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How I lost my health insurance at the hairstylist's

THEN you need to do this. The life you save may be your own. And I am really really NOT exaggerating, here.

More links here

“Progressive Block” Strategy: Is It Really Happening?

Mission Accomplished

via: Hullabaloo:

The Story of the Governor And IHSS(In-Home Supportive Services) As a result of all that they used wheelchairs to block the Governor's office over the budget cuts and demanded that the Governor find new sources of income

Why it is so hard to pass good legislation: This is how your government works

Hey Democrats!How Can We Believe You're Not Influenced By All The Money You Get From Insurance Companies? video at link

And the Washington Post occasionally does good journalism, like here: Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying Firms Are Enlisting Ex-Lawmakers, Aides

The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.

Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), debating whether to adopt a public insurance option opposed by major industry groups. At least 10 others have been members of Congress, such as former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), both of whom represent a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm.

The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.

But its not just the money. Its the relationships

Suppressing your instinct to trust a former chief of staff and legislative director is a hard thing to do. Refusing to return the calls of favored staffers and colleagues goes against every social grain in our bodies. It should be easy to separate professional responsibilities and personal feelings. But it isn't.

Journalists consistently use this to our advantage: When you hear that someone is well-sourced, it generally means they have good personal relationships that make it more likely that insiders will tell them things. A big part of the job is leveraging social pressures to gain access to protected information. And, somewhat amazingly, it works. But the relationship between a journalist and a longtime source is nothing compared to the relationship between a senator and a longtime staffer. One of the secrets about lobbying in Washington is that money doesn't buy access. It buys people who already have access. And that makes it much more insidious.MORE

You CANNOT ignore this. This is going to affect you up close and personal for the rest of you life. Go hold your congress person's feet to the fire
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California going to hell in a handbasket: Obama calmly ignoring

Sotomayer, Prop 8 hegemony and the Courts

Pakistan Apocalypse: Don't Believe the Hype!

JUAN COLE: You know, in the past two years, the Pakistani public has demanded an end to a military dictatorship. On the grounds that it was violating the rule of law. They demanded free and fair parliamentary elections. They accomplished them. They voted the largest party they put in is the left of center or centrist secular party. They then went to the streets to demand the reinstatement of the secular civil Supreme Court. And you've had, really, hundreds of thousands of people involved in this movement for the restoration of democracy and the restoration of the rule of law. If this had happened any other place in the world, it would be reported in Washington as a good news story. Here, we've been told that it's a crisis. That it's a sign of instability and nuclear armed nation. I don't understand that.


BILL MOYERS: Who are the Taliban and what do they want? What are their goals?

JUAN COLE: What we're calling the Taliban, it's actually a misnomer. There are, like, five different groups that we're swooping up and calling the Taliban. The Taliban, properly speaking, are seminary students. They were those refugee boys, many of them orphans, who went through the seminaries or Madrassas in northern Pakistan back in the nineties. And then who emerged as a fighting force. Then you have the old war lords who had fought with the Soviet Union, and were allied with the United States. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Jalaluddin Haqqani, they have formed insurgent groups to fight the Americans now. Because they had fought the Soviet occupation, they now see an American occupation, so they've turned on the United States. They were former allies.

So we're calling them Taliban. And then you have a lot of probably disorganized villagers whose poppy crops, for instance, were burned. And they're angry. So they'll hit a NATO or American checkpoint. So we're scooping all of this up. And then the groups in northern Pakistan who are yet another group. And we're calling it all Taliban.MORE

Full Interview here

The North-West Frontier Province is 10 percent of the Pakistan population. That's where this stuff is happening. And most of it is actually happening not in the Province itself, but in the Federally Administrated Tribal Regions. Which are kind of like our Indian reservations. Only 3.5 million people live there. It's the size of, like, New Hampshire. Pakistan is a country as big as California, Oregon and Washington rolled up in one, with a population of 165 million. So to take this threat, which is a threat locally, to the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, to parts of the North-West Frontier Province, and to magnify it and to say, "Whoa, the Pakistani government is six months from falling, the Taliban is going to get their hands on nuclear weapons." The kinds of things that are being said in Washington, are just fantastical and some kind of science fiction film. How would these guys, with the Kalashnikov machine guns, take over a country that has an army of 550 thousand? Which has tanks and artillery and fighter jets? How would they even know here the nuclear weapons are? In Pakistan, I just quoted you the Gallup Poll. People don't like Taliban, for the most part.

Obama Nominates Superfund Polluter Lawyer To Run DOJ Environment Division

Let's cut Social Security to pay for banker bailouts!You are about to be hit by another wave of disinformation about how Social Security is going broke and needs reforming (meaning, your benefits must be cut). It's not true.
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Poor? Pay Up:Having Little Money Often Means No Car, No Washing Machine, No Checking Account And No Break From Fees and High Prices

You have to be rich to be poor.

That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand.

Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain.

So we'll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.

"The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing," says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). "The poor and 100 million who are struggling for the middle class actually end up paying more for transportation, for housing, for health care, for mortgages. They get steered to subprime lending. . . . The poor pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted."

Poverty 101: We'll start with the basics.

Like food: You don't have a car to get to a supermarket, much less to Costco or Trader Joe's, where the middle class goes to save money. You don't have three hours to take the bus. So you buy groceries at the corner store, where a gallon of milk costs an extra dollar.

A loaf of bread there costs you $2.99 for white. For wheat, it's $3.79. The clerk behind the counter tells you the gallon of leaking milk in the bottom of the back cooler is $4.99. She holds up four fingers to clarify. The milk is beneath the shelf that holds beef bologna for $3.79. A pound of butter sells for $4.49. In the back of the store are fruits and vegetables. The green peppers are shriveled, the bananas are more brown than yellow, the oranges are picked over.

(At a Safeway on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, the wheat bread costs $1.19, and white bread is on sale for $1. A gallon of milk costs $3.49 -- $2.99 if you buy two gallons. A pound of butter is $2.49. Beef bologna is on sale, two packages for $5.)

Prices in urban corner stores are almost always higher, economists say. And sometimes, prices in supermarkets in poorer neighborhoods are higher. Many of these stores charge more because the cost of doing business in some neighborhoods is higher. "First, they are probably paying more on goods because they don't get the low wholesale price that bigger stores get," says Bradley R. Schiller, a professor emeritus at American University and the author of "The Economics of Poverty and Discrimination."

"The real estate is higher. The fact that volume is low means fewer sales per worker. They make fewer dollars of revenue per square foot of space. They don't end up making more money. Every corner grocery store wishes they had profits their customers think they have."

According to the Census Bureau, more than 37 million people in the country live below the poverty line. The poor know these facts of life. These facts become their lives. MORE


Apr. 23rd, 2009 12:54 am
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Dow-sponsored Walleye Fest to donate contaminated fish to the poor

Despite advisories that warn people to avoid contact with river sediments and consuming locally caught fish, thousands are expected to participate this weekend in a Dow Chemical-sponsored walleye festival along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, where the watershed has been contaminated with harmful dioxin and other toxic substances. And just as the Michigan Department of Community Health is warning that children and pre-menopausal women should mostly avoid eating river fish including walleye because of contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin, organizers of the festival say they plan to donate walleye fillets to a local food bank.

It is breeding season for walleye. The fish are swimming from Saginaw Bay, up the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers, through a zone that some insist should be listed as a Superfund site. In 2007 the highest level of dioxin contamination ever measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was found in the Saginaw River prompting emergency clean up. Other dioxin remediation projects are ongoing. The entire span of the river used for the walleye festival is known to be contaminated with dioxin from chemical manufacturing operations at Dow Chemical’s Midland plant.MORE
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Monsanto, a corporation, might be more powerful than the nation of Germany!
Germany has banned the cultivation of GM corn, claiming that MON 810 is dangerous for the environment. But that argument might not stand up in court and Berlin could face fines totalling millions of euros if American multinational Monsanto decides to challenge the prohibition on its seed.
So let me get this straight. A nation cannot simply ban Monsanto's product, even after said nation decides that it's bad for the environment? Even though EU law says that they, indeed, can ban such things? Wow.


1,500 farmers commit mass suicide in India

Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.
The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.
"The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago," Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine.
I'm sure there's no connection between the crops failing due to a water shortage, and GM crops being planted that require twice as much water as the traditional varieties. MORE
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They Survived Katrina, But Not The Master Plan to Push Them From New Orleans

What's happening now is that legal processes have been instituted that are all but guaranteed to cause a rapid outflow of those poor blacks from the eastern interior, while at the same time a new wave of commercial developers will float in on a cloud of government largess. The mechanism here is an uneven application of new safety guidelines for residential homeowners, passed quietly alongside a colossal tax break for commercial investors. It's a high-stakes hand of real-estate poker, and the casinos, the condo developers and contractors like Halliburton are the ones drawing extra cards.
The scam in East Biloxi centers around flood maps, and it mirrors what is likely to be a similar fiasco in New Orleans. New guidelines called Advisory Base Flood Elevations, or ABFEs, issued quietly and unilaterally by FEMA late last year, place the average suggested elevation above sea level for house construction in most of peninsular East Biloxi at eighteen feet. In order to qualify for any federal assistance in rebuilding your home, you must rebuild according to these guidelines.
Currently, most houses in the neighborhood are at about nine feet or less. [...]
Around the time that FEMA was issuing its ABFEs for East Biloxi, Congress was passing the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act of 2005, colloquially known as the GoZone Act. When President Bush signed the law on December 21st, he made it sound like a relief program for the little guy. "It's a step forward to fulfill this country's commitment to help rebuild," he said. "It's going to help small businesses, is what it's going to do."
Well, not exactly. GoZone does an important thing. It provides a first-year bonus depreciation of fifty percent for commercial real-estate investors within the designated areas, which include East Biloxi and most of the lower parts of Mississippi, Louisiana and western Alabama. What this means, essentially, is that investors who bought into large projects after August 28th, 2005, will pay a fraction of the usual taxes in the first year of the investment.
The GoZone law is just another hand job for the rich, of the sort that has become a staple of the Bush administration's post-Katrina strategy. If the strategy for keeping public money from reaching the poor is to force people to first stand upside down and sing "Come On Eileen" backward and blindfolded, the strategy for giving money to the rich is a little more subtle. First, you give them tax breaks for indulging in the same activity you told the poor was dangerous, then you issue aid packages that only find their way down to needy recipients long after the value has been torn from the package's spine by a string of rapacious subcontractors, each taking their cut, who of course never had to enter into a competitive bid for their trouble. Carrying charges, my boy, carrying charges!MORE
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Wall Street controls America

Two must-read articles came my way today detailing how the financial industry has successfully engineered a coup of the government, holding it hostage for its every whim.
First, here’s Marcy Wheeler detailing how the same banks who took taxpayer money are now forcing the automakers to accept draconian bankruptcy terms.
Then read Glenn Greenwald’s lacerating account of the revolving door between lucrative corporate consulting and high-level administration posts that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner are benefiting from.MORE

Chrysler’s Two Options: What JP Morgan’s Insistence on Bankruptcy Will Mean

Yesterday, I pointed to a WSJ report that JP Morgan wants to force Chrysler into bankruptcy rather than make the concessions necessary for a Fiat merger.
There was some uncertainty about what those two different scenarios really mean--and therefore what the impact of JP Morgan's intransigence might be. So this is an attempt to lay out what those scenarios are. Details on these two scenarios come from the viability plan Chrysler submitted on February 17, though some of its assumptions are optimistic and both the VEBA numbers and the secured debt numbers are out-of-date.
The bottom line, though, is this: If Chrysler goes into bankruptcy, it will likely mean 210,000 extra lost jobs and the loss of healthcare for up to 700,000 UAW retirees.MORe

How JP Morgan Chase Intends to profit Off the 300,000 people that it is forcing to lose their jobs

As I pointed out Saturday and yesterday, JP Morgan Chase is reportedly pushing Chrysler into bankruptcy. And as I explained yesterday, that will mean 300,000 people will lose their jobs. So who will be left to bank with Chase in Michigan, you might ask, after JP Morgan Chase forces so many people out of work?
Well, as klynn pointed out, JP Morgan Chase has figured out a way to profit off all the unemployed people it is creating in Michigan. Chase, you see, provides Michigan's unemployment insurance debit cards.
And the services can end up being pretty expensive for beneficiaries. Here's what Chase charges (and will be able to charge those that it causes to lose their job) for use of their debit card.
More than two withdrawals in a 2-week pay period: $1.50 each
Non-Chase withdrawals: $1.50 each
More than one bank teller withdrawal in a pay period: $4.00 each
Transaction denied for insufficient funds at POS, ATM, or teller: $1.50 each
More than one ATM balance inquiry in a pay period: $1.00 for each
Statement delivered by regular mail: 95¢ per statement

It appears that the bankers investment in our politicians are paying handsome dividends...
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Free Higher Education: A GI Bill for Everybody

What if education were available without tuition charges to every resident meeting admissions criteria, as a right, at any public, post-secondary educational institution in the United States? Is this idea feasible? Is there potential public support for it? What would be its likely effects if implemented? What would such a commitment cost? How could those costs be met? These questions are not on the radar screen of American public discourse today. In fact, they are virtually unthinkable in the current consensus that sets the boundaries of acceptable policy debate.

Yet paying for higher education is a major concern for most Americans. In 2000, polls indicated that respondents included education, along with the economy, as one of the two highest priority issues in choosing a presidential candidate. Although much of this expressed concern is centered on the quality of pre-collegiate schooling, Americans are also worried about access to post-secondary education. Legitimately so, for post-secondary education is increasingly a prerequisite for effective labor force participation, for any hope of a relatively secure, decent job. If that is the case, shouldn't society have an obligation to provide universal access to such an essential social good? Why should we accept a putative consensus that preempts consideration of an issue so important to so many Americans?

Universal access to higher education is not entirely unprecedented in recent American history. The most dramatic approximation to it was the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, popularly known as the GI Bill, under which a generation of Second World War veterans received what was usually full tuition support and stipends (up to nearly $12,000 per year in 1994 dollars) to attend post-secondary educational institutions. By 1952, the federal government had spent $7 billion (nearly $39 billion in 1994 dollars) on sending veterans to college. This amounted to 1.3 percent of total federal expenditures ($521.8 billion) during that period. A 1988 report by a congressional subcommittee on education and health estimated that 40 percent of those who attended college under the GI Bill would not otherwise have done so. The report also found that each dollar spent educating that 40 percent produced a $6.90 return (more than $267 billion in 1994 dollars) in national output due to extra education and increased federal tax revenues from the extra income the beneficiaries earned.MORE

why auto industry and student loans are intertwined. see La Lubu's comment in particular.
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via: [livejournal.com profile] quinacridones

Is anyone listening?

In which automakers are punished and Bank CEOs are coddled

Me, I'm just flabbergasted by today's news. All those things Obama's saying to Detroit, a city of working people left devastated, about sacrifice and restructuring - why isn't he saying them to Wall Street, too?
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday will reject requests for almost $22 billion in new taxpayer bailout money for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler, saying the car makers have failed to take steps to ensure their viability.
[...] A senior administration official, briefing reporters late Sunday night on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said Obama will call for more sacrifice from carmakers, their investors and automotive unions.
Billionaire bankers (and their investors) walk away from the table with their pockets stuffed with taxpayer cash while members of the auto workers union are told they'll have to sacrifice even more - in this case, the Obama administration wants the companies to get rid of "old liabilities" - i.e. retiree pensions. (You know, while bankers complain about having to sell the house in the Hamptons.)
No, Obama's not talking about the insolvent banks. He's talking about Detroit. Could he make it any more obvious that the wealthy are a protected class?
"If they're not willing to make the changes and the restructurings that are necessary, then I'm not willing to have taxpayer money chase after bad money."
Funny, that's just how I feel about Citibank!MORE

Yeah. And the automakers have taken in all together less than 50 billion of our dollars, while the banks are in the hundreds of billions. Fuck you very much, Obama
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via: promethus 6

Family Properties: Race, Real Estate, and the Exploitation of Black Urban America (Hardcover)

In "Family Properties," she explains that it was not poverty that made black Chicagoans vulnerable to the likes of Jay Goran, because in 1960 two-thirds of the city's whites and 63 percent of its black residents had comparably modest incomes. Rather, she contends, the blame belongs squarely on "the racially biased credit policies of the nation's banking industry" and particularly the pre-1965 Federal Housing Administration.

Following procedures in effect since the 1930s, appraisers rated properties using a color scheme: green for all-white areas, blue and yellow for areas with some foreigners or Jews, and red for areas with black residents. "The FHA's appraisal policies," Satter writes, "meant that blacks were excluded by definition from most mortgage loans" and that "the presence of a single black family usually led to mortgage redlining" of an entire neighborhood. Non-commercial purchasers (white as well as black) found themselves unable to obtain loans in those locations. Speculators like Goran pressed frightened white homeowners to sell, then quickly "flipped" the houses to families like the Boltons, who had no alternative method for buying a home.
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via:[livejournal.com profile] debunkingwhite

Defective premises recur in new settings

A new experimental program at a nonconventional “lifestyle medicine” center is targeting pregnant women who are Black and Hispanic minority, poor and fat. These women are being enrolled into a free health program which tells them it will benefit them and their unborn babies and make their babies healthier.

No mention is made in the patient literature that, by the soundest clinical evidence to date, compared to the standard of care, the program’s alternative interventions have been shown to lead to poorer chances of survival for babies, higher rates of spontaneous preterm births, and to put babies at greater risk for serious physical and neurological health problems and learning disabilities. There is no indication that these underprivileged minority women are giving their informed consent or are aware they are participants in human experiments that could endanger their unborn babies.

Why has no one cared to notice? The answer to that question is even more disquieting….MORE

Some Rich Districts Get Richer as Aid Is Rushed to Schools

In pouring rivers of cash into states and school districts, Washington is using a tangle of well-worn federal formulas, some of which benefit states that spend more per pupil, while others help states with large concentrations of poor students or simply channel money based on population. Combined, the formulas seem to take little account of who needs the money most.

As a result, some districts that are well off will find themselves swimming in cash, while some that are struggling may get too little to avoid cutbacks.


Democrats in Congress decided to use the formulas to save time, knowing that devising new ones tailored to current conditions could require months of negotiations.

Still, the occasional mismatch between educational needs and emergency financing can be striking.

Utah, where a $1.3 billion budget deficit has threatened deep school cuts, will get about $655 million in education stimulus money, or about $1,250 per student, according to the federal Department of Education. Wyoming, which has no deficit and has not cut school budgets in many years, will get about $1,684 per student.

North Dakota, which also has no budget problems, will receive $1,734 per student. California, which recently closed a $42 billion budget gap through July 2010 partly through deep spending cuts, will get $1,336 per student.MORE

A.I.G. Sues U.S. for Return of $306 Million in Tax Payments

While the American International Group comes under fire from Congress over executive bonuses, it is quietly fighting the federal government for the return of $306 million in tax payments, some related to deals that were conducted through offshore tax havens.

A.I.G. sued the government last month in a bid to force it to return the payments, which stemmed in large part from its use of aggressive tax deals, some involving entities controlled by the company’s financial products unit in the Cayman Islands, Ireland, the Dutch Antilles and other offshore havens.'MORE
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Does the rhetoric sound familiar?

When the World Went Bust - Episode 2 - 12 Jan 08 - Pt 1

In the second part of its special look at the global financial crisis, Al Jazeera examines the impact on countries including Iceland and the future consequences of the economic downturn in the US, Europe and beyond.

When the World Went Bust - Episode 2 - 12 Jan 08 - Pt 2

Kenya and Tanzania are lending money to America????? Oh. Really. The fucking IMF. Debto countries must hold reserves in US bonds. Because the US economy is too big to fail??????? REALLY??!!!!??

Also: `Race to Bottom' at Moody's, S&P Secured Subprime's Boom, Bust
Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- In August 2004, Moody's Corp. unveiled a new credit-rating model that Wall Street banks used to sow the seeds of their own demise. The formula allowed securities firms to sell more top-rated, subprime mortgage-backed bonds than ever before.
A week later, Standard & Poor's moved to revise its own methods. An S&P executive urged colleagues to adjust rating requirements for securities backed by commercial properties because of the ``threat of losing deals.''
The world's two largest bond-analysis providers repeatedly eased their standards as they pursued profits from structured investment pools sold by their clients, according to company documents, e-mails and interviews with more than 50 Wall Street professionals. It amounted to a ``market-share war where criteria were relaxed,'' says former S&P Managing Director Richard Gugliada.
``I knew it was wrong at the time,'' says Gugliada, 46, who retired from the McGraw-Hill Cos. subsidiary in 2006 and was interviewed in May near his home in Staten Island, New York. ``It was either that or skip the business. That wasn't my mandate. My mandate was to find a way. Find the way.''MORE
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When the World Went Bust - 4 January 09 - Part 1

After years of unprecedented boom a financial firestorm, sparked in the US, is sweeping through much of the world.

In a special programme Al Jazeera's Samah el-Shahat charts the roots of the financial crisis and visits Iceland, one of the high-profile casualties where jobs are being lost and lives destroyed.

When the World Went Bust - 4 January 09 - Part 2

It wasn't as simple as the reporter makes it seem. however... )
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Bush Scandals list It actually stops at 399, for gods sake.

Table of Contents

Reflection on List by the Author

To be blunt, the reason there was a need for the list at all was because the media and the Democratic party didn’t do their jobs. The media did not report, underreported, misreported or reported far too late to matter most of what went on in the last 8 years. They fed us narratives filled with talking points, not facts. Access and he said / she said reporting became the order of the day. Real journalism occurred by accident or was perpetrated by a lonely few. Meanwhile the Democrats refused to raise any opposition and found silence and complicity the better part of valor. So to create the list I had to do what all of us in the blogosphere have had to do. I had to pick among the media, unpack, unspin, and deconstruct their narratives. I went to primary sources. And I did this not alone but benefiting from the collective effort of us all.

And what I found horrified me.

Our government has been hollowed out. It is not just the Justice Department but all departments and agencies whose mission it was to help citizens that were filled with Bush appointees whose job it was to dismantle them. Interior became a playground for drilling, mining, and developers, Labor for Big Business, the EPA for polluters, Energy for oil and gas companies, the Pentagon for neocons, the SEC for Wall Street. Nor was it just the top echelons where this rot occurred but went down to the fourth and fifth tiers, to the Monica Goodlings and Kyle Sampsons. And it wasn’t here or there but across the board that this demolition of our government occurred.

Our government has been looted. It began with tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. It continued with the promotion of deregulation and the financial bubbles. It is finishing with us on the edge of depression. While the rest of the economy falls apart the government continues to announce one monster bailout of the financial industry after another.

Our Constitution and the rule of law have been trashed. The last 8 years saw the creation of a Presidential dictatorship: torture, indefinite detention, kidnapping, spying, kangaroo courts, signing statements, illegal wars, and for all these things there was no accountability, none.

What I hope the list conveys in its own imperfect way is that these were not isolated events committed by a few people. This was an undertaking that thousands in the Bush Administration worked on day in day out for 8 years. This was their job. They made a career out of doing in our government, and we were paying them to do it.

And yet, Americans did not take to the streets. Democrats did not oppose. The media cheered on. As I said, my list is a judgment on George Bush. He is the worst President in our history. My list is a testament to that fact. But it is also a judgment on us because we let it happen. Yes, some of us spoke out, but the question that haunts many of us, and certainly me, is could we have done more.
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Via Daily Kos
Officials NEVER have money for affordable housing, or public schools or roads. But they do have money for these corporate welfare queens

Diligent readers of the newspaper business section learn about these deals all the time. A new auto assembly plant receives hundreds of millions of dollars from a Southern state. One city offers a major corporation huge tax breaks to entice it to move its headquarters. Another city gives similar breaks to another company to prevent it from leaving. A major retailer is allowed to keep a large portion of property or sales tax revenue associated with the creation of yet another big-box store.

Most of these are what are known as discretionary subsidy deals--ones that are negotiated with individual companies, supposedly to influence an investment decision. These are distinct from entitlement-type subsidies (such as investment tax credits) that are automatically available to all companies that meet certain criteria. What makes discretionary subsidies so controversial is not only their fiscal impact but the fact that there are often no specific guidelines for determining which companies get them. These deals pit communities against one another, forcing them to engage in an ill-advised bidding war for the investment; or, a company may concoct a phony threat to move out of an area in order to extort subsidies for staying put.

Good Jobs First is a leading monitor and critic of company-specific subsidy deals. We track which companies go most often to the public trough for assistance, and we critique egregious giveaways. In this section of the website, we have company profiles of some of the leading over-users and abusers of economic development subsidies, including household names such as Boeing and Dell. We summarize their major deals and provide resources for additional information. Given that the terms of discretionary subsidies are often not completely disclosed, the information available may unavoidably be incomplete. MORE

Consider this example:

Dell Inc.
Dell is as aggressive in seeking subsidies as it is in marketing personal computers. In a 2004 deal in North Carolina, Dell pulled off an unusual feat by getting much more in subsidies--up to $267 million--than it was planning to invest in a new assembly plant.

Round Rock, Texas: 20 years of property tax abatements, $50 million in tax-exempt industrial revenue bond financing, and 40 percent of sales tax revenues collected by Round Rock on Dell's sales. 1993

In 1999 Dell announced plans to locate its first manufacturing facility outside Texas somewhere in the area of Nashville, Tennessee. The plan, which set off a scramble among local cities and counties, was expected to create thousands of jobs. The winner of the competition was Nashville itself, which offered Dell a package including:

Nashville, TN:
*free land for the site worth $6.5 million;
*40 years of property tax abatements;
*$20 million in infrastructure improvements
*one-time credits of $2,000 per employee against state franchise and excise taxes
*Metro Nashville tax credits of $500 per employee for 40 years
*industrial machinery state tax credits
*$4,000 per employee to pay for job training costs (refundable after workers were hired).

Some observers estimated the cost of the incentives over the life of the Nashville agreement would be more than $200 million. However, in February 2002, Dell announced that it was eliminating all manufacturing operations at the Nashville facility.MORE

You might also be interested in this...

HIDDEN TAXPAYER COSTS. In addition to the explicit subsidies granted to companies in the name of economic development, taxpayers may end up subsidizing business inadvertently. For example, the failure of many larger employers to provide adequate health insurance benefits to their workers means that many of those workers turn to public programs such as Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance for coverage. The availability of these programs, which were not intended to be used by people working at big companies, means that taxpayers are in effect enabling employers to avoid substantial healthcare costs.

This issue of hidden taxpayer costs has become a matter of growing controversy. To highlight the dimensions of the problem, more than a dozen states have disclosed the names of the employers with the largest number of workers (or their dependents) using programs such as Medicaid. We present a summary of these disclosures.

Naturally, Walmart's egregious actions are so multitudinous that they get their own complete section
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The Safety Net Will Not Catch the Poor This Time

Unemployment insurance is not as generous now. Yet the unemployment rate is at 6.5 percent and some forecasters say it could top 8 percent next year. It hit 10.8 percent in the early 1980s.
This is also the first severe economic slump since President Bill Clinton overhauled the welfare system and made it tougher to qualify for, and keep receiving, benefits. Many people who lose their jobs now and fall into poverty may not qualify for public assistance. Other programs designed in part to counter hard times — like job training and housing subsidies — have also been cut back.
If you are a follower of my blog or know me personally, you have probably picked up on some anti-Bill Clinton sentiment. The primary reason for my President Clinton hate is the 1996 PRWORA welfare-reform bill which should serve as primary example as to how triangulated policies result in very bad policies. I will get to the NYT article, but first let me point out TANF's (welfare) failures:
1. By establishing welfare as a maintenance-of-effort grant, states are tasked with setting benefit levels themselves. This has the effect of fracturing the risk pool. By doing so, it is impossible for high poverty risk states (poor states like Mississippi) to be subsidized by the low poverty risk states (wealthy states like Connecticut). This has made it impossible for TANF to actually reduce poverty rates as the states where poverty is concentrated cannot afford to payout enough benefits to the impoverished.MORE
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The Garden: The Fight for Community Agriculture in South Central LA

The fourteen-acre community garden at 41st and Alameda in South Central Los Angeles was the largest of its kind in the United States. Started as a form of healing after the devastating L.A. riots in 1992, the South Central Farmers created a miracle in one of the country’s most blighted neighborhoods. Growing their own food. Feeding their families. Creating a community.

Then, 12 years later, real estate developers and bulldozers moved in - poised to level the 14-acre oasis. Why was the land sold to a wealthy developer for millions less than fair-market value? Why was the transaction done in a closed-door session of the LA City Council? Why has it never been made public? The documentary film is The Garden, and it's just been short-listed for an Academy Award.

Tonight on GRITtv ARUN GUPTA, MARION NESTLE, and PETER HOFFMAN discuss the politics of food, why what we eat matters, and how community gardens are changing the urban landscape. You can see the full program, including a taste of The Garden at 8 pm.

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Hydraulic fracturing (fracing) is a drilling technique that was developed by Halliburton. Millions of gallons of fresh water, along with sand, and cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are injected under high pressure miles down the drilling hole to fracture the limestone shale and release the oil and gas trapped within.

In 2005, at the urging of Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, Congress exempt fracing from the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In 2001, Cheney’s energy task force report "touted" benefits and ignored consequences. His office was "involved in discussions about how fracturing should be portrayed in the [EPA] report." Halliburton earns about $1.5 BILLION annually from hydraulic fracturing. (Ibid)


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