People need done you are witnessing The Plan in action.

And now, government doesn't have the resources to stop it.


NOTE: Part of the America's Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America's economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 26, 2010

Teacher Layoffs Loom Nationwide, DC Restaurants Humming

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.

Some say that "government can't create jobs." Others respond "unemployed people can't create votes." Meanwhile, conservatives, whose policies put so many people out of work, now say unemployed people are lazy and should not be collecting unemployment benefits.

Washington, DC is the center of a strange Information Deficit Disorder. The restaurants in DC are humming, the median income is really high, the Pentagon contracts are flowing. Seriously, pick a DC-area zip code, say 22314, and go to this site: "Dollar Amount of Defense Contracts Awarded to Contractors in this Zip Code from 2000 to 2009: $7,086,397,848." Even better, scroll down the page and look at some of the contracts and amounts awarded. So-and-so Consulting, $54,024, 204. So-and-so Associates, $1,698,274. Even better, see how many have the same address. This is just one zip code. There are pages and pages and pages like this for DC-area zip code after zip code. Clearly it is really, really good to be part of the military industry.

So from DC's viewpoint things are doing mighty fine. One Representative from Pennsylvania actually said the other day, "businesses back home complain that they want to start hiring but are getting few applicants because Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment benefits." Her district has 10% unemployment. There appear to be 14,900 people unemployed just in the city of Erie, which is in her district. Here are ALL 99 jobs advertised in the local paper.

Maybe this strange DC Information Deficit Disorder explains why hundreds of thousands of teachers are about to be laid off around the country because Congress isn't interested in acting. Republicans, who want schools privatized, call it a "bailout." Fox News, Teachers Seek $23b- Lifeline or Bailout?,

Education analyst Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation ... questions the wisdom of funneling federal taxpayer funds, in any amount, to the public school system as it is presently structured. [. . .] they dont need another bailout from Washington for public education.

Sen. Harkin's $23 Billion Teacher Bailout Stalls

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin's $23 billion amendment to bailout 300,000 teachers who will otherwise lose their jobs has stalled. “I have no Republicans who want to vote for it," he told Capitol News Connection. Meanwhile, in the House today, the Secretary of Education and top Democrats in the House struggle to drum up support for the same measure.

It isn't so good to be part of the teaching profession right now. Or a parent, for that matter. In fact, these days it isn't so good to be part of almost any profession except military or Wall Street.

I have been attaching the following paragraph to several posts about the jobs emergency:

President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in the direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?


NOTE: Part of the America's Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America's economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

May 25, 2010

CBO On Stimulus Effect

The CBO reports that the stimulus:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.2 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.5 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.2 million and 2.8 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 1.8 million to 4.1 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise (see Table 1). (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 24, 2010

    How Much Oil? STILL No Answer?

    Has the government stepped in and demanded measurements of how much oil is coming out of that hole in the floor of the ocean yet?

    No? We still don't have a government?

    As I wrote in February,

    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.

    And back in September

    I ask because I have not heard of any new enforcement of employment regulations here in Silicon Valley. For example, in the rare cases where any hiring is occurring, is the government checking to make sure that the rampant age discrimination has stopped? Are they making sure that women are paid the same for the same jobs? Are they going after companies that pollute? etc?

    Nope, still no functioning government.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Are You Unemployed Because You Are Lazy?

    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.

    Are you still unemployed? Obviously it is because you are lazy. At least, many members of Congress think so, anyway.

    And besides, cutting the deficit -- caused by tax cuts for the rich and massive military spending increases -- is much more important than paychecks for Americans. The solution to the deficit -- caused by tax cuts for the rich and massive military spending increases -- is to cut back on things that help the American public.

    Here is Senator Gregg on CNBC (Senate salary $174,000, see benefits below**), saying that unemployment checks mean people are "encouraged not to go look for work" and "don't want to go look for work":

    And this in the news today, In Congress, spending measures meet bipartisan resistance,

    "It's time to start paying for things," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), a freshman who voted for last year's economic stimulus bill but said she is likely to oppose the next spending package, scheduled to hit the House floor Tuesday. "We've done some good things, but one of the best things we could do right now is get control of our fiscal house."

    . . . Dahlkemper, facing a well-funded Republican car dealer in the blue-collar district she seized from the GOP in 2008, said businesses back home complain that they want to start hiring but are getting few applicants because Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment benefits.


    and
    "At some point we have to pivot" away from saving the economy and start reducing the deficit, said Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D-Pa.).

    So remember, the deficit -- caused by tax cuts for the rich and massive military spending increases -- has to be brought down and the way to bring down the deficit -- caused by tax cuts for the rich and massive military spending increases -- is to cut back on things that help the American public, and cut back on the investments in infrastructure (the seed corn) that bring future economic growth. But not to do anything about the cause of the deficits: tax cuts for the rich and massive military spending increases.

    So if you are unemployed, just remember, in Washington the people who put $13.89 trillion at risk to bail out the big Wall Street firms, $4.71 trillion disbursed with $2.01 trillion still outstanding, think this is because you are lazy.


    **Senate benefits:

    Along with earning salaries, senators receive retirement and health benefits that are identical to other federal employees, and are fully vested after five years of service. Senators are covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). As it is for federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants' contributions. Under FERS, senators contribute 1.3% of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2% of their salary in Social Security taxes. The amount of a senator's pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of their salary. The starting amount of a senator's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of their final salary. In 2006, the average annual pension for retired senators and representatives under CSRS was $60,972, while those who retired under FERS, or in combination with CSRS, was $35,952.

    NOTE: Part of the America's Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America's economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

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

    Video Interview: Scott Paul Of AAM On China Dialogue

    Today I was able to conduct a short webcam interview with Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The occasion is this week's Us-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue taking place in Beijing. This dialog is a series of meetings between top-level officials of both governments on a number of issues. Secretaries Geithner and Clinton are leading the US delegtation. The trade imbalance between the US and China is one of the top issues being discussed.

    Scott has posted a video at the AAM manufacturethis blog, titled THE 15 NUMBERS YOU NEED TO KNOW, which discusses AAM's 15 Numbers You Need to Know before the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing next week. (Example: 2.4 million: Number of U.S. jobs lost or displaced due to U.S.-China trade imbalance, 2001-2008.)

    Here is our interview with Scott Paul:

    Scott will be speaking on Making It In America at the America’s Future NOW! Conference in Washington, DC, June 7-9. Click here to register for the conference.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 23, 2010

    "Statism" and the Ayn Rand Cult

    Count how many times the word "statist" appears in this weird op-ed in the Washington Post: America's new culture war: Free enterprise vs. government control.

    "Statism" has become a cult-word, used most frequently by people who are in the Ayn Rand cult. "Collectivist" is another. The Rand cult has been around quite a while now. Alan Greenspan actually lived with the Rand cult for a while. Randians are more and more becoming the core of the conservative movement, as this op-ed reflects. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, members of Congress and others are more and more frequently using strange-sounding Randian cult-words like these.

    I don't know if the author of the op-ed is a Randian, but he uses the word "statist" over and over and places free enterprise and government as an either-or. He thinks regulation of business is wrong. (Aside -- He writes that "government housing policy," not Wall Street, caused the economic crisis. (??) He's the head of the American Enterprise Institute.)

    So now I am thinking about the Rand cult... Randians believe government is inherently bad -- evil actually -- and that helping others is wrong and immoral. "Collectivism" means democracy and this is also bad. They say it is the group imposing its will on individuals. From the Ayn Rand Lexicon,

    “Democratic” in its original meaning [refers to] unlimited majority rule . . . a social system in which one’s work, one’s property, one’s mind, and one’s life are at the mercy of any gang that may muster the vote of a majority at any moment for any purpose.

    [. . .] Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom . . .


    As for government,
    The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.

    I don't understand how it is consistent for them to claim that protecting from criminals is legitimate. Doesn't society define what a criminal is?

    Oh, and by the way, for any Christians who think they are conservatives, here is where they stand on religion:

    Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. ... They may have a good influence or proper principles to inculcate, but in a very contradictory context and, on a very—how should I say it?—dangerous or malevolent base: on the ground of faith.

    [. . .] Christ ... according to the Christian mythology, he died on the cross not for his own sins but for the sins of the nonideal people. In other words, a man of perfect virtue was sacrificed for men who are vicious and who are expected or supposed to accept that sacrifice. If I were a Christian, nothing could make me more indignant than that: the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the nonideal, or virtue to vice. And it is in the name of that symbol that men are asked to sacrifice themselves for their inferiors. That is precisely how the symbolism is used.


    And here you also find the roots of Glenn Beck's warning to run from any church that asks you to help others,

    It’s either-or. If capitalism’s befuddled, guilt-ridden apologists do not know it, two fully consistent representatives of altruism do know it: Catholicism and communism.

    Their rapprochement, therefore, is not astonishing. Their differences pertain only to the supernatural, but here, in reality, on earth, they have three cardinal elements in common: the same morality, altruism—the same goal, global rule by force—the same enemy, man’s mind.

    There is a precedent for their strategy. In the German election of 1933, the communists supported the Nazis, on the premise that they could fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, capitalism. Today, Catholicism and communism may well cooperate, on the premise that they will fight each other for power later, but must first destroy their common enemy, the individual, by forcing mankind to unite to form one neck ready for one leash.


    Go see what they think of charity, altruism, the environment, morality, society...

    If you are starting to feel that you have entered into the mind of the sociopath, there is a reason you feel that way. As she was developing her philosophy she was enthralled by a serial killer named William Edward Hickman. Ayn Rand wrote that the serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him. He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased.

    "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"

    She saw these as positive traits and the philosophy she developed certainly reflects this view. And this is the foundation of the modern conservative thinking.


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:31 PM | Comments (21) | Link Cosmos

    What's that thing in the left column?

    Click it and see.

    AFN160_160.gif

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 22, 2010

    A Trillion

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Which Side Are You On?

    Pete Seeger:

    Rebel Diaz:

    Natalie Merchant:

    Billy Bragg:

    Dropkick Murphys:


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:52 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Oil Spill: Why Were Bush's People Still There?

    The Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department was supposed to be regulating and inspecting the oil rig that exploded. They weren't. They were a "captured" regulator. This was entirely due to the conservative deregulation ideology.

    President Obama took office in January 2009. This is May, 2010. Why were those Bush people still there?

    Where else in our government are Bush holdovers, and why hasn't President Obama gotten rid of them? We want a return to Rule of Law not Rule of Big Corporations. We voted for that. Where is the President We, the People voted for?


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:51 AM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

    The American Present

    Bob Herbert - More Than Just an Oil Spill

    This is the bitter reality of the American present, a period in which big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans, who, of course, are the great majority of Americans. The great majority of Americans no longer matter.

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

    May 21, 2010

    Week Of Action On Jobs

    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.

    On the one side there are millions of people needing jobs and millions more "underemployed," the economy is still mired in a very, very slow recovery that is a recovery only in the technical sense, an increasing wave of foreclosures that has reached into the "prime" loans and 1 out of every 7 mortgages has at least missed a payment and has at worst stopped paying.

    Foreclosures continue to rise.

    Businesses are not hiring. People need jobs that only government programs can provide. The reason only government can is because of the spending gap created by the economic crisis.

    The Spending Gap

    This chart from Brad DeLong explains why and by how much government needs to make up the difference:

    Deficit Hawks Following The Plan

    On the other side are the "deficit hawks," driven by anti-government ideology, following The Plan of the Reagan Revolution:


    • Step 1: Cut taxes to "cut the allowance" of government so that it can't function on the side of We, the People. Intentionally force the government into greater and greater debt.

    • Step 2: Use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People.. When the resulting deficits pile up scare people that the government is "going bankrupt" so they'll let you sell off the people's assets and "privatize" the functions of government. Of course, insist that putting taxes back where they were will "harm the economy."

    • Step 3: Blame liberals for the disastrous effects of spending cutbacks.

    Now, true to the plan, Bush leaves behind a $1.4 trillion deficit and the corporate/conservative opinion-shapers are saturating us with warnings that the government is going to go bankrupt if we don't cut back. Typical of the debate, Jobs Bill Funded by Higher Buyout Tax Faces Friction on Deficit

    A jobs bill containing a proposal to more than double taxes on managers of buyout firms is running into resistance from House and Senate lawmakers worried that the legislation will widen the U.S. budget deficit.

    Facing A Lost Decade

    Paul Krugman warns that we face a "Lost Decade" if we listen to the deficit cutters now,

    But the truth is that policy makers aren’t doing too much; they’re doing too little. Recent data don’t suggest that America is heading for a Greece-style collapse of investor confidence. Instead, they suggest that we may be heading for a Japan-style lost decade, trapped in a prolonged era of high unemployment and slow growth.

    Don't Fall For It

    President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?

    The corporate conservatives know darn well that government job-creating programs will help and that is why they are trying to block them. See what one of the top anti-government, anti-spending conservatives has to say in Gingrich: Obama a One-Term President Because Team Can't Create Jobs. From the video: "No ability to craft positive programs that work. ... You don't have anything like an appropriate level of focus on job creation in this administration."



    The only way to realistically cut the deficit is to invest in our economic future.

    This means maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, increasing educational opportunities for our people, investing in the new Green Manufacturing Revolution and government programs to create jobs now. Common-sense changes in taxes can help pay for jobs programs. For example, what about getting rid of the amazing tax break for hedge fund managers? At the same time it makes sense to bring taxes on the wealthy and corporations back to pre-Reagan/pre-borrowing levels to fight the deficits (that the tax cuts created in the first place) and decrease the concentration of wealth that is killing our democracy.

    WEEK OF ACTION

    The Jobs For America NOW coalition is organizing a Week Of Action next week, around the country. Please see Week Of Action Events. Also, see the resources on the Jobs for America now site including the click to call feature at Finish the Job on State Aid, Unemployment insurance and COBRA Health Subsidies NOW

    More JOBS resources:

    Citizens for Tax Justice has a report on The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.

    The American Federation of Teachers is organizing a “Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips” campaign. "Schools throughout America are facing devastating cuts. Our children’s future hangs in the balance."

    Our government didn’t walk away from Wall Street. We should demand no less from them when it comes to saving our children’s future. We must voice our support for federal legislation that will provide $23 billion to help school districts avoid layoffs and cuts in vital services for children. Help us preserve the education lifeline our students deserve.


    NOTE: Part of the America's Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America's economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Must Read - Save Social Security

    Please read Has Obama created a Social Security 'death panel'?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 20, 2010

    Financial Reform Passed - Most Republicans Side With Wall Street

    But the "Tea Party Senator," Scott Brown of Massachusetts voted against Wall Street!

    Senate Passes Financial Overhaul Bill,

    The Senate on Thursday approved a far-reaching financial regulatory bill, putting Congress on the brink of approving a broad expansion of government oversight of the increasingly complex banking system and financial markets.

    [. . .] he four Republicans to support the bill were Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown, the freshman from Massachusetts, and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who is up for re-election this year

    .

    It still has to go to a committee of the House and Senate to work out differences and come up with a single bill that then passes both houses.

    Car dealers were exempted from consumer protections because car dealers never try to put one over on car buyers.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Are Police Just More Government Meddling?

    Anti-government conservatives say that government is "collectivism" and immoral. They say any government interferes with individual and business rights. Sarah Palin has said that government caused the Great Depression. Glenn Beck says that government is socialism.

    Now Kentucky Tea Party Senate candidate Rand Paul says civil rights legislation is wrong because it is government interference with the right of individuals to "freely associate." It is wrong because it is the "collective," or community imposing their will on the individuals and businesses who choose to discriminate based on race, etc...

    These libertarian ideas always make me wonder why they don't also come out against police departments as "government meddling." After all, laws are just more examples of the community imposing its idiotic morals on individuals. You might say robbery and murder interfere with the rights of people to live, and therefore must be punished, but isn't that exactly the same as not letting a person do business or eat or sleep in a hotel based on skin color? They're against those laws, so why not be consistent and be against other laws? Isn't a law against robbery the same as regulation of business that is designed to protect consumers from being scammed? They're against that as "government interference" in the rights of the business to scam consumers. Why aren't they against laws against fraud?

    At least Ayn Rand was consistent. She wrote that a serial killer was an "ideal man," a superior form of human because he didn't let society impose their morals on him, He didn't worry about what others thought and just did as he pleased. "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should," Rand wrote. Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'" This is the foundation of the modern conservative thinking.

    So don't be surprised when a "Tea Party" candidate comes out and says there should be no civil rights laws, no regulation of business. Just be surprised when they don't come out and say that it is no one's business who murders who.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 19, 2010

    Reagan Revolution Home To Roost – America Drowning In Debt

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

    “Watch what we do, not what we say.” (Famous Republican advice.)

    The Reagan Revolution was first and foremost about cutting the taxes paid by the rich and corporations. Now, almost 30 years later, the United States of America is drowning in debt. And that is exactly what they wanted to happen.

    The Plan

    There were the reasons for the tax cuts Reagan said, and there was the plan Reagan had. Reagan SAID that there was this thing called the “Laugher Curve” that he said proved cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue. But what they were saying was a smokescreen, something to tell the rubes. Increasing government revenue was the last thing Reagan and his cohorts wanted. They knew (and have since said so) cutting taxes would lead to terrible deficits. They called this a "strategic deficit." This was the plan.

    Bankrupting our government (We, the People) was the plan and today we can see that it was what they did. They didn’t want revenue to increase because the idea was to “starve the beast.” Reagan called itcutting their allowance.”

    The plan was that by cutting the funding for government, government would have to cut back on what it does: regulating business, protecting regular people against powerful interests, building infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly. With government (We, the People) out of the way businesses could be unleashed and really start to make money. And for those who could afford to pay, private companies would take over those other functions. That was called "privatization."

    Infrastructure? We had plenty of infrastructure back then – grab the cash now and worry about that later. (It's later now.)

    So taxes were cut. And immediately the budget went into deficit and the government started borrowing. The debt started to grow. That was the plan. They said so.

    Conservatives well understood that the public was not behind their plan. This was why it was explained as a way to increase government revenue. “Watch what we do, not what we say” is about tricking the public – deceive people by telling them you are doing one thing while really doing another. They knew that if the public came to understand their plan they would all be voted out of office. The idea was to force the other party to make the cuts.

    Every time someone did try to cut the public outcry was enormous. So they just kept borrowing, intentionally trying to make the debt get so bad that eventually the government would be faced with bankruptcy.

    Clinton, for a time, foiled their plans. In 1993 there was a hard-fought battle to raise taxes at the top by just a small amount. Every Republican voted against it. The public was saturated with lie after lie about how this would destroy the economy. Of course, the economy boomed in the 1990s following the Clinton tax increases and by the end of Clinton’s term the government was paying off debt so quickly that Alan Greenspan called for Bush II to again cut taxes on the rich, saying it was dangerous to pay off the government debt – yes, the same Alan Greenspan who now says we have to get rid of Social Security to pay off debt. The plan.

    Bush called restoration of deficits "incredibly positive news"

    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 heavily again. Bush said the huge deficit was "Incredibly positive news'' because it will create "a fiscal straitjacket for Congress." That's right, massive deficits were "incredibly positive news." The plan.

    Deficit hawks today

    Now we're experiencing part two of The Plan: use the debt as a reason to cut the things government does for We, the People. The deficit cutters insist that the government should cease investment in infrastructure, educating kids, taking care of the poor and elderly and protecting regular people against powerful interests. First and foremost they want to cut Social Security. They blocked a reasonable health care plan in the name of "less spending." They fight every effort to stimulate the economy and create jobs so that We, the People can get out of this unemployment emergency. (High unemployment puts tremendous wage pressure on the remaining workers.)

    Are we going to fall for it? Are we going to walk right into part two of The Plan? Or are we going to restore the tax base, which is the lifeblood of democracy. Taxes on the wealthy and big corporations are what brings the ability of We, the People to control our own destiny instead of yielding always to the powerful interests.

    This is the choice we are faced with. The "deficit hawks" are offering only The Plan. So far restoring the tax base back to where it was is off the table, not even to be discussed. Are we going to allow that? Or are We, the People going to fight back and demand that democracy be restored?

    Previously: Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling and Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation


    NOTE: Part of the America's Future Now conference in Washington D.C. from June 7-9 will be devoted to strategy on how the progressive movement can fight the deficit cutters. Speakers such as Van Jones, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, AFL CIO President Richard Trumka, Arianna Huffington will offer a build vision for how the progressive movement can rebuild America's economy and put people back to work. Click here to attend.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 18, 2010

    Stimulus Shifts To Reverse -- Where Is The Congress?

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

    The stimulus is running out, millions lose health insurance in 12 days as COBRA subsidies start to run out, unemployment benefits also start running out, all while the unemployment rate is rising. Foreclosures are up. At the same time out-of-money states are laying off hundreds of thousands of employees, beginning with teachers. (But hey, who needs teachers?) They are deferring infrastructure maintenance like roadwork and water/sewer systems and other public investments that employ people while creating the conditions that enable to economy to grow.

    In fact, the stimulus is not only running out, but these state layoffs and other factors mean that government is now a net drag on the economy. The hope was that the stimulus would be enough to hold off the effects of the downturn and provide enough of a boost to get the "economic engine" running again. But for various reasons much of the stimulus was cut back or wasted on ineffective tax cuts, so as it runs out there are signs that the economy could sink back down.

    This chart shows government contribution to GDP growth, now negative due to state and local governments laying off employees and reducing infrastructure investment.

    publicsector1

    With all of this going on the DC "conventional wisdom" is that the economy has turned the corner, and no more help is needed. Wall Street and big corporations are making money again so it is time to move on and let regular people fend for themselves. The public wants jobs and a government that works for them, the DC insiders want government to stop spending on We, the People and focus on big corporations.

    Compare this DC "conventional wisdom" with the current jobs situation. While the economy has finally stopped losing jobs, it is not yet creating enough jobs even to keep up with new workers entering the labor force. Never mind putting unemployed people back to work. Following is a chart of job losses during recessions. This chart shows just how bad this recession is compared to previous recessions, and how we are nowhere near normal.

    EmployRecessionApril2010

    This "Wall Street and corporations are OK so our jobs here is done" sentiment combines with the right-wing drumbeat that anything government (We, the People) does is bad, (which translates to all decisions should be made by the biggest corporations) and the related drumbeat that any government spending on We, the People is a very bad thing after President Bush left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit.

    Congress, what's the holdup?

    There are efforts in the Congress to try to do something to help the situation for regular people. For example, the War Supplemental (this is in a war bill because bills for bailing out Wall Street, and for anything to do with military MUST PASS and do so within 72 hours) contains $23 billion to help keep states from laying off 300,000 teachers. It is meeting opposition as "another bailout." That's right, the very people who bailed out Wall Street are now blocking a bill helping teachers, calling it a "bailout!"

    Then there is the Local Jobs for America Act. This act puts $75 billion into direct government hiring at the state and local level, creating or saving an estimated one million jobs. According to EPI, the $39 billion comes straight back from taxes and reduced unemployment payments!

    Unemployment is about 10%. Millions are unemployed and are about to lose COBRA subsidies and unemployment benefits. States are laying off hundreds of thousands. Investment in maintaining and modernizing infrastructure is nil. DC elites think everything is fine. The disconnect between people inside and outside the DC bubble is growing almost as fast as the concentration of wealth at the top.

    President Obama has talked about a bold, large scale vision for a new direction for the country. But Congress and the President are getting trapped in austerity budget thinking that won’t allow them to go in direction of stimulus and helping regular people. If there is to be no money because of an austerity budget then American competitiveness, the economy and the mood of the public can only get worse. Do the DC elites actually believe the public is going to reward this with votes?

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

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

    May 17, 2010

    Are Public Employee Unions Strangling Us?

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

    For Billionaire Mort Zuckerman it’s those damn unions that are the problem. For so many of the rest of us the problem is that we don't have a union.

    Zuckerman has been with us on lots of things, like what he wrote about the stimulus,

    “The fiscal program was a disaster. You have to get the money as quickly as possible into the economy. They didn’t do that. By end of the first year, only one-third of the money was spent. Why is that?
    He should have jammed a stimulus plan into Congress and said, “This is it. No changes. Don’t give me that bullshit. We have a national emergency.”
    I could have written that. (Except it would probably have bad grammar, occasional CAPITALIZED words and a line in bold here and there.)

    But he's not with us not when it comes to labor. Last week Zuckerman wrote an op-ed, titled The Crippling Price of Public Employee Unions at US News, and Breaking the Public Sector Unions' Stranglehold on State and Local Governments at Huffington Post, telling us how public employee unions are harming the country. (The Huffington version has about 2000 comments so far - mostly pro-labor. The US News version has about 70 comments, like "Outlaw Unions of any kind.")

    I’m wondering where Mort Zuckerman wrote this piece. Was he at one of his homes in New York, New York, East Hampton, New York and Aspen, Colorado? Or maybe he was writing from his 166 foot Oceanco Yacht, the Lazy Z? We know he wasn’t writing from his Falcon 900 corporate jet, because he recently purchased a Gulfstream G550.

    From this high vantage point he seems to have a view that says working people should be paid less, and shouldn’t get good pensions or benefits. He writes, "It is galling for private sector workers to see so many public sector workers thriving because of the power their unions exercise." He says public employees have "gold-plated perks" and enter into corrupt deals with politicians, a trade-off of supplying votes in exchange for good pay and benefits. He says that since private-sector pay and benefits are dropping, public-employee pay and benefits should, too.

    But it's the other way around. We, the People should set the example for private companies to follow. Good pay and benefits are good for people. It should be public policy to promote this and encourage companies to treat employees better. That way we all benefit, not just a few.

    Private sector pay and benefits have been dropping because people have been forced out of unions, so they have no way to fight the power of the billionaires. Because billionaires have been able to play impoverished workers elsewhere against workers here who have fought hard to get what they have. The obvious answer is for more private-sector workers around the world to join unions so they can be lifted up, not to complete the death spiral by forcing down the pay of the rest of us.


    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Come To America's Future Now Conference In DC June 7-9

    Campaign for America's Future puts on a yearly conference in DC, called America's Future Now. This year it is June 7,8,9. You should come.

    I'll be on a panel with bloggers Digby, Sara Robinson, Zach Carter, RJ Eskow, Bill Scher, Terrance Heath and other CAF bloggers.

    Speakers this year include Bill Moyers, Van Jones, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Arianna Huffington, Rep. Alan Grayson, Rep. Donna Edwards, Richard Trumka, Andy Stern and Markos Moulitsas.

    Register here.

    Following is a promotional email from the conference:

    The overriding issue of the year is jobs. Top White House aides say unemployment is "unacceptably high." Yet there is no bold jobs agenda in Washington.

    The Administration deserves credit for stopping the freefall it inherited from Bush's failures. But where's the plan to bring back the 8 million jobs lost in the recession?

    Progressives have the plan. Let's show Washington how to fight for it.

    Click here to secure your spot alongside thousands of progressives, June 7th to 9th, at America's Future Now!

    It's not just jobs where America needs progressives to lead.

    Congress has failed to break up the too-big-to-fail banks. A new White House debt commission is strengthening the hand of deficit hysterics and Social Security haters. Legislation to enact sensible immigration reform and to spark a clean energy economy is mired in the Senate morass.

    Meanwhile, the right-wing Tea Party fringe is out in force, working hand-in-hand with corporate special interests. The Republican Party has doubled down as the "Party of Hell No" while compromised Democrats prevent real change.

    In the face of these obstructionist headwinds, the White House gamely tries to cut the best deals it can.

    But when we show Washington how to fight, a mobilized progressive movement can upend the balance of forces, expand the debate and lay the foundation for real change.

    That's exactly what we'll do at America's Future Now!

    Click here to secure your spot alongside thousands of progressives, June 7th to 9th, at America's Future Now!

    We've done it before.

    In 2006, we challenged the war, indicted the failed Bush economy, and gave Democrats the voice and movement that helped win back the Congress.

    Our movement inspired a young Senator named Barack Obama to think that his time had come. In 2008, he inspired us to forge a progressive majority for change.

    In 2010, we'll do it again. Thousands will gather for the annual America's Future Now! conference.

    Leaders and activists. Organizers and thinkers. Powerful voices like Bill Moyers, Arianna Huffington, Rep. Alan Grayson, Rep. Donna Edwards, Richard Trumka, Andy Stern and Markos Moulitsas.

    It is time for progressives to lead once more. Join us.

    Sincerely,


    Robert L. Borosage & Roger Hickey, Co-directors
    Campaign for America's Future

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 16, 2010

    DO "Both Parties Do It?"

    Really? Both parties do it?

    ANOTHER ANGEL LOSES ITS WINGS.... ,

    In a column devoted to highlighting Republican extremism, the Post writer just had to say, "Both parties have been undergoing ideological cleansing." The observation was both wrong and superfluous.
    What examples show "both parties" do it? Pennsylvania, where a Democrat is running in a primary against a Republican who switched in order to "get votes." Apparently it is extremism to run an actual Democrat in a Democratic Party primary.

    And Arkansas, where Lincoln has taken tons of cash from corporate interests and blocked the President's agenda, and the Chamber of Commerce and other Republican groups are running ads for her.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:12 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Is BP Paying Royalties On All That Oil?

    I think I figured out why BP won't let scientists measure the flow from that oil leak. They owe us royalties on any oil they take from the Gulf, so they don't want it measured.

    BP has resisted entreaties from scientists that they be allowed to use sophisticated instruments at the ocean floor that would give a far more accurate picture of how much oil is really gushing from the well.

    “The answer is no to that,” a BP spokesman, Tom Mueller, said on Saturday. “We’re not going to take any extra efforts now to calculate flow there at this point. It’s not relevant to the response effort, and it might even detract from the response effort.”

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

    May 14, 2010

    Time Machine?

    Mission Impossible: Obama Taps Crack Team Of Scientists To Do The Job BP Can't

    Nuclear physicists and an astrophysicist? My bet is they're going to design a time machine, go back and talk the Bush administration into actually regulating, and BP into installing a working blowout preventer.

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

    Congress FAILs On Jobs AGAIN!

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

    It is hard to imagine out here in the real world, but there seem to be people in the Congress who think they can get (or deserve to be) re-elected when they are failing to do anything about jobs or extending unemployment and COBRA with unemployment at 10%, underemployment at 17%,and forecasts that say this will go one for years.

    The public certainly is well aware of the disconnect:

    jobsbillboard

    This billboard was put up by a local Buffalo group representing young people, and I recommend clicking through to see their site. Especially if you are a member of Congress.

    Failing is the wrong word this time. Maybe "disgusting" better fits the lack of seriousness of our representatives. Childish and spineless are the words that come to mind. Anti-porn provision sinks Dem jobs bill,

    House Democrats had to scrap their only substantive bill of the week Thursday after Republicans won a procedural vote that substantively altered the legislation with an anti-porn clause.

    Quick backstory: Bush's SEC, the people who were supposed to be regulating Bernie Madoff and Wall Street banksters were instead spending days surfing for porn on their computers. Republicans -- the people who put the porn-surfers into the SEC -- offered an "anti-porn" amendment to the jobs bill.
    That provision scared dozens of Democrats into voting with Republicans to approve the motion to recommit. After it became clear the GOP motion was going to pass, dozens of additional Democrats changed their votes from "no" to "yes." In the end, 121 Democrats voted with Republicans -- only four fewer than the number of Democrats who voted with their party.

    Because of idiocy like this,and a few other killing provisions they had to set aside the bill. The unemployed sit and wait for news. Playing games and posturing when we have a serious set of problems to solve, and real people out here in the real world are facing the worst crisis since the Great Depression. You can try to blame this on the obvious conservative obstruction strategy to stop the government from working, but spineless Democrats were stampeded into going along with it! Who's "not serious" now? If there are disruptive kids in the back of the class snickering and giggling, you aren't supposed to join them.

    A new WSJ/NBC poll came out yesterday. 72% disapproval of Congress. (I wonder why?) Highest priority: Job creation and economic growth 35%, Deficit and government spending 20%. (Guess which one the out-of-touch DC elite are concentrating on.)

    Listen, Congress, in DC you are employed, or you wouldn't be there. And the people you know are probably all employed. The lobbyists swarming you are employed. The people in the nice restaurants you enjoy are employed. But out here where I live the "official" unemployment rate is 13%. People we all KNOW are out of work and getting desperate. People in our families are out of work and getting desperate. 10% is NOT OK!

    Trillions given to Wall Street, used to pay bonuses, FAIL on jobs. Do they think the public doesn't see that? What is the matter with these people?

    Lesson: It's the jobs, stupid. JOBS FOR MAIN STREET!

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Update I got fooled by that billboard. The group behind it is just another right-wing front group. Sorry.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:53 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    May 12, 2010

    Republicans FINALLY Outline Desired Budget Cuts!

    President Bush left behind a $1.4 trillion deficit for his final budget year. Republicans have been clamoring for "spending cuts" to solve the problem, but until now have been silent about what they want cut.

    The Republicans today FINALLY outlined just what they want cut, with a project they call "YouCut".

    And just what do they want cut, to solve the $1.4 trillion deficit left behind by Bush? Well, at long last, here it is:

    Presidential Election Fund: $260 million in savings

    Taxpayer Subsidized Union Activities: $600 million in savings

    HUD Program for Doctoral Dissertations: $1 million in savings

    New Non-Reformed Welfare Program: $2.5 billion in savings

    Eliminate Wealthier Communities from the Community Development Block Grant program: $2.6 billion in savings

    There it is. That's the list.

    Can those of you out there who are not math-challenged please chime in and let other readers know what the problem is with this list?

    (Hint: the entire list adds up to $5.961 billion. That is .4% of the $1.4 trillion deficit Bush left us with. Not four percent, but point four percent. Four tenths of one percent.)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Govt Spending: JOBS Today, Payoffs For Years To Come

    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 commute between Baltimore and DC is the 4th-most congested route in the country. But a high-speed rail line would make this trip an 18-minute breeze (and also free up some of that congestion). They have been talking about building this rail line since 1994. Meanwhile other countries have been doing.

    Japan, Europe and now China are known for their efficient, high-speed rail transportation systems.

    By 2012, just four years after it began its first high-speed passenger service, China will have more high-speed train tracks than the rest of the world combined.

    Why is China inveswting so heavily in high-speed rail infrastructure? What does this investment bring to China?
    ...designed to boost exports and revolutionize the flow of people and goods in the world's fastest-rising economic powerhouses.

    "Just like our investment in the highway system in the 1950s and the rail system in the late 1800s, this will pay huge dividends for China to years to come,"

    Governement spending pays dividends for years to come

    That's right. Government spending is investment that pays off. It pays off in jobs today, and it pays dividends for years to come. As I wrote the other day in China's Stimulus Payoff "because China's government has invested heavily internally in high-speed rail, China is now in a position to bid on our own high-speed rail projects."

    Japan also invested heavily in high-speed rail, and they are also bidding on our (talked about) rail projects. In the news: LaHood Rides 502 KPH Maglev Train as Japan Seeks U.S. Sales

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood rode on a 502 kilometer-per-hour (312 mph) magnetic- levitation train in Japan, stoking optimism that the Asian nation may be able to sell the technology overseas.
    ...
    Japan’s government has pledged to support JR Central’s bid to build the Washington-Baltimore line, possibly including loans from a state-owned bank. Maglev trains float above the tracks and are propelled along by magnetic currents.

    Other countries understand that investing in infrastructure creates jobs today and enables economic growth later. Other countries understand that having a coordinated nation industrial/economic policy helps their businesses compete in the world's economy. Other countries are swooping down on us, bidding for our minuscule projects and selling us their green energy systems. Meanwhile we are mired in this weird "free market" anti-government ideology that keeps us from taking control of our destiny and our economic future.

    Instead of talking about cutting back on spending, we should instead be investing heavily in our people and our infrastructure.

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 11, 2010

    It's The JOBS, Stupid! Why DC Elites Don't See This

    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, and the "Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy." I am a Fellow with CAF.

    People care about jobs. They still care about jobs. And politicians who don't care about jobs will lose their jobs, because that is what motivates voters.

    Polling at Pollingreport.com proves that people are much more concerned about jobs than deficits. (Note there are some polls that show equal concern, no polls that show deficit with a higher concern)

    * FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. May 4-5 Economy and jobs 47% Deficit, spending %15
    * BS News/New York Times Poll. April 5-12 Economy/Jobs 49% Budget deficit/National debt 5%
    * CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. March 19-21 The economy 43% The federal budget deficit 8%

    Lesson: Spending and deficits matter, but jobs matter more. When Dick Cheney said, "Reagan proved deficits don't matter" he meant that voters didn't vote against politicians like Reagan and Bush for running up huge deficits. Bush's tax cuts and military spending increases left us with a $1.4 trillion deficit, but that isn't the reason people voted for Obama. The biggest reason was that we were losing millions of jobs.

    Why don't DC elites see this?

    It is obvious that people vote on jobs, not deficits. But for some odd reason the DC politicians don't seem to grasp that. I think I know part of the reason why they don't. If you are in DC the "information environment" is making it look as though the public is clamoring about deficits and don't care that much about jobs.

    DC is a manufactured information environment

    People in DC see things differently because there is a manufactured environment there. The one time when lobbyists do care about manufacturing is when they are manufacturing the appearance of public support for their issue.

    If you are trying to influence national policy you influence DC. You spend a lot of money to make the DC opinion leaders think that your issue is urgent and the public is demanding action. You create "astroturf" which is a name for a lobbyist-manufactured appearance of grassroots support. You get your stories into the morning Politico, which every DC staffer reads on the train into the capital, but no one outside of DC cares about. You get the cable news show producers to book your talking heads. You wine and dine (and get lucrative speaking engagements for) the DC punditocracy so they'll talk urgently about your issue. You put ads on the DC radio stations.

    After a while everyone in the DC area thinks your issue is the only thing voters are concerned about, while outside of DC everyone wonders why DC people are talking about something so idiotic and unimportant to regular people.

    Deficits: a manufactured drumbeat

    There is a well-funded effort to stampede Congress into thinking there is an urgent voter concern about deficits. One source of the manufactured concern is a Wall Street billionaire named Peter G. Peterson, who has for years been trying to get the Congress to cut the Social Security benefits that people paid for all of their working lives. Recently, for example, he made a deal with the Washington Post to print stories for the DC elite to read, about how the deficit needs to be cut and that "entitlements" like Social Security are the problem that needs fixing. There are numerous other examples of the deficit drumbeat manufacturing process..

    Tea Party vs real grassroots concerns

    Example: The other day there were mass rallies all around the country, by people who want the government to act on immigration. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out in cities from LA to New York. But if you are in DC, this barely registered. In DC it is "Tea Party, Tea Party, Tea Party." A few hundred people turn out (also here, here, here,here) for Tea Party rallies, and "the Tea Parties" are just about the only thing in the news, and the discussion topic on the cable news shows for weeks. (And never mind the Coffee Party, with more members and more events than the Tea Party.)

    Politicians should remember the bailouts

    These were just a few examples of how it works. And, for sure, it works. The process is so well-tuned that DC politicians can be stampeded easier and faster than Wal-Mart shoppers promised $100 flat-screen TVs on Black Friday.

    Remember the Wall Street bailouts, with the Bush administration demanding they be passed in just 48 hours, or the entire world would end? (Remember "non-reviewable by any court or any agency?")

    So how is it working out for politicians who were stampeded into voting for bailouts for Wall Street instead of jobs for Main Street?

    Lesson: It's the jobs, stupid. JOBS FOR MAIN STREET!
    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Bad Hotel

    More like this, please:

    May 10, 2010 — A flashmob infiltrates the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco and performs an adaptation of Lady Gaga's song "Bad Romance." The event was organized to draw attention to a boycott called by the workers of the hotel who are fighting to win a fair contract and affordable healthcare. Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer activists put the song and dance together as a creative way to tell the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people from all over the country coming to San Francsico in June for Pride to stay out of the boycotted hotels.

    To learn more about how to honor the boycott and support the workers visit:
    http://www.sleepwiththerightpeople.org
    http://www.hotelworkersrising.org/HotelGuide/boycott_list.php

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Interest Rates At Zero Taxes Savers

    The government's zero-interest-rate policy is a HUGE tax on people who saved money instead of borrowing. It is a huge giveaway to the big banks. Why no noise about this?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 10, 2010

    Union of Unemployed


    Go here.

    Useful. Unique. Unified. You lost your job. You're not alone. 31 million Americans face the same challenges. You want your job back. You want your life back. But you can't do it alone. Neither can anyone else. You all need each other. That's what UCubed is here to do: Help you and 31 million other Americans organize, work together and get back to work. Let UCubed help you connect. Form a cube, and multiply your political and economic power by 6. Then by 36. Eventually, by 31 million. Take Control.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Charter Schools - One More Hedge Fund Tax Scam

    Go read
    Evil Ed, inc: the Wall Street-charter school connection
    at Open Left. Here is how it works:

    What happens is the investors who put up the money to build charter schools get to basically or virtually double their money in seven years through a thirty-nine percent tax credit from the federal government. In addition, this is a tax credit on money that they're lending, so they're also collecting interest on the loans as well as getting the thirty-nine percent tax credit. They piggy-back the tax credit on other kinds of federal tax credits like historic preservation or job creation or brownfields credits.

    Just another Wall Street scam.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:35 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    The Odd Logic Of Deficit-Cutting Arguments

    This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of CAF's ongoing "Virtual Summit on Fiscal and Economic Responsibility for People Who Did Not Wreck The Economy." I am a Fellow with CAF.

    Have you noticed that there is a very odd logic around the DC Beltway deficit-cutting frenzy? Here is the basic argument:

    A) Things worked great back when taxes on the rich were high. We built up the infrastructure that made us prosperous, and we built up a middle class. We didn't have budget deficits. There were many other benefits to the economy, society and our democracy. They were America's golden years.

    B) Then we cut tax rates for the rich and massively increased military spending. Since then -- and because we did those things -- the budget and the economy have gone to pot. We had to cut education, stop maintaining the infrastructure, and cut all kinds of things that benefit regular people and make the economy grow. Wealth has concentrated at the very top, and regular people are falling further and further behind. The budget cuts made us "eat the seed corn" and now the country has lost its competitive edge in the world's economy.

    You would think people would be able to connect the obvious dots and come to the obvious conclusion about how to fix the problem. But instead the odd logic of the deficit cutters leads them to the strangest of strange conclusions about how to fix the problem:

    C) Therefore we have to cut spending even more on things that benefit regular people and grow the economy (and especially on Social Security for the elderly). But we must not touch spending on the military even though we spend more than all other countries on earth combined, and military spending hurts the economy. Raising taxes on the rich back where they were before cutting them started all the trouble is flat-out off the table.

    But ... but ... but ...

    As Homer Simpson would say, "D'oh!"

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

    May 9, 2010

    Shorter Friedman

    Shorter Friedman:

    Things worked great back when taxes on the rich were high. We built up the infrastructure and built up a middle class.

    Then we cut taxes for the rich and since then things have gone to shit.

    Therefore we have to make deep cuts to people's benefits and pensions.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Meet Sarah Palin: The Next President?

    If you get a Sunday newspaper, you probably saw today's USA Weekend insert with Sarah Palin on the cover. "Helping USA WEEKEND Magazine mark Mother's Day." The magazine is included in 700 newspapers.

    palin_cover_sm

    The super puff-piece pushes Palin like nothing you have ever seen before. This is waaaayyy beyond how Reagan and Bush were sold. Not even a little bit subtle. (And her husband, too, "a man’s man who can cradle a baby bottle as well as a hunting rifle.") (I just read that to my wife, who said, "Don't talk to me about Sarah Palin anymore. I'm sick of it.")

    "One minute Palin, 46, is making a baby bottle, checking the latest stream of e-mails on her BlackBerry and asking Piper, 9, if she wants a playdate; the next she’s dashing out the back door, taking off her dangle earrings and doing a live TV shot on, yes, health care reform for Fox News. And this is all during our interview.

    Except for the fact that the entire brood is here, this is a typical Friday afternoon: half-clothed toddlers running around; Willow, 15, hanging out with her pink iPhone; a camera crew in the backyard; dinner getting cold; and Palin ever-ready for prime time in her curly updo, TV makeup, bell-bottom cords and clunky platform heels."


    Sarah Palin is sooooo ... regular. She's just like us. “We do the cooking. We do the cleaning. We all do the laundry.” But she is also a super mother!
    For Palin, the juggling act is evidence of presidential bona fides. “I think this country would be served very well by a woman president, someone who has raised a family,” she says, stopping short of saying she wants to run in 2012. “We just want to get from point A to point B and get the job done. I don’t waste time; I’m too busy.”

    George Lakoff, in Moral Politics, writes that people understand politics using a metaphor of a family. So seeing how a politician relates to his or her family is a metaphor for how they will act in office, and the policies they will favor. To help us with this, the article has bullet-pointed "THE PALIN PRINCIPLES." For example, "On not giving the kids any allowance: They are “expected to work if they don’t have a sport.” Take that, welfare bums! Get a job, unemployment loafers!

    Along these lines, how should the American People think about ourselves, adn all we've been through?

    Palin makes no apologies for the impact her frenetic lifestyle and fame has had on her children. “They’re quite independent, and they’re thick-skinned,” she says proudly. “Those are some attributes that any parent would want for their kids.

    “We can see the blessings in every step that we’ve taken and in everything that has happened to us. There’s a been a tradeoff [but] Todd and I are strong believers at the end of the day things do work out for good.”


    This is the corporate marketing campaign for the Sarah Palin Presidency. Get used to it - it's coming your way.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:29 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    May 6, 2010

    The Casino Is Open! Come One, Come All!

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

    In the middle of the Senate debate over reform of the financial system Wall Street sent us a significant reminder that the casino is still wide open. And I mean WIDE open! I mean YEE-HA wide. I mean waving the cowboy hat while riding the bomb.

    Suddenly in the middle of the day the stock market dropped more than it has ever dropped, all at once, 998.50 points (closing down 347), much more than the 780.87 it plunged during the day on Oct. 15, 2008 (closing down 733). Absolute total freefall, in half an hour.

    The casino is still open. WIDE open.

    I guess they will have to once again hold off on proposals to put Social Security into stocks. (A proposal that is really about testing how long the average person is able to remember things...)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:44 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    Executive Entitlement Vs We The People Democracy

    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.

    There have so been many examples lately of the wealthy and the executive class having a sense that they are superior and entitled to fleece and feed off of the rest of us. Here is one more.

    BP CEO Tony Hayward on who will be responsible for paying oil spill damages,

    Mr Hayward reiterated a promise that BP “will honour all legitimate claims for business interruption”. Asked for examples of illegitimate claims, he said: “I could give you lots of examples. This is America — come on. We’re going to have lots of illegitimate claims. We all know that.”

    So with this terrible oil tragedy ruining the ecology of a whole region, killing off the livelihoods of the people who depend on that ecology, he starts right out by mocking Americans who might go to court to collect for the damage that BP has caused them. "We all know" that there are going to be illegitimate claims. Frivolous lawsuits. Moochers and parasites, just waiting for a chance to get their hands on BP's big pile of loot—the pile that Hayward and other executives and producers worked so hard to accumulate. (BP's first quarter profit in 2010 was over $6 billion.)

    Mind you, this was after BP got caught making fishermen sign waivers agreeing not to ask for more than $5,000 in damages from the company if they wanted work in the company's cleanup effort. Got that? The fishermen are thrown out of work by BP's huge Gulf oil catastrophe. So, desperate for any work they can get they ask for work doing the dangerous job of helping with the cleanup effort, and before "letting" them work BP makes them sign a form saying that they won't ask for more than $5,000 for ruining their livelihood. Or else they won't get any work helping with the cleanup.

    Look how far down the road we have gone.

    The entitled executives demand deregulation, because regulation is "government interference" and "meddling" in the affairs of businesspeople.

    Then, with the protections removed, they call for "tort reform," which means citizens can't sue for compensation for damages after the fact.

    Of course, they are trying to prevent the meddling government from setting up a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would prevent scamming, cheating, fleecing and bamboozling of consumers - at least in financial products. (Other scamming, fleecing and bamboozling would still be OK.)

    And most important, keep the government from taxing the wealthy or businesses -- and this keeps the interfering government from having the funds for meddlesome inspections and enforcing laws and regulations that keep them from doing anything they want to do.

    But government is We, the People, and we are supposed to be in charge here, and making the decisions. Not a few executives who feel entitled to anything they want. They think We, the People are meddling and interfering, because they are so much smarter, and know so much better than us, the herd. So they demand deregulation. They demand that government keep its nose out of their business. This is how we have ended up with catastrophe after catastrophe, finance, mining, oil and debt disasters.

    We, the People have to restore our own understanding of our own power and responsibility. These things happened because WE stopped being eternally vigilant. We are the ones who have let them get their noses under the tent, and it is up to us to take back control of our own democracy.

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

    May 5, 2010

    Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling

    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 conservative argument of the last 30-40 years boils down to this: "Hey look at this big pile of seed corn. Let's eat it!" Almost 30 years after the "Reagan Revolution" our infrastructure is crumbling around us. Since the Reagan-era tax cuts we have been deferring maintenance of (and never mind modernizing) our infrastructure, and as a result have become less competitive in the world economy.

    Meanwhile our economic competitors, countries like China and India, have been building infrastructure like crazy. Other countries are investing, educating, improving public services because they know these things make the economy explode later. A major component of China's stimulus was infrastructure and public services - including public welfare - because of the economic benefits that come later.

    Now for those countries it is later, while for us it's just becoming too late. Their investment is paying off while we're having trouble paying off the accumulated Reagan/Bush tax-cut debt.

    How did we get here?

    Public infrastructure is the roads, courts, education, etc. that enable an economy to prosper. We got ourselves out of the Great Depression with a big investment in public infrastructure. The government taxed the wealthy and built or improved modern roads, bridges, post offices, courthouses, shipyards, schools and other public structures that enabled business to take off.

    And then business took off. The idea was, of course, that business would give back some of the returns to keep that process going. But instead the big companies and wealthy families funded a conservative propaganda machine that convinced people to let them just keep it. Look at this chart from 14 Ways A 90 Percent Top Tax Rate Fixes Our Economy And Our Country:

    krugman_chart

    You can clearly see that the money that should have been invested in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure instead has gone to a few wealthy people at the top of the food chain. (We're the food.) And of course, we all can clearly see the results of this in today's economy. They ate the seed corn, America is crumbling.

    Now, here we are later and we are seeing the result of the Reagan Revolution. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card estimates that we are $2.2 trillion behind just on maintaining the existing infrastructure, never mind modernizing. Please click through and explore what ASCE is saying there. (Conservatives -- there are lots of pictures!)

    What do we do?

    The answer is obvious. It is called public investment. Ask the big companies, the banks and the wealthy to pay back some of the incredible amounts of money they have been piling up as a result of the past investment that We, the People made in building that infrastructure that enabled the economy to boom. Use that money to invest in maintaining and modernizing the infrastructure so that the economy can again thrive for all of us.

    We can employ the unemployed and bring our infrastructure up to par at the same time. There is a lot of work that needs doing and we have a lot of people out of work.

    The payback will be enormous. The economy will explode. And we can build sustainability into the process this time.

    What is in the way?

    The problem now is that the corporate/conservative propaganda machine has gone way past talking people into cutting taxes for the rich and cutting back on public spending for infrastructure and our people. Now they have become very extreme, convincing a number of people that government spending - We, the People spending on the common good - and government itself - We, the People making the decisions for ourselves - is the wrong approach. They believe that any government at all is "socialism" -- run for the benefit of all of us -- and that all public services must be "privatized" -- meaning run for the benefit of a few. They believe it is wrong, even immoral to have public schools, public transit, public health care, regulations that restrict what companies can do to consumers or the environment, etc.

    They have the megaphone because they have the money. We have to confront this head on.

    More to come!

    This is another story of a wealthy few selling off the country's people and future. This is another story of gains for a few at the expense of the rest of us. These stories are becoming all too common. This is the Reagan Revolution coming home to roost, and I will continue to write about the terrible price we are paying and will be paying for a long time for the failed experiment in conservative ideology.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    Obama Refuses To Make The Case

    WHY does Obama refuse to explain to the public that the previous conservative administration destroyed so many departments of the government, and the resulting lack of oversight, controls and regulations is why things like the oil rig explosion, mining disaster, etc. keep happening?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 4, 2010

    Wall Street Plays Hardball

    Wall street plays hardball - just ask Eliot Spitzer about that.

    And now you can ask certain members of Congress, too. You mess with (threaten to apply sensible financial reforms on) the power, the power messes with you back: Members of Congress Bet Against Stocks in Year of Financial Crisis - WSJ.com.

    This isn't just a news story, this is Wall Street sounding a warning shot at members of Congress. If you try to pass reforms that limit our bonuses, you are going to be in the fight of your life.

    That's what happened to Eliot Spitzer. Here he is in 2002. Here he is in 2003. Then, Wall Street salivating over Eliot Spitzer's downfall. How many private detectives do you think it took?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation

    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 terrible Gulf oil, West Virginia mining, Wall Street finance and government debt disasters all demonstrate the ongoing catastrophic and continuing results of conservative policies. Each of these is a direct consequence of letting corporate conservatives take over government and dismantle the regulatory and democratic protections that We, the People fought so hard for following the Great Depression -- itself a previous demonstration of the failure of conservative policies.

    How often have you had to hear that "the market" is the best way to run things? That is is "self-correcting?" That regulations are government "interference" or "meddling" in the market? That business/free markets/private sector always does things better or is more efficient than government? When you hear these you are experiencing the clash between a "one-dollar-one-vote" free market system -- as we had before the Teddy Roosevelt progressive era and the Franklin Roosevelt New Deal -- and "one-person-one-vote" democratic, We, the People system that brings the benefits of our economy and our country to the most people. But because of the power of money and marketing most people are hearing only one side of an ongoing argument between the wealthy few and the broad masses of working people.

    For decades we have heard these pro-market, anti-government arguments repeated over and over and over and over and over and over. Big corporations have a lot of money to buy a big megaphone, so you hear that government is bad, business is good and the people ought to just keep their noses out of the marketplace and stop telling businesses how to do things. You hear that taxes are bad, "hurt the economy," "cost jobs," "take money out of the economy," "just get passed through to customers anyway" and a million similar great-sounding slogans that fall down under minimal evaluation. They have been repeated over and over, until we forgot why we had fought so hard for strong government regulations and high taxes at the top.

    After the disaster of Nixon the country learned about cracks in our democracy that let big money get their nose under the tent. But after Watergate we didn't plug all of the leaks, and big money got into the tent anyway. They used their position to give themselves more power, and used that power to give themselves even more, etc. and now we have a system that is corrupted absolutely.

    So with the conservative government of Reagan and then later under the all-out anti-government conservative administration of George W. Bush we have had the opportunity of seeing just what happens when these "free market" ideas are given free reign to replace democracy. Anti-government zealots were put into positions inside the government and used that power to take apart the protections that We, the People had painstakingly built.

    Taxes were cut to "defund" government in order to "starve the beast." The strategy was create huge deficits so the public would later demand cuts in government benefits. In the meantime the deficits would be used as an excuse to cut government oversight, inspections and enforcement of rules restricting the activities of big corporations. But all they did was create huge deficit that added up to massive debt.

    Katrina was the first clear, public demonstration of the governing offered by conservatives. When they talked about replacing progressive ideas of "we're in this together" and "watching out for each other" with "personal responsibility" they meant it. And the country saw what that meant to real people in real trouble.

    More recently we have been hearing about disaster after disaster and catastrophe after catastrophe, all caused by businesses running out of control, aided by conservative government that relaxed or just stopped enforcing regulations and laws. Each catastrophe is beyond the scope or willingness of private businesses to repair, requiring public intervention, at great cost. (But never any suggestion of "clawback" - or getting back the profits that were made while creating the catastrophe.)

    We all certainly know about the Wall Street financial crisis caused by the big banks and insurance giants. We heard about the SEC ignoring warnings about Bernie Madoff and Goldman Sachs and all the others. We've seen hearings about the things that WaMu was doing, and loans going to people who couldn't read, and brokers making up incomes on "liar loans" and ratings agencies giving top ratings to "designed to fail" bond deals that investment banks and hedge funds had put together so they could make huge "swap" bets against them when the loans went under... The government, under control of "free market" conservatives looked the other way the whole time.

    They brought down the economy of the whole world, requiring government bailouts that added up to more money that has been spent by our government in the history of the country. And now they are fighting tooth and nail to keep We, the People from passing financial reforms to bring Wall Street back under control.

    Just recently there was the West Virginia mining disaster caused by deregulation, sweet deals between the company and regulators and lack of enforcement. The CEO of the Massey Energy had literally bought himself a judge, who then voted in favor of Massey Energy. Corrupted absolutely, 29 dead later.

    And now, the huge, huge catastrophe in the Gulf.

    This is the Reagan Revolution coming home to roost, and I will be writing about the terrible price we are paying and will be paying for a long time for the failed experiment in conservative ideology.

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:15 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 3, 2010

    Airlines Just One More Corporate Scam

    Why does it seem that every single corporation is all about tricking you and squeezing you?

    Go price the cost of flying from San Francisco to Chicago on Delta. It's $240 round-trip, but you have to go through Detroit.

    But if you just want to fly to Detroit it is $616 round-trip. Because there is less competition and they can squeeze you.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:47 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    We Need Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. And Jobs.

    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.

    Things are good for the plutocrats. Stock market soaring, bonuses are big... Things are going mighty fine. So fine, in fact, that the urgency of extending unemployment, COBRA and programs to help the people harmed by the financial disaster is moving off the table.

    But out here on Main Street we need jobs, jobs, jobs. And we need jobs, too. You just hear people say this over and over, and it's like we're told in response, "OK go to bed now, children."

    Here's the deal: Say what you want about bailing out Goldman Sachs and AIG pass-throughs, and letting the FASB suspend "mark to market" accounting, it was unemployment benefits and the FDIC and the stimulus' job-creation that kept this economic crisis from turning int a full-blown depression. And it is still unemployment benefits and FDIC and the stimulus' job creation that are preventing it from happening. They may have hidden the bad assets on the banks' books by using a "mark to model" trick, but the bad assets are still there. The private-sector jobs are not.

    We need a real economy, and real jobs for real people. If the plutocrats think they can have an economy without all of those people who are right now losing their benefits, losing their homes, losing their dignity, then we might all be in for a surprise. We need jobs. And that requires government action. If the available money goes instead to deficit reduction, you can't create the jobs. You can't create the green jobs that will drive the economy of the future, you can't keep the teaching jobs, and you won't keep the stimulus jobs.

    Why isn't the Local Jobs For America bill on the front burner of the Congress?

    We need a new WPA program to directly create jobs.

    We need unemployment benefits and COBRA extended -- both the subsidies and COBRA itself.

    What is the matter with these people? Do they really think an economy of, by and for the rich and only the rich can really work? It's been tried, and the results aren't usually pleasant:

    guillotine

    Oh, did I mention that we need jobs, and we need government action to create jobs, and in the meantime we need unemployment and COBRA extended?

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:59 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Net Neutrality

    Here's the thing about Net Neutrality.

  • Dems were stampeded by a strategic campaign into denouncing a major source of their funding, MoveOn.
  • Dems were stampeded by a strategic campaign into defunding an org
    that registered millions of their voters, ACORN.
  • Dems are regularly stampeded by strategic campaigns into denouncing, "hippie punching" or otherwise demoralizing their base.

    Now there is a strategic campaign to give corporations the power to shut off or restrict access to their campaign websites and to informational sites like DailyKos, etc. How are they going to react?

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

    May 2, 2010

    Real Estate Near The Gulf

    Fumes.

    Right. If you live anywhere near the Gulf the wind is going to be blowing nasty and worst-case toxic fumes in your direction. If you live in Florida it is going to be terrible and possibly even uninhabitable. Yes we are talking refugees in large numbers if this oil leak continues.

    I was already concerned with the effect of global warming on real estate prices when it suddenly sinks in that a lot of land is going to be underwater. Seriously, would YOU buy a house anywhere in a coastal area that has an altitude lower than maybe 30 feet? One of these days everyone is going to realize what that means - all at the same time.

    But now, an entire region is going to be covered in (best-case) terrible stink.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Plutocracy and Anti-Government Front Groups

    It is entirely about maintaining a plutocracy, and it uses the model developed by the tobacco companies to keep the government away - keep us from protecting ourselves. When you look into it, ALL the anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation ideology out there is funded by a few ultra-wealthy people and/or the corporate resources they have access to. It isn't corporate rule, it's rule be a few with access to the vast corporate resources. (Look into the history of the movement and its orgs like Federalist Society that got the people onto the Supreme Court who rules that corporate resources can flood our elections.)

    Along these lines go read Secretive Right-Wing Plutocrats Use Front Groups To Attack New Campaign Finance Disclosure Bill

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    May 1, 2010

    Why Obama is Ineffective

    Please read Obama the Centrist

    In all of these cases, Obama is ruling, or trying to rule, by taking positions that are at the technocratic good-government center, and then taking two steps to the right – sacrificing some important policy goals – in the hope of attracting Republican votes and thereby demonstrating his commitment to bipartisanship
    .

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Immigration Rallies Larger Than Any Tea Party Event Ever

    There were large immigration rallies in cities across the country today. 50-100,000 people marched in LA.

    Do you think now there will be wall-to-wall coverage in the news for months now, like there has been for the Tea Party events?

    Here's the question: WHY not?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:20 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    Your must-Read of the Day

    Please go read Read This Before You Debate Immigration Reform

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:50 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

  •