Political Cartoon is by Olle Johansson in Norra Vasterbotten.
Read The Full Article:
This simple chart shows just what a disaster the last three and a half decades have been thanks to GOP economic policy. By reducing taxes on the rich and the corporations, weakening workers' unions, and removing regulations from corporate entities, the Republicans have unleashed a corporate greed not seen since before the Great Depression.
It has been good for corporate CEOs (whose compensation has grown by 725%) and for other rich people (who are also seeing record incomes). But it has been an unmitigated disaster for the ordinary working men and women of America. While CEO compensation has grown by 725% and the income of the top 1% by nearly 300%, workers have seen their wages climb by only 5.7% -- a pitiful figure that doesn't even begin to cover the inflation that has occurred over that same period (1978 to 2013).
That means that a worker earning $10 an hour in 1978 would be earning $10.57 an hour today. But something that cost $10 in 1978 (about 1 hour's worth of a worker's wage) would now cost $35.82 (which would now require a worker to work nearly four hours to buy). That may be a small increase in the wage, but it's a huge decrease in buying power -- and that means workers have effectively lost ground.
Before 1978, productivity increases were shared between owners and workers. The owners kept the lion's share, but workers received enough to keep them ahead of inflation -- and the entire country prospered. But even though productivity is still rising, it is no longer shared with workers. The owners (and company executives) keep it all now -- and that gives them an enormous rise in income, while workers are left to the ravages of rising inflation (and decreasing buying power).
This has resulted in the largest gap in wealth and income between the rich and the rest of America since the 1920's. It is shrinking the middle class, and creating a country populated only by the rich and the poor (low-wage workers). We are fast becoming one of the most economically unequal nations in the world (already surpassing some of the so-called "banana republics"). And a country populated only by the rich and the poor cannot exist as a democracy, but will be reincarnated as a plutocracy (rule by a wealthy class).
We still have a little time to reverse this, but not much -- and it can't be done as long as the Republicans still control a part of government (blocking any efforts to change economic policy to a fairer and saner one).
Read The Full Article:
(This caricature of Newt Gingrich is by DonkeyHotey.)
I have not been kind to Newt Gingrich on this blog, and I'm sure I'll probably have many negative things to say about him in the future. That's because I consider him to be one of the architects and chief promoters of the mean-spirited Republican "trickle-down" economic policy -- a policy that has been disastrous for the U.S. economy and for millions of U.S. citizens.
But I also try to be fair -- and if I'm going to point out the many times that he is wrong, then I should also be willing to point out the very few times that he is on the right side of an issue. And in the last few days, I believe Newt has shown some intelligence and empathy for a fellow human being.
After the death of Nelson Mandela, Gingrich posted a statement calling Mandela "one of the greatest leaders of our time", among other nice comments. But many of Gingrich's right-wing followers couldn't abide one of their icons saying nice things about Mr. Mandela -- and they countered with accusations of Mandela being a communist and terrorist, and called him other names. Gingrich could have backed down to please these people, or just ignored their vicious comments. He did neither. He struck back with an excellent defense of his original statement lauding Mandela. I thought his reply was very good, so I repost it below:
Yesterday I issued a heartfelt and personal statement about the passing of President Nelson Mandela. I said that his family and his country would be in my prayers and Callista?s prayers.I was surprised by the hostility and vehemence of some of the people who reacted to me saying a kind word about a unique historic figure.So let me say to those conservatives who don?t want to honor Nelson Mandela, what would you have done?Mandela was faced with a vicious apartheid regime that eliminated all rights for blacks and gave them no hope for the future. This was a regime which used secret police, prisons and military force to crush all efforts at seeking freedom by blacks.What would you have done faced with that crushing government?What would you do here in America if you had that kind of oppression?Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country.After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny. We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army?s dictatorial assault on our freedom.Patrick Henry said, ?Give me liberty or give me death.?Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that ?all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.?Doesn?t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.Finally, if you had been imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of them in a cell eight foot by seven foot, how do you think you would have emerged? Would you have been angry? Would you have been bitter?Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison as an astonishingly wise, patient, and compassionate person.He called for reconciliation among the races. He invited his prison guard to sit in the front row at his inauguration as President. In effect he said to the entire country, ?If I can forgive the man who imprisoned me, surely you can forgive your neighbors.?Far from behaving like a communist, President Mandela reassured businesses that they could invest in South Africa and grow in South Africa. He had learned that jobs come from job creators.I was very privileged to be able to meet with President Mandela and present the Congressional Medal of Freedom. As much as any person in our lifetime he had earned our respect and our recognition.Before you criticize him, ask yourself, what would you have done in his circumstances?
Read The Full Article:
I believe the world lost a great leader and a great human when Nelson Mandela died a few days ago. His courage in the fight for freedom and equality for his countrymen was remarkable. And when he (and his comrades) won that fight, he showed even more remarkable traits of courage, grace, forgiveness, and leadership.
The apartheid regime of South Africa was exceptionally brutal in its oppression of Black Africans -- and once those people gained political power, the country could have easily slid into an orgy of violence and revenge. Many other freedom movements have done that. But Mr. Mandela stepped forward, and convinced the people of South Africa that the right path was reconciliation, and the people followed his example by making reconciliation a reality. It was a moment of greatness for both Mandela and his countrymen (of all colors).
And most Americans recognized that. The chart above is made from information contained in a 2011 Rasmussen Poll (where 1,000 nationwide adults were queried, and the survey had a 3 point margin of error). I doubt that these attitudes have changed much, if at all, since 2011 though.
It turns out that nearly seven out of ten Americans (68%) had a favorable opinion of Mr. Mandela, while only a tiny minority (20%) had an unfavorable opinion. That makes me feel good to know that most Americans feel this way. It is sad though that the minority couldn't see past their own prejudices to recognize the greatness of this good man.
Read The Full Article:
This is the Republican blueprint for making sure government doesn't work as long as an African-American inhabits the White House -- and it's been very successful. They've blocked all efforts to help hurting Americans, create jobs, or fix the economy. Now they want to blame their own vicious actions on the president. Fortunately, the people aren't falling for that. These modern Republicans are so sick that they are perfectly willing to destroy the government if they can't control it.
Read The Full Article:
John Lennon - Happy Christmas (War Is Over) 33 years after John's untimely demise, we're still imagining...![...]
Read The Full Article:
Artist: Tom Scott Tune: Smokin’ Section
Read The Full Article:
Tomorrow, Monday, is the last day of Blue America's fundraiser for Keith Ellison and Mike Obermueller, two Minnesota progressive champions. You still have time to click this link, watch a little "Policy of Truth," see a photo of the prize-- a rare and collectible RIAA-certified double platinum award for the Mode's Violator-- and help us make sure Keith and Mike win next year. Let me take a minute to say thanks to the staffers from both campaigns who helped make the fundraiser a success and to Alan Grayson, Rob Zerban and Raul Grijalva for their pure-hearted generosity in helping with the effort. We didn't have to ask any of them twice.
So where does Steve Israel come into this and what does he have to do with Depeche Mode? Nothing, nothing, nothing. Thank God. Israel is a bumbling careerist who's been gorging himself at the public trough for his entire miserable career. He's the epitome of a corrupt Beltway careerist who stands for nothing but his own self-interest. He's not only a dismal failure as chairman of the DCCC, insuring that the Republicans maintain control of that body-- but he's been a failure in everything he's touched. Two wives kicked him out and divorced him for adultery, his personal finances are so shot full of failure that his home was foreclosed on and he would have had to file for bankruptcy if not for some of his Wall Street buddies forgiving and forgetting in was that normal Long Islanders never get forgiven and forgotten when they can't pat their mortgages for half the time Israel didn't pay his. He even stiffed his synagogue and then got a campaign donor to make a "charitable" (untaxed) "donation" to the synagogue to make the problem go away. This is illegal in so many ways that anyone else with less political clout would be sitting in prison now.
And although I grew up in Nassau County and went to college in Suffolk County-- the heart of Israel's district-- is this any of my business now? And why should I care if the Princesses: Long Island keep getting drunk on Manischewitz and reelecting this crook? Glad you asked.
Because Israel never ran a successful business or had to make a budget work and a company thrive, he doesn't have a clue that running the DCCC isn't the same as running a hippie bake-sale. While many of his staffers work primarily to feather their own nests, he's fumbling around incoherently to be anointed Rahm Emanuel Jr. He may be as odious as Rahm, but-- despite Pelosi admiring his reptilian tendencies, as she put it-- he'll never be as smart as Rahm.
So here's where Depeche Mode comes in: marketing and how to break a new artist. Coming from the music business, I'm always awestruck with the similarities between new artists and new candidates. After Daniel Miller and Seymour Stein signed Depeche Mode, it soon fell to me to break them. It was a long hard slog that paid off handsomely? but it was far from easy. When we stopped working the debut release, it had sold 10,000 copies in the U.S. That's a pitiful failure. But it didn't take away from the band's talent or potential. Seymour and I and several of our staffers were even more determined to break them. Album after album came out and they were slowly-- oh, so slowly-- building a base of support. But after 3 or 4 records, we had to defend keeping them and spending money on them. "Drop them," we would constantly hear from corporate headquarters in New York.
The financial guys didn't have opinions about how good a band was or what their potential was. They only cared about one thing: the gigantic financial bonuses they would get at the end of the quarter if the stock price was up. Wall Street awarded stock prices based on several things but primarily on how many albums we had on the sales charts. Depeche Mode's anemic sales were not making them happy. Artist development-- especially long term artist development-- was like a curse word to these guys. Long story, short-- after 5 albums Depeche Mode broke. And they didn't only break, they broke big? they broke gigantic. Violator-- the one we're giving away the award plaque for-- sold 15 million copies. Wall Street likes that.
But there was something even better that Wall Street and the small minds of the world like Steve Israel never gilt. Remember when I mentioned that the first Depeche Mode album only sold 10,000 copies and that we had 5 non-sellers before they broke? Well-- keeping in mind that in those days it cost over $2.00 per record sold in marketing and promotion costs but only one cent per record sold for back catalogue-- all 5 of those old Depeche Mode albums started getting gobbled up by the band's new fans. Each one sold over a million copies. The profit on that-- totally discounted and ignored by Wall Street-- is enough to make a company's year a success, regardless if some one-hit-wonder winds up in the charts.
Israel-- and Rahm before him-- never understood business and only understand the immediate cycle. Developing a strategy to beat a Republican over two or three cycles-- which is how most challengers eventually win-- is not part of the DCCC's vocabulary.
When Lee Rogers went up against Buck McKeon in 2012, Steve Israel deemed the race unwinnable and not only refused to help Rogers, he went out of his way to call donors and tell them to not "waste" their money. It may have been too early for Rogers to win in 2012 but his name recognition is almost as high as McKeon's now and he's the first Democrat to have ever beaten McKeon in the Antelope Valley (a third of the district) and is poised to knock him off again. He still hasn't been endorsed by Israel and the DCCC, of course-- which is too busy trying to elect Jennifer Garrison, Jerry Cannon, John Lewis, and Jay Paterno in deep red, unwinnable districts. But McKeon is a lot more savvy about which way the wind is blowing in CA-25 and he's about to announce he's retiring from Congress and backing some far right sociopath, Tony Strickland, instead.
Here in California, recent polls show there are several Republicans who can be beaten, aside from McKeon and the three blue-district cases Israel screwed up last year (Gary Miller, Jeff Denham, David Valadao),there are also very senior committee chairs Darrell Issa and Ed Royce. Look at these reelect numbers for these 3 senior Republicans that Israel refused to engage in 2012. Has he done so, all three would be on the chopping block this year. Because he didn't, only Rogers, an intrepid independent-minded progressive, is poised for a pick-up-- while Israel is, once again, ignoring all 3 seats.
Action items: Pelosi should fire Israel by noon tomorrow (ET) and replace him with someone who can get the job done, like Keith Ellison, Jared Polis or Alan Grayson. And we should all help Lee Rogers beat whichever extremist the Republicans run in CA-25 instead of McKeon. We can do that right here. And Israel? maybe he can get a job consulting Bravo!
Read The Full Article: