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There needs to be a corrective to the tone of the reporting today of the April jobless numbers. "The labor market rebounded last month," reported the Los Angeles Times, in a tone typical of the mainstream media coverage.

Such is the austerity-era "new normal" that someone lying on the ground is considered "rebounding" when they woozily sit upright. Improvement, perhaps. Rebounding? Not when the economy, and millions of people who are financially lying on the ground still wounded by the Great Recession, still cannot stand on its own feet.

The real news today is this: The economy in April produced less than half of the jobs that are necessary in order to close the jobs gap created by the 2008 recession in the next two years. And the reason, as Robert Borosage points out in his monthly statement on the jobs picture, is "a self-inflicted wound.   Government austerity – tax hikes and spending cuts – is suffocating the economy, just when it needs air."

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Don't be surprised if Republican Rep. Paul Ryan works hard at tonight's vice presidential debate to counter Vice President Joe Biden's Scranton, Pa. working-class roots with his own small-town roots in Janesville, Wis. But while both will invoke their middle-class roots, it is Ryan who in Congress has been in relentless opposition to the fundamental things that middle-class people want and need.

That opposition is reflected in Ryan's "zero" score in 2012 Voter Guide, released earlier this month. That voter guide looks at 10 votes during the 112th Congress that are symbolic of the kitchen-table concerns of middle-class and low-income families. Ryan is among 181 members of the House who received a score of zero, but of course Ryan stands out not only because he is the Republican Party's vice presidential candidate but because he is the intellectual leader of that band of 181 members who never sided with the middle class on a significant vote during this congressional session.

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Tue May 01, 2012 at 12:15 PM PDT

Will We Let The American Prospect Die?

by ijpoole

Even in a (barely) recovering economy, this is not a good time to be in the serious magazine business. Still, the email I received today that The American Prospect will close without an immediate infusion of cash was a bit of a stunner. And it raises real questions about the commitment of progressive movement leaders and funders to the movement's media infrastructure.

Especially since I joined the Campaign for America's Future as its web editor several years ago, I have come to appreciate The Prospect's clear-eyed and thoughtful analysis and its commitment to the old-school values of good writing, good editing and, to borrow a line from the TV ads for The Nation magazine, "fact-checked facts."

Unfortunately, The Prospect is also an example of what happens when we don't properly support the institutions that are central to forging and disseminating a progressive narrative about America and its issues. The magazine has struggled to build circulation and visibility, even among inside-the-Beltway policy wonks, and has too often been unable to keep its best talent when other deeper-pocketed media outlets come calling. (The most prominent recent example is Ezra Klein being wooed over to The Washington Post.)

But this isn't just about The Prospect. Name one independent progressive media outlet that strives to do professional-level journalism and commentary that isn't living hand-to-mouth. Name one that could weather another sharp dip in the economy without having to slash its budget or see its existence imperiled. Even hardy perennials like The Nation continually fund-raise to maintain relatively spartan existences.

My colleague Terrence Heath explains what's wrong with all of this on The Republic of T blog. It's a lesson we apparently still have yet to learn:

The right has a media infrastructure because they invested in it. They have no shortage of talent, because they seek out young talent, nurture it, support it, and promote it when ready for primetime. As long as one doesn’t stray too far from the fold, you’ll find a place somewhere. (Let’s face it. There are people earning a good living in conservative media who would probably not be able to get a job anywhere else.) In fact, you could end up with a paycheck for life — and a substantial one at that.

We are not letting ours die. We’ve never really had one in the first place, because we’ve never really owned it as a movement — certainly not to the degree conservatives have. It’s something that’s been built up in a piecemeal fashion by the apocryphal “bloggers in pajamas,” but not really supported in strategic fashion. Progressives got the jump on conservatives online, but they will catch up to us for the same reasons they’ve left us in the dust when it comes to other media.

Every morning when I go to work, there is a person at the train station waiting to hand me a free copy of The Washington Examiner, the paper bankrolled by the arch-conservative Philip Anschutz and his Clarity Media Group. (The group also owns The Weekly Standard and several broadcast properties.) The Examiner is nothing more than a sandwich of right-wing talking points between slices of local news and sports. I see working-class people on their daily commute being dunked in Heritage Foundation-style propaganda, without an effective progressive counterweight.

Is The Examiner making money? Who knows? It doesn't seem to be. Is it sending out frantic emails asking for $25 donations? Not in your life. Minds prepped for manipulation in a conservative ideological war are priceless.

I fixate on this because I'm an ex-print journalist. You can debate whether a progressive newspaper to go toe-to-toe with The Examiner or fill-in-the-blank conservative print outlet in your home town is the best use of a progressive millionaire's money. But I don't think its debatable that the best use of a good chunk of our dollars--from progressive millionaires to those of us who can't spare more than a few dollars--is in an independent progressive media infrastructure that nurtures and sustains good journalists and expert commentators, one that tells our story, exposes the heresies and failures of the other side and fights for our values.

Perhaps The American Prospect can't -- or shouldn't -- survive in the progressive idea marketplace. But if we make the collective decision to allow The Prospect to die, it should be because we have better outlets to put our collective economic weight, and because we're committed to giving those outlets room to breathe and to thrive, room to focus on going head-to-head with conservatives to get the progressive narrative into the bloodstream of the country, rather than fretting over where the money for the next issue or broadcast will come from.

The choice is clear: Keep complaining about how conservative media out-muscle us or decide that we'll give our own media outlets a fighting chance to build their own muscle so they can fight more effectively for us. It's time for those of us who complain about conservative media to put our money where our mouth is.


Should more wealthy progressives step up to the plate to keep publications like The American Prospect alive, even if they lose money for the forseeable future?

90%27 votes
10%3 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results


This will make you long for the mythical days of "liberal media bias."

A news story in The Washington Post this morning bashes the current debate around the Buffett rule in a classic case of conservative media bias.

The story, in its too-cute lead-in, declares that "the great moral debate of the 2012 campaign is turning out to be as inspiring as drunks arguing over a bar tab." Then it quickly summarizes the push by the Obama administration and congressional Democrats to require millionaires and billionaires to pay taxes at at least the same rate as most working Americans, contrasting that to the effort by Republicans to protect the wealthy from tax increases while cutting benefits and services relied upon by low- and middle-income people.

Then the story authors get downright dismissive.

Either way, somebody pays more, but these passionate debates are unlikely to produce any detailed plan for fixing the deficit. Instead, both parties seem to be saying the first step is figuring out who has a moral duty to chip in more.

That’s the grim reality behind a campaign that will touch on taxes and spending, the role of government, and the country’s long-term fiscal health. It’s not as stirring as “Change We Can Believe In,” or “Morning in America.” But this isn’t that kind of year.

Well, we're sorry that The Washington Post is so uninspired by this debate that it doesn't get how consequential it is.

It very much matters who is being asked to make sacrifices to correct the economic mess created by decades of conservative misrule—and who is being exempted. At least the paper's reporters had the good sense to turn to William Gale of the Tax Policy Center, who crisply summed up the debate.

“The moral argument is: Who should bear the burden of the cost of government?” Gale said. “Ryan is moving the burden down the income spectrum. The Buffett plan is moving the burden up the income spectrum.”

But what the Post article doesn't make clear is that Gale has a point of view on this that doesn't fit the pox-on-both-their-houses story the reporters appear determined to write. As a contributor to TaxVox, the Tax Policy Center blog, he wrote a post sharply critical of the House Republican budget plan written by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

At a time when our country faces a daunting fiscal challenge, Ryan asks nothing of the wealthiest Americans. His budget proposal would simultaneously cut tax rates for the rich and corporations while slashing programs for the poor and elderly... Although I agree that spending cuts are necessary to meet our fiscal challenges, so too are additional revenues, for many reasons.  They are the only way to get shared sacrifice from the wealthiest Americans. ... [T]he Republican’s budget is clearly a win for the rich and a loss for everyone else.

The Post story is emblematic of a meme that has permeated a lot of the chatter around the Buffett Rule this week (and is being fanned into flame by conservative lawmakers and pundits): that it shouldn't be treated as a serious proposal because, as the Post dutifully notes, "the rule would not likely make a serious dent in the country’s deficit. It might add up to $162 billion over 10 years."

But no one is saying that the Buffett Rule is the silver bullet for our deficit problems. It is, however, symbolic of the principle that should guide which solutions our elected representatives should choose.

Conservatives believe that we should try to lower the deficit by taking away the economic supports that have helped people climb the economic ladder into middle-class stability and have cushioned them when they fall, while asking nothing of the one class of Americans that has survived the economic crisis of the last few years relatively unscathed. In fact, under the Ryan Republican budget, the top 1 percent of Americans, who received 93 percent of the income gains in 2010, would be asked to contribute even less in taxes than they do today.

The Obama administration at least rejects that premise. It recognizes that wealthy Americans should be asked to contribute more toward an economy in which it is possible for all to prosper because adequately funded schools are producing educated workers, spending on infrastructure is enabling people and goods to move efficiently, our health dollars are allowing people to stay well without going bankrupt, research dollars are sowing the seeds of the new green economy.

The boldest move in this direction is the Progressive Caucus' Budget for All, which is the adult in the room when it comes to deficit reduction. By setting tax rates as high as 49 percent for people earning more than $1 billion, and by eliminating many of the loopholes that the wealthy and corporations use to dodge taxation, the Budget for All closes the budget gap faster than the Ryan budget. And it does so more responsibly; the budget cuts in the Ryan budget would actually slow the economy and make it harder for the federal government to balance its books.

If there is a "grim reality," it's that some news media outlets are wasting space and readers' time on stories that strive for false "balance" and end up offering misdirection and imbalance instead. Then there is the race by news reporters and editors to "write with attitude" in order to keep up with opinionated bloggers and cable news outlets. But the Post would serve its readers and the broader political debate well by sticking to the old-school values of presenting the facts in context. And if you are going to call this critical debate about who gets to pay for the mess conservatives made of the economy a fight among drunks, then you'd better know the difference between someone who's actually drunk and someone who is fed up with having the drinking binges of the wealthy placed on their tab.

By the way, if you're one of the fed up, click here to tell your senator: Pass the Buffett Rule.


Today's jobs report—120,000 new jobs created in March—underscores what we have been arguing for months: We must have a dramatic increase in the investments we need to make in infrastructure, education and other fundamentals of economic growth. The right-wing effort to keep this from happening is stalling our recovery.

"The March jobs report should set off alarm bells," says Robert Borosage in his reaction to today's report. "Yes, the economy continues to grow which is a good thing.  But growth at this rate barely keeps pace with new people coming into the labor market."

We're falling farther behind the pace at which we should be creating jobs. To get the unemployment rate down to 5 percent by the end of 2014, we needed to have created 563,000 more jobs than we have since January. (Using the "jobs calculator" developed by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, we estimate that the economy will have to create an average of about of about 400,000 a month in order to lower unemployment to 5 percent by the end of 2014.)

Also, the most current Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary from the Labor Department, released March 13, reported 3.5 million job openings in January. With 12.7 million unemployed (5.3 million unemployed for more than 26 weeks), there is still only one job opening for every four unemployed people. No one can claim that in today's economy there are enough jobs for people who want them.

Thanks to a 164,000 decline in the number of people counted in the labor force, the unemployment rate declined to 8.2 percent in spite of the anemic jobs growth. The combined unemployment and underemployment rate, which includes people working part-time who actually want full-time work and persons marginally attached to the labor force, is 14.5 percent.

Borosage goes on to say:

“Washington should be focused on jobs, not cuts.    Yes, the stock market is up, corporate profits are up, CEO pay is soaring.  But wages are losing ground, housing values continue to sink, and foreclosures are rising.  The recovery has come for the few, but not for most Americans.  And with youth unemployment at 25%, the young are graduating from school into the worst jobs market since the Great Depression.

“Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke was right last week when he said the economy does not have the foundation for growth at a rate that we want – and these jobs numbers (while good) illustrate that. We need action now; instead we see a Republican Congress intent on stifling the little recovery we have.  With interest rates near record lows, the construction industry on its back, and our decrepit infrastructure increasingly costly, we should be launching a major project to rebuild America and put people to work.  Instead, the Republican Congress can’t even pass a modest transportation construction bill.  With young people idled at the beginning of their work lives, we need direct government programs – a jobs corps, a green corps, an urban corps – to put them to work.

“Washington seems dangerously close to repeating the mistakes of 1937, moving prematurely to reduce deficits and constrict monetary policy, when the economy has not yet gained sufficient momentum to continue to grow.  In 1937 that folly pushed the economy back into recession.  In today’s Europe, austerity has had the same effect.  We should not ignore the lessons of history and experience.”

Dave Johnson earlier today posted a challenge to House Republicans "to show they aren't just sabotaging the economy to improve their own election prospects." They should move on a long-term transportation and infrastructure bill—at a minimum, the two-year spending authorization the Senate passed in March—that has stalled in the House all year.

The consequences of that stalling are clear: There were 7,000 jobs lost in the construction industry in March, in spite of unusually warm late winter/early spring weather in much of the country. One reason is the inability of state transportation departments to move forward on long-range construction projects as federal funding gets snarled in an ideological dispute between Tea Party and establishment factions among House Republicans.

As Dave notes, "investing in infrastructure costs less than the cost of high levels of unemployment: the lower tax revenues, loss of business activity, and all of the forms of government spending resulting from slow growth and increased joblessness." But the House Republican budget by Rep. Paul Ryan would actually reduce the funding available for infrastructure spending and other investments key to job creation and economic growth.

"Show me a business leader who wouldn’t profit if more Americans could afford to get the skills and education that today’s jobs require," President Obama said earlier this week in an address to newspaper editors. "Ask any company where they’d rather locate and hire workers—a country with crumbling roads and bridges, or one that’s committed to high-speed Internet and high-speed railroads and high-tech research and development?"

That's why a Progressive Caucus proposal that would have committed $556 billion in transportation and infrastructure projects made sense, and is overdue. That, in combination with other initiatives that totaled about $2 trillion, would have created millions of jobs over the next three years. The multiplier effect—as more people are employed through government spending, their increased income supports even more private-sector job creation—would likely have been enough to close the gap between where we are today and where we need to be to dig out of the economic hole created by the economic crash.

What we have to reject is the kind of conservative austerity, embodied in Ryan's House Republican budget and supported by virtually the entire House Republican caucus, that would cost the economy millions of jobs. The need to make that case is now more urgent than ever.


The contrast between who in Congress is serious about job creation and economic recovery and who isn't could hardly be more stark than it is today.

House Republicans have scheduled a vote this afternoon on what is superficially a measure to extend long-term unemployment benefits and continue a break on worker payroll taxes. But Republicans can't help but throw a bunch of toxic tea bags into what would otherwise be a bipartisan bill. They propose cutting billions of dollars from health care reform programs, including a program that helps subsidize premiums for working-class families who purchase health insurance through exchanges. And they want to mandate a rush by the Obama administration to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the face of real concerns that the pipeline will be an environmental catastrophe. Even the unemployment extension provision has been turned into a lump of coal: it would cut 40 weeks off the maximum length of unemployment benefits, now 99 weeks.

Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus today unveiled legislation that looks more like the kind of economic policy and job creation discussion we should be having. Rather than playing political games over Band-Aids, the Caucus' bill, "Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act," puts on the table the dramatic measures we need in the face of a continuing economic crisis. It is a direct answer to the economic anger at the heart of the Occupy movement.

At a news conference today, Progressive Caucus leaders Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Raul  Grijalva, said that their bill would create more than 5 million jobs over the next two years and reduces the budget deficit by over $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The bill builds on the ideas that were included in the Caucus' much-heralded People's Budget released earlier this year.

The legislation would authorize the creation of several "corps" that will quickly offer jobs to unemployed people doing such essential work as repairing school buildings, maintaining public parks, completing neighborhood energy efficiency and conservation projects, and providing health care and other public services in underserved areas. One of the corps would be devoted to rehiring teachers and first responders laid off by cash-strapped state and local governments.

Under the legislation would also mandate that 75 percent of the goods and services the federal government buys be made in America,  toughen initiatives designed to help small businesses get federal contracts, allocate $50 billion for highway, public transportation, and electrical grid improvement projects, and authorize the creation of an infrastructure bank. To counter such problems as the currency manipulation that artificially drives down the cost of Chinese imports, the legislation would mandate a countervailing tariff. It would also include language protecting the long-term unemployed and wounded veterans from hiring discrimination.

Included in the bill are provisions that would raise $800 billion through a surcharge on millionaires, end tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and impose a small excise tax on the sale of stocks and bonds--a step that would finally get Wall Street to pay the repair bill for at least some of the damage its malfeasance did to the economy. It would extract budget savings through such steps as ending the war in Afghanistan as well as cutting close to $200 billion from the defense budget through such measures as eliminating unneeded weapons systems and cutting in half the military forces now based in Europe.

Also, the legislation tackles some of the unfinished business of health care reform: it creates a pubic health insurance option that would be available through health care exchanges, which is expected to drive down federal health care spending by almost $90 billion. Allowing Medicare to bargain with pharmaceutical companies to get bulk discounts, a move that Republicans and some drug-company-funded Democrats have blocked in the past, would help save more than $150 billion. Also, the legislation restores increases in Medicaid aid to the states that were put in place by the Recovery Act so that states would not have to lay off workers to avoid cutting back on health care to lower-income residents.

To preserve Social Security benefits and the financial integrity of the Social Security trust fund, the legislation would eliminate the $106,800 cap on earnings taxed by Social Security.

This legislation helps set up the debate we should be having about the direction of the country in the coming months. The Republicans, of course, would like the country focused on its dissatisfaction with an unemployment rate well above 8 percent as President Obama enters the fourth year of his presidency. They do not want the country to count the number of proposals they rejected that would have lifted the economy, and the fortunes of working-class and middle-class households, had it not been for their unrelenting obstruction. They certainly don't want people to count the job-killing toll of the Republican proposals, which can be seen in states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures.

The Progressive Caucus legislation offers a different choice. We can put people to work today building the foundation of the economy of the future, or allow the stubborn subservience of congressional conservatives to the 1 percent--the right-wing billionaires and millionaires and the big corporations that boss Washington around--to cause more economic pain, widen the gulf between the very wealthy and struggling workers, and fuel more Occupy movements.  


The very name of a Washington conservative conference this weekend is the height of subterfuge. It's called the "Defending the American Dream" conference, which is not about defending the actual American dreams of most Americans (the focus of our own "Take Back the American Dream" conference), sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, which is not an organization that promotes what is needed for broad American prosperity.

This actually is the latest effort by the billionaire Koch brothers, founders and key funders of Americans for Prosperity, and their corporate and political allies to hijack our democracy and pillage our economy. It's their attempt to perpetuate an American nightmare of continued income inequality and a government held hostage to the whims of elites. It is thus a perfect target for the latest Occupy-style protest.

The Other 98% and Health Care for America Now are sponsoring a "Koch Brothers Guerrilla Drive-In" Friday evening at the Washington Convention Center, where the conference is being held. The plan is to have an outdoor showing of a documentary on how the Kochs are using their fortune to pursue their grotesque mangling of American democracy.

The conference itself brings together many of the players in and elements of their grand scheme. For example, there is James O'Keefe, the person who dressed up as a pimp in a scheme to get damaging video footage for his scurrilous slander of the group ACORN, doing a lecture on "investigative journalism." There's Grover Norquist on a panel on "pro-growth tax reform." (He's lately been championing Texas Gov. Rick Perry's "flat tax" plan, which would allow the wealthy to slash their tax payments and would explode the federal deficit, forcing Norquist's longtime shrink-government-and-drown-it-in-the-bathtub objective.) There's Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on a panel on the Environmental Protection Agency's "job-crushing regulatory assault"; he will be speaking on behalf of the Koch brothers, his leading campaign contributor, and the oil and gas industry, his biggest source of campaign cash. At least two Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain, are also scheduled to appear.

    No conservative conference is complete without the deification of Ronald Reagan, and there will be plenty of that going on at the Friday night "Tribute to Ronald Reagan" dinner, which will be followed by a screening of "Atlas Shrugged." (No, I am not making this up.)

    But what makes this conference significant is not the tired repetition of right-wing bumper-sticker slogans, the over-the-top characterizations of Obama administration policy or the pathetic preening of presidential candidates to show off how extreme they can be. It is the very real damage that the Koch brothers and the forces that this conference is assembling are doing to our economy and to the 99 percent of us for whom the American dream of economic security is becoming increasingly out of reach.

    Consider what the Koch brothers have actually been "defending":


• Their $45 million effort to buy control of Congress. That's the amount of money Forbes magazine says Americans for Prosperity spent in the 2010 elections. That money helped Republicans control the House with the most extreme group of conservatives elected in modern history. With this group firmly in control, every effort by the Obama administration to move legislation to revive the economy has been thwarted and previous successes in health care and financial reform have come under unrelenting attack. The stream of anti-regulation, anti-labor legislation passed by the Tea Party-besotted House is pretty much lifted straight from the Koch brothers legislative agenda.   

• The destructive efforts of the American Legislative Exchange Council to co-opt state and local governments. Rather than promoting state and local governments as entities that are particularly equipped to respond to the public interest because of their proximity to the people, ALEC mounts campaigns that leave state and local governments facilitating private greed rather than serving the public good. In August The Nation's Lisa Graves explained that "of all the Kochs’ investments in right-wing organizations, ALEC provides some of the best returns: it gives the Kochs a way to make their brand of free-market fundamentalism legally binding." Examples include legislation that allows energy companies to avoid fines for polluting, that push privatization of public education, and that prevent states and localities from regulating the rogue behavior of financial institutions.   

• ALEC's efforts to suppress voter turnout. The Koch brothers' fingerprints are all over the efforts by various Republican governors and legislatures to pass voter ID laws that use trumped-up allegations of voter fraud to deliberately disenfranchise voters most likely to oppose their agenda. "It was ALEC’s draft legislation that inspired a spate of recently passed voter ID laws that, if allowed to stand, are expected to marginalize the impact of students and people of color at the polls in Texas, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Kansas," Adele Stan reported for the AFL-CIO blog. Patrick Caldwell at the American Prospect wrote that "the rules are often configured specifically to favor the Republican base at the expense of excluding likely Democrats."   

• Their assault on public workers. Scott Walker won the governorship of Wisconsin and the ability to execute his attack on public workers there with the help of $43,000 in direct contributions from the Koch Industries political action committee and indirectly through the $1 million that Koch's PAC gave to the Republican Governors Association. The Kochs are also major supporters of Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who earlier this year credited "the strong support" of Americans for Prosperity for his now faltering attempt to strip Ohio state workers of their bargaining rights.   

• The dominance of extremist candidates in the 2012 presidential race. Koch bothers money can be found in the pockets of at least three of the most extreme Republican presidential candidates: Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and, especially, Herman Cain.Rachel Maddow reported that the Cain connections include a campaign manager from the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a now ex-spokesperson from another Americans for Prosperity affiliate, and the economic advisor who came up with Cain's infamous "9-9-9" tax plan, who was a member of Americans for Prosperity's advisory board. This is no surprise, because, as the Associated Press has reported, Cain has historically been a shill for the Americans for Prosperity legislative agenda. The Kochs have said they will pour at least $200,000 into the 2012 presidential campaign. "At least" is the operative phrase; expect the Kochs to funnel millions of dollars into the 2012 campaign through a variety of channels, most of which—thanks in part to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling—will be unrestricted and largely untraceable.   

• Their ability to violate the law with impunity, and to punish those who hold them accountable. A Bloomberg Markets magazine investigation published in October calls it "the Koch method," in which employees of the brothers' oil and gas companies "were shown by their managers how to steal and cheat." The stealing and cheating, according to Bloomberg, ranged from not paying royalties for oil extracted from federal land to bribing foreign officials to win contracts—and firing the company compliance officer who discovered the bribes and called them to the attention of top corporate officials. "For six decades around the world, Koch Industries has blazed a path to riches -- in part, by making illicit payments to win contracts, trading with a terrorist state, fixing prices, neglecting safety and ignoring environmental regulations. At the same time, Charles and David Koch have promoted a form of government that interferes less with company actions," the magazine wrote.

    Unregulated, unaccountable corporations. Extremist elected officials who disdain the concept of a government serving the common good. Workers stripped of the ability to negotiate collectively for fair pay, working conditions and benefits. Hundreds of millions of corporate dollars drowning out the voices of working-class and middle-class people. Voters forced to jump over ever-higher obstacles to vote for candidates who represent them, assuming those candidates can even get on ballots. This is the Koch brothers' dystopia. What they are defending is indefensible.

    For at least a few hours on Friday evening, the Washington Convention Center should be the focus of Occupy movement and its allies, for the Koch brothers embody just about everything the Occupy movement is against—members of the 1 percent who act as if our economy and our democracy should be their personal servant, and that the 99 percent should feel satisfied with the crumbs off their table.

    It is time for us to declare that we are the real Americans for prosperity, those of us who believe that workers should receive a fair wage for a fair day's work and be treated with dignity; that companies should be accountable for the harm that they do to people and the environment; that health care is a basic right for every person; that the education of our children shouldn't be turned into yet another corporate profit center; that government can and should work for all of the people, not the privileged few; that our democracy is the property of the people and cannot be owned by those with the most money.

    We cannot allow the Koch brothers' so-called "American dream" to continue to be our national nightmare.

Occupy the Kochs Guerrilla Drive-In
6 p.m. Friday, November 4
Washington Convention Center (Parking lot near 7th and L Street NW entrance)
Updates: Text  @GuerrillaTeamDC to 23559

Sean McMartin contributed to this article. This originally appeared on

Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 05:50 AM PDT

"Atlas Shrugged." Jesus didn't.

by ijpoole

Just in time for Easter, the movie version of "Atlas Shrugged" is poised to be shown in an expanding number of theaters. And, as Ayn Rand would be the first to admit, you could not set up a sharper clash of world views.

There is Jesus Christ, who, the apostle Paul writes, "died for the ungodly." Then there is the atheist Rand—"by all accounts ... one of the central intellectual and cultural inspirations for the base of the Republican Party," Think Progress writes this week—who once told Alvin Toffler in a Playboy magazine interview that  "nothing could make me more indignant" than the idea of a "man of perfect virtue dying for the ungodly, "the notion of sacrificing the ideal to the non-ideal."

Rand is very clear: walking in the path of Christ and walking in the path of "Atlas Shrugged" hero John Galt will take you to two very different places. Which ought to give pause to political leaders who claim to embrace the values of Christ but adopt the politics of Rand.

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Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has declared this week "jobs week" in his city, and he has been using it as an opportunity to announce a series of successes in guiding the seriously battered city toward economic recovery, such as an expansion of the Urban Outfitters clothing chain headquarters that would add 1,000 jobs and a decision by GlaxoSmithKline to build a new, $80 million headquarters in the city in the up-and-coming Navy Yard neighborhood.

Nutter is also using it to warn elected officials in Washington to not undo the work he's doing to create jobs with job-killing federal budget cuts.

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Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 01:08 PM PST

Let's Seize Control Of The Jobs Debate

by ijpoole

Twenty-five million unemployed, underemployed and discourage workers need to see more than White House huddles with CEOs. An urgent political fight has to also be waged for policies that will bring immediate relief to those who have spent months, if not years, on the unemployment lines. That's the fight that, in the current deficit mania clouding both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, too few people seem interested in waging.

If the White House and congressional Democrats won't wage that battle, progressives operating independently must.

That's why a day-long  "Summit on Jobs and America's Future" the Campaign for America's Future is organizing in Washington on March 10 is important. The jobs summit is intended to be a place where progressive activists can meet with organization leaders and lawmakers to forge the elements of a political movement for sustainable economic growth and dynamic job creation that will push the limits of the jobs debate.


Should progressives push a federally assisted plan to put at least 1 million unemployed people to work in 2011, and make the reaction of members of Congress to such a proposal a top issue in the 2012 elections?

80%17 votes
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| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Conservatives have a legislative agenda for 2011 that will hurt your ability to get or keep a job, your neighborhood's ability to recover from the recession and this country's ability to regain its footing in the global economy.

This builds on their decades-long effort to dismantle as much of government as they can, and ensure the remainder serves the interests of the wealthy and the powerful. These 10 economy killers will bring them closer to their goal and undo the nascent recovery we're beginning to see.

Progressives will have to organize aggressively against these to advance the reforms we fought for and restore hope to working-class people.

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African-American voters on November 2 are once again in a pivotal position to decide who controls the House of Representatives, and by extension whether the economic damage done to African-American families in the past decade will be repaired in the foreseeable future.

If Democratic candidates were ahead instead of behind or tied in 12 key districts where the black vote is 15 percent or more of the electorate, Democrats would be within three seats of keeping their House majority.


Have economic disparities between black Americans and white Americans received adequate attention in the 2010 election?

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23%11 votes
2%1 votes
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| 47 votes | Vote | Results

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