Leo Gerard

Q&A with Peter Navarro: Macroeconomic Expert and Best-Selling Author on China

Leo W. Gerard: Your chapter in the new book, “Benchmarking the Advantages Foreign Nationals Provide their Manufacturers,” describes in devastating detail how China in particular, but also other major U.S. trading partners, violate international rules. The abuses you document make clear that it’s impossible for American manufactures to compete internationally. U.S. corporations responded by off-shoring manufacturing and millions of American jobs. Why does the U.S. put up with this unfair trade?  Peter Navarro: The Bush administration put up with unfair trade because it was distracted by the war on terrorism and because of its blind ideological commitment to free trade, regardless of the unfair trading practices adopted by our trading partners.

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Bill Scher

Only A Lobbyist-Funded Mob Would Chant “What’s Wrong With Profit?”

TPMDC picked up a Napa Valley Register report and separate editorial on another right-wing disrupting the town hall featuring Blue Dog Dem Rep. Mike Thompson. The initial article reported: Shouts of “This is America!” and “What’s wrong with profit?” emerged from a seated crowd in response to statements Napa County Health and Human Services Director Randy Snowden — a member of the panel — made about the overall rise in health care costs since the industry abandoned its nonprofit roots about 30 years ago. And the editorial board, which had backed McCain over Obama, chastised the mob: Several callers to the Register on Tuesday reported they were repulsed by the aggressive tactics of some members of the crowd.

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Dave Johnson

Manufacture Or Borrow (Until We Can’t)

When things are going wrong it is often good practice to go back and review the basics, and start again. In baseball you go back to batting and fielding practice. To master a musical instrument you practice your scales every day. Things have gone wrong with our economy. So let’s go back to some basics and see if we can figure out where we went wrong. Let’s start with the most basic of basics in an economy: wealth comes from making things that you can trade with others. It is a simple concept worth repeating: if you make something you can trade it for things other people make. As you make things and trade them you build wealth. In an economy making and trading things creates good jobs and brings to the people income and goods they need. So obviously manufacturing is the key to a healthy economy.

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Sara Robinson

Fascist America: Are We There Yet?

All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence, and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only demanded by history’s worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small handful of us who’d made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet? And every time this question got asked, people like Chip Berlet and Dave Neiwert and Fred Clarkson and yours truly would look up from our maps like a parent on a long drive, and smile a wan smile of reassurance. “Wellll…we’re on a bad road, and if we don’t change course, we could end up there soon enough.

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Robert Borosage

Health Care Reform: Time to Go All In

It is time to go all in to support comprehensive health care reform. The stakes have gotten prohibitive. Republicans have essentially bet the House on it. Obama, for all intents and purposes, has wagered the White House agenda. The insurance and drug companies are pouring in dough. This month will be telling. The debate in congressional districts across the country in August will go far in determining what kind of reform we get — or whether we get any reform at all. The opposition — well financed by the insurance and drug companies and by the rabid right — is mobilizing now to stop reform. Republicans believe that they can replay 1994 when the defeat of Clinton’s health care plan (and the fight over NAFTA) led to the stunning elections that resulted in the Gingrich congress.

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Bill Scher

Memo To Marc Ambinder: The Right-Wing Is Not The Middle

Marc Ambinder is spending a lot of blogging energy defending his peeps at CBS for this news report giving the right-wing Birther mob credit for representing concerns about health care reform from the electoral middle. He writes: A majority of the public supports reform in principle and, broadly, in practice, but they are also worried about more government control, about the costs of reform, and whether they’ll see any benefit. These aren’t dumb or unfounded worries. It’s not surprising that the meetings tend to attract those who oppose reform, and these formats generically attract louder, less shy voices. No doubt: some of the loudest voices were prompted to attend the rallies because they hate Obama and want him to fail and because they were asked to do so by conservative groups. That doesn’t make the protests illegitimate.

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Brian Dockstader

Birthers = Health Care Deniers

Let me preface this by explaining my rationale for labeling opponents of health care reform “health care deniers”. I call them deniers, in much the same vein as global warming deniers and Holocaust deniers, and for the very same reason. These people deny that we have a health care problem. They deny this in the face of all facts. They choose blindness, they deny, to further their own self-interested agenda. And to add a second definition of denier–these people not only deny the problem, but in doing so they also seek to deny us a solution. Their denial is pathological, and it is toxic to having an intellectually honest debate about health care reform.* So what has me thinking about birthers and health care deniers? This woman: How crazy, hateful and transparently racist can one group of people get? Meet the birthers. Meet the voice of the opposition.

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Dave Johnson

Misuse Of The Words Protectionism And Trade Is Making Us Poorer

Can one be called “protectionist” just for pointing out when other countries are being smart? Maybe so. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first… Language has tremendous power. People like George Lakoff and Drew Westin, who study the use of language in political discussion, say that our choice of words has the power to actually affect the “wiring” or neuron circuits that our brains use to think. The corporate marketers and political persuaders have certainly learned the power of language to influence us. It has even gotten to the point where “neuromarketing” uses MRI and EEG to study how our brains react to certain stimuli so they can be used to market and persuade. In politics I think that we have even reached a point where we give words more power and importance even than the ideas the words represent.

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Bill Scher

A Right-Wing Mob Is Not a Majority

We’re seeing more and more YouTube video of hostile constituents berating members of Congress to kill health care reform. Last month was the infamous Rep. Mike Castle town hall where the crowd demanded the congressman say that President Obama was not born in the USA, but also featured rants against “socialized medicine.” Then this past Saturday the online hub of the “Birther” conspiracy theorists, WorldNetDaily, compiled more video of angry disrespectful outbursts deriding pending health care legislation at events featuring Sen. Arlen Specter, Sen. Carl Levin and Rep, Lloyd Doggett, under the puffed-up header “See rebellion at grass roots [sic].” Is this a bona fide grassroots rebellion? Not exactly.

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Dave Johnson

Conservative Hating On Cash For Clunkers

Government can work, and the “Cash for Clunkers” program proved it. So, naturally, conservatives have to hate on it. The “Cash for Clunkers” turned out to be one of the most successful government programs in some time. It was so successful that a program that was meant to take until November achieved its goals in something like a week or two! Thousands of cars were sold, helping dealerships and car companies to move toward recovery. Thousands of gas guzzlers were scrapped, helping the country move toward improved energy efficiency. Dealers reported that their showrooms were full and their sales way up. Ford reports that the program is helping them have a strong July. Ford Motor Co has seen a sharp increase in sales over the past week since its dealers began accepting trade-ins under the U.S.

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Terrance Heath

Death, Dishonesty & The GOP

In an effort to defeat universal health care, conservatives are engaging in a campaign of lies that will ultimately cause more families to suffer needlessly at a most painful time. As someone who worked for years with end-of-life care issues, and spent years working in the HIV/AIDS community, I cannot let it pass. It’s easy to play on people’s fear of death. It’s even easier when you’re willing to lie outright as conservatives are doing in the health care debate.

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Sam Pizzigati

Wading Outside the CEO Pay Reform Mainstream

To be effective, the lead executive pay reformer in Congress is now understanding, executive pay reform needs to go well beyond empowering shareholders. Barney Frank, the colorful Massachusetts Democrat, may be the most caustic quipster in Congress. Ask the nation’s excessively overpaid CEOs. They’ve felt the Frank sting.

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Dave Johnson

Free-Market Conservatives Are Just Wrong

There are things you can see in front of your face, and then there are things that conservative “free market” ideologues tell you. One example is when they talk about the minimum wage. (An increase in the national minimum wage goes into effect today.) Conservative “free market” ideologues tell you that raising the minimum wage “costs jobs.” They say that if employers have to pay a few cents more per hour they won’t employ as many people. But then there is something you can see in front of your face: whenever the minimum wage is raised, things get better. Things obviously get a little better for the people who work at the minimum wage, and for their families. As this works its way up the food chain things get a little better for the people and stores these workers rent and buy from.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Progressive Push-Back On Health Care Reform

The Progressive Caucus and its allies are holding a press conference this afternoon to emphasize their bottom line on health care: If it doesn’t have a strong public option, it does not get their vote. In fact, Progressive Caucus Chairman Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., has said that because the reform bill has gotten “all mucked up” Congress “might have to come back and start over.” Members of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party finally got fed up with the bending and scraping to the Blue Dogs who have been trying to slow down and water down reform on Wednesday, when the conservative Democrats announced that they had a “deal” with the Democratic leadership.

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Sara Robinson

Firing Back on the Birthers: Where’s Their Evidence?

Amid the huge media pile-on that’s gradually taking down the Birther fantasy, nobody’s actually bothered to point out that almost every element of their argument is based on a near-total ignorance about how U.S. citizenship works. There’s nothing like moving abroad (which I did five years ago) to make you acutely aware of exactly what being an American citizen means, and who gets to claim it, and how that privilege is gained or lost. Living abroad is a sort of involuntary immersive education in citizenship law. My life, liberty, and property depend daily on the agreements worked out between my home country and my adopted one; and even the most mundane travel and financial choices are deeply affected by the rights and protections granted to me by each country.

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Robert Borosage

The Debtor’s Dance: the U.S.-China Exchange

Obama’s opening speech set the stakes: "The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world." (emphasis added) The U.S., the world’s largest debtor, met this week with the confident leaders of its largest creditor, the communist government of China. What took place over the last two days was hailed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as "unprecedented," the "largest gathering ever of top leaders from our two countries," addressing an "unparalleled" range of issues. The American press, of course, was more focused on Sarah Palin’s departure than the Chinese arrival. Neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post managed a report on the discussions in the Wednesday paper.

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Bill Scher

The President’s Policies Are More Popular Than The President

Pundits keep saying that the President is more popular than his policies, undercutting his mandate to take bold action. But on health care, the opposite is true. Last week, I noted that one W. Post reporter repeated the knee-jerk conventional wisdom, when in fact, his own paper’s poll just showed majority support for the main provisions in pending health care legislation, while Obama’s approval rating on health care was below 50%. Today, two more polls show the public strongly supports Obama’s actual health care policies, even though their support of Obama has declined. From MSNBC’s writeup of the NBC/WSJ poll (emphasis added): Pluralities now say that the president’s health care plan is a bad idea, and that it will result in the quality of their care getting worse. What’s more, just four in 10 approve of his handling on the issue.

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Bill Scher

Birthers Winning The Health Care Message War?

Last week I noted that right-wing Birther conspiracy theorists were simultaneously fueling right-wing rage against health care reform, distorting perceptions of public opinion in Washington and making current legislation appear less popular than it actually is. Today, after Birther-led health care smears were brought up at yesterday’s AARP presidential town hall, MSNBC’s First Read concluded: “Perhaps the biggest thing that stood out to us at President Obama’s AARP town hall yesterday was that the White House appears to be losing the message war on health care. How do we know? Just listen to the questions the AARP callers had.

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Terrance Heath

Back to Black Man 101

Henry Louis Gates and I are very different people. He is a Harvard Professor. The closest I got to the Ivy League was a weekend visit to Yale. He is a successful author. I am a blogger whose aspirations may outstrip his abilities. He is world renowned. I am, well, not. He is, most definitely, far more knowledgeable about a great many things than I am. Of that I’m sure. However, we have two things in common. We are both black men. As such, though he’s a college professor and I’m long out of college, we are both perpetually enrolled in the same course. It’s called Black Man – 101.

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