Can Obama Overcome These Economic Numbers?

Tea Party people less popular than many other hated minority groups

They may want “their country” back, but their country doesn’t really want them

by Alex Pareene

“There is a shadowy group of malcontents in America today, plotting a grand takeover of our political institutions in order to completely remake the country according to their wishes. Despite the fact the members of this group are a small minority of the population, and an unpopular one at that, they seek to infiltrate the courts and the government at every level, in order to replace our long-standing system of law with their own extremist, undemocratic religious code. These true believers are especially dangerous because they think they’re doing God’s work, and you ignore them, or play down the threat they pose to America, at your own risk. This tiny band of fanatics is largely distrusted and despised by regular Americans, but a terrified media coddles them and pretends they’re harmless. I am speaking, of course, of the Tea Parties, a group now officially less popular among Americans than Muslims.”

Read full article here.

Wisconsin May Now Have a Pro-Labor Senate Majority

Last week, when Democrats won only two of six recall elections in Wisconsin, it appeared that they fell critically short of their goal of positioning themselves to turn back Governor Scott Walker’s anti-labor campaign in the “Badger State.” But, as journalist and Wisconsin native John Nichols has been reporting, if the Democrats being challenged in two subsequent recall elections could hold on to their seats, the Senate would be left with an effective pro-labor majority.

How is this possible?

The answer: The Democrats could then form a 17-16 pro-labor coalition with maverick Republican Dale Schultz, who earlier this year voted against Scott Walker’s attacks on unions.

In yesterday’s two final recall elections, Democratic Senators Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch easily beat back their Republican challengers.

What now?

Here’s how the Boston Herald summarizes it (“Democrats sweep final two recall elections in Wisconsin“):

The one-vote Senate majority means a single Republican defection could halt any legislation. Many eyes are turning to GOP Sen. Dale Schultz, who was the only Senate Republican to vote against Walker’s collective bargaining bill, which spurred the recalls of three Democrats and six Republicans.

In the recalls of the Republicans a week ago, Democrats claimed two Senate seats.

Schultz or any other Republican could block any future legislation, assuming the 16 Democrats vote together in opposition. That gives more power to moderate Republicans like Schultz, while also forcing GOP leaders to fashion legislation that can win the votes of at least some Democrats.

The narrower majority would make it tougher to win approval of controversial legislation, such as stricter abortion restrictions or tougher penalties for illegal immigrants.

Some have called these recall elections the first “Citizens United” elections, because of the flood of cash — by some estimates nearly $40 million — flowing into these small local elections from the likes of Koch Industries and Rove’s American Crossroads PAC.

Stay tuned. It’s going to be an interesting and difficult year for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Here journalist John Nichols talks to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now on August 10th, after the first six recall elections, and gives the fascinating backstory to this conflict, including the critical role of Dale Schultz going forward. Notice also the questionable role played once again by Waukesha County.

Near the end of this fascinating interview, Nichols tells Goodman that we have to be concerned about what the incredible amount of money in these local elections bodes for the national elections in 2012.

“We have to ask ourselves,” he says, “whether we’re going to have a democracy or a ‘dollarocracy?'”

California Dems May Dump Progressive Caucus for Proposing a Primary Challenge to Obama

As David Swanson explains over at warisacrime.org, the California Democratic Party on July 30 tabled the recertification of  its Progressive Caucus, while other caucuses were routinely recertified that day.

Why?

Because the Progressive Caucus passed a resolution that day calling for a primary challenge to Obama (see below).

The chair of the Progressive Caucus, Karen Bernal, told Swanson that they would have lost their certification if it had been allowed to come to a vote. So, they are in limbo. As Swanson says, “They no longer exist, but they may yet continue existing.”

This tells you a lot about who’s running the Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION in SUPPORT of a POSSIBLE 2012 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CHALLENGE
Passed July 30, 2011
Anaheim, CA

WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the challenge presented by President Obama’s negotiating away Democratic Party principles to extremist Republicans, we are challenged by President Obama in the following ways:

• His unilateral closed-door budget offer to slash Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which endangers the New Deal and War on Poverty safety nets.
• His determination to escalate U.S. militarism through illegal secret CIA drone attacks and unauthorized wars.
• His willingness to extend the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and bail out big banks without ending the foreclosure crisis that displaces American working families.
• His insistence on pushing a health insurance bill which enriches private insurance companies while ignoring growing support for single-payer health care or robust public options.
• His continuance of President Bush’s assault on civil liberties with an extension of the repressive Patriot Act.
• His failure to restore due process, including the protection of whistleblowers and habeas corpus.
• His numerous failures to adhere to international law.
• The continuing practice of nationwide FBI raids of anti-war progressive protestors.
• His decision to increase the arrests and deportations of undocumented workers.
• His facilitation of the privatizing of the public sphere, which includes education and housing, among others.
• His disregard of his promises to the Labor movement.
• His failure to adequately protect the environment and adequately address climate change.

WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party recognizes the historical significance of the Eugene McCarthy/Robert F. Kennedy anti-war challenge to President Lyndon Johnson. The challenge followed President Johnson’s decision to escalate U.S. military involvement in Vietnam, betraying his campaign promise to end a war that polarized America. Similarly, we recognize the danger and betrayal that the current “Grand Bargain” represents to the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s signature gift to all Americans, Social Security and the New Deal, a point of pride for all Democrats.

WHEREAS, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party is committed to the understanding that an interest in a 2012 Democratic presidential primary challenge will not interfere with President Obama’s ability to govern and not limit his ability to do so in ways that include invoking Constitutional options, we recognize that this will, in fact, raise debate on important issues without risking the ability to mobilize and energize the base of the Democratic Party to elect a triumphant leader to counter the far-right agenda.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, to make our views heard, the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party will begin the process of contacting other Democratic organizations, Democratic Party members and public organizations that share our views on the issues and which seek to alter the course of history by exploring other steps to effect a necessary change, including a possible primary challenge to President Obama.

If you are interested in supporting a primary challenge to Obama, see http://stophoping.org/

Obama’s Economic Illiteracy, Not S&P, Is Causing the Market Meltdown

OK, so the title of this posting (“Obama’s Economic Illiteracy …”) is misleading, but only in the sense that it is not Obama’s economic illiteracy alone. He shares it with most of the policymakers in Washington, D.C., who have just implemented an insane austerity program on top of our shrinking economy. This is nuts.

The incredible thing, though, is that — judging by polling — the majority of American people are not nuts, are not economically illiterate. By significant margins, they are calling for all the right remedies: ending tax cuts for the rich, a massive jobs program, more government spending, protecting Social Security and Medicare, and cutting military spending.

Imagine that! The classic Keynesian remedy has soaked into the psyche of the average American, but still hasn’t reached the policymakers in D.C.

Guess who else isn’t economically illiterate?

Answer: Investors in the stock market. This is why Obama’s attempt to deliver reassurance only aggravated the meltdown. He is correctly seen as not addressing the real problem with a real solution. There’s no functional difference between being economically illiterate, on the one hand, and being economically savvy but in  the thrall of economic illiterates on the other. I leave it to you to decide which of those two statements describes Obama. I’m losing interest in the distinction.

Here are two commenters from the Roosevelt Institute  — Tom Ferguson and Rob Johnson — who have the same criticism of Obama, but their language is even more severe than my own.

And both believe that Obama’s prospects for re-election in 2012 are growing seriously dimmer.

What’s Wrong With Bob Crabb’s Cartoon Image of Emgold?

Bob Crabb, our local and justifiably renowned political cartoonist, has a depiction in today’s Union (“It Takes a Village Idiot“) of the uneasy relationship between the citizens of Grass Valley and Emgold, the Canadian penny-stock speculative gold-exploration company that wants to re-open the old Idaho-Maryland Mine for — of all things! — speculative exploration .

Today’s cartoon visually suggests that this relationship may be about to get more complicated by the arrival of the US mining gorilla, Newmont Mining Corporation, which is shown in the cartoon as a gigantic hairy-armed torso towering over the city and over Emgold’s IMM project. (Newmont recently purchased the 700-acre North Star Property for the purpose, they say, of building a mine-water treatment facility).

Crabb’s sweet image of the city of Grass Valley itself bears a strong resemblance to the helmeted goddess, Athena, patron of Athens, protector of the polis: She is shown wearing a toga and a common (non-regal) warrior’s helmet. She’s an image of purity, a portrayal of the democratic ideal in peril, looking up in wary hesitation at the fearsome hulking figure of Newmont. (UPDATE: See Bob Crabb’s comment following this posting for the explanation of the goddess I mistook for Athena, although Athena is probably mythologically related to the correct answer).

The most interesting feature in the scene is the image of IMM as a diminutive figure holding up a Canadian flag, completely wrapped like a mummy in red-tape by the city of Grass Valley, which applies the tape with one hand while holding an endless roll of it in the other.

Newmont, in Crabb’s rendering, is wielding a miner’s pickaxe, and is much too massive and powerful a creature to be restrained by red tape wielded by a mere village.

My first strong impression when I saw this cartoon was that it shouted out the message, “Poor IMM would go forward if it weren’t for all that unreasonable red tape!”

The truth, as is so often the case in politics (including political cartoons), is far different and far more nuanced.

The city, in fact, has much to fear from Emgold and its proposed IMM project. There is increasing realization among local citizens of the massive scale of the project, in striking contrast to Crabb’s miniscule image of it.

IMM’s underground mineral rights map comprises 2800 acres, an area nearly as large as the entire city of Grass Valley itself.

Look at a map of those 2800 below-surface acres and you will see that they underlie Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital at one extent, Loma Rica at another, the airport at a third, and finally out to the confluence of Brunswick Road and the Colfax Highway.

Also massive is the use of resources it would require, if approved.

“The proposed ceramics plant would double Nevada County’s total yearly natural gas consumption. (1,100M cu. ft. per year)

“No natural gas service exists to the old mine site, and Nevada County may not have enough total pipeline capacity to supply the plant.

“The proposed mining operation yearly electric consumption is more than one third of the 2006 PG&E total supplied to all of Nevada County. (172GWhr per year)

“Diesel to fuel up to 214 20-ton truck trips per day, every day.” ((From “Energy Consumption of Proposed Emgold Mining Operations”)).

These are huge impacts. Every part of Western Nevada County would be affected by that project.

The only thing about the IMM proposal that’s not huge, ironically, is the number of jobs that it would create.

Half the promised jobs would occur only if the very problematic patent-pending ceramics plant is built, and there is no way to know how many of the few remaining jobs would go to locals. But think about it: Studies of mining industry jobs show that most require both secondary education (special training) and prior experience. Does this sound like our local workforce?

Sadly, when compared to the General Plan for that site, the IMM project represents a net job loss to Nevada County, along with a huge loss in quality of life for everyone here.

Clearly, the strongest argument against approving Emgold’s IMM project application is a business argument.

If the Idaho-Maryland project application is approved, the image of Athena in that scene will need to be revised to depict a world-weary Athena dressed in a tattered and soiled robe, on her knees in abject apology to the citizens of her village, whom she has so badly served.

Scenes From the Nevada County Fair (August 11, 2011)

Here are a few random images from the Nevada County Fair yesterday, which I took with our new little ultra thin Canon Powershot ELPH 300 HS 12.1 MP Digital Camera.  It fits easily in the palm of my hand, and yet produces remarkably vivid images and decent sound. With an added 16GB SD card, it can shoot over 5000 jpeg images, or about an hour of video.

The first video clip  is of the “Banner Mountain Boys,” a local bluegrass group. If you look closely, you can see that they might also reasonably be called the “Banner Mountain Mostly Boys.”

The second video shows a few of the many boisterous rides available at the fair.

The turnout was high for a weekday, I’d guess.

National Call-In Event! Stop The Dumping Of Mining Waste In Our Waters!

From Earthjustice:

Dear Friend,

Back in May, more than 26,000 Earthjustice supporters stood up to tell the Obama administration to close a massive Bush-era loophole in the Clean Water Act that is allowing mining companies to dump their toxic and dangerous mining waste directly into the waters we rely on.

That mining waste loophole still exists, and each day that the Obama administration doesn’t close it, a gold mine in Alaska pumps hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic wastewater slurry into Lower Slate Lake, killing its fish and aquatic life. This is happening in Alaska, and rivers and streams in many other states could be next. High gold and metal prices have triggered a mining boom that, without stronger regulation, threatens countless lakes, streams and wetlands in Alaska and throughout the country.

For the next two days, we ask you to help us follow-up on those 26,000 letters by taking part in our National Call-In Event to protect our waters from dangerous mining waste. Thousands of Earthjustice supporters will be joining with supporters of the National Wildlife Federation, EarthWorks, and Natural Resources Defense Council to make a strong statement to the Obama administration: This loophole must be closed immediately!

You can help stop the mine and protect clean water by calling the Environmental Protection Agency. This will only take a few minutes, and it’s easy. Please take action to tell the Obama administration to close this loophole immediately.

After you call, please let us know how it went by logging your call on our website.

Make Your Call Today Or Tomorrow:

The Environmental Protection Agency: (202) 564-4700

When the receptionist answers the phone, please express your desire to leave a public comment for the agency. Please urge the agency to close the loophole in the Clean Water Act immediately so mining companies can’t dump toxic waste into the nation’s waters.

Here’s a sample of what you can say (and we hope you will add your personal touch, too):
“Hello! My name is [first name] [last name], and I live in [my city], [my state].

“I’m calling to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to close the loophole in the Clean Water Act so mining companies can’t dump toxic waste into the nation’s waters.

“Mining companies are using the 2002 loophole in the Clean Water Act rule to bury streams and lakes with untreated mining wastes.

“The EPA should close the mine waste dumping loophole immediately.”
After You Make Your Call: Please let us know about your call experience by logging your call on our website, or by emailing action@earthjustice.org.
Why are we calling the Environmental Protection Agency?
The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, is responsible for managing the Clean Water Act, and the EPA can act directly to close the loophole. That’s why it’s important that they hear from concerned citizens like you.
Thank you for taking the time to speak out! If you have a few extra minutes and would like to join the Earthjustice supporters who are calling the other agencies, you can call the White House Council on Environmental Quality at (202) 395-5750 and the Army Corps of Engineers at (202) 761-0099.

©2011 Earthjustice | 426 17th Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94612 | 510-550-6700 | action@earthjustice.org

PHOTO CREDITS: Top: Lower Slate Lake in Alaska, before the Kensington Gold Mine’s waste dumping and after. (Before: Irene Alexakos; After: Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.) Middle: Aerial photos of Lower Slate Lake before and after the Kensington Gold Mine’s dumping of mining waste. (Before: Photo by Pat Costello, courtesy of LightHawk.) Bottom: Polluted Cabin Creek, near Leewood, West Virginia. (Mark Schmerling)

Bank of America Death Watch

Banking expert Christopher Whalen has an article in Reuters suggesting that Bank of America is a “too big to fail zombie” that now “threatens the global economy.” There is still a lot of toxic junk being carried on the books of financial institutions as if it had real value. Restructuring BofA would be a good start in resolving it.

“BAC is a too big to fail zombie created by the Obama Administration and the Fed to protect US financial markets, but is now so vast and unstable that it threatens the global economy. But more corrosive and dangerous than the torrents of red ink inside BAC is the steady erosion of public confidence. Uncertainty is the enemy now, both with respect to BAC and to its large bank peers.

“The only way to end the uncertainty and also accelerate the economic recovery is to put BAC through a restructuring using the powers under the Dodd-Frank legislation. While a restructuring by the FDIC may seem to be a horrible prospect, in fact it offers the first real hope of definiteness in the housing crisis, the multi-trillion dollar millstone around our collective necks. Indeed, the BAC situation illustrates why the Founders of the US embedded bankruptcy in the Constitution, namely the need for finality.”

Read full article here.

Dylan Ratigan Melts Down, Speaks Some Tough Truths

Normally I don’t like embedding a video that is preceded by short ads (you may or may not see one), but this Howard Beale type rant is worth waiting for.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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