November 2, 2012

MUST See - Not Funny Mitt

Mitt Romney made jokes about global warming. Now we really know they were not funny.

See Forecast the Facts | Tell Mitt Romney: Climate Change Isn't A Joke

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.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:24 AM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

October 27, 2012

How Romney Will Do Business As President

Remember how the Bush administration made cronies rich? Here is how Romney will run things. Mitt Romney spends big on firms tied to aides,

Mitt Romney's campaign has directed $134.2 million to political firms with business ties to his senior staff, spotlighting the tightknit nature of his second presidential bid and the staggering sums being spent in this election.

Nine firms that are run by, or recently employed, top Romney aides have received almost a third of the $435.8 million that Romney's campaign and a related fundraising committee have spent on operating expenses through Oct. 17, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of federal election finance reports.

$134.2 million steered to cronies. Contrast this with Obama:

President Obama's reelection campaign and a joint fundraising committee have paid about $5.8 million in consulting fees to companies with business ties to senior strategists, according to the finance reports.

A Romney administration will be entirely a pay-to-play corruption racket run for insider profit. They will start where Bush left off.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

October 26, 2012

Just Lie and Lie

The last Romney on economy: Obama 'made the problem worse'

In the last month of the Bush Presidency the country lost 815,000 jobs. Do I really have to describe what else was going on in the economy when Obama took office?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Why Voters Need To Know About #Sensata

Right now a company named Sensata is moving equipment out of a factory in Freeport, Ill. and shipping it to a factory in China. Sensata will be laying off all of the American workers, but first they are making the workers train their Chinese replacements. The workers' last day is the day before our election. Here's the thing: this company is owned by Bain Capital, and Mitt Romney -- who says he is against shipping jobs to China -- will make a fortune from the move to China.

The Sensata employees have set up a camp outside the factory that they call Bainport and are trying to stop the Bain trucks that are moving the equipment out for shipment to China. These soon-to-be-jobless workers have asked Romney to come help them.

This is a tremendous opportunity for Mitt Romney. As the former head of Bain Capital and with all the visibility of a presidential campaign, he could step in and help these workers. It offers him the chance to demonstrate to voters that he means the things he says on the campaign trail, and is not just saying these things to get votes. But Romney has refused.

Mitt Romney says on the campaign trail that he will crack down on China and is against companies shipping jobs to China. These are very popular positions to take -- the public overwhelmingly wants to see things made in America again, and understands that China's trade cheating is costing us dearly. So a candidate for president would certainly say he is for doing this. But when it comes time to show that he will actually means it and will do something about it, it looks as though Romney is not doing it. These workers have asked for his help, but he won't do it. Voters should know about this, and make up their own minds about whether Mitt Romney means what he says, or just says what he needs to say to win.

Bain Capital And Sensata

Mitt Romney started the "private equity" firm Bain Capital. Bain's business model is to purchase companies using "leveraged buyouts" that borrow huge sums using the purchased company's own assets as collateral, uses the borrowed money to immediately pay itself, then cuts costs by doing things like sending jobs to China, cutting wages and manipulating tax rules to cut taxes owed, along with standard big-business practices like consolidating business units, taking advantage of economies of scale not available to smaller competitors, squeezing distribution channels for price cuts, and other practices that bring competitive advantages. (See So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? and Truthout: Romney & Company Shipped Every Single Delphi UAW Job to China.) After reorganizing the purchased companies and cutting costs -- namely: you -- Bain then "harvests" them for profit.

One company that Bain Capital purchased -- after Romney's time as CEO -- is Sensata, a sensor manufacturer that makes key components for our automobile supply chain. Sensata then announced it is closing the factory in Freeport, Ill., and sending all of the manufacturing and jobs to China. This is significant because China is engaged in an effort to capture the automobile manufacturing supply chain, and sensors are a key strategic chokepoint. China built a factory for Sensata, and offers other incentives to the company to move manufacturing there.

So Bain is currently moving all of the equipment out of the Freeport factory, preparing to shut it down and lay off all of the American workers. Bain/Sensata brought in Chinese workers and made the Freeport workers train them. Bain/Sensata is moving the equipment out of the Freeport factory and shipping it to China right now.

The Sensata employees heard Romney on the campaign trail, and somehow got the idea that he opposes sending our jobs to China just because he says that he opposes sending our jobs to China. So the Sensata workers asked him to come to Freeport/Bainport and help them. Read on to learn about Romney's response to the Sensata workers, and how Romney is actually making big money right now from shipping their jobs to China.

"The week before they came they took the American flag down outside the plant. The week after they left they put it back up."

Romney Making A Fortune From Sensata Sending Jobs To China

While Mitt Romney no longer manages Bain Capital, he still has millions of dollars in Bain funds and will personally make a fortune from this company moving to China - both from profits and from tax breaks. (What you and I consider a fortune, Romney might consider a drop in the bucket.)

A must-read news report by Sharon LaFraniere and Mike McIntire in The New York Times explains. As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties (emphasis added, for emphasis),

Mr. Romney also has millions invested in a series of Bain funds that have a controlling stake in Sensata Technologies, a manufacturer of sensors and controls for vehicles, aircraft and electric motors that employs 4,000 workers in China. Since Bain took over the operation in 2006, its investment has quadrupled in value. Bain continues to own $2.6 billion worth of Sensata’s shares.

Two years ago, Sensata bought an operation that made automobile sensors in Freeport, Ill. At the first meeting with the plant’s 170 workers, Sensata managers announced that by the end of 2012 all the equipment and jobs would be relocated, mostly to Jiangsu Province. Workers have staged demonstrations, pleading for Mr. Romney to intervene on their behalf.

Chinese engineers, flown to Freeport for training on the equipment, described their salaries as a pittance compared with Freeport wages. Tom Gaulrapp, who has operated machines at the factory for 33 years, said he fears he will go bankrupt after he loses his job on Nov. 5.

“This goes to show the unbelievable hypocrisy of this man,” he said of Mr. Romney. “He talks about how we need to get tough on China and stop China from taking our jobs, and then he is making money off shipping our jobs there.”

Please read the entire New York Times report, As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties. There is much more there about Romney, China, Bain and the huge gap between what Romney says on the campaign trail, and how Romney made his current $400,000/week income and how Bain Capital still makes its money.

Also see this Huffington Post report, Mitt Romney Gets Tax Break Off Firm Sending Jobs To China,

According to his recently released 2011 tax returns, Romney transferred $701,703 worth of Sensata stock to the Tyler Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit controlled by Romney. The gift is listed on page 323 of the pdf, on form 8283 (below).

Moving the stock to his nonprofit brings Romney twin benefits. First, he gets to deduct the full value of the stock. At a 35 percent tax rate, that's nearly a $250,000 benefit. At 15 percent, it's just over $100,000.

Second, Romney is able to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the stock price increase. Romney's returns list no cost for the stock, and indicate he obtained them as part of a partnership interest in Bain. Avoiding capital gains taxes on the full increase would save an additional $100,000. In 2010, Romney gifted $170,000 worth of Sensata stock to his charity, saving $25,000 in capital gains taxes that year.

Cheryl Randecker, a Sensata worker facing an imminent layoff, said, "I could pay off my house with that [$25,000], and he doesn't need it anyway."

So there you have it. Mitt Romney says he opposes sending jobs to China, and says he will "crack down" on China. But he refuses to do things that he could do right now that would make an actual difference right now. And it turns out that right now he is making big money from Sensata and other companies that are sending people's jobs to China right now.

Laying off American workers – usually shipping the jobs to China – and pocketing their wages for themselves is the story of the rise of the wealth of the 1%, and the decline of the American middle class. It is the Romney/Bain/Sensata business model. And the remaining workers have to do the jobs of the laid-off workers, often for lower pay, and are threatened with losing their jobs, too, if they don't like it.

Economic Traitor?

This is an advertisement titled "Economic Traitor," that is being aired by superPACs Workers' Voice and Patriot Majority, based on Sensata:


Click here to see all of CAF's coverage of Sensata.

Bain Of Our Existence - The Go-To place for stories and info about Bain Capital.

For more information, photos and stories from the Sensata workers, please visit bainport.com.


For Fun

From UnitedNY, if Bain Capital was your psychologist:

PATIENT (LYING DOWN on couch): I think he’s depressed. I mean, he is a good kid but he just keeps to himself. I can’t get him to talk or spend time with the family and barely does any chores.
BAIN: Have you consider outsourcing? (hold shot of PATIENT)
PATIENT (confusion) You want me to outsource my son? (TURNS HEAD towards BAIN in surprise)
CUT to Bain face
BAIN: Yes, you can find some very obedient children in China or Bangladesh, even the Philippines.

(P.S. The reason I use #Sensata in the titles is because on Twitter the "hashtag" helps get the word out.)

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

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Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 25, 2012

What Do Republicans Say About Romney?

See for yourself:

Posted by Dave Johnson at 9:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 23, 2012

Mitt Romney's Pitch For President

"I swear this was only driven by a little old lady who took it to the store and back once a week."

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 22, 2012

Debate - Obama Won

Obama clearly won. Clearly.

Romney got of several lies that were not refuted, but several that did get refuted. After a while Romney was left just repeating his memorized script -- 4 times? Am I right that it was 4 times?

I wonder, is that ALL Romney has - just lying?

I saw Van Jones on CNN holding up an Etch-a-Sketch.

FYI - Obama never said that unemployment would be 5.4% by now. Romney repeated that lie ... how many time?

Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:44 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

October 21, 2012

Oh Now What?

Just go watch it. Video of Mormon temple using a hidden camera going viral. Over 75,000 views in the last 14 hours. Welcome to the age of information Mitt Romney.

Seriosly, after you see the video go read the comments for a while, go down a ways, where many ex-Mormons start to weigh in.

Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

Why You Should Worry That Romney Associates Bought Company That Controls Ohio's Election Voting

I just have to say again that it just blows my mind learning that Romney associates bought the company that makes the voting machines that will be used to vote and count the votes in Ohio, Colorado and other states. This is very serious, and a lot of non-tech people just don't get it. (I had one person say to me that it doesn't matter because computers don't make mistakes.)

Take this seriously, people -- the timing and the people involved tell us this is fishy. This isn't radical conspiracy stuff, talk to computer professionals, many of them really worry about electronic voting machines and the reporting systems in use these days.

Here are some links to stories about this. And please, please click through for links, and expanded details:

Brad Friedman, who has been on the voting machines issue all along, posted About that Voting Machine Company Tied to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital...

Late last month, Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis at FreePress.org broke the story of the Mitt Romney/Bain Capital investment team involved in H.I.G. Capital which, in July of 2011, completed a "strategic investment" to take over a fair share of the Austin-based e-voting machine company Hart Intercivic.

... Lee Fang at The Nation recently confirmed the FreePress reporting in a story of his own on the "crony capitalism" of Tagg Romney, whose father's money and high-profile connections present a number of troubling corporate conflicts of interest should Mitt Romney become President. The Daily Dolt also followed up with a very well-documented article on the H.I.G. group, their connections to Bain, and their takeover of Hart Intercivic.

... Also this week, in a video that has gone a bit viral, The David Pakman Show expressed understandable concerns about Romney's close business partners having this type of corporate control over a large e-voting company whose, extremely vulnerable and insecure [PDF] --- and often 100% unverifiable --- voting and tabulation systems are now used, according to VerifiedVoting.org's database, in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

PLEASE go read the rest.

Rick Ungar at Forbes: Romney Family Investment Ties To Voting Machine Company That Could Decide The Election Causing Concern,

And while I am not suggesting conspiracies or that anyone would get involved in any foul play here, most particularly the GOP candidate for President, how is it possible that so many people could exercise so much bad judgment?

The sanctity of voting in America is supposed to be one of our most important virtues. So concerned are we with a ‘clean’ process that James O’Keefe has made a career entrapping, video taping and destroying those sympathetic to Democratic Party candidates and causes who cross the line when it comes to the voting process. And that’s just fine. If Mr. O’Keefe can legitimately expose someone engaging in voter fraud, he most certainly should call them out.

So, why would these individuals who serve on the board of directors of Hart Intercivic go out of their way to make a contribution to any political candidate given the critical importance of their company remaining above reproach when it comes to the political process? And why would those who run the company that owns Hart Intercivic be giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to a political candidate? And why would a political candidate and his family have a financial relationship with a company that owns a chunk of the voting machine company that will be counting the actual votes given to that political candidate or his opponent?

This is one story that Friedman refers to traces Romney connections to the company buying the voting machines company, Romney, Bain Tied To Voting Machine Company To Be Used in Swing States,

Hart InterCivic is a national provider of election voting systems that are used in swing-states Ohio and Colorado, as well as in states we don’t really care about so much because we already know how they’ll turn out (e.g., Texas, Oklahoma, and Hawaii). Private equity firm H.I.G. Capital, LLC bought out a “significant” portion of Hart in July of 2011, and now the majority of Hart’s board directors are employees of H.I.G. (It’s not entirely clear how much of the voting machine company H.I.G. owns, but the financial advisors responsible for the transaction state that “Hart Intercivic was acquired by HIG Capital.”)

H.I.G., in turn, has ties to Bain & Co. and Mitt Romney directly:

  • H.I.G. was founded by Tony Tamer, a former Bain employee and bundler for Mitt Romney’s campaign.

  • Of H.I.G.’s 22 American directors, 21 donated to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. ...

  • Of these 22 American directors, seven of them (nearly one-third) are former Bain employees. ...

  • Four of H.I.G.’s directors, Tony Tamer, John Bolduc, Douglas Berman, and Brian D. Schwartz, are Romney bundlers along with former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

  • Two of H.I.G.’s managing directors, Douglas F. Berman and Brian D. Schwartz, were present at the $50,000 per plate fundraiser where Mitt Romney made his notorious ”47%” comments.

  • H.I.G. employees currently make up the majority of the Hart InterCivic’s five-member board of directors. Two of these three directors of the voting machine company, Neil Tuch and Jeff Bohl, have donated directly to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

  • H.I.G. is the 11th largest donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign. H.I.G. employees have given $338,000 to the Romney campaign, outpacing even Bain Capital itself, which gave $268,000.
    (Sidenote: Are we the only ones to notice that every single one of H.I.G.’s 22 American directors is white and male? Not related to the Mitt Romney issue, but sheesh.)

  • PLEASE click through. (Note there is a difference between Bain Capital and Bain&Co. The former is a spin-off from the latter. I also don't like the term "has ties to," that's very Glenn-Beckian, but these are strong and real ties. Also they give the appearance of a problem whether they are actually a problem or not -- major supporters of a candidate buying the voting and counting machines that will decide if that candidate wins... and this hurts the public's -- to use Romney's economy word -- confidence.)

    Here is Lee Fang on The David Pakman Show:

    My Thoughts:

    We have to insist that there is sufficient random checking of the paper records in the machines against what the machines report, and of precinct results against what gets reported, esp in Ohio. (Of course it is better if every precinct is checked against reporting, but that is a big job that will be hard to get.) And seriously, if a single precinct result is different from what is reported, we have a potential tampering problem and should demand that all precincts are checked against what is reported.

    Also, if more than a few voters in a precinct are reporting that they see something different on the paper from what they thought they voted, that also indicates a potential tampering problem.

    Anyway it is possible to have secure systems. We certainly knew how to do that -- and knew the REASONS we had to do that -- back when we all used paper ballots and ballot boxes. "Ballot stuffing" happened all the time, so they came up with checks and balances.

    Now there is much more at stake, but we no longer seem to worry about these things. But obviously if you think about it, there will be even more reason to "stuff ballots" because there is so much money involved!

    History tells us election tampering WILL be a problem! So we should be demanding that the right checks and balances are in place to make it harder to tamper with elections, and I don't see it happening.

    Once again, back when we had paper ballots and ballot boxes people came up with all kinds of schemes to tamper with elections, and we developed more and more checks and balances to make it hard to do that. It happened all the time. History says people will always be trying to tamper with our elections. Now that we use computers we seem to have less security, fewer checks and balances at the same time as the stakes are SO much higher!

    And of course, there is also the cost in people's faith in our elections. Never mind if there actually is any tampering, etc, when people hear that Tag Romney and a bunch of Bain partners are involved in buying a voting machine company before an election in which Bain Capital's Mitt Romney is running for chief plutocrat -- and in which one strategy of his party is keeping people from voting ... well just for the reason of giving people faith in the choices the voters make, we should demand that every single precinct is carefully double-checked!

    Barriers

    There are barriers to fixing this problem. One is that this privatization of elections is a corporate effort, and they have salespeople and lobbyists wining and dining local election officials around the country, offering to "solve" their resource problems through automation. They have put serious money into selling this. There's money in selling this hardware and maintenance contracts.

    The technology is not complex, but securing the results and making them transparent is resource-intensive. Actually checking those paper rolls in those machines that at least have them means people sitting there and checking and comparing from each machine. And then checking the reported precinct results against the actual precinct counts is also a major effort. The whole idea of the machines was to save money. And double-checking to be sure thecomputers did it right and were not tampered with costs money.

    But here is the biggest barrier: if you try to say anything about this, this is what happens -- typical elite hatred of the citizens and their concerns:

    https://twitter.com/chucktodd/status/260027262877974528

    votingmchnes.jpg

    Update - and of course the great Brad Friedman is on this, too: NBC News Election Expert Chuck Todd: Voting Machine Concerns are 'Conspiracy Garbage'.

    Update - I should have included this one: The Free Press, Will H.I.G.-owned e-voting machines give Romney the White House?

    Ohio's very Republican Secretary of State is John Husted, currently suing in the US Supreme Court to prevent the public from voting on the weekend prior to election day. As did Blackwell and Governor Robert Taft in 2004, Husted and Kasich will control Ohio's electronic vote count on election night free of meaningful public checks or balances

    Hart Intercivic, on whose machines the key votes will be cast in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, was taken over last year by H.I.G. Capital. Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 11:18 AM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    October 19, 2012

    I'll Be Talking About #Sensata On The Young Turks Tonite

    The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur // Current TV

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 18, 2012

    Don't Forget The Other Part Of Romney's Libya Lie

    Let's not forget the other part of Romney's Libya lie.

    In the debate Romney had just said Obama ignored his duties and flew to Las Vegas for a fundraiser, and a minute later we find out Obama was giving an address out the tragedy in Libya from the Rose Garden - NOT Las Vegas - in which he called it an act of terror.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 12:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    WHY Did Romney Associates Buy A Big Voting Machine Company?

    OK I have to ask this. WHY would a bunch of Romney associates buy up a voting machine company?

    The story has been circulating in the background for a couple of weeks.

    Last year Hart Intercivic was bought by H.I.G. Capital. From The Free Press, Will H.I.G.-owned e-voting machines give Romney the White House? by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman, (and please read the whole thing, about all the voter suppression going on, the importance of Ohio, and what happened in Ohio in 2008.)


    Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney's campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

    Why could this matter?

    US courts have consistently ruled that the software in electronic voting machines is proprietary to the manufacturer, even though individual election boards may own the actual machines. Thus there will be no vote count transparency on election night in Ohio. The tally will be conducted by Hart Intercivic and controlled by Husted and Kasich, with no public recourse or accountability. As federal testimony from the deceased Michael Connell made clear in 2008, electronically flipping an election is relatively cheap and easy to do, especially if you or your compatriots programmed the machines.

    Brad Friedman writes in, About That Voting Machine Company Tied To Mitt Romney And Bain Capital…, (this quote is full of links, so go to the original.)

    Once again, we’re reminded of the dangers of the privatization of our once-public electoral system. The company’s ties to Romney aren’t the only disturbing ones we’ve seen with similar companies over the years. The fact is, that nobody other than the public should have any sort of control of our elections. The proprietary voting systems now in use in all 50 states, whether owned by Romney associates, a George W. Bush associate (as with Diebold in 2004) or even a company tied to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (as with Sequoia Voting Systems, which blatantly lied about that tie to public officials, and the Canadian firm Dominion which purchased Sequoia and also immediately lied about the fact that Intellectual Property of their voting systems used all across the U.S. is still owned by the Venezuelan firm), continue to be a grave threat to American democracy and confidence in U.S. elections.

    This is likely to be a close election. We are going to see \states reporting for one or the other candidate after possibly hundreds of thousands of people being denied the right to vote. And some counties will pull machines out of key precincts, in an attempt to cause long line -- like Ohio did last time -- to keep people from voting.

    That is a prescription of serious problems with people accepting the election results as legitimate.

    So along with those problems now we have a bunch of Wall Street types -- people directly tied to Romney -- controlling the voting and counting in many areas!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 16, 2012

    Romney, Tobacco and Kids

    Somehow no surprise: Mitt Romney's Bain Helped Philip Morris Get U.S. High Schoolers Hooked On Cigarettes,

    When Mitt Romney served as CEO of Bain & Co., his consulting firm helped tobacco giant Philip Morris develop a groundbreaking sales strategy that researchers say has been linked to an unprecedented spike in youth smoking.

    ... Philip Morris stunned Wall Street and tobacco experts by the slashing price on its flagship Marlboro brand by 40 cents a pack, to $1.80. It was a landmark day for the tobacco industry, one that became known as "Marlboro Friday" to public health experts.

    ... A year later, Philip Morris stock had fully recovered, and continued to make steady gains over the coming four years. Marlboro Friday ultimately proved to be the tobacco industry's most successful effort to increase domestic profit in the face of heavier regulations.

    The profit was the result of soaring sales that coincided with an unprecedented jump in smoking among high school- aged youth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, found that the portion of young people who had smoked at least one cigarette in the previous month rose nearly 20 percent from 1993 to 1997. Youth smoking increased in all categories from that occasional user to the regular user.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:08 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Wonderful, Funny

    Go see: For all the details on Mitt Romney's 5 trillion dollar tax plan visit ROMNEYTAXPLAN.COM

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 15, 2012

    Here Is What Is Happening With #Sensata

    If you are hearing about a company names Sensata, here is the story. Right now this company is moving equipment out of a factory in Freeport, Il. and shipping it to China. They are making the workers there train their Chinese replacements. And the end of the year they are laying off the American workers. The workers have set up a camp across from the factory and have named it Bainport. (please click!) Supporters are trying to block the trucks, and some have been arrested. This is all happening right now, even as Mitt Romney says he wants to "get tough on China." So the workers have asked Romney to come to Freeport and help them.

    "The week before they came they took the American flag down outside the plant. The week after they left they put it back up."

    See Wendi Kent's moving photos of the Bainport camp, where workers are asking Romney to hep them:

    Bainport, Illinois Pt.1

    Bainport, Illinois Pt.2- Profits Over People

    What's Going On?

    Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney started the "private equity" firm Bain Capital. Bain Capital makes its money by purchasing companies using "leveraged buyouts" that borrow huge sums using the purchased company's own assets as collateral. They often use part of the borrowed money to immediately pay itself. Bain then cuts costs by doing things like sending jobs to China, cutting wages and manipulating tax rules to cut taxes owed, along with standard big-business practices like consolidating business units, taking advantage of economies of scale not available to smaller competitors, squeezing distribution channels for price cuts, and other practices that bring competitive advantages. (Please see So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples? for a look at how this works.) Then, after reorganizing the purchased companies Bain "harvests" them for profit. ("Harvest" is Romney's word, watch the linked video.)

    Bain Capital purchased a sensor manufacturer that makes key components for our automobile supply chain, and named it Sensata. They immediately announced they closing a factory in Freeport, Ill., and sending the manufacturing and jobs to China to save money. (This is significant because China is engaged in efforts to dominate American auto supplies. See China Cheating Costs 400K Auto Parts Jobs and Why The Latest Trade Complaint Against China Matters. )

    Bain/Sensata brought in Chinese workers and made the Freeport workers train them. Bain/Sensata is moving the equipment out of the Freeport factory and shipping it to China right now. The Freeport employees have set up a camp outside the factory that they call Bainport and are trying to stop the Bain trucks that are moving the equipment out for shipment to China. Supporters were arrested this week, trying to stop those trucks.

    The Sensata employees have asked Romney to come to Freeport/Bainport and help them. Read on to learn about Romney's response to the Sensata workers, and how Romney is actually making big money right now from shipping their jobs to China.

    Romney's Opportunity

    Mitt Romney is not running Bain Capital anymore. While he still makes millions from the company, and gets checks from the profits made when they ship jobs to China), this is a tremendous opportunity for him. Can you imagine a better spokesman for the Bainport employees than the former head of Bain Capital, who now says he opposes the kinds of things that Bain Capital is doing here?

    This is an opportunity for Romney to show the public that he actually means it when he says he wants to do something about companies sending jobs to China! Here is his former company, people who know him, sending jobs to China right now and there is no one in a better position to put pressure on them to stop this than the former head of the company, and on top of that a presidential candidate!

    What an opportunity for Romney to show that he means what he says!

    Will Romney Help?

    Mitt Romney wants to be President, and polls show that the public overwhelmingly wants something done about jobs and factories moving to China and the resulting was pressure that puts on the rest of us and on our economy. So Romney says he will do something about it.

    But Romney's current actions are opposite his current words. He complains about China currency manipulation, but refuses to ask the Republican House leadership to bring the China currency bill up for a vote, and refuses to ask more than 60 Republican co-sponsors of that bill to sign a "discharge petition" that would force a vote.

    And Romney refuses to even meet with Sensata workers. When asked if Romney would help these workers the Romney campaign says Romney will not do it:

    "Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, but for four years President Obama has been presiding over an economy that is creating too few jobs and sending more jobs overseas. Despite the President being invested in Sensata through his personal pension fund, and the government owning a major Sensata customer in GM, President Obama has not used his powers to help this situation in any way."— Curt Cashour, Romney Campaign Spokesman.

    PS - SNL

    Here is SNL addressing the disparity between how Chinese workers are treated (because they don't have a say) and American expectations:

    For More On Sensata

    Is This Why Romney Won't Talk To Sensata Workers Whose Jobs Are Being Shipped To China?

    You Should Know About Sensata - It's What The Election Is About

    Election Or Not, What Happens To Sensata-Style Workers?

    Blocking Bain Trucks To Save Jobs In Freeport – This Is An IMPORTANT Story

    Breaking – Arrests At Sensata "Bainport" Camp

    Paul Harris at The Guardian: 'I'm sick to my stomach': anger grows in Illinois at Bain's latest outsourcing plan

    Also, see:

    Bain Of Our Existence - Go To place for stories and info about Bain Capital.

    Laura Clawson at Daily Kos: Mitt Romney profits as Bain sends American jobs to China PLUS a Daily Kos campaign:
    Send a message of support to the Sensata workers as they fight to keep their jobs and shine a light on what a Romney economy would look like.

    Unraveling The Romney/Bain Tax Story,

    Romney, Jobs And China – Let's Connect Dots

    Rights Report Describes Romney-Owned "Brutal Chinese Sweatshop"

    Romney, Republicans Again Side With China Over US Companies

    Ohio And China – One Side Promises While The Other Delivers

    China Is Very "Business-Friendly"

    Will Conservatives Support American Companies ... Or Chinese?

    Ohio And China -- One Side Promises While The Other Delivers

    Here is a Democracy Now! report:

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 10, 2012

    Is This Why Romney Won't Talk To Sensata Workers Whose Jobs Are Being Shipped To China?

    On the campaign trail Romney says we shouldn't ship jobs to China and should "crack down" on China trade problems. But he refuses to help or even meet with the Sensata workers whose jobs are being shipped to China right now.

    Why the refusal to line up his actions with his promises? A must-read, must-read, must-read news report explains how part of Romney's $400,000/week income comes from ... get this ... shipping jobs to China!

    First, the background...

    Sensata - Happening Today

    Mitt Romney started the "private equity" firm Bain Capital. Bain purchases companies using "leveraged buyouts" that borrow huge sums using the purchased company's own assets as collateral, uses the borrowed money to immediately pay itself, then cuts costs by doing things like sending jobs to China, cutting wages and manipulating tax rules to cut taxes owed, along with standard big-business practices like consolidating business units, taking advantage of economies of scale not available to smaller competitors, squeezing distribution channels for price cuts, and other practices that bring competitive advantages. (See So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples?) After reorganizing the purchased companies Bain then "harvests" them for profit.

    One company Bain Capital purchased is Sensata, a sensor manufacturer that makes key components for our automobile supply chain. Sensata then announced it is closing a factory in Freeport, Ill., and sending the manufacturing and jobs to China. (China is engaged in efforts to dominate American auto supplies. See China Cheating Costs 400K Auto Parts Jobs and Why The Latest Trade Complaint Against China Matters.)

    Bain/Sensata brought in Chinese workers and made the Freeport workers train them. Bain/Sensata is moving the equipment out of the Freeport factory and shipping it to China right now. The Freeport employees have set up a camp outside the factory that they call Bainport and are trying to stop the Bain trucks that are moving the equipment out for shipment to China. Supporters were arrested this week, trying to stop those trucks.

    The Sensata employees heard Romney on the campaign trail, and somehow got the idea that he opposes sending our jobs to China. So they asked him to come to Freeport/Bainport and help them. Read on to learn about Romney's response to the Sensata workers, and how Romney is actually making big money right now from shipping their jobs to China.

    "The week before they came they took the American flag down outside the plant. The week after they left they put it back up."

    The China Problem – The Public Gets It

    During the George W. Bush administration we lost more than 50,000 factories and at least 6 million manufacturing jobs directly to China. (Never mind the effect on the supply chains, the grocery and clothing stores where those people shopped, etc... The foreclosures, the bankruptcies, the misery...) Thanks, George!

    This chart from Think Progress shows what happened to our manufacturing base immediately after Bush took office. Seriously, look at this chart and see if you can just guess why we have such a terrible economy today:

    The public gets it – the problem is China. Polls show that the public overwhelmingly – by percentages in the 80s and 90s for Democrats and Republicans alike – understands that a huge part of our economic troubles come from the was we have been shipping jobs, factories and industries to China.

    ABC News, from July: ‘Made In America’ Policies Hugely Popular, Survey Shows

    Nearly 9 out of 10 Republicans and Independents and 91 percent of Democrats said they support “Buy America” preferences, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Democratic-leaning Mellman Group.

    Another poll,

    When it comes to trade with China, the poll found that voters emphatically support tough action on Beijing’s cheating on currency and other trade obligations.

    Another, from a key state: New Zogby Poll: Ohio Voters Favor Boycott of China Over Unfair Trade.

    Romney Can Read Polls

    One thing the Romney campaign can do is read polls. So Mitt Romney sees the polls and says he wants to do something about China.

    The Hill: Romney, campaigning in Ohio, vows to stop China's 'cheating' trade practices

    Bloomberg: Romney Ad Says He Will `Stand Up to China': Video

    The Hill: New Romney ad says Obama won’t ‘stand up to China’ on trade, jobs

    So, on the campaign trail Romney says he will stand up to China's cheating, and opposes companies that send jobs and factories to China.

    Romney Refuses To Help – Even Talk With – Sensata Workers

    Romney wants to be President, and polls show that the public overwhelmingly wants something done about the problem of jobs and factories moving to China, and the resulting was pressure that puts on the rest of us and on our economy. So Romney says he will do something about it.

    But Romney's current actions are opposite his current words. He complains about China currency manipulation, but refuses to ask the Republican House leadership to bring the China currency bill up for a vote, and refuses to ask more than 60 Republican co-sponsors of that bill to sign a "discharge petition" that would force a vote.

    And Romney refuses to even meet with Sensata workers. When asked if Romney would help these workers the Romney campaign says Romney will not do it:

    "Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, but for four years President Obama has been presiding over an economy that is creating too few jobs and sending more jobs overseas. Despite the President being invested in Sensata through his personal pension fund, and the government owning a major Sensata customer in GM, President Obama has not used his powers to help this situation in any way."— Curt Cashour, Romney Campaign Spokesman.

    Why is Romney saying he wants to do something about the trade problem with China, but refusing to actually do anything about the trade problem with China? Here is one possible reason why.

    Romney Making Big Money From Bain Sending Sensata Jobs To China

    A must-read news report today by Sharon LaFraniere and Mike McIntire in The New York Times explains. As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties (emphasis added, for emphasis),

    Mr. Romney also has millions invested in a series of Bain funds that have a controlling stake in Sensata Technologies, a manufacturer of sensors and controls for vehicles, aircraft and electric motors that employs 4,000 workers in China. Since Bain took over the operation in 2006, its investment has quadrupled in value. Bain continues to own $2.6 billion worth of Sensata’s shares.

    Two years ago, Sensata bought an operation that made automobile sensors in Freeport, Ill. At the first meeting with the plant’s 170 workers, Sensata managers announced that by the end of 2012 all the equipment and jobs would be relocated, mostly to Jiangsu Province. Workers have staged demonstrations, pleading for Mr. Romney to intervene on their behalf.

    Chinese engineers, flown to Freeport for training on the equipment, described their salaries as a pittance compared with Freeport wages. Tom Gaulrapp, who has operated machines at the factory for 33 years, said he fears he will go bankrupt after he loses his job on Nov. 5.

    “This goes to show the unbelievable hypocrisy of this man,” he said of Mr. Romney. “He talks about how we need to get tough on China and stop China from taking our jobs, and then he is making money off shipping our jobs there.”

    So there you have it. Mitt Romney says he opposes sending jobs to China, and says he will "crack down" on China. But he refuses to do things that he could do right now that would make an actual difference right now. And it turns out that right now he is making big money from Sensata and other companies that are sending people's jobs to China right now.

    Laying off American workers – usually shipping the jobs to China – and pocketing their wages for themselves is the story of the rise of the wealth of the 1%, and the decline of the American middle class. It is the Romney/Bain/Sensata business model. And the remaining workers have to do the jobs of the laid-off workers, often for lower pay, and are threatened with losing their jobs, too, if they don't like it.


    Please read the entire New York Times report, As Romney Repeats Trade Message, Bain Maintains China Ties. There is much more there about Romney, China, Bain and the huge gap between what Romney says on the campaign trail, and how Romney made his current $400,000/week income and how Bain Capital still makes its money.

    Visit the Bainport blog for pictures and details about the Sensata workers who are trying to stop the Bain trucks from shipping the equipment from the factory to China.

    More on Sensata:

    You Should Know About Sensata - It's What The Election Is About

    Election Or Not, What Happens To Sensata-Style Workers?

    Blocking Bain Trucks To Save Jobs In Freeport – This Is An IMPORTANT Story

    Breaking – Arrests At Sensata "Bainport" Camp

    Also, see:

    Unraveling The Romney/Bain Tax Story,

    Romney, Jobs And China – Let's Connect Dots

    Rights Report Describes Romney-Owned "Brutal Chinese Sweatshop"

    Romney, Republicans Again Side With China Over US Companies

    Ohio And China – One Side Promises While The Other Delivers

    Update: Here is a Democracy Now! report:

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 8, 2012

    Breaking -- Arrests At Sensata "Bainport" Camp

    Sensata is a Bain-owned company that is closing a factory in in Freeport, Il to move the jobs to China. The workers have set up a camp they call "Bainport" and workers and supporters are trying to block the Bain trucks that are moving equipment out to ship to China right now. In breaking news there were arrests made today.

    Last week in the post Blocking Bain Trucks To Save Jobs In Freeport -- This Is An IMPORTANT Story I wrote about the Sensata workers in Freeport who have set up a camp they call Bainport, and are asking Mitt Romney to show that he means what he is saying about cracking down on China by coming to Freeport and asking his former company not to send these jobs to China.

    The Sensata workers camping at Bainport as asking Mitt Romney to come help them keep their jobs. Romney insists that he has nothing to do with Bain Capital anymore (his tax returns showed that he gets more than $400,000 a week from Bain investments).

    Helping the Sensata workers would show that he means it when he says he has nothing to do with the things Bain does now, and that he will do something about the jobs being sent to China. What better opportunity to prove both than to show up and confront Bain for sending these jobs to China!

    Romney, Bain And The Outsourcing Strategy

    Mitt Romney and Bain "pioneered" outsourcing strategies. They invested in companies set up to help other companies send jobs to China, and they especially used offshoring in their strategies to avoid paying the taxes that enable We, the People to have good schools, roads, courts etc. The NY Times story, Offshore Tactics Helped Increase Romneys’ Wealth explained,

    Some of the offshore entities enabled Bain-owned companies to sidestep certain taxes, increasing returns for Mr. Romney and other investors. Others helped Bain attract foreign investors and nonprofit institutions by insulating them from taxes, again augmenting Mr. Romney’s bottom line, since he shared in management fees based on the size of each Bain fund.

    In Unraveling The Romney/Bain Tax Story I explained how it works,

    The complicated story of how the 1%ers and their corporations evade democracy's taxes is the story of our crumbling schools and infrastructure and the flow of all the gains of our economy to a very few at the top. This tax evasion is also part of the story of our deficits and debt. The tax evasion is "legal" -- because the tax evaders pay the people who write the tax laws. And even as their tax evasion adds to our budget deficits and debt, the 1%ers are insisting we close the deficit by cutting Social Security, Medicare and "safety-net" programs!

    [. . .] The American-based entities can buy American companies without incurring "foreign-based" obligations. Then the foreign-based entities can avoid the taxes that the American-based buyers of companies would have to pay. And the foreign-based investors can be in the foreign-based parts of the company, avoiding US tax obligations. Also American entities like pension funds can avoid US taxes they would otherwise have to pay.

    To put it another way, the same company can pretend it is US-based when that is what it needs to be, and foreign-based when that is what it needs to be.

    Mitt Romney is wealthy because he engaged in strategies to lay people off, sending their jobs to China and pocketing the wage differential for himself. Then his companies would force people to take wage cuts or risk losing their jobs, too, and pocking the wage difference for himself. The profits from these "enterprises" were manipulated in ways that enabled him to pay very little in taxes, so the rest of us end up not only with layoffs and lower wages, but bad schools, crumbling infrastructure and government debt.

    Then later, Mitt Romney can claim that We the People are the cause of the resulting government debt and that we need "austerity" -- less for We, the People in order to keep taxes low.

    Arrests

    Today community members supporting the Sensata workers were arrested for trying to block Bain trucks from sending the factory's equipment to China.

    Visit the Bainport blog for pictures and details.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

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

    October 7, 2012

    RoboRomney Agrees With You

    Boing Boing found a RoboRomney site where you can ask for liberal, moderate or conservative Romney positions on any issue, and the site will print out Romney quotes, where he took that position.

    Mitt Romney agrees with you - Boing Boing

    Oh, it will also give you a video with Romney taking those positions!

    I guess if Romney wins I have to start a new category on this blog, "Liar"

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    October 5, 2012

    Three Important Videos On Romney Debate Lies - Now Four

    Here are short videos showing just 3 of the times Romney lied in the debates.

    Where he said he wants more teachers hired:

    On his tax plan:

    On his health plan:

    Here is another, from Daily Kos:


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    So DO Tax Cuts Create Jobs?

    In Wednesday's debate Mitt Romney repeated his claim that cutting individual and corporate income taxes creates jobs. But when you look at what actually happened, the periods when we had the highest tax rates were the periods we had the greatest job and economic growth. And the periods with lower taxes had lower job and economic growth. (And we all know what happened in the Bush years...)

    Here is Romney at Wednesday's debate,

    "54 percent of America's workers work in businesses that are taxed not at the corporate tax rate, but at the individual tax rate. And if we lower that rate, they will be able to hire more people. For me, this is about jobs. This is about getting jobs for the American people."

    and,

    "The problem with raising taxes is that it slows down the rate of growth. And you could never quite get the job done. I want to lower spending and encourage economic growth at the same time."

    So DO tax cuts for rich people and already-profitable businesses create jobs? DO businesses hire people when they have extra money? When few customers are coming through the door will tax cuts cause businesses to hire people to sit around reading newspapers or checking Twitter?

    I think that people with jobs have money to spend and then the businesses that get their business will hire people, and will make money and be happy they have profits to pay taxes on. And I think that the numbers -- and charts that help us visualize those numbers -- back me up. Here are some of those numbers.

    Michael Linden at Center for American Progress took a look at tax rates and job creation, in Rich People’s Taxes Have Little to Do with Job Creation, Conservative Arguments that Higher Income Taxes for the Wealthy Hurt Employment Don’t Hold Up to Scrutiny,

    ... in years when the top marginal rate was more than 90 percent, the average annual growth in total payroll employment was 2 percent. In years when the top marginal rate was 35 percent or less—which it is now—employment grew by an average of just 0.4 percent.

    And there’s no cherry-picking here. Pick any threshold. When the marginal tax rate was 50 percent or above, annual employment growth averaged 2.3 percent, and when the rate was under 50, growth was half that.

    In fact, if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher. The top 10 years would share marginal tax rates at 50 percent or higher. The two worst years, on the other hand, were 2008 and 2009, when the top marginal tax rate was 35 percent. In the 13 years that the top marginal tax rate has been at its current level or lower, only one year even cracks the top 20 in overall job creation.

    OK, got that? The periods of highest job growth correspond to the periods of highest tax rates on the wealthy. 70% top tax rates. 90% top tax rates. Maybe this is because that money gets used to build roads and bridges and buildings and ports and dams and the things that make our economy more efficient and competitive. And maybe because the years of low tax rates are the years of government cutbacks because there isn't enough revenue coming in -- infrastructure not maintained, education budgets cut, etc.

    What do tax rates do to economic growth? Romney says raising taxes hurts the economy. Is that what happens?

    Michael Linden looked at what happens with taxes and GDP growth, in The Myth of the Lower Marginal Tax Rates, Conservatives’ Go-To Growth Solution Doesn’t Hold Up (I'll spare you the blow-up photo of Speaker Boehner's face),

    The top marginal income tax rate has ranged all the way from 92 percent down to 28 percent over the last 60 years. With such a large range, it should be easy to see the enormous impact of lower rates on overall economic growth, as conservatives routinely claim. Years with lower marginal rates should boast higher growth, right?

    That’s definitely not what happened. In fact, growth was actually fastest in years with relatively high top marginal tax rates. Back in the 1950s, when the top marginal tax rate was more than 90 percent, real annual growth averaged more than 4 percent. During the last eight years, when the top marginal rate was just 35 percent, real growth was less than half that.

    Altogether, in years when the top marginal rate was lower than 39.6 percent—the top rate during the 1990s—annual real growth averaged 2.1 percent. In years when the rate was 39.6 percent or higher, real growth averaged 3.8 percent. The pattern is the same regardless of threshold. Take 50 percent, for example. Growth in years when the tax rate was less than 50 percent averaged 2.7 percent. In years with tax rates at or more than 50 percent, growth was 3.7 percent.

    These numbers do not mean that higher rates necessarily lead to higher growth. But the central tenet of modern conservative economics is that a lower top marginal tax rate will result in more growth, and these numbers do show conclusively that history has not been kind to that theory.

    Zaid Jilani at CAP's Think Progress also takes a look, in Top Reagan Economic Advisor: Return To Clinton-Era Tax Rates Would Not Hurt Economic Growth,

    Historically, the United States has actually had some of its strongest periods of economic growth while taxes were high. As this graph from Slate shows, some of our strongest periods of growth in gross domestic product actually occured while taxes were very high:

    In the 1950s, which had one of the sharpest periods of economic growth in all of American economic history, the top marginal tax rates for the richest Americans stretched above 90 percent. Likewise, economic growth in the relatively higher-taxed 1990s was much stronger than in the 2000s. This isn’t to say that higher taxes necessarily cause greater economic growth, but it does seem to show that higher taxes do not appear necessarily to be impeding job growth, nor are lower taxes especially helpful.

    OK, did you see those charts? Not only do high taxes on the rich not impede growth, but growth looks to be higher when taxes are higher. Maybe this is because higher taxes on the rich means that the government -- We, the People -- has more to spend on the things that make our economy more efficient and competitive like schools, roads, bridges, transit systems, courthouses, judges, etc...

    And, again, the periods of low taxes are the periods of government cutbacks ...

    David Leonhardt at the NY Times looks at recent numbers, in Do Tax Cuts Lead to Economic Growth?

    President George W. Bush and Congress, including Mr. Ryan, passed a large tax cut in 2001, sped up its implementation in 2003 and predicted that prosperity would follow.

    The economic growth that actually followed — indeed, the whole history of the last 20 years — offers one of the most serious challenges to modern conservatism. Bill Clinton and the elder George Bush both raised taxes in the early 1990s, and conservatives predicted disaster. Instead, the economy boomed, and incomes grew at their fastest pace since the 1960s. Then came the younger Mr. Bush, the tax cuts, the disappointing expansion and the worst downturn since the Depression.

    (Click that graphic for larger)

    Whoa, did you see what happened after Bush cut taxes for the rich? Do you remember what happened after Bill Clinton got taxes increased on the rich?

    My own 2010 post, Did The Rich Cause The Deficit? included this chart, (The red line is the tax rates, the blue is growth and the red arrow shows the trend.

    Top Tax Rate vs GDP

    But, from that post, one thing that cutting taxes on the rich obviously does cause is deficits:

    TopRates_vs_Debt_Chart

    And deficits cause government to cut back, cut infrastructure projects, cut the things government -- We, the People - does for We, the People. And the economy slows...

    The real job creators are working people with money in their wallets.

    Tax the rich, use the money to modernize our infrastructure and help regular working people. Build roads, schools, bridges, ports, airports, dams, courthouses, wind farms, water systems, high-speed rail, municipal transit systems, all the things that make our economy efficient and competitive...

    (PS I also came across a chart showing that lowering capital gains rates correlates with lower, not higher, economic growth. But somehow we knew that would be the case...)

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

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

    October 3, 2012

    Blocking Bain Trucks To Save Jobs In Freeport

    There is a real-life story playing out in real time in Freeport, Illinois, which is west of Chicago. Bain Capital is closing a Sensata factory there, to move the jobs and work to China. The workers are camped out in a tent city they have named "Bainport." They are asking Mitt Romney to show that he means what he says about jobs and China by helping them keep their jobs. Right now the Sensata workers are blocking trucks brought in to ship the equipment to China. This is an important story because it tells the story of our economy's loss of jobs and factories and the resulting downward wage pressure. It is also the story of how a very few people are enriching themselves at the expense of the rest of us.

    Blocking Trucks

    WIFR.com: 'Bainport' Blocks Equipment Removal,

    Members of the “Bainport” tent community say two trucks pulled into the factory lot around 6 this morning to begin removing machinery from the building, and sending it over to China.

    Once the truck pulled in, about a dozen members from “Bainport” and other supporters from the outside community blocked the entrance so cargo could not go in or out.


    The Freeport Journal Standard: Sensata workers protest as ‘time runs out’, (emphasis added, for emphasis)

    “We saw them bringing in trucks to remove the equipment,” said Sensata employee Tom Gaulrapp. “We are going to try and stop them. We are more and more desperate as time runs out. We’ll do whatever we have to at this point.”

    Police were called to the scene as protestors had said they would block the trucks from leaving. As of press time, protestors had complied with police and no arrests had been made.

    ... “We hope that the next company that decides to outsource jobs will think twice and look at what we’re doing here,” said Gaulrapp. “We want a place where our kids can get good jobs and be able to stay here in Freeport. It rips up the town and it rips up families.”

    Asking Romney For Help

    The Sensata workers camping at Bainport as asking Mitt Romney to come help them keep their jobs. Romney insists that he has nothing to do with Bain Capital anymore (his tax returns showed that he gets more than $400,000 a week from Bain investments).

    Helping the Sensata workers would show that he means it when he says he has nothing to do with the things Bain does now, and that he will do something about the jobs being sent to China. What better opportunity to prove both than to show up and confront Bain for sending these jobs to China!

    When asked about this, the Romney campaign responded,

    "Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, but for four years President Obama has been presiding over an economy that is creating too few jobs and sending more jobs overseas. Despite the President being invested in Sensata through his personal pension fund, and the government owning a major Sensata customer in GM, President Obama has not used his powers to help this situation in any way."— Curt Cashour, Romney Campaign Spokesman.

    See also Ryan Grimm and Dave Jamieson at Huffington Post, Mitt Romney Gets Tax Break Off Firm Sending Jobs To China,

    While the workers and the town may suffer, Romney himself has done well as a result of Bain's work with the company. According to his recently released 2011 tax returns, Romney transferred $701,703 worth of Sensata stock to the Tyler Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit controlled by Romney. The gift is listed on page 323 of the pdf, on form 8283 (below).

    Moving the stock to his nonprofit brings Romney twin benefits. First, he gets to deduct the full value of the stock. At a 35 percent tax rate, that's nearly a $250,000 benefit. At 15 percent, it's just over $100,000.

    Second, Romney is able to avoid paying capital gains taxes on the stock price increase. Romney's returns list no cost for the stock, and indicate he obtained them as part of a partnership interest in Bain. Avoiding capital gains taxes on the full increase would save an additional $100,000. In 2010, Romney gifted $170,000 worth of Sensata stock to his charity, saving $25,000 in capital gains taxes that year.

    Cheryl Randecker, a Sensata worker facing an imminent layoff, said, "I could pay off my house with that [$25,000], and he doesn't need it anyway."

    ... Rebecca Wilkins, an attorney with Citizens for Tax Justice, said that Romney's move is a prime example of the way that the super-wealthy are able to game the charitable deduction while still holding on to their money.

    The Harvest

    This video is titled "Romney's latest harvest" based on the "harvest" video, in which Romney described Bain's strategy to "harvest" companies for profit:

    OLB Spends an Evening at Bainport from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

    See And Read

    You can see striking and wonderful photos of the people and their camp in this Daily Kos diary by "noise of rain," The Faces of Outsourcing: Bainport's Tent-City Protest in Pictures,

    Sensata is owned by Bain Capital which was co-founded and previously run by U.S. Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. Recently, a video has come to light in which Romney explains the business model he created for Bain Capital and states their purpose is to buy companies and “hopefully, five to eight years later, to harvest them at a significant profit,”. In January 2011, Bain Capital announced they would be outsourcing over 170 jobs from this plant as well as all equipment, to China. Romney, still owning stock in Bain, stands to profit quite a bit from this move.

    You can read about Bainport at bainport.com,

    We're workers at Bain Capital-owned Sensata, 2520 Walnut St, Freeport, Illinois. We're fighting to save our jobs from being shipped to China by the end of this year. We are calling on Mitt Romney to come to Freeport, IL and we will camp across the street from our plant for as long as it takes!

    Help spread the word, this is an important story!

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:17 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos

    September 27, 2012

    The Clincher

    Here is Romney explaining how Bain would "harvest" companies. (See also So DID Mitt Romney Really "Create Jobs" At Staples?)

    NEW ROMNEY VIDEO: In 1985, He Said Bain Would "Harvest" Companies for Profits | Mother Jones

    BAIN%20HARVEST.jpg
    (Poster created by Richard Eskow, Super-Genius)

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 8:46 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 20, 2012

    Wow! Watch This One

    Outside the circle:

    Devastating!

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    September 19, 2012

    New Romney Video Surfaces

    Here is another Romney video, from 1979:

    (It's really the Dead Kennedys, Kill the Poor.)

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

    August 27, 2012

    Republicans Again Use Race, And It's OUR Fault That It Still Works

    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.

    Since Forever

    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...)

    Prediction

    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.

    Cost-Effective

    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.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:38 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    August 9, 2012

    Star Trek, Deficits and Why Cutting Government Hurts We, the People!

    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!"

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

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:12 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    August 8, 2012

    What Is The Calculation Behind Romney's Campaign Of Lies?

    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 Calculation

    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."

    The Test

    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?

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

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    August 7, 2012

    Pretty Big Story

    Exclusive: Brigham Young’s Great-Great-Granddaughter on Mormonism and Mitt Romney - The Daily Beast

    "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."

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:58 PM | Comments (3) | Link Cosmos

    I'm A Romney Girl! (Video)

    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?

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    August 1, 2012

    Lying Works

    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.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:33 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    July 30, 2012

    On Romney Bullying

    Please watch, very short. From US Politics | AMERICAblog News: This man is having none of Romney's bullying:

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 5:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Another New York Times Columnist Attack On Social Security And Medicare

    The New York Times contains another elite-columnist attack on our Social Security and Medicare systems today. This time it's in the form of an op-ed by Bill Keller. Recently and regularly, New York Times columnists David Brooks and Tom Friedman have also gone after the things We, the People do for each other.

    First, The Basics Of The Borrowing

    Any discussion of our deficit/debt "crisis" must start with a few quick points about the history of the "crisis":

    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.

    Republicans are following a decades-old shock-doctrine plan:


    • Use tax cuts and military spending increases to create terrible deficits that add up to massive debt,

    • Then use the resulting "debt crisis" to scare people (esp elites like Keller, Brooks and Friedman) into cutting democratic government and our ability to control the billionaires and their corporations.

    But cutting government doesn't mean the costs go away, it means that we each have to bear those costs ourselves, on our own, without the help of the rest of us. This is really about cutting democracy so the very rich can be even very-richer.

    The Attack

    With that out of the way, let us now turn to the latest elite attack on entitlements -- those things We, the People are entitled to: the fruits of the prosperity that democracy brings us.

    In a NY Times op-ed, The Entitled Generation, Bill Keller writes about the "bloat" of projected entitlement spending, blaming "baby boomers" for future budget shortfalls, because they will need to retire without living in absolute poverty, and get health care.

    He writes that because budget cuts have us spending less than we should on infrastructure investment, therefore we should also spend less on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. "In 1962 ... [a]bout 32 cents of every federal dollar, excluding interest payments, was spent on investments, only 14 percent on entitlements. In the mid-70s the lines crossed. Today we spend less than 15 cents on investment and 46 cents on entitlements. "

    Keller writes, "So the question is not whether entitlements have to be brought under control, but how. " (These greedy seniors don't understand that the situation has changed -- we have cut taxes for the very wealthy and increased our military spending to prevent the Soviet Union from invading. Who do they think they are?)

    Finally, ignoring the People's Budget, the Budget For All, the Schakowsky Deficit Reduction Plan and all the other sensible budget plans that have been proposed by progressives, Keller writes, "At least the Republicans have a plan. The Democrats generally recoil from the subject of entitlements."

    Keller praises "bipartisan authors of the Simpson-Bowles report" -- even though there was no "Simpson-Bowles report." The commission couldn't come to agreement and issued no report. As for the "bipartisan" Simpson and Bowles, he is referring to former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, and member of the Board of Directors of Morgan Stanley Erskine Bowles. (Please click the link.) ("Bipartisan" as used by elites like Keller apparently refers to even and odd numbered addresses on Wall Street -- the crowd that gets the money if our Social Security system is dismantled.)

    Social Security

    Our Social Security system is critical to human beings and our economy, just like hospitals, highways, schools and power plants. It is a core institution, used by everyone, and is absolutely vital in most people's lives. It is the foundation of our retirement security. It is our most basic protection for our families if we become disabled or die.

    Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research explains just how crucial our Social Security system is to the lives of so many of us, in Bill Keller Wants to Take Away Your Social Security and Is Either Too Ignorant or Dishonest to Acknowledge that He Is Not a Typical Baby Boomer,

    Does Keller know that the typical near retiree has total wealth of $170,000. This includes everything in their 401(k), all their other financial assets and the equity in their homes. Another way to put this is that the typical near retiree (between the ages of 55-64) could take all their wealth and pay off their mortgage. After that they would be entirely dependent on their Social Security to cover all their living costs.

    In other words, half of near-retirees have less than that so they depend on Social Security even more than that.

    We built and paid for our Social Security system. Each generation has done its part to maintain the system's foundations for over 75 years, and it has only become stronger. If the middle class can’t count on Social Security in their retirement years, what can it count on?

    Social Security is a far safer bet than any other retirement savings available. It is vastly safer than a 401K, which is available only to a few anyway, and can disappear overnight. Corporate raiders can take your pension plan. You can't even count on a pension plan if you are a public employee. House prices can go up or down. But Social Security is always there for us. Even the most sophisticated investors can lose everything, but you can't lose your Social Security. Social Security is the one retirement system that really works.

    Social Security is the most successful government program, and that is why so many elites hate it!

    Medicare And Medicaid

    A government budget cut is really like a huge tax increase on regular people because it increases what each of us pays for the things government does -- or forces us to go without. This is because cuts in government spending don’t actually cut the cost of things, they just shift those costs onto each of us on our own.

    For example, if you cut the the government's Medicare or Medicaid budget our health problems don’t disappear, but each of us has to find ways to pay the cost of medical care or a nursing home on our own, with no help, often at a time when we are stressed by illness.

    In Cost of Medicare Equivalent Insurance Skyrockets under Ryan Plan the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) explains what happens to the cost of health care if Medicare is eliminated. Summary: it shifts the costs to us, except each of us ends up paying seven times as much as the same care costs under Medicare. This is because Medicare covers millions, and that economy-of-scale means the government can negotiate bulk discounts, etc. that we cannot get on our own. From the CEPR explanation:

    [The Republican] plan to revamp Medicare has been described as shifting costs from the government to beneficiaries. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), however, shows that the [Republican] proposal will increase health care costs for seniors by more than seven dollars for every dollar it saves the government, a point missing from much of the debate over the plan.

    ... In addition to comparing the costs of Medicare to the government under the current system and under the [Republican] plan, the authors also show the effects of raising the age of Medicare eligibility. The paper also demonstrates that while [the Republican plan] shifts $4.9 trillion in health care costs from the government to Medicare beneficiaries, this number is dwarfed by a $34 trillion increase in overall costs to beneficiaries that is projected ...

    Our health problems won’t disappear just because government cuts out Medicare and Medicaid. But the costs of treating – or not treating – those health problems will now fall on us, individually, on our own, instead of aggregated through the mechanism of democracy. And that is money that would otherwise be spent elsewhere in the economy.

    The Money

    So where do we get the money to pay our bills, if not from the things We, the People do for each other? Get the money from where the money went.

    Start by ending the Bush tax cuts! The Bush tax cuts not only cut marginal tax rates for the wealthy, they cut taxes on capital gains and dividends -- money you get just for having money. And it dramatically cut the tax on income inherited from wealthy parents -- more money that one gets just because one already has money! But ending the Bush tax cuts is just a start.

    Reagan dramatically increased the military budget: In 1980, before Reagan, the Defense Department budget was $134 billion, by 1989 it was $303 billion. But that was nothing. In 2000, before 'W' Bush, it was $294 billion. By 2008 it was $616 billion. But that doesn't count military-related items outside of the Defense Department. Depending on how interest debt is applied, total military spending is between $1 and $1.4 trillion. (And, by the way, wars are expensive.) ("Nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes." –Tom DeLay)

    Fix health care. Today Mitt Romney praised the way that Israel's socialized health care system keeps costs low. WaPo: Romney praises health care in Israel, where ‘strong government influence’ has driven down costs,

    He praised Israel for spending just 8 percent of its GDP on health care and still remaining a “pretty healthy nation.”

    “Our gap with Israel [on health spending] is 10 points of GDP,” Romney said. “We have to find ways, not just to provide health care to more people, but to find ways to fund and manage our health care costs.”

    ... Israel created a national health care system in 1995, largely funded through payroll and general tax revenue. The government provides all citizens with health insurance: They get to pick from one of four competing, nonprofit plans. Those insurance plans have to accept all customers—including people with pre-existing conditions—and provide residents with a broad set of government-mandated benefits.

    Get the economy moving again. Jeeze, instead of saying because we stopped investing in infrastructure therefore we need to cut other things, how about investing in infrastructure? We have millions of jobs that need to ing and millions of people looking for jobs. And we can finance it for free. The payoff will be enormous, all those people no longer needing unemployment and food stamps, all those people and construction companies paying taxes again, and the resulting economic growth cutting the debt-to-GDP ratio.

    Don't Be Fooled By Elites Hating On Entitlements

    Don't be fooled: this is really about shifting from democracy to a system where we are on our own, up against the wealthy and powerful. This is about shifting from a system where we can all be prosperous to a system where a few have all the wealth and power.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    July 29, 2012

    Romney Strategy: Provoke Middle East Riots For TV News Here

    Reading Romney's speech today, he is undermining decades of US policy in the Middle East, and obviously trying to provoke the Arab world. (See previous post.) His goal is to provide riots across Arab countries, resulting in video on American TV of angry Arabs burning US flags.

    The idea is to scare people here into supporting him, and blaming Obama.

    The end result could well be war in the Middle East.

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

    So Much For "Politics Stops at the Water's Edge"

    To understand the damage Mitt Romney did to the country today, please read Why politics stops at the water's edge by Dave Winer

    I'm talking first about Romney undermining decades of US Middle East policy by declaring Israel's capital to be Jerusalem, and second by encouraging Israel's right-wingers to attack Iran.

    Excerpt:

    Overseas, we're all on the same team. It's about keeping the country strong, and that's something Romney believes in, if you take him at his word. If a foreign leader were to get the idea that he or she could choose who they negotiate with, then the US is only one half as strong as it would be if there were only one go-to guy. If 25 people have equal power, then each represents a country with the sway of a third-tier power. Gone is the power and prestige of the United States.

    The only way it works in favor of the United States is if we are united. Work out our differences here, and all our power will be represented overseas. But we only have one President at a time. And if you're playing on our team, you have to respect the wisdom of that rule.


    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:34 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    July 23, 2012

    Romney Taxes - Worse Than You Can Imagine

    Mitt Romney refuses to let us see his tax returns. He understands this means that we will all speculate on what is in them.

    This means that what is actually in them could be even worse than the things we can imagine.

    SO let's do some imagining.

    Mitt Romney has been backing NAMBLA - the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

    Mitt Romney is heavily invested in blood diamonds. And organ harvesting.

    Remember - anything is fair game. Romney is betting that we can't come up with anything as bad as what he is hiding.

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    July 19, 2012

    Deceptive New Romney Ad Is Key Test For Media

    The Romney campaign has released an astonishingly deceptive new ad, containing a blatant, flat-out lie. The new ad actually edits together snippets of words and sentences to make it sound as if President Obama said something he did not say, and then attacks him for saying it. How will America's news media respond? Will the public be informed that they are being lied to? And if not, what comes next -- "photos" of the President robbing a bank?

    The New Romney Ad

    This is the new Romney ad, intended to shock opinion leaders enough to move public scrutiny away from the problems of his tax returns, conflicting statements about when he was or was not at Bain Capital, and possible possible illegal conduct.


    Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday's post, The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That")

    President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

    There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

    Media MUST Take Sides On This

    What is the purpose and function of our news media? This country was once a self-respecting democracy and the purpose of the news media was to provide needed information to the public so We, the People could make informed decisions. And people who entered the journalism profession did so to serve as watchdogs of the public interest.

    That was then. Today, many say that the purpose of the media -- and everything else -- is to make money for those who own it. And that means respecting and never, ever going against those with the most money. And today the ambition of many in the profession is to follow a corporate career path, maybe eventually land a major-media gig. Going down that path means playing ball, not making waves, and most of all not being branded as "anti-business." And all that means, of course, never, ever going against those with the most money.

    This new journalistic model -- never, ever going against those with the most money -- is what the Romney campaign is counting on today.

    In this model news is supposed to be "objective" and "not take sides" as long as you take a side against those who are not "business friendly." The new standard for news reporting is to follow a "he said, she said" storyline. And always throw in a dose of "both sides do it" false equivalence.

    So what about when a big, flat-out, blatant lie -- a knowing fraud with clear intent to deceive people -- comes down the pike? What should journalists and news organizations do then? Should they pass the buck over to snarky "two pinnochio" pretend-fact checkers, or should they take it on and warn the public?

    This ad is a key test of the direction of our national news media.

    The media can't just take the usual "one side said, the other side said" approach, because we can see what "one side" actually said and it isn't at all what "the other side" says was said. This ad is just a lie. It is a fraud against the public and democracy for a campaign for President of the United States to do this.

    So, news media, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to warn the public? Or are you going to claim that "both sides do it"?

    Questions For Comments

    Leave a comment, what do you think?

    How should the news media respond when something like this -- so far out of the boundaries of conduct for American Presidential campaigns -- comes along? How should the media handle blatant lies?

    Is this the most deceptive ad in Presidential campaign history?


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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:10 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    Elections Based On Lies Bring Policies That Hurt Us -- See Update With Astonishing Lie

    Note -- see the update at end of post, in which the Romney campaign uses astonishingly doctored audio, to make it seem as if Obama said something he never said.

    Early in this campaign the Romney team put out an ad with a doctored Obama quote. Now Romney is again claiming Obama said things he never said. The billionaire-corporate-funded right-wing media machine drives the lie to millions. This might well work, which brings up a question: If someone gets into office based on lies, what kind of policies result? Those policies help the people pushing the lies, but do those policies help or hurt us in the real world in the long run?

    The Lie The First Time

    In November the Romney campaign was caught editing a quote in an ad to make it sound like Obama had said something he never said. The ad portrayed Obama as saying, "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose," when Obama had really said (four years previously), "Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

    The Romney campaign defended this use of lies, saying they are just showing they are willing to do what it takes to win. The Boston Globe reported, "Romney aides even said they were proud of the reaction and suggested that the ad was deliberately misleading to garner attention."

    At the time Thomas B Edsall wrote in the NY Times,

    "...the spot’s direct duplicity is also the latest step in the transgression by political operatives of formerly agreed-upon ethical boundaries. What was once considered sleazy becomes the norm."

    And so the sleazy became the norm for the Romney campaign.

    The Lie This Time

    The sleazy became the norm, so they're cranking it up. This time, the lie machine is telling people that President Obama said that business owners didn't build their businesses, government did. What President Obama actually said was that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets:

    Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that.

    The billionaire-corporate lie machine version? Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs "You Didn't Build" Your Business.

    Watch the beginning of this FOX News segment, note how the editing actually shows Obama's mouth moving, before they bring the sound up partway through what he is saying, then listen to the commentators as they pretend this is what Obama actually said. (Of course they know this is not what he actually said, which makes the performance so shocking.)
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    src="http://anomaly.realgravity.com/flash/player.swf">

    The lie is propelled through the right-wing media: FOX News, Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch-owned papers, Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Washington Times, Weekly Standard, NewsMax, WorldNet Daily, hundreds of right-wing blogs, etc., and then posted by paid operatives as "reader comments" at local news sites, hundreds of sports and auto and other discussion forums, and many, many other places until it "becomes truth."

    Watch the kind of crap that much of the public is hearing from almost every media source many of them are exposed to. Seriously, make yourself watch the whole thing, and then think about how many people watch FOX News or listen to talk radio or read the Wall Street Journal or one of the other newspapers that pushes this stuff, or read right-wing blogs -- and even CNN. There is a huge corporate-billionaire-funded media machine pushing this stuff, and it seems it is almost everywhere now.
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    flashvars="config=http://mediacast.realgravity.com/vs/2/players/single/abd3f6b0-4082-012f-2a8c-12313d00d151/53762340-b34e-012f-8c0d-12313b075457/embedded.xml"
    src="http://anomaly.realgravity.com/flash/player.swf">

    And then, once it "becomes truth" the Presidential candidate repeats it. WaPo: Romney Hits 'Didn't Build That' Obama Remark

    Romney: "I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish” ...

    FOX News dedicated 2 hours, 42 segments, to pushing the lie. CNN even helped push the lie.

    So, once again, the lie machine is working to "kinda catapult the propaganda."

    Policies Resulting From Lies

    What is the result when policies are made, based on lies?

    If you believe that Iraq is refusing to turn over their chemical and biological weapons, and that invading that country will be a "cakewalk," then you want Iraq invaded. We all know how that one worked out.

    If you believe that cutting taxes increases government revenue, then you want taxes cut. The real-world result, of course, is huge budget deficits -- and dramatically increased income inequality.

    If you believe that President Obama's policies made the jobs emergency worse, then you support the anti-government policies that fired teachers and police officers and cut off unemployment benefits for desperate people. (The last month of Bush's Presidency the economy lost 815,000 jobs. Now it is gaining jobs.)

    If you believe that we shouldn't be trying to win a share of the new green industries (lies about Solyndra and saying the Chevy Volt is flammable) then you vote for oil-company-backed policies that leave us dependent on oil and coal and refuse to combat climate change.

    Basically, look at the results of most of the policies the country has followed since Reagan, and you get the picture.

    Reagan Revolution Home To Roost -- In Charts

    Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling

    Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Drowning In Debt

    Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation

    The Reagan Ruins

    Revisiting the Reagan Nightmare

    Reagan's Mean-Spirited Legacy of Economic Disaster

    The Real Effect Of 'Reaganomics'

    Third World America: Reagan Revolution Drags Us Down

    You Aint Seen Nothin Yet

    And this latest lie is just a warm-up. The corporate-billionaire-funded machine will seriously be in operation in October, just before the election. The lies will be all over the place, and democracy doesn't have an advertising budget.

    Update - We Hadn't Seen Nothin Yet

    The Romney campaign has released an ad with astonishingly doctored audio -- even more doctored than the FOX video above.

    The Plum Line: The Morning Plum: Romney video deceptively edits Obama speech to make it sound anti-business,

    So here’s where this is going. The Romney campaign is out with a new Web video hitting Obama over the “don’t build that” quote. It features a business owner who is angry at Obama for supposedly insulting his hard work. “My hands didn’t build this company?” the man asks. “Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”

    But the video deceptively edits Obama’s remarks to seamlessly link up two different parts of the speech, removing a chunk in order to make Obama’s remarks seem far worse than they are.


    What Did He Really Say?

    Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday's post, The Latest Lie: "You Didn't Build That":

    President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

    There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

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

    Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 2:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    July 18, 2012

    More On Romney & Bain's SEC Filing -- Was It Fraud?

    In Bain's SEC Filings I wrote, "Key point: those SEC forms reassure Bain partners that Romney WAS running things after 1999. Tons of $$ involved. If he wasn't that's fraud." On Sunday's Up With Chris Hayes a former Bain partner seems to have confirmed my theory.

    In 1999 Mitt Romney left Bain Capital to run the Olympics. But SEC filings and many other documents have turned up that claim Romney was still running Bain. This matters because after stories started to circulate that Bain was heavily involved in offshoring jobs to China, Romney has been insisting that he wasn't there when Bain was doing the offshoring. (Never mind that he never asked them to stop doing that...)

    My thinking is that the partners at Bain Capital insisted on maintaining the appearance that Romney at the helm to reassure their partners -- investors, banks and buyout targets -- that they were stable after Romney left when really they were not. They trusted Mitt and maybe there was a big danger of them pulling out of deals if they thought Mitt was not coming back. If Romney wasn't there and they were assuring these companies that he was (and Romney insists he wasn't there), that's fraud (and conspiracy, with Romney signing the forms), never mind false signing of SEC forms. Fraud by Bain and fraud by Romney. And big money was on the line, so there was a lot of motive there.

    As I wrote the other day, I interviewed Bain partner Ed Conard on the Fairness Radio program on May 16. I was pinning him down on how much risk Bain was taking to justify the huge returns they received, and he started talking about how their reputation is what holds all their partners to Bain. I wrote about this here, including links to the audio.

    Then on Chris Hayes' show this last Sunday Conard was on, and said quite a few things that I think might confirm what I was thinking. If you look at this as Romney suddenly leaving the firm to take on the Olympics job, which Conard talks about, and the firm scrambling to figure out what to do about this sudden departure which has left all the bankers, investors and buyout targets hanging, and the firm trying to reassure them things were stable, you see what I am talking about. Conard talked a few times on Hayes' show about Romney's "franchise value." In other words, he means those partner companies wanted to see the name Romney at the helm of the firm.

    So you see the motive for the double answers here -- that he was and he wasn't. The firm's partners had a huge financial motive at the time to tell people Romney was there, and Romney went along with that ruse by signing things, and now Romney has a big motive to explain that he wasn't really there. He's calculating that public anger over offshoring (see Bain "Offshoring" Is A Big Deal Because Voters Want American Manufacturing) is a greater risk to him than people figuring out that he and Bain were committing fraud ten years ago.

    Also by the way the fact that the firm didn't put someone else at the helm, and as they say were running it with some kind of council of the firm partners, also tends to confirm what I suspect. If they officially put someone else in charge the people they were doing business with would learn that Romney (with all his "franchise value") was not there running things. So the big question "so who was running Bain after Romney left?" really is the question, and they were hiding the fact that Romney had left, because various people they were doing business with might have pulled out.

    Once again, if I am correct this was a fraud on those investors, banks and buyout targets. The statute of limitations has run out on this, but there is conspiracy, and there is Romney's campaign still.

    Here is Ed Conard on Up With Chris Hayes. With the above in mind, watch Ed Conard explain things, and tell me this doesn't appear to confirm what I think is/was going on.

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

    Posted by Dave Johnson at 4:03 PM | Comments (2) | Link Cosmos

    July 14, 2012

    Romney/Bain/Accounts - Where Is Our Country's News Media?

    Back when Bill Clinton was President there was a huge media-swarm controversy because a decade before her husband was elected Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 over ten months by investing in cattle futures. Now, skip forward to 2012. Report after report circulates about a candidate for President who owns a secret company in Bermuda, Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts and an IRA containing as much as $100 million -- and who may have filed SEC documents containing false information (a felony). Huge media swarm this time? Not so much.

    Cattle Futures?

    In the 1970s Hillary Clinton made some speculative investments. Over a period of 10 months she made investments in cattle futures that did well, earning $100,000. Later when her husband was President, the media wanted to find out how she was able to make such a large, huge, ginormous sum from speculative investments.

    Take a look at the 350,000-or-so web references to cattle futures trades made by Hillary Clinton way back in the 1970s. This might give you an idea of how big a deal it was back in the mid-90's that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 (!!!) on speculative investments back in the 1970s. (The number of stories located online is possibly reduced by the fact that the media swarm happened in the mid-1990s -- largely before the Internet.)

    Look at the outlets that assigned teams of reporters to investigate: All the TV networks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, and all of the rest of the jouranilmalism crowd were all over what was considered to be a major story.

    This story was investigated, written about, investigated, written about, and investigated. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found -- which many in the media took as clear proof that there had been a massive cover-up.

    Today - Not So Much

    Today things are different. Compare the magnitude of Hillary's $100,000 profit to the recent disclosure of as much as $100,000,000 -- one hundred million dollars -- turning up in Mitt Romney's IRA which is a personal retirement investment vehicle that is limited to a few thousand in contributions each year. (Remember, the gains made in an IRA are not taxed.) Romney is already retired, and the one completed tax return he has disclosed shows that he currently has an income of approx. $450,000 per week.

    So how did $100 million end up an an IRA that is limited to deposits of a maximum $6,000 a year (after you reach a certain age)? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has up to $100 million in an IRA?

    Compare Hillary's $100,000 profit to the disclosure that Mitt Romney has a Swiss bank account. A candidate for President of the United States has a Swiss bank account? (And a Caymans bank account? And others?) Why? What is the explanation? How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out?

    Compare it to the disclosure that Mitt Romney owns a secret company in Bermuda, which was transferred to his wife the day before he had to disclose it, or what it is or does. How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out why he has a secret company in Bermuda, and what that company does, how much it pays in taxes and how much money it holds, and why it was transferred to his wife the day before he took office as Governor?

    Compare it to the more recent disclosure that after 1999 Romney's company Bain Capital was telling the government and other parties that Romney owned all the shares, was President and CEO and managing the place, but now says that was all a scam and he wasn't really! (That's illegal -- a felony -- by the way.) How many reporters has each major news organization assigned to find out if he lied on his SEC forms? ONE news organization did report this story -- well, actually they reported information originally uncovered by a progressive website and a progressive magazine.

    Where Is Our Media?

    News media. Information. Informed decision-making in a democracy. Investigative reporting. The public's need to know. What has happened to these concepts? They seem alien in today's media environment.

    Our news media's purpose is supposed to be to provide the public with the information that is needed to make informed decision. It is supposed to be investigating our leaders to find out if they are really acting in our interest. Why are they not doing this at this crucial time?

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

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 7:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link Cosmos

    June 22, 2012

    Romney, Jobs And China -- Let's Connect Dots

    Will Mitt Romney create jobs and help our economy, or will he just take us back to the Bush-era, send-jobs-to-China destruction that made him rich? With Romney there is no way to connect what he says with what he means or might do. So we are forced to read tea leaves and look for signs. Should be reading Chinese tea leaves?

    The Fire Sale Of Our Economy

    Mitt Romney made his huge fortune partly by taking over companies, sending the good-paying American jobs to places like China -- or using the threat to do that to force wage and benefit cuts -- and keeping that money for himself and his business partners. A Washington Post story says that Romney's company not only took advantage of this technique, but actually helped pioneer the technique!

    While Romney and those like him became enormously wealthy from this since-Reagan fire-sale of American factories, companies, industries and technologies, our economy suffered terribly. Working people's wages stagnated and people turned to credit cards and borrowing on their homes just to get by. Evenually the economy collapsed.

    The Romneys and Wall Street 1%er types did very well from this destruction of our economy and our capacity to earn a living, as they have been doing since the collapse. China has also done very well by this. And they are all trying to keep things that way.

    Connecting Dots

    Dot: Under Bush we lost 50,000+ factories and 1/3 of our manufacturing jobs. Non-manufacturing was also hit hard with outsourcing of jobs to other countries. Companies then used the threat to move other jobs to force wage and benefit cuts here. "If you don't agree to this we'll just move your job, too."

    Dot: Since the "recovery" began the richest 1% received 93% of the economic gains. It's all going to the top -- to the Romneys among us.

    Dot: Washington Post: Romney’s Bain Capital invested in companies that moved jobs overseas. Note that Romney's company "pioneered" the practice. They didn't just do it, they "pioneered" it,

    Mitt Romney’s financial company, Bain Capital, invested in a series of firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.

    During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components...

    Dot: The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision allows unlimited secret money to influence our elections. Secret, as in we don't even know what country the money comes from, never mind what companies or billionaires.

    Dot: Huge amounts, from the 1%ers, all coordinated: Romney plans posh weekend donor retreat featuring Rove and VP hopefuls,

    The presumptive Republican nominee and his senior advisers and aides are hosting two days of policy sessions and campaign strategy discussions at the Deer Valley resort for more than 100 top fundraisers and their spouses. Those who raised more than $100,000 are expected to attend. ... Rove’s appearance could raise questions because of laws barring any coordination between super PACs and campaigns. ...

    Dot: One source (of many) of this flood of money has been disclosed. Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has already given $10 million to Romney's campaign, promises a "limitless" amount -- $100 million or more. (He has $25 billion, largely thanks to China.) There are also allegations of corruption, bribery and violations of US law in the operation of these Chinese-licensed casinos.

    Dot: Adelson's exclusive Chinese-granted casino license is worth billions, and he has used his influence with Republicans in Congress to help China. Adelson influenced Republicans to help China get the Beijing Olympics and then received the license to build casinos in Chinese territory. From the New Yorker, The Brass Ring: A multibillionaire’s relentless quest for global influence,

    In July, 2001, Adelson met with a Vice-Premier of China, Qian Qichen ... [and] met with the mayor of Beijing, who asked Adelson for help with a matter pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he believed was threatening China’s chance to host the Olympics.

    Adelson ... immediately made calls on his cell phone to Republican friends in Congress—including Tom DeLay, then the majority whip—who had received generous support from Adelson. DeLay told him that there was indeed a resolution pending ...opposing China’s Olympic bid, saying, “China’s abominable human rights record violates the spirit of the games and should disqualify Beijing from consideration.” ... Three days later, the International Olympics Committee voted in China’s favor. [Adelson received the casino license soon after, in early 2002 - dj]

    [...] In May, 2004, the first gamblers entered the Sands Macao. Its construction costs were two hundred and sixty-five million dollars, and Adelson made back his initial investment in a year. In December, 2004, Adelson took Las Vegas Sands public (according to Forbes, he owns sixty-nine per cent of the stock) and became a multibillionaire, overnight.

    Adelson used his influence with the Republicans in Congress to help China get the Olympics, and then got a casino license worth billions to him. What else has he helped or will he help China get?

    Dot: McCain: Adelson funding Romney Super PAC with 'foreign money'.

    Senator and Romney presidential campaign surrogate John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is indirectly injecting millions of dollars in Chinese "foreign money" into Mitt Romney's presidential election effort.

    Owing China

    "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" - Upton Sinclair.

    When China offers you a path to make a huge fortune, you start to have a hard time understanding how this can hurt your own country. As I said last week in Why Can't Apple Make Your IPhone In America?,

    China offers our business leaders an amazing deal – a deal that they can’t refuse. The owners and managers of our companies get really, really rich if they play along with China. Nerver mind if the companies go away later, they’re rich.

    ... In fact, China has essentially recruited our own business leaders to fight against our own government.

    Romney's Bain Capital, and so many others, have made fortunes from offshoring our jobs, factories, industries, technologies and our economy. Fortunes. And now they are applying those China-made fortunes to our election process.

    How Much Of Romney's Campaign Money Comes From Or Depends On China?

    So we know about one source of secret money funding Romney's campaign, and this source is directly obliged to China for much of his multi-billion fortune, and has influenced our government on China's behalf in the past. But we don't know anything about much of the rest of the money that is being spent on the flood of negative ads and other persuasion and election efforts.

    How many of Romney's other funding sources are dependent on China for their fortunes, directly or indirectly? And how much will this lead them to have trouble understanding how shipping jobs and factories and industries to China hurts our country?

    The question is out there, and really should be answered before the election. How much of Romney's huge, secret, campaign war chest comes directly or indirectly from China? And beyond China, where else is Romney's campaign money coming from?

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

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    Posted by Dave Johnson at 1:43 PM | Comments (1) | Link Cosmos