A Million On The Mall: Our President’s Progressive Pivot-Point?

Before the election reporters and pundits were saying that not so many people would turn out this time, that it would be close at best. But on election day it turned out that it wasn’t even close. The people did turn out, some waiting in lines four, five, six hours to vote, many using provisional ballots because their states were trying to stop them. We, the People had a clear choice in front of us and We, the People made a clear choice.

Then, immediately after the election the “Very Serious People” tried to force through continued tax breaks for the wealthy paid for by cuts in the things the American people do to make each other’s lives better. People got involved and organized and it didn’t work out quite the way the one-percenters and their Very Serious spokespeople wanted it to work out.

For President Obama’s second inaugural the reporters were saying that not so many people would show up on the Mall this time. (“Assignment editor” Drudge had that up so that’s what much of the career media were repeating.) But from the inauguration stage at the Capitol Barack Obama looked out and saw as many as a million people on the National Mall cheering him on. People did show up.

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Stopping People From Voting? Seriously, Why Do We Put Up With This For One Minute?

More than 50 years since the Civil Rights Movement and conservatives are still fighting to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting. A 97-year-old in Georgia — who has voted in every single election since she was old enough to vote — is denied her right to vote. Florida is making citizens stand in line 4,5,6 hours to vote. Why are we putting up with this for one minute? Why isn’t our government sending the US Army into these states that are trying to stop “the wrong kind of people” from voting?

This Was Settled!

This country already settled this: you can’t keep people from voting! In the 1950s and 1960s conservatives tried to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting and going to school. As a country we did something about it. We stopped putting up with it and ordered the army to push the conservatives aside and let people into the schools and voting booths.
In 1957 a Republican president sent the US Army into Little Rock to escort nine of “the wrong kind of” students into a school:

President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard after George Wallace blocked the schoolhouse door to prevent “the wrong kind of people” from entering:

Once again conservatives are trying to keep “the wrong kind of people” from fully participating in the rights and privileges that we are all entitled to as citizens. (They really hate the idea that as citizens We, the People are “entitled” to certain things. We all are ENTITLED to share in the fruits of democracy — that is what an “entitlement” is!)

Georgia Blocking Voters

Georgia is one of those states that has found a way to keep lots of “the wrong kind of people” from voting. They have imposed “Voter-ID” laws that are designed to keep lots of the elderly, minorities and students from being able to vote.
For just one example of how this has made it difficult for “the wrong kind of people” to vote, read Peggy’s story: The cruel cynicism of the voter ID crusade

Which brings us to the story of 97-year-old Peggy Cobb of Sandy Springs … Peggy has voted in every presidential election since she was eligible, and most if not all others, too. …
She has a Fulton County voter registration card and has voted in every election when she’s been here. Her expired Indiana driver’s license used to be enough ID at the polling booth. No more.

The story describes the obstacles she encountered trying to get the right ID to vote… most people would be forced to give up — which is exactly the intent because she is “the wrong kind of person.”

Florida Blocking Voters

Florida is one state making “the wrong kind of people” wait 4,5,6 hours in line to vote. People who work, the elderly and the simply fed up can’t or won’t do that so they don’t, and that is the intent. Florida cut early voting time in half — because 2008 showed that it made it too easy for “the wrong kind of people to vote” — for the wrong kind of people. The effect is that minorities, students and elderly people find it difficult or impossible to vote. Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports, in Florida Early Voting Fiasco: Voters Wait For Hours At Polls As Rick Scott Refuses To Budge.

While many Democrats viewed it as a victory when a few offices opened absentee balloting on Sunday, the process is not the same as early voting — and could result in more individuals not having their votes counted.
“Absentee ballots have a much higher rejection rate for minorities and young people, if you look at the Aug. 14 primary,” said Smith.
A major reason there are so many problems at the polls is that last year, Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature shortened the number of early voting days from 14 to eight, meaning all early voters are trying to cast their ballots in a shorter window. …
… Smith said that he and Dartmouth professor Michael Herron found that in 2008, voters 65 or older were much more likely to cast ballots in the first five days of early voting than members of other age groups, alleviating some of the pressure at the polls in the remaining days. Those extra days, however, are gone this year, leading to a compression that the system has been unable to handle.

Other States Blocking Voters

Conservatives in state after state have set up barriers to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting. Pennsylvania conservatives tried to implement a restrictive voter-ID law to keep “the wrwong kind of people” from voting. Several other states have implemented them. Ohio — already famous for putting lots of voting machines in conservative areas and few in the areas where “the wrong kind of people” vote — threw up barrier after barrier to voting including attempts to cut early voting hours.
Now Ohio will even throw out your provisional ballot if you write down that a drivers license was your ID when it was really some other valid ID!!! And the provisional ballot is set up to trick voters into doing that! Groups file emergency motion over last-minute move that could toss Ohio provisional ballots,

Husted’s order requires poll workers to not count provisional ballots where voters make any errors in filling out their provisional ballot and affirmation, including the part of the form detailing what forms of identification they are presenting in order to vote. The problem: Ohio law states that filling out the ID portion of the form is the responsibility of poll workers, not voters.
… Husted changed the voter affirmation form, moving the portion where the ID information is entered above the signature line, despite the fact that by Ohio statute, it is supposed to be below the voter’s signature, in the section of the form to be filled out by a poll worker.

This is just blatantly trying to keep citizens from voting because they are “the wrong kind of people.” We just should not put up with this for even one minute. Why isn’t Husted in jail?

Where Is Our Government?

Conservatives who run several states are trying to keep “the wrong kind of people” from voting for “the wrong kind of people.” Where is our Federal government? Why are they allowing this? Why are they not sending the Justice Department to force those states to let people vote? Why are they not sending the US Army into those states that are trying to keep people from voting, so American citizens can vote?
I am getting fed up with accommodating these bigoted conservatives, just because they are backed by billionaires and giant corporations this time around. We are theoretically a country of laws. I mean, unless you’re a banker.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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Debate – Obama Won

Obama clearly won. Clearly.
Romney got of several lies that were not refuted, but several that did get refuted. After a while Romney was left just repeating his memorized script — 4 times? Am I right that it was 4 times?
I wonder, is that ALL Romney has – just lying?
I saw Van Jones on CNN holding up an Etch-a-Sketch.
FYI – Obama never said that unemployment would be 5.4% by now. Romney repeated that lie … how many time?

Gas Price Rise Not Due To Election

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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.
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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.
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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.