August 29, 2012
I'm in a motel, we were going through the channels, there was one that was just static.
My wife said, "How about let's just watch some white noise?"
I said, "No, I really don't want to watch the Republican convention."
Watch this: (warning, could well be too close to home if you have been raped.)
Do you suffer from Sexually Liberated Uterine Tendencies? Now there's a treatment that can help.
CNN and America's "news media" should not be surprised -- this is, after all, the "let him die!" party, the party that booed a soldier because he is gay -- when the wingnuts do things like this, they are helping bring this treatment on themselves by doing nothing about it, not warning the public about gthe hate this crowd is spewing.
Seriously, read this: First Draft: Making You Inferior With Your Explicit Consent,
It's what you get when you take somebody who says the New York Times building should be blown up, and put her on the cover of a magazine because she's influential and controversial and maybe hey, she's just kidding around!
It's what you get when you hire people as your commentators and consultants who think urinating on corpses is hilarious, and call Supreme Court justices "goat-fucking child molester"s.
It's what you get when you pay sex tourists with drug problems insane amounts of money to spend hours on the radio calling the president of the United States everything right up to the very edge of nigger, and then quote him as if he's a person whose opinion matters.
It's what you get when you invite people on the air who hate you. Who hate what you do. Who hate what you stand for. Who hate everything you are. Who say, out loud, that the world would be better off without you. Who think you're a detriment to society. Who "joke" about killing you.
... It's what you get when day after day after day after day you just sit there and take it. You've been ignoring the bully for three decades now. Has he gone away yet? Has he stopped?
Seriously, go read the whole thing.
AND PLEASE read Angry Black Lady Chronicles, The Line Of The Convention So Far,
Staggering racism aside, “This is how we feed the animals” pretty much sums up the entire GOP mindset for the the last 32 years, doesn’t it?
Feed red meat to the base. Feed lies to the press and the middle. Feed contempt and hatred to the rest. And look at the animals, the 99%, eat it up. Durr hurr, stupid man animals will eat anything we throw at them. Let’s keep the dangerous ones locked up so we can gawk at them, and be sure to slaughter a few fatted calves so we eat well and they can rot in their pens and cages. We’re on display for their enjoyment, but never forget they’ll put us down if we bite the hand that feeds us.
Go read the rest.
August 27, 2012
Since forever, the Republican message is STILL "Dems take your money and give it to black people." Doesn't change. Doesn't have to. It's OUR fault.
I am not young. I remember when Nixon campaigned with his racially divisive "Southern Strategy." Nixon campaigned on "crime" - fear of black people - and on the claim that Dmeocrats take "your" money and give it to black people. It worked.
It worked for Reagan, too, when he talked about "welfare queens" and "welfare Cadillacs." Here is part of a Reagan campaign stump speech,
"She has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran's benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She's got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000."
(Please read what Terrance Heath has to say about welfare queens in, Romney And Ryan: The Right Kind Of "Welfare Queens".)
HW Bush used the infamous Willie Horton ad. Watch it with the sound off.
Bush II beat back John McCain in the primaries by circulating stories that he had "fathered a black child" and "terrorists." (But correct me if I'm wrong, Bush II didn't appear to use race against Gore, instead preempting potential attacks on his own character and honesty by hammering Gore's "character" and making him out to be a liar - both with the help of the media. His later use of "terrorists" (brown people) is another story entirely...)
So I'm going to go way out on a limb here. I predict that Republicans will use race and other terribly divisive tactics to distract us from the real situation -- the draining of the wealth of 99% of us and the country for the benefit of an already-wealthy few -- in the 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020 and every campaign after that. They will say that "Democrats take your money and give it to black people." They will campaign against "union thugs" and "union bosses" and say paying fair wages "hurts business" and we need to be more "business friendly." They will say "government takes money out of the economy" and helping each other "makes people dependent." They will say "cutting taxes increases government revenue." They will say a lot of nonsense, and their policies when enacted will always, always benefit an already-wealthy few at the expense of the rest of us, our economy, our country and our planet.
They will say all kinds of stuff to keep We, the People from seeing what is in front of our faces.
That is who they are and that is what they do.
Unless we do something about it.
Look Where We Are & At What Romney Is Doing
Look where we are: Deregulation pretty much destroyed the economy. Tax cuts have partially defunded the government's ability to empower and protect We, the People. The 1% and their giant corporations get so much of the benefits of our economy now. The climate is obviously getting worse and worse, already risking crop failures, incredible heat waves and terribly destructive storms. And with all of this going on one party blocks efforts to improve things, so they can campaign saying nothing is getting done. Yet with all that going on, the election so far is all coming down to billionaires spending hundreds of millions to run ads that say Obama is taking your money and giving it to black people.
Look what Romney is doing! He is running ads that come pretty close to the "welfare queen" messaging, pretty much saying that Democrats take your money and give it to black people. He is running ads about Medicare that pretty much say the same thing. And now he is even going "birther." Thomas Edsall explains today in the NY Times, in Making The Election About Race,
The Republican ticket is flooding the airwaves with commercials that develop two themes designed to turn the presidential contest into a racially freighted resource competition pitting middle class white voters against the minority poor.
... The racial overtones of Romney’s welfare ads are relatively explicit. Romney’s Medicare ads are a bit more subtle. ... Obamacare, described in the Romney ad as a “massive new government program that is not for you,” would provide health coverage to a population of over 30 million that is not currently insured: 16.3 percent of this population is black; 30.7 percent is Hispanic; 5.2 percent is Asian-American; and 46.3 percent (less than half) is made up of non-Hispanic whites.
... The Romney campaign is willing to disregard criticism concerning accuracy and veracity in favor of “blowing the dog whistle of racism” – resorting to a campaign appealing to racial symbols, images and issues in its bid to break the frustratingly persistent Obama lead in the polls, which has lasted for the past 10 months.
Once again, Republicans are saying, "Democrats take your money and give it to black people."
And just like they do every time it works they take our money and give it to rich people instead.
It's Our Fault
Here's the thing. This is our fault. Fool me once, shame on you. We were fooled once, when Nixon did it. Shame on Nixon. But ... We were fooled twice, when Reagan did it. We were fooled again and again, and apparently never caught on that this is what they do.
And if this is what they do, we should have taken steps after, maybe, the fifth or sixth or seventh or eighth time? This is our fault.
WHY are Republicans still able to use race in their campaigns to deflect attention from their ongoing campaign to turn the wealth and management of our country over to the 1%? Because we have not organized ourselves to reach out to regular people around the country and help them to understand what is happening to them. Instead we (progressives) have largely focused our on changing things through elections. But we have not done the hard work between elections to set the stage for elections. We have not been very good at reaching out to tens and tens of millions of regular people and helping them to understand and appreciate the benefits to them of a progressive approach to solving our problems.
I mean, a lot of us do get this and try. This is a big part of what Campaign for America's Future does - or tries to do with the very limited resources it has. But a real national, between-elections, ongoing -- decades-long -- campaign takes real resources, facilities, coordination, supplies, management, researchers, writers, talkers, technologists, and the rest. And that takes real money. The kind of money conservatives have been willing to put into such and effort, and progressives have not.
Let's Finally Do Something About It
When are we going to recognize that this is what they do, and do something about it? They use race. They divide us. They make shit up, and spend millions and millions on blasting their made-up shit into people's brains. Then they enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us, and use part of that to do it more. This is what they do. And very little is done to counter it. (Some say the problem is, "democracy does not have an advertising budget.")
What if we had started 4 years ago to get ready for this campaign of lies and division, knowing full well that they are going to use race and lies and the rest against We, the People? What if we had started then to reach and educate millions and millions of working people, bring them together, help them see the bigger picture? What if we had reached out to millions of disaffected white voters and explained directly to them, in language that reaches them, with stories that resonate with them, so they would be ready for it when they are told "Democrats take your money and give it to black people," and why believing it hurts them.
What if we did this between elections, and kept doing it after elections, and explained and reinforced the concepts of democracy so that people's understanding and appreciation of democracy and what it really means increased year after year after year?
What if we had started doing this 8 years ago? 12 years ago? After Nixon's election? What if we had started to dedicate a percentage of progressive-aligned funding and organizing toward a centrally organized, well-funded campaign of reaching regular people and explaining the harm conservatives are doing, and the benefits to them of democracy and a We, the People approach to our mutual problems?
How well would their campaign of racism and lies and division work, if we had done that? How well will it work if we do it.
What would it have done for the goals of environmentalists if we had put serious money into a coordinated, values-based approach that helped people understand and appreciate the meaning and benefits to them of truly honoring We, the People "we are in this together" democracy over the prevailing corporate/conservative, Randian, "you should be on your own"?
What would it have done for the goals of labor unions if we had used this approach?
What would it have done for the goals of consumer attorneys if we had used this approach?
What would it have done for the goals of Medicare-For-All advocates if we had used this approach?
And what could it do for all of these if we started today?
A Fight Back Strategy
Research & Development, and Action: What we need is a major, coordinated, funded, national project dedicated to researching the ways the 1% manipulates us, and developing strategics for overcoming them. This project also needs a national action arm that takes the research and strategies out to the country and continues this work for as long as it takes.
Just think about this, think about changing your orientation from election cycle to outside of the election cycle, ongoing, as-long-as-it-takes strategies. And mostly, please help and continue to help fund organizations that work outside of elections to help make these changes, so that progressive candidates and policy initiatives have fertile ground in which to do well!
Of course, this kind of work is a big part of what Campaign for America's Future does - or tries to do with the very limited resources it has. You can and should help us with this, and you can do that right now by visiting this page. If you can give $3 right now, that helps. Seriously, if everyone reading this just gave $3 (or more) it would help.
And this is not a selfish appeal so I can get a raise (although it can't hurt). There are a number of other organizations that are seriously working on this kind of approach. You can also give a donation to Center for American Progress here, or to the National Council of La Raza here, or to the Economic Policy Institute here, Media Matters here, to the Center for Community Change here, to Progressive Congress here, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights here, to People For the American Way here, and there are so many other organizations that are working in their own way to help. (I'll add them as they read this and write to yell at me for leaving them out.)
There is a (somewhat out of date) page on funding progressive infrastructure here and a (somewhat out of date) list of progressive infrastructure organizations here.
We really need for progressives to understand this need, and the difference between this and election campaign contributions. Think about it, and help spread the word. Help fund it, and help others understand this need. We can beat back the conservative machine by building a machine of our own that is strong enough to do the job. This takes money.
And to keep that machine answerable to US, we have to fund it democratically, with each of us stepping up and contributing what we can. It has to be lots of people giving small and medium amounts, not depending on a few large donors. ANY organization or candidate is going to dance with the ones that brung 'em, so WE have to bring them to the dance together. Go give $3 or $10 or $100 to any of those organizations now, and keep doing it, and get others to do it.
A dollar donated to an effort like this now is like a dollar donated again and again to each and every progressive issue campaign and candidate from now on, except that the dollar is amplified. This is because doing the work now makes elections and policy battles so much easier and less expensive.
Conservatives have developed a "brand" and their candidates and policy initiatives ride that brand like a surfer surfs a wave. They just hop on the wave and attach themselves or their issue. So much of the things we have to spend so much money on are already covered by their infrastructure of like-minded organizations, so for each candidate and policy initiative they have to spend so much less! ALL of their candidates are helped by the central branding effort.
Progressive-oriented candidates and policy initiatives start almost from scratch, and so it is tremendously expensive to get them elected or passed. We have to raise tremendous sums to do the things that conservatives have ready-to-go. And each of our candidates have to each raise that money, on their own, just to overcome the things conservatives already have in place - for all of them. One dollar spent on a core branding effort could have the same effect for all of our candidates and policy initiatives as the more-than-one-dollar spent for EACH candidate or policy initiative at election time to overcome it.
So help out, OK?
P.S. Here is a talk I gave on this subject in 2004, titled "On Our Own?" that talked about how the corporate right works between elections to market their ideology, and suggesting that we should try a similar outside-the-election-cycle approach.
Here is a talk I gave to an education organization in 2007 titled, "We're All In This Together" that described how the right uses the Overton Window to move public attitudes,
What can we, as supporters of public education, do about this?
The supporters of public education must join with their natural allies -- the trial lawyers and the environmentalists and reproductive rights organizations and others and begin to talk to the public with a COMMON message that says WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER because we are a COMMUNITY. Only after people come to understand and appreciate this philosophy of community again, will they begin to understand and appreciate the value of public schools.
... The Right pushes an ugly message that we are each on our own, out for ourselves to get what we can, in a dog-eat-dog world. But in truth, we are really ARE all in this together, not only as being on the receiving end of similar attacks, but also because we can work together to help each other. We can work to counter the Right’s message by restoring the public’s understanding and appreciation of COMMUNITY and the value of responsible government.
How can we do this?
As I’m sure you know, frame and message development and testing are complex and require skilled professionals. Messaging efforts on behalf of public education will have the greatest effect if linked to broad frames that are developed across sectors, frames that support the value of community and government. And the messaging that supports these values will be most effective if it is delivered by multiple voices, third-party voices that are not strongly identified with public education and other interest groups. It must be coordinated with a long-term strategy.
What kind of an idiot would put this in a story about Arctic ice melting due to climate change?
"The melting does, however, offer some potential benefits, including new shipping routes and easier access to oil and other mineral deposits. "
From Sea Ice in Arctic Measured at Record Low - NYTimes.com
August 26, 2012
Any "science" story that begins like this probably isn't worth reading, because the very first sentence gets it just wrong,
SINCE 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years. This surge comes mostly from improved hygiene and nutrition, but also from new discoveries and interventions: everything from antibiotics and heart bypass surgery to cancer drugs that target and neutralize the impact of specific genetic mutations.
The implication is that people generally died at 47 years old then, and 80 now. But what really happened is fewer babies die now, so at birth the average would be 47 then and 80 now. But people then and now can live to about 80 if they aren't killed by something like childhood illness, war, etc.
Note that this is the same fallacy that propels people to think Social Security is a problem, because life expectancy at birth is greater now. This tricks people into thinking that we pay out Social Security longer...
NY Times: How Long Do You Want to Live?
August 25, 2012
A long war far away (that one with a draft). Nixon campaign theme "Dems take your money and give it to black people."
Jefferson Airplane - House at Pooneil Corners - Manhattan Rooftop Concert (1968)
You and me, we keep walking around and we see all the bullshit around us...
You try and keep your mind on what's going down;
Cant help but see the rhinoceros around us....
Then you wonder what you can be, and you do what you can to get far and high...
And you know I'm still gonna need you around...
And you know I'm still gonna need you around....
You say it's healing, but nobody's feeling it;
Somebody's dealing, somebody's stealing,
And you say you don't see, and you don't;
You say you won't know and you won't, when it comes...
Everything, someday, will be gone except silence;
The earth will be quiet again...
Seas from clouds will wash off the ashes of violence
Left as the memory of men...
There will be no survivors, my friend.
Suddenly everyone will look surprised, stars spinning wheels in the skies,
Sun is scrambled in their eyes,
Circles like a vulture...
Some stood at the window and cried one tear;
I thought that would stop the war, but someone is killing me...
That's the last time I do think anymore;
Jelly and juice and bubbles, bubbles on the floor...
Castles on cliffs vanished, cliffs like heaps of rubbish
Seen from the stars, hour by hour, as splinters, scraps, and black powder.
From here to heaven is a scar,
Dead center, deep as death;
All the idiots have left... (All the idiots have left...)
Cows are almost cooing, turtle doves are mooing;
Which is why a Pooh is poohing in the sun...
Mitt Romney (or someone) writes (or writes for him) in Murdoch/Al-Waleed's Wall Street Journal, that lessons he learned at Bain Capital will help him turn the country around if he is elected President. Is he right?
In WSJ: Mitt Romney: What I Learned at Bain Capital, Romney writes about "job creators" who are "burdened by regulations." He writes about "today's anti-business environment."
In the piece, Romney uses a lot of "code words." For example, he writes that he will "give every family access to great schools and quality teachers." This is code for privatization, meaning he will help dismantle public schools and give people vouchers for private schools instead, just like his Medicare plan. He writes that he will, "make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the investment dollars they need to grow, by reducing and simplifying taxes" meaning give even more tax cuts for the wealthy few, and "stemming the flood of new regulations" meaning getting democracy's pesky protections for people's health and safety and the environment out of the way.
Much of what Romney writes is, of course, great and impossible to argue with. Millions upon millions in corporate campaign cash give him access to the best persuasion messaging that focus groups and polling can come up with. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear. But what happens when you look deeper?
Finally, being Romney, he just lies, writing, "President Obama has piled on excessive regulations, proposed massive tax increases, added more than $5 trillion in federal debt, and failed to address the coming fiscal cliff—all of which is miring our nation in sluggish growth and high unemployment." It was the very Bush policies that Romney advocates returning to, that caused the financial collapse, recession, high unemployment and debt. Before Bush we had a great economy and we were paying off the debt.
Staples, For Example
In So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? I looked into the claim that Romney "created" 100,000 jobs by starting the company. What really happened was that Romney's company followed the Wal-Martization model, using the advantages that come with having large, national chains, putting a number of local, smaller businesses out of business, while shifting a lot of people into lower-paying jobs. From that post,
Staples grew into a major chain because they consolidated what different kinds of stores sold, offering a one-stop-shop for stationery products, office supplies, office-furniture, computers, etc. They also were able to be competitive because of the advantages of scale as they grew into a national chain, centralizing functions like accounting, purchasing, legal, marketing, etc. And never underestimate the power of having a ton of cash at your disposal. This is all just smart business, well executed.
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
This is in many ways just smart business. But it is so important to understand that this is not in any way about creating wealth in ways that help all of us, building up industries and helping communities and the country and the larger economy. It is about taking advantage of various loopholes and innovations that allow a few to shift wealth from the many to themselves. "Shift" is the key word, there is a difference between creating wealth and shifting wealth.
So what are the "good business" practices that Romney promises to extend to the entire country?
If you can manufacture at a lower cost in another country, closing the factory here, laying the people off, devestating the surrounding community, that is "good business."
If you can find ways to reduce staff and reduce the pay of the rest, that is "good business."
How do these"Romney job creator" jobs stack up against other jobs? Average Staples salaries for job postings nationwide are 51% lower than average salaries for all job postings. The pay at Staples appears to be around $8-10 an hour. That's $16-20,000 a year, certainly not enough to support a family, or even pay rent in many areas, never mind buying food. (The 2012 poverty guideline for family of four is $23,050.)
If you can find ways to scam the tax system to increase your own return on investment, that is "good business." Private-equity companies like Bain Capital borrow tremendous amounts using the assets of the acquired company as collateral, immediately passing much of the borrowed money to themselves. The interest payments are tax deductible. Also,
These giant companies even have the power to squeeze communities and even states, demanding tax concessions with the threat of relocation. This has put our tax base in a downward spiral along with our wages.
If you can find ways to put smaller, local businesses out of business, that is "good business."
As Staples grew it overtook competing chains like Businessland and others. In other words, Staples took business from other, existing stores -- often local retailers. Staples did not “create” jobs, it shifted office-supply jobs from local stores, etc., probably to lower-paying jobs. (The former owners of local businesses certainly were worse off from this.) They likely even lowered overall office-supply, stationery, etc. employment in the larger economy.
Please read the entire post, So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? to understand what Mitt Romney is promising to do to our economy.
Next week the Republicans hold their convention. They will supposedly focus their message on the economy. But after four years of an agenda to block jobs and economic growth so they can campaign on complaints of no jobs and no growth, can they offer anything that might actually create jobs and improve the economy? We will see next week.
The Romney Jobs Plans
Perhaps the Republican convention will focus on the Romney jobs plan.
The Romney Jobs Plan has five parts, none of which actually involve actual job creation.
First, of course, Romney says he will create jobs by cutting taxes dramatically for the rich and giant corporations while, yes, raising them for everyone else. The Romney tax plan actually offers even more tax breaks to companies to move operations out of the country. It promises to be "revenue neutral" by getting rid of deductions and loopholes, which could well mean the mortgage interest deduction. (Romney refuses to offer specifics.)
Second, Romney says he will cut government regulations -- meaning cut the ability of We, the People (democracy) to keep companies from doing things that hurt us, hurt smaller companies and hurt the economy. Democracy's oversight is a "burden on the economy" the plan says. Specifically cited in the Romney plan are the new regulations on Wall Street passed in reaction to the deregulated Wall Street crashing the economy, the regulations enacfted after Enron scammed so many people, and efforts to protect our environment and reign in the oil companies after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and because of the terrible oncoming effects of climate change. The Romney plan says these "drive up costs." By getting rid of these "costs" he says jobs will be created. It is possible that he means temporary oil-spill cleanup jobs will be created.
Third, Romney promises to push for more NAFTA-style trade pacts, so even more jobs, factories and industries can be sent out of the country, making a few more Bain-style billionaires as the wages those workers were making are instead put in the pockets of a few. I guess lots of jobs are created when workers pack up machinery in a factory to ship to factories in other countries.
Fourth, Romney's energy plan is simple: unleash oil and coal companies to do anything they want, and get rid of all those pesky alternative energy projects like solar and wind energy. Build a pipeline across our country so Canadian oil companies can sell oil to China. Stop enforcement of environmental laws that hinder oil and coal companies. And, specifically, "Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview." Because the hottest year on record, the worst drought, states and regions on fire, terrible "100-year" storms and flood every year means ... hey, look over there!
Finally, the fifth part of the plan deals with labor. Apparently the South had it right, it is much more "business friendly" when you don't have to pay workers and they can't quit. Seriously, read this section. Paying workers and letting them have rights will "drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation." Letting workers negotiate will "reduce investment and slow job growth."
So a guy who made a fortune by laying people off and cutting the pay of the remaining people (cutting costs), and keeping that money for himself, says that we should base our economy on doing that because it worked for him.
The House Republican Jobs Plan
Perhaps the Republican convention will instead focus on the House Republican jobs plan.
The House Republican Plan for America's Job Creators - Summary: cut taxes for the rich, get rid of the ability of We, the People to control the giant corporations. (Special bonus: get rid of regulations that keep companies from doing harm AND get rid of our ability to sue companies that do harm!)
The introduction to the House plan says that "government takeovers of the economy" (?) have not worked. Government takeovers of the economy? What? Anyway, let's examine the plan.
Cut Taxes: the House plan promises to "reduce the overall tax rate to no more than 25% for businesses and individuals including small business owners." Of course, this is a huge tax cut for the wealthiest. These are the "job creators." The definition of "job creator" is really, really rich. Paris Hilton "creates jobs." So even more tax cuts for the rich. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...
Trade: The plan has a trade plank that actually encourages even more closing factories here and sending the jobs there. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...
Import Cheaper, Foreign Skilled Workers: The plan has a plank calling for special visas to let in foreign workers to do high-skilled jobs because they are paid less than Americans -- older, experienced American tech workers in particular. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...
Austerity: The plan discusses deficits (after promising to dramatically cut taxes) -- using wording implying that deficits cost jobs, which is a standard of Republican rhetoric. So after cutting taxes for the rich, starting two wars and doubling the military budget on top of that, they turned a surplus into huge deficits, and now they say this means we need to ... wait for it ... cut back on the things We, the People do for each other instead of undoing those things that caused the deficits. Whatever. Because doing that created so many jobs in Europe...
Drill, Baby, Drill!: And, finally, the House Republican plan say we must let the oil companies drill more. Of course. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...
So that is the House plan to "create jobs." Do more of what they did in the prosperous, job-creating, economy-improving, deficit-reducing Bush years! This plan will create lots of "revolving door" jobs when House members and their staffs move into lucrative corporate lobbying jobs provided for them if and only if they vote for the above treats for billionaires and their corporations.
What Will They Actually Do If Actually Elected?
If Republicans are put in power, what will they actually do? Will they decide to actually create jobs, or will it just be more treats for a few billionaires and their giant corporations? (Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years...) The existing Romney and House Republican plans focus on treats for billionaires because their election effort is almost entirely funded by billionaires and their giant corporations.
But what about after the election? Will they feel a need to actually create jobs? Will they calculate that the electorate will toss them out if they don't bring about the promised improvements in the economy by cutting taxes and getting democracy out of the way of the big corporations?
Maybe they won't decide to actually create jobs and grow the economy. They'll still be able to take advantage of the revolving door jobs machine, with legislators and their staff able to move seamlessly from government jobs where they pass treats to billionaires, into lucrative jobs provided by those billionaires.
But if they calculate that they need to actually create actual jobs for actual people, and actually help our actual economy their plans offer noting that can actually accomplish this.
Creating Actual Jobs Is Actually Simple
Actually creating actual jobs and actually helping improve the economy is actually pretty simple. We have millions of jobs that need doing, and to actually create jobs all you have to do is actually hire people to do those jobs that actually need doing.
Infrastructure: We actually really, really need to invest in maintaining and modernizing our country's infrastructure. Roads, bridges, waterways, dams, airports, ports, power grid, levees, water systems, waste treatment systems, transit systems (high-speed rail from city to city!!!) (rail systems from every city to every airport!!!) (rail systems running along every commute route!!!), and so many, many more things that need to be done here. And of course this work will pay off because it will make our economy so much more competitive. This is work that has to be done anyway, and will create millions of jobs when we finally get started on this.
Energy: Every home and every building in this country needs to be retrofitted to be energy-efficient. The payoff from this will be enormous!! Millions of jobs now and using (and paying for) so much less energy later.
Those two areas alone will create millions and millions of jobs and leave behind a vastly improved economy. In the short term that is millions of people paying taxes and participating in the economy instead of depending on the safety net. In the long term this work means our economy is in vastly better shape.
There is one and only one reason we have not done these things in the last few years, and that is the Republican strategy of blocking this, in order to keep the economy in the doldrums, so they can "talk about the bad economy." But if they win, this is what they will have to do if they decide to actually create jobs.
There has been a recent flurry of propaganda attacks on wind and solar energy by oil-and-coal-backed conservatives. A vitally important tax credit to help build a renewable energy industry in this country expires at the end of this year without Congressional action, and the old oil and coal industries -- along with certain other countries -- want to make sure it does expire.
The fossil-fuel industry is fully developed after many decades of government help. Going up against a fully-developed industry like oil and coal is enormously expensive, and the industry is trying to block We, the People from triggering private investment to help get us out from under its grip. It has nothing to do with government interfering in markets, or "picking winners and losers," this is about us helping offset the enormous competitive advantage oil and coal have due to government investment and assistance in oil and coal in prior decades. We do this because We, the People see the benefits and prosperity that will come to us from developing these alternative energy industries.
Oil and coal are, to put it mildly, entrenched in our economy, and, to put it mildly, make out very, very well because of that. Various forms of government assistance put them there and keeps them there. Aside from direct help like the tax breaks to the companies themselves and keeping taxes low at the pump (compare the cost of gas here to other countries), there are support structures like the cost of the vast military complex that keeps the oil flowing, building roads instead of rail, etc., and then of course there's the cost to us of that whole "let them dump their waste products into the environment for free" thing.
As a result vast ecosystem supporting the oil and coal industries has been built up over the decades. Delivery systems like pipelines, rail lines, gas stations, etc. are examples of this ecosystem that supports the fossil-fuel industry. Existing refineries were enormously expensive to build. So this industry now rests on decades of capital investment. The investment paid off, provided a vast return, and now offers a competitive advantage over other, newer forms of energy. A barrel of oil comes from the ground from an existing well, or a new well that benefited from decades of technological research and development, much of it helped along by government.
"Renewable" forms of energy do not yet have such an ecosystem. The manufacturing, power grid, etc. are all brand new technologies, that need the kind of investment that lets them build the supply chains, expertise and other things that get them to the trigger point where they can take off. This is enormously expensive to develop -- no matter how great the payoff will be. Countries like China get this, and are helping build those manufacturing ecosystems in their countries. Here, however, we have the entrenched political power of the super-wealthy oil and coal companies in the way, fighting tooth and nail to stop the development of this industry. (And, of course, countries like China have every incentive to do what it takes to keep us from developing this industry here.)
Why Tax Breaks?
Instead of just building up the ecosystem of an industry like alternative energy itself, our government helps trigger private investment by providing tax breaks that help overcome the competitive advantage that decades of investment has brought to established industries. Specifically, to help trigger investment in alternatives like solar and wind energy, our government gives tax credits to these industries so their product can compete now with energy products from oil and coal companies that have already made the huge capital investment (with government help) required to build their ecosystems.
Tax breaks help bring the price of a product down versus the product of an entrenched, developed industry, so new companies can grow and their supply chains and expertise and facilities can develop, until such time as they are far enough along to compete on their own. We, the People (government) do this when we feel it is to our benefit for an industry to develop here. We, the People (government) did this with aerospace, semiconductors, computers, biotech and other modern industries. These are examples of how we can trigger this effect, and then prosper because we did.
When We, the People decide that we will benefit from helping a new industry develop, then yes, We, the People pick a winner, because it benefits us and we prosper as a result.
We, the People (government) did this with these tax breaks for alternative energy. Now the entrenched interests are pulling out all the stops to try to get rid of those tax breaks before the alternative energy industry takes off here. They call it "picking winners and losers" and say it is "interfering with the market" when in fact the oil and coal ecosystem currently is "the winner" because of decades of various forms of government assistance. We, the People (government) assisted those industries because at the time we wanted to grow our economy, and now we want to assist alternatives like solar and wind, because being chained to oil and coal is holding us back and harming the environment. This is supposed to be about what We, the People benefit from, not an entrenched, wealthy few and the power they have to influence and control government decision-making.
US News offers some good background information: Wind Energy Tax Credit: More Hot Air or Key Job Creator?,
The federal renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents/kilowatt hour for the production of electricity from utility-scale wind turbines, and is set to expire on December 31, 2012.
... Without the tax credit, chances are that fewer turbines will be produced and installed. That could have devastating ripple effects on jobs, according to some experts. Last time the PTC was allowed to expire in 2004, installations of new wind turbines dropped as much as 93 percent, according to the American Wind Energy Association, throwing the industry into a perpetual boom-bust cycle that has stunted its growth.
... 37,000. That's the number of jobs the Obama administration says are at risk without the energy tax credits, not a small number considering millions of Americans remain unemployed.
Conservative Propaganda Attacks
Here are some examples of oil-and-coal-backed (and foreign-backed) conservatives using various forms of trickery to fight againt the development of an alternative-energy industry in the United States.
Heritage Foundation: Morning Bell: Wind Energy Subsidies Are As Useful As VHS Tape Subsidies,
The wind production tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year, which has the industry crying out for continued subsidies. ... The credit is a huge handout to wind producers, allowing them to sell their electricity for less than market price. ...
Wall Street Journal (note - this outlet is co-owned by a Saudi oil billionaire): The Energy Subsidy Tally,
The problem is that wind and solar still can't make a go of it without subsidies. Solyndra is merely the most famous of the solar-power failures. Earlier this month United Technologies sold its more than $300 million investment in wind power, with CFO Greg Hayes telling investors, according to press reports that: "We all make mistakes." He added that the market for renewables like wind "as everyone knows, is stagnating." Someone alert the White House.
... the coal, oil, and natural gas industries paid more than $10 billion of taxes in 2009. Wind and solar are net drains on the Treasury.
... Why not eliminate all federal energy subsidies? This would get the government out of the business of picking winners and losers—mostly losers.
(Note that companies like Solyndra have failed as the result of countries like China subsidizing the development of alternative-energy industries in their own countries.)
Breitbart.com: DEAR BIG WIND: IT'S NOT YOU, IT'S ME,
The industry’s taxpayer-funded subsidies are set to expire at the end of this year – and Congress shouldn’t reauthorize. Continuing to subsidize a non-profitable industry to the tune of another $1.6 billion would be throwing good money after bad.
...Meanwhile, other U.S. energy producers are competing in a market where the government has revealed a preference, allowing wind producers to take a 2.2-cent write-off for each kilowatt-hour they produce. But, neither Democrats nor Republicans want to remove the teat from which the wind industry gets its fix.
(Was that written by lobbyists, or just dictated by them?)
"May you be reunited in the world to come with your ancestors, who were all socialist garment workers."
August 24, 2012
Apologies, might not be legit, took it down.
Paul Ryan tips his hat to John Birch Society conspiracy theories about the UN. See Paul Ryan Winks and Nods to Conspiracy Theorists | Bob Cesca
August 23, 2012
Obama is responsible for the hurricane heading towards Florida because he runs the National Hurricane Center? Do you think the Republican base will buy it?
August 22, 2012
This is the Oh. My. God. Republican anti-women piece of the day! Like a Boss - National Review Online,
What do women want? The conventional biological wisdom is that men select mates for fertility, while women select for status — thus the commonness of younger women’s pairing with well-established older men but the rarity of the converse. The Demi Moore–Ashton Kutcher model is an exception — the only 40-year-old woman Jack Nicholson has ever seen naked is Kathy Bates in that horrific hot-tub scene. Age is cruel to women, and subordination is cruel to men. Ellen Kullman is a very pretty woman, but at 56 years of age she probably would not turn a lot of heads in a college bar, and the fact that she is the chairman and CEO of Dupont isn’t going to change that.
Jeeze, just go read the rest yourself. Jeeze.
Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.
From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote.
August 18, 2012
Apple 15" Macbook Pro, made by slaves. Base configuration w 4gb, $1,799, comes with 500gb 5400 RPM hard drive, $150 to get 7200 rpm drive -- 750gb only option.
HP Pavilion $854 base configuration with i7, 6gb and graphics card. Upgrade from 500gb 5400rpm drive to 750gb 7200rpm drive is $20
Apple charges $150 for the exact same drive upgrade as HP charges $20.
I guess both are made by slaves.
...Mr. Obama moved more slowly and sought relatively moderate jurists who he hoped would not provoke culture wars that distracted attention from his ambitious legislative agenda.
... Mr. Obama has also largely shied away from nominating assertive liberals who might stand as ideological counterpoints to some of the assertive conservatives Mr. Bush named. ...
...“Obama didn’t assertively put forward progressive candidates who would be the ideological counterweights to some Republican appointees, and yet his choices have been met with relentless obstructionism anyway,” said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice. “All of this has left Obama with a significantly smaller judicial footprint than he is entitled to.”
This last line is the elitist mistake. It is not OBAMA and his legacy that is harmed by this, it is US! I don't care about Obama's legacy, I care about having a counterweight to the corporate right!!!! THAT is why I voted for Obama, and why so many people might choose not to vote at all this time.
A look at one of Bain Capital's first deals shows a get-rich-quick-at-everyone-else's-expense pattern forming: borrow heavily, gut assets, cut wages, cut safety, crush unions, restructure for tax avoidance and sell with a sweetheart, insider deal. That pattern foreshadowed what happened to our jobs, communities, industries, economy and country since the early 1980s. An already-wealthy few got fantastically rich(er) and the rest of us paid the price.
A Financial Times Investigation
In FT investigation: Romney’s take-off the Financial Times (FT) investigated the $5 million buyout of Key Airlines, a "formative" deal from Mitt Romney's company Bain Capital's early years.
At the time Mitt Romney was at the consultant firm Bain & Company, and heard that Key Airlines was looking to be bought. Key Airlines had a $10 million per year government contract to shuttle pilots and support workers between Las Vegas and "Area 52," where they were working on the then-secret F-117A stealth fighter. Romney formed Bain Capital in part to buy the airline. T. Coleman Andrews III, a former White House official recruited to Bain by Romney led the buyout for Bain and chaired its board of directors.
The Financial Times investigation showed how the purchase of Key Airlines helped establish the company's method of doing business. They bought the company by borrowing all the money needed, 100% debt-financed, meaning Romney and Bain put up no money -- and very little risk -- of their own. They "restructured" the company; according to FT, "Bain also reshaped Key Airlines, turning it from a profitable, taxpaying company with a $13m balance sheet and its own aircraft, into an operating company with a $2m balance sheet and a holding company from which it sold assets separately."
When the pilots tried to start a union, the company unlawfully suppressed the effort with what a federal judge called "blatant, grievous, wilful, deliberate and repeated violations."
No-Risk Leveraged Purchase
One of the ways private-equity companies make money is by borrowing using the purchased company's assets as collateral, and passing some or all of the borrowed money to themselves. Romney and Bain purchased Key Airlines by securing a $5 million loan with $2.5 million worth of aircraft owned by the company, and a $2 million guarantee of their own. In other words, they borrowed money to buy the company by promising the lender they would put up the company's assets as collateral. (The company had a $10 million per year government contract.)
The bank lent the money with part of it personally guaranteed after satisfying themselves that the investors were worth enough money. In other words, they could finance a debt-only deal because they were already rich.
Restructuring To Avoid Taxes
When purchased, Key Airlines was making money and paying taxes. By borrowing, the company incurred debt servicing costs, which are deductible against taxes. The company also restructured in ways that cut taxes. According to FT, "Bain also reshaped Key Airlines, turning it from a profitable, taxpaying company with a $13m balance sheet and its own aircraft, into an operating company with a $2m balance sheet and a holding company from which it sold assets separately."
Crushing The Union
Private equity companies cut costs. If you are not rich and have to work for a living, you are one of those "costs" that has to be cut. Your pay or your job are in the way of someone making a whole lot of money. Another "cost" to cut is the work environment. Worker safety can cost money, so it is one more thing that is in the way of someone making a whole lot of money. Providing a good, reliable product is another "cost" that is in the way of someone making a whole lot of money, and in an airline that "cost" is safe, well-maintained airplanes.
In 1985 a majority of Key's pilots tried to form a union. According to FT, "the pilots cited safety concerns; management said that the pilots were unhappy because of their low pay."
Bain was getting ready to sell the airline, and the worst thing that could happen to them would be a union, which could demand fair pay, worker safety and better maintenance and air safety procedures. Crushing the union -- keeping pay low, and being able to ignore pleas for safer conditions for workers and passengers -- would mean the Bain investors would make a lot of money. So they crushed the union.
According to FT,
There followed an unlawful attempt by Mr Andrews and Key management, in the words of District Court judge Roger Foley, “to stamp out any cockpit crew members’ union before it could come into being”.
In January 1986, Mr Andrews and Olen Rae Goodwin, interim president of the union, met in the Key Airlines trailer at Nellis. The court ruled that Mr Andrews had then “threatened [Mr] Goodwin’s job and he threatened to leave Key, and that the management team would also leave. He threatened to sell Key”.
A court later found that Key's management had illegally suppressed the union, and awarded $500,000 in punitive damages.
Labor bosses: When asked about this recently Romney had this to say,
“President Obama continues to put the interests of labour bosses ahead of the interests of Americans looking for work. By contrast, Governor Romney has grown companies and created jobs, in the private sector and as governor of Massachusetts, and will get America working again,” said Michele Davis, a spokeswoman.
"Blatant, grievous, wilful, deliberate and repeated violations": Another FT story, Romney link to union suppression ruling explains further,
“The anti-union activities in this case are not merely unfair labour practices as Key argues, but blatant, grievous, wilful, deliberate and repeated violations of the Railway Labour Act,” Roger Foley, federal judge for the District of Nevada, wrote in 1992, in a case brought by two Key pilots.
That's how a federal judge worded it. (Note how a case that started in 85 takes till 92 to get a ruling.) This is what the airline had done:
According to the court ruling, Key held coercive meetings with pilots; said management would leave and the company lose contracts; and told pilots that salaries, bonuses and benefits could be frozen. Federal labour law forbids an airline “to interfere in any way with the organisation of its employees”.
Sold For A Lot
The once-profitable company was struggling, losing money, had only $2 million in assets -- down from $13 million when Bain bought it -- and had just avoided (illegally suppressed) unionization. But Bain was able to sell part of it to Presidential Airways-- a company in which Bain was also an investor, with Andrews on its Board -- for $18 million. They sold other parts of the company for further profit. The Bain partners got rich(er).
According to FT
In the final analysis, it is hard to say whether Bain Capital was good or bad for Key Airlines.
The operating company had higher sales, was more focused, more efficient and employed more people by the time that Bain sold out.
On the other hand, it was also more fragile, with only one line of business, net losses and a weak balance sheet.
So a look at Bain Capital's early, "formative" years tell us a lot about what has happened to our country, and our jobs, and our economy. This was the beginning of a pattern of Bain-ization that swept through the economy. Good jobs were replaced with low-wage, insecure jobs. They used various schemes to avoid taxes. They suppressed unions. They gutted the assets of good companies. They cut costs (us) and cut costs (safety) and cut costs (product quality) and cut costs (customer support) and cut corners and cut We, the People out of the equation.
August 16, 2012
Remember, send this to others!
August 15, 2012
Don't just put me on your email list. There are 435 Congressional campaigns and how many Senate campaigns? I seem to be on every one of these campaigns' email lists without being asked. So when I get your email I go straight to the "Unsubscribe" link. And then I am annoyed and LESS inclined to write about your campaign. Also all my time gets used up dumping all the emails and unsubscribing.
One more thing, tricky email subject lines get you banned. I might be tricked into opening the email, but I will never, ever open another one, no matter how important it is. Fool me once, etc...
If your subject line starts with "Re:" you are banned, period, no matter what. If it says, "Getting back to you" you are banned.
You have to be THE most progressive candidate EVER to make up for those things.
Drudge Report today:
'TAKE YOUR CAMPAIGN OF DIVISION AND ANGER AND HATE BACK TO CHICAGO'...
SPIKE LEE: OBAMA WILL DO WHATEVER HE WANTS IN SECOND TERM...
New Black Panthers to RNC: Our 'Feet Will Be On Your Motherf***ing Necks'...
In Harvard essay, young Michelle Obama argued for race-based faculty hiring...
Obama ready to sign up illegal aliens as amnesty program begins...
This, ladies and gentlemen, is your modern Republican Party... (Sorry, I'm not linking through to any of it.) Meanwhile Romney is claiming that Obama is running a "campaign of hate."
PS Drudge Report has been called "the assignment editor for America's news outlets."
August 11, 2012
Paul Ryan, speaking to the Atlas Society in 2005,
I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well....
But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand. And the fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.
(Note - in Randian language "collectivism" -- community, society, recognition of the interdependence of people ("we built that") -- means democracy, or "gang rule" as Ayn Rand words it. Ayn Rand: "Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights" "Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom . . .")
In almost every fight we are involved in here, on Capitol Hill, whether it’s an amendment vote that I’ll take later on this afternoon, or a big piece of policy we’re putting through our Ways and Means Committee, it is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict: individualism vs. collectivism....
And so when you take a look at where we are today, ah, some would say we’re on offense, some would say we’re on defense, I’d say it’s a little bit of both. And when you look at the twentieth-century experiment with collectivism—that Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did such a good job of articulating the pitfalls of statism and collectivism—you can’t find another thinker or writer who did a better job of describing and laying out the moral case for capitalism than Ayn Rand.
(Note - here Ryan complains of "statism" another Randian cult term, as well as "collectivism" - community and democracy. Rand says "statism" - government and its laws and taxes - is "the political expression of altruism." She says it is a "monstrously evil theory" to allow democracy, or "gang rule" to have the power - law - to make people do things or as she calls it, "the power of brute force." This is the idea behind the right's slogan "taxes are theft" and the general right-wing complaint that all taxes and government are forms of "socialism.")
It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are. I always go back to, you know, Francisco d’Anconia’s speech (at Bill Taggart’s wedding) on money when I think about monetary policy. And then I go to the 64-page John Galt speech, you know, on the radio at the end, and go back to a lot of other things that she did, to try and make sure that I can check my premises so that I know that what I’m believing and doing and advancing are square with the key principles of individualism…
(Note - Francisco d’Anconia’s speech, money is the true measure of achievement, proof of nobility. "Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men.")
Is this an easy fight? Absolutely not…But if we’re going to actually win this we need to make sure that we’re solid on premises, that our principles are well-defended, and if want to go and articulately defend these principles and what they mean to our society, what they mean for the trends that we set internationally, we have to go back to Ayn Rand. Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.
I suspect that this right-wing complaint about "uncertainty" is a complaint about democracy. There is no corporate council completely in charge yet able to determine all policy, and democracy can still rear its ugly head and ask for minimum wages, health care, things like that, which means there is "uncertainty" about whether policies will all be completely corporate-centered, etc...
Every Republican candidate should be asked, "What did you do to help the President of the United States fix the economy?"
Republicans are complaining that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is holding a conference in ... one of the states in the 9th Circuit. They are complaining because the meeting is being held in Hawaii. In response to pressure from Republicans the Court is cancelling a conference scheduled next year in California.
This weekend, judges, lawyers and staff of the country's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will convene in Maui, Hawaii, for a government-funded conference that they refused to cancel despite pressure from Republican lawmakers who balked at the junket's $1 million price tag.
Conferences cost money. Judges, staff, speakers, facilities, food, airfare, lodging cost money. It is not known if other Circuit Courts are also being pressured to cancel their conferences in other states as well, like Kansas, Mississippi, New Jersey, etc.
August 10, 2012
Sunday a right-wing terrorist killed six people and critically wounded three others. This was just one of many ongoing right-wing terrorists attacks around the country. Monday, for example, a mosque in Missouri was burned to the ground.
Right-wing terrorism is a serious threat, and we know it for a fact. Think Tim McVeigh. But in 2009 the Obama administration shut down most Department of Homeland Security tracking of right-wing terrorism, and still has not revived it.
Daryl Johnson, the former official who ran the team, told Wired Magazine's "Danger Room" blog this week his team had been "dissolved," and that Homeland Security was "scoffing at the mission of doing domestic counter-terrorism, as is Congress."
The Obama administration has some explaining to do.
August 9, 2012
Mitt Romney's bullet-point, detail-free, policy-free economic "plan" contains a section on cutting the deficit. What is Romney's approach, and what is the effect on our economy and our lives?
The Deficit "Crisis"
Any discussion of the deficit "crisis" should start with this:
1) January 26, 2000, Clinton to Propose Early Debt Payoff,
President Clinton said Tuesday that the budget he will send Congress on Feb. 7 will propose paying off the entire $3.6-trillion national debt by 2013--two years earlier than had been expected even a few months ago.
2) 2001 Alan Greenspan said we needed to pass the Bush tax cuts because we were paying off the debt too quickly.
3) Bush said it was "incredibly positive news" when the budget turned from surplus to deficit because budget deficits meant there would be pressure to cut entitlements. Bush wanted to continue the "strategic deficits" plan to "starve the beast" that was launched in the Reagan years.
We were paying off the debt, and then something changed, and now the deficits are enormous. A discussion of the borrowing ought to perhaps, maybe, possibly, understandably, reasonably begin with a look at the causes of the borrowing: tax cuts for the wealthy, huge increases in military spending, and the effects of the financial collapse and jobs emergency. Does Romney's? (Hint: it does the opposite.)
Romney's Deficit Plan
Mitt Romney’s Plan For A Stronger Middle Class is a short collection of bullet points, divided into 5 sections. On Cenk's show the other day, he was describing the plan, how it is just a few bullet points with no details, but underneath the bullet points it says "Click here for a bigger copy." So he clicked it and instead of more information, specifics and details it's the same few bullet points, just BIGGER. (By the way if you aren't watching Cenk's show, you're missing out, it is really good. If you have Cable or satellite TV, see if you get Current TV where you live by going here, entering your zip code at the top...)
Here is the deficit section of Mitt Romney’s Plan For A Stronger Middle Class,
• Immediately reduce non-security discretionary spending by five percent • Cap federal spending below twenty percent of the economy • Give states responsibility for programs that they can implement more effectively • Consolidate agencies and align compensation of federal workers with their private-sector counterparts
Reduce "non-security" means don't cut military, homeland security and similar spending. In fact, Romney has proposed to increase military spending.
Romney does not specify what to cut to reach the 5% figure. But he does elsewhere say he would accomplish this by passing the House budget proposal -- "the Ryan plan" -- which eliminates Medicare and cuts the "safety net."
Cap federal spending below twenty percent of the economy -- he means federal spending which by the way includes his military spending increases -- is about picking some arbitrary number regardless of the need for government to do certain things.
By tying spending to GDP this is a plan to cut government exactly when it is needed most -- when GDP falls. If GDP falls dramatically as it did after the financial crisis, "safety net," infrastructure investment and other programs would have to fall dramatically at the very time they are needed to help We, the People and the economy!
Give states responsibility for programs that they can implement more effectively: means getting programs off of the federal budget and letting states decide if they want to do them. Note that President Obama recently approved changes in "welfare" that opened up flexibility to the states, and the Romney campaign said the President was "gutting" welfare.
Consolidate agencies and align compensation of federal workers with their private-sector counterparts: means drive down pay and get rid of pensions and other benefits that government workers receive, because Wall Street (and private-equity firms like Romney's) have been able to drive down pay and eliminate pensions and benefit in the private sector,
Deficit Reduction After He Proposes Cutting Taxes?
Romney's "Championing Small Business" section of this same plan dramatically cuts taxes on the wealthy. It cuts tax rates another 20% on top of the Bush tax cuts (paid for by raising taxes, fees and costs on 98% of us). It cuts corporate taxes by a third. It eliminates corporate taxes on foreign earnings, encouraging corporations to move profit centers out of the country. It eliminates taxes on income received from having wealthy parents ("death tax"). It eliminates the alternative minimum tax that keeps the rich from using loopholes to avoid all taxes.
So it is important to note that Romney's promise to reduce deficits follows on the heels of his promise to dramatically increase deficits.
Shifting, Not Cutting
When government eliminates a program the need for the program doesn't go away. Either the need is left unaddressed -- a cost to those with the need -- or the cost of addressing that need is shifted from government onto individuals, on their own. This means that the cost to our larger economy is increased, but bearer of that cost is shifted.
One example of this cost-shifting is what happens if Medicare is cut or eliminated, as Republicans have proposed (and passed in the House.) The need for health care for seniors doesn't go away, but without Medicare the cost is shifted onto the seniors and their families, on their own -- as is the burden of locating and choosing coverage and care. And this means that the cost of that care increases. By shifting Medicare costs from government we are actually increasing medical costs in the larger economy, not eliminating those costs. (One study,"Cost of Medicare Equivalent Insurance Skyrockets under Ryan Plan," says cutting Medicare increases the actual cost sevenfold. This is because the government can negotiate bulk discounts, etc. that we cannot get on our own, and because seniors, on their own without our government handing this will be taken advantage of, especially when they are sick.)
Cutting government is not just shifting these costs onto each of us, the loss of government's bargaining power means that in the larger economy these costs are magnified, which hurts the economy. They are just shifted from taxpayers onto and at the expense of the larger economy. But why distinguish between taxpayers and the rest of the economy?
Cutting Government Means Cutting What WE Get From The System
In our system those who do the best from the economy pay more taxes back. Those taxes are then used to invest in education, science, health, infrastructure, security, courts and the rest of the things that set the stage for the economy to continue and grow. These are the things that are the soil in which businesses thrive, and some of the gains are then put back into that system through taxes. Those becoming wealthy today are doing so out of the soil that We, the People nurtured yesterday.
Prosperity is what grows out of that soil that nurtures our businesses. It was our mutual contribution as citizens in our democracy that nurtured that soil, and in a democracy we are supposed to see a mutual benefit from that prosperity. WE educated and got educated. WE worked and provided jobs. WE built roads and bridges. WE built the system that creates such great wealth that people can have private jets and many houses. We, the People, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, did ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Since taxes come out of the benefits of our mutual prosperity -- in other words the wealthy pay more taxes because they get more from the economy -- and government is what We, the People get out of it, then cutting government means that a lesser share of that prosperity goes to We, the People, and an even greater share of that prosperity goes to to top few. In other words, those gaining wealth already get the benefits of society's gains, and then if we cut government they pay less back in taxes for those things that get cut. In other, other words, those things that We, the People do for each other through our government, like Medicare, education, parks, etc., are reduced, so We, the People are getting less back from our system, while those already benefitting from that system by becoming wealthy are paying less back into the system. That is what cutting government means.
This is the Romney plan for cutting deficits -- We get less so a wealthy few can have even more.
"These words were written for the Kohms as well!"
August 8, 2012
The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?
The Growing List Of Lies
This week's lie is the "Obama gutted welfare reform" nonsense. See Bill Scher's must-read response, Romney's Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism. The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this: Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform. The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.
The next-most recent lie was the "Obama is trying to keep military families from voting" lie. This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-military" narrative.
Before that was the "You didn't build that" lie, where the Romney campaign doctored audio to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn't say. (And got away with it.) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the "Democrats are anti-business" narrative.
This one on welfare reinforces the "Democrats take your money and give it to black people" narrative. "We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work," said Romney, promising to make them work good and hard.
Rachel Maddow's blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies, and it is a loooooong list.
How It Is Done
Here is how it works. Each lie is developed in the right's machine, using something currently in the news to reinforce an ongoing narrative about "liberals." The lie percolates up through a well-worn process where the germ of the story is planted in smaller outlets, and variations of it are tried out until one seems to resonate. Next, larger right-wing media operations pick up the developed "story" and drive it further. It gets amplified on the radio, FOX News and the right's newspapers. Finally the corporate media takes it out to more and more people, covering themselves with the claim they are just "reporting" on a "story" that is "already out there."
One way or another the lie is repeated and repeated and repeated (and repeated) in various forms through various channels that reach various target groups, until it becomes a "truth." Once it has become a "truth" the Romney campaign uses this "truth" to claim Democrats and President Obama are harming the country.
The Solyndra story is a good example. The right developed a lie about "cronyism," claiming that a Democratic donor is "tied to" solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra because a foundation with his name on it was an investor in the company. Because a foundation was the investor there was no possibility for the donor to benefit. But that doesn't matter, they used this "tie" to spread a lie the Obama administration was steering money into someone's pocket, and they repeated it and repeated it and repeated it.
After months of repetition of this lie, the Romney campaign understood that the lie has become a "truth," and is using that "truth" themselves in campaign ads and Romney's stump speech! Romney talks about "cronyism" in the Obama administration, understanding that much of the public now believes this is established fact.
The Romney campaign is limiting media access to the candidate and offering little in the way of substantive policy proposals. They are instead using press releases, advertisements, message-trained surrogates, cooperative media like FOX, Drudge, talk radio, allied newspapers and the right's blogosphere, while coordinating with massively-funded outside groups like Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation and others.
This is a key thing to get, the Romney campaign believes that they can win this election using lies and propaganda as "truths" to drive their campaign story. They are making the calculation that the right's media machine has become sufficiently powerful for their version of reality to reach enough of the public, and that it is sticking in their minds as "truths!"
They are also making the calculation -- so far validated by the media response -- that there will be little if any pushback from "mainstream" media. They trust that the media will look the other way, report lies as "one side says X, the other says Y," tell the public "both sides do it," and say this is just par for the course.
But if there is media resistance, they are calculating that the right's own media power can override any pushback that might come. They might also believe they can turn media resistance to their advantage. Decades have been spent convincing their followers to see potentially objective information sources as "the liberal media," enemy of conservatism, and any pushback for lying could just increase support for their campaign.
So the Romney campaign, like the recent Bush administration, are conscious that they do not need to work with facts. Instead they believe they can "create truth" through the manipulation of perception. This is hardly new in Repubican circles. The phrase "reality-based community" came out of the previous Republican administration's calculations of what the public will and won't learn about. This famous quote from Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush by Ron Suskind, explains,
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
What Does The Public "Know?"
If you are reading this you are likely very well-informed. You pay attention to the mainstream news, as well as read various progressive sources. But much of the public is not very well-informed, and faces the problem of not knowing what sources to trust. Subjected to a constant battering of corporate/conservative propaganda and disinformation, they are busy, and not ready or able to do the extensive research needed to make informed decisions.
Progressives and "liberals" try to solve this problem by trying to help people get informed. Conservatives, however, try to use it to their advantage, spreading self-serving misinformation.
The well-funded propagandists study and understand the shorthand methods people use to determine what to believe. This is the reason for the ongoing attacks on the credibility of what would normally be seen as trustworthy sources, like PBS, NPR and what the rest of what has been disparaged for decades as "the liberal media." This is also the reason for the establishment of so many corporate-funded conservative "institutes" and other academic and authoritative-sounding organizations that issue "studies" and "reports" that always echo the corporate-conservative positions.
The "mainstream" corporate media has also undergone a change over recent decades. Many outlets now see themselves as businesses with a product that has to appeal to "the market" to make money. They no longer see their mission to be informing the public so citizens have the information that is needed to function in a democracy, but instead as "maximizing shareholder return," by "driving traffic" and whatever else it takes to sell advertising. And many people working as "journalists" understand that advancing their own careers means not making waves by being perceived as "leftist" or "anti-business."
Steve Benen calls this a "test for the political world," writing,
How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney's lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney's lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney's lies about taxes.
The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.
The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?
This is a test for the political world, as well as a challenge to the viability of our democratic system. We can expect this to continue and accelerate until election day, driven by hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires and their huge corporations. The question is, will enough of our misinformed public be tricked by the lies? If this succeeds, what kind of country will we become? What will be left?
August 7, 2012
"A direct descendant of Brigham Young, Sue Emmett left the church because of the very values she says would make Romney a frightening president. She speaks exclusively with Jamie Reno."
Emmett has watched Mitt Romney very closely throughout his public life and has strong opinions about what shaped his personality and his character. “Mitt is a product not only of his wealth, but of an organization that gives men power when they are 12 years old,” she says. “That is when boys are ordained with the priesthood. It is a big moment in a Mormon male’s childhood.”
As for what pundits say is Romney's difficulty connecting with people, Emmett blames it largely on what she calls “the entitled Mormon male syndrome, where the leadership professes compassion and concern but leaves the manifestations of that to the drones. All male leadership is not this way; there are some wonderful men who do their best to exercise their power compassionately, but many do not.”
Emmett says Romney was a bishop, “a position where everyone defers to you. What a bishop says goes. People come to them to receive blessings.” He then became a stake president, she says, which means he presided over several congregations, and at that point bishops deferred to him.
“Mitt has had people defer to him and not challenge him his entire life,” says Emmett. “In the Mormon church if you challenge your priesthood leaders it’s a very bad thing to do, especially for women. As the world can now see, Mitt has a very hard time with being questioned and criticized; he’s had so little of this in his life."
Read the whole thing, this guy could be the next President. Then go Google "Lying for the Lord."
From the site: (click through for links)
SO, WHAT'S THE DEAL?
Mitt Romney is the first and only presidential candidate in U.S. history to have had a Swiss bank account.
But he won’t disclose any information about it to American voters. He has so far released only a partial 2010 tax return, which doesn’t include disclosure of his financial accounts overseas in tax havens. President Obama, meanwhile, released tax records dating back to 2000, and Mitt Romney’s father, George, disclosed 12 years’ worth of data when he ran for president.
So what is Romney hiding? Could it be that he has more money taxed at a lower rate than any one has so far estimated? Did he take advantage of the IRS special tax amnesty program in 2009, which allowed him to evade criminal charges? How much has he stashed in the Cayman Islands? Or Bermuda? What other secret investments does Romney not want the American people to know about?
August 4, 2012
I have this up over at AlterNet: 6 Brands Playing Footsie with Conservatives and Paying the Price,
Chick-fil-A might have gotten a nice, one-day sales boost with "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," but tying a national brand to aging white bigots is not a winning strategy – and the numbers prove it.
August 3, 2012
"Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All
Prosperity economics concludes that there is no trade-off between creating a strong, dynamic economy and fostering a society marked by greater health, broader security, increased equality of opportunity, and more broadly distributed growth."
Headline at Drudge: NOONAN: Obama's 'You Didn't Build That' most famous words of his presidency...
Obama was pointing out that government built the roads and bridges that enable business to thrive. Republicans edited the audio to make it sound like he said business owners didn't build their businesses.
Republicans make their own 'truths' and then repeat it and repeat it and repeat it until lots of people think it was really true.
August 1, 2012
Protect Social Security and Medicare, raise taxes on the wealthiest, create middle class jobs -- who could be against those things? The Congressional Progressive Caucus announced today a set of "Deal for All" principles that take a stand "against any plan that benefits the richest two percent of Americans at everyone else’s expense." Democrats running for Congress should make this their campaign theme.
The Fiscal Cliff
After the election there is going to be a big fight over the expiring Bush tax cuts, and the scheduled "sequestration" that cuts the military budget and other government spending.
The plutocrats (who at other times claim to be for deficit reduction) are calling this "the fiscal cliff" in an attempt to whip up a crisis "shock doctrine" atmosphere. They hope to stampede the Congress into yet another 1%er deal, or "Grand Bargain."
The "bargain," of course, is to cut the things government does for We, the People in exchange for cutting the taxes that the rich pay even more.
The Deal for All -- A Framework For Bargaining
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) announcing a "Deal for All" today:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said at the beginning the press conference: "An all-cuts deal will not be acceptable." "We can not cut our way out of the deficit we have to grow our way out of it, that means investing in America's infrastructure."
The Deal for All -- now House Resolution 733 -- outlines the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ basic principles for resolving tax and budget issues that come up after the November election. They will serve as a framework for progressives during the negotiations.
These are the basic principles of the CPC Deal for All:
- Preventing any cuts to benefits for millions of seniors, children, and disabled Americans who depend on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
- Ensuring the richest two percent contribute their fair share in taxes and ending corporate loopholes for tax-dodging companies that ship American jobs overseas
- Making strategic cuts to defense spending and focusing on combating twenty-first century risks
- Investing in America’s future and putting Americans back to work
Note that last point -- invest in creating jobs! By investing in infrastructure we put people back to work now while making our economy more efficient and competitive for the future. It pays for itself.
Isaiah J. Poole, in Instead Of A Bad "Grand Bargain," Let's Make A "Deal For All", explains,
Their resolution calls for a "Deal for All" that would protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; contain "serious revenue increases," including corporate tax loopholes and higher tax brackets for the highest-income earners; significant reductions in defense spending; and "strong levels of job-creating Federal investments in areas such as infrastructure and education."
... The "Deal for All" stands in sharp contrast to the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan offered by the co-chairmen of President Obama's fiscal commission, Erskine Bowles and former Sen. Alan Simpson. That plan would, among other things, lower tax rates on the wealthiest Americans while cutting more than $400 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next 10 years and reducing cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security recipients.
Many Democrats are being pushed into believing that such policies are necessary to keep the government and the economy from falling over a "fiscal cliff" by the end of the year. Fortunately, some of these Democrats are pushing back, arguing that this is the time to end flawed tax policies that favored the wealthy at the expense of working-class Americans, and reject the austerity policies that we see failing miserably in Europe.
Democrats Should Run On This
You are pretty much guaranteed not to read about this in the paper or hear about it on the news. But here it is, the Deal for All, that respects what the public wants, and what economists say is best of the economy. It also happens to reflect majority opinion.
Good policy is good politics, and Democrats should run on this now, so they can fight for this after the election.
This is the text of the resolution, H. Res. 733:
"Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that any deal replacing the Budget Control Act of 2011 should contain serious revenue increases and no Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefit cuts."
RESOLUTION Expressing the sense of Congress that any deal replacing the “Budget Control Act of 2011” must contain serious revenue increases and no Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security benefit cuts.
Whereas the start of sequestration under the “Budget Control Act of 2011” and the expiration of the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush may lead to a deal on taxes and spending;
Whereas Medicare is a cornerstone of the American health care system and a vital part of life for more than 40 million American seniors and more than 8 million Americans with disabilities;
Whereas Medicaid provides health and long-term care services for low-income and middle-class families with family members stricken with catastrophic illness, injury, or disability, or facing prolonged infirmity;
Whereas Social Security provides vital protections for people of all ages in 1 of every 4 families, including 36 million retired workers, 8.6 million disabled workers, 6.3 million survivors of deceased workers, and 6.5 million children, and since it has $2.7 trillion in accumulated assets and no borrowing authority, does not contribute to the Federal budget deficit;
Whereas unemployment levels are still unacceptably high and federal investments in areas such as infrastructure, education, research, nutrition, housing, and services struggling Americans depend on grow the economy and create jobs;
Whereas extending the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush would increase the deficit by $3.3 trillion over ten years;
Whereas long-term unsustainable deficits pose a threat to the social safety net;
Whereas defense spending, not counting two off-budget wars, has doubled over the last decade, failing to responsibly reduce our national debt by cutting outdated defense programs and by addressing billions of dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse;
Whereas the unbalanced “Bowles-Simpson” proposal contains unacceptable cuts of $402 billion from Medicare and Medicaid over ten years, and substantial Social Security cuts for current and future beneficiaries; and
Whereas working and middle class Americans have been working harder and harder for less and less: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that any deal on taxes and spending to replace the Budget Control Act –
(1) must not cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits;
(2) must contain serious revenue increases, including closing corporate tax loopholes and increasing individual income tax rates for the highest earners;
(3) must significantly reduce defense spending to focus our armed forces on combating 21st century risks; and
(4) must promote economic growth and expand economic opportunity by including strong levels of job-creating federal investments in areas such as infrastructure and education, and by promoting private investment.
Once again, good policy is good politics. All Democrats should embrace this Deal for All. They should campaign onit, and they should pledge to stick to these principles in the budget fight that will follow the election.
Romney ahead in polls now. So ... doctoring audio to make it sound like your opponent said something he never said, and then spending hundreds of millions on TV ads talking about how terrible it is that he said that ... WORKS!
Of course, the lie that Democrats cut $500 billion from Medicare also became a "truth" that swung an election.