What Atrios Said

I want to echo everything Duncan Black said, word for word:

People Is Broke

The unemployment rate has been high for a very long time. I really don’t think the powers that be, even the ones who might care, really understand the impact of that. Food stamp benefits are so tiny. Anybody who actually needs them is pretty screwed. Cutting them is monstrous.

I violated copyright, he can sue me.

Trying To Provoke Racial Fear III

I’ve been writing about how the Republican site Drudge Report has been getting more and more racist. They have story after story about black people attacking white people, black mobs running around beating whites, etc.

Today, for example:

Woman brutally beaten by group of teens says attack was racially motivated…

‘Was so animalistic. So violent’..


Well this is what they have up today. (Today is 50th anniversary of the March for Jobs and Justice and the “I Have A Dream” speech…)

OK, really?

PS someone pointed out this was one of the performers today. I suspect cultural advancement was not the motivation of Drudge, and is not the reception the photo is getting from Drudge’s audience.

Trying To Provoke Racial Fear

Headlines at Drudge today:

WWII vet, 88, beaten to death by black teens…
Suspect photos released…
Buchanan: ‘Interracial violence is overwhelmingly black-on-white’…
Police: Man doused with gasoline, set on fire in vacant lot…
Hot Dog Vendor Beaten With Hammer, Robbed of Cell Phone…
UPDATE: ‘Homeland Security’ Employee Preparing for Coming Race War…

This is out-and-out KKK territory.

Martin Luther King’s Dream Of Jobs And Freedom

Martin Luther King Jr. outlined his dream 50 years ago this weekend. We made much of it happen. Let’s dream some more. Let’s dream about what we could do in the next 50 years.

Fifty years ago Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and famously told the country “I have a dream.” Fifty years later there is progress and there are setbacks. We no longer have segregation — separate schools and bathrooms and the rest. Many states finally allow everyone to marry the person they love, but at the same time many states are returning to apartheid-era restrictions of voting rights.

One huge part of the “Jobs and Freedom” Dream that still evades us is the goal of full employment or an income until a job becomes available.

On August 16, 1967 King delivered a speech titled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” addressing the need for everyone to have a job or an income,

…our emphasis must be twofold: We must create full employment, or we must create incomes. People must be made consumers by one method or the other. Once they are placed in this position, we need to be concerned that the potential of the individual is not wasted. New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available. In 1879 Henry George anticipated this state of affairs when he wrote in Progress and Poverty:

The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enriches literature and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves driven to their tasks either by the, that of a taskmaster or by animal necessities. It is the work of men who somehow find a form of work that brings a security for its own sake and a state of society where want is abolished.

A Country Based On A Dream

Our country was founded on the dream that We the People can do things for each other instead of depending on the rich and powerful to throw us scraps.

If you look at our Constitution you see that our country is supposed to be for We the People. And I mean just look at it, not read it. The only words you see from any distance are the words “We the People.” The Founders were making a point.

The Constitution told the world about a dream that “We the People” would build a country that protects and empowers us, where together we do things for the common good, to make our lives better. And for a while we did that.

We have lost sight of that dream. We no longer seem to recognize who our country is for. We no longer talk about the common good.

Who is our country for? Who is our economy for? Certainly a We the People economy would at the very least guarantee that We the People have jobs and an income until a job is available.

Continue reading

Conservative Is Not An Ideology – It Is Corruption

I should do a series… Is keeping the minimum wage low really part of an ideology? Or is it really just big companies paying legislators to keep their profits high at the expense of We, the People?

Is that ideology, when giant companies pay legislators to boost their profits? Is it ideology when big companies fund conservative “think tanks” that are really just propaganda machines, to tell people that there is an “ideology” that demands that wages be lowered?

Or is this just corruption?

I have been thinking that a lot of the fight going on isn’t about ideology at all, it is about corruption and the influence of money and how money uses its ability to influence society behind a MASK of ideology. You can justify a lot more if what you are doing is seen as an ideological effort, because that is about ideas and the clash of ideas and free speech, where money is just about money and power and force.

When it is ideas, it is ideology, when it is money it is just corruption. But calling it ideology keeps you out of jail.

I am just back from England… Toured a lot of castles, etc. and studied a lot of the history of the monarchy. The royalists used to justify their rule by saying God mandated it, etc.. So there was an “ideology” that kings should rule and royalty was sacred etc., but really it was about thugs who were stronger than other thugs, and then it was about keeping that power in the hands of a chosen few.

Was that really ideology?


Obama mentioned “Stonewall” as one of the places where people fought for freedom. That is a big something deal. Good for him!

Stonewall was the Rosa Parks moment for the gay rights movement. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. NY police routinely terrorized gay people, and a raid at the Stonewall Inn was a last straw. A crowd gathered and a riot started. Then again the next night, and again later. Gays and residents of the area started organizing and that organizing continued to this day.

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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He’s Not White (video) – updated

That’s what this ad really says. Look at the ad with the sound off, and you’ll see it.

Stunning, an ad with a doctored audio in it that makes it seem Obama said something that he didn’t, and then the ad goes on with people saying “I can’t believe he just said that.”
He didn’t say it, it’s a lie.
PS We’re not allowed to know which billionaire, company or country paid for this ad, by the way.
Update – Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly Political Animal, Return of the Scary Black Man,

Looking at the particular Crossroads ad Chait’s talking about, it is striking that all the “small business owners” who are reacting with horror to the highly edited Obama excerpts are white, and are watching him on what appears to be an iPad—like you’d watch some scary figure—maybe a criminal—in a distant news event. One through gritted teeth growls that she “worked—for—every—thing—we’ve—gotten”—a sentiment you hear often from middle-class retirees as well as “job creators.”

The Psychopathic Right

Wanna guess how the right is reacting to the news of the atrocity committed by a soldier in Afghanistan, even killing children? Do you even need to ask?
Go read Little Green Footballs – Fox News Commenters React to Afghan Killings: ‘A Dead Muslim Is a Good Muslim’,

I’ve looked at about a dozen right wing sites this morning to see how they’d react to the news from Afghanistan, and the comments at every single one of them were full of people celebrating the killings, praising the soldier who allegedly committed them, and denying there was any crime, while at the same time frantically trying to blame the crime on President Obama.

Seriously, click through and read what they’re saying. These are the people who might be in charge after the election.

These People Are Just Nuts

The latest right-wing frenzy is over a film of Barack Obama as a student giving a speech in favor of racial diversity in universities, and then hugging Derrick Bell, who was the first black law professor at Harvard. At the time Obama has been elected President of Harvard Law Review – the first black person in that position.
That’s it. They are saying that advocating racial diversity is “Marxist” and that being the first black law professor proves the guy is a “radical.” They say that letting a black guy be a law professor is “demonizing whites.” They say that Obama advocating racial diversity reveals “another corner of the president’s murky past,” and proves that “Obama is not so secretly a radical.”
That’s it. He was the first black law professor at Harvard, therefore he is a “Marxist” and a “radical.” Because Harvard is such a “radical” institution, I guess. Even though it didn’t hire any black law professors before the 90s.

China Is Very “Business-Friendly”

China is very, very “business-friendly.” Corporate conservatives lecture us that we should be more “business-friendly,” in order to “compete” with China. They say we need to cut wages and benefits, work longer hours, get rid of overtime and sick pay — even lunch breaks. They say we should shed unions, get rid of environmental and safety regulations, gut government services, and especially, especially, especially we should cut taxes. But America can never be “business-friendly” enough to compete with China, and here is why.
Workers In Dormatories, 12 To A Room, Rousted At Midnight
China is very, very “business friendly.” Recent stories about Apple’s manufacturing contractors have started to reveal just how “business-friendly” China is. Recently the NY Times’ Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher exposed the conditions of workers at Apple’s Chinese suppliers, in How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work. They describe how China’s massive government subsidies and exploitation of workers mean, as Steve Jobs told President Obama, “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”

One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. … New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company’s dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking,” the executive said. “There’s no American plant that can match that.”

Right. No American plant can roust workers out of nearby dorms at midnight to force them onto a 12-hour shift. And the corporate conservatives criticize America for this, not China, saying we are not “business-friendly” enough to compete. This is because we are a place where We, the People still have at least some say in how things are done. (Don’t we?) Later in the story,

The first truckloads of cut glass arrived at Foxconn City in the dead of night, according to the former Apple executive. That’s when managers woke thousands of workers, who crawled into their uniforms — white and black shirts for men, red for women — and quickly lined up to assemble, by hand, the phones.

“Business-friendly” = living 12 to a room in dorms, rousted out of bed at midnight for 12-hour shifts, working in a plant paid for by the government, using a neurotoxin cleaner that harms people but enables more production for companies like Apple.
Forced Labor Is The Real “Business-Friendly”
Arun Gupta at AlterNet, in iEmpire: Apple’s Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think, writes,

Researchers with the Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) say that legions of vocational and university students, some as young as 16, are forced to take months’-long “internships” in Foxconn’s mainland China factories assembling Apple products. The details of the internship program paint a far more disturbing picture than the Times does of how Foxconn, “the Chinese hell factory,” treats its workers, relying on public humiliation, military discipline, forced labor and physical abuse as management tools to hold down costs and extract maximum profits for Apple.
… Foxconn and Apple depend on tax breaks, repression of labor, subsidies and Chinese government aid, including housing, infrastructure, transportation and recruitment, to fatten their corporate treasuries. As the students function as seasonal employees to meet increased demand for new product rollouts, Apple is directly dependent on forced labor.
… The use of hundreds of thousands of students is one way in which China’s state regulates labor in the interests of Foxconn and Apple. Other measures include banning independent unions and enforcing a household registration system that denies migrants social services and many political rights once they leave their home region, ensuring they can be easily exploited. In Shenzhen about 85 percent of the 14 million residents are migrants. Migrants work on average 286 hours a month and earn less than 60 percent of what urban workers make. Half of migrants are owed back wages and only one in 10 has health insurance. They are socially marginalized, live in extremely crowded and unsanitary conditions, perform the most dangerous and deadly jobs, and are more vulnerable to crime.

Please read the entire AlterNet piece, iEmpire: Apple’s Sordid Business Practices Are Even Worse Than You Think. These things are not “costs” that we can compete with by lowering our wages, these things are something else.
Not JUST Low Taxes — Massive Government Subsidies
These stories also describe how the Chinese government massively subsidizes these operations, assists their low-wage labor-recruitment schemes, and looks the other way at violations of labor and trade policies. The Chinese government is very “business-friendly.” They hand money to businesses so they are much more able to “compete.” They are so friendly to business that they even own many businesses.
Trade Secret Theft
Another area where China has very “business-friendly” policies is when their own businesses steal from non-Chinese businesses. This NY Times story, U.S. to Share Cautionary Tale of Trade Secret Theft With Chinese Official details just one case of the “unbelievably endemic” problem of Chinese theft of “intellectual property” — the trade secrets that keep businesses competitive. In this case China’s Sinovel sole the software that ran an American company’s products, and immediately cancelled their orders for those products because they could now make them in China:

Last March, China’s Sinovel, the world’s second largest wind turbine manufacturer, abruptly refused shipments of American Superconductor’s wind turbine electrical systems and control software. The blow was devastating; Sinovel provided more than 70 percent of the firm’s revenues.
… Last summer, evidence emerged that Sinovel had promised $1.5 million to Dejan Karabasevic, a Serbian employee of American Superconductor in Austria.

If you steal the ideas, processes, techniques, expertise, plans, designs, software and the other things that give companies a competitive edge, then you don’t have to pay them and you can just make the things yourself. When you get in bed with a very “business-friendly” country, you might find that they are more friendly to their own businesses. Because they consider themselves to be a country with a national strategy, not a self-balancing, self-regulating “market.”
Trade Deficit Drains Our Economy
As a result of our ideological blindness, refusing to understand China’s game, we have a massive trade deficit with them. This means hundreds of billions of dollars are drained from our economy, year after year. And to make up for this we borrow from them in order to keep buying from them. But this does not cause their currency to strengthen in the “markets” because China loves this game the way it is going, and intervenes against the markets to keep their currency low. And so it continues, year after year. We believe in “markets” they believe in rigging markets so they come out ahead…
Markets Can’t “Compete” With This
Corporate conservatives tell us we need to be more “business-friendly” to “compete” with China. But at the same time Steve Jobs was being a realist when he said “the jobs are never coming back” because he understood that the current political climate, controlled by a wealthy few who benefit from China’s “business-friendly” policies will not let us fight this. Why should these companies bring jobs back here, when over there they can roust thousands from dorms at midnight and make them use toxic chemicals for 12 hours a day for very low pay to make iPhone screens that he can sell at fantastically high prices? Why should they, unless We, the People tell them they can’t do that to people, and that we won’t let them profit from it?
As long as we continue to think that this is about “markets” competing, we will lose. China sees itself as a nation, and they have a national strategy to continue to be so “business-friendly” that our businesses can’t compete. Our leaders and corporations may have “moved on” past this quaint nation thing but China has not.
We, The People Need To Act To Fix This
As long as we continue to send our companies out there alone against national economic strategies that engage entire national systems utilizing the resources of nations, our companies will lose. But the executives at those companies are currently getting very rich now from these schemes, so what happens in the future is not their problem. Maybe the companies they manage won’t be around later, but that is not their problem. Others are concerned, but are forced to play the game because no one can compete with national systems like China’s.
When everyone is in a position where something isn’t their problem, or where they can’t do anything about it on their own, it means this is a larger problem, and this is where government — We, the People — needs to get involved. It is our problem but we have been convinced that we — government — shouldn’t interfere, or “protect” our industries, because “the markets” don’t like “government” — We, the People — butting in. This is a very convenient viewpoint for few who are geting very, very wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.
We Need A Plan
In U.S. must end China’s rulers’ free pass at Politico, AAM’s Scott Paul writes, Read it, read it, read it!)

We shouldn’t fear China’s citizens. But we should be worried about the actions of its authoritarian — and, yes, still communist — regime that tightly controls the People’s Republic. And we should be downright terrified by some of our own leaders’ attitudes toward China.
… China is not merely the key U.S. supplier of cheap toys, clothing and electronics: Its government is also one of our foreign financiers. China achieved this status by defying the free market and its international obligations toward more open trade and investment.
[. . .] History didn’t do in the Soviet Union. A sustained and aggressive strategy did. China engaged our business and political elites — and seduced them into believing these policies were no longer necessary.
… There has been no strategy, no effort to prevail economically.
… No one is suggesting that China is an enemy and we should just update our Cold War strategies. No one can accurately define what China’s intentions are in terms of foreign policy or defense. But on the economic front, the lessons of the past are instructive: We need a plan.

We need a plan. We need to understand that China is not competing with us in “markets’ they are competing with us as a nation. We need a national economic/industrial strategy that understands the urgent need to fight as a country to win the industries of the future.
It’s not just price, it is things a democracy cannot allow. We can’t ever be “business-friendly” ENOUGH. We have to do something else. We have to understand that We, the People — the 99% — are in a real fight here to keep our democracy, or we will lose what is left of it.
Democracy Is The Best Economics
When people have a say they demand good wages, benefits, reasonable working conditions, a clean environment, workplace safety and dignity on the job. We need more of that, not less of that. We must demand that goods made in places where people who do not have a say do not have a competitive advantage over goods made in places where people do have a say. And we must demand that those places give their people a say.
As long as we let democracy be a competitive disadvantage, We, the People will lose.
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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