August 10, 2011 archive

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Progressives are Stupid if they don’t seize their opportunity to educate their Republican neighbors

Progressives are Stupid if they don’t seize their opportunity to educate their Republican neighbors about ALEC – here’s why

ALEC is horrendous, and I’m convinced that most all conservatives would be angry (if not furious) if they knew how private corporations – including foreign  corporations – secretly plot to screw the public for their own profit. Give a listen to this program on ProgressiveRadioNetwork for more info on ALEC, and/or check out diaries about ALEC on

Although I frequent progressive blogs, I’ve only noticed stuff about ALEC relatively recently. That’s not too surprising – it looks like there’s been nothing on progressive website, before May 24, 2011. At the previous ALEC-on-dailykos link, above, the earliest diary is dated May 24, 2011, called Updated x 3 – Action Diary – 300,000 Activists Needed to Drive ALEC to the Light – Part 1 says,

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has come into public prominence in recent months primarily since Dr. William Cronon, a distingushed scholar at the University of Wisconsin – Madison published an essay Who’s Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wiscosin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn’t Start Here) on March 15, 2011, followed by an OP-ED in the New York Times titled Wisconsin’s Radical Break on March 21, 2011.




ALEC has operated since 1973 clearly out of the spotlight, and in fact, has always attempted to run under the radar of American politics and American media.  Its full membership list is hidden from the public, its “Model Legislation” is hidden from the public, its corporate sponsors are not disclosed, in short, it operates as a shadow government, writing hundreds of bills that are introduced in all 50 state legislatures with a success rate of close to 20 per cent.

Since ALEC hides in the shadows, wants to remain a background player, despite its huge influence, and its primary activity of writing corporate sponsored legislation to be introduced in 50 legislatures, usually to the detriment of the voters that the legislative members were elected to represent, I and many other Americans have decided that this secrecy must end.

This diary is the first of a series that all take the form of Action Diaries, and with some advice from fellow bloggers concerned about the ALEC onslaught of union busting, prison privatization, hostility to public education with legislation around the country intended to weaken teacher unions and the institution of Public Education itself throgh vouchers and charter schools, for profit schools, Voter ID Laws which are really Democratic Voter Suppression laws (passed in some states, introduced in at least 38 states), anti-environmental legislation, anti-regulation of all kinds of businesses, the list goes on, and the goals of this group are radical. …..

Since “ALEC hides in the shadows, wants to remain a background player”, I assumed that knowledge about ALEC would be suppressed on conservative websites. So, to verify (or disprove, as the case may be) this idea, I just did a quick search at,, and (Sean) I used the search string “American Legislative Exchange Council”, not ALEC, since there were lots of Alec Baldwin hits and since I assumed that the ALEC acronym would be spelled out, at least once, in any article that went into it.

Basically, there is no mention of ALEC as a suspicious entity, which betrays the public interest. ALEC is mostly just mentioned as the source of a quote. Moreover, it’s rarely mentioned at all (even in passing). Below are the hit counts:    2 hits 4 hits  4 hits

Only one of the links explained what ALEC is, in any detail, and this was by a member of the Hannity forum, on page 7 of a forum thread, not by Hannity or his staff.


ALEC is a big enough scandal, IMO, that progressives should use it as a first strike weapon in the information war. I have posted some diaries in the past few months about how to get  progressive memes into public mind in general, and thus go far beyond “blogging to the choir”.

Here are some of them:

Wanted: Republicans who plan to sell off CA and NY, to pay the national debt which is about progressives targetting Republican primaries as progressive candidates, which is particularly important and logical in uber-red districts. Exposing ALEC is a topic that these progressive Republicans would be concerned about – who are expecting to lose, but educate in the process.

Going after Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge , in which I suggested another progressive pillar for the progressive crashers of Republican primaries, to embrace.

Status Quo Busters: How FDL+DK+DU progressives can ‘cross the beams’ and revolutionize politics  The vast majority of progressive blog content, some of it very high quality, never gets much beyond the blog community. Here I suggest leveraging the blog community to print out prepared condensed and edited versions of blog extracts, which can be handed out, left in public places, etc.

Conyers spills the beans on Obama & SS & jobs bill; call for WH protests: The updates discuss using a show business techique (“democracy carolling”) to put a smile on people’s faces before you place a pamphlet in their hand.

How squeegees can help save America, and your sanity – going beyond blogging to the choir: Putting a smile on people’s face before you put a pamphlet in their hand.

How teachers could make Rush Limbaugh’s head explode, but chronically fail to  Pamphleting kids after school is sort of a no-brainer in a suburb…

FDL vs. Rush Limbaugh vs. Michelle Malkin vs. Ann Coulter Websites compared wrt spreading their messages beyond their readership DailyKos and FDL diaries cannot be printed out, nicely formatted, without the comments. Which is not a good way for these websites to encourage propagating their content to the ‘unblogged masses’, at no cost to themselves. DailyKos has a ‘Share’ widget, which allows you to easily email a diary to a friend, but FDL does not have this.

Go figure….

Don’t Kid Yourself

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Wisconsin and the Case of the Dogs That Didn’t Bark

By: Scarecrow, Firedog Lake

Tuesday August 9, 2011 11:12 pm

With such a profoundly misguided and destructive message coming from the President and national leaders, it must have been particularly difficult for Wisconsin citizens to explain why voters should recall Republican State Senators for taking positions their President and party were embracing in Washington. To be sure, Wisconsin’s Tea-Party Governor is a fraud, and his party’s actions have been abusive and excessive in slashing state programs and benefits. But Walker’s budget goals and methods are consistent with those of his national counterparts whom Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders have now promised to meet half way in slashing federal programs and benefits. There are few at the national level, and none at the top, making the counter argument about how offensive and obscene this is.

Our national leaders should have been reminding those fighting in the states that they were not to blame for the budget crises in their state capitals. Instead, men like Greenspan and Bernanke and Geithner and dozens of other federal regulators who were supposed to be watching the financial/banking sector either fell asleep on their jobs or willfully looked away, while Congress passed laws pretending that fraud and looting were okay if it was called “financial innovation” and “market making.” The regulators failed the country and the looters plundered, but thanks to this President, they’re still in power or presuming to lecture us on television. And now men like Boehner and Cantor and McConnell – and yes, Warner and Durbin and Lieberman are preventing desperately needed federal money from helping the states deal with the damage.

The truth is that President Obama and the national Democratic Party undercut the Wisconsin fighters by adopting harmful Tea-GOP talking points and repeating them night after night on national television. While the national Tea-GOP reinforced their state counterparts’ message at every turn, the national Democrats sabotaged the Wisconsin Democrats’ message.

Wisconsin Democrats didn’t need the President or Senate Democratic leaders to come to Wisconsin. What they needed were national leaders fighting for their cause, for their pro-government principles, for recognition of their rights – in Washington. They needed a President making that fight in Washington and carrying that message to the nation.

But the President and his party have abandoned that fight in D.C., and so abandoned those fighting in Wisconsin. And that’s why, despite heroic Wisconsin efforts, the good guys fell short. No one should count on or follow these corrupt leaders again, ever.

If you’re looking for new leaders, look to Wisconsin and other states under siege, where working people understand what’s going down and aren’t afraid to fight back.

“Just Do the Math” with Senator Orrin Hatch

Orrin Hatch2

“Just Do the Math,” says US Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), but he doesn’t mean the math that most of us learned in school, he means something more like faith-based math, which inevitably “proves” that every dime of taxes or government spending drives America one step closer to the Islamo-Communist Hell of Barack Obama and his satanic minions!

This is voodoo economics, as George H.W. Bush described it way back in 1980 (before he sold his soul to Ronald Reagan), but it’s a paragon of scientific accuracy compared to the nauseating absurdity of pretending that Barack Obama isn’t pushing us all in exactly the same direction as the Republicans.

The Republicans, Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Cantor did not call for Social Security cuts in the budget deal. The President of the United States called for that.

–US Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan)

But for the Republican faithful that probably looks like the Hand of God emerging from the back of Orrin’s head and “demonstrating” yet again that government is the problem!

Just do the (faith-based) math!

But what if we ask somebody who can actually add and subtract about the Republican debt-hysteria which Obama continually endorses?

Amid all the debt hysteria, it’s worth taking a look at the actual arithmetic here – because what this arithmetic says is that the size of the deficit in the next year or two hardly matters for the US fiscal position – and in fact the size over the next decade is barely significant.

Start with interest rates. What matters for debt sustainability is the real interest rate, since what matters is keeping real debt, not nominal debt, from growing. (World War II debt never got paid off, it just eroded in real terms to the point where it was trivial). As of yesterday, the US government could lock in 30-year bonds at a real interest rate of 1.25%. That means that a trillion dollars in extra debt would mean $12.5 billion a year in additional real interest payments.

Meanwhile, the CBO estimates potential real GDP in 2021 at about $18 trillion in 2005 dollars, or around $19 trillion in 2011 dollars.

Put these together, and they say that an extra trillion in borrowing adds something like 0.07% of GDP in future debt service costs.


Bewitched Bunny

Winners and Losers

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Randians make a great big whiny ass hypocritical deal about “not having the government pick winners and losers in the marketplace.”

Well, that’s what Net Neutrality is about.

Pay-TV Providers Face ‘Toxic Mix’ as Subscribers Cancel in Record Numbers

By Alex Sherman, Bloomberg News

Aug 10, 2011 12:01 AM ET

The six largest publicly traded U.S. cable and satellite-TV providers combined to lose about 580,000 customers in the second quarter, the biggest such decline in history, according to company and Bloomberg data.

The economy is forcing the industry to face the reality of cord-cutting — pay-TV customers canceling their subscriptions in favor of online options such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX) and Hulu LLC. While cable executives dismiss the idea that subscribers are switching to “over the top” Internet competitors, the reason isn’t as important as the decision to stop paying for TV, said Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York.

“Rising prices for pay TV, coupled with growing availability of lower-cost alternatives, add to a toxic mix at a time when disposable income isn’t growing,” Moffett said. “For younger demographics, where in many cohorts unemployment is north of 30 percent, and especially for those with limited or no interest in sports, the pay-TV equation is almost inarguably getting less attractive.”

As a matter of fact, I’m working for clients just like this.  What you need is a computer, an internet connection, and (depending on your TV) an adapter.  Look at the video inputs on the back of your TV to decide what type of VGA to ??? you need.  Laptops are particularly good platforms since they almost always include an auxiliary VGA port for an external monitor.  Good sources for the adapters are NewEgg and Tiger Direct.

Oh, the Net Neutrality aspect.  Well, without it ISP companies are free to discriminate against users who choose to get their TV online based on ‘Bandwidth’, thus subsidizing the Cable TV industry in which many of them have a conflicted interest.

Randian hypocrisy?  Companies should be free to discriminate against black people because you can always patronize lunch counters that don’t have “We Don’t Serve Negros” signs on the door.

(h/t Atrios)

Robert Reich: Category Error

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Slouching Toward a Double Dip, For No Good Reason

Robert Reich

Monday, August 8, 2011

The American economy is on the verge of another recession. Most Americans haven’t even emerged from the last one. Consumers (70 percent of the economy) won’t or can’t spend because their major asset is worth a third less than it was five years ago, they can’t borrow as before, and they’re justifiably worried about their jobs and wages. And without customers, businesses won’t expand and hire. So we’re trapped in a vicious cycle that’s getting worse.

But the government won’t come to the rescue by spending more and cutting most peoples’ taxes because it’s obsessed by a so-called “debt crisis” based on budget projections over the next ten years.

Every time you hear an American politician analogize the nation’s budget to a family budget (as, sadly, even President Obama has done), you should know the politician is not telling the truth. The truth is just the opposite. Our national budget can and should counteract the shrinkage of family budgets by running larger deficits when families cannot.

Americans are more frightened, economically insecure, and angrier than at any time since the Great Depression. If our lawmakers continue to obsess about the wrong thing and fail to do what must be done – and they don’t explain it to the nation – Americans will only become more fearful, insecure, and angry.

Well now wait Bob.  There’s a perfectly good reason (if you happen to be an ignorant Washington neolib like Obama and his advisers) and you know it.

Why the President Doesn’t Present a Bold Plan to Create Jobs and Jumpstart the Economy

Robert Reich

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The lousy economy is due to insufficient demand. Consumers – who are 70 percent of the economy – can’t and won’t buy because they’re running out of cash. They can’t borrow against homes that are worth a third less than they were five years ago, and most consumers are bad credit risks anyway because they’re losing their jobs and their wages are dropping.  They also have to start saving for the kids’ college or for retirement, which will cut their spending even more.

Without enough consumers, businesses won’t hire enough people and pay them enough to reverse the vicious cycle. So we’re dead in the water. Even the stock market has caught on to the truth.

Which means government has to step in to boost the economy – as it has every time the economy has fallen into recession over the last eight downturns. Include the massive spending on World War II that lifted us out of the Great (Depression), and it’s nine.

I’m told White House political operatives are against a bold jobs plan. They believe the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day. They also worry the public wouldn’t understand how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction. And they fear Republicans would use any such initiative to further bash Obama as a big spender.

So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama – to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public’s attention from the President’s failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia.

When I first heard this I didn’t want to believe it.

There’s still time for political operatives in the White House – and the person they work for – to change their minds. If economic stresses increase, Americans may insist on government doing more. A CNN poll released Monday found 60% believe the nation remains in an economic downturn and conditions are worsening. Only 36% believed that in April.

But for now the President is being badly advised. The magnitude of the current jobs and growth crisis demands a boldness and urgency that’s utterly lacking. As the President continues to wallow in the quagmire of long-term debt reduction, Congress is on summer recess and the rest of Washington is asleep.

Well, now you’re getting closer to it Bob, but the reason the Tsar has bad councilors is he picks bad councilors and chooses to listen to their advice because it’s what he himself believes.

The buck stops with Obama and if polls and history are any indicator he’s going to lose, lose, lose and drag his Democratic Party enablers with him.

Electoral victory my ass.

On This Day In History August 10

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge

August 10 is the 222nd day of the year (223rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 143 days remaining until the end of the year.

The term ‘the 10th of August’ is widely used by historians as a shorthand for the Storming of the Tuileries Palace on the 10th of August, 1792, the effective end of the French monarchy until it is restored in 1814.

On this day in  1846, Smithsonian Institution was created. After a decade of debate about how best to spend a bequest left to America from an obscure English scientist, President James K. Polk signs the Smithsonian Institution Act into law.

In 1829, James Smithson died in Italy, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson’s curious bequest to a country that he had never visited aroused significant attention on both sides of the Atlantic.

After the nephew died without heirs in 1835, President Andrew Jackson informed Congress of the bequest, which amounted to 104,960 gold sovereigns, or US$500,000 ($10,100,997 in 2008 U.S. dollars after inflation). The money, however, was invested in shaky state bonds that quickly defaulted. After heated debate in Congress, former President John Quincy Adams successfully argued to restore the lost funds with interest.  Congress also debated whether the federal government had the authority to accept the gift. Congress ultimately accepted the legacy bequeathed to the nation and pledged the faith of the United States to the charitable trust July 1, 1836.

Eight years later, Congress passed an act establishing the Smithsonian Institution, a hybrid public/private partnership, and the act was signed into law on August 10, 1846 by James Polk. (See 20 U.S.C. § 41 (Ch. 178, Sec. 1, 9 Stat. 102).) The bill was drafted by Indiana Democratic Congressman Robert Dale Owen, a Socialist and son of Robert Owen, the father of the cooperative movement.

The Real Cause of Rioting In Tottenham

Cross Posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Coming to a country near you:

London Sees Twin Perils Converging to Fuel Riot

Frustration in this impoverished neighborhood, as in many others in Britain, has mounted as the government’s austerity budget has forced deep cuts in social services. At the same time, a widely held disdain for law enforcement here, where a large Afro-Caribbean population has felt singled out by the police for abuse, has only intensified through the drumbeat of scandal that has racked Scotland Yard in recent weeks and led to the resignation of the force’s two top commanders.

The riot was the latest in what has turned out to be a season of unrest in Britain, with multiple demonstrations escalating into violence in recent months. And there was not long to wait until a new one erupted: across London, skirmishes broke out on Sunday between groups of young people and large numbers of riot police officers, which one officer said were drawn from forces around London.  


Economic malaise and cuts in spending and services instituted by the Conservative-led government have been recurring flashpoints for months.

Late last year, students demonstrating against a rise in tuition fees occupied a building near Parliament and clashed repeatedly with the police. Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were attacked in their Rolls-Royce as protesters – some of whom were subsequently jailed – shouted “Tory scum,” a reference to the Conservative Party’s traditional links with the aristocracy, and “off with their heads!” In March, a reported 500,000 people marched against the cuts, with some protesters occupying the exclusive food store Fortnum & Mason – Prince Charles’s grocer.

On Saturday night, as rioters in Tottenham threw fireworks and bottles at police officers, one man shouted, “This is our battle!” When asked what he meant, the man, Paul Rook, 47, explained that he felt the rioters were taking on “the ruling class.”

Rioting and looting that started in the London suburb of Tottenham on Saturday evening was sparked by the shooting of a 29 year old black man during a car stop by police earlier that day. There is a lot of conflicting reports about what sparked the incident in the first place but what is known is the young man, a father of four and alleged cocaine dealer was armed, was shot once on the chest by a police officer and died. A peaceful protest march of about 200 degenerated into gangs attacking police cars, shops, banks and other buildings with widespread looting around Tottenham. The unrest in and around London has now spread across England to Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Nottingham.

There are more reasons for this rioting and goes to the heart of the Cameron government’s austerity that has cut the social safety net for the very poor and unemployed who are mostly minorities.

Like many European cities, London is in the midst of serious fiscal inadequacies, and poor neighborhoods such as Tottenham and Hackney have suffered the most. Unemployment is rampant in such areas, especially in North London.

“Tottenham is a deprived area,” recently laid-off Uzodinma Wigwe told Reuters. “UnemploymentMetro police, as well as a private agency, are investigating the riots and the shooting.

The violence has marred otherwise peaceful rallies in London against government austerity measures.

In March, isolated clashes erupted in London between police and protestors marching from Piccadilly Circus to Hyde Park to Parliament. Police fired tear gas on the protestors, who in turn threw rocks, bottles, paint and light bulbs filled with ammonia at the police officers.  That clash injured 31 police officers and led to the arrest of 214 people.


Earlier in the year, student protests against a tuition hike also turned violent, with students and police clashing on London streets. Demonstrators broke out shop windows and attacked Prince Charles’ Rolls Royce as it rolled down Regent Street. is very, very high … they are frustrated.”

“We know we have been victimized by this government, we know we are being neglected by the government,” said a middle-aged man who declined to give his name. “How can you make one million youths unemployed and expect us to sit down?”

Unemployment here in the US hovers around 9.1%, among African Americans it is 15.9%, nearly double that of unemployed whites (8.1%). While not nearly as bad as 1982 when unemployment for Afican Americans soared to 19.2%, the wealth gap has widened dramatically

ndeed, blacks have suffered disproportionately in the ongoing crisis, since they have lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs and endured huge cuts in public sector spending. Black teenagers bear the worst of it – their jobless rate is at a staggering 39.2 percent (versus 23 percent for white teenagers).

According to a recent study by the National Urban League (NUL), almost all the financial/economic gains that blacks have accomplished over the past three decades were wiped out by the Great Recession.

The economic collapse is not only thinning the ranks of the black middle class, but has likely condemned millions more to permanent poverty.

The NUL report further indicated that the nation’s housing crisis has disproportionately hurt black home ownership, which “has fallen at three times the rate of white home ownership.”

These are the same factors that have sparked the violent unrest in England. The president and congress would be wise to cease the talk about spending cuts and talks of more austerity and pay more attention to job creation. The US has seen this many times in it’s 235 year history, the most recent during the 80’s and 90’s when the socio-economic disparity was high as it is now. It is has been proved historically that putting people back to work correct the deficit and reverse the spiral towards recession.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another. 

–William Shakespeare

Art Glass 26

Late Night Karaoke



What do I know about Wisconsin-

  • Cheese
  • Green Bay Packers

Oh, and they’re having elections tonight you can talk about below or at The Stars Hollow Gazette where TheMomCat is much better informed than I am.

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