A little preview of what’s coming

Another reason I’m so cynical about Obama is that he always clearly telegraphs what he plans to do, albeit in code words. That way, when he cuts a backdoor deal on Social Security and Medicare, he can say, “I told you what I was going to do”:

We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems – any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.

Because we understand that this democracy is ours.

We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

Translation: Here it comes, you selfish people.

TPP protest this Sunday

People want to know why I have such a skeptical attitude about Obama? Last night, he talked about all the wonderful trade agreements he’s signing that are creating jobs. Sure they are – for $1 an hour in other countries. This is the agreement that not only gives media corporations all the same intellectual property laws that were already beaten down in the SOPA fight, it also permits corporations to override environmental protection laws. No wonder they don’t want anyone to see a copy!

WHAT: More than forty labor, environmental, public health and community organizations will hold a rally outside the Lansdowne Resort on Sunday, September 9 demanding a public voice in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations taking place inside.

The secretive pact is poised to become the largest free trade agreement in U.S. history, and is expected to affect the economy, the environment and consumer safety in Virginia and beyond.

Protesters are demanding that U.S. negotiators tell the American public what they have proposed in our names.

WHO: Allison Chin, President, Sierra Club
Ron Collins, Chief of Staff, Communications Workers of America
Matthew Kavanagh, Director of U.S. Advocacy, HealthGAP
Erich Pica, President, Friends of the Earth US
Occupy Wall Street and many others

WHERE: Outside the Lansdowne Resort
44050 Woodridge Parkway
Lansdowne, VA 20176

WHEN: Sunday, September 9, 3pm

Quote of the day

David Plouffe, senior Obama advisor:

“Obviously, we tried to reach a deficit deal with the Republicans. We got very close and didn’t get there. I think this election is going to make clear, I think, to the country and hopefully to members of Congress that we’re willing to do a lot of tough things – cut further spending, reform entitlements in the right way – but asking a little more from the wealthy has to be part of the answer.”

Bullsh*t


This Penn and Teller video features naughty language not suitable for work!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of Republican policy architects appearing on the airwaves as if they were dispassionate bystanders. And Frank Luntz is perhaps the worst (see here, here, here and here). He doesn’t simply message public opinion – he molds and shapes it. So I think it’s important to contact CBS News and tell them what we think of hiring someone with a history of such rotten, anti-American agendas:

CBS News has reportedly hired Frank Luntz, the Republican strategist and pollster best known for helping Republicans craft often-deceptive messaging to torpedo liberal policies. In his post announcing the move, Politico media reporter Dylan Byers writes that Luntz will “make a number of appearances across the network between now and Election Day.” Luntz’s hiring comes only a few months after New York Times Magazine contributor Robert Draper reported that Luntz orchestrated a 2009 meeting where prominent Republicans formulated a plan to win back Congress and the White House.


In his book Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives, Draper reported that Luntz “organized a dinner” on Obama’s inauguration night featuring a handful of “the Republican Party’s most energetic thinkers.” The attendees — which included current vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan — reportedly emerged from the nearly four hour dinner “almost giddily” after having agreed on “a way forward.” According to Draper, the Republican plan involved showing “united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies,” with an eventual goal of defeating Obama and taking back the Senate in 2012:

Luntz had organized the dinner – telling the invitees, “You’ll have nothing to do that night, and right now we don’t matter anyway, so let’s all be irrelevant together.” He had selected these men because they were among the Republican Party’s most energetic thinkers – and because they all got along with Luntz, who could be difficult. Three times during the 2008 election cycle, Sean Hannity had thrown him off the set at Fox Studios. The top Republican in the House, Minority Leader John Boehner, had nurtured a dislike of Luntz for more than a decade. No one had to ask why Boehner wasn’t at the Caucus Room that evening.


[…]The dinner lasted nearly four hours. They parted company almost giddily. The Republicans had agreed on a way forward: Go after Geithner. (And indeed Kyl did, the next day: “Would you answer my question rather than dancing around it – please?”)


Show united and unyielding opposition to the president’s economic policies. (Eight days later, Minority Whip Cantor would hold the House Republicans to a unanimous No against Obama’s economic stimulus plan.)


Begin attacking vulnerable Democrats on the airwaves. (The first National Republican Congressional Committee attack ads would run in less than two months.)


Win the spear point of the House in 2010. Jab Obama relentlessly in 2011. Win the White House and the Senate in 2012.


“You will remember this day,” Newt Gingrich proclaimed to the others as they said goodbye. “You’ll remember this days as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.” [Do Not Ask What Good We Do, pp. xvi-xix]


The inauguration night dinner was also reported in Election 2012: The Battle Begins by Real Clear Politics reporters Tom Bevan and Carl Cannon.Now, less than four years after this meeting, CBS will be inviting Luntz onto their airwaves as an “analyst.”

No, I don’t think so. CBS needs to hear from us.

Fun with capitalism

Jon Corzine stole more than $1 billion.  And he’s allowed to start a new hedge fund.

Bankers in jail? Ha. Man with a cardboard dime? Outta here!

DES MOINES, Iowa — Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has fired a Des Moines worker over a 1963 incident at a Laundromat involving a fake dime in the wake of new employment guidelines.


Richard Eggers, 68, was fired in July from his job as a customer service representative for putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine nearly 50 years ago in Carlisle, the Des Moines Register reported Monday.


Warren County court records show Eggers was convicted of operating a coin-changing machine by false means. Eggers called it a “stupid stunt,” but questions his firing.


Big banks have been firing low-level employees like Eggers since new federal banking employment guidelines were enacted in May 2011 and new mortgage employment guidelines took hold in February, the newspaper said. The tougher standards are meant to clear out executives and mid-level bank employees guilty of transactional crimes — such as identity theft and money laundering — but are being applied across the board because of possible fines for noncompliance.

Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.


I wish I could be a better sport about this rapid erosion of our liberties. It would be nice to watch the convention and feel inspired. But, you know, this:

Barack Obama’s administration is still insisting in court that its worst-kept secret—the use of unmanned aircraft to target and kill suspected terrorists—is classified information. But that didn’t stop the president from openly defending the program to CNN reporter Jessica Yellin in an interview that aired Wednesday. Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s remarks, transcribed by Chris Woods at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:


It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States. And this is an example of where I think there has been some misreporting. Our preference has always been to capture when we can because we can gather intelligence. But a lot of terrorist networks that target the United States, the most dangerous ones operate in very remote regions and it’s very difficult to capture them. And we’ve got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties, and in fact there are a whole bunch of situations where we will not engage in operations if we think there’s going to be civilian casualties involved.


So we have an extensive process with a lot of checks, a lot of eyes looking at it. Obviously as president I’m ultimately responsible for decisions that are made by the administration. But I think what the American people need to know is the seriousness with which we take both the responsibility to keep them safe, but also the seriousness with which we take the need for us to abide by our traditions of rule of law and due process.


As Woods notes, while the administration has tried to keep its “license to kill” secret, this interview actually lays out in some detail what the administration thinks the legal parameters actually are: It can target suspected terrorists with lethal force when they are in “remote regions” where they are difficult to capture, force is necessary to “stop them from carrying out plots,” and civilian casualties won’t be significant. Still, these factors are all evaluated by a secret process within the executive branch, rather than the kind of public and adversarial process used to, say, put someone in prison for life.


Obama also specifically addressed the issue of targeting American citizens—like Anwar al-Awlaki—although he did not mention al-Awlaki by name.

I think there’s no doubt that when an American has made the decision to affiliate himself with al Qaeda and target fellow Americans, that there is a legal justification for us to try and stop them from carrying out plots. What is also true though is that as an American citizen, they are subject to the protections of the constitution and due process.


Understand that when Obama says “due process,” he is referring not to courts, but to an internal executive branch review. Following Attorney General Eric Holder’s speech in March explaining how “due process” here means that national security officials evaluate the evidence against an individual before asking higher-ups for permission to vaporize them, comedian Stephen Colbert quipped that “due process just means there’s a process that you do.”

Rep. John Lewis: ‘Stand Up, Speak Up And Speak Out’

Rep. John Lewis gave a powerful speech, all the more meaningful in recent light of the numerous efforts by Republicans to deprive African-Americans of their votes. Here is the man who has the moral authority to tell us about the the real meaning of a vote:

I first came to this city in 1961, the year Barack Obama was born. I was one of the 13 original “Freedom Riders.” We were on a bus ride from Washington to New Orleans trying to test a recent Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination on buses crossing state lines and in the stations that served them. Here in Charlotte, a young African-American rider got off the bus and tried to get a shoe shine in a so-called white waiting room. He was arrested and taken to jail.


On that same day, we continued on to Rock Hill, South Carolina, about 25 miles. From here, when my seatmate, Albert Bigelow, and I tried to enter a white waiting room, we were met by an angry mob that beat us and left us lying in a pool of blood. Some police officers came up and asked us whether we wanted to press charges. We said, “No, we come in peace, love and nonviolence.” We said our struggle was not against individuals, but against unjust laws and customs. Our goal was true freedom for every American.


Since then, America has made a lot of progress. We are a different society than we were in 1961. And in 2008, we showed the world the true promise of America when we elected President Barack Obama. A few years ago, a man from Rock Hill, inspired by President Obama’s election, decided to come forward. He came to my office in Washington and said, “I am one of the people who beat you. I want to apologize. Will you forgive me?” I said, “I accept your apology.” He started crying. He gave me a hug. I hugged him back, and we both started crying. This man and I don’t want to go back; we want to move forward.


Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful, nonviolent tool we have to create a more perfect union. Not too long ago, people stood in unmovable lines. They had to pass a so-called literacy test, pay a poll tax. On one occasion, a man was asked to count the number of bubbles in a bar of soap. On another occasion, one was asked to count the jelly beans in a jar—all to keep them from casting their ballots.


Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting. They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote. The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state’s new voter ID law is “gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state.” That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not just.


And similar efforts have been made in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina. I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this before. Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote.


And we have come too far together to ever turn back. So we must not be silent. We must stand up, speak up and speak out. We must march to the polls like never before. We must come together and exercise our sacred right. And together, on November 6, we will re-elect the man who will lead America forward: President Barack Obama.

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