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November 30, 2011

More Bank Bailouts, Stocks Up Almost 500

Still no bailouts for regular people, just cuts to pay for the too-big-to-fail 1%. Move by central banks exhilarates Wall Street - Yahoo! News

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 29, 2011

ANOTHER Corporate Crime "Settlement"

At the top there is impunity. There is no accountability, no prosecution, no law, just big money.

The latest: Facebook Settles With FTC, Gets Stern Privacy Warning | TPM Idea Lab,

Facebook has settled a lengthy privacy complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after the agency’s two year investigation found wrongdoing on the part of the company, according to a release from the FTC on Tuesday morning.

The settlement tentatively requires Facebook to stop sharing user information with advertisers without consent and to undergo two decades of privacy audits every two years, among other drastic measures designed to reign-in the world’s largest social netwo

rk’s treatment of user information and communication with users.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Mitt v. Mitt

Mitt v. Mitt, The story of two men trapped in one body. Learn more at http://MittvMitt.com

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:14 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Will Republicans Shut Down The FAA Again To Help Delta's Union Busting?


Once again Republicans are ready to shut down the FAA to help a union-busting effort by Delta Airlines. At issue is a provision added to the FAA funding reauthorization that changes the rules for union elections, saying that anyone not voting must be counted as a "no" vote. So if the company can just keep people from voting, the union loses even if everyone that shows up to vote says that they want a union.

Delta Airlines, called "The Official Airline of the One Percent," is fighting to keep unions out, and Republicans -- in their usual pay-for-play fashion -- are assisting. The Washington Post, reporting recently in, Chances for long-term FAA funding bill seen as bleak, explained Delta's interest,

It is a dispute over a labor ruling that would make it easier for employees of Delta Air Lines to unionize. House Republicans are dead set on undoing a ruling by the National Mediation Board, which said that airline unionization efforts should be decided by a majority of those who vote. The ruling negated a long-standing rule that said eligible voters who opted not to vote would be counted as voting against unionization.

The NMB ruling is expected to have its most immediate impact on Delta, which has so far staved off union organizers.

Last week, Talking Points Memo reported that, Just In Time For The Holidays: FAA Fight Heats Up ...,

... the House and Senate are ... supposed to pass long-term legislation to reauthorize FAA programs. But a dispute over worker rights has held up the bill for months and even led to a partial FAA shutdown earlier this year. Rinse, repeat.

Republicans want to make it more difficult for transportation workers to unionize by requiring officials to count abstentions as votes against forming a union. This provision underlies the stalemate between the House and Senate on a so-called permanent reauthorization.

TPM reports that the Communications Workers of America are asking people to contact specific members of Congress to ask them to set aside this union-busing effort and pass FAA funding.

The Communications Workers of America will target vulnerable Republicans with 1,300,000 phone calls, mailers, and an online pressure campaign, according to a release sent my way.

“It is beyond time to finalize a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill that improves our aviation infrastructure, grows our economy, creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs and keeps elections fair for air and rail employees,” the flyer reads. “Congress is very close to passing a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill - after 22 extensions! But Delta Air Lines continues to lobby Republican leadership to include an unrelated, controversial, union-busting provision in the legislation to benefit the company. Call your Member of Congress and House Leader Eric Cantor TODAY and tell them to stop playing political games and pass a clean, long-term FAA Reauthorization bill with no special interest provisions.”

The targeted members are below.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA); Rep John Mica (R-FL); Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA); Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA); Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL); Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI); Rep. Blake Farenhold (R-TX); Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA); Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY); Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD); Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY); Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ); Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA); Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA); Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV); Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI); Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY); Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI); Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ); Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH); Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN-08)

According to and Aviation Week report, Angry Rockefeller Calls For Help In Passing FAA Reauthorization Bill, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller talked about the FAA union-busting situation in a Nov 14 speech to the Aero Club in Washington, DC, [emphasis added]

Without naming the issues specifically, Rockefeller alluded to problems with a provision repealing National Mediation Board rules that has been blamed by members of both parties for holding up a resolution on the bill. And though Rockefeller in the past has blamed Delta Air Lines and its CEO, Richard Anderson, for the impasse, he restricted his comments Monday to “one airline” without naming the carrier. Rockefeller suggested that fixing the wording in the House version of the FAA bill is not in his purview because the Senate Commerce Committee does not have control over it.

The Communications Workers of America released this video:

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 11:24 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 28, 2011

One Unbought Judge

Very rare these days - an unbought public official: NYC judge rejects $285M SEC-Citigroup agreement - Yahoo! News

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

I Review Clinton's New Book

It's over at AlterNet: Bill Clinton's Unreality: Tinkering With Unpassable Ideas, when Transformation is What We Need | Books | AlterNet

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

November 26, 2011

Wa Post Again Says Don't Believe Your Own Eyes

I went to Occupy Oakland Nov 2 for the "general strike" and maybe 20% of the people there were African-American, another 20% were Hispanic, another 10-15% were other ethnicities. But the Washington Post says I didn't see that: Why blacks aren’t embracing Occupy Wall Street - The Washington Post

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:26 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 25, 2011

Occupy Y'All Gainseville

Watch this great video from Huffington Post, about Occupy in Gainsville, then go read the story: Occupy Y'all Street: OWS Movement Takes Shape In Gainesville













Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 22, 2011

How To Occupy

Please visit How To Occupy.

And you absolutely owe it to yourself to attend at least one Occupy meeting! See: Why You Should Attend An Occupy Meeting

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:08 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 21, 2011

Another Horrible Pepper Spraying

This time Tulsa, watch:

50 seconds in, they spray the guy's face from maybe 8 inches away. The guy was completely passive, peaceful.

This is done to try to put down demonstrations against the inequality and injustice resulting from the tax cuts and other policies that favor the wealthy few and their giant corporations.

These demonstrations are occurring because the 1% and their giant corporations have had their taxes lowered so much that our schools are suffering, the infrastructure is crumbling, etc. They don't pay taxes, WE pay taxes and OUR taxes are used for this - to put down people who are demonstrating.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 20, 2011

On The Radio 9-10am PT

I'm on with James Galbraith, talking about the super committee, on KPFA 94.1 FM Berkeley: Listener Sponsored Free Speech Radio

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:26 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 19, 2011

Egypt-Style Treatment Of Protesters

Quoting a friend: "there's something really fucked up when OUR tax dollars are paying the cops to protect the fucking 1% that don't pay any taxes"

More at Balloon Juice: Police Pepper Spray #OWS Student Protestors Directly in their Faces at Occupy Davis

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:42 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

November 18, 2011

Let's Just Lie

Over at Smoking Politics: Let’s Just Lie — ‘Occupy Shooter’ | Smoking Politics

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

5 Privatization Nightmares

Here is a piece I did exclusively for AlterNet -- go check it out: Privatization Nightmare: 5 Public Services That Should Never Be Handed Over to Greedy Corporations | Economy | AlterNet,

Who gains – and who loses – when public assets and jobs are turned over to the private sector?

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

November 17, 2011

Big Day Of Action Around The Country

A government that says corporate money is “speech” dispatches lines of police to stop actual human-being citizens from actually speaking out. It's all right there in front of us: Wall Street got bailouts, the rich got tax cuts, corporations got to buy elections, people got job loss and home loss and pension loss and health care loss, protests got crackdowns.

Your call @NYPDnews on Twitpic
(All pics are from twitter streams, clickable for larger, hover over them for descriptions.)

This is a BIG day of action in cities and towns all across the country. Here is a mid-day roundup of just some -- just some -- of what is going on. Click here to see a map of the hundreds of planned actions across the country. The scope and scale of this is just amazing, and is not at all being conveyed in the media.

Wall Street: Chanting “You’re sexy, you’re cute, now take off those riot suits,” demonstrators marched on the New York Stock Exchange. Retired police captain Ray Lewis was arrested holding a sign that read "NYPD Don't Be Wall Street Mercenaries."

Nonviolent, peaceful American citizens being arrested at #Occ... on Twitpic

A tweet: @digby56digby
RT @OccupyWallSt: Some bankers are holding signs that say, "get a job." Unemployment is at 10% and they're smug in suits. #N17 #OWS

these counter-protesters say they're trying to get to wo... on Twitpic NYPD v. Goldman salary comparison #ows #n17 on Twitpic

At a Portland, Oregon bridge:

Peaceful arrests have begun in Portland on the Steel Bridge #n17 on Twitpic

Los Angeles: AP: LA protesters march in financial district,

Los Angeles police have begun to arrest about 20 people sitting in an intersection at a rally by Occupy Wall Street sympathizers in the downtown financial district.

Hundreds of people marched Thursday before the small group linked arms around several tents and awaited arrest.

#N17 #OLA She's 82 years old & getting arrested for ... on Twitpic

Iowa City:

#N17 in Iowa City: SEIU Local 199 members were joined by Occu... on Twitpic

Dallas: Reuters: Occupy Dallas protesters evicted, more than a dozen arrested,

More than a dozen people were arrested on Thursday morning in Dallas when police on horseback and in riot gear evicted Occupy Dallas protesters from a site near City Hall where they have been camping for the past six weeks.

There was no violence. Dallas city officials put the number of people arrested at 18, while Occupy Dallas officials said 17 were arrested.

Duluth:

Citizens in Duluth MN took to the #bridges for #N17 earlier t... on Twitpic

Binghamton:

Mayor Ryan speaking at the rally #occupytheforum #ows #occupy... on Twitpic

Detroit: Huffington Post: Occupy Detroit Joins Nov. 17 Day Of Action

Occupy Detroit protesters on Thursday were set to join nationwide protests on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement's initial encampment in New York City.

... The group's day of action comes the morning after Detroit Mayor Dave bing announced the need for significant austerity measures to avoid an even greater financial crisis in the city. In a Wednesday night address, the mayor called for a further 10 percent wage cut for city workers and an increase in worker contributions to health care coverage. Bing city police and firefighters should give the same concessions.

Albany: WGRZ: Occupy Buffalo Joins Demonstrations in Albany, NYC

About 250 protesters gathered Thursday at the Occupy Albany demonstration near the state Capitol, where activists planned to present their grievances to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Buses from Buffalo, Rochester and other Occupy Wall Street encampments from around the state delivered the protesters to downtown Lafayette Park. Members of public employee unions have joined the Occupy Albany protesters.

Onward to the Capitol #n17  on Twitpic People gathering in Lafayette Park for rally #n17 #OcccupyAlb... on Twitpic

A bridge in Montana:

#N17 This bridge is the number one bridge in the state of Mon... on Twitpic

Denver: ABC7: Occupy Denver Joins 'Day Of Action',

The first rally at noon will be at the Denver Municipal Building at 201 West Colfax Ave. The building is across the street from Civic Center Park where the Occupy Denver protesters have been camped out.

The second rally will be held at the Greek Amphitheatre at 6 p.m. in Civic Center Park.

Occupy Denver said the 6 p.m. rally will be a "General Assembly meeting" where they will discuss the Occupy movement as a whole and how the group feels they should progress over the coming months.

Houston: Houston occupiers join worldwide day of action,

“Occupy Houston stands in solidarity with those Occupy movements who have recently come under attack, including Occupy Oakland, Occupy Wall Street and now, Occupy Dallas,” spokesman Dustin Phipps said in a statement. “We continue to assert our right to occupy public space and conduct our first amendment right to peaceably assemble.”

One Occupy protester was arrested earlier this week during an argument with police over tarps the group placed over electronic equipment in Tranquility Park, an ongoing point of contention between the protesters and City Hall.

Columbia:

please RT @nikkihaley  #occupycolumbia being evicted illegall... on Twitpic

Boston:

I pray that they may experience God's love and open thei... on Twitpic

NY Daily News: Occupy Wall St. spreads across the United States has pictures from around the country (not necessarily today) including Minneapolis, Miami, Providence, New Orleans, Lincoln, Seattle, Anchorage, Montgomery, Cincinnati, Burlington, Salt Lake City, Little Rock, Jackson, Ashland, Richmond, Hartford, Casper, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Tulsa, St. Louis, Boise, Honolulu, Salem, Austin and others.

Don't forget San Francisco, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Oakland/Berkeley, Philadelphia, Muncie, Davenport, Lexington, ...

Around The World, Too

London, Sydney, Toronto, Rome and Tokyo ... Is this pic really Tokyo?

@ows @occupywallst @occupywallstnyc Tokyo is the 99% #ows on Twitpic

Occupy Colleges

National Student Strike

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 8:46 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

How Wealthy Companies Like Verizon Avoid Taxes

Verizon needs to open a call center, which means a few new low-paying jobs. They get local governments bidding against each other, offering all kinds of tax breaks if only they'll bring those jobs there. Before the bidding war these jobs will be in the economy somewhere, but local schools, police, etc. will be funded. After the bidding war the same number of jobs open up but schools, police, etc. are not funded -- and the 1% are that much richer. Company after company does this. Community after community, desperate for jobs, loses. Schools, police, infrastructure go unfunded. Just who does this help? The 1%.

Earlier this month, the organization Citizens for Tax Justice joined with the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy to release a report, "Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010." The report looked at 280 corporations, finding that 78 did not pay federal taxes in at least one of the past three years and 30 averaged a less-than-zero tax bill in the last three years. Yes, less-than-zero, meaning they got money from the government instead of paying taxes to the government.

Verizon In Focus

Now a report by Citizens for Tax Justice and Good Jobs First, “"Unpaid Bills: How Verizon Shortchanges Government Through Tax Dodging and Subsidies,” looks at one company in particular. I've been writing about how Verizon is very, very profitable, but is trying to force its workers to give up ever more pay, benefits, job security and dignity. The company's workers are engaged in an effort to preserve a middle-class existence.

Yesterday I joined a press call that hilited this Verizon report. The company aggressively manipulated state tax rules, demanded subsidies, and used other methods to end up with a negative federal income tax rate, and receiving state and local tax subsidies in at least 13 states. When setting up call centers, for example, they offer localities the prospect of jobs that that will be created somewhere in US, where the company would have paid taxes to fund schools and infrastructure, but get the localities bidding against each other until they end up making a profit instead of paying taxes.

From the report,

With more than $100 billion in annual revenues and nearly $15 billion in operating profits, Verizon Communications is a large and prosperous company that should pay a substantial amount in taxes to federal, state and local governments.
  • Verizon enjoyed some $14 billion in federal and state corporate income tax subsidies in the 2008-2010 period even though it earned $33.4 billion in pre-tax U.S. income during that time.
  • At the federal level, Verizon should have paid about $11.4 billion at the statutory rate of 35 percent during the three-year period. Instead, it got $951 million in rebates, putting its federal tax subsidies at $12.3 billion. Its effective federal tax rate was -2.9 percent.
  • At the state level, Verizon should have paid about $2.3 billion in corporate income taxes during the period but it handed over only $866 million. Its aggregate state rate was only 2.6 percent, far below the weighted state average rate of 6.8 percent. This gave it state tax subsidies of about $1.4 billion.
  • Verizon also used a special tax loophole called the ReverseMorrisTrust to avoid paying about $1.5 billion in federal and state and local taxes on the sale of its landline assets in various states.
  • Verizon also aggressively seeks state and local tax subsidies through credits, abatements and exemptions. There is no centralized reporting on these subsidies but in this report we document $180 million in special tax breaks and grants Verizon and VerizonWireless received in 13 states.


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 6:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 16, 2011

Tomorrow's Day Of Action - A Big Deal

Thursday's National Day Of Action looks like it will be really big. People will be out doing things all over the country. There will be all kinds of events that say, "We are the 99%!" My favorite is people will be gathering in front of various decaying bridges, to demonstrate that our #1 need is jobs and our #1 place to put people to work is rebuilding our decaying infrastructure.

To find events near you see American Dream Day Of Action at http://november17.org/ and We Are One at http://we-r-1.org/

Isaiah Poole writes about the Day of Action in his post today, The Evictions Won't Stand: Make Nov. 17 A Day Of National Occupation,

"You can't evict an idea whose time has come." That was the message posted on OccupyWallSt.org as early this morning, police began to storm the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.

To prove it, supporters of the Occupy movement have vowed to pull out all the stops to make November 17 a day of national occupation. That day is the two-month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests that sparked a national and international movement. There were already 303 "We Are the 99%" protests scheduled for that day around the country, organized with the help of MoveOn.org. Now those gatherings have added urgency as a rebuke to the efforts to squelch the occupations and silence their voices. As the OccupyWallSt.org statement says, "This burgeoning movement is more than a protest, more than an occupation, and more than any tactic...This moment is nothing short of America rediscovering the strength we hold when we come together as citizens to take action to address crises that impact us all. Such a movement cannot be evicted."

Bridges

Here are just some of the bridge events this Thursday, Nov. 17:

These demonstrations are part of a National Day of Action against policies that have enriched the 1% and impoverished the 99%. People nationwide will march and rally at structurally unsound bridges and other sites in need of repair to demand that America be put back to work now and that the economy work for the 99% once again.
  • New York, NY – 6 p.m. March on Brooklyn Bridge
  • Chicago, IL – 3:30pm, LaSalle Street Bridge
  • Washington, DC – 4:30 p.m. protest at Key Bridge
  • Los Angeles, CA – 7:00am, 3rd St. and Hope St. in downtown LA (to march and demonstrate at the structurally deficient 4th Street bridge)
  • Philadelphia, PA – 4 p.m., Market Street Bridge, near historic 30th Street Amtrak Station
  • Pittsburgh, PA – 3 p.m., Greenfield Bridge
  • Seattle, WA – 4:00pm, Montlake Bridge
  • Miami, FL – 40p.m., Brickell Drawbridge
  • Baltimore, MD – 4:30 p.m., Howard Street Bridge
  • Boston, MA – 4:30 p.m., Charlestown Bridge
  • Portland, OR – 8:00am, Steel Bridge (east side of bridge)
  • Houston, TX – 3:30pm, Travis Street Bridge
  • Detroit, MI – 3:00pm, 2nd Avenue/94 Bridge
  • Milwaukee, WI – 3:30pm, North Ave pass over I-43
  • Minneapolis, MN – 4:00pm, 10th Avenue Bridge

CWA / Verizon Worker March

The biggest labor action right now is Verizon's workers who are trying to preserve middle-class jobs from a predatory giant corporation that is trying to send all the money to the 1%. Verizon workers have been marching from Albany to New York City and will arrive at Verizon HQ on Thursday.

I received this statement from the Communication Workers of America:

"The Communications Workers of America strongly condemns the decision by Mayor Bloomberg to forcibly remove protesters from Zuccotti park. In two short months, Occupy Wall Street has focused the world's attention on the deep frustration felt by working people about an economy that no longer works for the middle class. The 99% have seen good jobs disappear while the rich get richer and the big banks make billions with impunity. Mayor Bloomberg may have cleared the park for now, but Occupy Wall Street's message cannot be silenced. No one can evict an idea whose time has come.

"Now more than ever, CWA members will join the massive day of action on Thursday, November 17. Verizon workers who have been walking for over a week from Albany, NY -- over 150 miles in total -- will arrive at Verizon Headquarters at 140 West St in New York City on Thursday at 4 pm to join hundreds of their coworkers in a March to Foley Square. Their message is the same message we are hearing from Occupy Wall Street and beyond: The 99% are standing up against corporate greed and against a government that more and more puts the interests of the 1% ahead of the middle class."

See also from The Nation, Occupy Verizon, Occupy the Labor Movement,

Forty-five thousand union members at Verizon, no longer a majority at their company, are negotiating with a company set on imposing conditions more like those of their non-union co-workers: higher healthcare costs, job insecurity and raises left to management discretion. Workers (most from the Communications Workers of America) struck for two weeks when their contracts expired in August, then returned to work with an agreement to “restructure bargaining.” Since then, Verizon has relented on some insulting but comparatively low-cost concessions, like eliminating the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But overall it maintains “pretty much the same position they had when we went on strike,” according to Bob Master, who coordinates CWA actions against Verizon in New York and seven other states.


Social Security

If you are in DC, there is a Wake Up Washington rally to stop the "supercommittee" from cutting Social Security, which would harm seniors and the economy. Here is info:

What: Rally with Sen. Bernie Sanders, other Champions in Congress, and hundreds of activists

Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 608 (Corner of Constitution and First St., NE)

When: Thursday, November 17, 10am-11am


Repeat:

To find events near you see American Dream Day Of Action at http://november17.org/ and We Are One at http://we-r-1.org/

Also, if you follow Twitter, follow the #N17 hashtag for ongoing information, by clicking here.


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 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Back To Chrome

Yesterday I wrote that I was switching away from Chrome to Firefox because Chrime crashed so often, and there was a new version of Firefox out.

Whoa - Firefox 8 was just awful! There was this noticeable lag time for everything, the interface is not convenient, and it just felt awkward. Especially when writing posts. Slow, catchy, sometimes it didn't even sense that I was typing...

So back to Chrome, hoping it will stop crashing all the time.

I'll try Safari soon, and report back.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 15, 2011

Switching Back To Firefox

After a very long run I have given up on Chrome and am switching back to Firefox. Chrome was crashing too often, becoming worse and worse. Let's see how Firefox does, now that it is at version 8...

And have you noticed that google is getting harder and harder to use, and not giving good results anymore?????

What's up with this company?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:55 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Government Shutdowns Get The 1% What They Want

A while back I was writing about the Republican threat of a government-wide shutdown, and the two-week Federal Aviation Administration shutdown (and Delta Airlines' anti-union role in that). The shutdown threat was used to force the government to give even more favors and bucks to the 1% and even less to We, the People.

Guess what? The shutdown threats are back.

Last Time

Earlier this year, and then again in September, the Republicans threatened to block the budget from passing and to just let the government shut down. In exchange for allowing the government to continue to operate they wanted favors for the 1% and their corporations, including gutting environmental regulations, gutting healthcare (especially women's healthcare), and generally gutting the things We, the People do for each other.

They largely got their way. They even shut down the FAA, stopping construction projects in an attempt to gut union organizing. Four thousand FAA workers and about 90,000 construction workers were laid off, and the shutdown cost the government about $30 million a day.

Which Was Which?

The Republican threat of shutting down the government is not to be confused with the debt-ceiling hostage-taking debacle that was engineered by Republicans.

The debt-ceiling hostage-taking involved Republicans threatening to let the government default on its obligations, sending the world's economy into a tailspin, unless We, the People dramatically roll back the things we do for each other. They got their way, resulting in big cuts plus the "super committee" of the 1% that is currently working on cutting things for the 99%. (The secretive committee is actually talking about cutting Medicare and cutting top tax rates, and calling it "pro-growth.")

FAA And Labor

In August Republicans shut down the FAA for two weeks, with Republicans trying to get in an anti-union rule. A temporary FAA reauthorization is currently funded only until the end of January. Last week Rep. John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, predicted that the FAA “reauthorization” bill would be done, passed and signed by Christmas.

But the anti-labor provision is still in the bill.

Former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said the fights over funding bills like this could "make a grown man cry." According to The Hill, "We're working on the 20th-plus extension" of the FAA bill, Mineta said during an interview with The Hill. "That's something we really have to get resolved, and [with] a long-term bill."

The Game Is Squeeze-The-Rubes

Here is how the squeeze-the-rubes game is played.

First, cut taxes for the rich. To accomplish this, call it "pro-growth," make the claim that these cuts will "boost the economy" for the rubes, "bring them jobs," or basically whatever they need to hear that week to get them to go along. Then borrow a ton of money to make up for the lost revenue, because when the debt comes due you have serious leverage.

Meanwhile, cut government, cut back on education for the rubes, health care for the rubes -- they don't need it, what are they going to do with educations and health, anyway? Cut regulation. Cut enforcement. And, most of all, do what you can to hamstring labor because organized labor is the one remaining force in the country that has some power, and is working to maintain the middle class. because with a strong middle class, government is able to pay down the debt, so there is no cover for all the cuts.

Then, to speed things up, boost the government's spending on the things that increase your wealth and power. The big one is military. Find something to scare the rubes, watch them run and hide and squeal and let you crank up the military budget, give yourselves no-bid contracts, lucrative consulting contracts, even send pallets of cash to be disbursed to you and your friends.

And, by the way, tax subsidies for your oil and finance companies will drain the treasury pretty fast, too.

Then, when the bill comes due, that's when the hammer comes down. That's when you spring the trap. That's when you can have real fun. You've got them where you want them, and you can go to work. Scare the bejeezus out of them with stories of insolvency, poverty, whatever it takes to make them fear the debt. And then crank up the demands.

Congress Plays Along

Members of Congress see this game of squeeze-the-rubes for what it is, and get what they can for themselves, too. Rep. Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led the two-week FAA shutdown over that anti-union rule. (See The Hostage-Taking Just Keeps Coming - This Time The FAA Shuts Down, Think Default Threat Is A Yawn? The FAA Is Still Shut Down and Delta's Greed Helps Shut Down The FAA)

Well, according to the Florida Independent, Mica, just months after being involved in the temporary shutdown over “spending” on the FAA was bragging about an FAA grant awarded to his district. Mica said he worked for a provision in that bill to keep unions from being able to organize “said he had used his vote as a ‘bargaining tool’ to gain the support of Senate Democrats” for the grant to his own district.

P.S. Take a look at where Rep. Mica gets the money to run his campaigns.

How The Game Is Played

Watch Jack Abramoff explain in a 60 Minutes segment how it works Once the member of Congress or staffer thinks they might get a lobbying job from you,

ABRAMOFF: When we would become friendly with an office and they were important to us, and the chief of staff was a competent person, I would say or my staff would say to him or her at some point, “You know, when you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.” Now the moment I said that to them or any of our staff said that to ‘em, that was it. We owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do. And not only that, they’re gonna think of things we can’t think of to do.

Perks, Too

Are airlines giving perks to members of Congress and staffers, as they prepare to vote on more favors for the 1%, possible shutdowns of government for the rest of us, even the FAA reauthorization? From Roll Call, Being in Congress Has Perks,

Most major airlines have phones lines dedicated to customers on Capitol Hill, aides and lobbyists told Roll Call. To accommodate their unpredictable travel schedules, Members are allowed to reserve seats on multiple flights but pay only for the one they board.

A spokesman for Delta confirmed the airline has a Congressional call desk and allows members to double-book flights. United Continental Holdings Inc., US Airways and American Airlines, all of which are rumored to have similar practices, did not return Roll Call’s request for comment.

“We get on every single flight,” said one Capitol Hill aide familiar with process. “Every offices uses it. ... The scheduler uses it for Members and chiefs of staff who fly.”

The perks have long raised the ire of consumer advocates. “They are treated completely differently from the time they book their ticket until the time they land at the airport,” said Kate Hanni, director of Flyers Rights, an airline passenger advocacy organization.

Short Run Good For 1%, Long Run Bad For 99%

In the short run this game yields great riches to a few. In the long run, of course, getting rid of government defunds infrastructure and education so the economy eventually slows to a crawl. Pitting the parts of the citizenry against each other breeds social chaos, maybe even violence.

What do they care, when they can just hop in their own jots and fly to their own private islands?

Government is us: We, the People. Our government of the people, by the people and for the people exists to reign in the1% and act as a counterweight to the power of their wealth and their huge corporations. That is why We, the People formed our government, to counter the corrupt controlling power of the British King and his aristocracy. That is why we enabled organized labor. That is why we have regulations. That is why we have access to courts to sue giant corporations. It is about one-person-one-vote democracy, not one-dollar-one-vote plutocracy.

What You Can Do

Tell Delta: Stop The Union Busting,

Delta Air Lines is holding billions of dollars in funding for crucial FAA projects hostage by insisting that Congress pass new, undemocratic rules for airline workers trying to organize a union. Delta wants union elections to count workers who don't take part as voting "No"--an absurd demand that would undermine the entire system of majority-rule voting.

The rules are under debate now, Delta's powerful allies in Congress are holding up a long-term solution by continuing to insist on the new election rule.

Without a long-term reauthorization bill, job-creating airport infrastructure projects and critical security improvements are on hold. And we run the risk of another FAA shutdown at the end of the year.

Thursday National Day Of Action

Many organizations are calling for a national day of action Thursday Nov. 17, with various events around the country.

Follow the Twitter hashtag #N17 for info.

Occupy Wall Street, on Thursday's Day Of Action

Interfaith Worker Justice: National Days of Action Against Wage Theft

Check out this We Are The 99% event Thursday,

We're starting to get the 1% to pay attention. But this system's still rigged against us: Wall Street is still making billions and taking our homes, and Congress can't pass a jobs bill. To amplify the economic emergency, we're making Thursday, November 17, a massive day of action to show "We Are The 99%.

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 9:01 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 14, 2011

Elizabeth Warren's First Ad

Here it is, her first ad in her race for the US Senate in Massachusetts. Wonderful, and so is her website.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Egypt-Style Attacks On Several Occupy Camps

When Egyptians stood up to Mubarak they were met with tear gas and clubs. Once upon a time American had freedom of assembly, speech and protest. Even now, as long as protests don't take on the 1%, they are OK. But in today's America-for-the-1% protests, assemblies and speech against plutocatic, 1% rule are met with tear gas and police batons to the head.

Occupy Movement camps around the country follow strict practices of nonviolence and democracy. As with any diverse community of people, there are troublemakers who take advantage of loose organization and predators who prey on others. This is why we have police departments in every city and town. But plutocratic government response is to discourage the Occupy Movement, so government services are denied these citizens. Instead of helpfully serving communities, the frown of disapproving authority is cast upon their activities.

Disgust and fear are powerful propaganda tools, and there has been a remarkable "soften up public opinion" media drumbeat using repeated accusations of bugs, thugs, drugs, muggings, disease, rats, filth, and other disgust and fear-invoking imagery. (Perhaps worst of all in the "shame them" index, even beards and general non-consumerism and non-conformity are described!) So with the ground prepared and the way paved for police actions, Occupy camps in Portland, Oakland, Chapel Hill, St. Louis, Albany, Salt Lake City, Burlington, San Francisco, Denver and other cities were raided over the weekend.

"The 1% And Its Government Facilitators"

Of course in one form or another Occupy actions will continue as long as the 1% continues its extreme shock-doctrine power and wealth grab. There are still scores of other Occupy actions taking place in cities around the country and world.

In Oakland the mayor's legal advisor posted on Facebook that he has resigned over Monday's police raid of Occupy Oakland.

His Facebook post: "No longer Mayor Quan's legal adviser. Resigned at 2 am. Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators."

Report From Oakland

AlterNet's Joshua Holland reports on the police action in Oakland, in Thousands of Riot Cops Descend on Occupy Oakland, 32 Arrested,

It's the explosions and large volume of gunshots that made these actions excessive. The generous use of flash-bang grenades, tear gas and “less lethal” rounds deployed by police in heavy black body armor felt more like the opening scene to Saving Private Ryan than footage of, say, protests against the Vietnam War being broken up by helmeted police swinging batons. While the weapons deployed by police are designed not to kill or maim (if used properly), the visceral sensation of walking through streets dodging explosions and chemical agents while rounds crackle in the air creates an effect similar to that of actual combat – abject terror, disorientation and a sense of unease that lingers for days.


Roundups And Videos

RT has a roundup of of some of these actions, Occupy camps under attack across America

Here is an AP video roundup of some of these actions:

Here is CNN footage of various actions around the country:

Here is footage from an early Occupy event:

What You Can Do

Attend at least one Occupy event.

You may have heard about the "Occupy" protests that are occurring in cities around the country. They aren't what you are hearing. Please come to one and see for yourself. If you are young, old, white, black, brown, poor, rich, left, right, centrist, even Tea Party you will find people just like you. You might agree, you might disagree, you might love it, you might hate it, but you owe it to yourself to come and see for yourself.

A lot of people feel frustration with the huge and increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the effect this is having on our country, culture, politics and the way we relate to each other as Americans. It seems like everything in the country is now geared toward the top 1%, and the rest of us are divided and supposed to keep quiet and accept this. Somehow the Occupy movement started at just the right time, when just the right number of people were fed up with the way things are going and the lack of solutions coming from our political leaders. It grew quickly, because people were tired of keeping quiet while our government seems to operate only for the benefit of the top few and expects the rest of us to sacrifice to pay for that.

This all brings us a chance to restore democracy not just in our communities, but within ourselves. By attending and participating, we are exercising the "muscles" of democracy, of speaking up and being part of something. The thing is, you won’t just see it, you’ll feel it. You'll feel what it is like to have so many people around you who agree with you. You'll feel what it is like to be part of something important.

How To Find One Near You

The "Occupy" movement has now been going on for just over six weeks, and has spread to hundreds of towns across the country. You can probably find one near you. Start at Occupy Together which is at http://www.occupytogether.org/. Take a look at the page where they show you what is happening in your area, using a map. Also, try typing 'Occupy' and the name of your town into Google just to see what pops up.

Also see them on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/occupyeverywhere, and http://www.facebook.com/Gilded.Age . Also visit the Rebuild the Dream movement, and, of course, MoveOn.org.

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 2:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Amazing Video From Early Occupy Event!

See for yourself. Here is footage from an early Occupy event:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 11, 2011

Amish Haircut Attacks - What Did You Expect?

OK, there is an Amish cult that is attacking traditional Amish and cutting their hair. Here's the thing, the cult is run by a guy name MULLET. What else would you expect from a guy with the name Mullet? See Ohio Sheriff: Latest Amish Haircutting Victim Attacked By His Son | TPMMuckraker

Billy-Ray-Cyrus-Mullet.jpg

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

November 10, 2011

NY Times Says Obama Bailed Out Banks

The conventional wisdom machine in operation: No bailouts, Republicans agree at debate in Michigan

On a day when the stock market plummeted amid fears that Greek and Italian debt might bring European financial institutions to collapse, the candidates each rejected the idea that the United States should intervene to help, arguing that U.S. taxpayers should not be responsible for the missteps of foreign countries and companies and that the Obama administration’s bailouts of banks here two years ago amounted to government overreach.

The fact that a NY Times reporter has been tricked by the Republican misinformation machine, on something as well-known and important as this, is significant.

Note this article has been changed: (was reporter fired?)

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 10, 2011


An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed the bank bailouts of two years ago to the Obama administration. The Bush administration was responsible for the initial bank bailouts, and the Obama administration followed with additional bailouts.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 9, 2011

Mic Check

In a democracy
     In a democracy
The 99 percent
     The 99 percent
Count just as much
     Count just as much
As the top few
     As the top few

In a democracy
     In a democracy
It’s one person one vote
     It’s one person one vote
And it’s not
     And it’s not
One dollar one vote
     One dollar one vote

In a democracy
     In a democracy
Big corporations
     Big corporations
Don’t get
     Don’t get
To write the laws
     To write the laws

In a democracy
     In a democracy
We the People
     We the People
Are the ones
     Are the ones
Who make the rules
     Who make the rules

In a democracy
     In a democracy
We have rule of law
     We have rule of law
And the rich
     And the rich
Aren’t above the law
     Aren’t above the law


Tell me what democracy looks like
     This is what democracy looks like
Tell me what democracy looks like
     This is what democracy looks like

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

How To Bribe Politicians

If you missed Jack Abramoff on 60 Minutes, here it is. This is significant. Watch this to understand how it's done, and why Washington only works for the 1%: Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

It's The Trade Deficit!

A huge part of the reason we can't get out of this unemployment slump is the trade deficit. We don't buy American and neither do our "trade partners." We buy from them, they sell to us -- that's not "trade." Stimulus means we buy from them. Cutting taxes means the extra cash buys from them. Nothing we try brings jobs here because we don't buy enough here that's made here and they don't either. If we want to fix employment we have to fix trade.

The current unemployment crisis results, at least in large part, from the trade deficit. This has been masked by bubbles like the tech bubble and the housing bubble. Economist Paul Krugman explains, in a blog post, The Return Of Secular Stagnation,

But then the question is, why do we find it so hard to achieve full employment even with saving somewhat low by historical standards. And the answer seems clear: it’s the trade deficit. America in the 70s and 80s could have high savings, not hugely strong investment, but still have full employment because trade deficits weren’t as large compared with the economy as they are now.

And this in turn means that the savings glut possibly making the natural real rate negative is actually originating abroad, not at home.

Krugman is taking issue with the economist argument that we have a problem of too much savings without investment, using a chart showing savings declining. (Note that the inflection point is right as Reagan's policies start to hit.) He explains how this demonstrates that the problem is really our trade deficit.

Easier to understand: We have to fix trade if we are going to fix the economy.

China has accumulated more than a trillion dollars by selling to us and not buying from us. Think about what would happen to our economy if China used that money to place orders for US-made goods. Factories would be opening up, people would be hired, stores would be humming... When you think about how much good that would do, you are understanding the harm their sell-only trade policy has done. They were supposed to buy from us, too, because that is what trade is. But they didn't, and here we are.

Now, think about how much good it would do for China's economy, if our economy was humming from all those orders for our goods! When you think about that, and realize that China is not doing that, you might start to think that this is not an economic game China is playing. If it was about economics, they would use that money to place those orders, to revive our economy, which would mean we would be placing even more orders from them.

But they aren't. Why is that?


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 6:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Latest Right-Wing Lie

Over at Smoking Politics I write about The ‘Christmas Tree Tax’ Lie.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:39 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

November 8, 2011

Occupy Movement Is Spreading And Growing

Our captured government won’t do its job. It doesn't keep Wall Street and banks and giant corporations from ripping us off and doesn't prosecute them after they do. It doesn't stop polluters - even as the effects of climate change increase. It doesn't enforce employment and labor laws, so all of us who work fall further and further behind. It doesn't take care of those in need even as more and more of us are in greater and greater need. It just helps the connected rich get richer. So people finally got fed up, and started "occupying." Now the occupy movement is spreading to more and more cities, growing with more and more people, and expanding people's understanding of the power that comes from speaking out.

It started with Occupy Wall Street, people rising up over the greed and inequality, the1% vs 99%. Labor joined, adding their voice and grievances. Veterans, teachers and others are showing up in greater and greater numbers now. Others are joining. Now it's everywhere: Hundreds of towns like Occupy Orlando and Chicago and Portland and Nashville and Asheville and Oakland and even little towns like Redwood City.

People are getting arrested as the powers-that-be react to the spreading and growing crowds. According to Chris Bowers at Daily Kos,

Arrests in Chicago, New York City, Fresno, Eureka, Denver, Portland, Boston, Seattle, Oakland, Ashville, Riverside and more cities over the weekend has brought the total number of arrests of Occupy protesters over 3,350.

Globalization Of Protest

The world feels the effect of their common wealth draining to shock-doctrine attacks from the 1%. Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes at Al Jazeera that in reaction to this we are seeing The globalisation of protest,

The protest movement that began in Tunisia in January, subsequently spreading to Egypt and then to Spain, has now become global - with the protests engulfing Wall Street and cities across America. Globalisation and modern technology now enables social movements to transcend borders as rapidly as ideas can.

And social protest has found fertile ground everywhere: A sense that the "system" has failed, and the conviction that even in a democracy, the electoral process will not set things right - at least not without strong pressure from the street.

Stiglitz writes that arond the world these protesters are sounding an alarm:

They are right that something is wrong about our "system". Around the world, we have underutilised resources - people who want to work, machines that lie idle, buildings that are empty - and huge unmet needs: Fighting poverty, promoting development, and retrofitting the economy for global warming, to name just a few. In America, after more than seven million home foreclosures in recent years, we have empty homes and homeless people.

The protesters have been criticised for not having an agenda. But this misses the point of protest movements. They are an expression of frustration with the electoral process. They are an alarm.

... On one level, today's protesters are asking for little: A chance to use their skills, the right to decent work at decent pay, a fairer economy and society. Their hope is evolutionary, not revolutionary. But, on another level, they are asking for a great deal: A democracy where people, not dollars, matter, and a market economy that delivers on what it is supposed to do.

Seniors Occupying Over Social Security & Medicare Cuts

More groups are expressing their own dissatisfaction with the captured government cutting back in order to preserve the tax cuts and other benefits of the top 1%. At The Huffington Post, Lizzie Schiffman reports in, Seniors Join Occupy Chicago, Protest Cuts To Medicare, Social Security

More than 1,000 senior citizens and their supporters marched from Chicago's Federal Plaza to the intersection of Jackson and Clark Street Monday morning to protest proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

… Amid chants demanding that the cuts be forestalled -- with suggestions for alternatives, including tax hikes -- 43 demonstrators were escorted from the intersection (see video, above) by police and issued citations for pedestrian failure to "exercise due care," or for blocking traffic. Those cited included four protesters using assisted mobility devices and at least one centenarian.

Moving Money From Banks

In conjunction with the Occupy Movement, people have started to move money from the too-big banks to non-profit credit unions that exist to actually serve the customers instead of the few at the top. 650,000 pedople moved from banks to credit unions just in October -- more than all of the prior year -- and early estimates of the recent November 5 action calculate that perhaps $60 billion was moved.

Occupy The Super Committee

Congress' supercommittee of the 1% is discussing how much money to take out of the economy of the 99% by cutting back on the things our government does for We, the People. They want to cut the deficits that resulted from tax cuts for the rich and huge increases in military spending -- without undoing those. So now a group is setting up to occupy the supercommittee. The Occupied Super Committee Hearing of the 99%

OccupyWashingtonDC to hold Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99%
Wednesday, November 9th at 11:00 AM

OccupyWashingtonDC.org will hold a hearing on the economy for the 99% that will examine how to create a fair economy for all Americans.

The Occupied Hearing will contrast with hearings on Capitol Hill which are destined to enrich the 1% and protect major donors.

The Occupied Super Committee Hearing for the 99% will examine critical issues facing the economy and the federal budget. The hearing will include testimony from people with great understanding of the issues facing the country as well as comments from the 99% who are directly affected by the economy.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Views Of A Congressman's Occupy Video

How often does a member of Congress put a video on YouTube and quickly get hundreds of thousands of views? Keith Ellison (D-MN), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, made a video for the "CongressionalYoutube Town Hall" series, talking about the Occupy Wall Street movement. The video has received 340,000 views as of Tuesday morning.


Occupy Everywhere And Everything

Possible new Occupy actions include places that the government is ignoring its responsibilities, and people are sick of just taking it. Some ideas:

  • Occupying polluting companies, until they stop polluting.

  • Occupying privatized public functions -- jobs that have been handed to private contractors in order to pay people poverty wages, while making a few at the top very, very rich.

  • Occupying companies that refuse to hire the unemployed.

  • Occupying companies that refuse to hire people over 40.

    Encouraged by the Occupy Movement, more and more people are finding their voice and speaking out.

    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 2:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 4, 2011

    Occupy's Asshole Problem: Flashbacks from An Old Hippie

    A guest post by Sara Robinson

    I wish I could say that the problems that the Occupy movement is having with infiltrators and agitators are new. But they're not. In fact, they're problems that the Old Hippies who survived the 60s and 70s remember acutely, and with considerable pain.

    As a veteran of those days -- with the scars to prove it -- watching the OWS organizers struggle with drummers, druggies, sexual harassers, racists, and anarchists brings me back to a few lessons we had to learn the hard way back in the day, always after putting up with way too much over-the-top behavior from people we didn't think we were allowed to say "no" to. It's heartening to watch the Occupiers begin to work out solutions to what I can only indelicately call "the asshole problem." In the hope of speeding that learning process along, here are a few glimmers from my own personal flashbacks -- things that it's high time somebody said right out loud.

    1. Let's be clear: It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms. #Occupy may be a DIY movement -- but it also stands for very specific ideas and principles. Central among these is: We are here to reassert the common good. And we have a LOT of work to do. Being open and accepting does not mean that we're obligated to accept behavior that damages our ability to achieve our goals. It also means that we have a perfect right to insist that people sharing our spaces either act in ways that further those goals, or go somewhere else until they're able to meet that standard.

    2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not. Or, as an earlier generation of change agents put it: "You're either on the bus, or off the bus." Are you here to change the way this country operates, and willing to sacrifice some of your almighty personal freedom to do that? Great. You're with us, and you're welcome here. Are you here on your own trip and expecting the rest of us to put up with you? In that case, you are emphatically NOT on our side, and you are not welcome in our space.

    Anybody who feels the need to put their own personal crap ahead of the health and future of the movement is (at least for that moment) an asshole, and does not belong in Occupied space. Period. This can be a very hard idea for people in an inclusive movement to accept -- we really want to have all voices heard. But the principles #Occupy stands for must always take precedence over any individual's divine right to be an asshole, or the assholes will take over. Which brings me to....

    3. The consensus model has a fatal flaw, which is this: It's very easy for power to devolve to the people who are willing to throw the biggest tantrums. When some a drama king or queen starts holding the process hostage for their own reasons, congratulations! You've got a new asshole! (See #2.) You must guard against this constantly, or consensus government becomes completely impossible.

    4. Once you've accepted the right of the group to set boundaries around people's behavior, and exclude those who put their personal "rights" ahead of the group's mission and goals, the next question becomes: How do we deal with chronic assholes?

    This is the problem Occupy's leaders are very visibly struggling with now. I've been a part of asshole-infested groups in the long-ago past that had very good luck with a whole-group restorative justice process. In this process, the full group (or some very large subset of it that's been empowered to speak for the whole) confronts the troublemaker directly. The object is not to shame or blame. Instead, it's like an intervention. You simply point out what you have seen and how it affects you. The person is given a clear choice: make some very specific changes in their behavior, or else leave.

    This requires some pre-organization. You need three to five spokespeople to moderate the session (usually as a tag team) and do most of the talking. Everybody else simply stands in a circle around the offender, watching silently, looking strong and determined. The spokespeople make factual "we" statements that reflect the observations of the group. "We have seen you using drugs inside Occupied space. We are concerned that this hurts our movement. We are asking you to either stop, or leave."

    When the person tries to make excuses (and one of the most annoying attributes of chronic assholes is they're usually skilled excuse-makers as well), then other members of the group can speak up -- always with "I" messages. "I saw you smoking a joint with X and Y under tree Z this morning. We're all worried about the cops here, and we think you're putting our movement in danger. We are asking you to leave." Every statement needs to end with that demand -- "We are asking you to either stop, or else leave and not come back." No matter what the troublemaker says, the response must always be brought back to this bottom line.

    These interventions can go on for a LONG time. You have to be committed to stay in the process, possibly for a few hours until the offender needs a pee break or gets hungry. But eventually, if everybody stays put, the person will have no option but to accept that a very large group of people do not want him or her there. Even truly committed assholes will get the message that they've crossed the line into unacceptable behavior when they're faced with several dozen determined people confronting them all at once.

    Given the time this takes, it's tempting to cut corners by confronting several people all at once. Don't do it. Confronting more than two people at a time creates a diffusion-of-responsibility effect: the troublemakers tell themselves that they just got caught up in a dragnet; the problem is those other people, not me. The one who talks the most will get most of the heat; the others will tend to slip by (though the experience may cause them to reconsider their behavior or leave as well).

    This process also leaves open the hope that the person will really, truly get that their behavior is Not OK, and agree to change it. When this happens, be sure to negotiate specific changes, boundaries, rules, and consequences ("if we see you using drugs here again, we will call the police. There will be no second warning"), and then reach a consensus agreement that allows them to stay. On the other hand: if the person turns violent and gets out of control, then the question is settled, and their choice is made. You now have a legitimate reason to call the cops to haul them away. And the cops will likely respect you more for maintaining law and order.

    Clearing out a huge number of these folks can be a massive time suck, at least for the few days it will take to weed out the worst ones and get good at it. It might make sense to create a large committee whose job it is to gather information, build cases against offenders, and conduct these meetings.

    And finally:

    5. It is not wrong for you to set boundaries this way. You will get shit for this. "But...but...it looks a whole lot like a Maoist purge unit!" No. There is nothing totalitarian about asking people who join your revolution to act in ways that support the goals of that revolution. And the Constitution guarantees your right of free association -- which includes the right to exclude people who aren't on the bus, and who are wasting the group's limited time and energy rather than maximizing it. After all: you're not sending these people to re-education camps, or doing anything else that damages them. You're just getting them out of the park, and out of your hair. You're eliminating distractions, which in turn effectively amplifies the voices and efforts of everyone else around you. And, in the process, you're also modeling a new kind of justice that sanctions people's behavior without sanctioning their being -- while also carving out safe space in which the true potential of Occupy can flourish.

    Posted by Guest at 12:56 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    People Want Jobs - Congress Focused On Taking Money Out Of Economy

    This situation of crony government protecting the connected rich while people are in the streets demanding change is more and more reminiscent of Egypt under Mubarak. In the real world tens of thousands are in the streets around the country demanding taxes on the rich and an end to corporate rule, as a new report lists profitable companies that pay no taxes at all. Today's jobs report is not enough to even keep up. But in the Congress Senate Republicans filibuster another jobs bill and the "super committee" is looking at how much to take out of the economy and out of the things We the People do for each other -- in order to keep taxes low for the rich and their giant corporations.

    Filibustering Jobs

    Yesterday Senate Republicans again filibustered a jobs bill - a plan to hire people to repair our country's infrastructure. This is work that has to be done, and right now millions of people need work. But Republicans filibustered this bill. The corporate-owned mainstream media, however, largely refused to tell the public what is happening, instead blaming "the Senate." The Washington Post headlined, Senate blocks $60 billion infrastructure plan, another part of Obama jobs bill. Politico blamed "both parties," with Both parties block jobs bills. MSNBC: Senate blocks $60B part of Obama jobs plan. CNN: Competing infrastructure spending measures fail in Senate.

    So the big-corporate media leads the public to blame "the Senate" and government, providing few clues that tell people where to apply the pressure that makes representative democracy function.

    Big Corps Paying No Taxes, Not Just Low Taxes

    From Citizens for Tax Justice report: Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010,

    280 Most Profitable U.S. Corporations Shelter Half Their Profits from Taxes.

    “These 280 corporations received a total of nearly $224 billion in tax subsidies,” said Robert McIntyre, Director at Citizens for Tax Justice and the report’s lead author. “This is wasted money that could have gone to protect Medicare, create jobs and cut the deficit.”

  • 30 Companies average less than zero tax bill in the last three Years, 78 had at least one no-tax year.

  • Financial services received the largest share of all federal tax subsidies over the last three years. More than half the tax subsidies for companies in the study went to four industries: financial services, utilities, telecommunications, and oil, gas & pipelines.

  • U.S. corporations with significant foreign profits paid tax rates to foreign countries that were almost a third higher than they paid to the IRS on their domestic profits.
  • Who Are "The Markets?"

    Who are we talking about, when we talk about "corporate taxes?" Just who do we mean when we talk about "the markets?" See for yourself why the #occupy movement talks about the 1% vs the 99%.

    When you hear about corporations and "the markets," think about how that connects to this chart:

    wealth2

    People In The Streets

    Yesterday, in the post, Oakland Occupied -- Will Washington Listen At Last?, I wrote about the large demonstrations that are spreading and growing: spreading to more and more cities, and growing with larger numbers in each city. I warned that this is starting to look like Egypt with the people in the streets protesting Mubarak's cronyism:

    A Warning Shot At Washington's Increasing Irrelevance

    As I said, this public protest is spreading and growing. People have had enough and are taking to the streets in increasing numbers. But Washington continues to ignore the public, debating a national motto, as Repubicans block jobs and an elitist "super committee" debates cutting the things government does for the 99%.

    Poll after poll shows the public overwhelmingly supports increasing taxes on the wealthy, bringing corporations under control, and reigning in trade agreements that suck our jobs, factories, companies and industries out of the country. People do not want Medicare, Social Security and other essential government programs cut, they want the rich and corporations and Wall Street to start paying their share.

    The public wants something done about these problems. They want jobs, they want something done about the increasing

    If Congress continues to ignore the people of the country it will not be long before the situation is like Mubarak pretending he is still in charge of Egypt, while the people of the country are in the streets planning how they will run the country without him and his cronies.

    Super Committee To Take Money Out Of The Economy

    A representative democracy serves the 99%, a plutocracy serves the 1%. Currently in Washington Congress' elite "super committee" represents the 1%, looking at ways to take more money out of the economy, discussing cutting Social Security at a time when many people have lost their pensions and savings. They are discussing cutting Medicare and other health services at a time when more and more people are in need. They are discussing cuts and cuts and cuts, when working people are falling behind and behind and behind.

    But the actual causes of the deficits that have Congress so concerned are ignored. Reagan and the Bushes cut taxes on the rich and increased military spending, and the deficits and resulting debt soared. It is right there in front of our faces. But even with such "concern" about deficits the tax cuts for the rich continue and the huge increases in military spending are left alone. Instead Congress discusses austerity - making the 99% pay for the benefits and bailouts for the 1%.

    People are fed up, and rightly so. Poll after poll shows that the public wants taxes on the rich increased to pay for the deficit, infrastructure, education, health care, retirement and the rest of the things We, the People need. But our captured government is only serving the top few when they talk about cutting these things in order to keep taxes low at the top. The 1% would be well-advised to pay attention to what has happened in other countries where government ignores the people and takes care only of the connected rich.

    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 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    November 3, 2011

    Oakland Occupied -- Will Washington Listen At Last?

    It was an amazing thing to be part of, an entire city downtown occupied, then a huge march that shut down a major port. Oakland was #occupied! This was a game changer, a turning point. What happened in Oakland was a very big deal. On the same Wednesday there were big, big #occupy events in several other cities. But will Washington pay attention?

    Occupy Oakland

    I arrived at Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland yesterday about 11:30am. The streets were blocked off by police (a single police car keeping traffic out) a block or three out in all four directions, and a large crowd was gathered. The Plaza itself was surrounded by occupier tents, the surrounding street had several booths, and there was a bit of a festival atmosphere.

    At the corner of 14th and Broadway there was a stage set up with speakers throughout the day. Hundreds of people milled about, many with signs saying everything from "We Are The 99%" to "Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out," "Tax The Rich," "Stand With The 99%," "We Get Cut, They Get Rich," etc...

    There was a harmonious energy with people of all ethnicities, ages, cultures and from all over the area. People were friendly, helpful, welcoming, and overall supportive of each other. It was a very pleasant event on a very pleasant day.

    The main action of the day began at 4PM as the first of two marches left for the Port of Oakland. A number of buses filled up first, sending people to set up early picket lines. They would be joined and reinforced as marchers arrived. The picket lines and first marchers were effective as the workers honored the lines. Seeing the very large number of people heading for the port authorities decided to close operations and send workers home. But still thousands upon thousands of people marched, with many thousands more joining the 5pm march.

    The scene at the port was just astonishing. People were just everywhere, as far as I could walk, passing more and more crowds of people, each time thinking this must be the "main mass." Then walk a bit further and there would be an even bigger mass of people. Drummers, dancers, people sitting on trucks. And of course lots of people wondering what was going on and what would happen next...

    Finally people started tricking out, heading back to the occupy center at Oscar Grant Plaza.

    And, of course, later a number of anarchists started a bonfire and had to be cleared out with tear gas.

    Josh Holland at AlterNet has a good writeup of the days events, in OWS Oakland Takes Over City, Shutting Down One of the Biggest Ports in the Country...But Nightfall Brings More Chaos and Teargas

    As many as 15,000 people participated in actions across Oakland yesterday, with small marches peeling off to protest in front of banks or "occupy" foreclosed homes. There were probably eight to ten times the number of people in the streets of Oakland today as I'd seen during past OWS actions. Police maintained a minimal presence throughout the day.

    ... A day of scattered actions across the city culminated in a massive "occupation" that shut down the Port of Oakland, the fifth busiest container port in the country. When it was announced that operations had been suspended for the night, thousands of people partied around trucks halted in their tracks, celebrating a victory in their struggle with authorities that began with the violent eviction of Occupy Oakland last week. The Oakland police, and Mayor Jean Quan, stung by negative press stemming from the clashes, essentially gave the port to the movement.

    No Police At All?

    The role of police in communities in a democracy is to be part of the community and to protect the community from the troublemakers, predators, criminals, etc. That includes communities of people expressing their dissatisfaction with plutocracy, just like crowds at football games, etc.

    At a football game you see the police mixing with the crowds, spotting trouble, etc. They aren't lined up in full combat gear to intimidate the crowd and make people think they are doing something that is prohibited. They aren't under orders to treat the crowd at a football game or rock concert as an enemy.

    In a plutocracy the police are under orders to do just that. And that is what the police have been doing in cities like Oakland.

    So because of previous trouble when police were ordered to attack peaceful protesters the police had to be simply absent in Oakland yesterday in the face of such a large crowd. A self-organized mass like Occupy, in its early stages (this was only the 7th week!) hasn't learned how to deal with these things on their own and they shouldn't have to. They shouldn't need to set up their own government, etc., they are part of the larger community. It is not illegal to protest, or to have a beard, etc. People should not be mocked, humiliated, attacked, or have the police set on them because they oppose the greed of the giant corporations and big banks and Wall Street speculators. They are citizens.

    This is not the fault of the police force. They are people with families and mortgages and car payments just like most of us. They have to do what they are told to do when they show up for work. The problems start when they show up for work and are told to attack peaceful protesters.

    They should have been there assisting the citizens, from the start, just like a crowd at a festival, concert, or sporting event. And that would have prevented the troublemakers from breaking windows, starting bonfires, etc.

    Major Labor Presence

    There was a very big labor presence at the events in Oakland. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) had a strong presence. Their workers are engaged in a battle with Verizon, a giant and highly profitable company that is trying nonetheless to cut worker pay, benefits, safety standards and generally fight to push them out of the middle class.


    Representatives of any, many other labor organizations were present, supporting the goals of the Occupy movement.

    Pics

    Here is a slideshow of pics and videos taken with my phone: (in some browsers you need to hit refresh to see this)


    I also reported quite a bit of moment-to-moment action and posted many more pics on my twitter feed.

    Spreading And Growing

    The Occupy movement is in its 7th week, and continues to spread and grow. It has spread to cities around the country and world, and the numbers at each location continue to grow.

    A quick scan of the news shows events in cities across the country including but not in any way limited to Omaha, Nashville, Rochester, Asheville, Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Denver, Washington, Philadelphia, Tulsa, Detroit, Chicago, Fort Myers, Austin, Boise, Atlanta, Sacramento, Portland, and of course New York.

    Washington Reaction

    In Washington this week the reaction to the national #occupy protests has been immediate and unrestrained. Reacting to the national attention and concern about Wall Street and corporate greed and the effect on the 99% of Americans facing tremendous work and financial pressures, the House of Representatives debated a bill to affirm "In God We Trust" as the nation's motto. And in the Senate, Republicans filibustered another effort to provide jobs from maintaining the country's crumbling infrastructure.

    Also, in reaction to the national call for efforts to fight corporate greed and provide jobs the "super committee" debated how much money to take out of the economy, cutting Medicare and Social Security for the elderly, essential government services for the 99% of us who don't own big chunks of large corporations, all while seeking ways to further lower top and corporate tax rates. Never mind looking for ways to cut the overwhelming, bloated, huge, enormous, extravagant, inflated, out-of-control, budget-busting military budget!!!

    At the same time others in Congress are discussing allowing giant multinational corporations to bring back the profits made from sending jobs and factories out of the country without having to pay taxes on that money.

    A Warning Shot At Washington's Increasing Irrelevance

    As I said, this public protest is spreading and growing. People have had enough and are taking to the streets in increasing numbers. But Washington continues to ignore the public, debating a national motto, as Repubicans block jobs and an elitist "super committee" debates cutting the things government does for the 99%.

    Poll after poll shows the public overwhelmingly supports increasing taxes on the wealthy, bringing corporations under control, and reigning in trade agreements that suck our jobs, factories, companies and industries out of the country. People do not want Medicare, Social Security and other essential government programs cut, they want the rich and corporations and Wall Street to start paying their share.

    The public wants something done about these problems. They want jobsm, they want something done about the incresing

    If Congress continues to ignore the people of the country it will not be long before the situation is like Mubarak pretending he is still in charge of Egypt, while the people of the country are in the streets planning how they will run the country without him and his cronies.

    Water On Gremlins

    Lee Camp said that pepper spraying #occupiers is like throwing water on gremlins, you just get 10 times as many.

    "Good God don't you get it, greed is no longer good."

    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 8:57 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Google Sucks Now

    I've been meaning to write about how Google is getting worse and worse, and Atrios beat me to it: Eschaton: Oy

    Have you noticed that it is getting harder and harder to get the info you want from Google?


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

    November 1, 2011

    The Herman Cain Sexual Harassment Accusation

    This post originally appeared at Smoking Politics.

    Politico has revealed allegations that Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain, the front-runner in the Republican Presidential primaries, was accused of sexual harassment in the late 90s and that his employer, the National Restaurant Association, settled the charges with a cash payout. His explanation is that he made a certain gesture and said his wife is "this tall," and was sued for a lot of money.

    My take on it: I don't see it. Unless something else comes up I have not heard enough evidence to make me question Cain's character -- on this issue. (His 9-9-9 plan is a whole different story.) I haven't heard of anything that might indicate a pattern. I don't even think it looks bad that this was settled. I think the Association would have settled rather than fight the charges because that saves a great deal of money, even if Cain was innocent, so settling, to me, is not evidence of guilt. I've run a company, people sue you when you run a company or an association or other organization. (My own policy was never settle, and that ended up costing me a great deal of money going to court and winning.) They say something happened at an event "at a hotel." It sounds bad that it happened at an event at a hotel, but this was the Restaurant Association and they do all kinds of events at hotels. And here is the main thing: there are two major Presidential campaigns that have very good reason to make Cain look bad. So I am withholding judgement.

    Where Did It Come From?

    This story likely came from either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney's campaign, in my opinion. Cain is the front-runner in the polls, Perry and Romney believe they are entitled to be the candidate, they feel Cain is a distraction from the "serious people's" race and they really, really want Cain out of the way so they can get at tearing each other up instead. Of course one of them set this up.

    This is not a particularly bad thing. A Presidential candidate needs to be able to field this kind of thing. It's part of the screening, part of the landscape of this. A President is going to be accused of things; do we want a President who flubs it when accused of things he or she actually didn't do? No, we want to know that a President can get distractions out of the way. (We also want to know if the candidate really does have a character flaw, like I said I am withholding judgement until I see more to go on.)

    Is This A Smear?

    Do the accusations rise to the level of a smear, like the Swift Boat attack on Kerry, or the various attacks on Gore and Obama? I don't classify this as a smear, I'd call it typical campaign stuff. Seriously, it is just a media outlet reporting some facts. There is no echo chamber primed to amplify it, no larger narrative that it is intended to reinforce. I would say that a smear -- the kind we fight here at Smoking Politics -- is a false charge designed to fit into a larger narrative that is part of an ideological strategy. This is just a news report about something that did happen -- the accusation and settlement. It is not structured around a narrative about Cain, it's just a typical campaign hit to try to knock him out of the primary. Just no big deal, let's see how well Cain handles it.

    Bigger Picture -- The Narrative

    So on to the bigger picture of how these stories affect campaigns and our politics, which is what Smoking Politics is about. How should we react to this story? And how is it being used? Specifically, what narrative, or propaganda point, is the being driven with the story?

    The movement right sees an opportunity to use this to further their anti-"liberal" propaganda narrative. (That's who they are, that's what they do.) They are charging that this is an example of "liberals" attacking a conservative. They are saying Cain is a victim of liberal attacks. Heh.

    Rush Limbaugh says this is the "mainstream media" attacking a conservative, and adds a racial element. (Because that's what he does.) From the transcript: We Should Not be Surprised by the Left's Racist Hit Job on Herman Cain.

    "Look at how quickly what is known as the mainstream media goes for the ugliest racial stereotypes they can to attack a black conservative. ... The racial stereotypes that these people are using to go after Herman Cain, what is the one thing that it tells us? It tells us who the real racists are, yeah, but it tells us that Herman Cain is somebody. Something's going on out there. Herman Cain obviously is making some people nervous for this kind of thing to happen.

    [. . .] We cannot have a black Republican running for the office of president. We can't have one elected. We can't have an Hispanic. The left owns those two groups, and those two groups are gonna forever be minorities. Those groups cannot ever be seen to be self-sufficient or rising above, on their own. Those two groups are owned -- lock, stock, and barrel -- by the Democrat Party and anything good that happens to any black or Hispanic in American politics can only happen via the Democrat Party. "If it happens elsewhere, we're gonna destroy those people -- a la Clarence Thomas."

    The poisonous Ann Coulter says it is "liberals" doing this. She told - who else - Fox News,

    “It’s outrageous the way liberals treat a black conservative,” she told Geraldo. “This is another high-tech lynching. … Nothing liberals fear more than a black conservative."

    Liberals?

    Please, one thing that Democrats want more than anything is for Cain to be the candidate. And calling Politico a liberal, mainstream media outlet? It's not for nothing that bloggers call it "Drudgico."

    How To React?

    This sort of thing happens in campaigns -- and it should. Like I said, it's just a news report about an accusation and settlement from a long time ago. It gives us a chance to learn about Cain. It gives Cain a chance to show us how he handles things. It isn't a smear, it's a news report about something that happened. We'll see how he does.

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

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