The injury is economic depression, mislabeled constantly as "recession." But "constantly" is the problem because it has gone on too long and every prediction for turnaround has proved false. The doom sayers, the negative thinkers, the skeptics and the doubters have all been correct. So much for the injury.
The insult is the politics, from City Hall to the White House. It is bad enough to feel the economy -- one's future -- sliding out to sea like sand under one's toes as the wave recedes. What is intolerable is the lying politics. And at the top of the list of the political goon squad is the superPACs, founded on the utterly cynical belief backed by tons of cash (proving there is still a helluva lot of money in America) that the public (you and me) can be steered, directed, and sent down the chute to the butcher's sledge hammer.
Why? Because, we are told, we live in a democracy and, we are also told, we must participate in the political process because ... here the explanations become a bit vaguer, but the underlying idea is that if you cease to vote, even if there is no one and nothing that attracts your interest as a voter, you will lose the voting franchise and sink into barbarism, a society in which the corporations don't have to spend any money persuading you, they'll just spend more, if that is possible, on police and military to force you, just as they do elsewhere in the world.
A question that might be asked by a person in this situation is: "Must I participate in my own humiliation and destruction?" Spend the rest of the year celebrating the Centenial of Woody Guthrie instead.
"This land is your land" -- Woody Guthrie, 1946.
Foir a wonderful story about Guthrie's life and his influence on the music of Liverpool, where the Beatles came from, plus some rousing performances, see how they are celebrating the Centenial in Liverpool:
Democracy Now! devoted more than half its show on July 12 to Guthrie and the three-day Woody-fest this weekend in NYC at the City Winery. or this wekk in Okemah, OK. See it at: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/12/on_woody_guthries_centennial_celebrating_the
Or, for a schedule of events around the world this year: http://www.woody100.com/
Ignore the rotten and do something good for yourself: Listen to Woody Guthrie songs.
Badlands Journal editorial board
Obama, Romney clash over taxes, outsourcing jobs
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Clashing over the economy, President Barack Obama challenged Mitt Romney to join him in allowing tax hikes for rich Americans like them, needling his Republican rival on Tuesday to "compromise to help the middle class."
Romney dismissed the idea and returned fire on a sensitive topic, calling Obama the real "outsourcer-in-chief."
From Iowa and Colorado, two of the contested states drawing intense campaign attention, Obama and Romney fought for any advantage. While Obama was back in feel-good Iowa territory to talk taxes, Romney redirected charges that he had sent jobs overseas when he worked in private equity.
"He's run some interesting attack ads on me on that topic," Romney said of the president. "It is interesting that when it comes to outsourcing that this president has been outsourcing a good deal of American jobs himself, by putting money into energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States."
The former Bain Capital executive has been under heat from within his own party over his response to relentless attacks that he shipped jobs overseas. His campaign staff made sure to distribute a newspaper story critical of Obama's own outsourcing record, loading up every press seat on the campaign plane with it.
"If there's an outsourcer-in-chief, it's the president of the United States, not the guy who's running to replace him," Romney said in Grand Junction, Colo.
To back up that claim, the Romney camp cited a Washington Post story that describes an ongoing trend of American jobs shifting to low-wage countries, including during Obama's presidency. The story offers a critical look at the president's progress in halting the pattern.
The rhetorical standoff on taxes and jobs did little to change the underlying narrative of a stalled economy, deadlocked Washington and tight election. Obama, running for re-election under the weight of high unemployment, has shifted to pinning blame on Romney and congressional Republicans over looming tax increases.
Obama wants a one-year extension of tax cuts for households earning less than $250,000, which would cover most taxpayers in the country. Romney supports extending the federal tax cuts, first signed by George W. Bush, for all income earners. Congress is under deadline to act by year's end or everyone's taxes go up.
"Doesn't it make sense for us to agree to keep taxes low for 98 percent of Americans who are working hard and can't afford a tax hike right now?" Obama said. "What do you normally do if you agree on 98 percent and disagree on 2 percent? Why don't you compromise to help the middle class?"
Romney saw no such agreement.
"They very idea of raising taxes on small businesses and job creators at the very time we need more jobs is the sort of thing only an extreme liberal can come up with," Romney said. He said Obama's brand of "old-style liberalism of bigger and bigger government and bigger and bigger taxes has got to end."
The economic debate played out as the Obama campaign sought to undermine Romney on a separate front, accusing him of untrustworthy secrecy.
Vice President Joe Biden launched a blistering attack on Romney's refusal to release more than one year of his personal tax returns. Romney has released his 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011. Biden said Romney made a lie of "like father, like son" by not meeting the standards his father, George Romney, set when he released 12 years of tax returns during his 1968 presidential bid.
The candidates, meanwhile, reveled in the comfort of friendly environs.
For Obama, it was Iowa, home to the people he said "gave me a chance when nobody else would." Iowa catapulted his successful presidential bid in 2008. Yet polls in Iowa have shown Obama locked in a tight race for the state's six electoral votes, a potential warning sign.
In a private chat with a family at their house, then in remarks to supporters at a community college, and finally at an ice cream shop where he ordered up some mint chocolate chip, Obama sought to show he was like the voters who made him president — and, by contrast, the ultra-rich Romney was not.
With all the power of incumbency, Obama still casts himself as the underdog.
Fresh from Romney and Republicans collecting $106 million in June, the second straight month that Obama's campaign has been outraised, Obama said returning to Iowa reminded him of his fledgling presidential bid four years ago, "when the national press was writing us off."
"We have been outspent before. We've been counted out before," Obama said. "But through every one of my campaigns, what has always given me hope is you."
Romney, at a wide-ranging town hall event, fielded questions on a litany of issues unrelated to the economy, including gay rights and abortion, the media, gun control and prison sentences. Many of the questioners showed support for Romney and disdain for the president's policies and the media.
Yet one questioner asked why Romney didn't believe in applying principles of personal liberty to areas of private life, like the rights of gays and women; Romney responded by emphasizing that these were "tender" issues, but that he was particularly committed to protecting the life of the unborn.
LIBOR and Super PACs: A Heck of a Way to Run Capitalist Democracy
Joseph A. Palermo.Associate professor, historian, author
Everybody seems to know (whether they're willing to admit it or not) that the 2012 elections are going to be the most corrupted elections by corporate money than any held in this country since the Gilded Age. Unregulated, anonymous and laundered cash is being pumped into the system at an unprecedented rate. Meanwhile, the captains of finance secretly game the system to boost their own personal profits undermining trust in "free markets." Such corruption breeds cynicism and lower voter turn-out. Respect for governing institutions and politicians nosedives. And the more the people come to hate their own government because of this shadowy corporate and financial dominance the better these same corporations and banks can rule unimpeded by an active citizenry.
This avalanche of secret money that is debasing our politics, when viewed alongside the unfolding LIBOR scandal in the United Kingdom (where bankers are jumping ship in disgrace for fraudulently screwing with the world's most important interest rate), reveal that we live in an age where both our politics and our markets are being managed in a way where we never get a chance to see who is really pulling the strings.
The manipulation of 501(c)(4)s and Super PACs to hide who is buying our elections dovetails perfectly with the falsification of interest rates and credit default swaps to conceal who controls the economy. The opacity of our politics is being matched by the opacity of our markets. This sorry state of affairs cannot end well.
Here's a simple question: Can "democracy" or "free markets" function without transparency? When the Soviet Union fell we used to hear claptrap from scholars like Francis Fukuyama about the solid and unbreakable nexus linking democracy and capitalism. But our politics and markets are today overflowing with nefarious conspiracies while those in power work to conceal their practices and motivations. Sounds to me like something the KGB might cook up.
The growing public opprobrium with the whole system is why the shadowy campaign cash is so sweet for power brokers like the Koch Brothers and their business elite brethren tied to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: They can look over the horizon of the next few election cycles and see their total control of the levers of power in Washington. It's so close they can taste it. (That's why Karl Rove always looks so damn happy and Mitch McConnell can't wipe that smirk off his face.)
What the Wall Street banks did to the United States between 2007 and 2009, if we had any sense of fairness as a people, should have been fiercely opposed at all levels of government, in the criminal courts, and in congressional investigative committees. Since it was the bankers' greed, incentive structure, recklessness, and predations on the middle class that caused (and continues to cause) so much pain and suffering in our society, Wall Street's attack on America should have been framed as a "national security" issue. Its culprits should have been met with the full wrath of the federal government. Instead, we saw a liberal Democratic president consistently reach out to Wall Street's bagmen and women in Congress.
Innocent people lost their jobs. Small and large investors, shareholders, pension funds, and municipalities all got swindled and the Obama administration did next to nothing about it (who has even heard of the Angelides Commission?). This coddling of Wall Street now blunts even the most well crafted political ads favoring Democratic candidates in 2012 who wish to heed the impulse of Occupy Wall Street and offer some kind of alternative vision to the corrupting control of banking elites over our political system.
In 2008, then-Senator Obama campaigned on promising to fight for a new kind of unapologetic and muscular liberalism. But when in power he accepted the major tenets of the Bush-Republican status quo that included immunity for Wall Street and a bland, matter-of-fact acquiescence to de factoRepublican minority control of the Senate. Had he dedicated a tiny fraction of his oratorical skills to explaining to the American people why we should not accept these outcomes he might have been able to move the needle in favor of bolder progressive change.
What we should be doing in the United States is what the people of Iceland demanded of their leaders: hold the bankers accountable and bailout ordinary people not the big banks who were responsible for this mess. The United Kingdom is showing signs of cracking down after the latest revelations that banks in the U.K. were manipulating the LIBOR to benefit their own personal fortunes. (In Britain at least there still exists a slight dose of shame unlike the U.S. where Jamie Dimon is received in Congress as a conquering hero.) Even now with the election campaigns in full swing and the Super PACs and the 501(c)(4)s churning out the cash to buy our politicians in 2012 we still need to demand action on bringing Wall Street to justice. There shouldn't be a statute of limitations on the murdering of 8 million jobs.
Pentagon spending plans will exceed projected budget - CBO
* Cost of five-year plan is $123 billion higher than thought
* Analysis likely to complicate divisive budget debate
By David Alexander
WASHINGTON, July 11 (Reuters) - The five-year spending plan outlined by the Pentagon earlier this year would cost $123 billion more than the U.S. Defense Department projected and would violate budget limits set by Congress, the Congressional Budget Office said on Wednesday.
The CBO, in a 49-page analysis, said the main driver of growth in defense spending was the cost of operations and support, which accounted for 64 percent of the Pentagon's base budget in 2012. Pentagon plans would lead to significant rises in the cost of healthcare, salaries and operations and maintenance, it said.
Pentagon officials declined to discuss the report. A spokeswoman said officials had not yet seen the document so it would be "premature for us to comment."
The analysis is likely to complicate efforts to resolve the divisive debate over the Pentagon's budget.
Critics say the Defense Department has not yet cut back enough after a decade of budget increases during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They note that previous defense drawdowns have seen spending fall by 20 percent or more, while current Pentagon projections only call for a decline of about 8 percent.
Supporters warn that the United States is still fighting abroad and faces growing challenges elsewhere around the world, making further cuts in defense spending disastrous. They also warn that cuts could jeopardize critical defense industries.
The Pentagon in February proposed a $525 billion budget for the 2013 fiscal year and projected it would need $2.7 trillion to carry out national security activities over the next five years, a planning period known as the Future Years Defense Program.
The five-year spending plan was $259 billion lower than a 2012 estimate, as the Pentagon cut personnel and programs in an effort to reduce its projected budgets by $487 billion over a decade as required by the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year.
But the CBO estimated the cost of Pentagon programs over the next five years would be $123 billion higher than projected, wiping out nearly half of the savings the Defense Department sought to achieve to reach the spending limits set by Congress.
The budget reductions proposed by the Pentagon would not enable it to achieve the 10-year spending limits set by the Budget Control Act, the CBO said.
"The cost of (the Defense Department's) base budget plans for 2013 through 2021 is $508 billion higher in nominal terms than the funding that would be available to (it) under the Budget Control Act's limits on discretionary appropriations for national defense," the CBO report said.
The report did not address additional across-the-board spending cuts due to go into effect in January. Those reductions would cut another $500 billion in Pentagon spending over the decade, a move Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said would be disastrous for the military.
This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.
As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.
I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.
When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.