Ask the Right Question – on Jobs and Unemployment

The Young Turks have an entertaining video up from a town hall meeting with Representative Hultgren.

It’s short and tells the story.

The woman asks the right question about the Bush tax cuts, prosperity and job creation. The same question could/should be asked in a broader time frame. Since 1980, the tax table has been flattened in the model that Reagan and his acolytes have wanted and if this model worked to create prosperity, where is the prosperity? Why don’t we look at the tax model that existed in the time frame that created prosperity? The Eisenhower era tax table had tremendous incentives for businesses and the wealthy to invest in infrastructure instead of facing a top tax rate of 91% (essentially confiscatory at the obscene income range). There is no incentive now for business leaders and planners to invest in their businesses when they can take huge bonuses instead and try to keep up with the Madoffs in a contest of conspicuous consumption. Fix the tax structure, fix the economy. Get the incentives right and things will turn around.

Stealth War Report

Wensday Media was asked if it could cover a meeting of Act For America (http://actforamerica.org/) in Chehalis on August 27th.  We tried, but it was a hard slog. Here are some notes from the meeting and what they are thinking about:

A group of perhaps 30 people met to discuss their concern with a stealth war that is being waged against the United States.  The group was entirely white predominately male, and the average age is estimated to be 50+.  I did not spot a single person who looked like they could be under 35 to 40 years of age.

It’s an interesting group who appear to share a concern about the the appointment and election of “devout muslims” to important government positions.  There is also concern about devout muslim infiltration of the military and police forces.  The speaker started with a recitation about the danger of the Muslim invasion and statement that when the Muslim population of an area increases beyond 25% that the Muslim population takes over, gets pushy and begins to implement Sharia Law.  The speaker was quite clear that Sharia Law is meant to replace all constitutional law and is a completely different kind of law.

Act for America was reported to number about 170,000 people now across the United States with significant political influence through funding of a lobbyist in Washington DC who is knocking on the doors of the elected officials.

There was encouragement to make connections between Act for America and the Minutemen, the National Rifle Association and other groups with closely-aligned goals. American is under attack from radical Islam, from Iran, from Hamas.  Europe is even worse, it can’t recover without a “shooting war” and that seems unlikely.  There was some discussion that GOP candidate Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it.  He has made comments in the debates that led some in this group to believe he does not see the Muslims as a threat to Constitutional law.

There was brief discussion of the threat of illegal immigration to the US, that we are under attack from many fronts, but the focus returned quickly to the threat of Hamas, Palestine and muslim extremists.

The speaker, Bill, was friendly, persuasive and articulate and made many clear statements about the threats we face, but the statements were striking and consistent in their lack of specifics. Statements about the implementation of Sharia law in communities in the US were not backed up with a single locale named where this has happened or is happening.

The group watched a video “Wall of Lies” on the territorial conflict between Israel and teh Palestinian people. This video was very well done, it was persuasive propaganda mixing current day footage of campus demonstrations for justice for Palestine, for boycotts of Israeli goods, with 50 and 60 year old quotes from Middle Eastern political leaders, with footage of Iranian demonstrations against the US and Israel and the inevitable footage of Adolph Hitler, the translation of Mein Kampf into Arabic and an attempt to establish some kind of axis of evil connection between the European Holocaust against the Jewish people and the current territorial conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people.

The meeting was well-organized, as was the speaker and the political material.  The video was top shelf propaganda, well organized, edited and produced.

I am not sure how a person would go about opening a dialogue with this group to broaden their understanding of US/Israeli militarism, the influence and sway of US power in the regions of the world where US political leaders identify national security interests (I think these interests are indistinguishable from control of oil and mineral resources and the geopolitics of controlling those resources) and how strategic US interests invade the lives of other human beings on the planet.  I would love to see this group and others like it exposed to a more rational analysis of Middle East politics from persons like Steve Niva, Peter Bohmer or Larry Mosqueda (to drop just a few names), but that exposure seems pretty unlikely.

Will post up some photos sometime soon, but they are pretty unremarkable.

Thurston County FEMA funds Dry Up and Blow Away

The Olympian (is it redundant to identify it as a conservative newspaper?) notes on the bottom of front page from Aug 22 that Thurston County is going to lose all of its FEMA funding.  This is a taste of how tea party politics and the absolutist philosophy that “taxes are bad” is going to play out around the country.  A lot of right-wing folks may think that the only people who will be hurt are poor folks (who will then be motivated to get a job, like that is going to be easy in this economic environment) but the hurt reaches beyond any particular population and what we will actually see is a decrease of money flowing in the community, at grocery stores, to the utilities, to employees of agencies who provide service to vulnerable populations at wages that rival Walmart’s payscale.  Nate Huling wrote the FEMA fund story for the Daily Zero.  I haven’t done fact-checking or even read it close (because I just scan the Zero, actually reading the thing usually just makes me feel nauseous), but I think he has covered the story pretty well.

In another story on the front page, the zero has a story by Brad Shannon on closing tax exemptions or letting them expire.  A lot of us demonstrated and advocated for fixing the budget by closing exemptions in the last session.  Maybe we were heard by somebody?

Here is a quote by an authentic tea party type on taxes:

IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU SHOULD PRACTICALLY BEAR IN MIND THAT TOWARDS THE PAYMENT OF DEBTS THERE MUST BE REVENUE; THAT TO HAVE REVENUE THERE MUST BE TAXES; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant.

George Washington

The paper led with the Libyan rebel victory over Gadhafi.  I think that battle is not over until Gadhafi is caught, but I guess we will have to wait and see on that.  Like all of the Arab Spring conflicts, I would like to be optimistic that these are populist uprisings that will increase democracy and freedom, but I am not optimistic about tCourtesy Wiki Commons Rob Phillipshe armed conflict in general.  The arms merchants have flooded many nations with small arms and real peace and progress may depend upon the appearance of a cultural leader like Gandhi or Mandela to make real progress.  We could use somebody like those guys here in the States as well.  Kucinich is working on that peace road to prosperity, but it’s a tough slog.

In the absence of leadership or a large cultural shift or propensity toward forgiveness, peace, sustainability and justice, these struggles could just devolve into the cycle of resource wars.

We (the US of A) could/should lead by example.  How about a fair tax structure, a decent safety net, a jobs program based on keynsian economic model of rebuilding green, sustainable, infrastructure?  It’s time to beat the swords into solar panels.

Photo credit to Rob Bishop by way of Wiki Commons.

Double Dip Anyone?

The stock market continues to be on a roller coaster ride as it slides and then rebounds as traders engage in fishing the bottom and making trading commissions, sliding a few bucks out of the pockets of the marks.

Prez Obama is on the road in his magic bus talking about jobs and job creation. The NY Post (bastion of responsible journalism!@!) is reporting the bus was built in Canada.  Well, job creation somewhere on the continent, I guess that’s good, but it might have been a nice touch to have had the thing built here in the USA to go on tour and talk about jobs.  Wiki Commons - Matt Michrina

It’s always easy on the ear to listen to Barack talk and sometimes inspiring, but it’s a bit like holding a shell to your ear and enjoying the sound of the ocean.  It’s largely theater, the connections between the sounds and any reality are pretty slight.

The political decisions that Obama has made – from Geithner instead of Krugman or Stiglitz, to TARP bank bailouts instead of an FDR style green energy public works project, to ditching the public option in favor of a corporate insurance health care makeover, to the late 2010 deal for extending the Bush tax breaks for the have-mores, the spineless negotiation over the debt ceiling – have emptied Obama’s pockets. I think he has no means to create significant jobs legislation.  That opportunity existed in his first 100 days and is now just a faint memory.  Maybe I am wrong about this.  I would love to be wrong about this, but I tend to rely on rational analysis and the rational analysis conclusion I arrive at is bleak.  But who knows, maybe the President will take us all on a snorkeling vacation to Aruba!  Rainbow pie!

Back to rational analysis:

I think we face a different kind of downturn today.  We are so deep in the trees now that the forest vision is long gone.  What I recall is that our means of production, our fuel source, is a disaster from an environmental perspective and is also past its peak from a production angle, so that’s an ugly situation.  I think we are not-facing an existential crisis where we desperately need to look at an energy system conversion to green, sustainable energy infrastructure.  The good news is that the energy is there and will be for a long time because our parent star seems to be in its prime, but we have to wake up and appreciate the relatively clean energy raining down on us every day.  That’s happening to some extent, but there is also the prospect of resource wars and war profiteering is enjoying the low tax rates, so a rational person would have to feel bullish about the prospect for military solutions to scarcity problems.  Arab spring?  Street riots about austerity?  you connect the dots, kemosabe.

Anyway, haven’t had much to say lately.  Have been working on video projects.  Watching the madness of the Tea Party/GOP ramp up as the spokesmodels compete to make the most outrageous comments and seize the low ground for the next election cycle.

And out of the mist, the fog of war, the swirl of drone rocket debris clouds, comes the POTUS in his new bus to cheer us up with talk of jobs.

Holey moley. I don’t think talk of a jobs program is going to get it done, Barack.  What else have you got?  How is life in the bubble?  I know that having someone other than Barack get elected in the next POTUS cycle would be really bad, but getting Barack for a second bite at the apple doesn’t look that good either. The Obama fans will be angry with me for declaring the emperor is parading around naked, but I think Barack has to take a little responsibility for letting the pragmatic partisans on the other side back him into this corner. I never suggested that he bang his head on the wall of third-way politics.

Olympia Copwatch

Planning meeting today for ramping up copwatch activities in Olympia.  Interested folks will be at Bigelow Park around noon enjoying the park and sitting in on the Olympia Really Really Free Market.  I think we will have a training opportunity.  Will also have some flip video camcorders to get out into the hands of folks who are committed to keeping a camera turned on the police in Olympia.  I am not sure we need a formal organization to ramp up copwatch, mainly I just think we more tools and a little bit of framework.

I have opened an Olympia Copwatch facebook page and group.  I am not sure whether group or page makes more sense.   I am still trying to figure out how to use fb.  (and I am wondering if google plus will turn out to be a better tool in the long run)

See you in the streets and the parks!

Mike

We Can’t Live with Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power Plants

The annual peace walk to the Ground Zero Center in Bangor is wrapping up today with a talk by Dennis Kucinich at 6:30 pm.   I was able to speak with Senji Kanaeda for a few minutes on July 31st and am finishing up a short video with Senji’s thoughts front and center.

I still have a little tweaking to do on the video, but it’s almost finished and I wanted to get this up.  I am also using the video to publicize the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant event at Traditions on Monday, August 8th at 7 pm.  We have to stop nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.  This is a road that leads nowhere.