Join The Coffee Party USA

It’s for real. Watch the video below. Coffee Party | Wake Up and Stand Up

MISSION: The Coffee Party Movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government. We recognize that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges that we face as Americans. As voters and grassroots volunteers, we will support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.

You can join their Facebook group, and take other actions, from their website.

Remember Tobacco?

Tobacco is still killing over 400,000 Americans each year.
Does anyone remember lawsuit by the US Government against tobacco companies, and the Justice department asked for a huge damages award? Then with their usual corruption the Bush administration set that aside and asked for only $10 billion? See Prosecutor Says Bush Appointees Interfered With Tobacco Case.
Well guess what?

The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court on Friday to allow the government to seek nearly $300 billion from the tobacco industry for a half-century of deception that “has cost the lives and damaged the health of untold millions of Americans.”

But the tobacco companies know that 5 of those Supreme Court justices are likely to dance with the once that got them there. They are now claiming it was all just “free speech”:

The companies also say the courts’ decision to brand their statements about smoking as fraudulent unfairly denied them their First Amendment rights to engage in the public-health debate about smoking.

Dems Adjourn Senate, Letting Unemployment Expire

Senate adjourns without extending unemployment, COBRA benefits,

This is horrifying. 1.2 million people are about to lose their unemployment benefits because of Senate rules.
People who lose their unemployment benefits are not going to think “oh, this happened because one Senator refused to agree to a unanimous consent on a motion to proceed, so I’ll blame that Senator.” No. That isn’t going to happen.
Democrats are in charge, and they are going to get blamed for this. Democratic attempts to blame this on Senate procedure will ring utterly hollow. Not only do people not understand, or care about, those rules, but it simply sounds wimpy and pathetic for the people running the United States Government to throw their hands up in the air and say “our procedural rules prevented us from doing anything to solve this huge problem. Sorry.”
Democrats did not have to adjourn. They could have kept fighting Bunning. Further, they all agreed to the rules under which the Senate operates, and most of them are still defending those rules. Blaming Senate procedure is not going to extend anyone’s unemployment or COBRA benefits, and its not going to win many hearts around the country.

Where is President Obama? Where are the Democratic leaders? What the hell – don’t they care that all these people are going to lose their unemployment benefits now? People will be thrown out of their apartments, etc., and the Senate leaves for the weekend???
What is the matter with these people? Blaming Republicans for this is like blaming scorpions for stinging people. It’s what they do — they hate government and they hate working people. It was supposed to be the Dems’ job to help the country. Where are they?

Unemployment Expiring Sunday — Reid Lets Senate GO HOME???

In the news Unemployment Extension Fails in Senate,

The Senate failed late Thursday to extend programs for laid-off workers, jeopardizing unemployment benefits scheduled to expire over the weekend.
… The Senate adjourned just before midnight with no further votes scheduled until Tuesday.

Heck of a job, Harry!

NYTimes Owes Us An ACORN Smear Retraction

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
A month ago while covering the arrest of James O’Keefe after his attempt to tamper with the phones at Senator Mary Landrieu’s office the New York Times repeated conservative misinformation that smeared ACORN, and is now refusing to retract their “reporting.”

James O’Keefe previously had released videos that purported to show ACORN employees supposedly advising a “pimp” on how to evade the law. These videos were widely publicized in conservative outlets as part of a larger conservative campaign to destroy ACORN, because the organization registers poor people to vote. Usually-careful major media outlets like the New York Times then picked up the “story” from these conservative outlets and repeated the false accusations against ACORN.

An an example of how the Times has repeated the misinformation, this Times story, High Jinks to Handcuffs for Landrieu Provocateur, contained the following:

Mr. O’Keefe made his biggest national splash last year when he dressed up as a pimp and trained his secret camera on counselors with the liberal community group Acorn — eliciting advice on financing a brothel on videos that would threaten to become Acorn’s undoing.

In fact, O’Keefe was NOT “dressed as a pimp.” He represented himself as a candidate for Congress who was trying to help women who were being exploited. He then doctored the resulting videotapes to make it appear that ACORN acted improperly. He only dressed as a “pimp” when publicizing his videos, using the racist stereotype to amplify his false claims. This preposterous 1970’s blaxploitation-movie costume seemed to resonate with media outlets like the Times. (The woman who played the “prostitute” in the videos has herself been videotaped verifying that O’Keefe DID NOT wear a “pimp” costume.)

Compare the impression left by this NY Times story with other independently verified facts of the case as explained in : ACORN Report Finds No Illegal Conduct, which describes former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger’s investigation of the accusations. Among the investigation’s conclusions,

The videos that have been released appear to have been edited, in some cases substantially, including the insertion of a substitute voiceover for significant portions of Mr. O’Keefe’s and Ms. Giles’s comments, which makes it difficult to determine the questions to which ACORN employees are responding. A comparison of the publicly available transcripts to the released videos confirms that large portions of the original video have been omitted from the released versions.

The Brad Blog has taken the lead with efforts to get the NY Times to retract their reporting. From yesterday’s post, Exclusive: NYTimes Public Editor Declines to Recommend Retraction for Multiple Erroneous Reports on False ACORN ‘Pimp’ Story,

We’ve spent the last several weeks here reporting and demonstrating how the O’Keefe/Breitbart ACORN video hoax was exactly that — a political partisan scam that was publicized uncritically by the New York Times, and dozens of otherwise reputable outlets.

Despite the Times’ repeatedly misreporting that O’Keefe was dressed or posed as a “pimp” while meeting with ACORN employees in those videos, and even after being shown in no uncertain terms that he did not, the Times’ Public Editor has declined to recommend the paper retract its reporting on this story.

The next day, in NYT Public Editor Accuses The BRAD BLOG of ‘Political Agenda’ on Par With ACORN Smear Artists, Hoaxsters Breitbart and O’Keefe, New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt offered the following stunning statement,

The story says O’Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time

Also at this Brad Blog post are links to a number of other blogs following this story.

You can take action by clicking through to: Tell the NY Times: retract anti-ACORN reportage.

Now Whirlpool Threatens Workers Who Protest Plant Closing

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The other day I posted Whirlpool Bites Hands Of American Taxpayers That Feed It saying, in summary,

    • Whirlpool closes a plant in Evansville
    • Taxpayers will shoulder the unemployment and other costs.
    • All the local supplier, transportation and other third-party jobs are destroyed.
    • Even more home foreclosures in the area as a result.
    • Local businesses are stressed or have to go out of business.
    • They are playing nearby Iowa against Indiana for tax breaks and subsidies to keep just a few of the jobs.
    • Whirlpool is profiting from making all this someone else’s problem.
    • And, of course, Wall Street celebrates the move.

A Whirlpool spokesperson responded, leading to the post, Whirlpool Exec Responds: The System Made Us Do It, taking a look at the bigger picture that forces our companies like Whirlpool to do these things that destroy people, communities and our economy,

“The spokesperson for Whirlpool is exactly right. It is the system that makes them do this. They are only following the market’s orders.”

I thought that was the end of it, but whoa, what’s this? Whirlpool Threatens Workers: Protesting Plant Closure Risks ‘Future Jobs’

A major corporation planning to shut down a factory in Indiana has warned its union workers that they’ll endanger their future job prospects if they protest the plant’s closing.
. . . Activists planned a high-profile protest for this Friday, with AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka visiting the plant for the first time. But Whirlpool says the effort is futile — they are fully committed to shutting the plant down. The company, however, still seems quite wary of the potential for bad publicity. In a memo sent to its employees and passed along to the Huffington Post, Paul Coburn, division vice president for Whirlpool’s Evansville Division, offers a fairly explicit warning to his workers: If they join Trumka’s protest they would seriously risk future employment opportunity.

Threatening workers who show up at the protest that they risk future employment? Click through to read the entire report and to see Whirlpool’s letter.
And take action: Tell Whirlpool: Keep It Made in America and Save Our Jobs.

$108 Million Income = NO State Taxes

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times today,

To everyone who claims that our wealthiest citizens pay more than their fair share of income taxes and we should cut them a break because they’re the ones who, you know, create jobs in our economy, I have four words for you:
Frank and Jamie McCourt.
The McCourts, who own the Los Angeles Dodgers (so she says; he says he’s the owner and she’s not), jointly pocketed income totaling $108 million from 2004 through 2009, according to documents Jamie McCourt recently filed in the couple’s divorce case in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
On that sum, they paid zero federal and state income tax. Jamie suggests that some tax breaks will apply this year too.

The McCourts have eight houses.  Eight.  Houses.
California is laying off teachers, closing parks, etc. — killing the state — just to protect the wealthiest and biggest corporations from paying their fair share of taxes.  Millions of dollars in corporate contributions pay for the nasty smear campaigns — and all the lies about how the wealthy are “hurt” by taxes and will “leave the state” — all to protect THIS!
California needs to take a cold, hard look at the game-playing and the holes in our tax system that allow the rich to get away with paying less taxes than “the help” while at the same time we’re telling teachers we can’t afford to keep them teaching our kids.
And please, let’s stop all this nonsense about “they’ll just leave the state” if we try to make the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share.
Click through to Speak Out California

On Health Care Mandates

FORK IT! Fine me, tax me, whatever, but I ain’t gonna pay,

Mandate? Bullcrap!
I am uninsured for a good reason. I CAN NOT AFFORD IT! I am unemployed now, but even when I was fully employed I still couldn’t afford health insurance. Why? BECAUSE IT WAS TOO EXPENSIVE! Subsidies won’t fix that without NON PROFIT COMPETITION to drive prices down. So sue me for not having an extra $700 lying around at the end of the month on my gaudy $10+ per hour wage. I didn’t have it then and after the Wall St clusterf$%k that still hasn’t been re-regulated or resolved, I don’t have it now.
I don’t need mandates to force me to buy shit I don’t want or subsidies paid with my own tax dollars to help me want it more, I need a fucking job. If the fools on the Hill can’t help me get a job but can spend my money for me before I have even earned it I have news for them, and it isn’t suitable for any children in the room to hear.
As for a mandate to buy junk insurance from the private insurance industry that has bled my countrymen and women dry for over half a century, BULLSHIT!

Congress, you could have just passed Medicare-for-All, which is what everyone wanted. But you just had to keep the profits going for the monopolies.
And you think anyone is going to vote for you? HA!

What is the Puzzle with Jerry Brown?

This post originally appeared at Speak Out California
Why won’t Jerry Brown just announce that he is running for Governor?  Why won’t he campaign?  Why is he letting Meg Whitman get so far ahead of things in this campaign?  Does he just assume he has it “in the bag?”
I suspect that is exactly what he assumes.  My take on Brown is that Democrats who were around when he was Governor and later when he ran for President in 1992 are going to support him, many quite strongly, and they regularly let him know this.  I suspect it is hard for him to go anywhere without stopping to shake a hand and hear from someone who tells him what a great Governor he was, that his ideas on energy and the environment were so far ahead of their time, that he should have been elected President, etc.
So he probably feels a wind at his back wherever he goes.  This is for sure: the “moonbeam” things Brown was about like energy and the environment and unions have proven to be the right things.  I wrote about this almost a year ago,

He was called “Moonbeam” and mocked, but he was right, and we were right, and the country needs to come to terms with this so we can move on and finally DO right.
. . . It is 30 years later and the country needs to get past that mocking of the people who were right. But the mocking and obstruction by entrenched interests are still in the way of letting us move on and do the things we need to do for the economy, the country, and the planet.

The problem with this is that it really is 30 years later now.  This is 2010, and that pool of people just isn’t big enough by any means.  You have to be “a certain age” to even care.  He needs to find a way to reach out and be relevant to people who were not around when he was Governor or when he ran for President.
Does he realize this?  If he is not meeting a lot of the people to whom he just isn’t and who just don’t care, he might not be picking this up at all.  But it just is the case. He needs to start campaigning and saying things that are relevant to the 21st century of he is going to win this election.
Click through to Speak Out California

Jobs: Bail Out States, Yes Or No?

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
In Big Push Needed For Win 60 Votes For State Aid … And More Private Sector Jobs, Bill Scher writes of the need for,

…a major grassroots push to secure critical aid for fiscally distressed state governments and help tackle the jobs crisis.

There is good reason for this. The warnings are dire. Just yesterday, for example: Recession Tightens Grip on State Tax Revenues,

The recession can now claim another troublesome record: state tax collections shrank at the end of 2009 for a fifth consecutive quarter, the longest period of continuing state revenue declines since at least the Great Depression…

How dire? States and localities face a 3-year, $469 billion shortfall,

Ethan Pollack, a policy analyst at the Economic Policy Institute, .. estimates the combined shortfalls for state and local governments at $469 billion over the next three fiscal years. “At the best, that can lead to a protracted, slow, jobless recovery, and at the worst, a double-dip recession.”

Here is the problem. In this recession shortfalls at the state level – and resulting job cuts – can cancel out federal job-creation efforts. If we want to get out of the recession, we need those jobs! This is why the “stimulus’ gave aid to the states. A lot of last year’s “stimulus” money – about $87 billion – went to states through the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FAMP).
And, of course, now the states are asking for more. Jobs Bill Missing Medicaid Money For States, Governors Call For Change

The $15 billion jobs bill that passed the Senate Monday does not include additional matching funds for state Medicaid programs, but governors are continuing to ask for its inclusion as they look for other ways to plus state budget holes made from Medicaid liabilities.

As I said above: If we want to get out of the recession, we need those jobs!
There are some problems with “bailing out” states. Let me explain.
I live in California. We, the People of California, in our wisdom, have decided through ballot initiatives to make it impossible to fix our budget problems. We have a “2/3 rule” allowing a minority of legislators to block budgets from passing. So a small extremist minority that hates government is able to block everything, and is trying to force the state into bankruptcy. They insist on cutting the budget but refuse to specify what to cut, all the while insisting on tax cut after tax cut. (Does that sound strangely familiar?)
Did you know that last year, in the middle of our state budget crisis (caused by a revenue shortfall), while firing teachers and gutting essential government services, California gave a big tax CUT to large corporations? Did you know that California won’t tax oil companies for the oil they take to sell back to us?
Should the federal government be sending billions of taxpayer dollars to states like California so they can cut taxes on big corporations and keep from raising taxes on the wealthy?
So there are some problems with assisting states during this crisis.
* What if, like California, they use that money to pass tax cuts or give subsidies to a favored few?
* What about states that give breaks and subsidies to big corporations to move jobs there from other states. Should federal tax dollars be sent to these states?
* What about states that act responsibly, like Oregon. Oregon voters recently passed tax increases on the wealthy and corporations. So they have less of a budget shortfall than other states. Should they receive less federal tax dollar assistance because they did this?
Any aid to states should be passed with oversight, conditions and restrictions. They should be required to raise taxes to cover the shortfall in future years. States that act responsibly should receive cash consistent with states that have budget shortfalls. States that give tax breaks and subsidies to lure jobs from other states should not receive this aid. States that refuse to sufficiently tax corporations and the wealthy should not receive this assistance.