Reporters: Ask About The TRADE Deficit

Government spending is We, the People doing things to make our lives better. Trade deficits are caused by billionaires and their giant corporations pitting America’s working people against exploited people who have no say, so they can drive down our wages and pocket the difference. Have you noticed that the people who are making the most noise about the budget deficit tend to be the same crowd that’s benefiting from the ruinous trade deficit?

Budget vs trade deficit… You can learn a lot about how our country’s media and policy apparatus works by taking a good look at the way the two are handled. One — pushed by the billionaires and their giant corporations — gets all the attention. The other — the cause of the destruction of our middle class — gets none.

Reporters and others: you should ask policymakers what they plan to do about the trade deficit — that’s the one that really is hurting the country.

Continue reading

Obama Responsible For Bush Job Loss? FactCheck.org Says Yes

When Obama took office we were losing more than 800,000 jobs a MONTH — and according to FactCheck.org that is Obama’s doing, not Bush’s.
From Obama’s Inflated Jobs Claim,

In a new TV ad, President Obama makes an inflated claim to have added 5.2 million new jobs. The total added during his time in office is actually about 325,000.
In the ad, the president says “over 5 million new jobs” while the figure “5.2 million” appears on screen. But that’s a doubly misleading figure.
* Viewers would need to pay close attention to the on-screen graphic to know that the ad refers only to employment gains starting in March 2010, omitting the 4.3 million jobs that were lost in the first year of Obama’s term.
* And there’s no way a viewer would know that the total counts only private-sector jobs, omitting continuing losses in government employment.

Here is the reality:

Job_Chart_Sept.jpg

The red lines on the left are the Bush months. The blue lines are Obama months. The DOWNward-heading lines on the left side of that huge V shows what was happening before the stimulus turned things around. The right side of that V, where things start getting better, is what happened after the stimulus kicked in.
ALL the job losses that Romney — with FactCheck.org’s backing — claims occurred because of Obama were in that V. Yes, even after the stimulus turned things around we were still losing jobs, but losing fewer each month, and then breaking into positive territory and staying there.
As for public/private -sector jobs, yes Obama did try to save public-sector jobs and did a good job of that with the stimulus, but Republicans blocked further efforts, and in the state were able to lay off many, many teachers, police, etc.
And according to FactCheck.org, that’s Obama’s fault, too.

What The Public Hears

In my local paper today
Above-fold front-page headline, story about how public employees are draining the state. They are not tasking vacations, and then getting all their vacation and sick pay when they retire… Getting their vacation pay is draining the state. “No vacations for taxpayers.” “They’re cashing in by retiring with whopping final paychecks worth, in some cases, more than $500,000 in unused time off.”
Page 2, The Kochs’ quest – a story about how the Koch brothers are fighting to save America from bankruptcy.

“The country was headed toward bankruptcy, they agreed. Fink told them bluntly that Obama’s administration represented the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloated, regulation-heavy, free-spending government that could plunge the country into another deep recession. That day, Fink advised two of the richest men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the government spending spree and to change the course of the country, starting with the 2012 election.”

How Long Will You Live?

Any “science” story that begins like this probably isn’t worth reading, because the very first sentence gets it just wrong,

SINCE 1900, the life expectancy of Americans has jumped to just shy of 80 from 47 years. This surge comes mostly from improved hygiene and nutrition, but also from new discoveries and interventions: everything from antibiotics and heart bypass surgery to cancer drugs that target and neutralize the impact of specific genetic mutations.

The implication is that people generally died at 47 years old then, and 80 now. But what really happened is fewer babies die now, so at birth the average would be 47 then and 80 now. But people then and now can live to about 80 if they aren’t killed by something like childhood illness, war, etc.
Note that this is the same fallacy that propels people to think Social Security is a problem, because life expectancy at birth is greater now. This tricks people into thinking that we pay out Social Security longer…
NY Times: How Long Do You Want to Live?

m4s0n501

Elections Based On Lies Bring Policies That Hurt Us — See Update With Astonishing Lie

Note — see the update at end of post, in which the Romney campaign uses astonishingly doctored audio, to make it seem as if Obama said something he never said.
Early in this campaign the Romney team put out an ad with a doctored Obama quote. Now Romney is again claiming Obama said things he never said. The billionaire-corporate-funded right-wing media machine drives the lie to millions. This might well work, which brings up a question: If someone gets into office based on lies, what kind of policies result? Those policies help the people pushing the lies, but do those policies help or hurt us in the real world in the long run?

The Lie The First Time

In November the Romney campaign was caught editing a quote in an ad to make it sound like Obama had said something he never said. The ad portrayed Obama as saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” when Obama had really said (four years previously), “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”
The Romney campaign defended this use of lies, saying they are just showing they are willing to do what it takes to win. The Boston Globe reported, “Romney aides even said they were proud of the reaction and suggested that the ad was deliberately misleading to garner attention.”
At the time Thomas B Edsall wrote in the NY Times,

“…the spot’s direct duplicity is also the latest step in the transgression by political operatives of formerly agreed-upon ethical boundaries. What was once considered sleazy becomes the norm.”
And so the sleazy became the norm for the Romney campaign.

The Lie This Time

The sleazy became the norm, so they’re cranking it up. This time, the lie machine is telling people that President Obama said that business owners didn’t build their businesses, government did. What President Obama actually said was that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets:

Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.

The billionaire-corporate lie machine version? Heritage Foundation: Obama Tells Entrepreneurs “You Didn’t Build” Your Business.
Watch the beginning of this FOX News segment, note how the editing actually shows Obama’s mouth moving, before they bring the sound up partway through what he is saying, then listen to the commentators as they pretend this is what Obama actually said. (Of course they know this is not what he actually said, which makes the performance so shocking.)
width="650" height="390" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" style="visibility: visible;"> allowNetworking="all" allowScriptAccess="always" allowFullScreen="true" wmode="transparent"
flashvars="config=http://mediacast.realgravity.com/vs/2/players/single/abd3f6b0-4082-012f-2a8c-12313d00d151/c90a9c90-b1bf-012f-3204-12313d00d151/embedded.xml"
src="http://anomaly.realgravity.com/flash/player.swf">

The lie is propelled through the right-wing media: FOX News, Wall Street Journal and other Murdoch-owned papers, Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio, Washington Times, Weekly Standard, NewsMax, WorldNet Daily, hundreds of right-wing blogs, etc., and then posted by paid operatives as “reader comments” at local news sites, hundreds of sports and auto and other discussion forums, and many, many other places until it “becomes truth.”
Watch the kind of crap that much of the public is hearing from almost every media source many of them are exposed to. Seriously, make yourself watch the whole thing, and then think about how many people watch FOX News or listen to talk radio or read the Wall Street Journal or one of the other newspapers that pushes this stuff, or read right-wing blogs — and even CNN. There is a huge corporate-billionaire-funded media machine pushing this stuff, and it seems it is almost everywhere now.
width="650" height="390" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" style="visibility: visible;"> allowNetworking="all" allowScriptAccess="always" allowFullScreen="true" wmode="transparent"
flashvars="config=http://mediacast.realgravity.com/vs/2/players/single/abd3f6b0-4082-012f-2a8c-12313d00d151/53762340-b34e-012f-8c0d-12313b075457/embedded.xml"
src="http://anomaly.realgravity.com/flash/player.swf">

And then, once it “becomes truth” the Presidential candidate repeats it. WaPo: Romney Hits ‘Didn’t Build That’ Obama Remark
Romney: “I’m convinced he wants Americans to be ashamed of success … [but] I don’t want government to take credit for what individuals accomplish” …
FOX News dedicated 2 hours, 42 segments, to pushing the lie. CNN even helped push the lie.
So, once again, the lie machine is working to “kinda catapult the propaganda.”

Policies Resulting From Lies

What is the result when policies are made, based on lies?
If you believe that Iraq is refusing to turn over their chemical and biological weapons, and that invading that country will be a “cakewalk,” then you want Iraq invaded. We all know how that one worked out.
If you believe that cutting taxes increases government revenue, then you want taxes cut. The real-world result, of course, is huge budget deficits — and dramatically increased income inequality.
If you believe that President Obama’s policies made the jobs emergency worse, then you support the anti-government policies that fired teachers and police officers and cut off unemployment benefits for desperate people. (The last month of Bush’s Presidency the economy lost 815,000 jobs. Now it is gaining jobs.)
If you believe that we shouldn’t be trying to win a share of the new green industries (lies about Solyndra and saying the Chevy Volt is flammable) then you vote for oil-company-backed policies that leave us dependent on oil and coal and refuse to combat climate change.
Basically, look at the results of most of the policies the country has followed since Reagan, and you get the picture.
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost — In Charts
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Is Crumbling
Reagan Revolution Home To Roost: America Drowning In Debt
Finance, Mine, Oil & Debt Disasters: THIS Is Deregulation
The Reagan Ruins
Revisiting the Reagan Nightmare
Reagan’s Mean-Spirited Legacy of Economic Disaster
The Real Effect Of ‘Reaganomics’
Third World America: Reagan Revolution Drags Us Down

You Aint Seen Nothin Yet

And this latest lie is just a warm-up. The corporate-billionaire-funded machine will seriously be in operation in October, just before the election. The lies will be all over the place, and democracy doesn’t have an advertising budget.

Update – We Hadn’t Seen Nothin Yet

The Romney campaign has released an ad with astonishingly doctored audio — even more doctored than the FOX video above.
The Plum Line: The Morning Plum: Romney video deceptively edits Obama speech to make it sound anti-business,

So here’s where this is going. The Romney campaign is out with a new Web video hitting Obama over the “don’t build that” quote. It features a business owner who is angry at Obama for supposedly insulting his hard work. “My hands didn’t build this company?” the man asks. “Through hard work and a little bit of luck, we built this business. Why are you demonizing us for it?”
But the video deceptively edits Obama’s remarks to seamlessly link up two different parts of the speech, removing a chunk in order to make Obama’s remarks seem far worse than they are.

What Did He Really Say?

Here is what the President actually said: (from Monday’s post, The Latest Lie: “You Didn’t Build That”:
President Obama pointed out that businesses did not build the roads and bridges that help them get their products to markets. He said that in the United States we succeed together. Here is the full quote:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

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

Romney/Bain/Accounts – Where Is Our Country’s News Media?

Back when Bill Clinton was President there was a huge media-swarm controversy because a decade before her husband was elected Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 over ten months by investing in cattle futures. Now, skip forward to 2012. Report after report circulates about a candidate for President who owns a secret company in Bermuda, Swiss and Cayman Islands bank accounts and an IRA containing as much as $100 million — and who may have filed SEC documents containing false information (a felony). Huge media swarm this time? Not so much.

Cattle Futures?

In the 1970s Hillary Clinton made some speculative investments. Over a period of 10 months she made investments in cattle futures that did well, earning $100,000. Later when her husband was President, the media wanted to find out how she was able to make such a large, huge, ginormous sum from speculative investments.
Take a look at the 350,000-or-so web references to cattle futures trades made by Hillary Clinton way back in the 1970s. This might give you an idea of how big a deal it was back in the mid-90’s that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 (!!!) on speculative investments back in the 1970s. (The number of stories located online is possibly reduced by the fact that the media swarm happened in the mid-1990s — largely before the Internet.)
Look at the outlets that assigned teams of reporters to investigate: All the TV networks, the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, and all of the rest of the jouranilmalism crowd were all over what was considered to be a major story.
This story was investigated, written about, investigated, written about, and investigated. No evidence of any wrongdoing was ever found — which many in the media took as clear proof that there had been a massive cover-up.

Continue reading

Crucial That You Watch This

Murdoch’s Scandal | FRONTLINE | PBS shows how FOX corrupted UK government. This is a criminal organization, and the response here shows they are intimidating and corrupting media and government. MUST SEE.
They have obviously broken US laws against a US company bribing officials, why will Obama Justice Dept not prosecute for this? Why won’t Dems in Senate launch investigations?

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

Speaking Fees And Big-Time Career Journalism

Meet The Press moderator David Gregory is the “Keynote Address” speaker at the upcoming National Federation of Independent Business “Small Business Summit” conference. This is a conservative advocacy group that solidly aligns with Republicans.
Here is a speakers bureau page promoting Gregory for speaking engagements for “$40,001 & up” per appearance.
I have not verified if he is getting paid, but he is doing the “speaking” circuit. A very brief look around finds him at the 2007 American Resort Development Association. The 2006 United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) symposium, at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Orlando. At the 2010 Milken Institute Shaping the Future conference. 2010 Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The Risk Management Association 2011 annual conference.
A few years ago I looked into Chris Matthews’ speaking engagements with Republican-aligned lobbying groups. Matthews was doing this regularly, and there was an NBC policy against accepting speaking fees.
NBC’s President said Matthews’ fees were going to a charity. So assuming this is true and he really was donating the money to a charity, that is still receiving a thing of value. He was speaking before Republican-aligned groups again and again, and spouting Republican positions on the air.
Back to Gregory. Is it still NBC’s policy to prohibit speaking engagements for pay?
There is a certain tedium involved with speaking at trade association meetings, so one does it for a reason. I assume the reason he does this is not that he really, really loves speaking to trade associations. Why would someone do it continually, if not for compensation – which I would say includes being given money to donate to favored charities? And if someone is getting compensation of “$40,001 & up” for an hour’s work, shouldn’t we assume this just might affect what they are willing to say or not say on the air?
Updates on Gregory speaking engagements:
2011 Palm Beach Civic Association
2007 American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and the Sales Association of the Paper Industry
2011 Nantucket Atheneum Geschke Lecture Series
2011 Food Safety Summit

Restore The Fairness Doctrine

The Outsourced Party – NYTimes.com,

In 1949, drawing on a long history of court decisions; on public hearings; and on legislation mandating “equal time” for political candidates, the F.C.C. ruled that holders of radio and television broadcast licenses must “devote a reasonable percentage of their broadcast time to the presentation of news and programs devoted to the consideration and discussion of public issues of interest in the community,” and that this must include “different attitudes and viewpoints concerning these vital and often controversial issues.”
The Supreme Court repeatedly upheld the F.C.C.’s power to make such a rule — but never gave it the power of law. In 1986, a pair of Ronald Reagan’s judicial appointees on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Robert Bork and Antonin Scalia, ruled that the Fairness Doctrine was not “a binding statutory obligation.”
Armed with this verdict, Fowler, who insisted on viewing television, in particular, as not a finite and supremely influential broadcast medium but “just another appliance — it’s a toaster with pictures,” persuaded his fellow commissioners to abolish the Fairness Doctrine. Furious Democrats in Congress passed legislation to codify the doctrine into law in 1987 and 1991, but these attempts were vetoed by Reagan and George Bush, respectively; Democrats have gone on trying to make the Fairness Doctrine law to this day, but have always been stymied by adamant Republican opposition.

Also under Clinton Republicans filibustered.
After that Dems turned into the party they are now, and didn’t even try.