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April 30, 2012

Transportation & Infrastructure = IMMEDIATE Jobs = Deficit Reduction

President Obama spoke today at the AFL-CIO's Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in Washington, asking Republicans to stop blocking infrastructure and transportation projects. (See transcript here.) These projects would immediately create jobs, which would immediately start reducing the country's deficit -- which is probably why Republicans are blocking them.

There are millions of infrastructure jobs that absolutely need doing. There are millions of people out of work who really, really need jobs. On top of that the cost of financing is the lowest ever. So maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure would immediately put millions of people to work. But wait, there's more! Modernizing our infrastructure would make our economy more efficient and our businesses more competitive, bringing returns for decades. So, of course, with all these points going for it Republicans are blocking it.

The Obstruction

We have been deferring infrastructure maintenance since the Reagan years, but in recent years Republicans have doubled down on blocking public investment, calling it "just more government spending" and even "socialism." And, they complain, construction projects help union members.

So Republicans have blocked bill after bill to repair and modernize the infrastructure, or to maintain and modernize out aging transportation system, build high-speed rail, etc. The President discussed this obstruction in his speech today,

...over the last year, I’ve sent Congress a whole series of jobs bills that would have put your members back to work. But time after time, Republicans have gotten together and said “no.” I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, bridges, schools and transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops, teachers, and firefighters, and creating a new tax cut for businesses. They said “no.” Then, I sent them just the part of that bill that would have created those construction jobs. They said “no.” And we’re seeing it again right now. As we speak, House Republicans are refusing to pass a bipartisan bill that could guarantee work for millions of construction workers. Seeing a pattern here? That makes no sense. Congress should do the right thing and pass this bill right away.

The Cost

Our aging infrastructure costs our economy. As things break down it gets harder to get things done. It is harder to start new businesses and our businesses are less competitive in the world. Shipments are delayed, etc.

There are other costs. Cars have to be repaired from driving on our substandard roads, people have to pay higher fuel costs as they try to get where they are going on clogged streets or taking detours around closed bridges, etc. People's time is wasted, which also costs. As we move toward third-world status property values decline, we lose tourism, etc.

From a report on the President's speech in The Hill, (differs from advance transcript.)

"There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour and half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don't work," Obama said in a speech to the Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in Washington. "Time after time, the Republicans have gotten together and they've said no," he said.

The Missed Opportunity

This infrastructure work has to get done at some point, and gets more expensive the longer we put it off. It not only gets more and more expensive to do this work the longer it is put off, but we are falling far behind our economic competitors as we fail to modernize.

But here’s the thing—as a share of the economy, Europe invests more than twice what we do in infrastructure; China about four times as much. Are we going to sit back and let other countries build the newest airports and the fastest railroads and the most modern schools, at a time when we’ve got private construction companies all over the world—or all over the country—and millions of workers who are ready and willing to do that work right here in the United States of America?

Jobs Fix Defitics

Jobs fix deficits. People are paying income taxes instead of collecting unemployment benefits or food stamps, they are spending their paychecks and the stores are paying taxes, etc. So government revenues are up and payouts are down.

This is why the deficit is jobs, but there is a deficit of jobs.

If you want to fix the deficit problem you have get people working again. And since we have to maintain and modernize the aging infrastructure anyway, then let's get people working on ... maintaining and modernizing the aging infrastructure!

Take Back The American Dream Conference

This and other issues will be talked about and worked on at the Take Back The American Dream Conference, June 18-20 in Washington DC.

This is where you need to be to forge the relationships and develop the strategies to change the direction of the country. At this conference, we'll be tackling some of the most pressing questions we face today:
  • How do we compel candidates to embrace a jobs agenda big enough to end our economic crisis?
  • How can we stop unlimited corporate campaign cash from buying this election?
  • How many progressive champions can we help win in congressional, state and local races?
  • How will we take back our democracy—to Take Back the American Dream?
Be part of the American Dream movement. Join Campaign for America’s Future, Rebuild the Dream, Progressive Majority and many other groups—and thousands of progressive activists—at the Take Back the American Dream conference.


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 3:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Unsubscribe

I'm spending the morning unsubscribing from the dozens and dozens of campaigns, committees, etc. that have put me on their email lists and are saturating me with appeals for funds.

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

April 28, 2012

ALWAYS With The Anti-Govt Propaganda

Headline at Drudge: REPORT: GOV'T 'BIGGEST DRAG' ON ECONOMY following RW line that government harms the economy.

The story, though, is about how government isn't spending enough, putting a damper on GDP growth.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 26, 2012

Why Does It Seem Everything Republicans Say And Do Is A Trick Or Lie?

In today's Progressive Breakfast: Republicans say student-loan interest rates are high because of "Obamacare." House Republicans are trying to block the Violence Against Women act, using a ruse. They oppose the Dream Act and offer a false compromise to make it look like they support the concept. And that's just from today's news.

Why is there so much deception, propaganda, misdirection, distraction and general subterfuge coming from Republicans? Maybe its because they understand what We, the People would do if we understood their real agenda.

Some Of The Most Repeated Deceptions

Here are a few of the most-repeated deceptions that corporate conservatives and Republicans indoctrinate,m saturate and bombard us with:

Tax cuts increase revenue? This one has been around for a long time, and is completely false. Republican tax cuts have always caused deficits. This is the point, the plan, to force the government into debt and then claim we need to cut the things democracy does for citizens. This is why Bush said that it was "incredibly positive news" when his first budget took the country from a huge surplus to a huge deficit. (Yes, that is in quotation marks because it is a quote)

Obama tripled the deficit? (Bush's last budget had a whopping $1.4 trillion deficit - Republicans -- Fox, etc. -- tell people this was Obama's.) (Please click through.)

Obama made the recession worse? Mitt Romney has been repeating this one. These Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law show clearly how Obama's policies stopped the downward spiral where we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month and and brought us back to (not nearly enough) job-creation.

A Long, Long List

How long would this list be? How many lies and deceptions can you think of, even just off the top of your head? Actually you'd go crazy trying to gather examples of all the deceptive propaganda we are subjected to on a daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute basis.

They are very good at it. They can afford to pay professionals to come up with stuff that really twists people's thinking. They can afford the best pollsters and focus groups to help come up with the best-sounding phrases that resonate with people's core understandings of things. And they can afford the constant repetition that actually forms people's core understanding of things to begin with.

What's a few hundred million spent on creating and disseminating deceptive propaganda, when you get back billions upon billions through tax breaks, wage cuts, offshoring jobs, gutting pension funds, privatizing public assets, killing efforts to get us off of oil and coal, and the rest of the plutocrat 1% agenda?

Why The Lies?

Why are they using deception, distraction, misdirection instead of honest, open, transparent, fact-based ? Why are we constantly bombarded with this nonsense? There is a simple answer: Republican policies are designed to help the 1% at the expense of the 99%. It takes a lot of effort to talk a blue-collar worker into accepting wage cuts and giving up a pension so the 1%'ers can buy a yacht and a private jet.

Please click through the links in this post.

PS: you can sign up to get Progressive Breakfast every morning 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 9:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 24, 2012

1% Vs 99% Battle Comes To GE Detroit Shareholder Meeting Tomorrow

I'm in Michigan to cover the GE shareholder meeting tomorrow. I grew up in Michigan and have to say that Mitt Romney was exactly right that the trees here really are the right size. The look of the houses, the layout of the roads, the birds, everything feels right. Of course, my wife grew up in England, and she says that the trees in England are the right size. (She also says the beer there is better -- and she's right.)

I grew up in Michigan. My family was in Michigan because my grandfather worked in what is now called "Carriage Town" in Flint in the days of Dort and Durant and Nash and the rest of the early auto company industrialists. (No he didn't get stock.) He fought in the first world war, and considered himself an American. Later he was an executive at different companies, living outside of Detroit. In WWII he and a number of other auto company executives went to work in Washington for $1 a year, because they felt it was their patriotic duty. Later, when Eisenhower was President he went to work in the government, and considered it public service.

My grandfather was a proud Republican, and even spoke at Rotary Club events. He worked under and was a friend of Mitt's dad George, another auto executive. I found a speech online where he said he felt that big corporations should be taxed more to incentivize formation and competition of smaller, innovative companies and said they they create more jobs. I know he agreed that we need a high top tax rate (it was over 90% when he was in the Eisenhower administration), that the revenue should be used to invest in infrastructure because it is the soil in which businesses grow and prosper. He believed in his country and in investing in this country and in the importance of making things in America.

"Bean-Counters" Take Over, Sacrifice Long-Term

Later on the auto companies went in a different direction. Bob Lutz, former vice-Chair of GM is a "car guy" and a conservative. In his recent book Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business Lutz wrote about how the MBA and finance types took over management from the "gar guys" and didn't care about design, product quality, customer satisfaction -- only about money, and really only short-term money even if it meant sacrificing the company in the long term.

The "bean counters" took over more than just the car companies, they took over company after company, industry after industry. And they sacrificed more than just their companies to short-term profits. When they closed factories, as documented in Michael Moore's Roger & Me, the community of Flint, Michigan was devastated when GM closed car factories there. This was back 1989 and presaged the tsunami that was coming. As I wrote about in 2010, the movement of more and more manufacturing out of the country wiped out the midwest and other regions, and the resulting loss of jobs and wages combined with the huge trade deficit helped lead to the financial crisis and current "jobless recovery."

On My Way To Detroit

I stayed in Flint last night and am writing this from a coffee ship in downtown Pontiac on the way to Detroit. I mentioned "carriage town" in Flint - the little area which incubated much of our automotive industry and with it the Midwest's manufacturing prosperity. Today the area is neglected. The original buildings at least have historical markers, but the area is relatively deserted, several houses in the area are boarded up, with vacant lots where the city has cleared derelicts. The roads are not in good shape, there are many empty storefronts, roadside businesses, offices and manufacturing facilities. The city has lost and is losing population, and has been taken over by Michigan's anti-democracy "emergency manager" law. ("If you people won't sell off your assets to private interests, cut public employee pay and pensions, cut back on the things democracy does for citizens, etc., and other "reforms" that enrich the 1%, then we'll just take over and make it happen and you don't get a say.)

Downtown Pontiac is one more of so many examples of the devastation of our country's communities by the short-term-profit, long-term-collapse mentality of America's ruling elites. We drove by closed factories, boarded-up stores and houses, and sit in a little coffee shop - one of the few remaining businesses in the "downtown."

GE Shareholder Meeting Tomorrow -- 1% vs 99%

The 1% vs 99% clash comes to Detroit tomorrow. The GE shareholder meeting takes place in that city tomorrow, and while it is going on inside, outside people will be making their voices heard with nonviolent protests. GE brings to light the the battle between short-term-gain-for-a-few vs long-term health of the communities and economy of the rest of us.

GE has made billions in profits, but paid zero federal income taxes from 2008 to 2010. Over the last ten years, GE’s effective tax rate has been 2.3%. In 2010 alone, the top five GE executives received $75.9 million. Just five people. Over the last three years, GE's executives collected $234 million.

Since 2008, GE has spent more on DC lobbyists than it paid in taxes. GE spent $84.35 million on lobbyists from 2008-2010.

The cause of our terrible economic inequality is clear: the 1% have too much power, and use that power to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us -- the 99%. Since 2008, at least thirty big American corporations reported big profits and paid their CEOs excessively while laying off workers and spending more on Washington lobbyists than they paid in taxes. In fact, 100 of the Fortune 500’s most profitable companies received average tax refunds of 2%.

Tomorrow in Detroit, people are taking it straight to the top of GE.

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 11:21 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 21, 2012

My Own Big Climate Concern Is Crop Failure

Obviously we are experiencing big changes in the climate. And obviously the oil companies have a lock on the government, so nothing is going to be done about it.

Here is my concern: when will we see the first big crop failure? I mean really big, like big enough that there is not enough food, even in the "1st world," and a resulting panic, huge price increases, possible war...

My wife and I have a vegetable garden (and a garden blog.) We can really, really see the changes that are happening. Tomatoes in December? Broccoli growing at all the wrong times? Things that always do great not growing?

Every gardener is noticing that things are changing.

So I fear that a big crop failure or similar disaster is coming, before people actually start doing something about the CO2 emissions -- and of course it's pretty close to too late already.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:44 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Housing Bubble Returning In SF Bay Area

Uh-Oh. High-end SF-Bay-area housing is back up to bubble levels.

The Bay Area's recovery from the housing crash is proceeding ZIP code by ZIP code, with only a few upscale communities nearing the values they saw before the bubble popped five years ago.

...According to an analysis by this newspaper of home values by ZIP code, with higher priced homes, such as the core of Silicon Valley and parts of San Francisco, have recovered much of the home equity lost in the crash.

And take a look at this recent not-high-end listing: 2br, 1ba, $795K

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

European Austerity – What's Actually Happening?

Are we "going the way of Greece?" Should we cut spending to head off a "debt crisis" here?

Conservatives in Europe and America say cutting back on what democracies do for their citizens is the solution to our economic troubles because it will bring economic growth that helps everyone. But this is not what's happening where it is tried. These are not stupid people. Maybe economic growth wasn't the goal of austerity.

What They Said Would Happen

Greece and others have been confronted by lenders demanding very high rates before they will make loans. This increases their debt payments to even more dangerous levels, so lenders demand even higher rates. Financial elites are forcing "austerity," with Greece cutting government employees, pensions, etc. and privatizing public assets, saying this will free up more money for debt payments. Meanwhile European leaders say that austerity is needed everywhere, that cutting government spending will restore "confidence" which will get businesses investing and hiring again, which will boost economic growth.

Economists and anyone with a brain warned that the austerity approach would only make things worse. Now that many European countries have implemented austerity measures the actual results these efforts can be measured.

What Actually Happened

What the financial elites predicted is not what is happening, the cuts are making the economic situation much worse. Taking money out of the economy didn't grow the economy! Instead of increased “business confidence” bringing about a round of investment and hiring, these countries are instead experiencing further economic slowdown. As public employees are laid off and citizens’ benefits reduced the resulting reduction in demand slows economic growth further. This reduces tax revenues. Unemployment is soaring. And the threat is that deflation will only further inflate the debt burden.

In The cruel stupidity that is economic austerity at Daily Kos this weekend, Lawrence Lewis outlined just how bad things are as a result of austerity policies,

How bad is it? The economies of Europe are imploding, as conservative governments continue to pursue exactly the wrong policies at exactly the wrong time. ...

But this is not really a surprise. It is exactly what was predicted. And now that it is clear that austerity is making things worse they are demanding more austerity as a cure.

Financial Elites Are Not Stupid

So here is the thing. Everyone can see that this is the result—the expected result—of austerity policies. And Europe's financial elites are not stupid people—not by a long shot! Perhaps they can see the obvious, because it’s obvious, and therefore we might conclude that their campaign pushing austerity isn’t about growing the economy – it’s about something else -- they have a different agenda.

When smart people are forcing something to happen we need to look at what is happening, and realize perhaps this is what they wanted to happen. Maybe economic growth wasn't austerity's goal at all. Maybe the results we see— the results we all knew would come from austerity—are the results they wanted.

What Else Happened?

The above-listed effect of austerity are not the only results. Forced privatization is also occurring. Here are a few examples from recent news:

European railway companies eye Greek network sale,

Three European railway companies are interested in buying all or part of Greece's railway business, as the debt-laden country sells assets to satisfy its lenders, people familiar with the discussions told Reuters.

Greece: 14 firms formally express interest in privatization of DEPA state gas company,

Greece says 14 companies, including a subsidiary of Russian gas company Gazprom, have formally expressed initial interest in buying Greek state gas firm DEPA under the debt-crippled country’s mammoth privatization program.

Greece seeks Israeli buyers for ports, companies, roads,

As part of austerity measures, Greek government looking to sell stakes in major companies, development projects; head of privatization agency says Israeli investors already expressed interest...

In Greek Debt Crisis, Government Puts its Policemen Up For Rent,

With the economic crisis plaguing the country, drastic means have been taken to replenish the public coffers. It is in this context that the Greek government has adopted a measure allowing the use, for a fee, of the National Police and its equipment for private needs.

While the Ministry of Citizen Protection (in charge of the country's security services) said the move will help to "pay for the cost of using police material and infrastructure, and allow modernizing them,” the average citizen’s security is being seriously compromised and it raises the question of how far Greece is ready to go to cut state funding.

Greece Opens Bidding For Rhodes Property,

ATHENS -- Greece invited bids for property in the popular tourist destination of Afantou in Rhodes Tuesday, as part of a long-awaited privatization program to raise EUR19 billion by 2015 in aid of its huge debt crisis. This is the fourth international real estate tender launched by the Greek government-established Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF).

Strong Investor Interest In Planned Sale Of Former Athens Airport Area

The country's privatization agency said Tuesday there was strong investor interest in the planned sale of the former Athens airport area, marking the latest step in the country's efforts to raise some EUR19 billion from the sale of state assets by 2015.

Privatization is happening. Greece is being forced to sell off public assets as a condition of getting help with its debt.

Question: If these assets are contributing to Greece's debt problem, why would investors want to buy them? If these assets are bringing revenue that could help cover the debt, why would the financial elites want Greece to sell them? Unless forcing Greece to sell them was the point.

Shock Doctrine

Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine makes the case that financial elites have been following a strategy where they take advantage of crises and the resulting panic (and sometimes they make the crisis happen and whip up panic.) Crisis and panic set up chaotic environments in which it is easy to swoop in with pre-packaged "solutions" and take all the stuff. We see this shock-doctrine cycle over and over again: crisis, panic, panic accelerates, financial elites swoop in and take all the stuff. (America had its own experience recently of a crisis that generated terrible panic, with financial elites then swooping in and taking all the stuff. )

Debt often leads to such a a crisis. The book Confessions of Economic Hit Man exposed the strategy of convincing the leadership of underdeveloped countries to take on high debt. Then when it becomes difficult to carry the debt, financial elites swoop in and take all the stuff.

America's Debt

In the United States our own financial elite are demanding "spending cuts" and other austerity measures as well -- even though we can see in front of our faces what resulted from European austerity policies. Conservatives try to whip up panic, claiming our national debt will force the country into bankruptcy (and tried to prove it by nearly forcing the country into bankruptcy last year.) After forcing tax cuts for the rich, again and again, they now say we have to "cut spending" (but not spending on oil company subsidies or military -- estimated upwards of $1 trillion this year.) They demand austerity -- cuts in spending on things democracy does for its citizens.

But remember, at the end of the Clinton presidency the United States was paying off its debt. Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan greenlighted the Bush tax cuts, saying that Clinton was paying down the country's debt too fast! When the surplus vanished President George 'W' Bush said that a return to deficits was "incredibly positive news" because it would lead to a debt crisis that would force cutbacks in government.

The cycle repeats, supposed crisis, panic is whipped up, elites offer their "solution", then swoop in and take all the stuff. Will we fall for it again?

See Also

In The Zombie Rises: The Return of Simpson Bowles CAF's Bob Borosage writes,

After experiencing the horrors of this misguided policy, European leaders will eventually turn back to trying to get their economies moving again. What we need this fall is a different grand bargain—a global agreement, like that that was forged in early 2009, for coordinated action by governments to reflate the economy —to borrow and spend to put people back to work.

For this to occur, the bipartisan elite fixation about inflicting austerity now must be challenged. If we are to avoid a lost decade or worse, we need action to support still weak and staggering economies. Global coordination would be the best way to achieve that. That requires putting a stake in Simpson-Bowles, the Boehner-Obama grand bargain and other zombies.

In America will not go the way of Europe at the Washington Post, Ezra Klein says Greece's problem is that lenders believe the government might actually default, which the US can't do.

In Ezra Klein: Barking Up The Wrong Tree Borosage responds that Greece's austerity is the problem—such cuts make economies worse. Jobs are the answer to deficits.


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 7:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 19, 2012

99% Spring Shareholder Meeting Protests Begin

The 99% Spring movement is starting to make itself heard at corporate shareholder meetings around the country. And next week it really gets started and will be big. (I'll be reporting from the GE shareholder meeting next week in Detroit.)

Did you know that shareholder protests shut down the annual shareholders meeting of energy-company EQT Corp. yesterday?

How about at the recent Carnival Cruise Lines annual meeting? HuffPo: Carnival Reportedly Shuts Down Shareholders Meeting Webcast After Protestors Ask About Taxes

How about at the BNY Mellon shareholder meeting?

This was a taste, but next week it really gets started.

Visit 99% Power and The 99 Uniting

What Is The 99% Spring?

From The 99% Spring website:

Our country is at a crossroads. We have a choice to make. Greater wealth for a few or opportunity for many. Tax breaks for the richest or a fair shot for the rest of us. A government that can be bought by the highest bidder, or a democracy that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people.

The choice is in our hands. This spring we will act on that choice.

In the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers and inspired by today’s brave heroes in Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin, we will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action.

From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country. We will organize trainings to:

  • Tell the story of our economy: how we got here, who’s responsible, what a different future could look like, and what we can do about it
  • Learn the history of non-violent direct action, and
  • Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.
This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.

From The 99 Power:

Starting this spring with corporate shareholder season, the 99% Power coalition—workers and retirees, families fighting foreclosure and the unemployed, students, immigrants and environmentalists—have united together to build an economy and a democracy that works for all us, not just for the 1%.

Thousands of people will be inside and outside more than three-dozen corporate shareholder meetings across the country, including Wells Fargo, GE, Verizon, Sallie Mae, Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Verizon and more. We will directly face and challenge the 1% board members and executives that have only served to expand inequality, threaten democracy, destroy our environment and have put their desire for profit in direct conflict with the survival of families and communities.

99% Power will mobilize well over 10,000 people, from all walks of life and representing the diversity of the 99%, to engage in nonviolent direct action. All told, there will be more demonstrations connected to corporate shareholder meetings than at any point in American history. Together we fight to build a political and economic system that offers equal opportunity for all.

Shareholder Meeting And Other Actions Coming

Here's a list (click through, in case it gets updated):

Gala of the 99%
Thursday April 19, 2012

Occupy Walmart
Thursday April 19, 2012

People's Moratorium - Singing Foreclosure Auction Blockade
Friday April 20, 2012

BP is Creepy Charivari
Friday April 20, 2012

BP Oil Spill Anniversary March
Friday April 20, 2012

Support Newport Post Office
Friday April 20, 2012

TELL SCOTT WALKER HE IS NOT WELCOME IN LAKE COUNTY
Friday April 20, 2012

Roll out the Red Carpet for Philly's 1%
Friday April 20, 2012

Informational Meeting
Friday April 20, 2012

We are here 99% rally
Saturday April 21, 2012

stop walmart petition
Saturday April 21, 2012

Dump ALEC: Legistlative Public Forum
Saturday April 21, 2012

The 99% Declaration Petition to Redress Grievances
Saturday April 21, 2012

Occupy the Trees
Saturday April 21, 2012

Earth Day Exposing ALEC
Saturday April 21, 2012

OCCUPY WALL STREET WEEKLY ORIENTATION
Saturday April 21, 2012

Occupy Earth Day (part 1) Melt-In at Grand Central
Saturday April 21, 2012

Community Audit
Saturday April 21, 2012

iMatter March - Mobilize the Earth!
Sunday April 22, 2012

Occupy Earth Day
Sunday April 22, 2012

Koch Brothers Exposed Movie Matinee
Sunday April 22, 2012

Rally to Save Stadium Woods
Sunday April 22, 2012

99% Spring Direct Action Training
Sunday April 22, 2012

99% Spring Direct Action Training Sunday
Sunday April 22, 2012

Cultural Healing Walk and Earth Day Rally
Sunday April 22, 2012

test action
Monday April 23, 2012

Occupy Wells Fargo
Monday April 23, 2012

Stop the Cuts!
Tuesday April 24, 2012

The 99% Take Over the Wells Fargo Shareholder Meeting
Tuesday April 24, 2012

Occupy CEHKC (Committee to End Homelessness in King County)
Tuesday April 24, 2012

Wells Fargo People Over Profits Protest
Tuesday April 24, 2012

Grand Circus Park Staging Location for GE Shareholder Meeting
Wednesday April 25, 2012

GE Shareholder Meeting
Wednesday April 25, 2012

PROTEST GE TAX DODGING
Wednesday April 25, 2012

Debtopia - a carnival of student debt
Wednesday April 25, 2012

Healthcare not Corporate Welfare
Wednesday April 25, 2012

1T Day
Wednesday April 25, 2012

1T Day
Wednesday April 25, 2012

Direct Action Training
Wednesday April 25, 2012

End Walmart's Takeover of the DC Government
Thursday April 26, 2012

What
Thursday April 26, 2012

Get On The Bus for Amnesty International!
Friday April 27, 2012

Get On the Bus - DC
Friday April 27, 2012

Get On the Bus - DC
Friday April 27, 2012

Support Your Local Post Office
Friday April 27, 2012

Unite Against The War On Women March and Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

AZ Unite Against the War on Women Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Women CT Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

UNITEwomen.org
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Woman
Saturday April 28, 2012

Santa Fe Riverdance
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

99% Spring 3 Hour Training
Saturday April 28, 2012

Eviction Protection Organizers Training
Saturday April 28, 2012

Move Your Money
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Women's Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women March
Saturday April 28, 2012

Rally For Women's Rights. Make Them Fear Our Numbers!
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women March and Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

Community Rally for SeaTac Airport Workers
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Women - MS Rally at the Capitol
Saturday April 28, 2012

Detroit/Windsor Workers Memorial Day
Saturday April 28, 2012

Unite Against the War on Women - AL Rally
Saturday April 28, 2012

UNITEwomen.org
Saturday April 28, 2012

TEXANS UNITE AGAINST THE WAR ON WOMEN RALLY‏
Saturday April 28, 2012

Sharing Day Family Picnic and Potluck
Sunday April 29, 2012

May Day General Strike and Block Party
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May Day General Strike
Tuesday May 01, 2012

Occupy Vallejo May Day
Tuesday May 01, 2012

OCCUPY LAGRANGE
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May Day
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May Day Long Beach March & Rally
Tuesday May 01, 2012

Put People and the Planet First: March and Rally
Tuesday May 01, 2012

Mayday! M'aidez! May Day!
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May Day Rally; Join the Nationwide Call to Strike
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May Day // Primero de Mayo
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May 1st Workers Solidarity Festival and March
Tuesday May 01, 2012

Let's Keep Massachusetts Public Schools On the Right Track!
Tuesday May 01, 2012

May Day at Chase Bank
Tuesday May 01, 2012

Tesoro Sharholder Meeting--Drawing the Line for a Fair Deal @TSO
Thursday May 03, 2012

VeriGreedy (Verizon) Shareholders Meeting
Thursday May 03, 2012

Reynolds American Shareholders
Thursday May 03, 2012

Joining Hands in Hope
Thursday May 03, 2012

Fair Elections: Town Hall Meeting
Thursday May 03, 2012

Fair Elections Public meeting
Thursday May 03, 2012

Clean up a lot with trees where there was an arson and give love
Friday May 04, 2012

Clean up a lot with trees where there was an arson and give love
Friday May 04, 2012

Genetic altered food labeling
Saturday May 05, 2012

Connect the Dots to Renewable Energy and Transition
Saturday May 05, 2012

Join the Human Wave - 350.org day of action on climate change
Saturday May 05, 2012

CONNECTING THE DOTS - DOWNTOWN MIAMI AND SEA LEVEL RISE
Saturday May 05, 2012


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 3:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Absolute Corruption

Here is a story of the absolute corruption that was going on under Bush - and the Obama admin has done little to stop. Self-Dealing and the War Service Industry, Part III: The Payoff

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:14 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Romney The Liar

Romney the Liar

Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:25 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

MUST-WATCH! Reich Connects The Dots

From Robert Reich's Blog:

1. For three decades the American economy has been growing, but almost all the gains from that growth have been going to the very top.

2. All the income and wealth at the top has translated into political power.

3. This political power has been used to reduce taxes on the top and get corporate welfare for big businesses.

4. Because so much income and wealth have gone to the top the vast middle class no longer has the purchasing power to keep the economy going.

5. Because most people’s wages have gone nowhere, and tax rates on top earners have dropped, tax revenues to fund government have plummeted.

6. Fewer jobs, lousy wages, and deteriorating public services put average working Americans in competition with other workers.

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

More Wall Street Corruption

Loks like good news, actually it is evidence of fraud: Splunk shares double in value on debut | Reuters

Data analytics software maker Splunk Inc's shares doubled in value on their market debut, as it tapped investor demand for enterprise-focused companies in an otherwise weak IPO market.

Technology companies such as Splunk, Demandware Inc and Guidewire Software Inc have been doing well at the markets, even as investors shun other deals.

So you build a company, and finally you take it public, You hire an investment bank to shepherd the deal for you. This involves setting the right price and lining up buyers. They talk to various funds and get advance orders for chunks of the stock.

Let's say you are selling 1 million shares, and the price at the IPO is set to $10. That means you raise $10 million. You pay the fees, etc, and the company has some capital to use.

So the day of the IPO the stock jumps to $20. Sounds GREAT, right? Well, actually, that means that the company could have raised $20 million, but only raised $10 million. SOMEONE got that other $10 million, though. And the investment bank you hired was supposed to set the price correctly...

Do you see where this is going? You can be 99% certain that the "someone" who took off with the missing $10 million has something to do with the investment bank that enabled the $10 million to be available this way.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 18, 2012

Current TV Gets Even Better

I'm watching Current TV on the Tivo a lot. I just love Cenk's show!

And now: Current TV to Hire Gavin Newsom, California's Lieutenant Governor - NYTimes.com.

If you are reading this outside of CA and don't know who Gavin is, you'll see...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Simpson-Bowles Zombie Returns

President Obama and many Democrats spent much of 2011 talking about deficits instead of doing something about jobs. Now, a too-close election is on the horizon (too-close because of spending 2011 talking about deficits instead of doing something about jobs) and we're being forced back to talking about deficits instead of jobs -- by a Democrat!

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad says he is going to introduce the "Simpson-Bowles" deficit plan as his fiscal year 2013 budget resolution. This is a plan put forward by Alan Simpson, a retired Republican Senator who hates Social Security, and Erskine Bowles, a member of the Board of Wall Street's Morgan Stanley. So here we are once again with the same old same old plan from the same old same old elites. Namely: cuts in Social Security and other things We, the People do for each other, combined with even more tax cuts for the rich. This austeridiocy plan to grow the economy by taking money out of the economy is a billionaire-backed zombie that never dies.

CNN: Bowles-Simpson back on table,

A key senator said Tuesday he would try to revive the so-called Bowles-Simpson plan as a starting point in negotiations over a long-term debt-reduction plan.

Democrat Kent Conrad, the Senate Budget Committee chairman, announced he would present the plan as his opening bid at the committee's budget mark-up on Wednesday.

Murdoc's (FOX) WSJ: Conrad’s Budget Surprise: Simpson-Bowles,

A key senator said Tuesday he would try to revive the so-called Bowles-Simpson plan as a starting point in negotiations over a long-term debt-reduction plan.

... The original Bowles-Simpson plan would reduce deficits by at least $4 trillion over 10 years by cutting defense and discretionary spending, curbing federal entitlement costs and reforming the tax code.

"Reforming" the tax code as used here means lowering tax rates for the rich and corporations, getting rid of a number of deductions to make it look like it isn't such a big tax cut and then later putting back lots of new deductions and breaks for the rich and corporations.

Now Mr. Conrad could try to force the first Senate vote on the measure, though it would likely first come from the members on his committee. Mr. Conrad was on the Simpson-Bowles commission and voted for the plan in 2010. He’s also on the so-called Gang of Six lawmakers looking for a legislative path to put the proposal into law. The plan was originally designed by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles.

Push It Through After Election?

Citizens don't get to vote on austerity plans.

This time they's going to try to get this austerity plan through when few are paying attention: after the election but before the newly elected Congress comes in. This way democracy won't get in the way, and the public doesn't get a chance to react and hold legislators accountable. This might sound rather like the Greek austerity plan to cut working people's wages, cut the things the Greek government does for its people, lay off public employees, and especially yo sell off the things the public owns and operates so a wealthy few can profit.

When the Greek Prime Minister proposed letting the public vote on this austerity plan he was removed, and bankers took control of the country, this is how it went:

Nov. 1, 2011: Greek PM puts bailout deal to public vote

Nov. 2: Greece sticks to bailout vote, as U.S., Europe weigh options

Nov 3: Greek prime minister abandons referendum on Greek debt plan

Nov. 9: Greek prime minister set to resign

Nov. 10: Ex-banker Papademos is new Greek prime minister

Ezra Klein talked with Conrad about his budget plan, and reports on the conversation in the Washington Post, Can Simpson-Bowles really pass the Senate?,

I’ve heard from some of my Republican colleagues who ... said you’re doing exactly what needs to be done but we’re not going to be able to do something like this until after the election. And I think that’s true for many Democrats as well. ... Simpson-Bowles put the vote of the commission after the 2010 election to try and insulate it from politics as much as possible. That’s what we’re trying to do here ... I don’t expect a vote after the election.

... We should be swift to say to people, however, that compared to current law, it’s a $1.8 trillion tax cut.

Grand Bargain - Till They Go Back On The Deal

Aside from the whole subvert-democracy thing where they decide this after the election so no one can be held accountable, the record for "deals" is not good. The "debt-ceiling" hostage deal finally ended with Republicans agreeing to "sequestration" that includes military spending cuts. But it hasn't worked out that way:

TPM: Bait And Switch: GOP Leaders Renege On Debt Limit Deal Defense Cuts

Oh, and if you really do want to do something about the deficit, think about this: Jobs Fix Deficits!

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 4:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Will AT&T Do A Komen And Ruin Its Brand By Hurting Workers?

AT&T looks to be shooting for a double-bad award right now. They're backing the hyper-partisan ALEC, and they're trying to get their workers to take cuts while they shower cash on a few at the top. More and more, people are reacting to these kinds of attacks on We, the People -- look at what happened to the Komen Foundation! So will AT&T do the right thing or will they risk destroying their brand like the Komen Foundation did to theirs?

For decades big corporations have been getting away with all kinds of anti-public, anti-worker stuff -- blasting us with propaganda, pushing a right-wing agenda, paying little-or-no taxes, cutting regulations, and passing all the gains to a few at the top (the 1%). But people (the 99%) have been waking up to this stuff, and are fighting back against this alliance of big corporations and the right wingers. And when people react, it can work.

In Corporations Supporting ALEC Are Risking Damage To Their Brands I wrote about the "brand-equity" damage that companies are risking when they associate with hyper-partisan, right-wing outfits like ALEC. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation got in bed with right-wingers and completely ruined their brand:

A few months ago, in a move to please the conservative right, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® foundation pulled funding from Planned Parenthood. How'd that work out for them? Komen’s "brand equity" dropped 21 percent, one of the most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever.

How far a drop was this? Komen was ranked among the top two. This year it ranked No. 56. That's a drop of 54 spots. The value of the Komen brand is ruined. The Komen executives behind the Planned Parenthood decision were forced out.

You don't want to hear the phrase "most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever" when you're in charge of a brand with recognition like AT&T has. And if even that doesn't worry you the phrase "executives behind the ... decision were forced out" might.

The Link

Last year I wrote about workers at Verizon, the wealth of the company, the demands that workers give up more of a middle-class existence, and their strike:

Verizon, with $108 billion in revenue and huge profits, is not paying taxes. Citizens for Tax Justice, in Verizon Pushes for $1 Billion in Concessions from Workers, While Receiving Nearly $1 Billion in Subsidies from Uncle Sam, explains, (emphasis added below because I got mad when I read it.)

Despite earning over $32.5 billion over the last 3 years, Verizon not only paid nothing in corporate income taxes, it actually received nearly $1 billion (the same amount as the concessions they are seeking) in tax benefits from the federal government during that time.

... In fact, if Verizon paid its corporate income tax at the official rate of 35 percent, it would have owed more than $11 billion (rather than negative $1 billion). This alone is enough to avoid the recent cuts in the debt deal to student loan programs.

CTJ also points out that, "...the top 5 executives at Verizon received more than a quarter of a billion dollars in compensation over the last 4 years."

There is a link between what the workers at ATT and Verizon are fighting, the right-wing, anti-union agenda that the big corporations are pushing, and what is happening to your own pay and benefits, and the fight to keep from being laid off or getting a job if you have been or get laid off. There is also a link to the fight over minimum wage, Social Security and Medicare cuts and other things that are a "safety net" that keep you from being pitted against other desperate people, fighting for just a scrap of a life instead of a secure place in the middle class.

There is a link between these things and the anti-government, anti-tax agenda that weakens the ability of We, the People to regulate and tax the corporations, and to use taxes to fight the aggregation of wealth and power to a few who then use that wealth and power to erode our democracy. Democracy is We, the People watching out for and taking care of each other, and part of that is keeping the power to tax and regulate and set limits on what the biggest can do. Democracy is one-person-one-vote not one-dollar-one-vote!

Democracy Requires Effort

Democracy takes work, and organization, and awareness, and information, and requires people to be eternally vigilant. Sounds corny, but look what happens when the public gets apathetic or we let ourselves be persuaded that "job creators" deserve special favors, etc... Look what happened to our country and economy since the Bush v Gore Supreme Court ruling that gave us tax cuts for the rich, deregulation and war. Look what has happened since the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that lets big corporations and billionaires spend unlimited amounts to influence our elections.

AT&T Strike Coming?

Right now the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and AT&T (AT&T) are negotiating contracts affecting a total of 40,000 workers. On March 31, union members voted to authorize CWA to call strikes if agreements on new contracts weren’t be reached. CWA workers are engaged in a "mobilization" preparing for the possibility of a strike to support their negotiators in "the fight to hold on to the American Dream." A strike is a big deal and a major sacrifice by the workers involved.

AT&T had more than $31 billion in profits in the last 2 years! Now, in negotiations with their workers they are trying to squeeze even higher profits, asking for givebacks in health care and other areas. CWA is asking them to "take the high road" in negotiations, and not work to help kill off the middle class:

As we approach the end of several AT&T contracts, CWA members have a choice: help make sure AT&T stays on the high road, providing good, middle-class jobs -- the path to the American Dream -- or risk that they join competitors on the low road with layoffs, cost shifts and outsourcing.

AT&T thinks it can just hit the union, squeeze the workers, get some more bucks for those at the top. But we're in a different environment now, and plenty of people are coming to understand that things like this are not just between a company and its own workers - people are starting to see the connections between a company doing this to their workers and their own job situation! They are starting to understand the way things get harder and the pay and benefits get more scarce for others means the same will happen to them.

Mobilization

CWA's newsletter: Mobilization In High Gear At AT&T,

As AT&T contract negotiations go into overtime, so has mobilization by CWA members.

CWA members have a lot of creative mobilization actions underway to support their bargaining teams and to stand up for the American Dream of good jobs and good benefits.

More Than Just AT&T's Workers

Even if you do not work at AT&T this is about you, too. If AT&T can beat down their own workers, other companies will have it easier beating down their workers. If workers can be beaten down like this, then minimum wage cuts and cuts in Social Security and Medicare and the rest of what We, the People do for each other can't be far behind.

BUT we can fight back. What happened to the omen Foundation shows that we can have an effect. The companies leaving ALEC behind now show that we can have an effect. Support CWA's workers. Support the organizations fighting ALEC. Let companies like AT&T know that you are aware of their game now, you are ready to stand up for other people in this fight to keep the middle class, and the paths to the middle class for poor people, and the democracy that enabled that middle class.

Actions

ColorOfChange.org: ColorOfChange.org calls on AT&T to stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),

ColorOfChange.org members began making phone calls to AT&T headquarters to demand that the company stop funding the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) because of the group's role in the spread of discriminatory voter ID laws, and "stand your ground" laws like the one that has prevented justice for Trayvon Martin in Florida. News broke last week that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, and Intuit have ended their relationship with ALEC. Today ColorOfChange.org called on AT&T to follow suit.

"After hearing from us about ALEC's involvement in voter suppression, major corporations like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Kraft have done the right thing and decided to stop funding the group," said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org. "But despite numerous letters, emails and telephone calls from ColorOfChange, AT&T seems unconcerned their dollars are helping to suppress the black vote, support shoot first laws and undermine our democracy. It’s time that AT&T hears the voices of people all across the country who expect better."


Nation Action:Tell AT&T to Stop Funding ALEC

The Nation is asking readers to join the CMD's call and implore one of the ALEC corporations with which many Nation readers may do business, AT&T, to refrain from giving the organization any more money. Email senior executives in charge of "Corporate Citizenship" Channing Barringer (cbarringer@att.com) and Mark Siegel (mark.a.siegel@att.com) and call the executive charged with legislative and regulatory issues Walt Sharp (210-821-4105) and politely tell them that it's not helpful to their business to fund a group that has worked to suppress voter turnout, privatize public schools, Medicare and Social Security, hand out tax breaks for new tobacco products, promote concealed gun laws, harass immigrants and gut minimum wage laws. After making your voice heard, share this info with friends, family, Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

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 4:17 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Climate: Connect The Dots:

Go see the Climate/Weather Infographic | Connect the Dots

Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

GOP Ads Will Be Trying To Keep You From Voting

High turnout always favors Democrats. This year the Republican/corporate effort is to keep people from voting. In the states there's the who voter suppression thing - voter ID laws, shutting down the places where you can get the right ID, laws blocking registration drives, laws killing multi-day voting, etc.

But there is going to be a different kind of anti-voting effort, too. The ads are going to be designed to turn people off, make them hate the idea of having anything to do with this election. You are going to see the TV and other information channels saturated with so many lies and smears and so much nastiness and intimidation and manipulation, all designed to make people want to do anything but vote.

The ads are not about persuading anyone to vote because there aren't enough people who don't already know how they will vote. The incredibly shrinking swing vote - The Washington Post

Of the 23 percent who called themselves undecided in the latest Pew poll, 9 percent lean toward Obama while 7 percent lean to Romney. That leaves just seven percent as purely without any opinion between Romney and Obama.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:08 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Did You Know An Oil Prince Owns Big Part Of FOX?

I'm sure you've seen the ongoing conservative campaign against any energy source that isn't oil. Headline at Drudge, links to Fox story: Wind Industry Has Lost 10,000 Jobs Under Obama,

A recent lengthy report by Reuters confirms what many conservatives have long known: President Obama's promise to create millions of so-called "green jobs" has been a colossal and expensive failure.

But did you know that the #2 owner of FOX is a Saudi oil prince?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 6:47 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

April 17, 2012

Corporations Supporting ALEC Are Risking Damage To Their Brands

Some companies are learning that supporting hyper-partisan groups can backfire when their customers find out about it. In recent weeks a number of companies are trying to distance themselves from the partisan, right-wing group ALEC before their brands become as damaged as Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council, is a shady, hyper-partisan, state-based lobbying group that was able to wield power by staying under the radar. Recently the Trayvon Martin shooting case exposed how ALEC helped push through a dangerous "shoot first" law in Florida. Now people are learning that ALEC is also getting state laws passed that limit the voting rights of minorities, limit the power of working people to negotiate for better wages and limit the power of citizens to fight for cleaner environment. So now the big corporations supporting ALEC risk being seen as fighting people's efforts to have a better life, and their brands are at risk.

(Please visit Alex Exposed for more information. See alsoAtlantic: Exposing ALEC: How Conservative-Backed State Laws Are All Connected)

Komen Foundation's Serious Brand Damage

A few months ago, in a move to please the conservative right, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® foundation pulled funding from Planned Parenthood. How'd that work out for them? Komen’s "brand equity" dropped 21 percent, one of the most dramatic plummets in brand-equity ever.

How far a drop was this? Komen was ranked among the top two. This year it ranked No. 56. That's a drop of 54 spots. The value of the Komen brand is ruined. The Komen executives behind the Planned Parenthood decision were forced out.

Harris Interactive: Scandal Rocks America's Support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, According to 23rd Annual Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study,

Based on findings reported in the 2012 Harris Poll® EquiTrend® study, Susan G. Komen's current brand equity score of 55.1 represents a 21% drop in brand equity over the prior year ─ a historic drop in the study's 23-year history, surpassed only by Fannie Mae in 2009.

From "Gold Standard" to "Trailing the Pack"

Since its inclusion in the EquiTrend survey in 2008, Susan G. Komen has consistently rated as either the first or second most equitable non-profit organization in its category. This year, SGK fell 54 spots to 56th place out of 79 non-profit brands surveyed.

If you are a corporate executive, numbers like that are terrifying. This is a completely ruined brand, and it only took a few weeks to get there after people heard about their association with the partisan right. This is what happens to a brand when it is caught associating with the likes of ALEC.

Corporations Leaving ALEC

Now that people are finding out what ALEC is doing, some of the big corporations that fund them are dropping out to protect their brands. In recent weeks Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Intuit, Mars, Kraft Foods, and PepsiCo made their escape. Their business depends on people having positive feelings about their brands, so they dare not risk a Komen-style brand crash.

The NY Times, in an editorial, Embarrassed by Bad Laws,

The council, known as ALEC, has since become better known, with news organizations alerting the public to the damage it has caused: voter ID laws that marginalize minorities and the elderly, antiunion bills that hurt the middle class and the dismantling of protective environmental regulations.

... In recent weeks, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Intuit, Mars, Kraft Foods, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have stopped supporting the group, responding to pressure from activists and consumers who have formed a grass-roots counterweight to corporate treasuries. That pressure is likely to continue as long as state lawmakers are more responsive to the needs of big donors than the public interest.

But there is a long list of companies that are still supporting this partisan, anti-citizen organization.

When Coca-Cola left ALEC, Richard (RJ) Eskow explained, in Good Guys Win One: With ALEC, Things Go Better Without Coke,

Score one for the good guys: After being pressured by Color of Change and other progressive groups, Coca-Cola has left ALEC - the cynical corporate coalition that has pushed a bevy of anti-democratic, anti-middle class, and anti-consumer initiatives.

Now that Coke's come around, next up is Walmart. Their response on the ALEC issue was equivocal and unacceptable. And the issue needs to be raised directly and firmly with the other companies that back the organization - a list that includes AT&T, Bayer, ExxonMobil, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Pfizer, and UPS.

[. . .]

No Defense

It's true that ALEC is like the United States Chamber of Commerce, in that many of its member companies don't realize what it really stands for. But the ones who have consciences (or understand the power of consumer anger) will eventually respond, just as they have for the Chamber. (Many leading corporations have left that organization as it moves to the extreme right.)

Richard concluded with the point I wanted to make here, so I'll let him say it:

Heads up, Walmart. Know who does a lot of shopping in your stores? People who have been victimized by ALEC policies: Poor people, minorities, and people who are working more and earning less. They're getting wise, they're getting angry - and they're getting involved.

Companies: you are risking ruining your brands by associating with partisan, right-wing groups like ALEC. Executives: needless ot say, you are risking your careers if you are funding ALEC or any other partisan, right-wing lobbying groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, even Heritage Foundation.

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 7:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 16, 2012

I Didn't Know!

In a conversation, I wrote, "Romney made his money by laying people off and keeping for himself what they were paid. It's an issue now because this kind of thing has been happening to a lot of Americans, who don't like being laid off so someone who is already really rich can pocket what they were making -- and not even pay taxes on the money."

Response I received:

"You are a confused left wingnut - totally oblivious to real life, capitalism and the need for producers to provide for all you socialist "takers"."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tenth

Atrios' 10th tomorrow: Eschaton: At Long Last My Personal Nightmare Is Almost Over

This blog's tenth is in July.


Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:58 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 14, 2012

Put Them In Jail

"Prison is what makes the difference. Otherwise, it’s only money." If you put executives in jail when they commit crimes, the rest of the executives will stop committing crimes!

How to Prevent Oil Spills,

But there is another reason corporate executives need to be prosecuted when corporate crimes take place. It sends a signal to every other executive about what is — and is not — acceptable behavior. The threat of prison can change a culture faster and more effectively than even the heftiest fine. If, after the Texas City explosion, one BP executive or more had been prosecuted, it seems to me quite likely that the Deepwater Horizon accident would never have happened. A prison sentence would have done the thing that all those fines never did: force the company to begin paying attention to safety.

Prison is what makes the difference. Otherwise, it’s only money.

OK, NOW, go read Richard Eskow's story of ANOTHER SEC "settlement" for felonies that \enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us: The Latest SEC/Goldman Sachs Sweetheart Deal Is the Worst One Yet

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:01 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

Must Prosecute!

Companies that get away with breaking rules gain advantage over ones that don't, forcing them out of business. All that remains is corruption, extraction. So jobs move to China, private equity breaks unions, etc.

For Capitalism to Survive, Crime Must Not Pay | Next New Deal

When unequal justice prevails, the party that does not need to follow the law has a distinct competitive advantage. A corporation that knowingly breaks the law will find ways to profit through illegal means that are not available to competitors. As a consequence, the competitive playing field is biased toward the company that does not need to follow the rules.

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

April 13, 2012

Who Saw Housing Bubble?

Calculated Risk, commenting on Fed Reserve Chair Bernanke giving a "no one could have predicted" the crash, where he said it "was difficult to anticipate..." CR writes,

I disagree that the crisis "was difficult to anticipate". I think the potential for the housing bust to lead to a financial crisis was fairly obvious (I first mentioned the possibility of a financial crisis as a result of the then coming housing bust in 2005).

Here is this blogger, in August, 2002: Multiplier Effects ,

From what I read, the economy is currently being propped up by what most people seem to agree is a "bubble" in housing prices. So far this housing bubble has allowed consumers to keep spending just enough to keep the economy afloat for now. But if refinancing houses rather than rising incomes is the source of funds to keep up the spending binge, won't this have a multiplier effect on any downturn? (Economy propped up by housing bubble, spending slows, economy slows, pops the housing price bubble, people stop spending, economy slows more, many lose houses, economic drop accelerates.)

Multiplier effects are worrying me lately. We have had a period where stock prices rather than the underlying strength of the companies became an underpinning of the economy. For example, the pension problem - pension funds invested in stocks, stocks rise, companies don't have to make contributions, AND their books look better because the pension funds are claimed as assets. As long as the market was going up everyone's books looked great but now underfunded pension plans will have to drain cash out of companies, lower that previously claimed asset, all lowering earnings, eventually causing the market to go even lower, accelerating any downturn. Same thing with insurance companies - reserves in the stock market, market drops, not enough reserves to cover obligations. As I said, many companies were propped up by their stock prices not their own strength. So when the market drops it multiplies the effect.

Note that I said I was already reading about it. I'm not claiming some kind of credit or anything of the sort, only that there were already enough people worried about that we were heading for a big fall that I was reading about it and looking into it. People were already worried, after the dot-com crash, seeing the Fed pumping up a different bubble.

Then I had many entries in 2003 and on, and it became a regular thing, and generated a lot of traffic because others were worried and reading about it, too. This was because I was reading about it at so many other sites. When I moved to the new web host I set up a Housing Bubble category.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

The National Manufacturing Strategy Debate

President Obama has been pushing policies to boost American manufacturing. Democrats in Congress are pushing a package of bills under the label "Make It In America." The Obama administration's Gene Sperling gave a big speech recently describing the vital importance of a healthy manufacturing sector to our economy. But others say promoting manufacturing is "the wrong target" and reviving manufacturing won't help revive our economy. So what's the story?

Gene Sperling, Director of the Obama administration's National Economic Council gave a big speech at the recent Conference on the Renaissance of American Manufacturing. Sperling talked about how a manufacturing "commons" works, and why it is a good thing if government promotes this commons.

A manufacturing commons is an ecosystem, in which manufacturers, suppliers, designers, innovators and all the other manufacturers, suppliers, designers and innovators all complement each other, creating a "cluster" effect. When all of these components are working together it creates a "virtuous cycle" but when they don't it creates a "vicious cycle." So because the sum of these parts is greater than the whole, each component's interests do not align with the interests of the whole -- and "our" (We, the People's) manufacturing capacity is degraded, which degrades our standard of living. So government (We, the People) must play a role in promoting the whole effort. From Spreling's speech:

The ecosystems that grow up around these intersections of innovation and production tend to be complex. They are the result of evolutions that occur over periods of years and decades. Once the virtuous, reinforcing cycles are broken they are difficult to recreate, and they can turn to a vicious cycle. That’s why losing pieces of our manufacturing base should be such a serious concern.

... For any single firm, the decision to move production elsewhere may make economic sense. But that decision impacts suppliers and the local talent pool. This makes the decision even easier for the next firm to leave and even harder for the next firm considering coming there to say yes.

Job Loss Not Just Competition And Productivity

Sperling traces the history of our manufacturing and shows that we didn't lose jobs when competing with Japan, and didn't lose jobs during periods of high productivity growth. He shows that what happened between 2000 and 2009 (the Bush years, and China in the WTO) with the loss of 50,000 factories and millions of manufacturing jobs was different, saying "the dramatic loss of manufacturing employment in the past decade was a break from the past and cannot be explained by the conventional view of productivity and technology gains."

Since 2000, the manufacturing sector lost nearly one-third of its workforce, a total of nearly 6 million jobs. Unlike the preceding decades, according to the Federal Reserve, manufacturing production, the measure of the physical amount of goods that we make, actually declined from 2000 to 2010 by five percent. This drop was not just a result of the recession. From 2000 to 2007, manufacturing production grew at only 1.3 percent per year, the worst peak-to-peak performance since World War II.

Sperling explains why this loss is so significant to our economy: manufacturing is special in that so many other jobs depend on manufacturing, extending "from the web of suppliers that support manufacturers to the communities where manufacturing plants often serve as an anchor employer."

For those of you here from towns across the U.S. that rely on a major manufacturer, or states like Michigan where I come from, you understand the impact of manufacturing. In addition to the web of suppliers, the expansion of an auto plant brings other types of businesses to town including new restaurants, retailers, and service providers feeding off of this economic activity. If an auto plant opens up, a Wal-Mart can be expected to follow. But the converse does not necessarily hold - that a Wal-Mart opening definitely does not bring an auto plant with it.

So it is clear that this is not just about the back-and-forth of companies competing, we have a national interest in bolstering the manufacturing sector.

Finally, Sperling described some of the administrations manufacturing initiatives. He did not come out and advocate for a coordinated national industrial strategy -- which every major competitor has and we don't have. But his speech did advocate "policy to support manufacturing." This is at least a start.

Criticisms And Agreements

Matthew Yglesias at Slate, in Forget the Factories writes that it is "foolish" and worries about the, "troubling possibility that these ideas will actually guide policy in a second term rather than simply serve as props in a re-election campaign." Yglesias writes that.

it should be obvious that the path forward for America is to focus on our strengths in information technology and media, and not compete with the Chinese for manufacturing supremacy.

Yglesias writes that manufacturing areas are "poor" while high-tech areas are "richer" and "more prosperous" and we should "learn from the most prosperous parts of the country, not to imitate Chinese clusters that are even poorer than America’s industrial hubs." Also, "creating new billion-dollar software startups has a lot more to do with the future of American prosperity."

Yglasias concludes that we should "instead build and expand new industries that push living standards up and keep factory owners searching abroad for cheap labor."

Ezra Klein, writing Is industrial policy back? at the Washington Post, writes that "cozy consensus against industrial policy is, at least when it comes to manufacturing, flawed." Describing what Sperling's argument, Kleinwrites,

There is, in other words, a building argument that the market is failing to appropriately price the benefits of manufacturing firms. They're worth more to the economy than they are to individual firms. And that's the key to this new argument: Sperling isn't saying America should support the manufacturing sector because it delivers good jobs, or it's been important to America's middle class, or even because China is competing unfairly. He's saying there's a market failure. And even the most orthodox economists will tell you that it's appropriate for the government to intervene to correct market failures.

Even so, he says the Obama administration isn't really doing all that much,

For all this, the Obama administration's strategy to promote high-tech manufacturing is modest: A couple of tax cuts, mostly. Some money for research into basic technologies and new techniques. And a sustained effort to talk up the industry's importance and thus signal to investors that America intends to fight for its manufacturing base. None of these are gamechangers.

At least the consensus against doing anything is changing.

Economist Mark Thoma writes in Is Manufacturing the Answer?, "At one time I would have been opposed to industrial policy, but I have been reevaluating my position lately (I can't say I've been convinced as of yet, but I want to stay open-minded on the question)." He links to EPI's Lawrence Mischel, who writes in Robert Lawrence misleads the New York Times on manufacturing, saying that,

... closing the trade deficit would provide millions of jobs and boost the economy. For instance, my colleague Robert Scott has shown that growing trade deficits with China eliminated 2.8 million U.S. jobs between 2001 and 2010 alone, including 1.9 million jobs displaced from manufacturing. Similarly, correcting the currency imbalances with China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia could add up to $285.7 billion (1.9 percent) to U.S. GDP, create up to 2.25 million jobs over the next 18 to 24 months (most in manufacturing), and reduce U.S. budget deficits by up to $71.4 billion per year.

... manufacturing employment will not return to 25 percent of employment. Nevertheless, we can gain a lot of manufacturing jobs by strengthening the recovery and through appropriate trade and currency policy. This would provide millions of good jobs, aid many communities, and be good for the nation.

At Financial Times, Edward Luce writes in America reassembles industrial policy that we do have an industrial policy, that favors oil and Wall Street,

Whether it is the schooner-rigging of tax incentives for Wall Street – and the federal tax system’s subsidies for debt over equity – or the panoply of write-offs for Big Oil, Washington never stopped promoting favoured sectors. Manufacturing was simply not among them.

Most are of long pedigree. Some might say it would be easier to pass through the eye of a needle than to separate the fossil fuel sector from its Washington subsidies, which date from the second world war. No presidential hopeful would dare to suggest scrapping Depression-era farm subsidies because they skew so heavily towards key states such as Iowa.

Luce points out that Facebook and Twitter might be glamorous, but making actual things is where innovation comes from,

Facebook and Twitter may bring disruptive social change. But the most valuable innovation still comes from making products such as semiconductors, batteries and robotics.

Just Look Around

I think a problem with economists (and a lot of big-city columnists and journalists) is that they somehow are unable to just look around them. All one has to do is drive around the midwest for a few days, Michigan, Ohio, etc. and you will see for yourself how important - and different - manufacturing is to the country, and what happens when factories close. It affects the entire community and those jobs are not replaced - and the ripple effect from the loss of a community's jobs base is terrible. All the other jobs that manufacturing supports go away, too, when manufacturing goes away.

I live in Silicon Valley. Facebook, Google and Twitter employ relatively few people relative to manufacturing. Apple sends its manufacturing to China, because in China working people don't have any say, so they can treat workers there worse than workers here in our democracy will allow. In fact Silicon Valley has high unemployment, in some areas here as much as 25% or more of the office and light industrial buildings are for lease, and our downtowns and commercial streets have plenty of empty stores. They're just newer, so they don't look as bad as the downtowns across the midwest. But it is as bad.

In February economist Christina Romer wrote in a NY Times op-ed, Do Manufacturers Need Special Treatment? that our government should not promote manufacturing. She wrote,

American consumers value health care and haircuts as much as washing machines and hair dryers. And our earnings from exporting architectural plans for a building in Shanghai are as real as those from exporting cars to Canada.

I responded, in Manufacturing On Planet Economus, and think it very much applies in response to this ongoing discussion:

Here is the difference: We can't just keep servicing each other. This "service economy" thing hasn't worked out so well here on Earth, and now we have a huge trade deficit. It is "better to produce real things" because that is what you sell to others to get the money to pay each other for haircuts (and scissors).

Manufacturing brings so much along with it that entire economies have been, are and will be supported. China isn't making its living by cutting each others' hair. Neither is Germany, or other countries that have realized the importance of manufacturing and manufacturing policy to an economy.

Manufacturing brings with it all the businesses in a supply chain, it brings the research and innovation that manufacturing requires, and it brings a lasting real infrastructure that requires enormous investment to duplicate elsewhere before competition is enabled. Today we have a tremendous current account imbalance that resulted from the terrible trade deficits suffered since we were invaded by this crowd from planet Economus, who told us we don't need manufacturing - that we should transform ourselves into a "service economy." And it will require enormous investment to restore the ecosystem that we allowed to escape to other countries in that period.
Once you've got it, it's hard to lose it, and once you lose it, it's hard to get it back. Not so much with services.

Once you've got it, it's hard to lose it, and once you lose it, it's hard to get it back. Not so much with services.

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 5:31 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Republicans VERY Serious About Keeping Black People From Voting This Year

Nine Election-Related Arrests In Florida: A Case Of Voter Fraud Or Voter Suppression?,

As soon as Judy Ann Crumitie answered the banging on her door one November morning last year, police officers and FBI agents streamed into her home, some with their guns drawn and trained in her direction.

... "I was just trying to help the people vote," Crumitie, 51, told the Huffington Post's Black Voices.

... Lawyers for Crumitie would not elaborate on the circumstances of her arrest or the charges. But they said that the incident and the way officials handled the investigation and ultimately her arrests -- including entering her home with guns drawn and without a search warrant -- are part of a broader political movement across the state and country to suppress poor and minority voters.

This arrest was for doing things the way they had always been done BEFORE Florida passed the new voting and registering restrictions. This case is about a school board election where a black candidate defeated a white candidate by 1 vote.

"Well it's a mess and it has the smell of the 60s and 50s in it," Harper said this morning. "It's strange the only wrong-doers that could be found were African Americans."

Harper, who also would not elaborate on his client's alleged role in the fraud, said of the new law, "I think everyone is confused."


Things are only going to get worse between now and election day. Repubicans are very serious about this.
"I was trying to help the people vote, for Martin Luther King and the civil rights that they fought for us to do, and we done just that," she said. "When they came to my house to arrest me they come to my house and they had guns drawn on me. I didn't know it was against the law to vote."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 12, 2012

Republicans & Plutocracy Explained

By Monty Python:

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

April 11, 2012

Why Do So Many Elites Hate Social Security?

This week there was another big attack on Social Security by another elite. This time the attack comes from an elite columnist, other times it comes from Wall Street types, wealthy CEOs or the kind of politicians that have been in DC way too long. These attacks never come from people who depend on these programs (i.e. almost all of us.) Why do the privileged elites hate Social Security so much?

Robert Samuelson wrote this week in the Washington Post, Would Roosevelt recognize today’s Social Security? Samuelson writes that Social Security, "has become what was then called “the dole” and is now known as “welfare.” " He discusses a book that, he writes, "shows how today’s “entitlement” psychology dates to Social Security’s muddled beginnings."

Entitlements

Elites hate "entitlements" -- those things we all are entitled to as are citizens in a We-the-People democracy. Democracies are based on "we are in this together" and "watch out for each other." Plutocracies are based on rule by the elites. These elites especially hate what Samuelson calls "entitlement psychology" -- a state of mind in which 99% of us forget our place and get all uppity about being citizens in a democracy and the things that entitles us to.

Samuelson's core attack on Social Security is that there is no trust fund, that the money has been spent, and it is just a program where working people pay for the retirement of older people,

Millions of Americans believe (falsely) that their payroll taxes have been segregated to pay for their benefits and that, therefore, they “earned” these benefits. To reduce them would be to take something that is rightfully theirs.

And, he restates, while people think they are entitled to their Social Security benefits it really is just "welfare," writing,

What we have is a vast welfare program grafted onto the rhetoric and psychology of a contributory pension. The result is entitlement.

The "rhetoric" and "psychology" of "entitlement." Public pride in We-the-People democracy. Gotta stamp that out!

(Samuelson, for some reason, does not talk about how the military budget trust fund is depleted and we need to cut back on the trillion-or-so we will spend this year, how it is bankrupting us, etc. Oh, wait, there isn't a trust fund at all for military spending... we just spend it.)

Dean Baker Responds

Dean Baker answered Samuelson, writing in Robert Samuelson Shows that the Post Has no Fact Checkers on Its Opinion Pages,

Social Security and Medicare are hugely important for the security of the non-rich population of the United States. For this reason, Robert Samuelson and the Washington Post hate them.

As we know, this is a question of basic political philosophy. In the view of Samuelson and the Post, a dollar that it is in the pocket of low or middle class people is a dollar that could be in the pocket of the rich. And Medicare and Social Security are keeping many dollars in the pockets of low and middle class people.

Regarding Samuelson writing that the funds were not segregated, and have been spent,

Of course Samuelson is 100 percent wrong here. Payroll taxes have been segregated. That is the point of the Social Security trust fund and the Social Security trustees report. These institutions would make no sense if the funds were not segregated.

Samuelson is welcome to not like the way in which the funds were segregated, in the same way that I don't like the Yankees, but that doesn't change the fact that the Yankees have a very good baseball team. Since its beginnings, the government has maintained a separate Social Security account. Under the law, no money can be paid out in Social Security benefits unless the Trust Fund has the money to pay for them.

In this sense, the funds are absolutely segregated. Samuelson doesn't like this, but why should any of the rest of us care? The rest of the piece shows the same dishonesty and lack of respect for facts.

Jared Bernstein Responds

In WaPo WAY Off on Social Security Jared Bernstein writes,

Here are the relevant facts about Social Security’s future (as we at CBPP see them):

–The trustees estimate that the combined Social Security trust funds will be exhausted in 2036 —a year earlier than they forecast in last year’s report.

–After 2036, Social Security could pay three-fourths of scheduled benefits using its annual tax income [Samuelson implies all benefits expire in three years!]. Those who fear that Social Security won’t be around when today’s young workers retire misunderstand the trustees’ projections.

–The program’s shortfall is relatively modest, amounting to 0.8 percent of GDP over the next 75 years (and 1.45 percent of GDP in 2085). A mix of tax increases and benefit modifications — carefully crafted to shield recipients of limited means and to give ample notice to all participants — could put the program on a sound footing indefinitely.

–The 75-year Social Security shortfall is only slightly larger than the cost, over that period, of extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans (those with incomes above $250,000 a year). Members of Congress cannot simultaneously claim that the tax cuts for people at the top are affordable [or like the Ryan budget, add trillions more in tax cuts] while the Social Security shortfall constitutes a dire fiscal threat. And the shortfall is well under half the cost over 75 years of making all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent.

Elites Hate It, Hate It, Hate It

At Balloon Juice, the first comment following John Cole's post, It Will Never Make Sense To Me nails the real reason the elites hate Social Security so much. Cole writes in the post that it will never make sense to him ...

Why our elites and media elites have such sheer contempt and hatred for social security. It’s there for everyone! It’s a solid government program which gives everyone the peace of mind that no matter what, there will be some money available for you to take care of yourself in your most vulnerable years. It’s such a miniscule portion of the taxes we pay, and for the ultra-rich screamers who hate social security the most, it’s a negligible portion of their income, and it’s capped! It’s not money wasted on fraud and abuse, it’s extremely efficient with the kind of overhead any charity or organization in the world would die to achieve, and it’s just an amazing program.

Actually that's the reason they hate it. But the first commenter nails it, writing,

They hate it because it works; Social Security is proof that government is capable and competent. That is why it MUST be destroyed.

For elites this is the problem. Government works, and that tells We, the People that we don't have to depend on elites. That really is why the elites hate Social Security: Because it works.

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 11:34 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Lee Camp: "You're A Slave And Here's Why"

Click for more Lee Camp.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:31 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

JUST A FEW Things Romney Said In Primaries

So we don't forget, after he shakes the "Etch-a-Sketch:"

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

April 10, 2012

New Bank Super PAC Discussed On Thom Hartmann Show

I was on the Thom Hartmann TV show Big Picture last night, discussing a new banker Super PAC. I wrote a piece for AlterNet, New Super-PAC Threatens to Destroy Candidates Who Side With the People Over Wall Street.

The basic story here, (click through for the whole story) is that this new Super PAC can raise and spend unlimited amounts, and plans to use this money against lawmakers as much as or more than in support of them, to make them "afraid of bankers" and "hammer them" with "a big stick."

I joke that this is more "financial innovation" brought to us by the financial sector (like CDOs and credit swaps), making it cheaper to influence politicians because you only have to crush one or two, rather than keep the payouts going by hiring them, etc.

The key to the cost-effectiveness of this approach is that they will rarely have to actually follow through on the threat, and spend the money. Just the threat is sufficient. Few elected officials will be able to stand up to a threat of unlimited millions spent destroying him or her. If anyone actually does resist, making an example by publicly destroying that lawmaker will serve as sufficient warning to the rest.

Except it's not a joke, it's the end of democracy, because of course corporate money drowns out regular people. It is also the end of "free markets" because the new "Citizens United" system that lets corporations spend as much as they want on campaigns means that of course the biggest corporations can and will use their size and money to buy laws limiting or even outlawing their competition, limiting innovation and legislating their own dominance.


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 10:32 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Tonite Virtually Speaking Josh Holland

I'm hosting my Virtually Speaking hour tonite at 6PT / 9ET with Joshua Holland of AlterNet.

Tuesday, April 10 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking Tuesdays | Dave Johnson talks with Joshua Holland, editor and senior writer at AlterNet and author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America Plus the latest from the Z Files. Follow @dcjohnson @JoshuaHol   Listen live and later on BTR

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:00 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

The Problem Is Not JUST Money In Politics

We also need to get the corporate propaganda out of our national discussion.

Corporate money doesn't just dominate politics, it manipulates and dominates our national discourse. The propaganda is everywhere, and everything.

Imagine what would happen if we got the money out of politics, and the propaganda out of our thinking! It would take a couple of years of recovery before we could even begin to have rational thinking and discussion again, not to mention start actually addressing our problems.

Imagine being able to address climate change and other energy-related issues without oil company money polluting, manipulating, bullying, distorting, misdirecting and dominating everything!

Imagine being able to actually address health care issues, and having actual, honest rational discussions trying to determine the best approaches!

It's difficult to even imagine at this point. It's like we are all in a trance.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:36 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 9, 2012

What Krugman Said

Here: "Why, you might almost think that the goal is just to undermine Social Security, using whatever argument seems handy."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

On Hartmann TV at 7:40ET or so

Shirt, sport coat, no pants. Talking about my AlterNet article, New Super-PAC Threatens to Destroy Candidates Who Side With the People Over Wall Street

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:58 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Prosecute O'Keefe Voter Fraud! Make An Example!

A new video is circulating showing an actual case of voter fraud! We can finally show people what happens if you commit voter fraud. Let's prosecute the perpetrator, put him in jail for a long time, and set a clear example and send a loud message: do not do this!

"To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior." -- US government statement on the actions of Tim DeChristopher, climate activist, sent to prison for 2 years for disrupting a corrupt, illegal oil and gas lease auction.

An Actual Case Of Voter Fraud!

A conservative website has documented an actual case of actual voter fraud - caught on video! From Breitbart.com, finally an actual instance of voter fraud:

The video shows a young man entering a Washington, DC polling place at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW, on primary day of this year--April 3, 2012--and giving Holder’s name and address. The poll worker promptly offers the young man Holder’s ballot to vote.

Set An Example!

The basis of public trust in our voting system is that if they commit voter fraud they will be prosecuted. This serves as a deterrence. But deterrence doesn't work unless you make strong public examples that show people what will happen to them if they commit a crime.

Finally, finally, there is an actual instance of voter fraud. Finally we can publicly prosecute a voter fraud case and set an example! By making an example of what happens to people who actually commit voter fraud we can nip this problem in the bud before it gets started!

Will our government finally do something about public concern over this issue, by prosecuting and jailing the perpetrator? We need to set an example and let the public know what happens when you commit voter fraud, to keep this from happening anywhere else!

Decades Of Crying Wolf

Conservatives have for decades made the claim that there is voter fraud occurring across the country, in order to justify restrictive laws that prevent members groups that primarily vote Democratic from being able to vote. But they have been unable to find actual cases of voter fraud to justify these laws. They have used these ginned-up claims of a supposed voter-fraud problem to justify laws denying millions the right to vote. Now after decades of crying wolf they are clamoring that they have made a video of someone actually committing voter fraud.

Prosecute One Case - Or Deny Millions The Right To Vote?

We need to make an example of this documented case of voter fraud so the public understands what happens to people who commit actual voter fraud. The point of having jails is to show people what happens to them if they break laws. If you want to do something about voter fraud, make a public example by prosecuting it and sending the violators to jail. Then others won't do it.

The solution is not to make it difficult for citizens to vote. We want more citizens to vote. Stores don't make it harder to buy food to stop shoplifting, why should we make it harder for millions to vote when all we need to do is prosecute this case publicly, so people will see what happens if they do this.

Precedent For This Approach - Tim DeChristopher

In this case the person committing voter fraud claims he was doing it to serve as a whistle blower. There is a recent case in which the government very publicly prosecuted a whistle blower to set an example.

Tim DeChristopher is a climate activist. In 2008 he protested a corrupt, illegal Bureau of Land Management auction of oil and gas leases, by bidding on parcels that he could not immediately pay for. Even though many previous cases of people bidding and then not paying for land were not prosecuted, and even though DeChristopher did raise the money for a down-payment on the land, the government prosecuted him and sentenced him to two years in jail. He was even held in solitary confinement. All to "set an example."

In DeChristopher's case, the government stated, "To be sure, a federal prison term here will deter others from entering a path of criminal behavior."

Now that there ids an actual, documented case of voter fraud the government should set an example, and prosecute. If convicted the lawbreaker should be sent to prison.


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 2:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 8, 2012

Cheaper To Destroy Elected Officals Than To Purchase

I wrote this for AlterNet: New Super-PAC Threatens to Destroy Candidates Who Side With the People Over Wall Street | Election 2012 | AlterNet

Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 7, 2012

Chevy Volt Flammable? Compared to GASOLINE?

The right-wingers smearing the Volt as "flammable" don't get it that cars now run on GASOLINE? Which isn't flammable? HOW many gasoline car fires are there a year? (Hint: the answer is "In 2003-2007, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 287,000 vehicle fires per year. These fires caused an average of 480 civilian deaths, 1,525 civilian injuries, and $1.3 billion in direct property damage annually.")

My favorite right-wing propaganda about the Volt was that it "ran out of juice in the Lincoln Tunnel" on a test drive. Of course, what happened was that the battery ran down and it switched on the gas engine and kept going, but ... whatever. It sure SOUNDS bad.

By the way, to learn about how the right's propaganda machine works, click that link and observe just how many sites repeated the lie.

One more thing about electric cars. Think about this: How often do you need to service your refrigerator motor? You will never have to replace the water pump, or adjust the valves, replace the muffler, etc. New tires and lubrication is about it. One Ford engineer told me they have some electric cars on the track that are over 1 million miles.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 6, 2012

Fox Nuts

Is Obama 'Dangerously Close To Totalitarianism'? - Fox Nation

Comments:

"Ballots or Bullets, the SOCIALISTS have to go.

"It's important to keep in mind that every dictator of the 20th century was on the Left, including Hi tler. I get so tired of hearing liberals talk about Na zis like they are right-wingers! What part of National "Socialist" Party of Germany do they not understand??"

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

It Is CRUCIAL That You Watch This

If they get away with this in Michigan, they will do it everywhere. Watch the video in this post! Daily Kos: Michigan takes voter suppression to unbelievable lengths

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:29 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

Only 120K New Jobs

Under Bush we were losing 800K jobs a month. Now disappointing jobs report of 120K gain. We need to go back to Republicans! Or something.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 5, 2012

Sympathy For The Palin

Since watching HBO's Game Changer I have sympathy for Sarah Palin. She was in way over her head - not really her fault.

The "old" GOP didn't understand that today's GOP could elect someone who really "doesn't know anything." So they assumed a Governor would at least read newspapers and not just right-wing blogs, watch FOX and listen to Rush Limbaugh. The new GOP just reads right-wing blogs, watches FOX and listens to Limbaugh.

A Palin, and now the problem of a government that is destroying the country, its infrastructure, its courts, all the things that businesses rely on, this is the GOP/corporate establishment's fault. This is corporate money and careerist politician/lobbyists, just using "the base" and nurturing this culture, because they use the ignorance.

It's also the corporate short-term thinking thing. Yeah, it was great to get tax cuts and neglect the infrastructure. Great to get people believing there's no climate change. Great to pile up cash for yourself but let the country pile up debt.

And now it's "later." If you aren't one of the very few who piled up enough cash to fly your jet off to your private island, you're fucked along with the rest of us, in a country rules by Sarah Palins.

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

Republican Focus Groups

must be showing some traction from accusing Obama of threatening judges. Usually the Republicans are threatening judges... next week they'll be back to threatening judges...

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 4, 2012

The Most Important Thing The President Said About The Republican Budget

The most important thing the President said about the Republican Budget in his big speech Tuesday was when he described just some of the damage it does, and said, "This is not an exaggeration. Check it out yourself." Seriously, do that, and see if you can get your friends, relatives and especially your right-wing bother-in-law to do it, too. Seriously.

Republicans Counting On "Low-Information" Voters

The secret of the Republican technique is that they count on lots of people being tuned out, apathetic and largely uninformed. They put up a lot of misinformation and smoke and mirrors and diversion and distraction, often claiming that what they are doing is the opposite of what they are doing, to trick people into accepting what they are doing, or at least not getting involved and working to stop them. And then they go ahead with their hidden agenda, usually involving handing over tax cuts, public money or property, favors, contracts, deregulation, get-out-of-jail cards, etc., to the highest-bidding contributor, or the company/lobbyist/etc. promising the most lucrative "jobs" or "speaking fees" etc., after government service is completed...

Another technique is accusing the other side of doing what they themselves are doing, as "cover." (It's called inoculation.) They won the majority in the House by running ads telling seniors that Democrats had cut $500 billion from Medicare, and a majority of seniors voted Republican for the first time. It was enough to swing control of the House. Now in office they are not just cutting Medicare, they are privatizing Medicare, phasing it out for those now under 55.

(Update: See: Romney Accuses Obama Of Taking ‘A Series Of Steps That End Medicare As We Know It’)

They are using another inoculation tactic to mask what they are doing, confusing people by portraying Obama as extreme and divisive for saying the Republican budget is extreme. Really, if you try to explain to regular people what is in this Republican budget, they will think you are an insane extremist for saying such things! (See Who Is The Crazy Person In The Room?)

Don't Trust Me - Find Out For Yourself

The antidote is to get informed. Do not just trust what I write here, go find out for yourself what the Republicans have voted to do. Go visit several news sources and learn about this Republican budget. I'm not going to tell you where to go (except that FOX is not a news source.) Make an effort. Use the Google. And this is what you will learn:

They really are privatizing Medicare.

They really are claiming to "cut deficits" but extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, costing $4.6 trillion.

They really are cutting taxes on the rich by another $4.6 trillion!

They really are giving millionaires an average $187,000 tax cut.

They really are dramatically cutting corporate taxes.

They really are denying health insurance to up to 17 million children with pre-existing conditions.

They really are dramatically cutting Medicaid by as much as 75%, with as many as 27 million people losing coverage.

They really are cutting 1,311 federal agents immediately from the Dept of Justice and another 4,587 agents each year over the next decade.

The cuts really do cost 4.1 million jobs.

They really are cutting 700,000 pregnant or postpartum women, infants, and children off the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (WIC) program and another 1.8 million women, infants, and children off each year for the next 10 years.

They really are cutting 60,000 children out of Head Start immediately, and another 200,000 a year out each year for a decade.

And those are just some of the cuts. Food inspectors, work safety inspectors, education, infrastructure, police, courts, environmental protection ...

They really are counting on most of the the public to stay distracted, apathetic and largely uninformed. YOU can help do something about that. Learn the facts and spread the word.


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 8:47 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

California Taxpayers Financed A New Chinese Competitor!

American tax dollars should employ American workers and build American companies. But the Bay Bridge project not only didn't do that, it paid to build up a new Chinese state-owned competitor that will bid against American companies on future projects! Let's not make that mistake again. Jeeze!

Should Be Made In America

Last week I wrote about the Should Be Made In America project. A coalition of American companies and labor organizations has launched this campaign to let taxpayers know when their state sends jobs out of the country. This is an effort to get state governments to buy steel and supplies from American companies when they do infrastructure projects. If they do not, there will be a PR campaign to shame the elected officials and state procurement agencies who made the decision to outsource American jobs with taxpayer dollars.

The New San Francisco Bay Bridge Project

The new San Francisco Bay Bridge is underway. The eastern span of the new bridge is called the self-anchored suspension span (SAS), which will have a single 525-foot-tall tower and uses a single mile-long cable to support the deck, which is two side-by-side steel roadways. The cable is made up of 137 strands of steel which are being pulled across the bridge one-by-one right now. The 1,542 ft span is the largest span of its kind in the world. (Lots of info is available here.)


They Turned Down Federal Dollars So It Could Be Made In China!

The cable and key sections of the tower and deck were outsourced to China. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration wanted this done in China, saying the low wages and lack of environmental regulations would lower the cost. Federal procurement rules require that taxpayer dollars be spent here, so Schwarzenegger turned down federal funds for the job, in order to be able to outsource the work. Never mind the cost of lost tax revenues, unemployment benefits, food stamps and other "safety net" programs for the lost workers and bankrupted companies that resulted. And never mind the cost to the larger economy and country from the foreclosures, closed businesses, lost jobs, etc. Those larger costs to the larger economy and country were not Schwarzenegger's problem

Built Up A Competitor!

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries got the job -- even though they had never done a job like this before. Until now the company manufactured cranes and ship loaders. But, thanks to California's tax dollars, they can now. California paid for this Chinese state-owned company to build its capacity to do major infrastructure projects like this one. And they will be bidding against American companies on project in the United States and around the world from now on.

Here is Scott Paul from the Alliance for American Manufacturing, talking about the Should Be Made In America project, on KQED's show Forum. Skip to around 16:00.

"What it has done now unfortunately is established a competitor to these American firms, that has been subsidized by the taxpayers of California, that will compete on future infrastructure projects. And California taxpayers have given this state-owned firm in California China the knowledge and the know-how to do this. And that is not fair to other private-secotr firms in the United states."

(Note, at 16:18 Scott says the Bay Bridge project has "given a state-owned firm in California" the obviously meant to say China.)

So one agency of California "saved money" by outsourcing a project to China. But the state government overall probably lost money when you add in all the costs to other state agencies who lost tax revenue and have to pay out "safety net" expenses. And the national government and larger economy certainly lost out from the lost jobs, closed businesses and loss of steel and manufacturing capacity. American businesses certainly lost out.

At least now as other states look to future infrastructure projects the Should Be Made In America project will be there to remind them of the larger costs that come from "saving money" by sending taxpayer dollars out of the country.

P.S. here is the video from the Should Be Made In America launch event:


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 8:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 3, 2012

Obviously This Is What They Want

Whining about the downturn in Europe that results from austerity.

OK, here's the thing. They aren't stupid, they are just saying one thing (austerity brings growth) but really following an agenda that suits them. Obviously the austerity isn't supposed to lift their economies. Everyone knows it will raise unemployment, etc. Obviously it is about privatizing and plundering. I mean, duh!

At what point does it become obvious that the "cut taxes for the rich, cut the things governments do for everyone else" agenda is NOT abou growing economies? Duh?

"You said if we gave you our money for these magic beams that a huge plant would grow with money for leaves, but all that is growing is tomatoes. Hey, where did you go?

"Stop! You said that if we brought you all the gold in town, you would user it to cure everyone's illnesses -- why are you riding away with it?"

"Hey, wait, you said we were going to a Halloween party when you got us all dressed up as bandits. Why are we robbing this bank?"

Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 2, 2012

Afraid

OK, what are we supposed to be afraid of this week?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:43 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Deficit Trouble - Right Here In River City!

River City faces a terrible deficit, and if we don't cut spending on the things We, the People do for each other right now, there will be trouble. We gotta do some austerity! We gotta eat that seed corn. We gotta stop taxing the 1% and stop paying for things the 99% need!

It's a con as old as the hills. Whip up the people with fear, and then offer them the ready-made "solution." In his post, Ya Got Trouble — A fresh look at an old con, Tom Sullivan nails it with a scene from The Music Man. For those not familiar with The Music Man, here is the lead-up: "River City ain't in any trouble." "Well, we're going to have to create some." Then the Republican Congressman Music Man goes out and whips the town into a state. He does it to sell them. (The following is from a local production, which YouTube allowed to be embedded here. To see the clip from the movie click here.)

.

From Sullivan's post:

Trouble with a capital “T”
And that rhymes with “P”
and that stands for pool!

In one, short speech — building intensity as he goes — Professor Harold Hill gathers a crowd of onlookers and rattles off a litany of big city sins “the right kinda parents” worry about corrupting their children and their small town: sloth, drinking, gambling, being “stuck-up,” smoking, loose morals, and indecent pop culture. In a fevered crescendo, Hill warns parents of “shameless music • That’ll grab your son, your daughter • With the arms of a jungle animal instink!”

Sullivan explains the con:

Hill presses every button the people of River City, Iowa have to press, plus appeals to patriotism and God to create a city-wide moral crisis that four minutes earlier the townspeople didn’t know they had. Sound familiar?

Now strike pool. Insert contraception, voter fraud, death panels, or a half dozen other right-wing bogey men and the grifter’s pitch works the same. Today, Harold Hill would be working for Fox News or Americans for Prosperity. He’d be running American Crossroads, and making a lot more money.

This con has been perfected in recent years as The Shock Doctrine, forcing entire countries into debt or other crisis, then stepping in to plunder and privatize their resources, like what is happening to Greece right now.

Whipping Up Deficit Hysteria

This "con game" is what is happening to our own country as well, with the whipped-up terrification over deficits. The Reagan plan was cut taxes and increase military spending to force the country into debt, and then use the debt to force privatization of public resources into the hands of a few. George 'W' Bush said after cutting taxes on the rich and raising military spending that the resulting transformation of Clinton's budget surplus into huge budget deficits was "incredibly positive news" because it would force us into near-bankruptcy. Yes, he said that.

But the solution offered -- the current Republican budget that phases out Medicare and guts our government -- doesn't even cut the deficit! The Republican "austerity" budget starts with $10 trillion in tax cuts for the 1%! Then it guts most of what We, the People do for each other.

Don't be fooled, it is just one more conservative con game.


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 7:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Oil Companies and Banks ...

are following the tobacco business model. Paralyze the victim with propaganda, and then hold tight, sucking the money out of them until they die. Move on to new victim.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:52 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

April 1, 2012

They Say It Like It's A Bad Thing!

Examiner Editorial: Obama wants to raise taxes on oil, subsidize more Solyndras | Washington Examiner

Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Conservative Bullying

This post by Sara Robinson is SO important, please read: Conservative Bullying Has Made America Into a Broken, Dysfunctional Family: But There Are Ways to Regain Our Well-Being | | AlterNet

Posted by Dave Johnson at 3:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos