You can access all the past editions of The Daily Planet on the green Category bar on the top of each page under the heading PlanetPOV.




Americans think about 5% of the budget goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The actual number is about 0.1%. (In dollar figures, the public seems to actually believe the CPB gets $178 billion, as compared to the $420 million it received last year.)

Respondents think 10% of the budget goes to “food and nutrition assistance for the poor,” 7% goes to “housing assistance for the poor,” and 10% goes to federal funding to education. None of these figures are even close to being right — federal spending in all of these areas is a small fraction of what the public perceives. (We should be so lucky as to have so much investment in public programs and a strong safety net.)

And best of all, the CNN poll also asked whether existing funding levels should go up or down in all of these areas. My personal favorite: nearly two-thirds of the country believes federal spending on education should go up, and that’s after those same Americans have roughly quadrupled in their minds what the feds actually spend in this area.

I wonder what the public reaction would be if voters learned that House Republicans want to make massive cuts to Head Start, Pell grants, and Title I grants (which help schools with kids who live in poverty).


CNN Poll: Americans flunk budget IQ test


5 Thousand Protest Budget/Union Laws in New Hampshire

[Last Thursday, Mar.31, 2011] About 5 thousand people turned out to register their disgust with the NH General Court and the extreme laws that are being foisted on the state.  While 5k at a protest isn’t large by Wisconsin standards, this has been estimated to be the largest protest gathering ever in the state of New Hampshire.


Democrats consider proposing tax hikes

Dems to go on offensive on tax hikes for the rich … next year: Dems are tentatively planning to take a stand on hiking taxes for the rich in next year’s budget showdown, on the interesting theory that they will somehow have more leverage next time because they agreed to the GOP’s spending cuts this time around.

Paul Krugman | Extensive Outsourcing Leads to Trouble

There’s a new article in the March/April edition of the Washington Monthly making the point that the United States needs federal bureaucrats to manage spending, including spending on private contractors, and that understaffing the government – which we’re doing already, and will do more of if the right gets its way – actually increases the deficit. I agree. ‘In practice, cutting civil servants often means either adding private contractors or … resorting to the belief that industries have a deep capacity to police themselves,’ John Gravois writes.”


Obama, Meet Obama

Someone should introduce the Barack Obama who addressed the nation Monday on Libya to the Barack Obama who has been dancing around the edge of the budget fight. In his Libya speech, Obama was clear, forceful and principled. Yes, there were some ambiguities but these were dictated by a genuinely uncertain situation on the ground, not by muddled thinking. The president made the case for a foreign policy rooted in morality yet also alive to the difficulties of acting wisely in an imperfect world that does not bend easily to one man’s or one country’s will.



March Job Growth May be the Real Thing

The beleaguered labor market passed a magic number on Friday, as the Labor Department reported that the nation added more than 200,000 jobs in March—the pace that analysts say is necessary to make a dent in unemployment. And in a surprise to many forecasters, the unemployment rate in March edged down to 8.8 percent.

One month doesn’t make a trend, and a full recovery will probably take several more years. But analysts say the United States may finally be on the right track.


Gallop: Americans’ Top Job-Creation Idea: Stop Sending Work Overseas


TARP Profitable

The portion of TARP funds “that went to banks has now turned a profit for the federal government,” the Treasury Department said yesterday. The department said “the only lost money from TARP will stem from its foreclosure prevention programs.”


Debt, Austerity and How to Fight Back

Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West, The Nation:

The courageous actions by the citizens in Wisconsin are an inspiring defense of the core values of this country: a civil society based on freedom of association, ensuring that our communities have high quality public services—education, public safety and support for our elderly and most vulnerable—along with good jobs for all. The outpouring of support nationally shows the possibilities for challenging deepening economic inequality and political marginalization of the majority of the American people.

We are on the cusp of a great movement to resist and roll back that corporate domination by banks, energy companies and war profiteers. To join that movement and escalate the activism planned in the days, weeks and months ahead we are organizing a “National Teach-in on Debt, Austerity and How People Are Fighting Back.” The live web-streamed teach-in will be held on Tuesday, April 5, 2011, at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City, beginning at 2 pm (EST). Admission is free. Speakers from schools and communities around the country will be hosted by moderators Frances Fox Piven and Cornel West in New York City through a live webcast that you can join by organizing a teach-in on your own campus.



Republicans Get Punked by  Their Witnesses at Climate Hearing

Richard Muller,  a Berkeley physicist who at times has been embraced by foes of action to limit greenhouse gases because of his criticism of depictions of catastrophic global warming, was a star witness at  a hearing today organized by Republican lawmakers.


Muller is the leader of an independent effort to use new methods to estimate temperature trends over land. It was inspired largely by his long-stated doubts about the quality of three independent and longstanding efforts to take vast amounts of climate data, gathered in inconsistent and shifting ways over many decades, and derive reliable trends. There are excellent overviews of the project in The Guardian and Los Angeles Times. [Here’s more from The Guardian’s Ian Sample.]


If the lawmakers, and/or Charles Koch, whose foundation provided some of the money for this research effort, hoped it would undercut the credibility of climate science, they must be disappointed. (The project is also supported, in part, by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Bill Gates and the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation and other backers.)

I agree with one point made by Anthony Watts, one of the most popular aggregators of all things doubtful on climate, in a letter he hurriedly sent to the committee and posted on his blog as the hearing began*:

Normally such scientific debate is conducted in peer reviewed literature, rather than rushed to the floor of the House before papers and projects are complete.

The three scientists on the panel this morning — Muller, John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, and Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — all agreed on the basics despite holding a range of personal interpretations of those basics:

– The world has warmed.
– Greenhouse gases function and have played a role in that warming.
– There is durable uncertainty.


Muller, who in the past has made oversimplified and grossly overstated (to my mind) attacks on climate scientists and former Vice President Al Gore, was mainly restrained at the hearing, focusing on his goals for the temperature analysis. He restated his conviction that humans are warming the world, but also his view that dangerous warming remains a possibility, not a given.

As he put it this morning, “The issue in my mind is not are we seeing it but what is the degree. If it is on the high end we do have to engage very rapidly although we also have to engage with other countries” (because the brunt of new emissions will be in developing nations).

Republicans on the committee sought to draw him out on whether he saw a conspiracy to overstate climate claims, but received a nuanced reply:

You asked about a conspiracy…. I don’t believe there’s a conspiracy. But I do believe that many of the scientists in this field are so deeply concerned about what they found that they work as advocates…. I fear that the scientists are not trusting the public enough…. The bad effect of this then is that the public loses some of its trust in science.


President Obama’s Green Fleet Initiative A Bold Step Forward In US Energy Use

Secretary Ray LaHood:

This afternoon, President Obama unveils his green fleet initiative which ensures that by 2015, all new vehicles purchased for Americas’s federal agencies will be electric, gas-electric hybrid, or alternatively fueled.


The transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of the United States’ oil use and contributes one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.  After housing, transportation is the second biggest monthly expense for most American families.  Reducing the gas consumed by our federal fleet will help relieve some of the upward pressure on gas prices.

As the President said earlier this week, “In an economy that relies so heavily on oil, rising prices at the pump affect everybody.”

We have the opportunity, and the obligation, to take action.  We can change both the types and the amounts of energy that our transportation systems use while also creating good, high-paying jobs and easing everyone’s burden at the pump.

The Administration is already leading by example on this one. Since taking office, President Obama has doubled the number of hybrids in the government’s fleet of 600,000 vehicles.

President Obama is also right when he says that electric vehicles offer one solution.  […]

Through historic fuel economy standards, we’ve also made sure the gasoline-powered vehicles purchased by the federal government prior to President Obama’s 2015 deadline will also run more efficiently and use less gas.

Reducing the amount of gas consumed by our federal fleet and by America’s private vehicles will lower overall fuel demand, helping to keep gas prices lower than they would otherwise be, and save all of us from spending a fortune to fill up. This comprehensive national program is also projected to save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the first five years of these new standards.


Now, we can’t just wave a magic wand and end our reliance on oil overnight. But under President Obama’s leadership, we are progressing down the path toward sustainability, a cleaner environment, and more livable communities.


FACT SHEET: National Clean Fleets Partnership


After 30 years, war on AIDS at ‘moment of truth’

With the war on AIDS nearing its 30th anniversary, the UN on Thursday declared “a moment of truth” had come for new strategies to address the campaign’s failures and brake costs that were now unsustainable.


Ban said there had been many pluses over the past three decades, notably getting AIDS drugs to more than six million badly-infected people in poor countries.

But at this point, “the HIV response faces a moment of truth,” he said.

Among the problems he highlighted was “a wholly unsustainable” rise in costs and a flatlining in resources, which have remained at under 16 billion dollars a year since late 2007.

More and more people are becoming infected, which means they will eventually join the numbers of patients who eventually need AIDS drugs, a treatment that has to be taken daily for the rest of one’s life.


Medicare moves to pay for prostate cancer drug Provenge



Nice summary of the efforts in Camden NJ to form an Accountable Care Organization to lower local health costs.



Ex-Cops Sentenced To Prison For Post-Katrina Killing

A former New Orleans police officer was sentenced to more than 25 years in prison Thursday for shooting a man to death without justification after Hurricane Katrina, and his ex-colleague was given just over 17 years for burning the body.

The judge said he didn’t believe former officer David Warren’s testimony that Henry Glover, 31, posed a threat when he came to a strip mall less than a week after the August 2005 storm. Warren shot Glover to death and ex-officer Gregory McRae later burned his body in a car near a police station.

Lawyers for the men argued they deserved some leniency, partly because of the horrific conditions and chaos they faced following the hurricane.

“Your conduct was barbaric,” U.S. District Judge Lance Africk told McRae. “The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina was made uglier by your disturbing actions. At a time when more was expected of you, you failed miserably.”

McRae could have received 50 years and Warren faced up to life in prison.


Michelle Alexander: More Black Men in Prison Than Were Enslaved in 1850

It’s a heartbreaking, but often understated, reality that America’s criminal justice system imprisons black folks at astonishingly high rates. The U.S. Bureau of Justice estimated that as of 2008, there were over 846,000 black men in prison, making up 40.2 percent of all inmates in the system. But in a recent talk, noted author Michelle Alexander put those numbers in grave historical perspective.

“More African American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began,” Alexander, an Ohio State law professor, recently told listeners at the Pasadena Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.


If crime rates have fluctuated over the years and are now at historical lows, then why have rates of incarcerated men of color skyrocketed over the past 30 years?

The answer to that question doesn’t require a lot of digging.

“Most of that increase is due to the War on Drugs, a war waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color,” she said. LA Progressive reported that even though studies have proven that whites use and sell illegal drugs at rates equal to or higher than black, four of five black youth in some inner-city communities can expect to be incarcerated in their lifetimes.

In an interview with Washington Journal, Alexander said:

Once labeled a felon, you can be subjected to all forms of discrimination that once applied to African-Americans during the Jim Crow era. You may be denied the right to vote, you’re automatically excluded from juries, and you’re legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, relegated to a second-class status much like… your parents or grandparents may have been…


What results from this form of mass incarceration? As we saw during last fall’s elections, millions of America’s black voters have been disenfranchised. An estimated 5.3 million Americans have currently or permanently lost their right to vote because of felony convictions. But for black men, the rate is seven times the national average. These numbers are sure to take on even more significance as the 2012 campaign season kicks into high gear.



Banning US News Outlets from Lying Might Just Save the World

Yesterday, in a tirade spurred by the strange, continued praise of News Corps snake-oily ‘carbon neutral’ efforts, I argued that Fox News has done more than any other media outlet in the world to prevent progress towards addressing climate change. And it does so, frankly, by lying. Its editorial board has a prerogative to sew doubt about climate change, and consistently and willfully misrepresents the strong body of science that confirms human activity is warming the planet. So what if Fox News was banned from lying? What if there was a federal law that prevented News Corp from spreading false information about climate change? Sounds far-fetched, right? Well, Canada’s got one.

The Ottawa law bans news agencies from airing anything they know to be untrue — and when some politicians sought to revoke it, the US news media took notice. Primarily, because we have no such ban, and many might assume it somehow restricts the freedom of press. This isn’t the case, however.

Dave Saldana of Yes Magazine explains:



House to Vote on Overturning Net Neutrality Laws

Armed with an ideological agenda, House Republicans took aim at net neutrality again this month, quietly introducing a Congressional ‘resolution of disapproval’ to overturn recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) laws prohibiting anti-competitive behavior among Internet providers. H.J. Res. 37 passed 30-23 on March 15, and will now go to the House of Representatives for a vote, which House Speaker John Boehner said in late February could happen ‘as early as next month.’


Donald Trump gets regular Fox News spot




President Obama Announces 2012 Run: “It Begins With Us”

Announcement in 2007

How Minorities Could Affect the Race for President

[Recommended by Matt Yglesias—sorry, I can’t reproduce the interactive map.]

In the map and chart below, National Journal projects the percentage of the white vote that President Obama will need to carry an individual state in 2012. The baseline simulation makes two key assumptions. First, that Obama captures as much of the minority vote in that state as he did in 2008. Second, that the minority population grows over the next two years at the same rate it has since 2000 and produces a commensurate increase in the minority share of the electorate. The chart shows where the growing minority presence will allow Obama to win states even if he loses support among whites—and where he will need to increase his support from whites to prevail.

See Interacive map here.

Poll: President Obama is starting to regain the trust of ‘Millennials’


Exclusive: Koch Operative May Have Deceived Officials To Take $2.7M In Taxpayer Money For Governor’s Race

In 2008, Steve Lonegan, the New Jersey state director for David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group, announced a campaign to run for governor. Running as a Republican, Lonegan lost to Chris Christie (R-NJ) in the Republican primary, and Christie went on to win the general election later in 2009. But recent tax disclosures examined by ThinkProgress reveal that Lonegan, who used $2.7 million in taxpayer matching funds for his gubernatorial campaign, may have deceived public officials in order to collect the public money used for his campaign.

According to New Jersey state clean election law, recipients of public campaign funds cannot be “involved in any way in the management of” a political advocacy 501(c)(4) organization “unless the organization agrees to disclose the name of each of its contributors and the amount of each contribution and expenditure.” Americans for Prosperity has never disclosed its donors. Lonegan, who has served as the New Jersey Americans for Prosperity executive director for years, said the disclosure law didn’t apply to him because he was paid by Americans for Prosperity’s educational 501(c)(3) foundation rather than its 501(c)(4) lobbying and advocacy branch. He told reporters that he was only paid by Americans for Prosperity’s educational foundation, not its lobbying branch. However, new information shows that Lonegan was in fact paid by Americans for Prosperity’s 501(c)(4) lobbying and advocacy branch and that he had significant managerial duties at Americans for Prosperity’s New Jersey Political Committee:

To avoid potential campaign conflicts, candidates who apply for matching money are required to tell the commission if they’ve previously managed issue-advocacy groups and list their donors and expenditures if they’ve recently run such a group. Lonegan said he is not subject to those reporting requirements because he was paid by the educational foundation of the anti-tax lobbying group, not its lobbying branch.


Today, ThinkProgress contacted Lonegan about taking taxpayer funds for his election. Asked if he was paid by the Americans for Prosperity 501(c)(4) lobbying and advocacy wing, Lonegan said, “I don’t remember, I don’t know.” When told about the recent tax returns showing that he was indeed paid by the lobbying wing, in contrast to what he told reporters at the time in 2009, Lonegan said, “that’s old history.”

If he gave the New Jersey election law enforcement commission his compensation information from Americans for Prosperity’s educational foundation but not its lobbying and advocacy branch, and if he concealed his dual Americans for Prosperity salary from the commission, Lonegan and Americans for Prosperity could have some explaining to do. If the election commission decides to investigate the issue, it could hand down fines or other penalties to Lonegan.


Without the Campaign Donors, This Wouldn’t Be Possible

Even by Washington’s low standards, the House’s Republican freshmen are turning pandering into a high art. At a recent transportation hearing in his home district, Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma heaped praise on a panel of private sector witnesses. Three of the four executives so publicly favored were later discovered to be donors to Mr. Lankford’s campaign.

Nothing illegal in that, nor in the enthusiasms of another freshman, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, dubbed the Congressman from Koch for championing the conservative agenda of the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David. They contributed handsomely — $80,000 worth — to Mr. Pompeo’s campaign kitty. Once elected, Mr. Pompeo hired a former Koch Industries lawyer as his chief of staff.

Mr. Pompeo said he ran for Congress because as a businessman (whose business included some Koch investment money) he saw “how government can crush entrepreneurism.” His contributions to the House Republicans’ budget-slashing legislation included two top priorities of Koch Industries: killing off funds for the Obama administration’s new database for consumer complaints about unsafe products and for a registry of greenhouse gas polluters at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The congressman said he was concerned that the database would encourage false accusations about good products and that the registry would increase the E.P.A.’s power and cost jobs. Those arguments are nonsense, but Mr. Pompeo represents an early warning of the shape of things to come when the Supreme Court’s misguided decision to legalize unfettered corporate campaign donations fully kicks in next year.

The Koch brothers are planning to spend tens of millions in the 2012 campaign, as are Democratic power brokers and unions. Ordinary voters may be making a show of demanding real political change, but they are being increasingly outbid at the big money table where American politics happens.


Thom Hartmann: Are the Koch Bros a threat to Democracy?


The Case for Obama Campaigning on the Economy

But even as the world convulses, top aides to Mr. Obama are mindful of another reality: the economy — and Washington’s success or failure in turning it around — could be the deciding subject for most voters in 2012.

That is why Mr. Obama is likely to campaign for a second term by seeking to convince voters that the economy and jobs are his primary concern.

At the White House, the domestic political machinery has continued to churn away with that in mind. Cabinet officials have traveled the country to talk about the economy and jobs. The president has conducted interviews with local television anchors, almost all of which have focused on domestic issues.

For the last several weeks, the president has devoted time to pitching his education policies on day trips to different parts of the country. White House aides said the president intended a similar pattern of travel and speeches about energy policy, which he started with an appearance at Georgetown University on Wednesday.

In part, both efforts — and more to come in the days and weeks ahead — are intended to lay the groundwork for a political defense against what the White House expects will be a coordinated and well-financed campaign waged against his economic policies.

But they are also a recognition that Mr. Obama’s political fortunes are more likely to be shaped by the unemployment rate and the debate over the nation’s debt than they are by the administration’s action’s overseas.

Here’s why:

* The truth about wars and disasters is that they command attention at first, and later fade as the public turns back to their daily concerns. It’s already happening with the crisis in Japan. And the conflict in the Middle East and North Africa will seem more distant if forces from the United States really do hand over operations to European and regional forces.

* Even when they are in the news, foreign events are unpredictable and difficult to manage. Mr. Obama found that out when he pledged on his first day in office to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. It remains open today chiefly because the administration has had difficulty finding allies willing to take the detainees into their countries. Basing a campaign on the whims of foreign interactions would be dangerous at best.

* The economy continues to struggle, but the news has been steadily, if slowly, improving on the economic front, with more than a year of modest job growth each month and economic measures like the markets, consumer spending and income growth have been moving in a positive direction.

That improvement has not yet translated into a lot of optimism among the public. In an Associated Press-GfK poll released on Wednesday, Americans said they were growing more pessimistic — not less — about the future. But the same survey suggested that Mr. Obama was not the target of the pessimism and that his approval ratings over all and on the economy were holding steady, at 50 percent and 47 percent respectively. (Other recent polls, however, have shown his approval on the economy lower.)

* Even if the president wanted to talk about foreign affairs, the political conversation in Washington is being driven by lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who are gearing up for a yearlong battle over the nation’s debt and deficits. Mr. Obama is all but certain to be drawn into that conversation.

* The president’s first year in office largely set the tone for his administration, whether he liked it or not. The stimulus program, the bank and auto bailouts, the fights overfinancial regulation legislation and health care provided Mr. Obama with a record that he now has to sell to the public.

* The lack of foreign policy credentials for most of the likely 2012 Republican candidates offers an opportunity for Mr. Obama. But it also means that the men and women who are running for the Republican nomination will focus on what they know: domestic issues like immigration, gas prices, job losses, taxes, government spending and the debt.

Candidates like Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, or Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, will all seize on the economy’s weaknesses to call for an end to Mr. Obama’s administration. His challenge will be to construct a narrative that pushes back against their charges.

* The 2010 midterm campaign offered Mr. Obama a clear example of what can happen when Democrats don’t successfully control that narrative. Republicans captured the House and made big gains in the Senate almost exclusively by tapping into anger about the economy, health care and jobs.

Mr. Obama acknowledged as much in his post-election news conference a day after what he called the “shellacking” he got in the midterm elections.

“I think that there is no doubt that people’s No. 1 concern is the economy,” he said. “And what they were expressing great frustration about is the fact that we haven’t made enough progress on the economy. We’ve stabilized the economy. We’ve got job growth in the private sectors. But people all across America aren’t feeling that progress. They don’t see it. ”

The presidential re-election campaign gives Mr. Obama a chance for a mulligan on that score — a do-over that he can finance with hundreds of millions of dollars and an army of presidential campaign volunteers.

In the end, though, the biggest argument for running a presidential campaign focused on domestic issues may be that it is where the political energy is, on both sides.

For Mr. Obama’s supporters on the left, concerns about union bargaining rights, job losses, energy security and health care are the driving issues. On the right, concerns about taxes, immigration, debt, unions and health care (in an opposite way) are fueling the Tea Party movements across the country.

Mr. Obama could run a foreign policy campaign. But he would most likely be ignoring the electorate if he did.


Does Rick Scott’s Drug-Testing Policy Violate the 4th Amendment?

Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed off on an executive order that requires that many state employees and job applicants submit to mandatory drug tests. He’s also pushing state legislators to pass a bill that would subject welfare recipients to drug testing as well. But legal experts warn that Scott’s heavy-handed measures may be unconstitutional. The Miami Herald reports:

[F]ederal courts generally have ruled that such policies violate the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches, say attorneys and legal scholars.


There’s one stakeholder, though, that could benefit from the governor’s new drug-testing push. As I reported last week, Scott’s own company, Solantic, conducts drug-testing for employers and employees alike and stands to profit from this proposal—among many others.


Feingold calls for GE CEO Immelt to step down as Obama jobs chief

Obama named GE CEO Jeff Immelt as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness in January.

To make matters worse, the liberal blog ThinkProgress revealed Monday that Immelt’s company plans to ask 15,000 workers to make major wage and benefit concessions.

In an email obtained by The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent Wednesday, Feingold was expected to call for Immelt to give up his White House job.

“But what really adds insult to injury is the prestigious and influential position Jeffrey Immelt holds as chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness,” the former Democratic senator wrote. “That’s wrong.”

“Someone like Immelt, who has helped his company evade taxes on its huge profits — and is now looking to workers to take major pay cuts after his compensation was doubled — should not lead the administration’s effort to create jobs,” he added.

“We shouldn’t reward wealthy CEOs and Wall Street for behavior that undermines the nation’s economy.”



The Human Lake

Exceptional article on the teeming ecosystem of microbes within our bodies from one of the masters of Science writing. Reveals that “in your lifetime you will produce five elephants of microbes. You are basically a microbe factory”



Walker to Obey Judge’s Order Blocking Anti-Worker Law


W.H.: Obama may veto FAA bill

In the “one of the strongest official pronouncements” for labor, the White House said Obama will veto the House’s Federal Aviation Administration bill “if it includes provisions hampering aviation and railroad workers’ ability to unionize.” Obama’s advisers will urge a veto on any bill that “would not safeguard” the ability of “working Americans [to] exercise their right to organize under a fair and free process.”


Ohio voters have 90 days to stop Gov.Kasich’s anti-union bill


Gallup: Americans side with unions over governors


Are We All Black Americans Now?

Melissa Harris-Perry:

In the months following September 11, my colleague Cornel West offered this insight: national political elites used the devastating attacks to promote the “niggerization of the American people.” West understood that long before 9/11, African-Americans were intimately familiar with terrorism. Through the Jim Crow century, they were routinely and randomly brutalized and murdered by well-organized groups of whites acting beyond the confines of the official state but with the tacit consent of their society. Under the shadow of lynching, black Americans learned what it meant to feel, as West describes, “unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hated for who they are.” After 9/11 far too many Americans, unaccustomed to this sense of collective intimidation, felt helpless to halt an unjustified war or the erosion of civil liberties. Thus, whether or not they were black, Americans were “niggerized” by the attacks.


Few events more clearly demonstrated the blackening of America than the standoff in Wisconsin. Like the nineteenth-century leaders of Southern states who stripped black citizens of voting rights, public accommodation and civic associations, Wisconsin’s Republican majority dismantled the hard-won basic rights of Wisconsin workers. Like those Confederate leaders, the Wisconsin GOP used intimidation, threats and even the police against demonstrators and rival officials. As the saga unfolded, many Wisconsin citizens felt stunned that their once-secure rights might be eliminated. For a moment, perhaps, they glimpsed the experience of black men and women who watched the shadow of Jim Crow blot out the promises of emancipation.


Today corporate greed, conservative ideology, manufactured right-wing populism and progressive complicity are making more and more Americans into, as Professor West might characterize them, “niggers.” Rather than try to escape the pain of experiencing some small familiarity with blackness, Americans could choose to learn from generations of African-Americans who resisted dehumanizing processes of domination and inequality. During the 2008 election Obama’s detractors tried to smear him by suggesting that “Hussein” was a terrorist’s moniker. As a demonstration of solidarity, thousands of Americans informally declared that they too would be known by the middle name Hussein. It was purely symbolic, but it rested on a belief in the power to change meaning by embracing rather than eschewing that which is labeled subordinate, alien, dangerous and shameful. By embracing our collective blackness, perhaps we can find the fortitude and creativity necessary to face the continuing erosion of our national social safety net in the face of a persistent economic crisis.


Cops, firefighters turn on GOP in labor fight

Many cops and firefighters have thrown their allegiance to the GOP for years — union members who frequently stray from labor’s longtime support for Democrats.

A host of new Republican governors is changing all that.




Rove on birthers: It’s a trap!

Bill O’Reilly asked Karl Rove last night if Donald Trump might boost his political career by being an unrestrained birther. After all, O’Reilly said, Trump’s support for the ridiculous conspiracy theory is getting him “a hell of a lot of attention” and helps him curry favor with “the right-wing base of the Republican Party.”

Rove didn’t see it that way.

” The right- wing base of the Republican Party — I’m part of that right-wing base — is not in love with the issue of birthers. I mean, there is an element inside the Republican Party and outside the Republican Party that’s fallen in love with this. But the vast majority of Republicans and the vast majority of Americans accept that he’s a U.S. citizen and capable of being president. And this is a distraction. […]

“This is a mistake. It will marginalize [Trump]. And he’s falling for Barack Obama’s trap. Barack Obama wants Republicans to fall into this trap, because he knows it discredits us with the vast majority of American people when they do.”

If this seems familiar, it’s because we’ve heard it from Rove before. About six weeks ago, he pushed the same line, insisting that this far-right nonsense is “the trap of the White House.”

Even by Rove standards, this is just odd. He really seems to believe that an unhinged, right-wing conspiracy theory, debunked several years ago and rejected by sane people everywhere, is an elaborate “trap” set by nefarious White House officials, including the president.


Remember, Karl Rove, who’s now shared this idea on national television more than once, is considered one of the Republican Party’s most credible, strategic minds.

Postscript: Speaking of Rove, his new Wall Street Journal op-ed said the president came out in support of Bush’s “freedom agenda,” which is at odds with a speech Obama delivered in 2005. As it turns out, Rove’s lying about this week’s speech and the 2005 speech.



No One Man Should Have All That Power

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Jane Awesome puts Miss Steele on blast:

Marianne had now been brought by degrees, so much into the habit of going out every day, that it was become a matter of indifference to her whether she went or not: and she prepared quietly and mechanically for every evening’s engagement, though without expecting the smallest amusement from any, and very often without knowing till the last moment where it was to take her. To her dress and appearance she was grown so perfectly indifferent, as not to bestow half the consideration on it, during the whole of her toilette, which it received from Miss Steele in the first five minutes of their being together, when it was finished.

Nothing escaped her minute observation and general curiosity; she saw everything, and asked everything; was never easy till she knew the price of every part of Marianne’s dress; could have guessed the number of her gowns altogether with better judgment than Marianne herself, and was not without hopes of finding out before they parted, how much her washing cost per week, and how much she had every year to spend upon herself.

The impertinence of these kind of scrutinies, moreover, was generally concluded with a compliment, which though meant as its douceur, was considered by Marianne as the greatest impertinence of all; for after undergoing an examination into the value and make of her gown, the colour of her shoes, and the arrangement of her hair, she was almost sure of being told that upon “her word she looked vastly smart, and she dared to say would make a great many conquests.

Words aside, one of the best aspects of my readings of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility has been discovering how consistent human beings are over time. I don’t mean this in the general way–pride, love, happiness etc.–but in the kind of intimate way Austen sketches here. No doubt we’ve changed some, but those changes feel surface. I read this and thought, “I know this person.” And the shocking thing is, I’m not sure I do But I just feel like I do.

There’s something else too, something sinister undergirding both of these books. We think of the gentry–from the aristocrats of Old England to the slavemasters of the Old South–as a solid inviolable class. But throughout Austen’s book, looming in the background, is the possibility of one’s family falling into labor. In this world, an unmarried daughter is a problem. She is not allowed to work and market her labor, and thus without marriage, she becomes a burden upoin her parents in life, and leaves her family unimproved in death. Fathers really were “giving away” in that world.  Add in men like Willoughby, with only a minor inheritance, and  one quickly begins to see how a fall into the laboring classes might be accomplished.

And so it was with slavemasters. Advancing to the ranks of planter did not mean one couldn’t–through bad land deals, through vice–be advanced back out. It helps to think about this qualitatively. There were very few slave rebellions in 19th century America–and yet that fact gave slave-owners no security from the threat. It helps to not think about power as the end-game, to not think about power as a potion of invulnerability. Once you have acquired power, you are constantly harried by the thought of losing it.




Monday, April 4th: We Are One
Demonstrations in state capitols and
everywhere across the U.S. in remembrance of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and in defense of workers’ rights
Find an Action | Organize Your Own Action | Ideas for Actions


Call Out the Vote: Wisconsin

Sarah Palin just endorsed David Prosser, the right-wing candidate in next week’s election for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Prosser voted with Gov. Scott Walker 95% when they were in the legislature — and if he wins this election, he’ll be the deciding vote on the legality of Gov. Walker’s anti-worker bill that passed in the dark of night after Republicans bent the rules.

Can you join PCCC members across the nation who are calling Wisconsin voters – asking them to defeat the Palin/Walker candidate in Tuesday’s election?

Yes! Show me the shifts to sign up and volunteer from my home!


US Uncut

Next National Days of Action: Tax Weekend April 15-18th!

On the weekend of tax day, April 15th-18th, let’s all take a stand for folks like Earl in our own communities. And let’s send our leaders a message- corporate tax cheats must pay up before veterans, the elderly, the unemployed, and the most vulnerable members of society are asked to sacrifice any more than we already have.

FedEx (Secondary Target)

When it comes to paying their fair share of taxes, FedEx simply does not deliver. When FedEx made $1.9 billion in profits, they managed to pay less than .0005% of it in taxes by using 21 tax havens. FedEx also spent 42 times (4200%) more on lobbying Congress than they did in taxes.

When FedEx does not deliver on its fair share of taxes, we are forced to cut $373 million in teacher training programs (Americorp).



Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap,

but by the seeds you plant. ~ unknown


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Cher, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I had some trouble with the link for the Thom Hartmann story on the Koch brothers as a threat to democracy.

It really is an excellent piece, and he interviewed Lee Fang and I think Robert Greenwald (hope I got the name right — he’s done a film on the Kochs). I hope people check it out. Do you mind if I re-post the link?

KQµårk 死神

Another great update Cher.

Dems should make tax hikes for the rich a major issue but let’s make sure it’s the rich that are getting the biggest tax hikes. The Dems should push for a new tax bracket at $1MM/year and reform the rest of the tax codes not only for individuals but business.

I get so tired of this guilt by association politics by progressives now with the Immelt appointment. So what they nominee is a successful business person who ran company A, B, C or whatever. This is a job to promote competitiveness of American goods and services it’s not even a watch dog position. Where do you get people that understand business from, the government or academia? No, they come from business and no business is pure these days.

I worked in an industry where you hired the best people and often they were from the competition at one time or another. It’s about knowing how to do the job and the thought that someone’s politics or past affiliations influence doing that job are vastly overrated. Leave that political loyalist BS to the GOP that requires loyalist pledges and such.

Oh and TARP no I can say I told you so. This had to be the most misunderstood issue of our time. For one allot of money was not even spent close to a third. Now what went out to the banks it’s coming back with interest. I also said all along the the foreclosure issue was the toughest to handle because you had to deal with the banks and too many people under any circumstance could not pay back their mortgages. I know I know the progressive answer just give them their home loans at present value and forget the original loan but this is the real world we live in not lala land. When home prices do eventually rise again do the banks or government get that money back.


Cher- kudos for including Melissa Harris-Perry! I could sit and listen to her for days! She has a laser-focus on issues, and presents them just as clearly.
I can’t figure out why she is not in DC as policy consultant or advisor.


Excellent as always Cher,
but no Charlie Sheen news? 😉

His “Winning” theme is being changed to

Yep, It is a total Bomb.


There is some irony in there somehow. “You paid money to see Charlie and is wasn’t ‘good enough’?”


b’ito, our reviewer said that when the crowd was booing him, Sheen laughed at them and said: “I’ve already got your money!’

That made him even more popular. At $50-80 a ticket, he messed with the wrong (broke) audience in these parts. 🙂


k’es, At $50-80 a ticket! For what? What did they expect him to do? Have a complete psychotic breakdown and get a shot of Thorazine then carried off in a straitjacket? I’m not sure who is crazier him or the people who paid to see him.


I wouldn’t pay five dollars to see his, “show.” Like P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Haruko Haruhara

The Foo Fighters don’t even cost that much!


That would have thrilled and delighted this recession-weary audience, b’ito.

I think the last cultural event most of them had attended would have been either a professional wrestling match or the Jerry Springer show — both of which have a lot more class than Sheen.


“Coastal Elite” bombs in “Flyover Country,” Patsy? 😉

What is this world coming to?

My local paper sent a reviewer to the Detroit performance and he said it really was genuinely horrible. 😆

If there’s such a thing as frenetic laziness, I guess Mr. Sheen displayed it Saturday night.


escibacat, “the man on horseback” is what was called in other countries. A savior who will come and tell everyone what to do and how to do it.
I am, and I know that I am, in a permanent minority in the USA. My beliefs are congruent with those of the German SPD and some elements of the British Labour Party. I, also, know that the GOP, nationwide, will get, at least 45% of those who vote. And, in many places, a local majority, such as the Deep South.

It looks to me that Obama is as far “left” as a DEmocratic Prty president is going to get.

I am convinced that the GOP regards the South ( the Old Confederacy) as a great example of good government. The GOP would be very pleased if the rest of the country were that way.


Cher, we have a system that works against compromise. Much of Europe has a parliamentary system with proportional representation. This means coalition govt and compromise is built in into the system.
That makes a big difference.

Obama is supposed to be some sort of “superman” who tells everyone what to do. People are used to what is called “Imperial Presidency”.


I think that Congress is as important as the president. It is Congress that passes the budget and the other laws. The President does not make laws. It appears that people tend to forget that fact. If you want progressive laws passed — you need a progressive majority in Congress.

Rove knows how to manipulate. He knows the key words and key phrases to get people stirred up. He knows what many people – the right wing base – want to hear and want to believe. And, he knows to get them out and about. The media has never done a good job of exposing that. Except for the short period of the Fairness Doctrine, the press has mostly been quite partisan. So, the press has rarely doe well with problnig/forensic journalism.

I think that it is important that the “Sold South” of “Dixiecrat” days is now solid GOP. It is the same faction; now it is the gOP that must cater to that faction.