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September 30, 2011

The DONATE Button

Over in the left column there and down a ways is a DONATE button. It says PayPal on it. This helps me pay to server company, and once in a while maybe a cup of coffee, too, though not so much for a while...

So please consider donating to keep this site going. Thanks.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tobacco Companies Covered Up Radiation Risk

A recurring question in today's economy that rewards con artists and psycopaths: " Why aren't they in jail?" Torturers, banksters, fraudsters (ratings agencies), bribers, professional climate deniers, and of course tobacco executives. Tobacco is still killing over 400,000 Americans every single year. Remind me, HOW many were killed by al Queda?

Today's news, tobacco companies knew since 1959 that there was concentrated radiation in the smoke, increasing the liklihood of cancer, could have taken it out but the process would have made it less addictive.

See Tobacco Companies Hid Evidence of Radiation in Cigarettes for Decades - ABC News.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:21 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Why Does The Right Help China?

Why is the right trying so hard to help China capture the green-energy industry?

One example today, Heritage Foundation: The Solyndra Legacies,

Days before a recent deadline, the Department of Energy brazenly approved two additional loans for more than $1 billion for solar energy projects in the Obama Administration’s green jobs program. The latest ill-fated ventures include a $737 million loan guarantee to Solar Reserve for a 110-megawatt solar tower on federal land in Nevada and a $337 million guarantee for Mesquite Solar 1 to develop a 150-megawatt solar plant in Arizona.

Loan guarantees like these are destined to fail, because they are either granted to companies that could not remain viable without them or because the loan was supported by political connections; or both. This round of loans includes the latter—just as it appears Solyndra was aided.

Is this campaign to kill off America's green-energy efforts just to help the Koch brothers and other oil-company funders of the right? Is that all there is to it? It's pretty darn convenient for China, either way.

Update - The right is not just on China's side against ours when it comes to the green energy industry. Look at this from Cato Institute: China Currency Legislation Is a Desperate Mistake and keep in mind that the argument is about China allowing its currency to move to market rates. Usually Cato is all about free markets -- until that benefits America instead of China.

Broader support on Capitol Hill for currency legislation boils down to this: with public approval ratings hovering in the low-to-mid teens, an embattled Congress is looking for plausible scapegoats for the dismal state of U.S. economic affairs. Thanks to a lot of media-driven hype about China’s inexorable rise at U.S. expense, Americans fear China almost as much as they loathe Congress. A vote to reclaim American jobs stolen by China—as the currency legislation is so disingenuously characterized by some of its supporters—enables politicians to return to their states and districts with concrete evidence of the seriousness of their efforts.

Only it’s not serious. It’s deeply dismaying. Instead of working hard to change homegrown U.S. policies that inhibit investment, job creation, and growth, our elected officials would choose to lay the blame for our woes at China’s feet, then cross their fingers and hope that their provocative, unilateralist legislation doesn’t unleash a torrent of adverse consequences that would make economic matters even worse. Can there be a stronger admission of failure than to launch such a desperate Hail Mary?

OK, get that? He says we should not be asking China to let its currency float to market rates, which would make American-made goods competitive in the world again.

Worse than that, he is saying America should be more like China, not the other way around. He says we need to stop protecting our people, our workers, stop protecting our environment, make it harder to unionize, and let a top few govern us. Yikes!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 29, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Day 12

"We are occupying Wall Street. We will not be moved."

"Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."

"We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we're working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent. "

People Have Had It

This is what happens when people have had it. The "Occupy Wall Street" crowd has been there for almost 2 weeks, camping out, saying they're fed up and are going to stay until American democracy is restored.

Video: Wall Streeters mock the people marching in the streets, drinking champagne, from above.

"This video shows unidentified occupants watching protests from the balconies of Wall Street in amusement while sipping champagne."

Pilots Union marches:

United/Continental pilots march on Wall Street
Pilots marching to Wall Street strike

Report: NYC Transit Union Joins Occupy Wall Street,

New York City labor unions are preparing to back the unwieldy grassroots band occupying a park in Lower Manhattan, in a move that could mark a significant shift in the tenor of the anti-corporate Occupy Wall Street protests and send thousands more people into the streets.

The Transit Workers Union Local 100's executive committee, which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously Wednesday night to support the protesters. The union claims 38,000 members. A union-backed organizing coalition, which orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street before the protests, is planning a rally on Oct. 5 in explicit support. And SEIU 32BJ, which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers, is using its Oct. 12 rally to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.

Video: Michael Moore talks about what is happening with Lawrence O'Donnell:

Video: See Richard Eskow: Occupy This! TV Interview On The Economy And The #OccupyWallStreet Protests

"Wall Street's fear is understandable. If the public is ever given a voice to express its outrage, their party train will have to stop and some people will pay for their crimes. But when Americans can only express their right to free speech after they've been coralled into a "free speech zone," one that's far from the subject of the protests, that's not free speech at all.

And it's not America."

Go visit the Occupy Wall Street site

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 28, 2011

Incentives

According to Republicans:

To make the rich work harder you have to pay them more.

To make the poor work harder you have to pay them less.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:45 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 27, 2011

Important Story About Voting Machines

I haven't written about voting machines for a while. Now Salon has an important story. Go see Diebold voting machines can be hacked by remote control - 2012 Elections - Salon.com

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

Solyndra 'Scandal' About Big Oil, King Coal Power And Intimidation

Last week big oil/big coal sent a not-subtle message to the country's investment community: if you back companies or technologies that compete with us we will crush you. Our media/political machine will accuse you of every crime in the book. Your picture will be plastered on the front page of every newspaper in the country looking like you are on the FBI's "Most Wanted List." We will haul you before Congress and grill you like a tri-tip on national television. The evening news will speculate that you should be in prison.

Here is the other message that is being sent out loud and clear to the rest of us: America is for oil and coal. If you want alternatives let China do it.

Extending To Everything

Here is what the conservative propaganda machine does. It sets a narrative, pounds out a drumbeat on that narrative, and then every news event is twisted to leach the lesson of the narrative. The oil-backed right had been on an anti-green kick for some time. In The Phony Solyndra Solar Scandal I gave some examples -- just a taste -- of this narrative development:

Attacking Green Manufacturing

The Solyndra accusations are really just one part of an ongoing conservative and oil-interests-funded anti-green-manufacturing campaign drumbeat. Long before Solyndra's bankruptcy the Heritage Foundation was running stories like 2008's Green Jobs Are Con Jobs, 2009's The Green Job Myth Exposed, and this year's Obama’s “Green Jobs” Pipe Dream, The Green Jobs Story Obama Doesn’t Want You to Hear, Are “Green Jobs” the Answer?, Are Green Jobs ‘Gone with the Wind’?...

Media Matters had previously exposed the nature of this ongoing effort, in Heritage Foundation Green Jobs Panel - Bought and Paid For By ExxonMobil,

Instead of showcasing the views of unbiased academics and economists, the Heritage Foundation put forth a panel of individuals financially connected to ExxonMobil.

... The ENTIRE PANEL Received Money From ExxonMobil.

More conservative-outlet examples include the ever-malignant Fox News: Solyndra Investigation Begins Critical Look at Federally Funded Green Ventures.

Other conservative outlets continue the drumbeat, Obama’s green dream hurting U.S. taxpayers by Linda Chavez.

Another: Obama Green Jobs Con Job and the Ill Wind That Blows from Spain,

...

Another: Reason: Obama's Green Jobs Failures and Obama's Green-Jobs Fantasy and The Green Jobs Delusion and The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs": Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?...

NewsMax: Green Jobs Spending Is a Waste of Greenbacks, "If the congressional “supercommittee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green-jobs agenda is a great place to start."

And more and more and more and more...

That is what they do. They develop the narrative -- in this case, anti-green, and when there is a story in the news they twist it to teach the lesson.

The Solyndra Lesson

So now Solyndra is in the news. On FOX news -- 2nd-largest shareholder is an oil billionaire -- the story is played 100 ways hour after hour. On talk radio it is repeated endlessly. In right-wing blogs it echoes everywhere. In right-wing newspapers, echoed in "mainstream" outlets by right-wing supported columnists, and driven into the mainstream. Lie after lie after lie, repeated until it becomes "truth."

Charles Krauthammer On Solyndra: A “Toxic Combination Of Lenin Socialism and Crony Capitalism”

So the narrative was that efforts to push for green-energy alternatives jobs was bad, Solyndra came along and was used to teach the lesson. Now that Solyndra is the narrative, it is being used to teach the larger lesson - anything government does is bad, anything opposing oil and coal and big multinationals is bad. Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, The birthing of Solyndra,

Since the solar-energy company went belly-up a few weeks ago — leaving taxpayers on the hook for $535 million in loan guarantees — a business that was once the poster child for President Obama’s green-jobs initiative has instead become a tool for Republicans to discredit most everything the administration seeks to do.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah used Solyndra to argue against worker-training benefits. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina used it to argue that the federal government should stay out of autism research. Disaster relief, cancer treatments, you name it: Solyndra has been an argument against them.

And this week, the government faced the prospect of a shutdown because House Republicans added a provision to the spending bill to draw more attention to — what else? — Solyndra.

The Serious People

One side intimidates, and means it. So they are seen as the "serious" people -- deadly serious. If you cross them, you will have trouble. Serious trouble. The other side plays along, caves, accommodates, appeases, refuses to exercise power when they have it, does little even to enforce obvious lawbreaking by the big -- serious -- players.

Which side do you think people are going to take seriously?

The media won’t call out the intimidators because they are intimidated. One part of this intimidation is the organized, funded “liberal media” accusation. But that is just part of a larger strategy: neutralize those who might call you out on what you are doing. Yet another part of media intimidation is the effect on people’s careers. If you call out the right, you are a "leftist" and you career is in danger. If you are known as a liberal your career is not going to advance in most outlets. If you go after corporations you are "anti-business" and your career is not going far.

But you can say any silly thing, be as wrong or stupid as you can be, as long as it supports corporate/right positions. Nothing bad will happen to you. In fact you are more likely to do well careerwise – be promoted, make more money, get access, speaking fees, etc. And if you actually work for the right's machine, the sky is the limit. You will always, always have a job at an "institute" or in an "association" or even on the government payroll as a staffer. Seriously.

Seriously Using Power

Oh, and for those concerned about government subsidies, deals, etc.:


And is that pesky government trying to regulate you?

And not just big coal and oil:

As for getting goodies from the government?

This list could go on all day.

This is how power is used, and big oil/big coal/Wall Street/Big Multinationals have that power.

Solyndra - Government Doing The Right Thing

The first thing that needs to be emphasized here: the government -- under Bush first, then under Obama -- was right to assist Solyndra and other solar companies. Our government wants to help us capture some of the new green-energy industrial revolution for our country. It is millions of jobs and trillions of dollars coming down the road. To accomplish this the government stepped in to help explore promising new technologies, just like they do with cancer research. Solyndra had a promising new technology and that is why the Dept. of Energy started considering them for a loan guarantee - under the bush administration - that would encourage private investors to take the plunge.

That is all that happened here. Period. One company went under but the technology was promising and still is. Jobs were created - here. Research was funded - here. Facilities were built and will be used - here.

But China stepped in and put $30 billion into winning this bet - there - and this drove the prices down, so one company here went out of business. That is what happened.

Did it cost the government some money? Yes and no - the jobs, research, facilities, supply chain is all still here. And the money was nothing compared to the money the government puts into big oil, big coal, big ag, big financial, etc.

Silicon Valley's San Jose Mercury News Silicon Valley observers say fears of 'more Solyndras' are overblown,

...the scandal has already created an unexpected roadblock for another area solar firm, San Mateo's SolarCity. Earlier this month, the company heralded conditional Department of Energy approval for a $275 million loan guarantee that would help put solar panels on dozens of U.S. military bases. On Friday, the company's CEO sent an urgent letter to Congressional leaders, saying new federal concerns in the wake of the Solyndra scandal could scuttle the SolarCity deal.

... "In the past 48 hours, the DOE has informed us that while they remain strongly supportive of Project SolarStrong, they will be unable to finalize their approval of the loan guarantee" prior to next week's expiration of the loan program.

Adding that the high-flying company ultimately may have been undone by the rise of lower-cost competitors, he said: "Solyndra isn't a sign of the failure of solar. It's a sign that this market is booming."

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Republicans Cheer That Labor Leaders Murdered In Colombia

Hundreds of executions in Texas -- Republican crowd cheers.

An uninsured person in a coma -- Republican crowd shouts "Let him die!"

And now, labor leaders murdered in Colombia -- Republicans say "A good start..."

See the comments under an article at The Hill about how many labor leaders have been killed in Colombia -- 15 since the US signed on to a treaty: AFL-CIO President Trumka sends list of killed Colombian labor leaders to Obama - TheHill.com

Republicans are swarming the comments. Example:

What do you call a list of 22 dead labor leaders?

A good start…
BY TEA PARTY PATRIOT�on 09/26/2011 at 15:35

And trust me, it isn't just this one comment over there... go see before they take it down. (Never mind you can see some of them preserved here: http://yfrog.com/nxx0rp and here http://yfrog.com/kgf13jp)

so Columbia is doing a good job of getting rid of vermin why is this cause for concern? BY HOLYMAN on 09/26/2011 at 15:35

Another:

I wonder if those killing the labor slugs in Colombia can outsource that work here. BY CANUCK on 09/26/2011 at 19:00


Another:

Could we get them to do it here? There are more than enough union thug bosses already. BY DAVID on 09/27/2011 at 10:52


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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:36 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 26, 2011

New: Occupy Together

People are starting to go into the streets. You don't have to go to New York to join the Occupy Movement. See Occupy Together:

Welcome to OCCUPY TOGETHER, a hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. As we have followed the news on facebook, twitter, and the various live feeds across the internet, we felt compelled to build a site that would help spread the word as more protests organize across the country. We hope to provide people with information about events that are organizing, ongoing, and building across the U.S. as we, the 99%, take action against the greed and corruption of the 1%.

We will try our best to provide you with the most accurate information possible. However, we are just a few volunteers and errors are bound to occur. Please be patient as we get this site off the ground and populated and please contact us if you have any info on new events, corrections, or suggestions for this site. You can contact us at info[at]occupytogether[dot]org.

We will only grow stronger in our solidarity and we will be heard, not just in New York, but in echoes across this nation.

Seriously,go look. I think this is catching on.

And while you are getting active, don't forget to joint the Rebuild The American Dream Movement.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:27 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Netflix Nail In Coffin

Netflix was like the TV shows we watch -- every time we find one we actually like they cancel it. Even if lots of people are watching it is the wrong demographic - people like me don't buy enough stupid stuff.

We liked Netflix the way it was. Then they raised the price 60%, and the insult was pretty bad. That kind of begs you to tell them to fuck off, doesn't it? But it was still a pretty good service, even if it was no longer a good deal. So we were thinking ... maybe ...

So just to make sure, just to drive the nail in the coffin, they announced they are going to kill it for sure -- split it into two companies so you can't use their one website, can't decide whether to get it in the mail or watch it online (they let you know when you were ordering a DVD that is also online...)

It is hard to comprehend just how stupid this all is as a business plan.

1) Completely alienate your customers and
2) change your business model to get rid of the formula that made you successful and
3) provide such an amazing opening to all of your competitors.

So just in speculation, having been on the inside of some of these terrible strategic decisions and seen what leads to them, let me guess. And admittedly knowing nothing whatsoever about the people and the thinking involved.

1) There is a complete and utter separation of the Board and top executives from the cares and concerns of the customers. This is not just in pay scale (which I am certain is HUGE) but in how they live their lives, come home from work and take care of kids (they will have nannies, no question), and watch TV, etc. Especially that. I bet they do not watch TV or use Netflix much at all. I bet some of the people involved in this get up to play basketball at 5am. (That's a Silicon Valley thing.)

2) These would be people who live in a "strategy" cloud that involves making what they think will be BIG deals with the currently perceived BIG players. This is the world where Google buys a strategic player with no revenue for a few hundred million dollars because in 5 years that might be a key component in someones strategery...

3) This is about deals with power players who will force people and companies to conform to their business model rather than giving customers what they want. Like cable companies that make you buy certain bundles of channels instead of letting you choose channels to get, or telecoms that can dictate plans for minutes, texts, data... Maybe it has to do with using the data Netflix has on its customers -- Facebook's perceived advantage...

4) It will have something to do with financialization -- making money by doing almost nothing and requiring very few employees or facilities. Not like this terrible problem they have where they have to actually have storage and shipping facilities to ship DVDs and deal with packaging and the postal service and icky things that involve actual goods and making customers happy. Best to just find a way to hook into people's credit card accounts and get a monthly fee, or get royalties, or a percentage of someone else's business...

Just thinking out loud... Someone at the top of Netflix has been spending way too much time with people who strategerize a lot, and thinks they're eventually going to make way more money through forcing people or companies to pay them because of some kind of partnership they are planning, and not by delivering something solid to real customers, so they give up the whole business they have today.

One more thing, I'll just bet the day-to-day employees at Netflix are just freaking.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Occupy Wall Street

THIS is what democracy looks like! Occupy Wall Street | NYC Protest for American Revolution

A post I wrote a while back about getting active: Get Active To Recover The Economy And Middle Class

A video I have in that post, from Wisconsin, THIS is what democracy looks like!"


Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Lee Camp: The Police Are On The Wrong Side At The Occupy Wall Street Protests

Brilliant: Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity:

Go here for more videos.

Here is his website.

HEY you can even subscribe to his podcasts!

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:47 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Make Me A Viral Video

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

Shutdown And Hostage-Taking -- It Is NOT Both Sides Doing It

One side says, "Never mind the deal we just agreed to, cut this or we'll shut down the government" and the other side says, "This isn't fair, and it hurts people. We can't keep agreeing to pay these ransoms, this has to stop!" Is this "both sides squabbling?" Is this "Congress can't get its act together?" Or is this a group of hostage-takers using media obfuscation of what is going on as cover for a radical strategy to turn people against government and democracy, while the "other side" tries to stop them?

So here we are, another fight looms over shutting down the government. This time the Republicans have taken disaster relief hostage and are using it as a lever to demand we cut even more of what We, the People do for each other, so that the big corporations and the wealthiest 1% can have even more wealth and power. Many in the media are reporting this as "both sides squabbling" but this is not what is happening.

Democracy depends on the public being informed so that they can hold their representatives accountable. So the media has a responsibility to correctly identify, in clear terms, just who is doing what. "Both sides do it" tells people not to bother to vote, that government and democracy don't work, that you should just tune ou and leave it to the plutocrats to run things. Stop it!

"Blame Both Sides" Reporting

The Chicago Sun-Times, in Government on brink of shutdown again blames "Congress", calls it "bickering" and "posturing" and blames "Congress."

More "blame both sides" reporting is found in today's Progressive Breakfast, hiliting this NYTimes story, Flood Victims Getting Fed Up With Congress says the current hostage-taking is "a dispute between Republicans and Democrats in Congress over money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency,"

“Neither side wants the other side to get credit for doing anything good,” Mr. Golembeski said. “Elections are coming up.”

Neither side wants the other to get credit. Nice.

“Members of Congress are playing with people’s lives, not just their own political careers,” said Martin J. Bonifanti, chief of the Lake Winola volunteer fire company. “While they are rattling on among themselves down there in Washington, people are suffering.”

Dear NY Times, "members of COngress" are not doing this. ONE PARTY is doing this. The story offers nothing to counter the quote.

“Members of Congress are intelligent, but they have no common sense,” Ms. Swithers said. “They fight too much. They should be put in a corner and take a timeout and start working together as a team. I’m so sick of hearing Republicans this and Democrats that.”

Dear NY Times, This fight is not "Republicans this and Democrats that" it is Republicans taking disaster relief hostage and using the suffering of the people you quote as a lever to gut programs like green energy.

Norman Ornstein writes about this problem, in What ‘The Washington Post’ Doesn’t Understand About the Looming Government Shutdown,

One of the biggest problems of reporting on our dysfunctional politics has been the reflexive tendency in “mainstream” media to balance, via what is increasingly false equivalence. A glaring example was a front-page, above-the-fold story in Saturday’s Washington Post by Lori Montgomery and Rosalind S. Helderman, titled (in the print edition, though not on the web), “Gloom Grows as Congress Feuds.” The story was about the looming showdown, and possible government shutdown, over disaster relief funding. The piece makes sure to include a comment from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor blaming Democrats, ends with a comment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blaming Republicans, and includes a comment from an independent analyst blaming both.

If you reflexively "blame both" you are not informing the public and you are not serving democracy. There are people who will want to vote for the ones who are trying to help We, the People watch out for and take care of each other. And there are people who will want to vote for the ones who have a strategy in play to eliminate government so that the biggest corporations and wealthiest few can use their wealth and power to have their way. But our media are not letting the public know who is doing what.

Blaming "Both Sides" Is An Anti-Government Strategy

In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren explains why Republicans try to make government dysfunctional while pushing the "both sides do it" narrative. They do it on purpose as a strategy to make people hate government and democracy,

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

They do this on purpose, to turn people against government, and then when people are disgusted and looking the other way they can just grab the loot -- your savings, your retirement, your wages, your common wealth, your rights.

What Can We Do?

There is a session titled Taking Back the Media: Embracing New Media and Using it to Our Advantage at the Take Back The American Dream conference next week. Nicole Sandler, Timothy Karr, Sam Seder and Cliff Schecter will be speaking about how to overcome the corporate-media lock on information.


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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 23, 2011

They Just Lie

Lots of people are talking about Kevin Drum's post about last night's Republican debate, and the flat-out lies told all over the right's disinformation engine. In honor of the discussion, and for all of those who are so surprised, let me trot out a piece I wrote in 2004, They Just Lie: (click through for the links...) (PS right now the lie machine is telling lies about Solyndra.)

They Just Lie

Hesiod spots a big fat Bush lie. Someone has changed a story in order to smear Kerry as weak on terrorism, when it is actually Bush who did the bad deed. He's outraged. He counters with the truth.

Kash spots that decisions in the bush admin. are made "according to political calculations instead of according to the advice of specialists." He is shocked.

Bush is making stuff up and lying, and everyone is surprised and shocked and outraged. And everyone counters with the truth and argues the finer points and tries to disprove each claim.

But what is happening is that while we're all chasing down each and every particular of each and every lie, the general public is hearing over and over again a much broader theme. They're hearing that they should be suspicious of Kerry. For example, today they are hearing the lie that Kerry "voted against American troops," and "did not support bills that would have ensured troops had body armor and earned higher combat pay, and would have given reservists and their families better health care" and all kinds of just the nastiest stuff.

Listen, there is something we all need to get through our heads. They just lie.

If the Bush people did a focus group and found out that people would vote against him because he owns a miniature green Chinese monkey with an earring, THEN WE WOULD BE HEARING THAT KERRY HAS A MINIATURE GREEN CHINESE MONKEY WITH AN EARRING! They are making it up, they are lying, they are going to say and do ANYTHING. OK? They just lie. Get used to it.

They just lie. So don't be surprised and don't be shocked. And most of all, don't start responding by trying to disprove their charges and going through all the points and specifics and particulars! YOU ALREADY KNOW THAT THE CHARGES THEY WILL MAKE TOMORROW AND NEXT WEEK ARE FALSE. OK?

They just lie. What have I been telling you since day one of Seeing the forest? THEY JUST LIE. See the forest, don't get bogged down with trees. See the bigger picture. If you get all bogged down trying to argue each point or disprove each lie you are going to be 100 lies behind by the time you refute the first point of the very first lie.

They just lie. Remember the lead-up to Iraq, all nicely timed for the 2002 election? They just lie. Remember what they said about why we need tax cuts? They just lie. Remember what they said about Al Gore? They just lie. Remember what they said about Clinton?

They just lie. We know it. So when do we figure out that they just lie? When we do figure it out, THEN maybe we can start responding effectively, instead of getting all bogged down in the lies each and every time. The public needs to understand that they just lie, and the things they say should just be ignored. THAT is where we should be spending our time.

(Does repetition work? Tell me what they do.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:00 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

I Can Get You Your Money Back!

Action Line

Q I played the sweepstakes I received in the mail and won $2-3 million and a car. They wanted me to pay for insurance and cover delivery charges. I paid $300 to these people. Then they said they need another $300. Then they said that $50 would be the last payment. I paid over $600. OK. Maybe I'm stupid, but I played, and they said that I won. I have $9.24 left in the bank.

I can get you your money back. It will only cost you $9.24.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:35 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 22, 2011

On The Death Penalty

Please watch Lawrence O'Donnell talking about the death penalty:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Republican Committee Report Exposes Shocking Union/Environmentalist Conspiracy

Oil-backed Republicans are doing everything they can to turn the public against ... alternatives to oil. Today a Republican Congressional committee held a hearing, named the hearing "How Obama's Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs," and released a "report" with the same name. The report calls the push for green-energy jobs "a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology." Here's the thing: the report itself actually is "a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology." Heh.

The Report

The Republican House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has release a 33-page report, How Obama’s Green Energy Agenda is Killing Jobs. This "report" is a stunning document that reads like an oil-company promotional piece raised to he level of Glenn-Beckian, conspiratorial hysteria. From the Executive Summary,

The Obama Administration’s green energy campaign has been pursued while it simultaneously implemented a regulatory agenda that is choking American businesses and restricting access to abundant domestic natural resources which have traditionally provided cheap energy that supports economic growth.

... By sacrificing domestic carbon-based resources upon the altar of an ill-fated “green energy” experiment, the President has put U.S. economic security in jeopardy and wasted billions in taxpayer money at a time when our fiscal health is in peril.

One "finding" of the report is that green jobs might help people who are members of labor unions, and that "payment of union-level wages" might be mandated! Along with this, a press release promoting the report warns:

It also points out that the guise of "green jobs" has become a rallying cry for a political coalition comprised of environmentalists and union leadership to consolidate an ideologically-based agenda, and notes that many federal green jobs programs have strings attached that require union workers, union-level wages and other mandates.

Shocking, Americans might want a clean environment and good pay. We must warn our constituents about this terrible possibility before communists take over!

Key Findings

Among the report's "key findings:"

  • Labeling an occupation as a green job does not mean it has any special economic worth;
  • The guise of “green jobs” has become a political rallying cry aimed to unite environmentalists and union leaders in a deliberate effort to consolidate an ideologicallybased agenda;
  • Labor unions are profiting from the many so-called “green” programs because there are often “strings attached” that require hiring union workers, the payment of union-level wages and other mandates;
  • The metric of a “green job” is nothing more than a propaganda tool designed to provide legitimacy to a pre-determined outcome that benefits a political ideology rather than the economy or the environment...

The Conspiracy

The report lays out in detail a grand, Glenn-Beckian conspiracy theory, claiming that environmentalists and labor unions are working together to promote a grand, "green jobs" conspiracy. The section titled, PART I: OBAMA’S GREEN AGENDA DECONSTRUCTED lays out this conspiracy,

...union leaders support “green jobs” because much of the subsidized work is designated to be awarded to unionized workers. For their part, environmentalists benefit from having a broader base of support for policies that seek to “green” the economy. The outcome is a political alliance with incredible power.

The genesis of promoting so-called “green jobs” can be traced to a group known as the Apollo Alliance, which has been the center of gravity for the green jobs movement since 2001. ... Accordingly, the Apollo Alliance and other coalition efforts like the Blue-Green Alliance bring together two major components of the Democratic political base – environmentalists and labor unions. ...

Labor Unions are Profiting under the Pretense of Green Energy

While the green jobs movement clearly advances the interests of environmental special interest groups in the green jobs movement, the interests of labor unions may not be as readily apparent. However, a careful look at statutes passed in the Democrat controlled 110th and 111th Congresses reveal that unions stand to benefit from many of the so-called green programs because these programs have “strings attached … that require paying union-level wages, hampering lower cost, nonunion firms from competing for the jobs produced by the grants.” The left-wing magazine, The American Prospect, noted in September of 2007 that Leo Gerard, the President of the United Steelworkers, has played a major role in the development of the Apollo Alliance and its political influence...

The report goes on to make the case that one goal of this conspiracy is to promote American steel, and require other parts of this effort to be American-made, which would benefit members of the Steelworkers union.

Another reason why Gerard and the United Steelworkers, in particular, are drawn to this coalition is the amount of steel required to manufacturer green energy products, such as wind turbines. To the extent that manufacturers use American steel, the assumption is that the government subsidies and regulations would benefit their membership as well. As Gerard has stated, arguing for steel protections, “If we are not going to do solar panels and fluorescent bulbs and wind turbines here, the next generation of R and D will not be here."

Oil Good, Green Bad: Promoting Oil Companies

Another section of the report, Fossil Fuel Use Has Been a Major Driver of American Prosperity, explains the benefits to America of promoting oil companies and getting rid of any green jobs effort to promote alternatives to fossil fuel use. You can almost hear the patriotic music welling up as you read this section.

The positive relationship between access to affordable energy sources and economic growth is undeniable; fossil fuels have been the backbone of American prosperity.

... The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) credits carbon-based energy with spawning “one of the most profound social transformations in history.” Fossil fuels currently meet more than 80% of U.S. energy demand, with petroleum satisfying half of that demand.

The expanded use of fossil fuels throughout history has facilitated the development of some of our nation’s most productive industries. ...

Oil is credited with “the rise and development of capitalism and modern business” itself. Today, coal, oil and natural gas form the backbone that supports the American economy. [emphasis added]

Misstatements Of Fact

The report also contains what can politely be called "misstatements of fact." The report talks about "a private investor—one who happened to be a prominent Obama fundraiser." This is just flat-out false, In my post, Five Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Solyndra I pointed out the way this lie is used to create an appearance of impropriety:

5. The biggest investor in Solyndra was an Obama donor.
Conservatives (and now picked up by corporate "mainstream" outlets) make the accusation that there was corruption in the process by which Solyndra received its loan because a major Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra. The charge is that Solyndra only received the loan guarantee as a result of campaign contributions by people "connected to" Solyndra. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra. According to Tulsa World,
In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the statement said. "GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes."

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation.

Please take the time to skim through this astonishing report. A copy of the Committee report is available by clicking here.

At Politico Darren Sameulsohn explains what Republicans are up to, in President Obama's green losing streak writing, "Now, with Solyndra's collapse, Republicans are promising to make the green jobs concept politically toxic for years to come."

This Mark Fiore animation sums it up.

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

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Conservatives Say It Out Loud: They Hate Democracy

The roots of today's toxic conservative movement lie in Ayn Rand's teaching that wealthy "producers -- now called "job creators" -- should be left alone by the government, namely the rest of us. The rest of us are "freeloaders," "moochers," "leeches" and "parasites" who feed off these producers and who shouldn't be allowed to make decisions to collect taxes from them or regulate them or interfere in most other ways. The Randians hate democracy, and say so, declaring that "collectivism" sacrifices individual rights to majority wishes. (See Concern Over Republican Embrace Of The Ayn Rand Poison.)

For decades these selfish, childish, "you can't make me" beliefs stayed largely below the radar, because conservatives understood that voicing them in public risked alienating ... well, anyone with any sense at all. But for various reasons sense has departed the country and conservatives are finally saying it out loud, for everyone to hear: they hate democracy. They want to limit the country's decision-making and the rewards of our society and economy to those they feel "deserve" to be on top, namely the "producers" and "job-creators."

Writing in Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American conservative columnist Matthew Vadum reflects these views, writing that democracy is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals." He writes,

It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.

A decade before the Motor-Voter law that required states to register voters at welfare offices was enacted, NAACP official Joe Madison explained the political economy of voter registration drives. "When people are standing in line to get cheese and butter or unemployment compensation, you don't have to tell them how to vote," said Madison, now a radio talk show host in Washington, D.C. "They know how to vote."

Vadum echoes the Randian ideology that we should be government by the "producer" supermen, and the parasites (the rest of us) should have no say in this, calling it communism:

Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money. It's about raw so-called social justice. It's about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Registering the unproductive to vote is an idea that was heavily promoted by the small-c communists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, as I write in my new book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.

Thom Hartmann talks on his TV show with Vadum about this:

In response, conservative outlets like FOX News have been giving Vadum a platform to repeat his views to large numbers of people:

Other Conservatives Weigh In

Vadum's perspective are not unique in conservative circles. Rush Limbaugh has questioned on the air whether poor people should be allowed to vote. Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation thinks voting should be limited to those who "own property."

Other conservatives are also on the record as opposing democracy. Walter Williams, in Democracy Versus Liberty, writes, "I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government." He echoes the old "taxes are theft" line, writing, "Laws do not represent reason. They represent force."

Pat Buchanan picks up the baton and mocks democracy, calling it a "childlike faith," and laments the downfall of a corrupt tyrant, in The Democracy Worshipers,

...Hosni Mubarak, though a ruthless ruler, had been our man in Cairo since the assassination of Anwar Sadat, fighting alongside us in the Gulf War, keeping the peace with Israel, allying with us in the war on terror.

But as soon as the tide turned against him, we ditched him and cheered on the crowd in Tahrir Square, a few of whom celebrated the downfall of despotism with a sexual mauling of Lara Logan.

Some Good Points

Earlier this year, writing at the Cato Institute, Senior Fellow Steve H. Hanke offers a more nuanced view of democracy's failings, in, On Democracy Versus Liberty Mr. Hanke makes very good points about the tendencies of the public to be steered toward bad decisions by panic during crisis. "The result is that crises acted as a ratchet, shifting the trend line of government size and scope up to a higher level." Later, he equates the power of organized wealth (Cato's funders, anyone???) to influence lawmakers with the problems of majority rule! He uses examples including farmers continuing to receive subsidies long after the depression ended, and the Bush-era expansion of government in response to 9/11.

But Hanke fails to see that it is not democracy that causes these distortions, but the failure of our system to keep the power of concentrated wealth from shouting down the collected wisdom of the people. It is the suppression of democracy that causes the very problems Henke attributes to democracy.

Republican War On Voting

Today in several states Republicans are making it harder to vote. In The Next Voting Rights Movement Must Start Now, CAF's Isaiah J. Poole warns,

In state after state, new hurdles, such as voter ID laws, are being constructed to the right to vote that will especially trip up low-income people, students, rural residents and seniors. They disproportionately affect many of the groups who helped put Barack Obama in the White House in 2008 and who are in the vanguard of opposition to right-wing economic policies today. This disenfranchisement is largely happening below the radar of a populace and a national media preoccupied with the poor state of the economy and with the series of attacks by governors on public employee unions.

Ari Berman, in The GOP War on Voting at Rolling Stone,

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots.

. . . In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

Taken together, such measures could significantly dampen the Democratic turnout next year – perhaps enough to shift the outcome in favor of the GOP.

In Taking Back The Vote, CAF's Terrance Heath writes about the Republican war on voting,

If tea party conservatives have their way, the right to vote will revert back to a privilege — and one enjoyed by far fewer people. It's easy to dismiss media motormouths like Ann Coulter, when she says that women should not have the right to vote, because too many of them vote Democratic (single women, anyway). But it's a mistake to shrug off someone like Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips, who thinks it would be a good idea to put "certain restrictions on the right to vote," like restricting voting to property owners.

Phillips' claim is reminiscent of Republican attempts to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the 2008 election in states like Michigan and Ohio. When right-wing pundits like Matthew Vadum (author of the ACORN "exposé" Subversion, Inc.) and Rush Limbaugh say that the poor shouldn't have the right to vote, they're expressing the same sentiment. It's a manifestation of the conservative concern that too many of the "wrong people" have too much of a voice in politics, and too few of the "right people" have any. That's what Paul Weyrich meant when he said to a group of evangelical activists in 1980: "I don't want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Undermining Democracy On Purpose

We are not dealing with the Republican Party we used to know. This is not even George W. Bush's Republican party anymore. In Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, retiring Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren writes,

Far from being a rarity, virtually every bill, every nominee for Senate confirmation and every routine procedural motion is now subject to a Republican filibuster. Under the circumstances, it is no wonder that Washington is gridlocked: legislating has now become war minus the shooting, something one could have observed 80 years ago in the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. As Hannah Arendt observed, a disciplined minority of totalitarians can use the instruments of democratic government to undermine democracy itself.

[. . .] A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

Please read that again, and then read the whole piece. This is a Republican writing, from the inside. They are doing it on purpose. They are making the government dysfunctional on purpose. They are making people hate government on purpose. They are working to turn people against democracy and put themselves in power in its place.


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

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September 20, 2011

Netflix = New Coke

As I wrote yesterday, I think the reason Netflix has lost 1 million customers is that most of their customers do not yet know that anything has changed.

In 1985 the Coca Cola company, sitting on the #1 brand in the world, with a spectacular product, loyal customers and spectacular sales, decided to scrap the product and come up with a new formula. They called it "New Coke." It didn't work out, and is remembered as one of the biggest business mistakes of all time.

In 2011, having dominated the competition, Blockbuster having gone through bankruptcy, spectacular market share growth, sales growth and stock somewhere around 300 decided that being an American company and all it was too obviously being good to its customers. Netflix announced a huge price increase, and then announced they are going to make it impossible for customers to continue to do business with them by splitting the company into two separate companies, with two separate websites.

I guess it's possible that the Board and CEO could be replaced, and they go back to being the Netflix that was successful... but in the meantime there is Blockbuster, Amazon Prime (includes free 2-day shipping on all Amazon purchases), Hulu, Redbox, Comcast has XFinity, I don't know what ATT does, etc.

I mean, can you imagine being at Redbox or Blockbuster, sitting around wondering what you're going to do, and hearing these announcements? I mean, like winning the lottery?

Don't leave a comment talking about how their business model required them to ... anything. Any business model that involves screwing the customers, giving them less for more money, making it harder to get what you want... just don't justify it. I don't want to hear it. This is so stupid, it is the epitome of how MBAs destroyed Silicon Valley.

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September 19, 2011

More Netflix

I don't care WHY Netflix changed its business model, I just know that as a customer I don't like it.

All over the web are stories about how the Netflix business model moves to the future, and their DVD business wasn't growing fast enough, the content providers were asking for more, etc... I do not care. If businesses want to try to make me conform to their business model, good luck with that. I don't care how brilliant or stupid their business model is, I care what they are doing for me, if they want my money.

I think the reason Netflix has lost 1 million customers is that most of their customers do not yet know that anything has changed. The website looks the same, you get your DVD, you can stream videos. And you probably don't look at your credit card statement.

But I hear they are going to change that soon. They are going to move the DVD service to another company, with a funny name, so you won't be able to get your DVDs anymore, and it won't tell you it is available as a stream, etc. THAT is when they will start to lose customers. Maybe all of them.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:32 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

The Golden Laws of Prosperity

These are very, very good: The Golden Laws of Prosperity | Ian Welsh

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Netflix Alternatives

Netflix had a good thing going, was making money, moving along OK. So they just had to fuck with it. Great.

We liked the deal that Netflix offered. We got one DVD at a time through the mail, and watched some streaming movies and TV shows, especially British TV shows, because the Tivo made it easy. It was nice while it lasted.

Then they suddenly raised the price a whopping 60%, no notice, just "Ha, Got Ya!!!" And then, to top it off, they are going to SPLIT OFF the DVD from the streaming.

So, OK, I'll be exploring the alternatives. I have Comcast, and they offer some stuff. Amazon has some stuff, Hulu has some stuff. Doesn't Blockbuster do this now, too?

I guess Netflix is trying to be this generation's "New Coke." (Look it up.)

Anyway I'll be looking and posting, and please leave alternatives in the comments.

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

September 17, 2011

Republicans Say Unemployed Are "Slackers"

Seriously, see for yourself: Rep. Steve King: Unemployment Benefits Have Created "A Nation Of Slackers"

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September 16, 2011

Top 5 List: 5 Biggest Right-Wing Lies About Solyndra

Oil-backed conservatives have been absolutely ecstatic over the collapse of American solar-power company Solyndra and the rise of China as the dominant country in green energy, because they think they can turn this into a story that makes President Obama and government look bad. It also gives them a bonus opportunity to attack alternatives to coal and oil. So is there really a "scandal" behind what happened to Solyndra? Or is this just one more conservative smear, made up from whole cloth and spread around conservative outlets, talk radio and FOX News, hoping the "mainstream media" will be tricked into propelling the propaganda out to the public?

The Smear Machine

When Bill Clinton was President conservatives developed and refined a "smear machine" technique of making up accusation after accusation after accusation (after accusation after accusation), repeating them endlessly and hysterically in conservative-funded outlets, and working to get major media outlets to pick up and repeat them. Unfortunately they were often successful at driving phony smears into the public arena. Even though the stories were invariably refuted after investigation, by the time each smear was refuted many, many more were circulating. After a while people began to believe "where there's smoke there's fire." One such story that major outlets repeated involved the supposed "sale" of an Arlington cemetery plot for campaign contributions. When it was proven to be nothing more than a false smear the repetition in major outlets was justified "because it's just the sort of thing he might have done."

In the 2004 election we saw the process repeated with the "Swift Boat" smear that turned around John Kerry's lead in the polls. It was entirely a made-up lie but the mainstream media picked it up and propelled it.

Since President Obama's election right-wing media outlets have again been engaged in creating a constant stream of negative and destructive "stories" that try to turn the public against the President, Democrats in general and government itself. We have been told that the President is secretly a Muslim terrorist, was not born in the United States and therefore is an illegitimate President and is a "Socialist" out to destroy our way of life. They have claimed he raised taxes when in reality he cut taxes, that he "tripled the deficit" when in reality he cut the deficit from the $1.4 trillion hole Bush left us in, that his stimulus plan "created zero jobs" when in reality it turned around a rapidly-deteriorating situation, that he has dramatically increased spending when in reality he did not, and many other untruths all in an attempt to turn people against him and against the idea that government can be a force for good. (See Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law.) Accusation after accusation has been shot down.

The Top Five Lies

Now they're at it again, this time trying to turn the unfortunate bankruptcy of a solar-power company named Solyndra into an all-out anti-Obama and anti-government attack. Here is a countdown of the top five lies they are telling about what happened with Solyndra:

5) The biggest investor in Solyndra was an Obama donor. Conservatives (and now picked up by corporate "mainstream" outlets) make the accusation that there was corruption in the process by which Solyndra received its loan because a major Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra. The charge is that Solyndra only received the loan guarantee as a result of campaign contributions by people "connected to" Solyndra. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra. According to Tulsa World,

In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the statement said. "GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes."

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation.

4) Green energy is a bad investment. Oil-connected conservatives have been trying to kill off investment in green energy for some time. They see opportunity in hyping up a "scandal" over the bankruptcy of Solyndra as a way to attack the idea of developing a green-energy industry in the US. Just today, Heritage Foundation, which for months has been attacking the idea of creating green jobs, has this posted: Solyndra Scandal Ends Green Jobs Myth. (I have several examples of conservative attacks on green manufacturing in the post, The Phony Solyndra Solar Scandal.)

Just in the last year China gave $30 billion financing to 6 solar companies. If the benefits from developing a green energy industry that provides lots of green jobs are a myth then why is China putting so much into this effort?

3) The government lost money "picking winners and losers." This is a core line of attack by the right. By tricking the public into thinking that the purpose of government's efforts to trigger a green-energy industry was to make money for the government by investing in individual companies, they can make this look bad because one company went into bankruptcy. But the purpose of our government's involvement in this is to help trigger an ecosystem around which a green-energy industry can grow. When a new technology is promising, it might be risky to investors, but very beneficial to us as a country to pursue it. That way we end up with a chunk of the millions of jobs and trillions of dollars that result. That benefits everyone.

The government does not operate like a venture capitalist, investing in companies with the hope of reaping a profit for itself. Compare the effort to trigger a green-energy industry to government-funded cancer research. Some directions of exploration don’t pan out. But you don’t know that until you fund the tests. This is what happened with Solyndra. The loan guarantee enabled Solyndra to get private investment hire researchers as well as manufacturing and other employees, to build a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in the US, to develop a supply chain, to buy equipment, etc. This was part of the stimulus and all that money was moved into the economy. And all of those are still in the United States, ready to be part of scaling up a green-energy industry. So where the country is concerned, we didn’t lose at all.

The goal was not to make Solyndra a successful company, the goal was to trigger an ecosystem for the green-energy industry in the US. Weren't the things the money was used for, good for the country? Even though the company Solyndra didn’t make it, the money created jobs and leaves behind technology, trained workrs, equipment and facilities that other companies will use.

2) The Solyndra loan was rushed or pushed. This loan originated under the Bush administration -- and for good reasons. Following the passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the government began efforts to cultivate a US-based green-energy industry. Solyndra offered a promising technology and applied for loan guarantees. Following a review by career professionals in the Department of Energy (DOE) Solyndra was asked to provide more information. A few months later, under the new Obama administration, the same career professionals received the requested information and proceeded to approve the loan.

They DOE had some conditions, and a few months later those conditions were met, and the timeline of meeting the conditions meant it happened under the new administration but was handled by the same career professionals. It was the right thing to do for the country to suggest the loan under the Bush administration, which did nothing wrong. Approving the loan under the Obama administration also helps the country because that money went toward helping develop that ecosystem that creates companies and jobs. Stories about rushing the approval are meant to make it sound like it was done to help a major campaign donor who, as point #1 above makes clear, was not the investor. It is the only reason the timing is an issue.

The Number One Lie

And the number 1 lie told by conservatives is:

1) Something bad happened. The right has been trying to push the idea that something bad has happened involving Solyndra. They are calling it a "scandal." But it is entirely a manufactured scandal, like those from the Clinton era. This is what they do. Nothing bad happened.

The supposed campaign donor/investor is not an investor. The timing of the loan is not suspect, it followed the proper, transparent, accountable procedures. The loan assisted the development of a promising technology. The green-energy industry stands to create millions of jobs and trillions of dollars to the countries that are smart enough now to make the investments that help them grab a chunk of it. The loan was good for the country, even though one company went bankrupt.

But by the time this smear is refuted five more will have taken its place.


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

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:31 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Ford Running Ads For Republican Party

For is running ads that are flat-out supporting the Republican Party in the coming elections. See for yourself. And here I was thinking of buying an electric Ford Focus soon. Forget that.

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

September 14, 2011

The Phony Solyndra Solar Scandal

Well here's a surprise: conservatives and oil interests are pushing deceptive and destructive stories about President Obama and clean energy. Imagine that! Their intent (as always) is to turn people against President Obama, clean energy, national energy policy, stimulus to help the economy, and government in general. It's what they do. Here is some information to help you push back on the latest whipped-up, anti-green, anti-government, anti-Obama "scandal."

Solyndra

Solyndra was a startup solar-power equipment manufacturer based in Fremont, California that went bankrupt at the end of August. The company's solar collectors used a special tubular internal design that let it collect light from all directions, and were made with a copper-indium-gallium-diselenide (CIGS) thin film that avoided using then-expensive silicon. It was one of several companies that received assistance from the government, in an attempt to push back on China's strategic targeting of green-energy manufacturing.

The company, partly backed by the conservative Walton family had received a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. The loan, which was originally pushed by the Bush administration, was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.

The economy tanked and cut demand, and at the same time Solyndra could not compete with subsidized companies located in China as they rapidly scaled up. So Solyndra ran out of money. Conservatives and oil interests are using the bankruptcy as a platform to attack green energy and the idea of green jobs in general, solar power in particular, President Obama as always, stimulus funding and the idea of developing a national strategic industrial policy to push back on China and others who have their own national policies to win this key industry of the future.

Conservative Attacks

Conservative are accusing the Obama administration of corruption in choosing Solyndra to receive a government loan guarantee. The typical conservative-outlet story follows a template of Glenn-Beckian accusations that someone "connected to" Obama has "ties" to something. When you hear the phrasing "has ties to" you should understand this as code-speak for "has nothing to do with but can be made to appear to have some sinister involvement if you twist the wording a certain way."

Example template story: Bankrupt solar company with fed backing has cozy ties to Obama admin,

A solar energy company that intends to file for bankruptcy received $535 million in backing from the federal government and has a cozy history with Democrats and the Obama administration, campaign finance records show.

Shareholders and executives of Solyndra, a green energy company producing solar panels, fundraised for and donated to the Obama administration to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Tulsa billionaire George Kaiser, a key Obama backer who raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for the president’s election campaign, is one of Solyndra’s primary investors. Kaiser himself donated $53,500 to Obama’s 2008 election campaign, split between the DSCC and Obama For America. Kaiser also made several visits to the White House and appeared at some White House events next to Obama officials.

Campaign finance records show Kaiser and Solyndra executives and board members donated $87,050 total to Obama’s election campaign.

And now, just two years after securing a half-billion-dollar federal loan, Solyndra has said that it will declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

(Hold on to this part about Tulsa billionaire Kaiser as an investor for later.)

Another: Big Government, Sweethearts: Bankrupt Solar Power Firm Well Connected to White House, "Obama’s stimulus money handouts carry the stench of political favoritism."

Another: Hot Air: How did Solyndra get a sweetheart interest rate?

FOX News has been promoting this "scandal" story heavily. (It should be noted here that Fox's parent company News Corp's 2nd-largest shareholder is oil billionaire Saudi Prince al-Waleed - an "oil interest" if ever there was one.) For example, FOX News, a template story with the ever-hopeful conservative headline: Obama's Pet Billionaire at Solyndra May Take White House Down,

A high profile, politically well-connected California solar energy company that had won a $535 million loan guarantee from the Obama Administration declared bankruptcy earlier this month and closed its doors sending 1100 workers to the unemployment line. The demise of Solyndra has already sparked an FBI investigation, congressional hearings, and raised numerous questions of political cronyism and corruption connected to the highest levels of the Obama Administration.

... One of the company's largest investors, George B. Kaiser of Tulsa, reportedly contributed $53,500 personally and bundled large amounts more for Obama in 2008. Kaiser is a billionaire with banking and oil and gas interests that rank him among the wealthiest people in the world. Kaiser also visited the White House 16 times between 2009 and 2011.

FOX News: RNC Uses Solyndra Investigation to Question New White House Jobs Proposal

FOX News: Could Solyndra Probe Mean Legal Trouble for White House?

FOX News: House GOP Widens Scope of Solyndra Investigation.

Etc., the story is repeated with various twists and added allegations throughout the conservative misinformation engine.

Jumps To "Mainstream"

As so often happens with the conservative machine, the story as spun by the right is jumping to "mainstream" news outlets. For example, this ABC story by Mathew Mosk, formerly of the Washington Times, and others, Emails: Obama White House Monitored Huge Loan to 'Connected' Firm pushes the conservative line, calling the firm "politically connected" and, reminiscent of Clinton-era Whitewater reporting, uses "investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee" -- in other words, conservative operatives -- as a source. The story claims the White House "closely monitored" Solyndra but offers no evidence of "close monitoring," says the company is the "subject of a criminal investigation" without explaining that the investigation is into whether the company misled the government about its financial status which would mean that administration officials did not knowingly provide a loan to a failing company, claims that a prominent Obama donor is "an investor" even though the donor's family foundation is the investor, which means the donor had nothing to gain, and to further the appearance of a sinister scheme by the Obama administration to hand money to political allies leaves out the financial involvement of the conservative Walton family. From ABC,

Newly uncovered emails show the White House closely monitored the Energy Department's deliberations over a $535 million government loan to Solyndra, the politically-connected solar energy firm that recently went bankrupt and is now the subject of a criminal investigation.

The company's solar panel factory was heralded as a centerpiece of the president's green energy plan -- billed as a way to jump start a promising new industry. And internal emails uncovered by investigators for the House Energy and Commerce Committee that were shared exclusively with ABC News show the Obama administration was keenly monitoring the progress of the loan, even as analysts were voicing serious concerns about the risk involved.

Background Of Corruption Allegations

Before looking at whether the Obama administration really had "ties to" people who had "ties to" Solyndra who somehow "benefited from" government loan guarantees, let's have a bit of a refresher on our recent history.

Under President Bush, conservative movement partners as well as companies and people with financial ties to Bush administration figures regularly received lucrative contracts under less-than-transparent circumstances that had every direct appearance of (forget "ties to") of corruption and cronyism. For example, Koch Submits Winning Bid To Supply Additional Oil to Strategic Reserve,

Koch Supply & Trading, LP, one of the world's largest crude oil trading companies, will become the newest supplier of crude oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) under President Bush's plan, announced last November, to fill the nation's emergency oil stockpile to its full capacity by 2005.

Example, Fired Army Whistleblower Receives $970K for Exposing Halliburton No-Bid Contract in Iraq,

Bunnatine "Bunny" Greenhouse, the former chief oversight official of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers, has reached a $970,000 settlement six years after she was demoted for publicly criticizing a multi-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to Halliburton—the company formerly headed by then-Vice President Dick Cheney. Greenhouse had accused the Pentagon of unfairly awarding the contract to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root. Testifying before Congress in June 2005, she called the contract the worst case of government abuse she had ever witnessed in her 20-year career.

Example, Bush's Housing Secretary was caught awarding contracts based on party affiliation: Probe Finds Jackson Urged Favoritism in HUD Contracts,

An inspector general's report charges that top U.S. housing official Alphonso Jackson urged staff members to favor friends of President Bush when awarding Department of Housing and Urban Development contracts.

Attacking Green Manufacturing

The Solyndra accusations are really just one part of an ongoing conservative and oil-interests-funded anti-green-manufacturing campaign drumbeat. Long before Solyndra's bankruptcy the Heritage Foundation was running stories like 2008's Green Jobs Are Con Jobs, 2009's The Green Job Myth Exposed, and this year's Obama’s “Green Jobs” Pipe Dream, The Green Jobs Story Obama Doesn’t Want You to Hear, Are “Green Jobs” the Answer?, Are Green Jobs ‘Gone with the Wind’?...

Media Matters had previously exposed the nature of this ongoing effort, in Heritage Foundation Green Jobs Panel - Bought and Paid For By ExxonMobil,

Instead of showcasing the views of unbiased academics and economists, the Heritage Foundation put forth a panel of individuals financially connected to ExxonMobil.

... The ENTIRE PANEL Received Money From ExxonMobil.

More conservative-outlet examples include the ever-malignant Fox News: Solyndra Investigation Begins Critical Look at Federally Funded Green Ventures.

Other conservative outlets continue the drumbeat, Obama’s green dream hurting U.S. taxpayers by Linda Chavez.

Another: Obama Green Jobs Con Job and the Ill Wind That Blows from Spain,

Obama has become tiresome. He is over-exposed. He has overstayed his welcome. We can hear the clichés that will be laced through his speech even before he speaks -- the opposite of an echo. The promises will be there -- what else can he sell? Certainly not his record on the economy.

He has always been a snake oil salesman; such people always tempt the needy with promises of great things to come. So we will once more hear him tout his policies as creating legions of new "green jobs" while making America the world leader in green energy. We have heard it before. He must either think we are stuck on stupid or he is the one stuck on stupid. This policy has clearly been one giant Green Jobs Con Job.

Another: Reason: Obama's Green Jobs Failures and Obama's Green-Jobs Fantasy and The Green Jobs Delusion and The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs": Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?...

NewsMax: Green Jobs Spending Is a Waste of Greenbacks, "If the congressional “supercommittee” wants to cut wasteful spending, the green-jobs agenda is a great place to start."

And more and more and more and more...

What Really Happened

A very good summary of the whole story, as well as a look into the details of the investment can be found in the Time/Swampland Michael Grunwald story, Big Name Investors Behind Obama’s Failed Green Tech Bet First in Line to Recoup Losses, summary: (read the whole thing)

This is sure to play out as a scandal, but based on what we know so far, it shouldn’t be. Private loans go south all the time. ... The Obama administration has made bets on hundreds of clean-energy companies in dozens of clean-energy sectors; some of those bets in its portfolio are bound to go bad, just as Richard Branson picks an occasional lemon. It’s legitimate to question whether the government should have made this particular bet, or whether it overplayed a weak hand, or whether it should be making bets in the first place. But if we’re going to have a clean energy industry in this country, this kind of thing is going to happen. It doesn’t mean anyone cheated.

Background of the company's failure, from the Swampland piece,

Solyndra’s loan, the first approved under a clean-energy program that was launched during the Bush administration and expanded by Obama’s stimulus bill, was supposed to finance a new state-of-the-art factory for the company’s unique cylindrical solar cells. At the time, Solyndra was an exciting startup; according to the public filings, it attracted big money from bigtime financiers, including $35 million from Richard Branson’s Virgin Green Fund, $57 million from U.S. Venture Partners, and even $2 million from affiliates of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

... [later] The biggest problem was obvious; in an industry where prices were plummeting, Solyndra’s product was too expensive. It desperately needed to finish its new factory, which would increase volume and decrease costs. And it needed more sales.

By last November, the company was running out of cash; according to a January 2011 government document, it had “a very high probability” of bankruptcy and liquidation. This was a big problem, not only because the company had drawn down $460 million of its loan, but because its new factory wasn’t even completed, which meant liquidation would be a fire sale. ...

The other option was restructuring. Kaiser’s Argonaut Ventures and the Walton family’s Madrone Partners would put up an additional $75 million, which would take the first position in case of a liquidation; the government would still be paid first if the company managed to emerge from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, the Department of Energy ... ultimately concluded it did have a potentially viable business. The new factory was on time and on budget. Sales were increasing steadily. And even if Solyndra failed, it would be much more valuable with a completed high-tech plant than with an empty box in Fremont, California.

... “The restructuring gave Solyndra a fighting chance for success,” that same official says. “But then everything fell off a cliff.”

In the summer of 2011, solar panel prices plummeted again. The investors had been poised to inject another $75 million, but this time, they decided not to throw good money after bad. Solyndra shut down and laid off its 1,100 employees.

Investors

The conservatives make the accusation that an Obama donor named George Kaiser is a major investor in Solyndra, and Solyndra received the loan guarantee as a result of Kaiser's (and others) campaign contributions, in order to personally profit. The problem with this is that George Kaiser was not an investor in Solyndra, the Kaiser Family Foundation was. According to Tulsa World,

In an emailed statement to the Tulsa World, a representative of the George Kaiser Family Foundation said the organization made the investment through Argonaut.

"George Kaiser is not an investor in Solyndra and did not participate in any discussions with the U.S. government regarding the loan," the statement said. "GKFF invests in a globally diversified portfolio across many different asset classes."

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a philanthropic organization, which means Kaiser (or anyone else) could not personally profit from a successful investment by the foundation. One of the areas of focus of the foundation is the National Energy Policy Institute, so Solyndra was a natural investment for the Foundation:

National Energy Policy Institute (NEPI) is a GKFF effort to establish a rational energy policy that will effectively reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. American political leaders have espoused energy independence for decades. NEPI's goal is to move beyond total oil dependence and to supplant consumption of imported oil through increased domestic energy supply, reduced foreign oil and gas demand and lower carbon emissions to include enhancement of traditional sources of domestic oil, gas and coal.

The conservative Wal-Mart Walton Family, however, were private investors through their Madrone Capital, and at the time that the Bush administration started pushing the Solyndra loan were in a position to peronally profit from this investment. If any accusation of an expectation of personal enrichment obtained from political connections should be investigated, it is this one. Will the Republican House look into the connections between the Walton family and Bush administration officials, and the Bush administrations efforts to provide loans to Solyndra?

The Government Didn't Lose

Even though Solyndra went into bankruptcy the government didn't "lose." The purpose of the government's involvement was to help trigger the development of green-energy manufacturing in the United States, not to help individual companies. This was not a direct investment in a company with the expectation of a profit for the government. In the bigger picture of promoting American leadership in the emerging green-energy industry the government's loan guarantee was a success. Even though Solyndra's investors lost out our country retains the trained skilled employees, the intellectual property, the innovators funded, the suppliers, and the factory. As components of a national effort to trigger a key strategic industry, those are all still there and in the US.

It isn't the government's job to make sure the investors make money, the government's job is to work to keep all of these components of an industry here and to grow new ones here, and this is what has been accomplished. When a VC makes an investment, a company failing just goes on the books as a loss. But our government has succeeded even if Solyndra's investors lost money because the country as a whole benefits. All these employees are trained, all the researchers can take what they know to other solar companies, the IP is going to be sold -- and it should be part of the conditions that it be sold to an American company. So while Solyndra's for-profit investors lost money, America's larger effort to nurture a solar-power industry continues toward its goal with assets enabled by this loan guarantee.

Facts:

The loan program started under President Bush (note - see above, Walton family.) From the San Jose Mercury News, October, 2008:

In late 2007, Solyndra was one of 16 clean-tech companies deemed eligible for $4 billion worth of loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy. Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric carmaker, and Oakland's BrightSource Energy, a builder of solar-thermal plants, also made that list.

The effort to fund Solyndra in particular started under Bush (note - see above, Walton family.) DOE: A Competition Worth Winning, (PS look at the chart in this post to understand why loan guarantees and other government assistance are so important!!!)

This loan guarantee was pursued by both the Bush and Obama Administrations. Private sector investors – who put more than $1 billion of their own money on the line – also saw great potential in the company.

Also, from the DOE post, the reason it is important for government to do this:

Our loan program catalyzes American innovation and private sector investment behind promising companies -- so that American workers have a chance to compete against China and other countries that much more heavily subsidize clean energy companies.


The loan was 1.3% of the DOE portfolio.

Feds Refused to Bail Out Solyndra,

One day after the federal government refused to bail out Solyndra, the Fremont-based solar company announced it was filing for bankruptcy and shedding most of its 1,100 workers.

According to a memo released Monday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, officials with the Department of Energy and Solyndra entered into negotiations "in the first few weeks of August" over a proposed financial restructuring agreement, but were never able to reach an agreement.

Resources

Think Progress has an excellent timeline of the Solyndra loan guarantee: Exclusive Timeline: Bush Administration Advanced Solyndra Loan Guarantee for Two Years, Media Blow the Story

Grist has a good story laying out how conservatives are attacking green energy. See The conservative game plan on energy subsidies

Grist also looks into the Bush adminsitration's efforts on behalf of Solyndra, in,Bush admin pushed Solyndra loan guarantee for two years.


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

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 13, 2011

Republicans Shout "Let Him Die!"

"Should society just let him die?"

Listen to the Republican debate audience enthusiastically yell "YEAH!" (Just after 1 minute in,)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 12, 2011

Capital Gains Tax Cuts Prove: Rich Win, You Lose

Why are "capital gains" taxes so much lower than taxes on other income? The reason capital gains taxes are lower is because most of the income of the rich is from capital gains. And the reason most of the income of the rich is from capital gains is because capital gains taxes are lower.

Our System

"Capital gains" are the gains, or profits, made from the investment of capital -- the big pools of money that a few of us have the great responsibility and burden of being stuck with. The theory is that the few among us who have bundles of money (capital) use that money to start businesses or buy stocks or property (or race horses) and thereby "create jobs." (For more on how businesses and the wealthy "create jobs," click here and then click here.)

If the value of the business or property (or race horses) goes up those wealthy few make even more money (gains). This ability to obtain these huge gains is a benefit offered to those who have lots of money in the first place. Thus the term "capital gains." These gains are differentiated from the gains the rest of us make from ... working ... because the rest of us do not have the intelligence and wisdom of having those huge pools of money to invest.

Incentives

In our system the income gained from these investments by these wealthy few is therefore taxed at a special very, very low rate, because they have the wisdom and intelligence to have large sums of money available to invest, and the rest of us do not. This low rate is considered an "incentive" to those who have these large accumulations of money, to try to persuade them to make these huge profits. They require these "incentives" to make huge profits, because otherwise they might not be interested in making the huge profits that can result from owning most of the property and stock and race horses (and yachts and private jets and multiple homes and million-dollar cars.) So that is why they must be given the incentive of these very special low tax rates - to persuade them to make investments that reap huge profits that they otherwise would not want to make.

Government Interference

Of course, the wealthy usually complain when government gets involved in creating "incentives" and "picking winners and losers" in ways that help We, the People, saying government interference distorts decision-making. But when the "incentive" is special low tax rates to persuade the wealthy to invest and make huge profits, that's different. Because it is, that's why. Shut up. Hey, look over there!

Job Creation

This reaping of huge profits from "efficiencies" like downsizing, laying people off and making the remaining workers do 2 jobs each in the same amount of time, outsourcing, buying companies and firing everyone and then selling off the pieces, offshoring, force reductions, firing people and then bringing them back as "contractors" at half the pay, relocating factories out of the country where people don't have the protections of democracy, replacing workers with machines, etc. is called "creating jobs."

Effect Of Cutting Capital Gains Taxes

In 2001 these special low tax rates for the very rich "job creators" were made even lower. This was done in order to provide even more incentive for them to make even more profits from their large accumulations of property, houses, cars, yachts, private jets and race horses, so that these "producers" - the "job creators" - would produce even more and create even more jobs. (Click here for more on who and what really creates jobs.) The result of these 2001 tax cuts was spectacular: eight years of the lowest economic growth and lowest job-creation rate since WWII, followed by the collapse of the entire financial system and mass layoffs of millions of us.

So the 2000s brought upon us an even greater need to provide incentives for the producers to create jobs! In fact, each time these incentives are increased and jobs do not result there is even greater pressure to provide even more incentives to the "job creators." A great system, this, if you're already rich, no? The worse things get, the more you get, because you had the wisdom and intelligence to be sitting on a huge pile of cash. Brilliant! (See Did The Rich Cause The Deficit?)

So with all this in mind, today the Washington Post looks at these super-low tax rates for those who have large accumulations of money, in Capital gains tax rates benefiting wealthy feed growing gap between rich and poor,

For the very richest Americans, low tax rates on capital gains are better than any Christmas gift. As a result of a pair of rate cuts, first under President Bill Clinton and then under Bush, most of the richest Americans pay lower overall tax rates than middle-class Americans do. And this is one reason the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the country is widening dramatically.

[. . .] Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the United States has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent.

Repeat, "about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent."

The Washington Post story explains the strongest reason why it is so important for legislators to pass these lower tax rates to "incentivize" the wealthiest to invest and make huge profits:

Some lawmakers who have backed low tax rates on capital gains have later been hired by the financial industry.

So you see, it is very clear why it is very, very important for members of Congress to make sure that there is a special very, very low rate of taxation for the wealthiest few. And the result?

The 400 richest taxpayers in 2008 counted 60 percent of their income in the form of capital gains and 8 percent from salary and wages. The rest of the country reported 5 percent in capital gains and 72 percent in salary.

Yes, that is the very same 400 wealthist who have more wealth than 60% of all Americans combined. (That's right, I had it wrong when I wrote that it was more than 50%, it is now more like 60%.)

So here is how it is: the rich are rich because they are smarter than the rest of us. And what is the proof that they're smarter than the rest of us? That's easy:

Because they're rich!

Take a moment to browse a collection of pictures of the job-creating results of these special exemptions from taxation enjoyed by these wealthiest, in Nine Pictures Of The Extreme Income/Wealth Gap. And read more about the ideology behind this idea that the wealthy are "producers" who "create jobs."

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

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 11, 2011

The 9/11 Lesson

"Nothing is more important in the face of war than cutting taxes." - Tom DeLay, Republican House Majority Leader, in a 2003 speech to bankers.

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

September 10, 2011

Sing-Along-Song (updated)

Tar balls:

In honor of the song, here is SNL's "Schweddy Balls": (Note, Ben & Jerry's new flavor for a limited time)

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

September 9, 2011

President's Plan: First Step Toward A Win-Win

President Obama has taken a step in the right direction with his speech and jobs plan. It was a small step - but it has to be to present Republicans with the choice to cooperate or get pushed out of the way. If this passes it is a win for jobs and the economy -- and therefore the President's re-election. If Republicans block it, the President wins because voters will push Republicans out and the country will be able to get moving again. But it all depends on follow-through. The President has to keep out there, pounding on this and only this every single day until there is a vote. Every. Single. Day. That is the key.

The Plan - Barely Enough

The American Jobs Act is a mix of extensions of current efforts and new tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Extend and add to the Social Security tax cut. Cut various taxes for hiring new workers and returning veterans. Money to states to prevent laying off even more teachers. Modernize schools to hire construction workers. The total including tax cuts is around $450 billion.

If passed this will help and people will be able to feel the difference. It isn't enough, but there is a reason for that. It is small in order to keep Republicans from having any excuse to block it.

The Republican Choice

It has become pretty clear that Republicans are blocking ... everything ... in order to keep the economy from getting better, because doing this hurts the President's re-election chances. So the President is giving them a package they have to vote for, or explain why not. This is a win-win because passing this helps the country and the economy and the unemployed. And not passing this helps the country and the economy and the unemployed because it exposes exactly who is behind the lack of progress in Washington that everyone is so upset about.

Full Engagement

The President has to be fully engaged on this one. A few words are not going to win it. The only thing that will win this is for the President to use the "bully pulpit" and be speaking about it every single day until there is a vote. Nothing else will do. This is all up to him now. He has taken the first small step toward pulling us all out of the mess we have been in. He has to recognize that it was only a small step and there is a big, big fight in front of him, and that he has to be fully engaged on this every single day until there is a vote.

Every. Single. Day. Until. There. Is. A. Vote. Nothing else will do. If the President does this we win and that means he wins.

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:20 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

September 7, 2011

A Deficit Pitch Without Social Security--The Only Chance of Winning

Josh Rosenblum

This past Friday night in Washington, a New York Mets pitcher threw the type of pitch President Obama must use in his march to stop any new proposals to cut Social Security if he plans to make it through the game of the deficit talks and his reelection. In the recent past the President and his teams have pitched a slew of failed curveballs that would cut our Social Security. The number 43 Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey helped beat the Nationals 7-3 with his slow velocity, highly unpredictable knuckleball. The 44th President and his multitude of committees have taken an approach to cutting the deficit that replicates a tied baseball game, with no end in sight. Could knuckle balls from a President battling to win the game, save the economy, and win reelection save the tied ball game called the deficit debate? Let’s take a look at the tape.

R.A. Dickey has been pitching great this season, and has the best earned run average of the starters on the Mets but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his record of 7-11, which reflects injuries on the Mets but also the poorest run support from hitters out of all the Mets starting pitchers. It’s unclear to Mets fans why Dickey hasn’t gotten the run support he so deserves, just as it’s unclear to the general public why we haven’t gotten the support Social Security deserves from the administration.

If the President throws a Social Security curveball that cuts our benefits to the GOP team trying to beat him, he ought to get ready not to receive any run support, not just from Democrats and the left, but also from the independents and moderate Republicans his advisers are so intent on courting again. By attempting a pitch that doesn’t appeal to his base, independent voters, and moderate Republicans, he may lose the game, the season, and ultimately his Presidency.

But President Obama can still throw an amazing Dickey-like pitch to the GOP’s deficit, defeat the nonsense, not cut Social Security benefits, and win reelection. If Obama fights for Social Security, America’s fans will cheer for him and we’ll give him all the run support he needs to win in 2012.

Social Security has remained one of America’s most successful programs for 76 years. Before it existed and since it’s existed, Wall Street and right-wing conservatives have been telling us how much it stinks, hoping we might one day believe such lies through repetition. Even popular Republican President Dwight Eisenhower recognized how cutting it would be plain “stupid.” But that’s exactly what each of the deficit groups have attempted to do, each throwing their own curveball that would lead to Social Security cuts.

The President started his deficit pitching rotation with the grizzled, often irrelevant old-timers Bowles and Simpson, who proposed to cut Social Security with the indifference of players who knew their time had passed. He then hoped the journeymen Gang of 6 could take on the deficit, but the bipartisan group of men never seemed to materialize on the playing field. Obama’s team, “America,” never got far in the batting order without loading the bases against the “GOP Deficit” team, which lead up to another call to the bullpen. An enthusiastic reliever, Vice President Biden came charging on to the field to lead his bipartisan “gang of dudes” with every intention to save the game, and no ability to corral the Republicans who calmly watched every one of his pitches thrown for balls float by and hit every strike for an intentional foul ball, upping the pitch count until Biden’s arm had vanished.

Then came the President himself, rolling up his sleeves and bringing back the long vanished player-coach, determined to get the save for America, but giving the GOP a few hits and intentional walks in the process so he could get the job done. He’s out on the field and he appears determined to win for America, at any cost to his future as a pitcher and as our President, but the fans are hopeful he’ll win for his future and ours.

The President even told us about his curveball to the GOP, who seem determined to fight against America, 1 minute in to this video, when he acknowledges that he’d offered the Republican Speaker a deal to cut Social Security, which suggests he may throw the same bad curve again if the Supercommittee wants to take it up.

In the next couple of weeks President Obama may let loose with another Social Security curveballl, telling us we need a COLA cut for Social Security. But America isn’t certain whether player-coach Obama would put the important program on the chopping block again for the Supercommittee and the GOP Deficit. This pitch to the GOP Deficit leads to one place—a lost game for the President, and a lost future for Democrats. But a well-placed knuckleball that leaves Social Security out of the ball game and out of the deficit talks would help America and Obama win. If the President throws a slow, hanging knuckleball that’s tough for Republicans to hit but that his own team can cheer for, he’ll win the hearts of Americans including Democrats, independents and reasonable Republicans, whether the Washington Republicans try to screw over America again or not with attempted cuts to Social Security.

Posted by Josh at 7:27 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos | TrackBack

September 6, 2011

American Dream Movement And Contract Alive And Well And ACTIVE

Have you heard any news in the major corporate media about the Contract For The American Dream, from The American Dream Movement? Probably not. And this means you probably didn't know there were over 400 protests in 32 different states against 85 members of Congress during the August Congressional recess. Or that the Contract has already been signed by more than 295,000 people. (The Campaign for America's Future is teaming up with Van Jones' "Rebuild The Dream" organization to put on the Take Back the American Dream Conference October 3-5 in Washington, DC.)

Equal Time

When President Obama gave his State of the Union address, CNN aired a "Tea Party Response" from Michelle Bachmann's. Click here to ask CNN to air the American Dream Movement's progressive response to the president's major jobs speech on Thursday. The response should come from more than just one side of the political spectrum.

The Contract

The Contract for the American Dream consists of 10 critical steps to get our economy back on track: (Please click through for details, to learn how the Contract was put together, and for ways to sign up and help.)


    I. Invest in America's Infrastructure
    II. Create 21st Century Energy Jobs
    III. Invest in Public Education
    IV. Offer Medicare for All
    V. Make Work Pay
    VI. Secure Social Security
    VII. Return to Fairer Tax Rates
    VIII. End the Wars and Invest at Home
    IX. Tax Wall Street Speculation
    X. Strengthen Democracy

The Conference

The Take Back The American Dream conference will be held in Washington DC, October 3-4.

Actions Around The Country

Watch this video:

Local Coverage

While virtually ignored by the national, corporate-owned media, these actions have received plenty of local coverage. Here is a sampling:

**Nearly 100 protest McCotter's office over proposal to cut jobs - Rep. Thad McCotter (MI-11)

**Critz: Bipartisan effort needed to create jobs - Rep. Mark Critz (PA-12)

**Bass comes under fire at his Nashua town meeting – Rep. Charlie Bass (NH-02)

**Video: Protest outside Rep. King's office – Rep. Steve King (IA-05)

**In Irondequoit, motorcyclists say to Buerkle: 'Jobs, not cuts' - Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)

**Protesters ask U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent to help in job creation - Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15)

**Jobs protesters stage rally at Altmire's office - Rep. Jason Altmire (PA-04)

**Unemployed Workers Deliver Message To Kinzinger: We Want Jobs! - Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-11)

**Protesters target Corker's office – Sen. Bob Corker

Unemployed in Joliet march at Kinzinger’s office - Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL-11)

Dozens gather in Irondequoit to call for job creation - Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)

Protesters march outside Marino’s office - Rep. Tom Marino (PA-10)

Protestors rally for Iowa job creation (IA-03)

Protestors, pink pig outside Capito's office – Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (WV-02)

Dent hears constituents' fears first hand - Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15)

Puebloans: Where Are the Jobs?

Dozens Protest Outside Senator Bob Corker's Office – Sen. Bob Corker

Johnson Skips Shouting Match with Pickets – Rep Bill Johnson (OH-06)

Wisconsin Group Asks Congressman Paul Ryan, "Where's the jobs?" – Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-01)

“Where’s the American Dream” asks Protesters – Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10)

Protesters take fight over Medicare, budget to Canseco - Rep. Francisco Canseco (TX-23)

Groups protest McMorris-Rodgers with soup line – Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA-05)

Crowd of 200 chants 'jobs for all' – Rep. Dave Reichert (WA-08)

Rep. Steve Chabot Quiets Questioners – Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-01)

Citizens group to challenge Black on lack of 'good jobs' – Rep. Diane Black (TN-06)

Johnson: Asking about jobs just like protestors - Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06)

At Town Hall, GOP Rep. Hultgren Can’t Explain How Bush Tax Cuts Created Jobs – Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14)

Lungren Faces Hecklers at Town Hall – Rep. Dan Lungren (CA-03)

Runyan fields questions in Berkeley on jobs, economy and entitlements – Rep. Jon Runyan (NJ-03)

Protesters argue for restoring the 'American Dream' - Rep. Elton Gallegly (CA-24)

Protesters: We Want Jobs, Not Cuts – Rep. Brian Bilbray (CA-50)

Jobs protest held outside Rep. Hayworth's office in WC – Rep. Nan Hayworth (NY-19)

Protesters Push Boehner On Jobs – House Speaker John Boehner (OH-08)

Protesters meet Congressman Paul Ryan at Kenosha luncheon – Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-01)

Liberal activists protest Congressman Allen West – Rep. Allen West (FL-22)

Hundred Protest Outside Denham’s Office “We Need Jobs” – Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-19)

Small Group Protests ‘Lack of Jobs’ at Barletta Appearance – Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11)

Demonstrators urge Cravaack to back their ‘contract’ – Rep. Chip Cravaack (MN-08)

Organizing for budget battle – Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)

Voters voice anger at Cory Gardner town hall meeting – Rep. Cory Gardner (CO-04)

Rally for job: Local progressive leaders tout “Contract for the American Dream” – Rep. Heath Shuler (NC-11)

Protest Over Jobs, Economy at Chabot's Office – Rep. Steve Chabot (OH-01)

MoveOn Gwinnett Rallies Outside Woodall’s Office – Rep. Rob Woodall (GA-07)

Protesters rally at Harris office - Rep. Andy Harris (MD-01)

Jobs protest outside Amash's office - Rep. Justin Amash (MI-03)

Demonstrators rally outside Rep. Michael Grimm's New Dorp office – Rep. Michael Grimm (NY-13)

Group protests budget cuts – Rep. Mike Conway (TX-11)

Local MoveOn Members Rally for Jobs at Honda's Office – Rep. Mike Honda (CA-15)

Police called after 150-plus crowd protests at Bill Huizenga's Muskegon office – Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-02)

Employment Protest – Rep. Bill Shuster (PA-09)

Group holds afternoon protest outside U.S. Rep Frank LoBiondo's Mays Landing office – Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)

Protests held at Wolf's city office – Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10)

Congressman Fred Upton faces disruptive crowd during senior issues forum – Rep. Fred Upton (MI-06)

Rally at congressman's office focuses on need to create jobs - Rep. Glenn Thompson (PA-05)

Group protests outside congresswoman's office – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18)

Protest asks Lewis about jobs, education – Rep. Jerry Lewis (CA-42)

MoveOn group rallies for job creation in Stamford – Rep. Jim Hines (CT-04)

Upset over unemployment, protesters picket Wilson's Beaufort office – Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-02)

Protests outside office – Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-21)

Protesters rally outside Blackburn's Franklin office – Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-07)

Unemployed protest outside Fitzpatrick's office – Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)

Capitol protest on debt-limit cuts from the left – Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02)

Activists cite 'jobs crisis' outside Goodlatte's Lynchburg office – Rep. Robert Goodlatte (VA-06)

Pearce talk draws fire in Silver – Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02)

Protesters at Herger's office in Redding decry lost jobs, cuts to budget – Rep. Wally Herger (CA-02)

Protesters demand answers from Ohio Representative Jim Renacci – Rep. Jim Renacci (OH-16)

Death March On Memorial Drive Mourning The Loss Of Jobs – Rep. John Culberson (TX-07)

Protesters rally for jobs outside Congressman Kelly's Erie office – Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-03)

Union members protest at Johnson’s Ironton office – Rep. Bill Johnson (OH-06)

Congressman Steve Stivers’ Job Fair Draws Big Crowd, Protests Too – Rep. Steve Stivers (OH)

Unemployed workers protest at Pat Toomey’s Allentown office, call for job-creating legislation – Sen. Pat Toomey (PA)

Almost 200 Gather to Protest Lack of Jobs – Sen. John Cornyn (Texas)

Protesters demand jobs, not budget cuts from Sen. McConnell – Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY)

Coalition campaign will press Brown to hike taxes on wealthy – Sen. Scott Brown (MA)

Protesters Criticize Heller – Sen. Dean Heller (NV)

Senator McCain visit brings cheers and jeers – Sen. John McCain (AZ)

Udall pressed on jobs, recovery - Sen. Mark Udall (CO)


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

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

September 5, 2011

Does Obama Want To Lose?

Eschaton: Morning thought

But if Obama loses, he gets to make speeches to rich people for a pile of money and maybe join the Carlyle Group or one of those other things that you get as a reward for making sure that no one saves your national economy.

So, if you're Obama, do you really want to win the next election?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:30 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 4, 2011

How To Understand Republicans

Why does it seem that Republicans are doing everything they can to undermine people's trust in government, in Congress and in all our other institutions? Here is the answer.

It is crucial for people to read this to understand what is happening in our politics. This is written by a retiring Republican Congressional staffer: Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult:

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

A deeply cynical tactic, to be sure, but a psychologically insightful one that plays on the weaknesses both of the voting public and the news media. There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

The media are also complicit in this phenomenon. Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"

Please, please read the whole thing.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

September 2, 2011

Republicans Will Block Any Jobs Initiative

Mr. President, you have to go around the Republicans and create jobs for the people.

I wrote a post yesterday that started with this:

"Here is a fact about bipartisanship and civility in Washington: the Republicans in Congress will obstruct anything President Obama proposes to create jobs and help the economy, period. A bad economy helps them in the coming elections, and that is that. Deal with it. If you want to see results on jobs and economic growth you are going to have to get around a Republican House of Representatives intent on blocking jobs and growth. The President can and should "go big" and make dramatic proposals to Congress for job-creation. Doing so will draw contrasts so the public has a clear choice in the coming elections. Fortunately there are things the President can do right now, without the approval of Congress, that will have a big impact on job-creation now and in the future."

That was yesterday, before today's terrible jobs report. The public wants jobs. The public wants a President who pushes for results.

On Tuesday I wrote,

"Mr.President, if you can't get results any other way people want you to move the obstructers out of the way. Republicans in the Congress are blocking every effort to boost the economy and create new jobs – especially good-paying jobs. Many think they are doing this to sabotage Democratic chances in the coming elections."

Mr. President, face it, this jobs report is what they wanted. The Republicans are not going to play nice. It's time to fight for US.

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

September 1, 2011

Did Limbaugh "Put Obama In His Place?"

Rush Limbaugh demands that Speaker Boehner "put Obama in his place," Boehner complies, Obama caves.

Did the WH not know what Limbaugh had said? If they did, caving to it is inexcusable. If not, I have to say, that's inexcusable, too.

Jill at Brilliant At Breakfast has the story: Well, I guess Boehner "put him in his place",

Yesterday Randi Rhodes played the clip of Limbaugh screeching about how John Boehner has to "put the guy in his place" about the timing of his speech on jobs. When you talk about putting someone in his place, and the person you're talking about is black, it is a racial remark, no matter how red faced and sputtering Limbaugh may be in denial of that fact. But if you still don't believe it, look at the graphic. Look at the photograph, which deliberately depicts the black President of the United States supplicating himself before a white (well, ok, orange) man.

So what does this president do when faced with a lying, hatemongering right-wing radio host demanding that the Speaker "put him in his place"?

I think the President could have gone out to the public and said, "Rush Limbaugh demanded that Speaker Boehner refuse to allow me to speak, and that is what Boehner did. This has never happened before. The Congress has never before turned down a President requesting to speak." And now I think the President has to fire some political people who let this happen.

Instead the President looks weak once again, keeps the political people who let that happen -- who either were not aware of the Limbaugh connection or let the President be put in the position of being "put in his place" -- and has to speak at the same time as the first game of the NFL season. Well, I guess Boehner "put him in his place."

Update - According to Politico, the WH did know: "At 11:55 a.m. Wednesday, the White House tweeted the news about the joint session. “And then Rush Limbaugh beat Boehner up,” the source said."

(PS - Boehner claims that it had to be put off because the House was not in session. But remember, they kept the House IN session so that President Obama could not do any recess appointments.)

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:52 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

For Jobs Obama Must Bypass Congress

Here is a fact about bipartisanship and civility in Washington: the Republicans in Congress will obstruct anything President Obama proposes to create jobs and help the economy, period. A bad economy helps them in the coming elections, and that is that. Deal with it. If you want to see results on jobs and economic growth you are going to have to get around a Republican House of Representatives intent on blocking jobs and growth. The President can and should "go big" and make dramatic proposals to Congress for job-creation. Doing so will draw contrasts so the public has a clear choice in the coming elections. Fortunately there are things the President can do right now, without the approval of Congress, that will have a big impact on job-creation now and in the future.

China Currency

China doesn't buy from us nearly as much as it sells to us and this has cost us dearly. China manipulates its currency to give Chinese-manufactured goods a competitive advantage in world markets. In effect this subsidizes their products so they have a cost advantage of as much as 30-40% coming out the gate, even before other competitive factors come into play. This has created huge imbalances not just with us but across the world.

The biggest thing the President could do right now is declare China to be a currency manipulator. Doing so enables the administration to impose sanctions, including tariffs, that would remove any cost advantage China gains from their manipulation. This would have an effect on reversing the loss of American jobs, factories and industries to Chinese imports, and would be supported by the public.

The President should officially declare China to be the currency manipulator that it is, and impose tariffs as a remedy. That takes care of China's advantage in US markets, and encourages other countries to take action, too.

With a level playing field our manufacturers can compete in world markets. Our government can take steps to help bring about such a level playing field, or to help our own companies against countries that do not play fair. This would tell companies that it is safe to manufacture here again, and our government will back them up.

But, But ,But...

There is concern about angering China when "we owe them so much money." It is important to remember why we "owe them" money. We owe them money because we thought we had a trade deal with them. By definition a trade deal involves actual trade, which involves buying and selling. We bought from them and they were supposed to use the dollars we spent there to buy things from us. But they didn't. The huge amount we "owe them" by definition means they didn't live up to their part of the bargain. We should insist that they use those treasury notes they have accumulated to purchase US-made goods.

Other Actions That Don't Require Congress

Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing wrote in The Hill last month that there are things the President can do without needing Congress' approval:

There is plenty that President Obama could do on his own right now:

• Expedite small business loans through the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department to help firms expand, retool and hire.

• Convene a multilateral meeting to address global imbalances and in particular Chinese mercantilism. If China doesn't agree to participate, designate it a currency manipulator. (China ships fully one-third of its exports to the U.S. and finances less than 10 percent of our public debt, so we have more leverage than some might suggest.)

• On the heels of the landmark agreement with automakers on fuel economy standards, secure an additional agreement from all foreign and domestic car companies to increase their levels of domestic content by at least 10 percent over the next three years.

• Direct the Department of Defense to leverage existing procurement to contractors that commit to increasing their domestic content of our military equipment, technology and supplies.

• Approve additional applications for renewable and traditional energy projects, contingent on the use of American materials in construction.

• Kick any CEO off of federal advisory boards or jobs councils who has: (1) not created net new American jobs over the past five years, or (2) is expanding the company's foreign workforce at a faster rate than its domestic workforce. Replace them with CEOs who are committed to investing in America. Shame is a good motivator.

National Industrial Policy

Even long-term things like promising the development of a national industrial policy could have an immediate effect on jobs here and now. If companies know that the US government is going to stand behind them if they manufacture here, and enforce trade agreements, and aggressively push for balanced trade where our trading partners don't just sell to us but also buy from us, they’ll put the US back into their manufacturing plans. If they know that the government understands and intends to assist key industries with tax policies, education and training policies, energy policies, infrastructure modernization,key research and development initiatives, and the other components of national strategy -- which is what other governments do -- they will know they are no longer going out to international markets alone, up against national systems.

By making it clear that our government is going to stand up for American manufacturers -- and their employees -- and won't pull the rug out from under them again, companies will have a reason to change their strategies and start bringing these jobs back home.

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

Sign up here for the CAF daily summary.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:11 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

AZ Republicans Raising $$ Raffling Same Gun Used To Shoot Rep. Giffords

Remember when Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot, and everyone was talking about the kind of violent rhetoric Republicans had been using, right down to Sarah Palin using crosshair gunsights on a "target list" that included Giffords? Well here they go again. Tuscon Republicans are raising money by raffling off the kind of gun that was used to shoot Giffords -- in Tuscon.


Pima County Repubs Raffle Glock As Fundraiser; Same Gun Type Used In Tucson Shooting,

An Arizona Republican fundraiser is offering as a prize the same type of gun used in the attempted assassination of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

... Arizona Republicans surely know just how effective this particular brand of gun can be. After all, it was only eight months ago that Jared Lee Loughner used a Glock 19 in Tucson - the seat of Pima County - to shoot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in the head. Giffords survived, but six other people, including a nine year old girl and a federal judge, were killed in the same shooting.

The raffle gun comes preloaded with adjustable grips, a case, and three 12-round magazines.

Think what the country will be like if this crowd takes over. They already took over the House and we have shutdowns, defaults and generalized corporate-worship.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:45 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Remember Roger & Me?

EVERYbody should see Roger & Me again. What Moore saw in Flint 22 years ago has spread across the country since.

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