Gas Price Rise Not Due To Election

We are assured by very serious people that the incredible rise in gas prices just before an election in which the oil companies hate one candidate, whose prospects are diminished by high gas prices, and love the other candidate,, whose prospects are improved by high gas prices, has absolutely nothing to do with the election. Nothing at all. Hey look over there.

It’s A Winner!

#1 Seeing the Forest: Election Prediction,

Here is my election prediction.
In November we are all going to be in shock that the Republicans would do that, go that far, do such things, let it get to that point. We simply aren’t going to believe that that could have happened in this country, this world, this day and age. All of us.

#1 And another,

Gasoline prices are about to start climbing, and will continue to climb through the summer, and well into the fall. No one will be able to pin down exactly why.

Heh.

The Clinton Speech, Not 47%

Look at the chart. The inflection point is Clinton’s “explaining” speech, not the 47% remarks. They clinched it, but the turnaround started with Clinton’s convention speech.
Sept. 27: The Impact of the ’47 Percent’ – NYTimes.com
THIS is what happens when Dems actually make their case. Clinton did that, here we are. Even consumer confidence is way up.

Will Republican Convention Discuss Actual Jobs, Not “Tax-Cut” Jobs?

Next week the Republicans hold their convention. They will supposedly focus their message on the economy. But after four years of an agenda to block jobs and economic growth so they can campaign on complaints of no jobs and no growth, can they offer anything that might actually create jobs and improve the economy? We will see next week.

The Romney Jobs Plans

Perhaps the Republican convention will focus on the Romney jobs plan.
The Romney Jobs Plan has five parts, none of which actually involve actual job creation.
First, of course, Romney says he will create jobs by cutting taxes dramatically for the rich and giant corporations while, yes, raising them for everyone else. The Romney tax plan actually offers even more tax breaks to companies to move operations out of the country. It promises to be “revenue neutral” by getting rid of deductions and loopholes, which could well mean the mortgage interest deduction. (Romney refuses to offer specifics.)
Second, Romney says he will cut government regulations — meaning cut the ability of We, the People (democracy) to keep companies from doing things that hurt us, hurt smaller companies and hurt the economy. Democracy’s oversight is a “burden on the economy” the plan says. Specifically cited in the Romney plan are the new regulations on Wall Street passed in reaction to the deregulated Wall Street crashing the economy, the regulations enacfted after Enron scammed so many people, and efforts to protect our environment and reign in the oil companies after the Deepwater Horizon disaster and because of the terrible oncoming effects of climate change. The Romney plan says these “drive up costs.” By getting rid of these “costs” he says jobs will be created. It is possible that he means temporary oil-spill cleanup jobs will be created.
Third, Romney promises to push for more NAFTA-style trade pacts, so even more jobs, factories and industries can be sent out of the country, making a few more Bain-style billionaires as the wages those workers were making are instead put in the pockets of a few. I guess lots of jobs are created when workers pack up machinery in a factory to ship to factories in other countries.
Fourth, Romney’s energy plan is simple: unleash oil and coal companies to do anything they want, and get rid of all those pesky alternative energy projects like solar and wind energy. Build a pipeline across our country so Canadian oil companies can sell oil to China. Stop enforcement of environmental laws that hinder oil and coal companies. And, specifically, “Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview.” Because the hottest year on record, the worst drought, states and regions on fire, terrible “100-year” storms and flood every year means … hey, look over there!
Finally, the fifth part of the plan deals with labor. Apparently the South had it right, it is much more “business friendly” when you don’t have to pay workers and they can’t quit. Seriously, read this section. Paying workers and letting them have rights will “drive up costs and introduce rigidities that harm competitiveness and frustrate innovation.” Letting workers negotiate will “reduce investment and slow job growth.”
So a guy who made a fortune by laying people off and cutting the pay of the remaining people (cutting costs), and keeping that money for himself, says that we should base our economy on doing that because it worked for him.

The House Republican Jobs Plan

Perhaps the Republican convention will instead focus on the House Republican jobs plan.
The House Republican Plan for America’s Job Creators – Summary: cut taxes for the rich, get rid of the ability of We, the People to control the giant corporations. (Special bonus: get rid of regulations that keep companies from doing harm AND get rid of our ability to sue companies that do harm!)
The introduction to the House plan says that “government takeovers of the economy” (?) have not worked. Government takeovers of the economy? What? Anyway, let’s examine the plan.
Cut Taxes: the House plan promises to “reduce the overall tax rate to no more than 25% for businesses and individuals including small business owners.” Of course, this is a huge tax cut for the wealthiest. These are the “job creators.” The definition of “job creator” is really, really rich. Paris Hilton “creates jobs.” So even more tax cuts for the rich. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years…
Trade: The plan has a trade plank that actually encourages even more closing factories here and sending the jobs there. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years…
Import Cheaper, Foreign Skilled Workers: The plan has a plank calling for special visas to let in foreign workers to do high-skilled jobs because they are paid less than Americans — older, experienced American tech workers in particular. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years…
Austerity: The plan discusses deficits (after promising to dramatically cut taxes) — using wording implying that deficits cost jobs, which is a standard of Republican rhetoric. So after cutting taxes for the rich, starting two wars and doubling the military budget on top of that, they turned a surplus into huge deficits, and now they say this means we need to … wait for it … cut back on the things We, the People do for each other instead of undoing those things that caused the deficits. Whatever. Because doing that created so many jobs in Europe…
Drill, Baby, Drill!: And, finally, the House Republican plan say we must let the oil companies drill more. Of course. Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years…
So that is the House plan to “create jobs.” Do more of what they did in the prosperous, job-creating, economy-improving, deficit-reducing Bush years! This plan will create lots of “revolving door” jobs when House members and their staffs move into lucrative corporate lobbying jobs provided for them if and only if they vote for the above treats for billionaires and their corporations.

What Will They Actually Do If Actually Elected?

If Republicans are put in power, what will they actually do? Will they decide to actually create jobs, or will it just be more treats for a few billionaires and their giant corporations? (Because doing that created so many jobs in the Bush years…) The existing Romney and House Republican plans focus on treats for billionaires because their election effort is almost entirely funded by billionaires and their giant corporations.
But what about after the election? Will they feel a need to actually create jobs? Will they calculate that the electorate will toss them out if they don’t bring about the promised improvements in the economy by cutting taxes and getting democracy out of the way of the big corporations?
Maybe they won’t decide to actually create jobs and grow the economy. They’ll still be able to take advantage of the revolving door jobs machine, with legislators and their staff able to move seamlessly from government jobs where they pass treats to billionaires, into lucrative jobs provided by those billionaires.
But if they calculate that they need to actually create actual jobs for actual people, and actually help our actual economy their plans offer noting that can actually accomplish this.

Creating Actual Jobs Is Actually Simple

Actually creating actual jobs and actually helping improve the economy is actually pretty simple. We have millions of jobs that need doing, and to actually create jobs all you have to do is actually hire people to do those jobs that actually need doing.
Infrastructure: We actually really, really need to invest in maintaining and modernizing our country’s infrastructure. Roads, bridges, waterways, dams, airports, ports, power grid, levees, water systems, waste treatment systems, transit systems (high-speed rail from city to city!!!) (rail systems from every city to every airport!!!) (rail systems running along every commute route!!!), and so many, many more things that need to be done here. And of course this work will pay off because it will make our economy so much more competitive. This is work that has to be done anyway, and will create millions of jobs when we finally get started on this.
Energy: Every home and every building in this country needs to be retrofitted to be energy-efficient. The payoff from this will be enormous!! Millions of jobs now and using (and paying for) so much less energy later.
Those two areas alone will create millions and millions of jobs and leave behind a vastly improved economy. In the short term that is millions of people paying taxes and participating in the economy instead of depending on the safety net. In the long term this work means our economy is in vastly better shape.
There is one and only one reason we have not done these things in the last few years, and that is the Republican strategy of blocking this, in order to keep the economy in the doldrums, so they can “talk about the bad economy.” But if they win, this is what they will have to do if they decide to actually create jobs.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

What Is The Calculation Behind Romney’s Campaign Of Lies?

The Romney campaign has turned to a strategy of swamping the public with flat-out, blatant lies, one after another, again and again, endlessly and lavishly repeated. They do this because they are making a calculation that it will work! So what is going on? And can democracy survive this assault?

The Growing List Of Lies

This week’s lie is the “Obama gutted welfare reform” nonsense. See Bill Scher’s must-read response, Romney’s Welfare Lie: A Betrayal Of Conservatism. The reporting conveys the Romney message, like this: Romney accuses Obama of dismantling welfare reform. The lie is driven home by a massive $$-driven carpet bombing of ads.
The next-most recent lie was the “Obama is trying to keep military families from voting” lie. This lie, repeated over and over, coordinated with outside groups, reinforces the “Democrats are anti-military” narrative.
Before that was the “You didn’t build that” lie, where the Romney campaign doctored audio to make it sound as though President Obama said something he didn’t say. (And got away with it.) This lie, repeated over and over, reinforces the “Democrats are anti-business” narrative.
This one on welfare reinforces the “Democrats take your money and give it to black people” narrative. “We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work,” said Romney, promising to make them work good and hard.
Rachel Maddow’s blog has been keeping track of the Romney lies, and it is a loooooong list.

How It Is Done

Here is how it works. Each lie is developed in the right’s machine, using something currently in the news to reinforce an ongoing narrative about “liberals.” The lie percolates up through a well-worn process where the germ of the story is planted in smaller outlets, and variations of it are tried out until one seems to resonate. Next, larger right-wing media operations pick up the developed “story” and drive it further. It gets amplified on the radio, FOX News and the right’s newspapers. Finally the corporate media takes it out to more and more people, covering themselves with the claim they are just “reporting” on a “story” that is “already out there.”
One way or another the lie is repeated and repeated and repeated (and repeated) in various forms through various channels that reach various target groups, until it becomes a “truth.” Once it has become a “truth” the Romney campaign uses this “truth” to claim Democrats and President Obama are harming the country.
The Solyndra story is a good example. The right developed a lie about “cronyism,” claiming that a Democratic donor is “tied to” solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra because a foundation with his name on it was an investor in the company. Because a foundation was the investor there was no possibility for the donor to benefit. But that doesn’t matter, they used this “tie” to spread a lie the Obama administration was steering money into someone’s pocket, and they repeated it and repeated it and repeated it.
After months of repetition of this lie, the Romney campaign understood that the lie has become a “truth,” and is using that “truth” themselves in campaign ads and Romney’s stump speech! Romney talks about “cronyism” in the Obama administration, understanding that much of the public now believes this is established fact.

The Calculation

The Romney campaign is limiting media access to the candidate and offering little in the way of substantive policy proposals. They are instead using press releases, advertisements, message-trained surrogates, cooperative media like FOX, Drudge, talk radio, allied newspapers and the right’s blogosphere, while coordinating with massively-funded outside groups like Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation and others.
This is a key thing to get, the Romney campaign believes that they can win this election using lies and propaganda as “truths” to drive their campaign story. They are making the calculation that the right’s media machine has become sufficiently powerful for their version of reality to reach enough of the public, and that it is sticking in their minds as “truths!”
They are also making the calculation — so far validated by the media response — that there will be little if any pushback from “mainstream” media. They trust that the media will look the other way, report lies as “one side says X, the other says Y,” tell the public “both sides do it,” and say this is just par for the course.
But if there is media resistance, they are calculating that the right’s own media power can override any pushback that might come. They might also believe they can turn media resistance to their advantage. Decades have been spent convincing their followers to see potentially objective information sources as “the liberal media,” enemy of conservatism, and any pushback for lying could just increase support for their campaign.
So the Romney campaign, like the recent Bush administration, are conscious that they do not need to work with facts. Instead they believe they can “create truth” through the manipulation of perception. This is hardly new in Repubican circles. The phrase “reality-based community” came out of the previous Republican administration’s calculations of what the public will and won’t learn about. This famous quote from Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush by Ron Suskind, explains,

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

What Does The Public “Know?”

If you are reading this you are likely very well-informed. You pay attention to the mainstream news, as well as read various progressive sources. But much of the public is not very well-informed, and faces the problem of not knowing what sources to trust. Subjected to a constant battering of corporate/conservative propaganda and disinformation, they are busy, and not ready or able to do the extensive research needed to make informed decisions.
Progressives and “liberals” try to solve this problem by trying to help people get informed. Conservatives, however, try to use it to their advantage, spreading self-serving misinformation.
The well-funded propagandists study and understand the shorthand methods people use to determine what to believe. This is the reason for the ongoing attacks on the credibility of what would normally be seen as trustworthy sources, like PBS, NPR and what the rest of what has been disparaged for decades as “the liberal media.” This is also the reason for the establishment of so many corporate-funded conservative “institutes” and other academic and authoritative-sounding organizations that issue “studies” and “reports” that always echo the corporate-conservative positions.
The “mainstream” corporate media has also undergone a change over recent decades. Many outlets now see themselves as businesses with a product that has to appeal to “the market” to make money. They no longer see their mission to be informing the public so citizens have the information that is needed to function in a democracy, but instead as “maximizing shareholder return,” by “driving traffic” and whatever else it takes to sell advertising. And many people working as “journalists” understand that advancing their own careers means not making waves by being perceived as “leftist” or “anti-business.”

The Test

Steve Benen calls this a “test for the political world,” writing,

How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney’s lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about taxes.
The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.
The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?

This is a test for the political world, as well as a challenge to the viability of our democratic system. We can expect this to continue and accelerate until election day, driven by hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires and their huge corporations. The question is, will enough of our misinformed public be tricked by the lies? If this succeeds, what kind of country will we become? What will be left?
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

Election What-If

What if Romney wins the election by less than the number of people kept from voting by Republican anti-voting laws?
This would be worse than the Supreme Court putting Bush in after Gore won. Partly because this time we’re not going to just shut up and take it.
With Bush in hundreds of thousands of people died in wars, his tax cuts for the rich and his wars plus doubling the military budget (apart from the wars) bankrupted the country, we lost 50,000+ factories and millions of jobs to China under Bush, his deregulation led to the crash — and Deepwater Horizon, nothing was done about climate change, corruption ran rampant, etc.
Romney would start where Bush left off.

More Indicators A Nasty, Say-Anything Republican Campaign Is Coming – And See Updates

There is a news report that yet another right-wing billionaire is going to spend even more millions to run even more poisonous, divisive, racist, degrading, insulting, lying, character-assassination ads designed to turn people against government and democracy. And an added bonus (for Republicans) will be turning people away from even voting. They’re going to do this because it works — for them and the billionaires who back them.
NY Times: G.O.P. ‘Super PAC’ Weighs Hard-Line Attack on Obama,

A group of high-profile Republican strategists is working with a conservative billionaire on a proposal to mount one of the most provocative campaigns of the “super PAC” era and attack President Obama in ways that Republicans have so far shied away from.
… The $10 million plan … includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright…
The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

Obama is black, black, black, black, black. And in case you miss it, here is Republican Strategist Lee Atwater explaining the Republican strategy:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

It Works

Just lying — making stuff up and blasting it out there — works. In 2010 Republicans spent millions and millions on ads saying “Democrats cut half a trillion from Medicare” and captured the senior vote for the first time, throwing the House over to them. It worked, they spent millions broadcasting lies, they took the House — and then voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program.
From the post, “Half A Trillion In Cuts To Medicare”

In the 2010 election campaign Republican groups ran millions and millions of dollars of ads promising not to cut Medicare, and to increase Social Security. They campaigned against Democrats for “cutting $500 billion from Medicare” and not increasing Social Security cost-of-living. As a result, for the first time the senior vote went to Republicans.
Here are just a few of the ads that saturated the airwaves, saying that Democrats should be thrown out for cutting Medicare:

And voters were sent flyers like this: (click for larger)
politifact-photos-ron_johnson_flier_combined_660

The Obstruct-And-Lie Strategy

Republicans have a huge “noise machine” and they know how to use it. And they really, really don’t care if they are telling the truth or not, they say what they need to say to win.
After years of blocking President Obama’s efforts to try to create more jobs, Repubicans are campaigning saying Obama didn’t create more jobs.
After running up huge deficits — Clinton left behind a surplus, Bush left behind a $1.4 trillion deficit — Republicans are campaigning that Obama has run up huge deficits.
This summer when student loan rates double because Republicans blocked efforts to keep them from doubling, Republicans will blast out that Obama doubled student loan rates.

Negative Ads Suppress Turnout

The point of running negative ads is not to get people to show up and vote for someone. Negative ads are about turning people off from voting. Negative ads tell people they should not have hope, that anyone they think could be a leader is actually a scoundrel, etc. The point of the millions and millions of dollars that will be spent by Republicans on negative ads this year is to try to keep the kind of surge election that brought so many people out to vote in the 2008 election from happening this time.

The Media Enablers

Republican media outlets like FOX News, the Wall Street Journal and Rush Limbaugh will go ahead and repeat the party line (when they aren’t out front creating it). They reach a lot of people, and the rest of the Republican “noise machine”‘ is very skilled at echoing the lies until they become “truthy.” But the rest of the media does not serve as a counterweight, bringing people the facts. As a result almost everyone — consumers of the right’s propaganda and people who think they aren’t — is left misinformed in ways that serve Republicans and their billionaire backers and hurt everyone else.
Greg Sargent wrote the other day in, How Mitt Romney gets away with his lying,

If you scan through all the media attention Romney’s speech received, you are hard-pressed to find any news accounts that tell readers the following rather relevant points:
1) Nonpartisan experts believe Romney’s plans would increase the deficit far more than Obama’s would.
2) George W. Bush’s policies arguably are more responsible for increasing the deficit than Obama’s are.
[. . .] The two bullet points above could not be more central to the debate over the debt that Romney’s big speech set in motion yesterday. Yet the vast majority of news consumers who now know that Romney has accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire of debt” that threatens to engulf our children and our future haven’t been told about either of them.

Sargent writes about how the “mainstream media” for one reason or another won’t call out the Republican machine for spreading lies. Again, the result is that almost everyone — consumers of the right’s propaganda and people who think they aren’t — is left misinformed in ways that serve Republicans and their billionaire backers and hurt everyone else.
Update: How Citizens United Is Leading To More Racism In TV Campaign Ads
Update 2: Huge headline at The Drudge Report reads: ‘BORN IN KENYA’
Update 3: Rep. Mike Coffman: Obama in his heart ‘not an American’
Update 4: Ben Stein speaking on FOX: Ben Stein: Obama’s not very smart
Update 5: Romney accuses Obama of character assassination: “Character assassination has become the nature of his campaign,” Romney said.
These updates are all from just today, and this is only May.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Sign up here for the CAF daily summary

GOP Ads Will Be Trying To Keep You From Voting

High turnout always favors Democrats. This year the Republican/corporate effort is to keep people from voting. In the states there’s the who voter suppression thing – voter ID laws, shutting down the places where you can get the right ID, laws blocking registration drives, laws killing multi-day voting, etc.
But there is going to be a different kind of anti-voting effort, too. The ads are going to be designed to turn people off, make them hate the idea of having anything to do with this election. You are going to see the TV and other information channels saturated with so many lies and smears and so much nastiness and intimidation and manipulation, all designed to make people want to do anything but vote.
The ads are not about persuading anyone to vote because there aren’t enough people who don’t already know how they will vote. The incredibly shrinking swing vote – The Washington Post

Of the 23 percent who called themselves undecided in the latest Pew poll, 9 percent lean toward Obama while 7 percent lean to Romney. That leaves just seven percent as purely without any opinion between Romney and Obama.

p5rn7vb

Republicans VERY Serious About Keeping Black People From Voting This Year

Nine Election-Related Arrests In Florida: A Case Of Voter Fraud Or Voter Suppression?,

As soon as Judy Ann Crumitie answered the banging on her door one November morning last year, police officers and FBI agents streamed into her home, some with their guns drawn and trained in her direction.
… “I was just trying to help the people vote,” Crumitie, 51, told the Huffington Post’s Black Voices.
… Lawyers for Crumitie would not elaborate on the circumstances of her arrest or the charges. But they said that the incident and the way officials handled the investigation and ultimately her arrests — including entering her home with guns drawn and without a search warrant — are part of a broader political movement across the state and country to suppress poor and minority voters.

This arrest was for doing things the way they had always been done BEFORE Florida passed the new voting and registering restrictions. This case is about a school board election where a black candidate defeated a white candidate by 1 vote.

“Well it’s a mess and it has the smell of the 60s and 50s in it,” Harper said this morning. “It’s strange the only wrong-doers that could be found were African Americans.”
Harper, who also would not elaborate on his client’s alleged role in the fraud, said of the new law, “I think everyone is confused.”

Things are only going to get worse between now and election day. Repubicans are very serious about this.

“I was trying to help the people vote, for Martin Luther King and the civil rights that they fought for us to do, and we done just that,” she said. “When they came to my house to arrest me they come to my house and they had guns drawn on me. I didn’t know it was against the law to vote.”