Inflation Is 11.6% If Calculated The Old Way

The government changed the way it calculated inflation. If we mneasured inflation the same way we used to it would be as bad as it was during the Ford-Carter years. And we all KNOW this is true because we can see for ourselves that prices are rising so much faster than paychecks.
The Fed’s inflation gauge isn’t realistic, critics say,

John Williams, who spent more than two decades as an economic consultant to Fortune 500 companies, said the government figures understate the true rate of inflation.
Williams, who runs Shadow Government Statistics in Oakland, which tracks changes in inflation, unemployment, the gross national product and other data, said that over the past 25 years, the government has changed the method of calculating price increases in ways that have lowered the reported inflation rate.
The changes include measuring the cost of shelter by rental prices instead of home values, as well as giving nearly as much weight to high-ticket items such as cars and electronics as to daily necessities such as food and gasoline.
According to Williams, if the government measured inflation based on pre-1982 methods, it would be running at 11.6 percent right now, or 7.3 percent using pre-1998 calculations.

Click through to see a chart that will shock you.

m4s0n501

Today’s Housing Bubble Post — Sales Drop To Lowest Level In 16 1/2 Years

New home sales plunge to lowest level in 16 1/2 years,

Sales of new homes plunged in March to the slowest pace in 16 1/2 years as a two-year housing downturn extended into the start of another spring sales season. The median price of a new home in March compared to a year ago fell at the fastest clip in 38 years.
. . . The median price of a home sold in March dropped by 13.3 percent compared with March 2007, the biggest year-over-year price decline since a 14.6 percent plunge in July 1970.

This made me laugh out loud:

Some analysts said they believe the slide in sales may be close to ending although they said any rebound is likely to be slow and anemic with prices continuing to fall, possibly until this time next year.

Listen, the problems we have seen so far have come about BEFORE the economic slowdown. Think about what that means. These foreclosures and people otherwise needing to sell their houses, etc., are not the result of a stressed economy. And we’re just beginning to have a stressed economy. So we haven’t even started to see the usual problems that come from layoffs, etc. So no, I don’t think we are at a “bottom.” Sheesh.

Strongly-Worded Statement

A Senate committee issued a strongly-worded statement to Sen. Domenici for his involvement in the US Attorney scandal.
With that out of the way, the US Attorneys who didn’t get fired (because they were willing to play along with Republican corruption and politicization) will now start indicting Senate Democrats in time for the election. And the Democrats will again issue strongly-worded statement. From prison. Because they just don’t seem to know better than to bring strongly-worded statements to a machine-gun fight.

McCain And The Smear Ads

John McCain says he can’t stop the North Carolina Republican Party and other Republican groups from running ads that smear Barack Obama on race, religion and attack in various other ways. The nominee of the Republican Party says he wants to stop these Republican groups, but can’t.
So doesn’t this tell us what a McCain administration would be like? Everyone he is supposed to be in charge of will be running around doing whatever they want to do, with McCain saying he can’t control them?
Isn’t this a reason all by itself to vote against the guy?

The Missing Word — FILIBUSTER

Republicans block pay discrimination bill | Politics | Reuters,

On a 56-42 vote, mostly Democratic supporters of the bill fell short of the needed 60 in the 100-member Senate to clear a Republican procedural hurdle and move toward passage of the bill.

“a Republican procedural hurdle.” Wow, that’s some fancy wording in this “news” article. In fact the wording is designed to block the information about what happened here from reaching the reader.
What happened here is that the Republicans FILIBUSTERED the bill that would bring fair pay to women for the same work.

Republicans on Obama — Yesterday A Gang Member, Today A Terrorist

The Republican campaign is cranking up. Yesterday they were saying that Barack Obama is a gang member. (Black guy, get it?) Today he’s a terrorist?
Oh yeah, that’s right, last week he was a Communist!
By summer the Republican campaign will be in full swing. I wonder what imaginative things they will come up with?
Too bad the same rules don’t apply to McCain.

Breaking – Another Preacher Says God Damns America

Hagee Says Hurricane Katrina Struck New Orleans Because It Was ‘Planning A Sinful’ ‘Homosexual Rally’,

On September 18, 2006, Pastor John Hagee — whose endorsement Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said this past Sunday he was “glad to have” — told NPR’s Terry Gross that “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.” “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God,” Hagee said, because “there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came.”

Hagee is McCain’s preacher.
Will this also be on every news channel, repeated over and over, 24/7, for the next several months? Will reporters hound McCain with questions about his preacher? If not, then what is it that is different between this preacher and Obama’s?

Rockridge Closing — Why Building Progressive Infrastructure Matters So Much

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
On the same day that Barack Obama raised one million dollars in one minute for his campaign George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute announced that they will be closing their doors.
In the comments at the OpenLeft blog post, The Rockridge Era Ends, Paul Rosenberg wrote,

As If We Needed Any More Proof That Democrats STILL Don’t Get It!
This is really terrible news–not just because of the loss of Rockridge, as if that wasn’t bad enough, but because it shows so clearly that there is NO recognition of the need to build progressive infrastructure.
Just look at how many millions have been raised by the Presidential campaigns this cycle. And just a tiny fraction of it could have not just kept Rockridge afloat, but DOUBLED it in size. …

I want to say this about that:
Donating a dollar to a progressive infrastructure organization like Speak Out California and Commonweal Institute today is like giving ten dollars to EACH progressive candidate in every local, state and nation race this November, two years later, and every election following.
Let me explain what I mean. Progressive infrastructure organizations like Speak Out California and Commonweal Institute are working to help the public understand and appreciate what progressives are about. By explaining the benefits of a progressive approach they help build public acceptance of and demand for progressive policies and candidates — across the board. As more people understand why progressive solutions benefit them more than conservative proposals, they develop a lasting positive identification with the progressive “brand.” Then later, during the election cycle, they vote for progressive candidates — across the board.
This is how the conservatives have been so successful. They work year-round to convince people to identify as conservatives. (You’ve probably complained or heard people complain that that have managed to turn “liberal” into a bad word in people’s minds.) When election time comes around it’s as though all that their candidates have to do is point at the opponent and shout “liberal” to win. They ride a wave of nationally-advanced propaganda convincing people to support “tort reform” or “tax relief.” This has been going on for years, so at election time everything is laid out for them on a silver platter, with the public prepared and primed.
Progressive candidates, on the other hand, are generally on their own, starting from scratch for each election. Their general campaign begins in the late summer or fall, they have to decide what “issues” to run on, they have to develop a message from scratch, by themselves, and then they have to reach their voters from scratch. And they have to do all of this on their own in just a few months. No wonder conservatives, even with their awful “you’re on your own” philosophy, have managed to do so well and gain so much traction.
This is why building up a national progressive advocacy infrastructure would leverage all of those campaign donations and help us build a sustainable progressive majority. A few dollars to progressive advocacy organizations on any given TODAY builds long-term support for every progressive candidate on any given TOMORROW. It provides leverage — lowering the need for massive election-cycle funding.
The demise of Rockridge Institute demonstrates that the Democratic Party donor base hasn’t yet gotten that message. Instead, masses of money have to be raised for candidates at the very last minute — for example a million dollars in one minute, the day before the big Pennsylvania primary. And almost all of that money will just literally go up in the air to pay for TV ads that leave nothing behind to show for the money. They don’t build the brand, they don’t tell people about the benefits of progressive ideas, they don’t help other candidates… But almost nothing for the Rockridges and Speak Out California’s and Commonweal Institutes.
Please think about donating to help build a solid progressive infrastructure of organizations that will work year-round to help the public understand why progressive policies and candidate are better for them than the conservative solutions. This will help build a sustainable progressive majority in America. Please help these organizations grow. It’s about building a progressive ecosystem that benefits all of us.
Click through to Speak Out California

Funding Progressives Long Term

On a day when Barack Obama is raising $1 million in a single minute the Rockridge Institute announces it is closing its doors because it cannot find funding.
You can read their message here. Excerpt:

The progressive infrastructure built so far does not include a cognitive infrastructure. It has not tackled the Big Job–reversing the dominance of conservative Big Ideas in public life. Policy institutes do not address cognitive policy–the ideas and values that have to structure the public mind in order for nuts-and-bolts progressive policy to be accepted as just common sense.
When Rockridge started on its mission, we knew there were huge hurdles — not just from the Right, but within the progressive community itself.
• The Progressive Funding Problem: The 1997 Covington Report [Sally Covington, Moving a Public Policy Agenda: The Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations] observed that conservative foundations tend to give large, multi-year block grants to promote conservatism in general. By contrast, progressive foundations tend to give small grants for a short time over a short list of specific issue areas. This results in small nonprofits having to constantly spend a lot of time and effort raising money, and all too often failing to raise enough.

When my mood improves I’ll try to have more to say on this.
Update – In a post titled “Messiah Candidate Thinking” (no it wasn’t about Obama, it was about Gore) I wrote,

I don’t think that one person or one election is going to lead us out of the wilderness. I think there is a lot of work required before progressives can win again and turn America in a progressive direction.
. . . This right-wing assault has eroded the public’s understanding of (and belief in) democracy and community. It has even eroded understanding of – and faith in – science and reason! So I think there is a lot of work that has to be done to bring things back. We have to spend the money and do the work and take the time to build the think tanks and communications organizations (like Commonweal Institute) that will reach the public and explain and promote the benefits of progressive values and a progressive approach to issues. Over time this effort will restore public demand for progressive candidates.
Messiah-Candidate Thinking is a way to avoid facing the changes that have occurred in America. It is a way to put off the work that needs to be done.

Obama is great, but the groundwork has to be in place if he is going to be able to get anything done. We have to fund that, too, and it si ALL OF OUR responsibility to do that.

Are Clinton and Obama Communists?

The right has been cranking up the communist charge in this election. I guess it worked for the 50 years ago, so why not trot it out again?
I came across this today at the Republican TownHall site: Townhall.com::Obama, Clinton And Capitalism: It’s Okay For Them, But Nobody Else,

The big irony here is that while Obama has done extremely well for himself in our very unique free-market economy, he has the “audacity” to demonize others who have done well for themselves, and to propose economic policies that, if implemented, would radically change our nation into something more akin to a Western European socialist state.

OK, let’s examine that for a minute. Aside from the implications that they are communists, what does “Western European Socialist State” really mean? European citizens get 5 weeks paid vacation per year for everyone, free full-coverage health care for everyone, generous pays and pensions for everyone (with retirement earlier than here), corporations required to benefit the public, modern public transit systems, child care, clean public-oriented cities, governments responsive to the people instead of the wealthy, the corporations and the big military contractors, … oh I could go on and on about the terrible state of things for Western European citizens…
And what are some of the examples of Clinton and Obama’s supposedly communistic policies?

Obama has proposed a federal crack down on what he deems “excessive pay” for corporate executives. He has proposed that the federal government begin taxing people’s capital (not just earnings or interest payments, but, yes, capital itself). He has proposed that the capital gains tax rate be raised to 28%, nearly doubling its current rate of 15%. And he has made it a constant theme of his campaign to lament “Bush’s tax cuts for the rich,”
. . .[Clinton] has berated the reality of America being an “ownership society” (despite the recent increase in mortgage foreclosures, home ownership in America is still at an all-time high), saying that in reality we are an “on your own” society. Her remedy for the “problem” is for us to become a “we’re in this together society,” a nation of “shared responsibility” AND “shared prosperity.”

Conservatives lament that people should have to actually give back a bit to the public by paying taxes, after the public’s investment in roads and bridges and law enforcement and military and schools and the legal and financial infrastructure made them rich. The writer thinks that the roads and bridges and schools and everything else that enabled that ecosystem which enables people to get rich just magically appeared. The writer doesn’t seem to know that it was taxes that built that system — OUR taxes — and thinks the beneficiaries of this public investment should just freeload off the rest of us.
Taxes are the reason we have a thriving economic ecosystem. Tax cuts make us poor. And people getting rich off of our public investment and giving nothing back is the reason we don’t get 5 weeks vacation, health care, and all the rest here.
If the conservatives are trying to scare me away from voting for Clinton or Obama by claiming that if elected they will bring us 5 weeks paid vacation a year, free health coverage and the rest, and that the cost will be taxing rich CEOs and corporations — well I gotta tell you I want to get me some of that!

A Key Race – CA SD-19, Hannah-Beth Jackson

In California Hannah-Beth Jackson is running for the State Senate. This is a key race because this is the Senate seat that could flip from Republican to Democrat, finally giving the Dems a 2/3 majority and enabling them to finally pass budgets.
Her website is: Meet Hannah-Beth
Hannah-Beth is a former member of the California State Assembly who founded Speak Out California, where I post once or twice a week, and the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream (which does not yet have a website) where I am a Senior Fellow. This should tell you that she is a solid progressive, concerned with advancing democracy, community, and the mutual prosperity of all Californians instead of the benefits of our work and investment being funneled to the corporations and wealthy. So she has my endorsement and I hope she can earn yours.