Thursday, August 30, 2012

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

How the GOP presidential candidate and his private
equity firm staged an epic wealth grab, destroyed jobs
- and stuck others with the bill

By Matt Taibbi

The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the
aisle, has always been that he doesn't stand for anything.
He's a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard
opportunist who'll say anything to get elected.

The critics couldn't be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-
paper man. He's closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-
world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead
of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His
legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist
- they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by
misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-
consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he's trying for
something big: We've just been too slow to sort out what it
is, just as we've been slow to grasp the roots of the radical
economic changes that have swept the country in the last

The incredible untold story of the 2012 election so far is
that Romney's run has been a shimmering pearl of perfect
political hypocrisy, which he's somehow managed to keep
hidden, even with thousands of cameras following his every
move. And the drama of this rhetorical high-wire act was
ratcheted up even further when Romney chose his running mate,
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin - like himself, a self-righteously
anal, thin-lipped, Whitest Kids U Know penny pincher who'd be
honored to tell Oliver Twist there's no more soup left. By
selecting Ryan, Romney, the hard-charging, chameleonic
champion of a disgraced-yet-defiant Wall Street, officially
succeeded in moving the battle lines in the 2012 presidential

Rolling Stone
August 29, 2012
This story is from the September 13, 2012 issue of Rolling

California Legislature assaults teachers while failing to pass adequate school funds

            Following assaults on teachers in Tennessee, New Jersey, New York and Florida – among others- the California legislature this week is using the “gut and amend” procedure to change the current teacher evaluation system in the state. The brutal assault in Florida led to the defeat of the moderate governor Christie by Tea Party advocates in 2010.
            In California legislators claiming to be responding to a Los Angeles judge’s ruling that Los Angeles was improperly implementing the current law, legislators are trying change the law before Friday using Assembly Bill 5.   An active advocate of the yet undefined plan is Michelle Rhee’s organization, so called “Students First.”
            Using the argument that these changes are necessary to respond to the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top,  which has never been passed into law, anti union forces are arguing for test based accountability systems.  These are popular politically on the right but they have failed in state after state to  improve the schools.
            The legislature could improve the schools by doing their job –that is to adequately fund the schools.  As California cuts over $5 billion from the schools conditions and learning in these schools deteriorate.  Instead of doing their job and providing the resources some legislators call for a new system of teacher evaluation.
            Recall that the California legislature has a 13% support rate from the voting public.  Teachers are one of the most valued professions we have in educating future generations.  Assaults from the right are both under funding our schools and driving people from the profession.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It wasn't Wall Street Bankers - it was the Teachers' unions.

The looting of the U.S. and the economic crisis were not caused by Wall Street and the corporations,  it was the Teachers’ Union.
Chris Christie.
At the Republican convention.

"Now having squandered trillions on mismanaged wars, tax cuts designed especially for the rich, a gigantic real estate bubble, and massive bailouts for its banks, the United States is confronting a major fiscal problems.  At the same time, America’s fundamental economic competitiveness has declined severely, as its physical infrastructure, broad band services, educational system, workface skills, health care and energy policies have failed to keep pace with the needs of the advanced economy. ….
The principal reason for this is that politically powerful interest groups have been able to block reform: the financial services, energy, defense, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, and processed food industries, the legal, accounting, and medical professions; and to a lesser extent, several unions- these and other groups , including, of course, lobbyists and politicians, have ferociously resisted efforts to improve  America’s future at their expense.
            Meanwhile, both political parties are ignoring, lying about, and/or exploiting the country’s very real economic, social, and educational problems."
Charles H. Ferguson,   Predator Nation; Corporate Criminals, political corruption, and the Hijacking of America.  2012.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: The Betrayal of the American Dream

Book Review: The Betrayal of the American Dream.  (2012)
By Duane Campbell
            The team of Barlett  and Steele have  produced excellent journalism in the past, and they have done it again with The Betrayal of the American Dream, (2012) an analysis of the pain caused by the economic crisis for everyday people.  This is a well written, readable book on the economic crisis and the 30 years of looting by corporate America that led to the crisis.
            The writers clearly place blame on the aristocracy saying, “ Only once before in American history, the nineteenth-century era of the robber barons, has the financial aristocracy so dominated policy and finance. Only once before has there been such an astonishing concentration of wealth and power in an American oligarchy.  This time it will be much harder to pull the country back from the brink.”
            A great benefit of the book is that it is readable.  They  tell stories and give examples of crises in families and for workers. For example they begin the important description of the outsourcing of jobs with this,
            “On the last day on the job Kevin Flanagan, after clearing out a few personal effects and putting them in boxes in the back of his Ford Ranger, left the building where he’d worked for seven years.  He settled into the front seat of his pickup truck on the lower level of the company garage, placed a twelve-gauge Remington Shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger.
He was forty-one years old.  He was a computer programmer.  He’d been a programmer his entire working life. “  (p.99).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Teachers, schools, and the economic crisis

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are   created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

What caused the current  economic crisis ? 
 In 2008- 2009 we suffered the looting of the U.S. economy by major banks and finance capital.  The  looting produced our current economic crisis, crashed the world economy, and caused the massive cutbacks we presently suffer in schools, in public pensions, in employment of police, fire, the bankrupting of cities and the cuts to health care and the social safety net.
Did police, fire fighters, nurses, teachers cause this crisis.  No.
Did pensioners cause this crisis ? No.
 Now, we need to stimulate the economy to end this unnecessary depression.  Paul Krugman says it well in End This Depression Now, (2102). 
“Disasters do happen- history is replete with floods and famines, earthquakes, and tsunamis.  What makes this disaster so terrible-what should make you angry- is that none of this need be happening.  There has been no plague of locusts; we have not lost our technological know-how; America and Europe should be richer, not poorer, than they were five years ago.
Nor is the nature of this disaster mysterious.  In the Great Depression leaders had an excuse; nobody really understood what was happening or how to fix it.  Today’s leaders don’t have that excuse. We have both the knowledge and the tools to end this suffering.”  Krugman.

Government should get the money for economic stimulation  from those who caused the crisis-  the bankers and finance capital through a financial transaction tax.  We should use such a tax rather than giving the banks bail outs.  And, stop scapegoating pensioners, public sector workers and immigrants.

Why Choosing Democracy? In 2009 in the book, Choosing Democracy: A practical guide to multicultural education, I argued,
Our society and our schools are in rapid transition from the old to the new.  New global business and corporations have propelled our nation into a worldwide market, a place of economic and social instability.  Meanwhile our governmental structures and schools remain pretty much as they were in the 1950s. The gap between the private, corporate society—growing, dynamic, unstable, starkly unequal—and the public institutions—underfunded, criticized, and under attack—grows each day. Yet the private sector of the  society depends on the public sector to provide roads, schools, fire departments, water and electricity systems (infrastructure), educated workers, and domestic order.
            We in the United States have created one of the most free and democratic societies in human history, but at great cost to Native Americans, African slaves, and many immigrant workers. Though far from perfect, we nonetheless offer our citizens more freedom and self-governance, and a higher standard of living, than is found in most of the world. At the same time we rank about 37th in the world in health care and life span.  Today  we stand in danger of losing our  cherished freedom, democracy, and standard of living  to chaotic and uncertain global conflicts, terrorism,  the economic crisis, competition and to domestic prejudice and intolerance.
Times are changing. In 2010, the U.S. college graduation rate ranked 34th. out of the 34 countries in the OECD survey . In 2010, the U.S. high school graduation rate ranked 21st. out of the 26 countries in the OECD survey. OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. ( the advanced, industrialized countries.)
In 2011, the average Canadian citizen was wealthier than the average U.S. citizen, and all residents of Canada have government insured health care.
Taxes and California Schools.  
   In August of 2012, California public schools are in crisis- and they are getting worse. This is a direct result of massive budget cuts imposed by the legislature and the governor in the last four years.  Total per pupil expenditure is down by over $1,000 per student.

Monday, August 20, 2012

"End the nightmare of cuts to our schools and colleges..." | Yes on 30

Vote Yes on Prop.30.

At times we post videos from a variety of sources.  We follow the guidelines of Fair Use for these posts. We receive no contributions for these postings.
The posts on this blog are expressions of our Freedom of Speech as protected by the U.S. Constitution and our right to participate in political debate. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chicago Teachers Union fights corporate "reformers"

The Chicago Teachers Union is currently on the front lines of a fight to defend public education. On one side the 30,000 members of the CTU have called for a contract that includes fair compensation, meaningful job security for qualified teachers, smaller class sizes and a better school day with Art, Music, World Language and appropriate staffing levels to help our neediest students.
On the other side, the Chicago Board of Education—which is managed by out of town reformers and Broad Foundation hires with little or no Chicago public school experience—has pushed to add two weeks to the school year and 85 minutes to the school day, eliminate pay increases for seniority, evaluate teachers based on student test scores, and slash many other rights.
Teachers, parents and community supporters in Chicago have fought valiantly—marching, filling auditoriums at hearings and parent meetings, even occupying a school and taking over a school board meeting. Most recently, 98 percent of our members voted to authorize a strike. But now we find ourselves facing new opponents—national education privatizers, backed by some of the nation’s wealthiest people. They are running radio ads, increasing press attacks, and mounting a PR campaign to discredit the CTU and the benefits of public education.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Outsourcing jobs

 “On the last day on the job Kevin Flanagan, after clearing out a few personal effects and putting them in boxes in the back of his Ford Ranger, left the building where he’d worked for seven years.  He settled into the front seat of his pickup truck on the lower level of the company garage, placed a twelve-gauge Remington Shotgun to his head, and pulled the trigger.
He was forty-one years old.  He was a computer programmer.  He’d been a programmer his entire working life. “ p.99.
From.  The Betrayal of the American Dream.  Donald Bartlett and James Steele. 2012.
I encourage you to read their piece on outsourcing or offshoring and their excellent chapter on Apple computers moves. 

A strategy for change: Bill Fletcher

The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama's Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him    August 9, 2012  | 
Let’s cut to the chase. The November 2012 elections will be unlike anything that any of us can remember.  It is not just that this will be a close election.  It is also not just that the direction of Congress hangs in the balance.   Rather, this will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.  
Unfortunately what too few leftists and progressives have been prepared to accept is that the polarization is to a great extent centered on a revenge-seeking white supremacy; on race and the racial implications of the moves to the right in the US political system. It is also focused on a re-subjugation of women, harsh burdens on youth and the elderly, increased war dangers, and reaction all along the line for labor and the working class. No one on the left with any good sense should remain indifferent or stand idly by in the critical need to defeat Republicans this year.
U.S. Presidential elections are not what progressives want them to be
A large segment  of what we will call the ‘progressive forces’ in US politics approach US elections generally, and Presidential elections in particular, as if: (1) we have more power on the ground than we actually possess, and (2) the elections are about expressing our political outrage at the system. Both get us off on the wrong foot.
The US electoral system is among the most undemocratic on the planet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Paul Ryan. Really ?

Duane Campbell
We have often argued here that the election of 2012 is critical.  As voters  we have a  major choice. Do we follow the Republican model of  continuing the current Depression, cut taxes for the rich, and cut programs for the working families?  Do we follow the lead of Bain Capital and Casino Capitalism ?  Or, do we invest in working America and put people to work ?  Do we insist that the government hire teachers, police officers, and invest in the future.
That choice has become even clearer with the selection of Paul Ryan as the Vice President candidate on the Republican ticket.
John Nichols, a progressive journalists , was the keynote speaker at an event we conducted on the media in 2002, writes from Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. 
He says of Ryan, “ The hyper-ambitious political careerist—who has spent his entire adult life as a Congressional aide, think-tank hanger-on and House member. Or, to be more precise, a hypocritical big spender—at least when Wall Street, the insurance industry and the military-industrial complex call.
Ryan has been a steady voter for unwise bailouts of big banks, unfunded mandates and unnecessary wars. Few members of Congress have run up such very big tabs while doing so little to figure out how to pay the piper. How has Ryan gotten away with his fool-most-of-the-people-most-of-the-time politics?”
Most of all, Paul Ryan is the author and primary advocate of the Ryan Budget, the Republican plan to cut the government.  We should judge he and Mitt Romney from this plan.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Trampling out the story of Cesar Chavez

Trampling out the story of Cesar Chavez and the UFW.
by Duane E. Campbell
            In California in 2012 the k-12 school population is 48.72 %  Hispanic, the great majority of whom are Mexican Americans, the California Dept. of Education estimates the state drop out rate for Hispanics at 32 % having changed little for over a decade, where farm workers and their families generally have lower wages and fewer work benefits than they did in 1974, where only two Mexican Americans appear in the state approved text books, Frank Bardacke thinks that the important issue for labor historians is to de construct the “Cesar Chavez myth” – really?  
            Frank Bardacke’s Trampling Out the Vintage: Cesar Chavez and the Two Souls of the United Farm Workers. (2011, Verso). is the view of a well- informed observer  who  worked in the lettuce fields near Salinas for six seasons,  then spent  another 25 years  teaching English to  farm workers  in the Watsonville, Cal.  area.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Think Tanks and education. Part 2.

How do interest groups and “think tanks” operate ? Part 2.
“ Interest groups supported by the Kochs spew out a steady stream of position papers, congressional testimony , and public pronouncements about public policies that are detrimental to the middle class.  They back unrestricted free trade and oppose even the slightest government action that might be interpreted as protectionist, a position that helped to destroy millions of domestic manufacturing jobs. “
Bartlett and Steele. The Betrayal of the Middle Class. 2012.
And, in public education ?
Good for Business; Kids Not So Much
While most education reform advocates cloak their goals in the rhetoric of "putting children first," the conceit was less evident at a conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, earlier this year.
Standing at the lectern of Arizona State University's SkySong conference center in April, investment banker Michael Moe exuded confidence as he kicked off his second annual confab of education startup companies and venture capitalists. A press packet cited reports that rapid changes in education could unlock "immense potential for entrepreneurs." "This education issue," Moe declared, "there's not a bigger problem or bigger opportunity in my estimation."
Moe has worked for almost fifteen years at converting the K-12 education system into a cash cow for Wall Street. A veteran of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, he now leads an investment group that specializes in raising money for businesses looking to tap into more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent annually on primary education. His consortium of wealth management and consulting firms, called Global Silicon Valley Partners, helped K12 Inc. go public and has advised a number of other education companies in finding capital.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

"think tanks" How they work .

Top Obamacare Critic's Op-Eds Drafted by PR Firm That Reps Drug, Health Care Clients
Ed. Note. This is how top PR firms work while calling themselves research institutes.  Note below how the Broad Foundation and Michelle Rhee perform parallel  services.
The Drum Report. Mother Jones.
Meet the magic PR elves fueling Sally Pipes' prolific anti-health-care-reform punditry.
Last Tuesday, a week after the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Obamacare, Sally Pipes appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to enumerate the evils of the law. The president of the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based free-market think tank, Pipes warned members of Congress that if they didn't act quickly Americans would soon suffer the rationed care and long waits supposedly plaguing her native Canada. The country's health care system, she insisted, had killed her mother by refusing to test her for colon cancer, which she later died from.
Pipes' appearance on Capitol Hill, days before the House voted for the 33rd time to repeal Obamacare, capped a busy two weeks for the prominent critic of the president's health reform law. In just the 24 hours following the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision, Pipes churned out thousands of words of outraged copy, publishing columns in the National Review Online, the Orange County Register, the Daily Caller, Human Events, and elsewhere—all while running her small think tank and keeping up her typically frenetic schedule of media interviews. All of this cemented her status as a leading voice of Obamacare opposition. Along with a constant stream of op-eds and TV appearances in recent years, she has also authored three books since 2008 lambasting health care reform.
If Pipes seems supernaturally prolific, there's a good reason. To assist with her written output, PRI employs a DC-based ghostwriting and PR firm with drug and health care industry clients. That firm, Keybridge Communications, researches, drafts, and edits much of Pipes' published work in an arrangement that's unusual for someone at a supposedly independent think tank.
Several former PRI staffers tell Mother Jones it was well known within the organization that Pipes relied heavily on Keybridge, particularly for her books, and did far from all of her own writing. (Pipes thanks Keybridge and specific staffers there in her last three books.) In recent years, PRI has spent large amounts of money on Keybridge's services. Between 2008 and 2010, the think tank paid Keybridge nearly $1 million—$400,000 alone in 2010.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Fund the schools. Vote Yes on Prop 30

by Duane Campbell
According to a Sacramento Bee article the AVID program budget was cut from the state budget by a line item veto by Governor Brown. AVID is one of a dozen or more practical programs in the schools to try to prepare working class kids for college.  Similar programs existed to reduce drop outs/ push outs and other problems in our schools.  Avid was a good program as were dozens of other good programs cut from the budgets.  For example, California has the largest class sizes in the nation and the least number of counselors per children – these program cuts  too produce drop outs and violence.
When you and I address the legislature about these pragmatic programs they say- we agree, but we just don’t have the money.  The state does not have the money only if we continue the massive billions of dollars presently given to corporations in tax dodges and tax benefits.  A simple Millionaires tax, or a Financial Transactions Tax would resolve that, but Governor Brown and the Democrats are unwilling to fight for fair taxation.  See the video below, “Which CEO made $5 million stealing your kids lunch money?” And, see how the global elite  like Mitt Romney hide 32 Trillion in off shore accounts.  This money could be brought back to the U.S. and invested.
Education is vital for the future of California.  Without a quality education, our children will not be able to compete in a global economy.
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