I dunno about anybody else but I'm beginning to think I'm fighting a battle that was lost before I ever knew we were in it. Good thing I'm one of those cantankerous old bastards that thinks it would be really boring to only fight battles I knew absolutely I could win... never mind the fact that there doesn't appear to be too many of those unloseable kind left around here anyway.
It's not a surprise, really, that Barack Obama is courting Wall Street donors (again) for his reelection campaign.
Still, the bold, black New York Times headline is a bit jarring. "Obama Seeks to Win Back Wall Street Cash."
We knew it was coming, but still.
It's not just that there have been no prosecutions of anyone responsible for the financial crisis. It's not just the extension of the Bush tax cuts, overwhelmingly benefiting the rich. It's not just the lack of any meaningful jobs program, or the appointment of banker buddy William Daley as White House Chief of Staff.
I would imagine that we all have something we could add to the list of "not justs" that indicate that we indeed have a president every bit as dependent of Wall Street dollars for his political survival as any of his "rivals" and therefore not very apt to do anything to seriously ruffle their feathers, let alone permanently pluck a few of them.
But... and this for me is the nub... it was this very dependence on Wall Street that has brought about our current system of politics in which it doesn't matter which party is in power, the eventual outcome for at least 98% of us is the same... plutarchy, a word my spell checker didn't recognize but that is defined by Wiki as a combination of plutocracy and oligarchy, which describes perfectly the forces arrayed against the rest of us.
This latest report stings because while unemployment hovers just above 9 percent, the administration is more concerned with giving the appearance, to the people who created the crisis, that it's on their side.
The Times wrote:
"The event, organized by the Democratic National Committee, kicked off an aggressive push by Mr. Obama to win back the allegiance of one of his most vital sources of campaign cash - in part by trying to convince Wall Street that his policies, far from undercutting the investor class, have helped bring banks and financial markets back to health."
Yes, the Times chose the word "class" to describe the investors. Let's leave aside the fact, for now, that yes, progressive policies like a jobs program would actually have helped heal the economy, not to mention shrink the deficit, by getting more money back in the pockets of the unemployed and thus back in circulation and back into the government's tax coffers. That's not what the Wall Streeters are really angry about, is it?
They're doing just fine, after all, back to record profits after bailouts from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Federal Reserve and lowered interest rates.
You don't really begin to understand what these parasitic slugs are doing until you have at least an inkling of what motivates them to do it and in this case, greed (obviously) and pride... two of the seven capital sins... just about sum it up.
But Wall Street's "investor class" expects deference in exchange for its cash, and while the Obama administration has been anything but tough on banks, it appears that for many former donors, a quite corporate-friendly Democratic party hasn't been corporate-friendly enough.
While the investor class isn't a completely unified front, the Times' choice of words is revealing. The paper of record, the bankers themselves, and obviously the Obama administration see them as a class with unified interests, and consider those interests-or the money to be made by catering to those interests-as more important than those of the unemployed or working poor, still struggling to get by.
When Larry Summers, hardly a raving leftist, is publishing op-eds calling for more stimulus, more job creation, after leaving the administration, what are progressives to think? Summers isn't the first, of course. Jared Bernstein called for direct job creation, and Christina Romer said recently, "I frankly do not understand why policymakers are not feeling more urgency to get unemployment down."
Unemployment numbers are often the best predictor of an incumbent president's reelection, many have noted. Despite a lackluster Republican field and brinksmanship over the debt ceiling that has some on Wall Street scared, sustained joblessness isn't likely to make the majority of the country get out and vote for more of the same. And the jobless rate is at its highest among young people and recent graduates, the very people who put Obama over the top in 2008, the ones whose energy was dedicated not to raising money but to getting out the vote.
The 2012 presidential race will no doubt be the most expensive in history, bolstered by the unlimited corporate cash allowed by the Citizens United decision. It's understandable, of course, that the Democrats don't want to go into that race with their pockets empty. But as the Obama reelection campaign starts calling its small donors and volunteers, asking them to sign back up, to kick in $20 or $30 at a time, what response will they get when those same people can see the administration's interest in courting the investor class, rather than the working class?
And that's my humble opinion, worth exactly what you paid for it. Who knows though? maybe if he can convince our newly recognized "investor class" that he's truly on their side he can win anyway and after all, winning is what it's all about, right? Just not looking forward to some of the stuff he'll have to do to convince them of his "friendship".
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CBPP on WIC expenses
WOMEN AND CHILDREN LASTWhat does the increasingly isolationist GOP want with the extra Pentagon money, anyway?
House Republicans are pushing forward with their ?shared sacrifice? agenda. Today, they're asking newborns and low-income women to pitch in: The House is expected to vote on a proposal to cut the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps about 9 million mothers and their young children, by 13 percent. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that up to 350,000 food-assistance recipients would be cut off if the measure passes. At the same time, the House is also debating a bill to increase the Pentagon?s budget by $17 billion -- even though Defense already makes up more than 50 percent of discretionary federal spending. Hey, maybe they?ll make their sacrifice next year.
More from CBPP:
CBPP on WIC expensesIt isn't just that screwing people in need is the GOP agenda. It's where they want to spend the money. If you don't have money already, you need not apply.
The House is scheduled to vote today on a measure to slash funding for the WIC nutrition program, which (as we have shown) would force the program to turn away at least 200,000 to 350,000 eligible low-income women and children next year. The Appropriations Committee approved this unprecedented cut last month, in part based on the claim that more than 40 percent of WIC costs go to program administration. But this claim is flatly false, as our new paper shows.
In reality, only about 9 percent of federal funds for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) go to administrative costs, and these costs represent only about 6 percent of the program?s total cost (see graph).
There are more things going on at the Wikileaks Grand Jury than meets the eye. Today Firedoglake found that Lynndie England is there testifying. When the person that told me was asked to go get some coffee, the guards tried to prevent them from leaving[...]
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HARVEY WASSERMAN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This may be the moment history has turned definitively against atomic energy.
To be sure: we are still required to fight hard to bury reactor loan guarantees in the United States. There are parallel struggles in China, Indian, England, France and South Korea.
The great fear is that until every single reactor on this planet is shut, none of us is really safe from another radioactive horror show.
Thus the moment is clearly marked at Fukushima by three reactors and a radioactive fuel pool still untamed after three months, with the horrific potential to do far more apocalyptic damage than we've seen even to date.
That image includes Japanese school children being issued Geiger counters to carry with them 24/7 (http://nukefree.org/japanese-government-give-kids-radiation-monitors-carry-them ).
And Fukushima's radiation raining down on the United States, with links to reports of a heightened infant death rate in Seattle (http://nukefree.org/janette-sherman-joe-mangano-rise-infant-deaths-pacific-northwest-due-fukushima ).
And by countless other on-going disasters and near-misses at reactors everywhere on the planet. Included is Cooper, in Nebraska, which got zero corporate media coverage as it was nearly flooded and did lose power to its radioactive fuel pool http://nukefree.org/electrical-fire-knocks-out-fuel-pool-nebraska-nuke .
From well-reasoned fear, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Israel and other critical players have announced they will build no more reactors. Some will start shutting the ones they have.
Japan and Germany are the third and fourth largest economies on Earth. Japan has long been at the core of the reactor industry. Germany's economy is the largest in Europe. Some European nations are rumbling about an alliance to shut the reactors among their nuclear neighbors.
All this could be happening merely in reaction to yet another Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The corporate media has attempted to induce a coma over Fukushima by simply refusing the cover the on-going disaster.
But the worsening realities are as utterly relentless as they are terrifying. In the age of the internet, there is simply no way to totally suppress the horror of what is happening to our Earth, especially at its lethal, festering wound
The Obama administration handed over documents on a controversial anti-gunrunning program run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) just ahead of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Some of the documents showed that agents working on Project Gunrunner didn't intend for weapons that were supposed to be tracked in an effort to prosecute larger kingpins of guntrafficking operations to actually cross the border.
"We have no plans of letting any firearms (with or without a tracker) cross from the U.S. into Mexico," ATF Agent David Voth wrote in an email on April 23, 2010.
Last night, Issa and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a scathing joint report on Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious that included testimony from ATF agents who said they voiced their concerns about the tactics to their superiors but were ignored. Issa's spokesman said that the committee was receiving more information from whistleblowers inside the agency.
"Over the last few days, Justice has conveniently turned over 200 pages of documents prior to our public hearings," Issa spokeswoman Becca Glover Watkins said in a statement to TPM. "To date, we've still received an exponentially higher number of documents from concerned agency insiders than from the Justice Department itself."
Issa said in a statement about the report that preventing loss of life "was not the primary concern" of the operation.
Oversight Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said in a statement that "no legitimate examination of this issue will be complete without analyzing our nation's gun laws, which allow tens of thousands of assault weapons to flood into Mexico from the United States every year, including fifty caliber sniper rifles, multiple AK variants, and scores of others." He said he would be exercising his right under the rules of the House for a minority day of hearings on the issue.
The report is embedded below.
Here's Issa's opening statement:
Hello my friends and the rest of you. What IS Right for Virginia is going to be undergoing some major changes in the next few weeks, but will return with a vengence after that. I'm moving the focus from the 5th CD to the 9th since I now live in Abingdon, VA.
The 9th faces several unique challenges. First, the elected representation here is by a man that doesn't even live in the district. What ever gave voters the idea he cared about them is beyond me, and it is with great pleasure I see many of them having buyers remorse.
Second, I am lending a helping hand to the Sierra Club in reforming the Southwest Highlands group.
Third, as many of you may know, social justice both in the workplace and in our communities still holds sway in my heart and I intend to challenge injustice at every turn.
Be forewarned, I do not intend to be "politically correct", I intend to misbehave. In my opinion, many have gone down a path from which there is no return, and it is time to shed a bright, glaring light on that stupidity.
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By Zach Croft - Special to the Blog
For the last several weeks, South Carolinians have been forced to endure a childish argument over the merits of calling the General Assembly back to vote on Governor Haley?s pet policy initiatives. With unemployment above 10% in almost all of our state?s counties, the Governor along with Republicans and Democrats alike, in Columbia are focusing their attention ? and the precious dollars of the taxpayers ? on personal disputes designed to gain points in the polls rather than jobs or revenue for our suffering people.
Sadly, this is the status quo in Columbia. For years, elected officials from both parties have ignored the needs of our state?s most vulnerable, bringing more jobs and more affluence to the counties most accustomed to progress and leaving the rural areas to await a promised day of prosperity that never comes. Generation after generation of South Carolina?s young people have missed out on moving our state into a place of national leadership because of this broken political system, making our state a laughingstock beneficial to television shows such as, The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, while our state?s citizens struggle to provide food and housing for their families.
Enough is enough. When government fails the people, it is the responsibility of the people to stand up and demand a new direction, real progress and new leaders to provide it. We cannot afford to continue having 18% unemployment in some of our counties, particularly when other states around our nation are investing in their rural populations and adapting to the realities of a Twenty-first Century global economy. Now is the time for change, and that change does not come from electing a new leader or putting a different party in charge. On the contrary, that change can only be realized when we the people begin to stand up and take responsibility for our government, ceasing to depend on others to do what we alone have the power and ability to do.
The people of South Carolina have endured a long night at the hands of partisan politics and bickering. Let a clear message be heard to all of our people today that the darkness is lifting, a new day is coming and a Third Way of leadership is now emerging. From the mountains of Oconee to the coasts of Beaufort, let it be clear that help is on the way and that those lacking jobs or hope for the future will be treated with the dignity they have so long been denied. A new day is coming, where citizens will be able to sit down with fellow citizens ? Republicans and Democrats alike ? discussing their shared destiny rather than screaming at one another and playing worn out political games.
This may sound idealistic or utopian, but we must remember that our ancestors were met with similar resistance when they attempted to do great things. We know that there were naysayers who told Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter that they were wasting their times attempting to create a new order. We know that there were those who believed people like Dick Riley and Carroll Campbell were incapable of providing a new type of leadership for our state. Those prognosticators and political insiders were wrong, and we can prove them wrong once again if we commit ourselves to pragmatic solutions committed to real progress rather than election night celebrations.
Last week, I joined together with several concerned citizens to found a group called South Carolina Third Way. This group will seek to offer practical solutions to real problems, ideas that actually provide jobs for our people rather than lining the pockets of lobbyists and political insiders who have for far too long been living lives of luxury at the expense of the voters they exploit. We hope to take the best ideas from both parties on issues ranging from education and infrastructure to tax and funding reform and bring them to the forefront, allowing ideas rather than personalities to be the focus of our civil discourse and taking the counterproductive motives out of the conversation.
Our message is simple: jobs, jobs, and more jobs. We will not rest until unemployment drops and test scores rise, and any ideas we develop that prove wrong or unworkable will be replaced with new ones, for we know that the real mark of leadership is not the ability to be right 100% of the time. Leadership is about real concern for the people, concern that is as humble as it is bold and hopeful as it is committed to results.
I hope that you will join us in this effort. We aren?t trying to be elected to office. We aren?t trying to line our pockets. Our only goal is to lay the foundation for rural economic development in South Carolina, a dream which has been deferred for far too long and must not be put off for even one day longer. We need ideas, we need people to demand accountability of their public servants, and we need people from every county of this state to stand up and begin taking responsibility for the direction of their government. Turning things around will not be easy, but we can accomplish anything if we commit ourselves to it and refuse to take no for answer.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will reach out to voters in every corner of our state to explain our positions as an organization and demonstrate how real ideas can impact the process. There will be moments of disagreement, there will be times of difficulty, and there will no doubt be times when we wonder if the bipartisan progress we seek is attainable. But we remember that the heritage of the people of South Carolina is nothing less than boldly reach toward the unattainable and make it ours. So though we have endured much and continue to face a system determined not to yield to change, we recall the words of Tennyson who reminded us that ??tis not too late to seek a newer world?that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts?strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.?
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As a follow-up to its first TV ad highlighting the need to invest in, not cut programs that benefit America?s kids, Vote Kids released ?Daniel.? Running in Iowa and New Hampshire, the ad features ?baby Daniel? who lost his father and whose mother works hard but doesn?t earn enough to fully provide for her son. And while programs like Head Start and CHIP would help Daniel grow up strong and healthy, Congressional budget proposals could gut them. The female voiceover pleads, ?Don?t throw America?s babies out with the bathwater.? See the ad here.
I hope the ad will prompt discussion about the fate of our nation?s children by the presidential candidates. It didn?t during the debate at St. Anselm?s Monday evening. There was the usual passing reference to kids and keeping the burden of debt off their shoulders. Well, who does want to saddle future generations with debt? On the other hand, it?s not a good enough reason to shortchange today?s generation by cutting programs that work.
Help us make kids a ?must discuss? topic in the campaign days to come as the candidates traverse the country. Attend town meetings and other candidate events and ask them how they will protect ?Daniel? and all the other children and families who need a little help from their government.
Every Child Matters Education Fund
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House Republicans not allowing Dems to send out constituent mail which says the Ryan Plan "ends" Medicare. [...]
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Our economy is so bad, even cable companies, traditionally the last thing Americans cut, have noticed:
For all the talk about competitive threats from the likes of Netflix Inc or Apple Inc, it is rising poverty among households that TV executives say is their biggest source of concern.
Executives from News Corp, Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc, speaking at the annual Cable Show industry event, made clear the industry needed a stronger housing market and better jobs picture to win new customers and keep existing ones.
"We have to be sensitive in making sure we have a product that consumers can afford," said Pat Esser, president of privately held Cox Communications, speaking at the industry's biggest yearly event.
Investors and analysts, with a few exceptions, can often be heard worrying more about how the cable industry will cope with cheaper entertainment packages from rivals such as Netflix, Amazon.com Inc or Google Inc.
Time Warner Cable Chief Executive Glenn Britt, however, was one of the executives focusing on the hazards of a bad economy.
"There clearly is a growing underclass of people who clearly can't afford it," he said. "It would serve us well to worry about that group."