It’s What The Money Is Used FOR

Investment is not “spending.” It’s what the money is used FOR that makes the difference. Repubican spending wasted money and drove up debt. Obama’s investments will eventually help us pay off debt.
I am in a motel room and got up too early, so I’m watching the dreadful morning news shows, which means hearing the Republican talking points over and over and over. … So they say Obama is spending a lot of money, and driving up the debt. Let’s look at that:
1) Yes, we have to spend money on things made necessary by Republican policies, like unemployment checks, deferred infrastructure maintanance, interest on debt cause by tax cuts for the rich, etc.
2) Republicans spent money on things that caused problems: tax cuts for the rich, military, subsidies for crony corporations, etc. This just runs up debt without leading to any way to pay it off.
3) The Obama spending is on fixing problems, and investment. Spending on investment leads to ways to pay off the debt. Eisenhower spent to build the interstate highway system. But now look back at how that helped all of us and grew the economy in ways that allowed us to pay back that costs many times over. The Obama spending is on high-speed rail, alternative energy and energy efficiency, education and other investments that will enable us to eventually pay off even the Reagan/Bush debt.
4) Remember that Clinton brought us well along toward paying off debt until the Republicans got in and stopped that.
Sure it is spending. Spending is a good thing if it is spent on US and on investment. Bush did neither. Obama is doing both.

Senator Boxer Taking Questions

Senator Boxer held a press conference at the California Democratic Convention today. Originally it was going to be a “roundtable” with bloggers, but because of time problems it instead became a press conference at which bloggers were allowed to ask questions too. I don’t fault Sen. Boxer for this but it led immediately to the old-style Important Person at a podium giving careful answers to self-serving questions instead of a back-and forth conversation where there is an equal discussion between the people and their representative-who-works-for-them. The format change forced her into that role, which is the standard in today’s politics. In my humble opinion.
That said, if we had a senate with 100 Barbara Boxers, this would be a very different and much better country.
Boxer on torture (typing notes as she answered and these are a collection on the subject, while answering several questions):

In our country we have to face all the issues that confront us. … I support the truth coming out. The people deserve to know the truth and they have to handle it.
I support a truth commission.
We signed at least three international treaties that deal with outlawing torture. We have been very clear in our nation that torture is not acceptable and the definition includes the waterboarding technique.
I believe in this country and that means I believe in openness and transparency and getting the truth in front of the people.
We executed Japanese who did it to our people. Either we are a nation that believes in the rule of law or we are not.
If I lose my Senate seat because people think it’s good to torture, so be it.

On banks, mortgage “cramdowns” (judge changing the terms of a mortgage so the person can afford to keep the house) and lobbying,

Dick Durbin is doing a heroic job trying to keep people in their homes. Right now if you declare bankruptcy as an individual, let’s say you have two homes and a lot of assets, the only one that judge can’t touch is the first home, because bankers have a lot of influence.
These are different times and it really is better to keep people in their homes and renegotiate
The banks are still a major lobbying force, still operating that way.
If a company comes to taxpayers, until you pay us back your executives shouldn’t earn more than the President of the US.

I asked about the rule of law and the appearance that the country has a two-tiered system, and how the people should feel about what they are seeing,

The people should feel something is wrong if there is no investigation, if a law is broken it should be prosecuted.
On banks, we have a court system, if a law is broken it should be prosecuted.
If we don’t like a law we repeal it, we don’t ignore it.
If anyone feels the law is not followed and are concerned about it that is a problem.
If I break it, you break it, should apply to anyone.
Everyone has the right to present their case.

I don’t think I asked my question well because the answer didn’t go to what I was asking. The “press” format requires a pre-formed question that doesn’t have the opportunity to be a conversation. I even re-asked at one point during the answer to try to get to the way people are seeing a two-tiered system where the rich are let off…

CA Dem Convention

I’m at the California Democratic Convention and the great Barbara Boxer is speaking. (She received more votes than any other candidate for the U.S. Senate in history.) She talked about how MANY filibusters the Republicans have held this year to block bills. Of course, if you read the corporate press you woldn’t know there had been even one. An informed citizenry is essential to democracy and we tossed that out a few decades ago.
This just came across on Twitter: @sfbriancl Jack O’Connell on stage. Great policies. has the famed Gray Davis charisma.
Ouch.

MUST Prosecute

There is a great diary over at Daily Kos: They Are Telling Us They Will Torture Again. Go read.
This is the deal: We HAVE TO investigate and prosecute, or they will just keep doing it. Senators can write strongly-worded statements and lock them in a safe, as Sen. Rockefeller did to protest illegal wiretapping, and it won’t stop anything. Investigate and prosecute. Lay down the law. Make the statement that we do not tolerate this, and will punish those who do it.

The Rules Of DC Journalists

Go read: Three key rules of media behavior shape their discussions of "the ‘torture’ debate" – Glenn Greenwald,

[. . .]
(1) Any policy that Beltway elites dislike is demonized as coming from “the Left” or — in this case (following Karl Rove) — the “hard Left.”
[. . .]
(2) Nobody is more opposed to transparency and disclosure of government secrets than establishment “journalists.”
[. . .]
(3) The single most sacred Beltway belief is that elites are exempt from the rule of law.

Prosecuting Wrongdoing

Do they just get away with it, thereby setting the baseline for future conduct?
Will we investigate and prosecute government officials who, for money, delayed the effort to fight global warming?
Will we investigate and prosecute government officials who, for money, stopped enforcement of the country’s labor laws?
How many hundreds of examples can we think of from the last few years, where lobbyists were put in charge of agencies, or where officials did a corporation’s bidding and then left to take a very-high-paying job in that corporation?
And, of course, launching illegal wars and ordering people tortured.
How else do we prevent things like that from happening again, the next time a paid-off political party gains power?
Or do they just get away with it, providing the incentive to do it again?

Public Still Trusts Corporations More Than Self-Government

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California.

Marketing works.  But we already knew that.  Big business has been marketing the idea that corporations making decisions for us is better than having government run by the people.  And a lot of people have bought into that idea.

But is it really better to be government by corporations?  In February I wrote,

After decades of anti-government speeches claiming that government holds back business, government takes money out of the economy and government is less efficient than corporations, people came to believe that, as Ronald Reagan famously said, “Government is the problem, not the solution.”  This led to deregulation and budget cutbacks in all areas including education and infrastructure. 

If you think about it, government really is what We, the People want it to be.  In a democracy we jointly make decisions about the best way to manage our affairs.  So saying that corporations do things better is really an anti-democracy message.  What they are saying is that organizations run by a few wealthy elites telling everyone else what to do, with the benefits of everyone’s work mostly going to those few at the top, is a better way to manage society than to have everyone making the decisions and sharing in the results.

Just for fun, here is the video from that post again:




Here is more proof that marketing works:  A recent Gallup Poll of public trust of government vs corporations found that the public still would rather be governed by big corporations than by themselves.

Gallup’s recent update of its long-standing trend question on whether big business, big labor, or big government will be the biggest threat to the country in the future finds Americans still viewing big government as the most serious threat. However, compared to Gallup’s last pre-financial-crisis measurement in December 2006, more now see big business and fewer see big government as the greater threat.

Gallup’s results, graphically:

GallupGovtBusResults.gif

Marketing works.  Especially when it is repeated over and over for decades, unopposed.  This blog reaches a moderate audience, but the message that government by the people is a good thing needs to reach people who don’t hear it very often, and only hear the marketed anti-government, anti-democracy message that is spread by the corporations.  Did you know that Speak Out California also provides speakers to talk to local groups across California and do radio and TV interviews discussing the benefits of government and democracy? Please contact us at info@speakoutca.org to schedule a speaker for your event.

Click through to Speak Out California and leave a comment.

Repubilcans Say Timothy McVeigh Was “Opponent” of Dems

The Department of Homeland Security came out with a report warning about right-wing extremism and the potential for more terrorist attacks like the one from right-wing extremist (Oklahoma City bomber) Timothy McVeigh.
As you read the linked article, remember that the report being discussed warns against extremist right-wing terrorists, bombers, etc. Republicans defend them as “speaking against the regime.” And never forget the Republican reaction to the Waco standoff. Republicans defended the Branch Davidians for shooting law enforcement officers who showed up to serve a warrant, defended the people who then held all those children hostage after the shootout, and then claimed that the government started fires to kill them — even after it was proven the Davidians started the fires themselves. The Republican majority in Congress then held hearings that took the side of the Davidians against the government, even after Democrats brought witnesses to the hearings to talk about the repeated child molestation they had endured from Davidians.
So with that in mind, look at how the Republicans are reacting to these new warnings of rising right-wing violent extremism. Conservative reps. want Napolitano out,

“Singling out political opponents for working against the ruling party is precisely the tactic of every tyrannical government from Red China to Venezuela,” said Texas Rep. John Carter, a member of the party’s elected leadership who has organized an hour of floor speeches Wednesday night to call for Napolitano’s ouster. “The first step in the process is creating unfounded public suspicion of political opponents, followed by arresting and jailing any who continue speaking against the regime.”
. . . The Department of Homeland Security issued a report earlier this month warning federal, state and local law enforcement officials that the slumping economy “could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.”

Extremist bombers and terrorists are “critics on the right.”
Watch your backs, these people are nuts, they are dangerous, and the Republican machine is promoting them.

Why They Used Torture

One argument against the “ticking bomb” rationale for torture is that it doesn’t “work.” It is useless for extracting real information, but it is a great tool for making people say what you want them to say.
Yet the Republicans tortured prisoners, and defended the practice, saying that it yielded important information. So what is “important” to Republican? Protecting people? Of course not. But getting people to say what you want them to say to justify launching an aggressive war against a country in order to take over its oil fields — now that is important.
Paul Krugman Blog summarizes what is being learned:

Let’s say this slowly: the Bush administration wanted to use 9/11 as a pretext to invade Iraq, even though Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So it tortured people to make them confess to the nonexistent link.

Repeat: they tortured poeople to get them to say things that could be used as propaganda to justify invading Iraq to steal the oil. It was never about protecting anyone.