November 30, 2012
This is REALLY good!
Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale, is narrated by Ed Asner, with animation by Mike Konopacki. Written and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. An 8 minute video about how we arrived at this moment of poorly funded public services and widening economic inequality. Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore. They tell the people that there is no alternative, but the people aren't so sure. This land bears a startling resemblance to our land. For more info, www.cft.org.
November 29, 2012
House Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority leader each claimed this week that higher taxes on the wealthy will cause the "job creators" to cut jobs and "hurt growth." The Heritage Foundation makes specific claims about how this will happen. Let's take a look.
The Heritage Claim
The Heritage Foundation purchased a Twitter promotion that shows up if you look for the hashtag #my2k, which President Obama has asked people to use when tweeting about the $2,000 he claims the average middle-class person will pay in additional taxes if the portion of the Bush tax cuts that was for people below $250K expire. (Note - almost all of that will be paid by people approaching that $250K top end. Regular middle-class people won't pay anywhere near $2k in additional taxes.)
Heritage's Twitter promotion sends people to a Heritage post, 4 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Wrong on Tax Hikes. Heritage trots out the old "job creators" myth, saying wealthy people are the people who "create jobs" with their money, and won't hire people if they have to pay taxes. Here is one of Heritage's 4 claims:
According to Treasury figures, 1.2 million Americans who employ people are paying their taxes through the individual income tax, and they would be hit head-on. The amount that their taxes would go up could be roughly equivalent to one employee’s salary, meaning that’s one person they can’t hire in the new year.
I heard about Heritage's claims from several major sources including Marketplace and the Newshour (repeated to their audiences without examining whether it made sense.) So I think it is worth examining.
Let's Dig Into This Claim
Let's take a closer look at this claim that the average "small businessperson" will not hire one person because of the additional tax.
Let's say the potential employee's salary is $25,000. If the Bush tax cuts expire the top rate goes up by 4.6% on income above $250K (after all deductions.) $25,000 is 4.6% of about $544,000. So the Heritage claim is that a businessperson who has an income from their business -- after all personal deductions -- of about $794,000 ($250,000 plus the 544,000 on which the additional tax would apply) "can't" hire a needed person.
(If the potential employee would have made more, this employer's taxable income rises if the tax means the employer won't hire someone. If the employee that can't be hired makes $30,000 the employer has to have an income of $902,000 to pay that much additional tax.)
The Problems With The Claim
This claim relies on the reader not understanding how these taxes are calculated, why business hire and fire and how businesses make profits. Heritage bases the claim on the idea that a business-owner cold not hire someone they needed to make them around $800-900,000 after all deductions.
Businesses want to keep costs down and that means they don't hire people unless they really, really need to. They hire people when doing so will make them more money, they lay people off when it will save them money. Employees are only hired or kept on the payroll if they are needed, and not hiring one necessary person would therefore hurt the business that was successful enough for the owner to make at least $794,000 after all deductions.
So assuming the business owner knew what he or she was doing, and only had the number of employees that were needed, the following year the business would do worse without that needed employee, and the owner would make less. Would an employer really do this? Of course not.
Let me ask another question. How come every time I closely examine a conservative economic claim it falls apart, and was really about fooling people into giving more money to rich people, not making things better for all of us?
November 28, 2012
The other day I wrote about almost buying an iPad Mini but the price and lack of GPS stopped me. I Came THIS Close To Buying iPad Mini!,
I went looking around today. I went to Stanford Mall, where there are Sony, Microsoft and Apple stores. I almost bought an iPad mini, but Apple talked me out of it.
... It costs too much, but I would have bought one one the spot anyway. But then I found out it doesn't have a GPS in it. To get one with a GPS you have to pay another $130 to get the cell-enabled device. ...
Apple. This is the company that charges $30 for a 5-cent cord. So, no sale. Android devices have GPS, and I have a wireless hotspot on my phone so I do not need a pad with cell service in it.
So I finally bought the Nexus 7 and I just couldn't be more impressed, especially with the new Android 4.2 OS upgrade. You can customize the OS to work the way you work, etc...
Between this and Windows 8 I feel like Apple is over, they have been leapfrogged. I'll probably get a Windows or Andriod phone next, too.
The hardware is good but their pricing ruins it. I mean, we're looking to replace a 15" Macbook Pro and I go to the Apple store and it starts at $1800 but that's with a slow 5200 RPM drive, and the lowest-available upgrade -- $10 to $20 when ordering PCs -- is $150. 512GB solid state is another $1,000, when PCs come with hybrid drives now and you can just buy a 512SSD for less than half that. Antiglare screen is another $100, etc. etc.
The "Retina Display" model runs from $2200 to $2800 before you add anything. ($3750 with more ram and a big flash drive. I don't think you can pay that much for any PC laptop anywhere.)
November 27, 2012
The statisticians were right about the election. The scientists were right about the weather. And the economists are right about … the economy.
350 economists have signed a letter warning Congress, warning “too many in Washington are fixated on cutting public spending to balance the budget, not on how to put people back to work and get our economy going. We need jobs first. With recovery, deficit reduction will come of its own accord thanks to increased revenues in an improving economy.”
Yet Washington seems to be listening more to a much smaller group of CEOs fronting the “Fix The Debt” campaign who want to target Social Security and Medicare for painful cuts, yet have to audacity to demand lower tax rates for themselves.
We’re partnering with our friends over at Daily Kos to spread the word about the powerful statement from 350 economists that can wake up Washington.
It is imperative that any budget deal recognizes that the path to fiscal stability is found through public investment into jobs and growth, and does not take this slowly recovering economy into relapse and recession.
That will only happen if Congress listens to the economists and not the CEOs. The folks who understand math, not the corporate ideologues willing to send our economy back into recession.
Help us make sure the economists are heard, and we make budget decisions based on real math that works for us, not the fuzzy math that only works for the CEOs.
Co-director, Campaign for America’s Future
Hey check out what happens when you click these:
November 26, 2012
The term "fiscal cliff" is a one-sided propaganda phrase that misinforms and triggers public fear and anxiety. The fiscal cliff is not a "cliff" and the country isn't going to fall off anything at the end of the year. Journalists: don't help the misinformers -- don't say or write "fiscal cliff." Congress: when people are scared and misinformed our Congress should pause, step back and help inform us instead of rushing to take advantage of the fear.
What The Fiscal Cliff Is
At the end of the year the Bush tax cuts expire and several budget cuts start to phase in (including military spending cuts.) This reduces the deficit, and some of those cuts will slow the economy if nothing is done to restore them in the next several months. That is the "fiscal cliff" that you are hearing so much about. Except it isn't a cliff, it kicks in gradually, Congress has a lot of time to work it out and can fix anything that is a problem.
That's right, if nothing is done in the next several months -- there is no "cliff" at the end of the year -- some of those cuts will slow the economy. All the screaming and hysteria are about putting pressure on the "lame duck" Congress to do something in a big hurry, outside of the accountability of democracy and before the President and progressives have more leverage.
What The Fiscal Cliff Is NOT
Most people I talked to over Thanksgiving apparently think the "fiscal cliff" is the government runs out of money on December 31 because the deficit is so big and all kinds of terrible things happen on January 1. This is sort of the opposite of what is going on. Even the few who didn't think it was about the country running out of money were misinformed in one way or another, with most thinking something terrible happens January 1.
The "fiscal cliff" is about taxes going up and budget cuts, which reduce the deficit. And absolutely nothing in anyone's life will change on January 1, or for some time (weeks, months) after.
That's right, all the people who were hysterically screaming about the deficit are hysterically screaming now because of deficit cuts. Go figure. But the reason is that they have an agenda.
Journalists Should Not Help Misinform And Scare People
The very term "fiscal cliff" misinforms and scares people. Some media outlets, like FOX News, exist to misinform and scare people. But responsible media outlets should try to help the public understand complicated issues, not help scare and misinform.
Any journalist using the propaganda phrase "fiscal cliff" is taking the side of misinforming and scaring.
Settle Down, Beavis
Everyone should settle down. There is no "cliff." No one is going to fall off of anything. And after the first of the year the President and progressives have much more leverage in this fight than they do now -- hence all the pressure to act before then.
When people are this misinformed and scared the Congress owes it to the public to stop, take a break, work to inform the public and not act in a panic. Journalists, especially, owe it to the public to inform, not misinform and scare.
Update - I wrote this and went to bed. I wake up, and there is a perfect example in the Monday NY Times titled, Debt Reckoning, The Fiscal Deadline In Washington. The write-up in the morning NYTimes email is "The New York Times is beginning a new online feature that will chronicle the talks on the fiscal cliff between President Obama and Congressional leaders."
The clear message of this headline and summary is that the country is in crisis because of debt. The public cannot help but get the impression that the country goes broke in a few weeks. As I explained above (and as Paul Krugman explains today's in Fighting Fiscal Phantoms) this is really the opposite of what is happening.
November 18, 2012
Virtually Speaking Sundays: Nov 18 at 6pm pacific / 9pm eastern
RJ Eskow and Dave Johnson consider fiscal cliff scare talk, shock doctrine scripting, social security and medicare.
Richard Eskow: Consultant/writer at Campaign for America's Future (econ, social policy, health finance, tech); occasional musician Follow @RJEskow
Dave Johnson: Writer, Seeing the Forest, Campaign for America's Future ((economy, Labor, Social Security) Follow @DCJohnson
Call in: (646) 200-3440
November 17, 2012
You can help change the economy! Big companies use their size and the fear of losing our jobs to force us to accept no raises or even lower pay and benefits. They can use their size to force communities, states and even the federal government to lower their taxes. You can help change the economy by standing with Walmart workers next week. They have the money but we have the people.
A month ago there were strikes at 12 Walmart stores and protests at more than 200 stores. Walmart illegally tried to silence organizers. Now there are strikes planned for "Black Friday." But Walmart workers aren't waiting, there are actions going on between now and next Friday, and you can join in.
Walmart is BIG. They are so big they can dictate to their supply chain, the communities where they are located, state governments, and even the federal government. And, of course, their workers. And when Walmart's workers are paid less, that puts pressure on workers everywhere else.
This is like so many other companies right now, using their size and the fact that so many people are looking for work to force wages down. And this forces pay down for the rest of us. All of this while these companies are reaping record profits for themselves.
You can stand with Walmart's workers, and demand changes in the way our economy works.
Video from OURWalmart: "Why are we standing up to live better?"
Yesterday: The News Tribune (Tacoma), Hundreds gather in Federal Way to support striking Walmart workers,
Today: Josh Eidelson at The Nation, Walmart Strike Wave Rolls Back Through Texas as Organizers Promise a Thousand Points of Protest,
Protests by Walmart workers that are spreading across the country came to Federal Way on Thursday, with between 20 and 30 employees leading a rally demanding better working conditions and pay.
The employees, from six Western Washington Walmart stores, gathered outside the store on South 314th Street, cheered on by at least 200 supporters. Many were from other unions and organizations including SPEEA, the National Organization for Women and One America, an immigrants’ rights group. The large group marched between a staging area at the end of the parking lot and the front of the store, chanting and talking to customers.
This morning, at 10 AM local time, Dallas Walmart store workers are headed back to the picket line. Theirs is the latest in a string of strikes that hit a California warehouse Wednesday and Seattle stores on Thursday. There’s more where that came from: On a Thursday call with reporters, union-backed Walmart worker groups said to expect a thousand strikes or demonstrations spread over nine days, culminating in an unprecedented array of “Black Friday” disruptions. That news follows a major legal settlement by a Walmart contractor that organizers credited to a 2011 sit-in at Hershey’s Chocolate.
Dallas striker Colby Harris emphasized that despite issues with low pay and repeated retaliation, he’s committed to remaining a Walmart worker. “If you leave this job, you’re going to face retaliation in some form somewhere else…” he said last night. “If you change Walmart, and you change corporate America, it can really better a lot of people’s lives.”
Also from Josh, Walmart Ex-Employee Was Handcuffed in Front of Workers
A former Walmart employee was handcuffed Wednesday when he visited his old store to talk to workers about next week’s “Black Friday” strike. Alex Rivera, who was fired in September, told The Nation that Walmart management intentionally misled Orlando police, leading them to detain him for twenty minutes in the store. The incident was denounced by the union-backed workers’ group OUR Walmart, which alleges that Walmart has been breaking the law to keep its workers in line.
ForRespect.org – OUR Walmart’s official page
Corporate Action Network - Black Friday campaign - A Comunity Call To Action
Go here to find local events
Go here for: Materials you can use
Go here to send a Letter to the Editor to your local newspaper.
ColorOfChange: Hold Walmart accountable to Black workers,
For the first time in the company's 50-year history, Walmart workers are striking to protest their notoriously exploitative working conditions — and management's retaliation against workers who have spoken out. Stand with workers at Walmart: tell the Walmart Board and Chair Rob Walton to meet with workers and take immediate steps to improve working conditions.
CREDO Action: Tell Walmart to stop exploiting workers,
Walmart Stores Inc. - notorious for years for trampling the basic rights of American workers1 - has become the focus of a historic strike by its store workers.
... Tell Walmart Chairman of the Board Rob Walton: Meet with Walmart workers about their demands for better pay and working conditions.
Corporate Action Network Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/CorporateActionNetwork
Download the app (link http://www.shareforrespect.com) to send a message to Walmart Associates you know through Facebook.
Share the infographics on Walmart from the Corporate Action Network Facebook Page -- https://www.facebook.com/CorporateActionNetwork
November 16, 2012
I've been trying to figure out what the Republicans are going on about with Benghazi. They have themselves all in one of their frenzies. But no one can figure out why.
It started out with Romney saying Obama "sympathized with the attackers." But now they're going on about how there is a cover-up that is worse than Watergate. (But they always say that...)
So like most of us, I haven't been able to figure out just what was supposed to have been covered up. But now I think I get it.
Here is what I think is going on: They are trying to say Obama covered up that there was an attack because the election was coming. They believe that all news of attacks helps Republicans and hurts Democrats! So they think if the pubic had known there had been an attack (which everyone of course did know) then they all would have decided to vote for Republicans. And that's why they say Obama "covered up" that there had been an attack.
That's why Romney did that weird thing in the debate about how Obama never said there had been an attack, and it turned out he had said it immediately.
Remember, when Bush was President, how they would make it seem like there was a terrorist around every corner? Two dark-skinned guys on a boat with a camera and the whole right-wing media machine would go nuts about "terrorists planning an attack." They would make up stories about terrorist attacks at convenient times, and raise the alert level from red to dark-red, etc. Remember how they would use terrorism to silence everyone, and get more votes?
Republicans believe that news of an attack helps them, and hurts Democrats. That is what you have to understand, to understand this whole Benghazi thing. When you try to understand just what Obama is supposed to have covered up, that's it.
They are screaming because Obama didn't go all "noun verb 9/11." They believe they own that.
Of course, everyone knew there had been an attack. But never mind that.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown won reelection by "waging class warfare" using middle-class populism. Here is how.
Today the Campaign for America’s Future launches a new website – WageClassWar.org – to detail the new terrain of American politics. The site tells the story of key races, and compiles copies of ads, speech and debate excerpts, new stories that highlight critical moments.
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, faced a tough battle for reelection. Huge amounts of Wall Street, multinational corporate, billionaire and undisclosed money (China?) -- at least $35 million -- poured in. Brown beat Ohio's State Treasurer Josh Mandel and was reelected by more than 5% using a strong middle class populist argument. He called for curbing the excesses of Wall Street, and ending taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that send American jobs overseas. And Brown especially, especially championed American manufacturing over the interests of Wall Street and the giant multinational corporations.
Brown stood up for the class interests of Ohio's blue-collar voters and won reelection. He took the side of the many against the side of the big-money few.
Earlier this year Brown was considered vulnerable because he had voted for the stimulus and Obamacare. But Brown supported the "auto bailout" and was a strong proponent of manufacturing, and of taking on China, especially over currency manipulation. Josh Mandel, Brown's opponent, opposed the auto bailout.
On jobs, Brown stressed investing in maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure, developing a coherent national manufacturing strategy, and taking on China for manipulating its currency and other trade violations. Mandel stressed the Republican basics: tax cuts and cutting regulations -- especially those limiting mercury and other air-pollution standards that affect coal-burning utilities. Also said we should "eliminate government bailouts of industries."
"A Proud Labor-Populist"
Brown campaigned as, in EJ Dionne's words, "A proud labor-populist," (Note that the $20 million figure is from early October.)
A proud labor-populist, Brown seems to invite the hostility of wealthy conservatives and deep-pocketed interest groups. The amount they have spent to defeat him topped $20 million this week.
... Ryan, Brown said, has “dressed up trickle-down economics and wrapped it in an Ayn Rand novel.” The vice president, Brown added, should highlight the Republicans’ desire to privatize both Medicare and Social Security, reflected in Ryan’s own record and Republicans’ attempts to do so whenever they thought they had the votes. “It’s clear they want to go there,” Brown said.
In an Oct 24 email to supporters, Brown wrote about himself,
"I’m fighting to end “too big to fail” and put the reins on Wall Street banks. I want to end taxpayer-funded giveaways to huge corporations that ship American jobs overseas. I want to put an end to the torrent of special interest spending in our election process unleashed by Citizens United.
They’ve spent more than $21 million on attacks against me."
By campaigning with a middle-class populist class-warfare argument Brown has won a mandate to act in the interests of working people. And this is exactly what Brown is doing:
Fiscal Cliff, Taxes & Social Security: WFIN, Sherrod Brown Talks About Pressing Issues In Washington
Brown, siding with president Obama on tax increases for those making over $250,000 a year, should not be negotiable, nor should Social Security. Despite the market sell-off Brown said that the Dow is up nearly 100 percent since Obama took first took office.
Campaign Finance: Coshocton Tribune: Sherrod Brown calls for tougher finance rules,
It should come as no surprise that Sen. Sherrod Brown’s first post-election legislative push would be on campaign finance reform. After all, Brown won a second term in the U.S. Senate this past week despite a barrage of outside spending — about $40 million from conservative groups gunning for his ouster. ...
He called for three steps:
• Passage of legislation called the Disclose Act, which would require independent groups to disclose the names of their high-dollar donors.
• Adoption of a measure giving shareholders the right to vote on a company’s political expenditures.
• An investigation by the IRS into whether some nonprofit groups are abusing their tax-exempt status by engaging in overt political activity.
Arguing For Working People And The Middle Class Works
Here is the point. The public understands that there is a war going on between the top few and the rest of us. The top few benefit from keeping unemployment high and wages low. They benefit from keeping We, the People from investing in a modern infrastructure and good schools & universities and good courts and the rest of the public structures that democracy builds, because it means they would have to pay taxes and follow the rules that benefit We, the People.
The top few can cough up a lot of money to run ads that tell people they shouldn't support their own interests. And this can go a long way, so a lot of politicians go down the road of saying what the billionaires want to hear, and getting their campaigns funded, and getting themselves lucrative jobs after they leave office.
But when votes are on the line, when votes are the deciding factor, and when people understand where their interests really are -- then a candidate needs to be on the side of We, the People.
If you are running for office take note: the big money bought a lot of campaign ads, but standing up for We, the People won the election. The public is behind this, and it works. Sherrod Brown's reelection shows that it works.
Visit the Wage Class War website and see how candidates who supported the economic interests of the many over the few won their elections.
November 15, 2012
Just sayin' ... you should listen to Dave.
People still buy real estate that will be underwater in a few decades. Think about that.
... Think about what will happen to real estate prices in coastal areas when we do start taking global warming seriously. How much will people pay for real estate that is going to be under water in a few decades?
2010: Real Estate Near The Gulf,
I was already concerned with the effect of global warming on real estate prices when it suddenly sinks in that a lot of land is going to be underwater. Seriously, would YOU buy a house anywhere in a coastal area that has an altitude lower than maybe 30 feet? One of these days everyone is going to realize what that means - all at the same time.
November 13, 2012
Anyone who has read The Shock Doctrine understands exactly what this "Fiscal Cliff" scare is.
If you have already read The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein you have probably been rolling your eyes at all this "Fiscal Cliff" scare talk. "Here they go again" you're thinking... If you haven't read the book, you should. You really, really should.
The Phony "Fiscal Cliff" Scare
At the end of the year the Bush tax cuts expire. When this happens tax rates will rise modestly to where they were when Clinton was President. Also at the end of the year budget "sequestration" occurs. This means that the various cuts Congress approved to end the debt ceiling "crisis" will begin to phase in. (Remember, the debt-ceiling "crisis" was when Republicans refused to allow the country to honor its debts, holding the economy hostage, unless they got deep budget cuts in the things We the People do for each other.)
That's it. That's the "crisis." All of the people who had been hysterical about the budget deficit "crisis" are now hysterical that taxes will go up and spending will go down. Go figure. Maybe -- just maybe -- I shouldn't even say it -- these "serious people" weren't ... serious ... when they said they were worried about the deficit. You see, the hysteria now is because tax rates at the top will go up (cutting the deficit), and because a big part of those budget cuts (cutting the deficit) is military spending. Unfortunately the sequestration also cuts important things that help a lot of people and our economy. But these cuts do not take place all at once (a "cliff"), they will be phased in over time, and the Congress can act at any time to halt any of these cuts.
The "Fiscal Cliff" is not a cliff and the language itself is intended to scare people. The name itself is designed to create panic, evoking disaster imagery of people and the economy falling off a cliff. It is the latest manufactured "crisis" and we are all supposed to be terrified and demand immediate and extreme solutions.
Again, the very people screaming loudest about deficits are the people who passed tax cut after tax cut, and military spending increase after military spending increase, and started war after war. Then these same "serious people" terrify the public, telling them that budget deficits will lead to the destruction of the country — and soon. After a decade of screaming “9/11,” “9/11,” noun verb “9/11,” they screamed "deficit, deficit, deficit." Now they scream, "fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff, fiscal cliff."
Then after the public is suitably stirred up and terrified they offer “solutions” they say are necessary to cut the scary deficit (that they caused, for this purpose).
And the fixing all has to happen right now, in the "lame duck" Congress, before those new legislators We, the People elected can take office.
The "Grand Bargain"
The "serious people" are pushing for a "grand bargain" that they say will "solve" the "deficit problem" "once and for all."
Of course, nothing in any "grand bargain" can bind the Congress, and any part of this "grand bargain" can and will be undone by Congress at the earliest opportunity.
The outline of this "bargain" involves "tax reform" and "getting a handle on entitlements." Tax "reform" does not involve raising tax rates on the wealthy, it "reforms" taxes by getting rid of various deductions and lowering tax rates. "Getting a handle on entitlements" means cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and the rest of the things that We, the People do for each other -- the things we are entitled to as citizens in a democracy.
(Note -- Social Security by law can not and does not contribute to the deficit -- they just threw it in because it is "in crisis." The Social Security "crisis" is that under certain economic projections its funding might run a bit short many years down the road. Compare this possible future shortfall to the huge, vast, bloated, enormous military budget which, unlike Social Security, has no separate funding mechanism and runs 100% short every year. But that is not a "crisis.")
So a fix for a budget problem caused by cutting taxes, massively increasing military spending and crashing the economy will be "solved" by ... not fixing those things. Once again the income and wealth of the country will be shifted away from We, the People and upward to the same 1% who have been benefiting from everything in our economy since the election of Ronald Reagan and the disaster-capitalism formula: cut taxes, raise military spending, then use the resulting deficits to scare people into accepting extreme "solutions." Rinse and repeat.
The Shock Doctrine
The Shock Doctrine is a book by Naomi Klein that describes a "disaster capitalism" strategy used by wealthy and powerful people to take advantage of crises -- even causing crises -- to herd people into accepting "solutions" to those crises that really just enrich the 1% at the expense of the rest of us.
In times of crisis (real or perceived) the public is in a state of shock, distracted and ready to grasp at straws to get out of the panic. This is the perfect time for "serious people" to come in and offer pre-planned "solutions." These solutions usually involve privatizing public institutions and wealth, cutting public services, cutting taxes on the rich, seizing property, lowering wages and pensions ... well, just look at Europe's "austerity" and you get the picture.
This shock-doctrine disaster capitalism model has become standard practice. We see this happening over and over again: crises occur or are manufactured, the media whips people into a panic, and then the "solution" is introduced. The solution involves a "reform" that transfers wealth or institutions into a few private hands.
The Real Problem And Real Solution
We have a jobs problem, not a deficit problem. The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work. The real job creators are working people with money in their wallets. We can’t cut our way to growth. These are not just slogans, these are solutions to real problems.
We need to invest in our economy, restoring and modernizing our infrastructure, retrofitting our homes and buildings to be more energy efficient, upgrading our public schools and universities, and fighting to create the manufacturing ecosystems for the new industries of the future,. All of these investments create jobs while they are underway, and pay off by improving our economy for the long term.
Inoculate yourself by reading The Shock Doctrine. Inoculate your friends by telling them about the book, and how this game works, over and over again.
“Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." — Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay, 2003
November 9, 2012
I've been getting something like 2 or 3 spam emails per minute for some time now, which makes it impossible to check the Gmail spam folder to see if anything is in there by accident.
So ... sorry if you sent me something and haven't heard back. It might be buried in there.
November 8, 2012
I went looking around today. I went to Stanford Mall, where there are Sony, Microsoft and Apple stores. I almost bought an iPad mini, but Apple talked me out of it.
At the mall I went through the Sony store mostly to get from the parking lot, but then saw the new Vaio Duo, which is a touchpad and computer. (This is what the new Windows 8 enables, and I love it.) My next computer will be something like this, a full computer with a touch-screen of some sort, maybe one of these tablets with a keyboard rather than a computer with a touch-screen.
Then I went to the Apple store to see the iPad mini. This is like the perfect tablet! The size and feel are just right. After playing with one I picked up an iPad, and it was this big heavy thing. I need something to read with, and instead of buying a new Kindle, figured I get some kind of tablet, this is just perfect for this.
It costs too much, but I would have bought one one the spot anyway. But then I found out it doesn't have a GPS in it. To get one with a GPS you have to pay another $130 to get the cell-enabled device. Apple wanted to both save themselves a quarter, and force people to buy the higher-priced device. I need this for use in the car, when we travel my wife likes to be the map person, this would have been perfect.
Apple. This is the company that charges $30 for a 5-cent cord. So, no sale. Android devices have GPS, and I have a wireless hotspot on my phone so I do not need a pad with cell service in it.
Then I stopped at the Microsoft store. The new Surface is beautiful. I might have bought one except I had just been holding that iPad Mini... It's a bit early for the Surface, but it going to stomp Apple when there are enough models out there and the prices are down. And all the new touch-screen ultrabooks, etc. Just wow!
As I wrote earlier,
Apple is an aggressively predatory company. (Oh, and there is no excuse for not making things in the USA, and no excuse for their aggressive tax avoidance schemes which deny the American public good schools, etc. Apple is an aggressively unpatriotic company.)
By aggressively predatory, I meant preying on their customers. Screw that, tired of it. No matter how nice the iPad Mini is, like everything else from Apple they charge too much, (and avoid paying their taxes, and use slaves instead of paying reasonable wages, etc.) and this greed is going to catch up and hurt them.
In the last election the forces of concentrated wealth and corporate power played the same old divide-and-conquer game they have been playing for decades, but this time it didn't work! They tried to divide us by race, religion, sex, sexual preference, class and every other wedge they could find, and it didn't work! The era of dividing the people for profit is over. Democracy pushes forward.
The Conservative Con Game
For decades a simple formula has played out. Divide us by religion, race, whatever, divert our attention, get us to vote out of feat and hate or just get us to stay away from the polls, and they can pocket the spoils. The game has been to pump a few hundred million a year into the Karl Rove/Grover Norquist/conservative movement con game and pull out billions in tax breaks, subsidies, wars-for-profit, grants of monopoly and the other fruits of the lobbying/corruption game.
This time it didn't work.
The Era Of Division Is Over
Today TPM's Josh Marshall wrote about the Nixon years, when Pat Buchanan prepared a strategy memo titled "Dividing the Democrats," advising Republicans to "cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have by far the larger half." They've played it out that way in the decades since, usually with great success. Marshall notes, "But now, in this election, you see the Republican party still cutting the country in half but now having the smaller part."
This time it didn't work, and won't work again. Businesspeople and investors are practical and pragmatic. They don't like to pour money down a rathole. The conservative movement con game has turned into a freakshow, and the money it sucks up has nearly stopped paying off. They still have the House -- largely the result of gerrymandering Congressional districts and not by the preference of the people. So the game is ending.
Division didn't work. Absorb that -- the implications are vast. The professionals who look at the electorate and figure out how to manipulate us into giving them tax cuts and free reign are certainly absorbing this. The billionaires and corporations are not going to pump more hundreds of millions -- billions, in fact -- into the same old politics of division because they understand that now it is a bad investment. The demographics have passed them by. It didn't work. They don't get the big payoff. They aren't likely to play the game again.
Dividing us didn't work, and won't work again. This is a center-left nation. The "brown people," gays, poor and working class, single women, union members, combined with people in other demographic groups who "get it" -- We, the People -- are together enough and strong enough to fight back, so it didn't work.
Fiscal Cliff -- The Next Fight
Now we face another DC elite manipulation designed to shovel even more favors to the wealthy and their corporations. It is called the "Fiscal Cliff" fight.
This is what is going on: Very soon the Bush tax cuts expire. And then the "sequestration" budget cuts -- the result of the "debt ceiling" hostage-taking fight -- begin to slowly kick in. Some of these cuts, like cutting the huge, vast, bloated military budget, are good, and others will hurt as they are phased in. But this is not an emergency, they phase in and can be changed.
In typical "shock doctrine" fashion, the end of the tax cuts and the beginning of the budget cuts are being cast as a "fiscal cliff" that will destroy the economy. A "grand bargain" is proposed to head off the military cuts, cut Social Security and Medicare, and cut tax rates for the wealthy and corporations.
The negotiations for the Grand Bargain take place soon, after the election and between elites, so that democracy is kept at bay. Democracy is messy and gets in the way of the things the elites want. But this view is just wrong.
The Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand anti-democracy belief that the public consists of "takers" is just wrong. Our prosperity comes up from the people. We, the People invested in good schools, infrastructure, public structures like our system of laws and courts and universities and libraries and scientific research and we demanded good wages and worker protections and that is what brought us prosperity. Democracy brought us our prosperity.
The fruits of democracy – Social Security, Medicare and health care, good wages and benefits, worker rights and worker safety and the rest of the things We, the People get out of the bargain – are not the problem.
Repeat: the fruits of democracy are not the problem.
And democracy is not the problem. Democracy is what brings the prosperity. A “grand bargain” struck after the election so the bargainers cannot be held accountable is a mistake. It is a corrupt deal and it will hurt our economy.
Let's stop them. If we stop them again, so soon after we stopped them in the election, they will have to face that this is a bad investment, that the demographics have passed them by, that the public has wised up, that democracy pushes forward.
Now We Move Forward
Democracy has pushed forward. It is not an accident that the economy does best in the periods when our democracy is strongest. It is not an accident that the "regular people" economy has stagnated in the decades since Reagan, when the plutocracts corrupted our democracy.
We are on the road to taking our country back for We, the People. Democracy will push forward.
Just before election day Politico presented the official DC elite view that minorities, single women, etc. are not "real" Americans that count, writing,
If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.
A broad mandate this is not.
The elites understood where power rested, and it was not with the people. But that was then, and this is now. What a difference a few days makes.
If minorities, women, gays, working people, elderly, students, clap their hands, does it make a sound in Washington? Does it make a mandate? They think not, we think so. They will find out that it did. Democracy will push forward.
FOX is all upset that brown people feel they should be allowed to have "things."
This was about lie vs truth. Even the whole polling "controversy" was about science vs belief.
We, the People won this one.
November 6, 2012
More than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement and conservatives are still fighting to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting. A 97-year-old in Georgia -- who has voted in every single election since she was old enough to vote -- is denied her right to vote. Florida is making citizens stand in line 4,5,6 hours to vote. Why are we putting up with this for one minute? Why isn't our government sending the US Army into these states that are trying to stop "the wrong kind of people" from voting?
This Was Settled!
This country already settled this: you can't keep people from voting! In the 1950s and 1960s conservatives tried to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting and going to school. As a country we did something about it. We stopped putting up with it and ordered the army to push the conservatives aside and let people into the schools and voting booths.
In 1957 a Republican president sent the US Army into Little Rock to escort nine of "the wrong kind of" students into a school:
President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard after George Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door to prevent "the wrong kind of people" from entering:
Once again conservatives are trying to keep "the wrong kind of people" from fully participating in the rights and privileges that we are all entitled to as citizens. (They really hate the idea that as citizens We, the People are "entitled" to certain things. We all are ENTITLED to share in the fruits of democracy -- that is what an "entitlement" is!)
Georgia Blocking Voters
Georgia is one of those states that has found a way to keep lots of "the wrong kind of people" from voting. They have imposed "Voter-ID" laws that are designed to keep lots of the elderly, minorities and students from being able to vote.
For just one example of how this has made it difficult for "the wrong kind of people" to vote, read Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade
Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs ... Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. ...
She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.
The story describes the obstacles she encountered trying to get the right ID to vote... most people would be forced to give up -- which is exactly the intent because she is "the wrong kind of person."
Florida Blocking Voters
Florida is one state making "the wrong kind of people" wait 4,5,6 hours in line to vote. People who work, the elderly and the simply fed up can't or won't do that so they don't, and that is the intent. Florida cut early voting time in half -- because 2008 showed that it made it too easy for "the wrong kind of people to vote" -- for the wrong kind of people. The effect is that minorities, students and elderly people find it difficult or impossible to vote. Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports, in Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge.
While many Democrats viewed it as a victory when a few offices opened absentee balloting on Sunday, the process is not the same as early voting -- and could result in more individuals not having their votes counted.
"Absentee ballots have a much higher rejection rate for minorities and young people, if you look at the Aug. 14 primary," said Smith.
A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida's GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. ...
... Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that in 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.
Other States Blocking Voters
Conservatives in state after state have set up barriers to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting. Pennsylvania conservatives tried to implement a restrictive voter-ID law to keep "the wrwong kind of people" from voting. Several other states have implemented them. Ohio -- already famous for putting lots of voting machines in conservative areas and few in the areas where "the wrong kind of people" vote -- threw up barrier after barrier to voting including attempts to cut early voting hours.
Now Ohio will even throw out your provisional ballot if you write down that a drivers license was your ID when it was really some other valid ID!!! And the provisional ballot is set up to trick voters into doing that! Groups file emergency motion over last-minute move that could toss Ohio provisional ballots,
Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters.
... Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.
This is just blatantly trying to keep citizens from voting because they are "the wrong kind of people." We just should not put up with this for even one minute. Why isn't Husted in jail?
Where Is Our Government?
Conservatives who run several states are trying to keep "the wrong kind of people" from voting for "the wrong kind of people." Where is our Federal government? Why are they allowing this? Why are they not sending the Justice Department to force those states to let people vote? Why are they not sending the US Army into those states that are trying to keep people from voting, so American citizens can vote?
I am getting fed up with accommodating these bigoted conservatives, just because they are backed by billionaires and giant corporations this time around. We are theoretically a country of laws. I mean, unless you're a banker.
Every third ad seems to be from oil and coal "energy" associations.
November 5, 2012
This might just be a wild-ass rumor, or it might be something to look into. Apparently new software is being installed on Ohio's vote counting machines, just before the election and without the testing and approval that is required.
This is not about the voting machines, that is an entirely separate story. This is a new story about the vote counting machines. These machines have a different function, and this is a different company from the one that the Romney associates purchased.
... text said to be from a November 1 memo sent from the OH SoS Election Counsel Brandi Laser Seske to a number of state election officials confirming the use of the new, uncertified software on Ohio's tabulator systems. The memo claims that "its function is to aid in the reporting of results" by converting them "into a format that can be read by the Secretary of State's election night reporting system."
"Said to be from" is a warning bell that this might just be a wild-ass rumor right before the election. On the other hand, if they are installing new software in the vote-tabulating machines this is a very big deal. IF they are changing the software in Ohio's vote-counting machines just before the election, the public needs to know what is going on.
But then it gets interesting:
According to Pam Smith, President of the non-partisan watchdog group VerifiedVoting.org, her organization also sought explanations for the last minute software changes from the Sec. of State's office.
She tells me that she was told that "the Secretary of State team installed the EXP tool" themselves in the counties that use the ES&S system. "It was not left to the counties to figure out the installation or the configuration."
So apparently the Ohio Sec State IS confirming that new software is being installed on the machines.
Before going on, this is not a "conspiracy theory" or a charge that vote-rigging is taking place. This is honest questions about some disturbing reports. I and others would like to know what is going on. That does not make us kooks.
Is voting machine company ES&S in Ohio suddenly installing new tabulator software to "improve" the counting that takes place tomorrow, and if so why now, and why without the proper approval process? This is supposed to require the approval of a state board, which has not been given.
Please read this at Huffington Post by Art Levine, >As Ohio Faces Vote-Rigging Lawsuit, Are Dems, Liberals, Election Officials Ready to Safeguard Votes?
Those worries about a rigged election were given new urgency today as The Ohio-based Free Press editor-in-chief Robert Fitrakis, also a Green Party candidate for Congress, announced plans to file a lawsuit later today seeking an immediate injunction against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and the ES&S manufacturer to halt the use of secretly installed, unauthorized "experimental" software in 39 counties' tabulators in an alleged violation of state election law. His attorney, Cliff Arnebeck, has also referred the case to the Cincinnati FBI for a criminal investigation. Arnebeck says, "It's a flagrant violation of the law. Before you add new software, you need approval of a state board. They are installing an uncertified, suspect software patch that interfaces between the a county's vote tabulation equipment and state tabulators."
Art's post asked the key question,
As one progressive election protection leader told me privately, "Who is watching the election officials [on voting machines]? That's a good question. Where are the boots on the ground? We don't have watchdogs on election officials."
Here is what I want to pin down:
1) Did Ohio allow this company to install new software on the vote counting machines? It looks like this happened.
2) Will all the votes in Ohio be hand-checked against what the various machines report? And if so will this happen before the election is "official?"
If #2 happens, things are fine. If not we have a serious problem as far as being sure about the election results.
All I want to know is, are enough of the election results double-checked against the PAPER that shows how each voter voted? If they are, then it does not matter about the machines. If they are not -- or especially when there is no paper that the voter either marked or checked -- then there is obviously a problem and the "results" should not be trusted.
It is essential that every voter demand that their county double-checks the paper against the reported results. This is as simple and basic as checking to be sure the ballot box is empty before you open the polling places.
It is not a "conspiracy theory" to say all you have to do is check the results against the paper.
Finally, please visit No More Stolen Elections
Neil Young, The Restless Consumer
"The restless consumer lies asleep in her hotel
with such an appetite for anything that sells"
November 3, 2012
Governor Christie of New Jersey has shown himself to be a true leader, a great governor. From everything I have seen, it appears to be genuine, and he appears to actually care and mean the things he is saying.
Bravo Gov. Christie.
I'm wondering to see how this affects his ideas about government, etc. I suspect it will.
November 2, 2012
Wow, watch this! A big-picture look at Sandy, what made it so big, and what it means:
Owen Kelley, a research scientist at NASA Goddard, works with data from the TRMM satellite to image the insides of storms. TRMM looked into the eye of Sandy the day before it made landfall and saw something surprising. Satellites also took snapshots of Sandy. J. Marshall Shepherd, president-elect of the American Meteorological Society and the director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia, explains some of Sandy's unusual features.
Mitt Romney made jokes about global warming. Now we really know they were not funny.
Much of the nation is reeling from Superstorm Sandy. As families rebuild from Sandy’s destruction, our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific, fossil-fueled storm.
When Gov. Mitt Romney made climate change a punch line at the Republican National Convention, he mocked a real threat to the lives of Americans.
We can't let Mitt get away with his laughing dismissal of the threat of rising seas caused by the carbon polluters who fund his campaign. Share this ad with friends and family to tell Romney: climate change isn't a joke.
November 1, 2012
I am sitting in for Patrick O'Heffernan's Fairness Radio show through Tueaday. Weekdays at 2pm EST / 11am Pacific time.
You can tune in online at www.cyberstationusa.com or on www.blogtalkradio.com – just click on “Listen Live” (or on your local station in our coverage area.) Call in at 424-675-6806 or email questions live to fairnessradio@gmail to be read on the air.
The specific Blog Talk Radio link for today is: