Everybody Has an Opinion v 2.0

m4s0n501

It seems like everybody has an opinion on world affairs and what this President should or should not do even today on the Sunday morning political shows . Arm chair diplomats seem to be everywhere. In fact, every Tom, Dick and Harry is now an expert on Syria, Iraq, Iran, or the terrorist group — ISIS aka ISIL. It’s truly an amazing phenomenon to witness so much commotion from our elected officials, media personalities or everyday citizens. Some want to declare war; others want to bomb, bomb, and bomb; yet while others don’t want any troops deployed, and scrutinize every plane and/or drone that is used.

California’s senior Senator Dianne Feinstein from San Francisco led the Democrats and took her best shot at the President for being too cautious on last week’s Sunday’s Meet the Press, but seems to be coming around to support the President after his statements today. But adding to the polemic is the ever growing pack of Democrats up for re-election, and the Republicans with their tom-tom drums stirring up fear and even more adversity. These GOP naysayers come in all shapes and sizes from the Boobsie Twins, aka Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are both continuously stirring the proverbial pot on the world stage and at home; to Governor Chris Christie who is pounding his chest this week about Russia’s Putin while judiciously checking his poll numbers. Really, really wish there was a way to simmer them all down because it is just not helping. Words do matter and this type of rabble rousing makes people even more uneasy during this time of great upheaval. Frankly, nothing good can come from Geraldo Rivera’s evocative words on social media, except more unrest:

“Morning, the president finally declared our strategic goal to ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS. We must hold him to it. Behead the ISIS butchers.” 5:35 AM — 3 Sep 2014 New York, NY, United States

Continue reading

Tonight: Frank Clemente, Dave Johnson • Legal tax evasion of multinationals

6pm Pacific/9p Eastern

Dave Johnson (Campaign for America’s Future) and Frank Clemente (Americans for Tax Fairness) discuss the counterproductive, even perverse, policies that have become embedded in the structure of the US Corporate income tax. The result is distortions in economic activity, what amounts to legal tax evasion on the part of large multinational corporations.

Dave and Frank explore current policy, and have recommendations for a fairer system that actually benefits US citizens and the US economy. Jay Ackroyd moderates.

Tweet questions to @DCJohnson @4TaxFairness @JayAckroyd

Listen live or later http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2014/07/25/frank-clemente-dave-johnson-legal-tax-evasion-of-multinationals

TONITE (or later as podcast) Virtually Speaking 6pm PT / 9pm ET Dave Johnson Cliff Schecter

Commentary. Immigration and the right wing media/policy machine. Corporate tax inversions. Plus political satire from Culture of Truth. Jay Ackroyd moderates. Dave Johnson and Cliff Schecter.

Listen here live — or later as a recording:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2014/07/14/cliff-schecter-dave-johnson-vs-sundays

Republican Strategy: Obstruct, Blame Democrats For Obstruction’s Damage

Republicans are beginning to harvest the fruits of their obstruction.

The strategy is to set the stage for the election by obstructing everything that could help the economy get better, as well as anything that might make our lives better. They understand that they just will not be held accountable for their obstruction. Then they campaign against Democrats because things are not getting better.

The current example is the Veterans Administration “scandal.” Republicans obstructed every bill to improve the situation for veterans. Then they drummed up a “scandal” based on things not getting better for veterans. Republicans are already running this ad telling Alaskans to vote against Senator Mark Begich because of problems at the VA.

Strategy Phase 1: Obstruct Everything

In February Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would have increased the VA budget by $21 billion, improved veterans’ health and dental care, authorized 27 new veterans’ clinics and medical facilities, added to veteran education programs and repealed a provision of the Murray-Ryan budget deal that slashed military pensions.

Filibustered. Obstructed. Killed off.

Reuters in February posted “U.S. Senate Republicans block veterans’ health bill on budget worry“:

U.S. Senate Republicans blocked legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget.

Even though the legislation cleared a procedural vote on Tuesday by a 99-0 vote, the measure quickly got bogged down in partisan fighting.

Supporters said the measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. For example, it called for 27 new medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. [...]

Referring to recent budget deals that aim to bring down federal deficits, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama said: “This bill would spend more than we agreed to spend. The ink is hardly dry and here we have another bill to raise that spending again.”

Watch this video from Senator Bernie Sanders’ office:

Every VA Bill Obstructed

Thom Hartmann, writing in his post “The Mitch McConnell VA Scandal,” said:

And it wasn’t like this anti-veteran Republican filibuster was some radical break from the past either. Time and time again during the Obama presidency Republicans have either blocked or opposed bills that would have helped out the veterans they’re now claiming to care so much about.

Back in 2012, for example, GOP senators blocked a $1 billion jobs bill would have helped millions of unemployed veterans find work. And in that same year, Republican opposition also blocked a bill – the so-called Veterans’ Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Act – that would have kept veterans’ benefits on par with rising expenses.

The list goes on. Before that, GOP lawmakers killed the Wounded Veteran Job Security Act, the Veterans Retraining Act of 2009, the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, the Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009, the Veterans Business Center Act of 2009, and the Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act of 2009.

Every single one of these bills would have helped veterans and every single one was killed exclusively by Republican opposition.

Here is an October, 2013 Daily Kos diary that lists several more instances of Republican obstruction of help for veterans, “GOP’s actual track record on supporting veterans.”

Killed With A Media Assist

If the public is told someone is obstructing the things they want, they can hold them accountable.

If the public is told things like “both sides do it” or “the Senate failed” they will decide not to bother to vote.

Republicans are certain they will not be held accountable for their obstruction, and they have good reason to be. Our news media and even many Democrats refuse to tell the public who did and who didn’t obstruct these bills.

Does the public get information that enables them to make informed decisions about who to hold accountable from headlines and news reports like these?

The Washington Post reported that “Senate rejects far-reaching Veterans Affairs bill“:

A broad Department of Veterans Affairs bill that would have expanded benefits for former service members and repealed a military pension cut for future troops was rejected in the Senate on Thursday.

CBS: Veterans’ benefits bill blocked in Senate

CNN: Vets bill fails in Senate, victim of election-year gridlock

AP: Senate blocks Dems’ bill boosting vets’ benefits,

A divided Senate on Thursday derailed Democratic legislation that would have provided $21 billion for medical, education and job-training benefits for the nation’s veterans.

USA Today: Senate rejects bill on veterans benefits

The largest piece of veterans legislation in decades — aimed at expanding health care, education and other benefits — was rejected Thursday by the Senate on a procedural issue after proponents failed to obtain 60 votes to keep the bill alive.

Military Times: Senate blocks huge vets benefits bill

Here is a personal favorite – outrage with no accountability from the American Legion: Legion: Senate vote on veterans bill ‘inexcusable’ ,

American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger expressed frustration and disappointment with Thursday’s Senate debate that effectively killed S. 1982, the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014.

The Senate voted 56-41 to waive an extra budget point of order made against the bill – four votes short of what was needed to move the legislation onto a full Senate vote – ending floor consideration of the measure.

“Today, the Senate had a chance to put aside partisan politics and do what was right for the men and women who have sacrificed so much while wearing our nation’s uniform,” Dellinger said. “Instead, we saw the same political gamesmanship that led our federal government to a shutdown last fall. There was a right way to vote and a wrong way to vote today, and 41 senators chose the wrong way. That’s inexcusable.”

Who Did It?

—–

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 and/or for the Progress Breakfast.

Democrats Who Move Right Lose Elections – There Is No “Center”

Mainstream Democratic campaign consultants and pollsters typically tell candidates they should “move to the right” and campaign to the “center” with positions that are “between” the “left” and the “right.” This is the way, they say, to “attract swing voters” who would be “scared off” by a candidate who takes populist positions that favor the interests of the 99 percent over the interests of the 1 percent.

Polling and experience show that exactly the opposite might be true.

This week Lynn Vavrek writes at the New York Times Upshot blog, in “The Myth of Swing Voters in Midterm Elections“:

There just aren’t that many swing voters. … Ultimately voters tend to come home to their favored party. There are relatively few voters who cross back and forth between the parties during a campaign or even between elections.

Looking at the Democrat loss in the 2010 election, this is the key:

The results clearly show that voters in 2010 did not abandon the Democrats for the other side, but they did forsake the party in another important way: Many stayed home.

Again: In 2010 “swing” voters did not “shift” toward Republicans. What happened was that Democrats stayed home.

2011 Pew Poll: Independents Aren’t ‘Centrists’

Who are the “independent” voters? In 2011 The Washington Post’s “The Fix” looked at a Pew Research Center poll. In the post, “The misunderstood independent,” Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza wrote (emphasis added)

In politics, it’s often tempting to put independents somewhere in the middle of Republicans and Democrats, politically. They identify somewhere in between the two, so they must be moderates, right?

A new study from the Pew Research Center suggests that’s not so true anymore. Independents, in fact, are a fast-growing and increasingly diverse group that both parties are going to need to study and understand in the years ahead.

. . . Pew identifies three different kinds of independents. Libertarians and Disaffecteds are 21 percent of registered voters and lean towards Republicans; Post-Moderns are 14 percent and lean towards Democrats.

A look at their views on issues shows those three groups can often be among the most extreme on a given topic.

Disaffecteds, for example, believe in helping the needy more than most Democrats. Libertarians side with business more than even the solidly Republican Staunch Conservatives. And Post-Moderns accept homosexuality more than most Democrats. The three independents groups are also less religious, on the whole, than either Republicans or most Democrats.

In other words, polling shows that many “independents” are to the left of Democrats and many others are to the right of Republicans. They are not “in the middle” or “between” but rather are more likely to stay home and not vote for candidates who move “to the middle.” Those independents to the right of Republicans are not going to vote for Democrats no matter how far “to the right” the Democratic candidate goes.

2010 PPP Poll: The Independents Who Stayed Home

In 2010 Greg Sargent wrote at the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog, “Progressives and centrists battle over meaning of indy vote” (emphasis added):

Independents are not a monolith, and what really happened is that indys who backed Obama in 2008 stayed home, because they were unsatisfied with Obama’s half-baked reform agenda, while McCain-supporting indys turned out in big numbers.

. . . The key finding: PPP asked independents who did vote in 2010 who they had supported in 2008. The results: Fifty one percent of independents who voted this time supported McCain last time, versus only 42 percent who backed Obama last time. In 2008, Obama won indies by eight percent.

That means the complexion of indies who turned out this time is far different from last time around, argues Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. His case: Dem-leaning indys stayed home this time while GOP-leaning ones came out — proof, he insists, that the Dems’ primary problem is they failed to inspire indys who are inclined to support them.

“The dumbest thing Democrats could do right now is listen to those like Third Way who urge Democrats to repeat their mistake by caving to Republicans and corporations instead of fighting boldly for popular progressive reforms and reminding Americans why they were inspired in 2008,” Green says.

March Florida Special Election

In the March special election in Florida’s 13th District, the Republican candidate strongly embraced the values of “the base” while the Democratic candidate took “centrist” positions, even embracing austerity and cuts to Social Security – in Florida. In Did Dems Have A Reason To Show Up And Vote In Florida House Race? I wrote about what happened, but in summary, R’s voted and Dems stayed home.

The Republican won by about 3,400 votes out of about 183,000 votes cast. Turnout was 58 percent in precincts Romney won in 2012, and 48.5 percent in precincts Obama won in 2012. There were 49,000 fewer people who voted in this election than in the 2010 general mid-term election (down 21 percent), and 158,500 fewer than in the 2012 Presidential (down 46 percent). So it was the failure to get Democratic voters to show up that lost them the election.

The Republicans ran “the furthest right a GOP candidate had run in the area” in 60 years. Meanwhile the Democrat tried to “reach across the aisle” to bring in “centrist” and “moderate” voters, and emphasized “cutting wasteful government spending” and “introducing performance metrics to hold government accountable for waste and abuse and creating the right fiscal environment for businesses to create jobs.”

Again, the Republican campaigned to the right, the Democrat campaigned “in the middle.” The result: Republicans showed up to vote, Democrats stayed home.

What The Heck Do “Centrist” And “The Middle” Even Mean?

Think about the words we use to describe voters and policy positions. “Left,” “right,” “between,” “center” and “swing” force the brain to visualize policy positions as endpoints on a straight line. The visualization forces people to imagine a “centrist” that is someone who holds positions that are somewhere “in the middle” and “between” the policy positions that are these endpoints. There is a bulk of voters who are imagined to “swing” from the positions on these endpoints, who are looking for politicians who don’t go “too far” in any policy direction. Politicians can “attract” these “swing” voters by taking positions that are “between” the endpoints.

But polling and experience tell us:

1) There are very few actual “independent voters.” Instead there are lots of voters who agree with the left or agree with the right, but are further to the left or right and so do not register as Democrats or Republicans.

2) There is no “swing voter” block “between” the parties. There are different groups of voters who decide to vote or stay home. No conservative “independent” who is to the right of the Republican party will vote for any Democrat, no matter how far right they move. All that moving to the right accomplishes is to cause many Democratic “base” voters to hold their noses if they do vote, and possibly just stay away from the polls.

Karl Rove got this. He understood that you can get the right-wing voters roused up to come to the polls by moving Republican politicians to the right. Instead of “moving to the center” he got Bush and the Republicans to stand up for conservative principles and refuse to compromise, and the result was that more of “the base” enthusiastically showed up at the polls.

Conclusion: You Have To Deliver For And Campaign To Your Base Or They Don’t Show Up

Here is what is very important to understand about the “swing” vote: Few voters “switch.” That is the wrong lesson. There are not voters who “swing,” there are left voters and right voters who either show up and vote or do not show up and vote.

The lesson to learn: You have to deliver for and campaign to YOUR “base” voters or they don’t show up and vote for you. If Democrats don’t give regular, working people –- the Democratic base -– a reason to vote, then many of them won’t.

To learn what the American voter wants, please visit Populist Majority, Exposing the gulf between American opinion and conventional wisdom.

—–

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

Nullification, The Bundy Ranch And Right-Wing Lawlessness

Does the right get a free pass to ignore laws? Is armed intimidation the way we decide which laws should be followed? Is conservative media whipping up the conditions for another Oklahoma City bombing? These questions are popping up with more and more frequency in light of recent events.

Armed Militia At Bundy Ranch

Flag-waving Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy refuses to pay cattle-grazing fees like other ranchers do, or even get a grazing permit, because he “doesn’t recognize the federal government.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), following years of federal court rulings, finally starts removing Bundy’s cattle from public land. The state’s Republican governor and Republican senator accuse the government of “intimidation” for enforcing the court’s rulings.

Continue reading

5 Right-Wing Myths About Raising the Minimum Wage, Debunked

I wrote this for AlterNet: 5 Right-Wing Myths About Raising the Minimum Wage, Debunked.

They edited out one that I had in it so I’ll share it with you:

6. Myth: The minimum wage fight is “the latest distraction from Obamacare.”
According to many conservatives like those at website Redstate, “Democrats are turning to their age old panic button – demagoguery over the minimum wage.” OK, busted. This is, of course, the real truth. The conservatives have exposed that the real reason that so many people currently forced to live in poverty are pushing for an increase in the minimum wage is to distract the public from Obamacare.