Thursday, November 29, 2012

"I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it."

The quote at the top was famously uttered by George W Bush after he narrowly won re-election in 2004.

And as Reuters makes clear in the top story at th moment at Google News, verified by Politico, Barak Obama, fresh off his substantial electoral victory, is spending his political capital by selling us out, exactly as predicted.

Obama, the Democrat, won the election. Now he's offering proposals to the Republicans, who lost. 

And just like that, the programs we've paid into our whole life are being pissed away, as if we didn't supply the votes that elected him, as if we are nothing.

Well, as Dr King said, "No lie can live forever." As easily as Barak Obama and the rest of the Democratic Party can sell us down the river, we the people will realize what's happened to us and elect people to office who represent our interests and not the interests of the rich, and who can just as easily restore Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Provided, of course, the people know what happened to them, provided Barak Obama isn't able to continue on the track he heeled down unimpeded during his first term, when he prosecuted more whistle blowers under the Espionage Act than every other president combined, and signed legislation enabling him to imprison Americans without charge, and assassinate Americans as he deems necessary. Provided there are people who aren't afraid to say what happened for fear of being jailed by the military or of being executed by a missile fired from an unmanned drone.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

And Martin Heinrich, and Tom Udall, and Ben Lujan, and Michelle Grisham.

And can anybody tell me why so many people feel it necessary to beg Democrats to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid? 

There is stuff like this all over the internet. People have heard what the Democrats have said, and what they have not said. They have not said those programs are not in danger. They have not said they will fight to save them as they are. They have not admitted that they went along when it was decided corporations and the rich no longer have to contribute a fair share.

Can anybody tell me why there is any question about the survival of these programs, which are the proud legacy pf the Democratic Party. That are what make the Democratic Party the Democratic Party?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Low Wages, Always

The low wage economy causes a downward spiral because people who don't have any extra money to spend can't contribute to consumer demand and job growth, and consumer demand (not so-called job creators) is what creates jobs. We already know this.

From Facebook

There's a lot of information coming out about how many people in the low wage economy are on government assistance such as food stamps, and Wal Mart leads the way.

On internet forms like Facebook, when it's pointed out how little Wal Mart workers make, I see comments posted by people who ask, if they don't like what they make, why don't they quit and go work someplace else. Workers at other chains like Wendy's, Target and Burger King are also among the most prevalent recipients of food stamps, as its pointed out at Daily Kos and at Good Jobs First, a corporate watch web site. 

Those benefits come disproportionately from taxes paid by the working class. We are subsidizing the profits of the rich, who effectively and proportionately pay no taxes.

When the unemployment rate is permanently high, as it has been, you take any job you an get, which is just where Capitalism, and the politicians who enable it, want you.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

(New entry at the Socialist Cooking Tips page: Post Industrial Poultry)

I bought myself some Cornish game hens last week at my union Smith's Supermarket and cooked them tonight. They were supposed to be my Thanksgiving meal but I never quite got around to it. When I make game hens I make them like Nora did, so I have to think about Nora, who made them for me. This is that story, and the story of why I decided to call them Post Industrial Poultry.

Flint, Michigan is known for being the hometown of Michael Moore, the radical filmmaker and bigmouth activist the Right loves to hate, and the home of some of the worst of the rust belt de-industrialization set in motion by Ronald Reagan's offshoring, anti union, anti American Neoliberalism. It's where the huge gaping empty factories are where the people of Flint once made Buicks, Chevrolet engines, bodies for Chevys and Buicks, AC spark plugs, Chevrolet parts, much of what once made GM the biggest corporation in the world.

Only Detroit, the once jewel of the American automobile empire, is worse off than Flint, because Detroit is just that much bigger and was home to even more car manufacturing than Flint.

Flint's beautiful downtown with its excellent art museum and convention and sports complexes and high class motels and restaurants and beautiful parks and banks and commercial buildings, and its many nice working class neighborhoods up and down the Flint River and spreading out across the rolling Midwestern prairie, were prime manifestations of the post World War II economy in which the US working class achieved the highest standard of living in the history of the world.

1936-Guarding a window at Fisher plant #3, Flint - US gov. photo
Flint is where the Flint Sit Down Strike took place, where in 1936 and 1937 GM workers occupied the factories, and united the United Auto Workers, the mighty UAW, and set in motion the American Labor Movement and the rise in living standards that brought us out of Gilded Age poverty and the Great Depression, the Labor Movement whose heart, the auto industry, was the heart of our, then, industrial economy. What's happened to Flint, and Detroit, and Cleveland and Toledo and all the rust belt cities are stark examples of what Conservatism has done to America, and are a harbinger for every town in America that hasn't ended up like Flint has yet.

If you wonder why Moore, who first became famous for his documentary Roger and Me, the story of the deindustrialization of Flint, is angry and anti Capitalist, you only have to visit Flint.

I knew a guy from Flint. His parents still lived there. I was living in Southwest Michigan, where I grew up, and one weekend John got a bunch of us together to go with him to Flint to paint his parents' house. They were retired. His father made jewelry, his mother, Nora, was a writer, Nora Wood. When she heard I was taking Journalism, and creative writing, she took an interest in me. We began corresponding, and when I transferred to the four year college in Mount Pleasant, not far from Flint, Nora, who had in the meantime been widowed, would sometimes invite me to spend the weekend.

Nora used words I had to look up later, like fie. She said interesting things and had the most interesting little house, full of paintings and sculptures and things she'd collected or had been given. If I looked at something on a shelf and asked her about it she'd often give it to me.

Breakfast with Nora was toast, cream cheese, peanut butter, and fruit that she peeled and cut into bite sized pieces and served in glass dishes on a stem. There was a cloth table cloth and cloth napkins. It was simple and elegant. I loved eating with her. Several times, for lunch, Nora cooked Cornish game hens stuffed with fruit. I'd never had anything like it.

Breakfast was sometimes held in the back yard. She had one of those back yards surrounded by bushes and overgrown with flowers and plants that made it a little oasis from the noise of the street and the sunlight and the humid Michigan summer. While her big gray cat patrolled the perimeter we'd have our breakfast and talk. Actually she'd talk, and I'd listen. I'm not the same person in conversation as I am in writing, so after holding forth for awhile she'd send me off with instructions to go visit the art museum or the aviation fair. In the evenings, we'd sit in the living room for awhile, then she'd push a stack of scrap paper and some felt tip writing pens into my hands and send me to my bedroom to write.

Shuttered GM power train plant, April 2012, since torn down. Joe Dennis photo

It was five, or maybe seven years after I'd left college, got a job at the Texarkana Gazette, got a wife, moved to South Carolina, that I made it back to Flint. I found Nora's house and knocked on the door. A young woman surrounded by young children answered and stared silently. Nora's house had been transformed. No paintings, none of the things Nora had collected and been given. Instead of uneven plastered walls covered with tapestries and paintings there was white painted sheet rock with sharp, white corners. There was light-colored wood flooring, bare, with sand tracked in by the kids, instead of a dark wooden floor and colorful throw rugs and decorative old runners.

The woman said she thought Nora had moved into an apartment. She didn't have the address. I walked back to the car wondering what to do. I'd lost touch with John. He had married and moved to Grand Rapids. Or maybe it was Battle Creek.

My wife and I were headed to Canada. I wanted to drive to Hudson Bay. We drove out of town, past the vacant Fisher Body plant on Chevrolet Avenue. The grass was still being mowed. The sprawling buildings hadn't begun to deteriorate. There was glass in the windows. It was the mid 1980s. Moore's Roger and Me would come along in 1989.

I never saw Nora again. I've made Cornish game hens the way she made them for a long time now. She was one who just threw things together, didn't use recipes. Sometimes I picture her whisking around the kitchen, quickly tying up her long gray hair, whisking things onto the table, whisking things off, commenting on what popped into her mind, always saying interesting things, talking about the status of the short story she'd sent out, leaning back in her chair at the table in the back yard, pausing to point to a bird, jumping up to water some flowers, jumping up to feed the cat.

Flint was already in economic trouble, but no one ever imagined they'd keep moving factories to the South, where workers are proud of their right to work for less and overseas, where there are no labor laws, that the UAW would have to concede to pay cuts, benefit cuts, the elimination of retiree health care, a two-tiered wage scale so that now, instead of being to raise a family on your salary you start out at not much more than the minimum wage, that there would come to be something called the rust belt and that its decline would continue, relentlessly, that there'd be NAFTA and the WTO, that through Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses alike the American standard of living would continue, relentlessly, to decline. No one imagined that the auto industry we Americans were so proud of, and took so much for granted, would disappear from the collective consciousness, that the fact of its disappearance would become just another part of the American landscape, in some ways normalized, in some ways already forgotten.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Memo To New Mexico Democrats: Don't let Governor Martinez deny free health care to the poor

The state also must decide whether to expand eligibility of Medicaid to potentially provide health care to nearly 170,000 low-income residents by 2020.

Read more:
The state also must decide whether to expand eligibility of Medicaid to potentially provide health care to nearly 170,000 low-income residents by 2020.

Read more:
"The state also must decide whether to expand eligibility of Medicaid to potentially provide health care to nearly 170,000 low-income residents by 2020."

That tidbit, buried in a story about how New Mexico' will work out the new insurance regulatory regime recently approved by voters, refers to a part of Obamacare by which the federal government reimburses almost 100 percent of the cost to states who take advantage of a Medicaid expansion. It's a very inexpensive way for the state to provide health care to the poorest of the poor.

It's one of those things that Republican governors in red states are refusing to implement. Unlike them, New Mexico's Republican governor Susana Martinez has gone along with creating the insurance exchange by which people can shop for Obamacare online, but don't let her get away with not implementing the Medicaid expansion here.

Massey Confusion

Barry Massey on Twitter
The paragraph quoted above is from a story by a Barry Massey, an AP reporter stationed in Santa Fe (who wears a bow tie.) Oddly, he uses the exact same paragraph in another story that deals specifically with the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, but which leaves the false impression that the state won't be reimbursed for the added costs. It implies that the state will be saddled with huge costs in the long run, which is not true.

It's hard to tell from the story whether Massey is confused because the NM legislature is confused or whether he's intentionally confusing the issue.
Our federal legislative delegation should be making sure the public and state and local lawmakers are educated about this and other aspects of Obamacare which, except for this one little thing put out by retiring Sen. Jeff Bingamon's office in his October email, I haven't seen them do.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Chemical Laden Management

Beyond the nostalgia and old jokes about Hostess Twinkies being circulated in the media is the real story of how Hostess management enriched themselves by draining the employee pension fund and then expected the company's bakers to accept almost the minimum wage. It's told by Robert Oak in Economic Populist.

Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Hostess was bought and ruined by vulture capitalists of the Mitt Romney Bain Capital type. It was bought with junk bonds, and then raided for whatever the new owners could get out of it, including the worker's pension fund. A bankruptcy judge ruled the owners didn't have to pay the employees back.

If they're lucky the workers will find jobs at places like Wal Mart. Their jobs, their health care, the pensions they were promised, are gone. "They're just taking from us," Kenneth Johnson, 46, a Hostess worker told the Huffington Post. He said he earned roughly $35,000 with overtime last year, down from about $45,000 five years ago, and like others said he'd rather go on unemployment and look for another job than give up any more.

Oak looked into one of Hostess' owners during an exchange of comments following the story:

I found this about Ripplewood Holdings:
The top management got huge pay increases.
Brian Driscoll, CEO, around $750,000 to $2,550,000
Gary Wandschneider, EVP, $500,000 to $900,000
John Stewart, EVP, $400,000 to $700,000
David Loeser, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256
Kent Magill, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256
Richard Seban, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256
John Akeson, SVP, $300,000 to $480,000
Steven Birgfeld, SVP, $240,000 to $360,000
Martha Ross, SVP, $240,000 to $360,000
Rob Kissick, SVP, $182,000 to $273,008

As well as Hostess management in the 1990's paid themselves outrageous executive compensation packages and went on an ill-advised acquisition spree.

These same bastards tell the media that Hostess is broke because of greedy unions, and the media gladly passes it on. As Oak recounts the same thing happened to the Delphi workers who make parts for GM cars, and many now live in poverty. This is happening all over the country. Management awards themselves with multimillions and our average wages and living standards head downward. Profits are at record highs, because the profit is being extracted from our paychecks.

Meanwhile, they have us fighting with each other over whether we want Democrats or Republicans to oversee our impoverishment. We elected Democrats, where are they? Hostess workers will retire into poverty so Ripplewood executives can live in luxury. Has Barak Obama done anything about it? Has one single Democrat said one single thing?


(New addition to Greatest Rock and Roll Since Moses page)

The Seekers.

Once you've heard Judith Durham's voice you won't need voice recognition software to identify it. It's been haunting me for 45 years. I can't think of anything more beautiful.

I first heard The Seekers on my transistor radio in 1967 when they hit it big in the US with the single Georgy Girl. As many of their recordings were, that song was produced in a way that de-emphasized Durham's voice and emphasized the group's four-part harmonies and acoustic guitars, but Durham's voice is hard to contain, even when she tries to do it, as she often does when the group sings together. Even now when Georgy Girl gets played on an oldies show I'm straining to hear Durham's voice, and then suddenly there it is, a strong, beautiful instrument ringing out above and beyond band mates Athol Guy, Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley. One of the nice things about this collection is that it includes some songs where Durham really belts it out.

The compilation is also interesting in that it includes two version of many of their songs. One studio, one live. One now, one then. One with full backup by an orchestra and chorus, one with just two guitars, a string bass and Durham.

The Seekers are arguably the most successful Australians ever, but when Georgy Girl rocketed up the charts in 1967 the British Invasion was fully underway and for some reason I assumed they were from England. They may have been marketed that way. They looked and sounded that way, to me. They were living in England, and became huge there, during one period selling more records than the Beatles and appearing constantly on British TV. Georgy Girl would reach Number Two on the US Billboard chart, the highest any of their records reached in the US, and I'll Never Find Another You would reach Number Four. They've sold more than 60 million records in their now 50-year career. When they perform, as they occasionally do, it's with the original four members. Highly unusual.

The Seekers were always considered to be somewhere between Folk and Pop and were never overtly political, and I'm a fan despite that. Australians, to generalize about them, seem to me to do things with a kind of earnest, very non-cynical self consciousness, that affects me by loosening some of the cultural anchors by which I perceive and interpret things. That, the subject matter of many Seeker songs, subjects like yearning and loss, coupled with the way Durham sings, leaves me feeling moved, yet in a slightly eerie way. On the brighter, more contented side of melancholy. Australian. Their repertoire is diverse, from the Russian folk song The Carnival Is Over to gospel standards like We Shall Not Be Moved, but they always give everything The Seeker treatment, as it were. They have their trademark style.

Judith Durham now - Bayside Review
Their range gets highlighted on this collection, and also on a more than one hour YouTube video of their 25th anniversary reunion tour, which is a real treat to listen to and on which Durham's voice is undiminished in expressive ability, power and beauty.

Durham reminds me of Beverly Bivens, lead singer for the American group We Five, who had a big hit with You Were On My Mind. Both woman's voices contain combinations of tonal qualities that make them unique almost to the point of being quirky, and sound beautiful because of it, not in spite of it. Both have strong voices and have complete control over them. Both left the world of pop stardom after just a few years to get married. Both are very pretty, not in the sense a model or movie star is but in the way the girl who sat behind you in geometry class was. And they're alike in that I'm infatuated with both, in case you didn't notice.

Durham would leave The Seekers after five years to settle down to married life and solo pursuits, but the group, The Seekers, which is practically royalty in Australia, has performed many reunion concerts since then and Durham, now in her 70s, still performs. (Compare 1967 and 2009 performances of The Carnival Is Over.) She confesses that nowadays, "When I open my mouth, I never know what will come out," but what does is still uniquely, hauntingly beautiful.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Obama Sands?

A comment about this picture, which was posted at SolPowerPeople's Facebook page, said that the tar sands picture was photoshopped and that this would hurt the case against tar sands. I googled tar sands and clicked images and it seems tar sands are either the pits of hell or green meadows, depending on who posts the picture, but the photo above is similar to most anti tar sands pictures.

Meanwhile an article in McClatchey's under the headline With election over, will Obama OK Keystone pipeline? reports that while the president has given little clue as to whether he will or not, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Moody's Investment Service thinks he will.

The article also quotes Obama during his Wednesday press conference, during which he mentioned climate change, which heartened many environmentalists and caused the media to note that it was the first time in months he had mentioned the subject.

“Understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused, on our economy and jobs and growth, that if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I won’t go for that.”


Read more here:
New page added: New Mexico Union Grocery Store Locations

There's one near you. Shop there.

Union density reached a peak in the US in the post World War II era at 35 percent. A little over one in three jobs was union. But after Ronald Reagan declared war on unions by firing the air traffic controllers union density has steadily fallen until it's now at 11 percent.

Unions increase living standards for all workers and were the primary reason that the US Working Class, which includes the so-called Middle Class, achieved the highest standard of living in the history of the world in the post war era, but that standard of living is in decline.

We can support unions by demanding that our elected officials abandon the Neoliberal economic model, by passing the Employee Free Choice Act to remove many of the legal barriers to union organizing, by buying goods with the union label and by shopping at the places where union members work.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

What The Hell?

Left to right, frankenfruit, normal apple, frankenfruit

I walked into my local union Smith's Supermarket and at the front of the fruit department were some strange stacks of large red-orange spheres. Papayas? Too big. Some kind of new Thanksgiving pumpkin? Gords from New Guinea or somewhere, squash maybe?

They were damn apples. They were twice as big as any apples I've ever seen. The size of grapefruit. They have to be GMOs, genetically modified organisms. That's a full sized dinner plate they're sitting on in the picture. They're the size of a damn softball.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Ronettes - Wikipedia

New additions to my Greatest Rock And Roll Since Moses page. Bill Hayley, The Ronettes, Lonnie Donegan. This is music I've found at It's all in the public domain, which means the copyright has expired, which means it can be downloaded to your computer for free by using the link at each song.

Listen to and record it while you're writing or calling your US senator and member of congress to demand that the US government do something about the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, one of the most densely populated regions on earth, where Israel confines several million Palestinians in an open air prison called the Gaza Strip. Remind them Gazans can't get in or out, thanks to the US backed blockade of Gaza by Israel. Remind them that the US government supplies Israel with all the bombs and rockets and missiles and planes.

Also please remind your senator and representative that Social Security has nothing to do with the federal budget deficit, as Ronald Reagan is seen saying in the post below this one, and demand that they stop perpetuating the falsehood that it does. Remind them also that any of the other earned benefits, or "entitlements" as Democrats insist on calling them and which President Obama is eager to negotiate away, represent a fraction of the federal budget and could easily be paid for if rich people paid their taxes or if the military was reduced to something remotely proportional to the size of even our two closest competitors, China and Russia.

"Both sides agree the best outcome would be a broad deal addressing the overall need for deficit reduction, including reforms to the tax system and entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

(Emphasis mine. From CNN.)


Friday, November 16, 2012

Ronald Reagan: "Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit."



Obama, Heinrich, et al: Please note.





Israel's Air Bombardment Of Gaza Continues

Israel's slaughter of the defenseless Palestinians of Gaza, who are confined by Israel to the narrow Gaza Strip, continues with the encouragement of the Obama Administration.

In yesterday's post I wrote that the violence began with the assassination by Israel of Ahmed Jabari, a Hamas military commander. Some sources are saying it actually began a few days earlier when Israel broke a cease fire with Hamas, the Palestinian faction that rules Gaza, by launching an air strike on Gaza that killed a 14 year old boy, prompting one of the Palestinian factions that operate in Gaza to launch a missile into southern Israel, and that the assassination of Jabari represented an escalation by Israel.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

This is circulating on Facebook again with some added graphics to kind of of put some perspective to what's going on in Gaza right now. Someone has also posted the photo below to demonstrate how the media is covering it. I listened to the BBC for several hours last night and they went over the story several times and never mentioned that any Palestinians had been killed, let alone Palestinian children. With every repeat it was emphasized that three Israelis had been killed.

It all started when Israel assassinated a Hamas leader in Gaza, with predictable results and the predictable escalating retaliation by Israel. I haven't heard the media yet question the timing, right after the presidential election, which the conservative Israeli prime minster overtly tried to influence in favor of his old friend Republican Mitt Romney -- remember Bibi Netanyahu continually trying to pressure Obama into declaring a "red line" beyond which Iran's nuclear program couldn't go? -- and just as Palestine is preparing to go before the United Nations to request observer status, which Israel, and the United States, vehemently oppose because it would be an official recognition of Palestine's existence.


Monday, November 12, 2012

The Republican's Fiscal Cliff

There's a very interesting theory going around about how President Obama is playing his cards when it comes to the so-called fiscal cliff, when automatic spending cuts in the federal budget are set to kick in. The theory is that Obama intends to let the January 1 deadline come and go without reaching agreement with the Republicans over legislation to prevent the automatic cuts, because if the deadline passes with no agreement being reached he will be in a much stronger position than they are and can force them into a resolution of his choosing.

Obama will be in a stronger position for two basic reasons. One is that if the cuts take place, including huge cuts in defense spending that Republicans abhor, Republicans will be in a position of having to negotiate increased defense spending. The other is that with no agreement in place, the Bush era tax cuts will also expire, so Republicans will have to try to negotiate getting those restored at the same time as they want to increase spending.

I'd heard this theory laid out someplace but couldn't remember where, then tonight came across some articles by Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine that lay out the entire strategy. The latest was written after Obama's address this week from the White House, in which, Chait writes, Obama said things that could only be intended to advance this strategy.

The fiscal cliff is the result of legislation passed last summer when Obama and the Republican led House were fighting over the terms of raising the debt ceiling limit, which had to be raised to prevent the government from going into default. That would have ruined its credit, or bond rating. In return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans made Obama agree to deep cuts in the deficit.

Since the deadline for raising the debt ceiling was imminent there was not time to negotiate specific cuts, and the bi-partisan "Super Committee" was set up to do that. It failed to do so, and the agreement stipulated that if that happened, there would be across the board cuts to everything in government, including defense spending.

Obama wants the cuts to take effect, Chaint says, because the Bush era tax cuts, although they are not part of the legislation Obama agreed to with congress, expire at the same time as the massive budget cuts start to kick in, January 1. Republicans are dead set against letting those tax cuts expire, and expected to use the fiscal cliff as leverage to force their renewal.

But if the Bush tax cuts expires, OPbama will have the increased taxes on the rich he wants, and will have all the revenue he needs to pay for the social programs he wants. Republicans will be left in the position of having to negotiate increases in defense spending, and negotiating new legislation to lower taxes on the rich to ere they are now, both at the same time. Obama will hold all the cards. Some of the more astute Republicans are beginning to realize the trap they set for themselves, and are signaling that they will go along with raising taxes in the rich, Chait says.

The very idea of a fiscal cliff is a misnomer, Chait says. Nothing will happen on January 1. The cuts will take place over time, and Obama, as president, has ways of delaying them if he wants to. Any cuts can be prevented with legislation from congress -- legislation that, practically speaking, would result from negotiations between congress and Obama, and Obama will be negotiating from the much stronger position.

A media frenzy has already begun to take shape, led by a panicky Wall Street Journal editorial board, saying that the fiscal cliff will be a disaster for the country. The frenzy will intensify as January 1 deadline looms, and is being fueled by lobbyists for the defense industry, which faces a 20 percent reduction in income with the automatic budget cuts. It's also being fueled by Washington insiders who have a fetish about bipartisanship, who think the people shouldn't interfere with government and that the professional politicians should sit down at their clubs and work things out amongst themselves.

The caveat, Chait says, is that Obama will come under so much pressure to cut a deal that he will cave in. The bulk of the media will be pressuring him, as will the business community led by the defense industry. Contributing to a caving in scenario is Obama's proclivity for wanting to compromise.

Working against Obama buckling will be the mood of the electorate, which was expressed in the election results -- Obama, as the campaign wound down, had made raising taxes on the rich a major part of his campaign.

So far, as evidenced by his opening remarks in his White House address, Obama is sticking to his plan, and to his guns, Chait says. But stay tuned.

Chait began writing about this before the election, and also talks about what Romeny's plans were for dealing with the "fiscal cliff." Republicans had planned to use it to implement the draconian Ryan Budget, which would have lowered taxes on the rich even more than the Bush tax cuts did, and would have made huge cuts to social programs for the poor. The Ryan Budget is like the austerity measures being forced on European governments by their creditors, which are causing much pain and hardship and which have pushed the Eurozone back into recession.

Chait really lays this all out pretty thoroughly and it's really interesting reading. He has been thinking and writing about this since well before the election and has been studying every move by both sides. Here are links to three articles. The first is long but lays out Obama's entire strategy and the events that led to it. The second two are relatively brief updates.

10/14/12  November 7: Though their agendas are hidden, both Romney and Obama have plans to dramatically remake the size and character of American government. Very, very quickly.

11/1/12 There Is No Fiscal Cliff

11/9/12 Obama To Boehner: Put Down The Gun

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Republican Resurrection

The election continues to reverberate throughout the media. It's been the top story for months and the media and the political junkies who consume it, like me, can't stop being in election mode just like that.

The election is also still being discussed because it revealed interesting new things we are eager to understand about the new, more diverse America that's taking shape. The election results raised questions about the Republican Party and its future, about the Democratic Party, about politics in America, about money in politics, about the media itself. About Fox News. People wonder what President Obama will do now, and about the looming "fiscal cliff" and how the two sides will fight over it.

One of, if not the main topic being discussed is the future of the Republican Party. What shoud it do now? Why did they get their asses kicked, with all the money they have and after their stunning success in the 2010 mid-term elections? How could they be so stupid? Why did they so firmly believe Romney would win when the vast majority of polls said he wouldn't? Has the party reached a dead end?

Some people are even wondering out loud if there will ever be another Republican president.

Frank Rich of the New York Times in his latest column really lays out what is one of the main theories about the problem with Republicans. It's about their disdain for reality. We are not as much of a fact based society as we used to be, he says, but the Republicans are an extreme manifestation of this phenomena. Business Insider has an article, The Republican Party Implodes, about how they got their strategy so wrong, and CBS News has one about how the Romney campaign in particular blew it.

On that day in 1974 when Richard Nixon, after defending himself against the Watergate Scandal for more than a year, addressed the nation from the Oval Office and said "I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow," I remember someone predicting that there would never be another Republican president. That prediction was hopelessly naive, but the Republican Party was at a very low point. Democrats controlled the House and the Senate and the Supreme Court, and not just Democrats but Liberal Democrats. The nation was riding the crest of the Countercultural Revolution that had been set in motion by the Civil Rights and Womens' and Anti Vietnam War movements and by the Chicano and Black Power and Gay Rights movements, a revolution in attitudes and behaviors and styles that was rapidly reshaping America in many ways.

The someone who made that naive prediction was me. I remember the day the news that Nixon would resign came out like a crisp, clear black and white photograph. I heard the news on my car radio as I was leaving work at Bethlehem Steel in Burns Harbor, Indiana, in my tan-colored '63 Dodge 330 slant six automatic former family four-door sedan. It was all that was on the radio as I drove the 25 miles up US 12 along Lake Michigan to my lake front small town hometown just across the state line in New Buffalo, Michigan.

I stopped by some friends' house, my Irish Catholic Democrat drinking buddies. They were watching the news coverage on the TV. The mood was not celebratory but kind of quiet and subdued. We had enjoyed the months of Nixon and the Republican Party being pilloried every day on TV and in the newspapers. That was now over with. This was new territory. Tricky Dick Nixon was finally getting what he had coming to him, but it was just so odd, the idea that the president of the United states was going to resign.

The rest, of course, is history. It didn't take long, just one election cycle, for the Republican Party to regroup. Democrat Jimmy Carter had won the next election, but four years later Carter lost to Ronald Reagan, and Reagan would put the nation on another course, just as radical as the Counterculture had been but in the opposite direction, a conservative more Capital friendly course when, under the tutelage of his mentor, Margaret Thatcher, he launched Neoliberalism, which would be the vehicle for undoing the tremendous gains in living standards achieved by he post World War II working class. The gains made by the Civil Rights and Women's all the other movements would come under attack and have to be defended.

Just like that, the Republicans were back. Just as it had transformed itself from the party of Lincoln that ended slavery, to the party of the Capitalist elite, it transformed itself to what it is now, a clearinghouse for Neoliberal trued believers and racist and reactionary working class whites who were never able to accept the societal changes of the 1960s and 70s.

Reagan is loved dearly by traditional Republicans simply because he brought their party back from the purgatory Nixon left it in. The great irony is that Reagan was elected because of the coming to fruition of Nixon's so-called Southern Strategy, whereby Republicans pandered to Southern whites who had been solidly behind the Democratic Party until it embraced the principles of the Civil Rights Movement. Nixon, who had lost a presidential election to John F Kenedy in 1960, at the beginning of the nation's turn to the Left, had seen the need to reconfigure the party and saw a way to do it.

All that's required now for the Republican Party to rejuvenate itself is for it coalesce around a strategy to make themselves palatable to a sufficient number of working class voters. Party leaders will tell the tea baggers to shut up, and the tea baggers, whose interests aren't liberty and freedom but their racist opposition to Obama and the Democrats, will shut up. They will tell the religious right to shut up, and the religious right, whose interests aren't abortion and traditional marriage but to continue the dominance of the white male, will shut up.

Unless the Democratic Party takes advantage of the opening it has to once more be the universal party of the working class, or until something else forms that does what the Democrats should be doing, the Republicans will be back in control before you know it.

Unless you accept the premise that the struggle for justice never ends, that it's a lifelong battle for anyone who is interested in justice, that's a depressing thought.

Once And Future Democrats

It was Jimmy Carter, a Southern fiscal conservative, who started the move to deregulate Capitalism on a large scale, that is, to "get government off the backs of business," that set the stage for Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton ended "welfare as we know it," pushed through the NAFTA and WTO "free trade" treaties, and signed into law the financial deregulation that led to the 2008 economic meltdown. Barak Obama is often described as a moderate Republican in the former sense of that term. He's pro Neoliberal economic policies, pro military industrial complex and anti environment.

The majority of Democrats now in office at the national level, while they may occasionally mouth slogans about preserving programs like Social Security that define the social welfare state created by post World War II Liberal Democrats, are participating with Republicans in the process of dismantling it. Remember the debt ceiling debates of 2011, when  the only difference between Democrats and Republicans was how much would be gutted from social programs.

If you listen closely, the two parties are saying exactly the same things about Social Security and Medicare. Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who authored the plan for dismantling Medicare by converting it to a voucher system, talked on the campaign trail about "preserving" and "saving" and "protecting" Medicare. Here in New Mexico's First Congressional District, the Democratic candidates for the US House and Senate seats, Michele Grisham and Martin Heinrich, use the same language to talk about Social Security and Medicare. Nothing either has said commits them to preserving Social Security or Medicare in their current forms. Nothing. When it would be easy and to their political advantage to pledge to uphold programs so popular with the public in their current form, they won't do it, and that can't be a coincidence.

As the Democratic Party leadership is configured now, you might say that it doesn't matter if the Republican Party comes back or not.

(Reprinted from the Bradley Manning Support Network -

Bradley Manning acknowledges act of conscience

Army PFC Bradley Manning, awaiting trial for allegedly sharing thousands of classified documents with the transparency website WikiLeaks, offered during a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland this week to accept responsibility for a narrow set of offenses within the currently charged offenses.
(Photo by Brendan Smialkowski/AFP/Getty Images

“PFC Manning is not pleading guilty to the
specifications as charged by the Government,” noted PFC Manning’s attorney David Coombs on his blog. Nor is he “submitting a plea as part of an agreement or deal with the Government.”

“Like most supporters," explained Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network, "I’ve backed Bradley Manning on the belief that he was the heroic whistle-blower in question. Now that Bradley appears to have acknowledged this in court, it's reason to redouble efforts to support him leading up to his February court martial.”

If Bradley’s plea offer is accepted, the parties would likely be able to bypass weeks of forensics testimony that would be required to prove Bradley accessed and/or transmitted the classified documents at issue. The court martial proceedings might then focus on what Mr. Coombs has long contended: That the release of these documents brought little to no harm to U.S. national security, and that PFC Manning’s motives, if he did release them, were to expose crime, fraud, corporate malfeasance, and abuse.

The military has worked to preclude the defense from discussing harm, or lack thereof, in the merits portion of Bradley’s trial, seeking to prevent him from being seen as a military whistle-blower. However, Bradley has now opted to be tried by military judge Denise Lind alone. “Much of the ongoing litigation over the last year can now be looked at in a new light–as an effort to educate Judge Lind in regards to Bradley Manning’s whistle-blower motives,” offered Jeff Paterson.
“The Government may still elect to prove up the charged offenses,” explained Coombs.
The parties return to Ft. Meade on November 27 for a six-day hearing focusing largely on the defense’s motion to dismiss charges based on PFC Manning’s unlawful pretrial confinement conditions at the Quantico Marine Brig.

Following that hearing, Mr. Coombs will give his first ever public presentation, speaking at All Souls Church Unitarian (1500 Harvard Street Northwest) in Washington D.C. at 7:00pm on December 3.


Friday, November 9, 2012

The Democratic Betrayal Begins

"Both sides agree the best outcome would be a broad deal addressing the overall need for deficit reduction, including reforms to the tax system and entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid."

President Obama and the Democratic Party, fresh from their electoral victory and with a mandate from the American people to protect working class interests, waste no time going after Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Despite the fact that Medicare and Medicaid are both sound, despite the fact that Social Security has absolutely nothing to do with the budget deficit, the Democrats are going to give them away.

I voted for them too, most of them. But as I have said you can't trust this current Democratic Party to protect the programs that have lifted millions of Americans out pf poverty and destitution, that have allowed working class seniors to retire with some dignity. This is what we asked for. This is what we get.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Time For Bipartisanship Has Arrived (Governor Martinez Hopes)

The Deming Headlight has a comprehensive take on the scope of Susana Martinez's defeat in Tuesday's election. It encompasses state and local elections and the courts.

"Basically she spent $2.3 million to defeat one person," state Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, tells the Headlight.

As others have, the article questions the wisdom of going for blood and not getting much. Her political advisor Jay McCleskey admits the governor has a predicament when he says, "The election is over and the time for bipartisanship has arrived."

The governor and McCleskey can only hope.

We Should All Encourage Romney Supporters

Monday, November 5, 2012

Why we are voting for President Obama: Nine Mormon women speak

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife Ann Romney arrive at an airport rally in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Nov. 3, 2012. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post) President Obama wraps up his speech during a campaign stop in Mentor, Ohio, on Nov. 3, 2012. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post) (NIKKI KAHN, MELINA MARA)

Mormon women honor the religion we share with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But on Election Day, thousands and thousands of us will cast our votes in support of President Obama.

As a writer who has followed closely the role of faith in this campaign, I have witnessed how progressive Mormon women are finding their voices in this historic moment. A week ago, I took to the Internet to ask Mormon women who support Obama to share how their faith informs their vote. I heard from stay-at-home mothers, nurses, lawyers, hairstylists, and college professors, women with children small and grown, white women and women of color, from California to New Hampshire—and in key states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida.

Here are the voices of nine of these everyday Mormon women, in their own words:
Andrea Pratt Rediske, 41, freelance writer in Orlando: “My faith teaches me that motherhood is a sacred responsibility, and I am the mother of a severely disabled 10-year-old who has the cognitive ability of a 6-month-old. My son is ‘invisible’ to society--he is too medically fragile to attend school, church, or even go to the grocery store. He has no voice except mine, and I continually battle profit-driven insurance companies to meet his medical needs. No mother should have to choose between health care for her children and the other necessities of life. No one should have to go bankrupt because they get sick, or have a disabled child. I am a Mormon woman who supports Barack Obama because of the Affordable Health Care Act. ”
Kari Earl Short, 36, writer and stay-at-home mother in Las Vegas: “My family’s roots in the Mormon church run as deep as the Romneys’. But Mitt Romney and his plans for America are foreign to my faith values. He has shown behind closed doors how he truly feels about our nation’s poor and vulnerable, while Obama has sought to protect social programs, foreign aid, and real healthcare protections for those who desperately need it. I am an LDS woman proudly voting for Barack Obama.”
Anne Kate Ard, 54, retired engineer in Birmingham, Ala.: “Governor Romney does not consider birth control for women a part of normal family medical expenses, and he has not consistently supported pay equity. But everyone wins when women can plan and provide for their families and when children born are wanted, cared for, and loved. These are bedrock needs for healthy, happy families, and families are central to my Mormon faith. That’s why I’m voting for Obama.”
Kaarsten Turner Dalby, 42, vice-president of ecological services, Conifer, Colo.: “I am a Mormon woman, a working professional, and a mother to two young sons. Thirty years ago our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers fought for the future of their young daughters. They fought for our education and our right to receive equal pay for our work. Mitt Romney threatens those rights that already belong to us. Through my political choices, I want to leave a legacy to my sons – a legacy of empowerment, intelligence, equality, and choice. I urge all women to respect themselves, their minds, and their bodies. They are sacred – we are sacred. I will vote for Obama.”
Jerilyn Hassell Pool, 41, freelance art director in Medford, Ore.: “President Obama is committed to looking out for those whose voices go unheard—women, gays, the poor, and the elderly. I appreciate that his efforts are always pragmatic and educated, rather than impulsive and quick. And Mitt Romney reminds me of every well-meaning yet overbearing male church leader who’s ever underestimated me.”
Merhsa Baradaran, 34, law professor in Athens, Ga.: “I am a Mormon, a working mother, and an immigrant. I agree with many of Governor Romney’s ideas, but I will be voting for President Obama because he will wage the battles that are important to me: thoughtful foreign policy, compassionate immigration reform, serious education standards, responsible market regulation, and equal protection and civil rights for every citizen.”
Emily Elliott, 28, a law student in Ann Arbor, Mich.: “My Mormon faith taught me a strong sense of duty to take care of my family, which has always struggled financially. I was raised on food stamps and the publicly- funded library. I got through Dartmouth College with the help of Pell grants and federal work-study. Now, I’m a third-year law student at the University of Michigan. I have worked hard and studied hard, but I didn’t get here by myself. Public investment laid the groundwork for my achievements. I am voting for Obama to preserve opportunity for others.”
Julina Murillo Salazar, 35, hairstylist in Damascus, Md.: “I am a Mormon mother of three, and I am happily married to an immigrant from Honduras. I believe that we are all children of God, and my Mormon faith teaches me that ‘families are forever’—no matter where their place of origin may be. Governor Romney has spoken disparagingly of ‘illegals.’ No human being is illegal. I am voting for President Obama.”
Karin Olson, 43, a physician in Huntsville, Texas: “My faith in Jesus Christ teaches me a deep responsibility to care for others. But I know there are situations when even generous individual service is not enough. As a physician, I have visited a young single mother who was out of money and baby formula, and I have treated a 65-year-old woman dying of metastatic colon cancer because she had no health insurance and had to wait until she was Medicare-eligible to seek medical attention. For these problems, all of our efforts to serve others as our Savior Jesus Christ has admonished us to do would never be enough. We need a government that values the lives of the vulnerable—‘the least of these’ Christ spoke of--enough to create a safety net for them to survive the challenges of life. I voted early, and I cast my ballot for Obama. I only wish I lived in a swing state where my vote would make a difference. Maybe yours can.”
Joanna Brooks is the author of “The Book of Mormon Girl” and chair of San Diego State University’s English department.

courtesy of The Washington Post 
A Socialist For President

"In Red Hook yesterday, ppl had no water & no heat. But the govt did set up stations to make sure their rent got paid. #capitalistpriorities"

-- tweet from the Party for Socialism and Liberation presidential candidate Peta Lindsay after performing volunteer service in Brooklyn
Peta Lindsay and Yari Osorio are the presidential and vice-presidential candidates of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, a Socialist party based in the USA with offices in 23 US cities, including Albuquerque. It is one of the various factions the Socialist movement in North America has split into in the past 50 years. Lindsay and Osorio are on the ballot in 13 states (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin).
Their campaign has drawn some media attention. After a stop at the University of New Mexico Lindsay was interviewed briefly by Albuquerque TV station KOB. Aside from the party's core belief in a socialist economy, on most issues they are in line with what you would consider to be a very Liberal Deomocratic viewpoint, as you can hear Lindsay lay them out to KOB. Lindsay, who is 28, also explains shy she is running for president despite being too young to take office.

Peta was also featured in a pictorial put together by Jezebel, the widely read feminist news web site. The Jezebel 25 was "a list of notable women who have caught our attention and, we believe, are worthy of yours," who were brought in in groups to be photographed. Below is Peta with a group that includes Sandra Fluke, who gained notoriety after she was called a "slut" by Rush Limbaugh for advocating access to birth control on her college campus, and who subsequently appeared at campaign events with President Obama.

From left: Model Sara Ziff, socialist presidential candidate Peta Lindsay, Intel Science Competition finalist Samantha Garvey, Hollaback founder Emily May, and birth control advocate Sandra Fluke. Photo by Nikola Tamindzic.
Lindsay was not invited to the presidential debates, nor was she included in Larry King's alternate debate for third party candidates on CNN. Nor was she invited to be in the "Expanding the Debate" series of third party candidate debates Amy Goodman staged on her Democracy Now program, and about which she bragged endlessly. Saying that she was "breaking the sound barrier," Goodman promoted her debates by noting that at the official debates "some key voices were shut out the conversation, including those of third-party presidential candidates." Just as Peta Linday's voice was shut out by Amy Goodman.