Liberal, Irreverent

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Birtherism is Racism. Period.

from Firedoglake

Early Morning Swim: Say It With Me Now, Everyone — Birtherism is Racism. Period. (VID)

Posted: 28 Apr 2011 05:00 AM PDT

After you watch this moving video by Baratunde Thurston, read this by former Bushie David Frum.

How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party?

I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong. Not only did Trump surge ahead in Republican polls by flaming racial fires – not only did conservative media outlets from Fox to Drudge to the Breitbart sites indulge the birthers – but so also did every Republican candidate who said, “I take the president at his word.” Birthers did not doubt thepresident’s “word.” They were doubting the official records of the state of Hawaii. It’s like answering a 9/11 conspiracist by saying, “I take the 9/11 families at their word that they lost their loved ones.”

Yet even now, the racialist aspect of the anti-Obama movement has not subsided.

Frum’s a little late to the party. Has he heard of the Southern Strategy or Lee Atwater?

But anyway, I blame Obama for not releasing the long-form first, thereby intentionally confusing these well-meaning folks.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Main Street Rage

The Progress Report from

At town hall events across the country, Americans are confronting members of Congress who voted for the House Republicans' radical budget, which  effectively ends Medicareslashes Medicaidhacks away at domestic spending, and extends tax breaks for the wealthy. The entire House GOP caucus except for four lawmakers voted for Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) budget earlier this month, claiming a mandate from the November elections to drastically reduce domestic s pending. But Republicans went beyond any semblance of responsible budget tightening to a radical deconstruction of core pillars of the health, safety, and security of the country. Recent polls show  Americans are firmly opposed to Ryan's budget proposal, with over 70 percent of Republicans opposing cuts to Medicare, while over 80 percent of Americans overall disapprove of cuts to the social safety net program. And Americans are clearly demonstrating their displeasure with their GOP lawmakers, who are in their home districts for this month on recess from Congress. Last week, as lawmakers began holding town hall sessions in their districts, a number of Washington commentators wondered, "If the Ryan budget is so unpopular, where are the town-hall meltdowns?" This week,&nb sp;in the Washington commentariat got their answer as town hall anger went from a few isolated incidents to a daily deluge of passion and temper from Americans frustrated with their out-of-touch representatives. The town halls, like the opposition to the GOP budget more generally, were slow to begin in part because Ryan was so quick to act. While President Obama and congressional Democrats allowed for over a year of debate, study, and discussion on their health care reform law, House Republicans unveiled and voted on their plan to radically transform Medicare in a matter of weeks, giving opponents almost no time to mobilize against it or educate Americans about its effects. Moreover, those opposed to Ryan's plan don't have the constant cheerleading of right-wing talk radio and Fox News, which directly helped organize and promote the 2009 town halls. Nonetheless, as part of what the Progress Report has dubbed a Main Street Movement of average Americans upset that conservatives want to cut social services and public investment for everyday people while lavishing tax breaks on the wealthy and corporations, Americans are standing up to their lawmakers on their own.

MEDICARE: Many of the town hall protests this month have targeted freshmen Republicans from swing districts who were voted into office in last November's GOP wave. While voters may have wanted to send a message to Washington by electing a Republican, they have been dismayed by how radically right-wing their new congressmen have turned out to be. One of the first documented town hall protests last week was at a stop of freshman Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA). During the campaign, Meehan assured his future constituents that he wouldn't vote for Ryan's "agenda," but once in office, he did just that. "Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to" last week, with constituents' anger visible. By the weekend, freshmen Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL), Charlie Bass&nb sp;(R-NH),  Sean Duffy (R-WI), and Lou Barletta (R-PA) had all faced constituent anger of their own over the GOP's Medicare privatization plan. At a town hall in Hillsborough, NH, the first six questions  Bass faced from constituents were about his vote to privatize Medicare. One attendee pointed out that what the Republicans are doing is pursuing a "divide and conquer"strategy by eliminating Medicare for future generations while keeping it for current seniors. At a town hall in Shell Late, WI, Duffy got into a heated exchange with constituents when he insisted that Ryan's plan does not effectively replace Medicare with a voucher system, but attendees repeatedly corrected him. Later, Duffy got huffy; frustrated by his constituents' questions about his presentation, he told attendees, "When you have your town hall you can stand up and give your presentation." Yesterday, cons tituent anger reached a boiling point at a town hall in Orlando for freshman Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) when   "bedlam" erupted as constituents angrily peppered him with questions about his vote for privatizing Medicare. Webster tried to avoid answering many of the questions, and eventually, conservative hecklers fired back at those trying to hold Webster accountable. Police officers flanked Webster and had to tell the crowd to quite down.  

TAXES: The other main theme constituents have been pressing their lawmakers on this month is tax fairness. Ryan's budget would   preserve the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans while cutting corporate tax rates -- a proposal even Ryan's own constituents are not happy about. During a town hall meeting in Milton, WI, last week, a constituent who described himself as a "lifelong conservative" asked Ryan about the effects of growing income inequality in our nation. The constituent noted that huge income disparities contributed to the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and thus wanted to know why the congressman was "fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire." Ryan responded by saying, "we do tax the top,"  eliciting a a chorus of boos and grumbling from attendees. Yesterday, Ryan faced chants of "Ryan stop lying!" at a town hall in Kenosha, WI, which drew a capacity crowd inside and over a 100 protesters outside. "Do not renew the Bush tax credit for the wealthy," one man demanded. Meanwhile, at a town hall in Salem, NY, Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) faced similar outbursts. In answering a question, Gibson said that Americans pay higher taxes because "here are people in the country that are not paying taxes because they're illegal [immigrants]." At this point, a town hall attendee cried out, " You mean like GE?! " forcing the congressman to say that he agreed that the company needs to pay its fair share. Audience members at Dold's town hall said they "don’t believe chopping 10 percentage points off the highest corporate tax rate will create jobs." At Duffy's town hall, one attendee said she agrees with Ryan's concerns about the deficit and "that’s why we have to raise taxes on the rich, and raise taxes on the corporations who have never been richer than they have now. And you guys just cut their taxes again." "Oh yeah!" another constituent responded.

'EVERY RIGHT TO SPEAK': During the 2009 town halls, which mostly targeted Democrats, Republican lawmakers repeatedly  praised tea party activists for their disruptions at town halls, saying it was important to let them have their voices heard. But now that they're on the receiving end of constituents' anger, it's unclear how much Republicans will embrace this democratic process. Ryan abruptly left a town hall yesterday ahead of schedule, citing "security concerns" from hecklers. But Ryan went through with a tow n hall  in 2009 despite credible threats against union members at the event. At a town hall in 2009, when a heckler disrupted Ryan and promoted boos from other audience members, Ryan told the crowd, " She has every right to talk , every right to speak." In an interview with Fox News at the time, Ryan said Obama's policies had driven people to the town halls, which he praised as a grass roots outpouring of "people up in arms" about bad policies. "[T]his is amazing," Ryan told a largely supportive town hall in Aug. 2009. Meanwhile, conservatives are trying to drown out progressives at today's town halls, with American Action Network -- a relatively new conservative front group founded by a group of Wall Street bankers -- loading up conservative activists& nbsp; with softball questions and talking points to bolster Republican lawmakers on the Ryan plan.

BP profits Q1-2011: $7.1B. Up 16%

Those poor big oil companies. They all need corporate welfare in order to survive. Because TENS OF BILLION$ in just PROFITS isn't enough, so they need tax breaks too that we must pay by cutting healthcare to children, women, seniors, help to students, pensions to retirees and firing workers.

Balance And Compromise

From Firedoglake

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 06:01 PM PDT

Yesterday I was reading an excellent Rick Perlstein essayabout how lying became such an effective tool for the right over the last 40 years.  Essentially, his thesis is that the media have abandoned their quest for truth and replaced it with a quest for “balance,” with a little help from profit-minded executives, and a little more from Republicans who successfully rebranded truth as uncivil negativity.

The end result is that most of the media are now unwilling to take a stand for truth or reality.  At best, they present both sides even when only one has merit.  At worst, they present only the side with no merit at all.

Personally, I think Perlstein lets the media off too easy: All the monetary concerns and ref-working pale in comparison to the political interests of corporate and right-wing ownership.  The media use “profitability” as an excuse to gut investigative reporting, and the figleaf of “balance” to obscure naked untruths.

All this reminds me a lot of Barack Obama and the Democratic establishment.  They too depend on corporations for their present and future job security, and need to deliver for them without being too obvious about it.  So what do they do?  They “compromise.”

Even after back-to-back landslides delivered them the White House and huge majorities in both houses of Congress, they refused to take a stand for sound policy or Democratic principles.  Instead, they sought common ground with the Republicans no matter how wrong and cruel they might be, inching ever rightward until they achieved a suitably pro-corporate outcome.  And now that they have a Republican House and an almost-Republican Senate, that inching is even easier.

The media and the Democrats are playing the same game: Regardless of what truth or good policy may be, compulsively seek out a midpoint (or rather, rightpoint) between that and far-right lunacy and then pretend that the resulting mess somehow serves the public interest.

If Paul Ryan released a new “debt-cutting” plan that let all of America’s poor people starve and eliminated taxes on rich people and corporations, Obama would denounce it at first, but eventually announce a grand bipartisan  “compromise”: Let only half the poor starve, and reduce the corporate and upper-income tax brackets to 15% instead of zero.  And the media would praise him for his great courage and seriousness.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hedge Funds Abandon Obama

Barack Obama who came promising progressive change and the whole nation supported him with big a victory, later betrayed us all because, well, he had to pay back all that support. Now   After all those special interest got what they wanted from Obama (while the people who put him in office got nothing), they turned to the old ways and are supporting GOP back. What should we think about Obama? He is either a moron who thought hedge funds would be his allies or an opportunist who promised things to ordinary citizens just to get in power but his allegiance was really with the special interests (a tempting theory given all good progressive ideas he has let die). In any way the reality is that ordinary citizens aren't represented by corporate Democrats or Republicans. The only hope for all of us is to elect many more progressives at all levels of government. That is why I say again that progressive should not donate to democratic party organizations (your money will be used to help blue dogs). Donate to Progressive organizations and to Progressive candidates directly.

from Politico

TOP TALKER: HEDGE FUNDS SHORT OBAMA - WSJ's Brody Mullins, Susan Pulliam and Steve Eder on pg. A1: "Hedge-fund managers made a big bet on Barack Obama and other Democrats in 2008. Now, with the 2012 contest gearing up, some prominent fund managers have turned their backs on the party and are actively supporting Republicans. Daniel Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, was one of the biggest Obama fund-raisers in 2008, rounding up $200,000 for him ... But since Mr. Obama's inauguration, Mr. Loeb has given $468,000 to Republican candidates and the GOP, and just $8,000 to Democrats. ... Mr. Loeb is part of a shift in political allegiance within the world of hedge funds that also includes such big names as Steven Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors and Kenneth Griffin's Citadel Investment Group." 

The new corporate business model: higher

Update) The new corporate business model: higher profits, fewer jobs

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 11:42 AM PDT

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

In a story I did not get to last week while the Tea-Publican Arizona legislature was laying waste to our state, the Wall Street Journal reported Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad (subscription) summarized at the Huffington PostU.S Multinationals Increasingly Hiring Abroad, Firing At Home:

In the last decade, American multinational corporations, which together employ one-fifth of all U.S. workers, decreased domestic employment by 2.9 million workers while adding 2.4 million jobs overseas, the Commerce Department reported on Monday.

In 2009, a devastating year for the global economy, U.S. multinational companies' worldwide employment shrunk by 4.1 percent to 31.3 million workers. But the cuts were much sharper at home than abroad. Domestic employment by the same companies shrunk by 5.3 percent, leaving 21.1 million with jobs, while their overseas counterparts lost 1.5 percent of their workforce, with 10.3 million still employed.

"Emerging markets [are] growing at two-and-a-half times the speed of industrialized countries, which has made it imperative for companies to look abroad for opportunities," said Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

For large American multinationals, the geopraphical calculus is simple: Follow the money.

"[The report] is not surprising at all. It is harder and harder for companies in the U.S. to find the right skilled labor at the right price point," said Dave Niles, president of SSA &Co, a global operations consulting firm.

Because for multinational corporations it's always about exploiting "cheap labor." They, of course, deny this:

General Electric Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt [the company that paid no U.S. income taxes] also told the WSJ moving abroad was less about cheap labor than about deploying resources in countries with growing demand for their products. In 2000, GE conducted 30 percent of its business in other countries; today, that figure reaches 60 percent.

This is true, but how exactly does this help Americans who are unemployed?

The Commerce Department's report cuts to the heart of a crucial question about the state of the American economy, economists say. Can growth abroad for U.S. corporations be good for both companies and consumers?

MonopolybSome argue the trend toward hiring workers abroad benefits both groups. Firms enjoy lowered manufacturing costs and an increased access to foreign markets, while consumers can purchase cheaper goods.

"It's good for companies and its also in someways the unfortunate reality of our economy. Is it good for consumers? Yeah. Because you're getting higher quality product at a lower price," Niles said.

Wait for it, here comes the "Obvious Man" moment of "Doh!":

But other economists point out an apparent Catch 22. Even if some goods become more affordable, consumers' spending power is undercut when jobs disappear from the American economy.

"The long point of all of this is that those jobs that were generating solid wages are very few and far between in the United States now. You look around and ask yourself, where is the middle class? Where are they working and how much are they making?" asked Ken Perkins, president of the RetailMetrics LLC research firm. "The middle class is really what led to the boom of the retail industry ... Where is the American consumer going to get money to spend more?"

And here is the cold hard reality of the new corporate business model: higher profits, fewer jobs:

"One of the things that's generating the huge rebound in profits in the United States -- a rebound that is so astonishing that profits exceed what we saw at the peak of the last economic expansion -- is that the profits of these companies are more and more divorced from their actual operations here in the United States," said Gary Burtless, a economist at the Brookings Institute. "So now we can this situation where companies' profits are going gangbusters even though the U.S. economy has 8.8 percent unemployment."

* * *

"Most of the [new] employment that we will be seeing will be multinationals hiring in developing economies. That's where we'll see the most dynamic activity; that's where economic momentum will remain very strong."

Which begs the question, "why are we giving tax breaks to multinational corporations?" Lower corporate taxes won't create more jobs - Fortune Finance:

One of [Paul Ryan's] key proposals is to lower the income tax rate paid by corporations, from 35% to 25%, by eliminating several tax loopholes and deductions. Simplifying the tax code would certainly remove a lot of uncertainties from today's highly complex tax system. Executives have often complained that one of the reasons they've been holding off on new investments and more hiring is the unpredictable tax environment. But how will lowering the tax burden for companies that are already flushed with record levels of cash really going to make the average American better off?

Compared with other advanced economies, companies doing business in the U.S. already pay low taxes. It's true that at 35% the corporate tax rate is technicallyhigher than most major economies. But because of loopholes and other deductions, most companies pay significantly less – so the effective rate (or the percentage of corporate profits that is paid in federal corporate taxes) is about 13% to 15%, which is relatively low even by international standards. [And less than the rate you pay.]

* * *

[W]hat will lowering the corporate tax do?

For one, it likely won't create much more investment or create many more jobs, says Robert Lynch, economics professor at Washington College, who has done extensive research into taxation and economic development. In a 2004 study, Lynch found that firms don't necessarily relocate or expand to an area more just because it has lower taxes. What's more, while a lower tax rate reduces costs for companies and creates some positive effects on local economies, it doesn't necessarily create substantial jobs.

* * *

What worries the economist is that any cuts to corporate taxes would take funding away from other public services such as education, new roads and infrastructure projects that companies and the overall economy might gain more from. [The short-sighted approach the Tea-Publican Arizona legislature just adopted,]

"Companies aren't suffering from a lack of investment funds," Lynch says, pointing to record cash levels held by America's biggest companies. "What they're suffering from is lack of profitable investment opportunities."

Even as many non-financial companies sit on an estimated $2 trillion at a time when interest rates have remained at nearly 0%, executives still aren't hiring much. Indeed, much of that capital is sitting overseas and there's a coordinated push among some of America's biggest companies to bring those funds home at lower costs. Cisco (CSCO), Apple (AAPL), Duke Energy (DUK) and Pfizer (PFE) are leading an effort for a one-year tax holiday on foreign earnings that would allow companies to repatriate money at a much lower tax rate of about 5%.

Wait for it, here comes the next "Obvious Man" moment of "Doh!":

But while the idea of bringing more capital into the domestic economy sounds like a good thing, it won't likely mean much for the average American. In 2004, Congress approved a one-year tax holiday as part of a jobs package, resulting in companies bringing back $362 billion. But, as Fortune's Tory Newmyer pointed out in February, studies have shown that most of the funds went to shareholders. Even while Congress passed several rules to make sure the funds would get invested back into the companies, not very much went to research, investment or hiring.

* * *

If history tells us anything, [increased wages are] unlikely. The effective corporate tax rate has been steadily declining for decades. Corporations paid more than 49% of their profits in federal taxes in the 1950s, 38% in the 1960s, 33% in the 1970s and 25% in the 1980s. All the while, U.S. wages have been stagnant for years even as productivity has risen. Between 1989 and 2010, U.S. productivity grew by 62.5% -- far outpacing wages, which grew by only 12% during the same period, according to a March 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute.

So what will a lower corporate tax rate do?

It will make the ├╝ber-rich even richer and usher in the new order of corporatocracy and serfdom for the rest of us. If we don't reverse the tide now, it may be too late.

The People's Budget deserves same recogn

from Blog For Arizona

Steve Benen (and others) on The People's Budget

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 12:38 PM PDT

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

For those of you planning to attend the PDA meeting Monday night in Tucson, Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly addressed The People's Budget last week:

This week, the budget proposal from the Congressional Progressive Caucus is suddenly getting some attention, and I'm glad. Does it stand any chance of becoming law? Of course not. But does Paul Ryan's plan have a shot at passing? Despite gaining House approval, it does not.

Matt Miller got the ball rolling a few days ago, noting in passing that the Congressional Progressive Caucus' budget plan "wins the fiscal responsibility derby"against its competing proposals because "it reaches balance by 2021 largely through assorted tax hikes and defense cuts."

This one sentence seemed to have let much of the political world that the CPC plan exists. The Economist noted today:

Have you ever heard of the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget plan? Neither had I. The caucus's co-chairs, Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota, released it on April 6th. The budget savings come from defence cuts, including immediately withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq, which saves $1.6 trillion over the CBO baseline from 2012-2021. The tax hikes include restoring the estate tax, ending the Bush tax cuts, and adding new tax brackets for the extremely rich, running from 45% on income over a million a year to 49% on income over a billion a year.

Mr Ryan's plan adds (by its own claims) $6 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, but promises to balance the budget by sometime in the 2030s by cutting programmes for the poor and the elderly. The Progressive Caucus's plan would (by its own claims) balance the budget by 2021 by cutting defence spending and raising taxes, mainly on rich people. Mr Ryan has been fulsomely praised for his courage. The Progressive Caucus has not.

I'm not really sure what "courage" is supposed to mean here, but this seems precisely backwards. 

Bingo. Trying to restore tax rates to levels that were pretty normal in the America John Boehner grew up in takes some courage, because it challenges the powerful and the elite to sacrifice. Republicans are doing the opposite -- as President Obama put it the other day, "Nothing is easier than solving a problem on the backs of people who are poor, or people who are powerless and don't have lobbyists or don't have clout."

Paul Krugman also had an item on this today, noting some of the policy specifics.

The CPC plan essentially balances the budget through higher taxes and defense cuts, plus some tougher bargaining by Medicare (and a public option to reduce the costs of the Affordable Care Act). The proposed tax hikes would fall mainly on higher incomes, although not just on the top 2%: super-brackets for very high incomes, elimination of deductions, taxation of capital income as ordinary income, and — the part that would be most controversial — raising the cap on payroll taxes.

None of this is economically outlandish. Marginal tax rates on high incomes would rise substantially -- enough to make even liberal economists slightly uncomfortable -- but the historical evidence suggests that the incentive effects wouldn't be too severe. Overall taxes as a share of GDP aren't given, but they would clearly remain well below European levels. 

Also note, the CPC numbers add up -- which is more than we can say for the House Republican plan -- actually dealing with the problem conservatives claim to care about.

In case this isn't obvious, it's important to have competing ideas in the larger conversation.

* * *

There are a variety of credible alternatives, and Obama's vision may represent the center, but there's a sensible, sound liberal approach that deserves to be in the mix.

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Rev" Franklin Graham, birther (and Chri

From AmericaBlog News

"Rev" Franklin Graham, birther (and Christian holier-than thou)

I never thought much of Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son.  But President Obama just had to woo the guy, and look what it's gotten him.  Franklin Graham is now a birther.  But that's not all, he's questioning Obama's Christianity, on Easter no less.  Like most Republican political operatives who falsely wrap themselves in the sheep's clothing of faith, Graham is no better than Fallwell or Robertson.  Luckily his father doesn't have to see how far his son has fallen. 

Oh, and Mr. Graham, Happy Easter, you idiot.

Tax billionaires & millionaires

Republicans continue to hold Americans hostage in ongoing negotiations over raising the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget.

Meanwhile there's an epidemic of home foreclosures. Unemployment is rampant. The cost of food, gas and health care is going up. Families across the country are falling into poverty, while many more are struggling just to get by.

And now the same Republicans who only months ago went to the mat to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are saying we cannot afford our social safety net because "we're broke."

There is something deeply wrong with our priorities as a country if we're cutting back on services for children and the elderly, the sick and the destitute, and anything that helps the middle class stay afloat while simultaneously cutting taxes for the likes of Paris Hilton and the Koch brothers.

We cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the very people who've taken it on the chin during this economic crisis.

Progressives need to offer an alternative to the morally bankrupt and economically baseless dogma of "tax cuts for the rich, massive spending cuts for everyone else." And the alternative cannot be simply to propose slightly less brutal spending cuts. We need to put tax increases back on the table.

While some members of the Democratic leadership have fallen into this trap of accepting the rightwing framing of the debate, progressive champions Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading the fight for a real solution to our budget crisis.

They have each introduced a bill to raise the income tax rates on people who make more than one million dollars a year. And they need our help to start changing the narrative around the budget.

Increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires won't be a silver bullet, but it would bring in tens of billions of dollars that would allow us to avoid some of the most brutal budget cuts we're now facing. And it would be a step toward making our tax system more fair.

The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing in a way that is deeply unhealthy to our society. The richest 1% of Americans are making 24% of the country's income, which is the highest share it has been since the 1930s. The 1930s were also the last time the richest 1% have so consistently paid such a low income tax rate.And as Michael Moore has pointed out, the top 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans put together.

This wide gulf between the haves and the have-nots not only affects our economy, it distorts our democracy. We have to take action before it's too late.

Now, more than ever, we need you to speak out.

Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager 
CREDO Action from Working Assets

P.S. There is also a "big picture" reason to support these bills. Democrats are the party of FDR. With the introduction of the bills to tax millionaires and billionaires, we can push the Democratic leadership to start acting like it.

The government should be expanding services to the needy and investing more in infrastructure and education, not cutting back.

Our country isn't broke. And if we don't stand up to the Republican's intellectually dishonest claim that it is, our moral compass may become broken.

We cannot shred the social safety net when it's most needed. It's long past time to require the super wealthy to pay their fair share.

The Issue is Jobs, Not Deficit Reduction

The Issue is Jobs, Not Deficit Reduction
JOHN NICHOLS | A Democratic congressman tells the president to stop reading from GOP talking points and start borrowing a page from FDR

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

UN Wire: EU seeks mandate for ground tro

It was inevitable. I could see it from a million miles away. Since the start the Libyan rebels did not have enough support from inside the government, the military nor even could muster enough "active support" within the population. The rebels lack training, weapons and logistic support. Now that air bombings proved to be not enough it comes the next step in the escalation, ground troops...under the argument of securing relief delivery routes. The same way the UN humanitarian mandate became an excuse to intervene in Libya, a new mandate to send ground troops to secure routes for humanitarian relief will be the excuse to send troops to finish what the air bombing cannot. If Europe wants to do that, it is OK with me as long as Obama does not yield to the GOP and defense lobbyists to send American troops to invade yet another Muslim country. Let's see what will be the final outcome.

Monday, April 18, 2011

News from the Oregon Progressive Party

Attempt to Abolish Independent Party of Oregon Backfires

On Wednesday (April 13th), the House Rules Committee in the Oregon Legislature conducted a hearing on HB 2442, the bill to abolish the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) by making it illegal to use the word "independent" in the name of a political party in Oregon.  The bill declares an "emergency," stating that it is "necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety."

As noted in detail below, no one even showed up to testify for the bill, while several testified against it.

The attempt to kill the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO), probably launched from within the Democratic Party leadership in the House of Representatives, has backfired.

We responded to the attack with truth and clarity, including over 600 signatures on a petition against the bill, along with 250+ comments provided by IPO members.  Thanks also to the recipients of the Progressive Party's similar petition, which earned 38 signers and 14 comments in response to our email alert.

Editorials condemned the attack as:

"dumb, partisan and unconstitutional" (The Oregonian)

spawned by the "Joe Stalin Graduate School of Political Maneuvering" (Albany Democrat-Herald), 

"heavy-handed" (Medford Mail-Tribune).

The Oregonian's editorial earned a top, full-width headline.  Today's Sunday Oregonian featured further criticism of the bill on the front page of the metro section.

More About the Hearing

The Chair of the Committee, Dave Hunt (D), asked whether anyone wished to testify in favor of the bill.  Silence.  Some members of the Committee asked why the bill had been scheduled for hearing, if no one was willing to testify for it.  The bill itself states it was "Presession  filed (at the request of House Interim Committee on Rules)."  Committee Co-Chair Andy Olson (R) asked Rep. Vicki Berger (R) whether the bill had in fact been discussed in the House Interim Committee on Rules.  Rep. Berger replied that the Interim Committee did not have discussions along this line.  (A majority on the Interim Committee were Democrats.)

Testifying against the bill were Marvin Sannes (who won the 2010 IPO nomination for State Representative for the 21st District), IPO founder Linda Williams, IPO secretary Sal Peralta, and IPO member Dan Meek.  Written testimony against the bill was submitted by Norma Paulus and Phil Keisling, each a former Secretary of State of Oregon, who wrote:

"We are aware of no legal precedent in any jurisdiction in the United States that would allow a legislature to ban the use of a word in the name of a political party, and are highly skeptical that the Oregon Constitution, with its broad protections for free speech, would permit such an intrusion on the association and speech rights of a duly constituted political party. . . . This bill is cynical, political mischief of the worst, most juvenile kind -- worthy of being thrown on the legislative scrap heap, so this body can get down to the important business at hand."

Also submitting written testimony were former State Representative Tony Van Vliet and attorney Stephen Goldberg.

If your group wants to co-sponsor this event please


DATE:  Thursday February 24th
RALLY: 12:30pm   
SPEAKERS: 1:00pm
CITY COUNCIL VOTE: 2pm(public testimony will be taken)
LOCATION:  Outside City Hall Council Chambers 1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97204

On February 24th the Portland City Council will be voting on whether or not the City of Portland should re-enter the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).  We strongly oppose the JTTF because we value our civil rights.  We need Portland Police officers to be held accountable to Oregon State Law.  We don't want roving wiretaps, secret access and domestic spying on non-violent activists & community groups.
We said NO in 2005 and we say NO now.

CO-SPONSORS:  Oregon Progressive Party, Oregon Jericho, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, NW Student Coalition, Portland Central American Solidarity Committee, the Portland Coalition Opposing Political Repression, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, International Socialist Organization and you...

For more information visit:, Oregon Progressive Party <>
Oregon ACLU <>



They are elected officials and if they vote for the JTTF then we won't vote for them!
Sam Adams
Commissioner of Finance and Administration
(503) 823-4120
Amanda Fritz
Commissioner of Public Utilities, Position Number 1
(503) 823-3008 
Nick Fish
Commissioner of Public Works, Position Number 2
(503) 823-3589
Dan Saltzman
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News from Vermont Progressive Party


PROGRESSIVE NEWS - April 18, 2011

In this Issue:

Legislative Update: Popular Vote for President Would Help Vermont

Legislative Update: Complete Streets

From the Blog: Protecting Collective Bargaining

Save the Date! Next Progressive State Committee

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Legislative Update: Popular Vote for President Would Help Vermont

This week the House sent Gov. Shumlin the so-called "National Popular Vote" bill. This bill has Vermont join other states across the country in allocating electoral votes a different way. Once enough states pass this bill we will have a popular vote for president. Every vote will be equal and the candidate with the most votes will be guaranteed to win.

The Founders gave states complete control over how their electoral votes work. Today Maine & Nebraska award votes based on the "Congressional District" system - win the most votes in a Congressional district and you get one elector, two more go to the winner of the statewide total. The remaining 48 states (including VT) use the "winner-take-all rule" where the candidate with the most votes gets all of a state's electoral votes.

The winner-take-all rule means that most states are ignored. Vermont is a reliably blue state, so Obama doesn't campaign here because he can't lose, and McCain ignores us because he doesn't care if he loses by 1% or 30%, either way he loses the whole prize. 35 states are in this ignored/safe/fly-over category because we are predictably red or blue. We aren't polled, candidates don't visit us (except to raise money), and they don't advertise or organize in our states.

Consider, during the Fall of 2008 presidential candidates visited New Hampshire twelve times and never once crossed the river to say hi to Vermonters.

That's because New Hampshire was one of fifteen battleground states. In the Fall of 2008, 2/3 of all the money the campaigns spent went to six states and 98% of the money went to fifteen states. This hurts Vermont and most of the country. A single candidate for VT State Senate likely spent more in Vermont than Obama/McCain combined.

Under a popular vote we aren't going to be the center of campaign attention. But we won't be locked out either. We will no longer have vans taking volunteers from Burlington to West Lebanon because people can canvass their neighbors right here at home. If every vote is equal then the contest becomes about margins everywhere. McCain may still lose Vermont but losing by 12% will be much better for him than an 18% defeat.

Under a popular vote Vermonters will have the chance of our opinions being important to candidates. Right now, if a candidate wants to know where voters stand on renewable energy, Vermont is excluded from the poll (as are voters in 34 other states). Under a popular vote our phones will ring. Our mailboxes will get attention. And most importantly, our opinions will be heard and we will know we were a part of making history by passing the National Popular Vote bill.

The bill requires states that possess a majority of the electoral college to sign up before the change takes effect, that is states holding 270 electoral votes. With Vermont coming on board the total signed up is 77 electors or 29% of the way to the goal. We are joining HI, WA, IL, NJ, MA, MD and DC. The effort is relatively new but already has support from over 2,000 of the 7,000 legislators across the country. We could well see this change in the next election or two. And when we do, Vermont will actually matter in a presidential election and presidential elections will adhere to the one person, one vote principle. How refreshing.

Legislative Update: Complete Streets

While the Senate examines the Transportation Bill H. 443, the House Transportation Committee has been hearing testimony on several other bills. Testimony on H. 198, the "Complete Streets" bill finished up on Wednesday. This bill asks that the state and local municipalities consider the needs of all users of the transportation system - bicyclists, public transit users, motorists, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities - in the planning and development of new transportation projects. Applying principles of Complete Streets could mean such simple solutions as providing for shorter crossing distances for pedestrians, signal count-downs, traffic calming, better bicycle lanes, and other measures to accommodate a variety of transportation options. The Vermont Attorney General, the Commissioner of Health, the Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing, and Community Development, and the President of the Vermont Public Health Association offered supportive testimony on the health benefits of this type of transportation planning. Several public works officials and a town planner weighed in with their concerns and basic support and the committee voted the bill out unanimously with one member absent. When the bill came to the floor on Friday April 15th it passed second reading on a voice vote. And the bill comes up for third reading on Tuesday, April 19th.

While this bill provides instances in which the state or municipality does not need to incorporate the needs of all users of the transportation system - (namely when use is prohibited by law, or the expense is not warranted due to probable use or need, or the incorporation of complete streets principles would be beyond the scope of a project) it does point in the direction of a multi-modal, comprehensive, and non-autocentric way of thinking about transportation. Applying complete streets principles in transportation planning can improve safety, promote health and fitness, contribute to vibrant and livable town and village centers, and address issues of congestion, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Some form of Complete Streets legislation has been planned or adopted in 244 jurisdictions across the country, including 20 states. The idea has gained momentum as communities recognize the benefits of 21st century transportation thinking.

From the Blog: Protecting Collective Bargaining

"Labor unions must mobilize together in their communities and demand "No Concessions; no more cuts to pay, pensions or health benefits" for all public workers because the fight to protect collective bargaining can only be won if public workers believe that collective bargaining will save their wages and benefits."

Save the Date!

The next Progressive State Committee meeting will be on Sunday May 15th in St. Albans. Martha Allen, NEA President, will speak about organized labor as the frontier of political change in Vermont. With the expected adjournment of the Legislature in the next few weeks, Progressive caucus members will also be on hand to discuss how working Vermonters fared under the golden dome this legislative session.

Vermont Progressive Party
802-229-0800 ~


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Ene

Taken from Firedoglake

Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite

Bruce Levine concludes that the problem isn’t that we are a “center-right” country or an apathetic people. The issue is that we are a people who have been systematically beaten down by the corporatocracy. As a clinical psychologist, he sees the people as a whole as suffering from abuse syndrome — a people actively demoralized.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are Liberals Just Suckers?

Sally Kohn, The Washington Post 
Intro: "The list of liberal laments about President Obama keeps getting longer: He extended the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Health-care reform didn't include a public option. In the frantic final hours of the budget negotiations, instead of calling the GOP's bluff, he agreed to historic cuts in progressive programs. And Wednesday, in response to conservatives' focus on the deficit, Obama said that we have to 'put everything on the table.' What is the problem here?" 

Wage Gap Fails to "Magically Disappear",

Taken from

Wage Gap Fails to "Magically Disappear", Carrots Still Don't Taste Like Chocolate (4/12/2011)

When I was a little girl, I once asked my mother why she ate salads everyday instead of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with ice cream — which, I was sure, is what I would eat everyday if I were an independent adult.

Her response was my introduction into the world of dieting. It was, however, a little misleading. "Don’t worry about it," she said, after using the word "calories." "By the time you’re old enough to diet, scientists will have invented carrots that taste like chocolate. They'll have figured all that out by then."

At that point I think the conversation petered out (any nascent food-related anxieties assuaged), but looking back on it, I have some lingering questions.

Really Mom? Who is this anonymous "they"? And what specific actions are they going to take to ensure that Generation Y has no obligation to watch what they eat?

I didn't ask my mom about the wage gap that day, but I'm curious what she would have said. Back when she taught me about calories, I'm thinking 1991, women earned less than 70 cents to every dollar earned by men. Today, women who work full-time, year-round, earn only 77 cents to every dollar earned by their male peers. So in twenty years, we've managed to gain seven cents an hour. And yet, still, people seem to think the wage gap is simply going to magically disappear with time, along with other effects of sexism and discrimination, all on its own. Just like carrots that actually taste like carrots.

But we know better. Just last week, another study was released demonstrating the pernicious endurance of the wage gap. According to a researcher at the University of Washington, female professors earn an average of 6.9 percent less than their male peersafter accounting for career length, relative productivity and type of institution employed at. According to Inside Higher Ed, these findings are particularly relevant in the academy, where colleges often claim that the continuing gap is explained by the fact that so many current professors rose through the ranks during earlier periods of sexism, or that female professors chose to work in lower-paying fields. Apparently not.

Today is Equal Pay Day, and it represents an opportunity to examine the financial inequities that continue to burden women and their families. ThePaycheck Fairness Act, re-introduced in both Houses today, directly addresses the wage gap by toughening remedies available for sex-based pay discrimination, allowing women to receive compensatory and punitive damages for violations, and prohibiting unfair retaliation against employees who discuss pay and pay disparities on the job, among other things.

I honestly don't know where scientists currently stand on their progress towards vegetables that taste like dessert, but I do know where society stands on equal pay. We may not be there yet, but we've identified tools and actions that will advance the cause and increase equality between sexes. Let's not wait another twenty years to see if this one clears up on its own.