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Reposted from NBBooks by Frank Palmer Editor's Note: This is a good one, although I wouldn't depend on papers' bending their space limits. What have you seen in your local paper that needs a response from you? -- Frank Palmer

One week ago, BeninSC posted a diary noting that the Republicans are "a party of Orwellian deception" and urging us to

...shine the biggest light on the superiority of Democratic morality. Of doing unto others as we would wish to be done unto. Of respecting the challenges others less fortunate face. Of fighting injustices toward women, toward children, toward our armed forces, toward our workers, toward the elderly, toward minorities. Toward VOTERS! Always, ALWAYS talk the morality of our politics, of our humanity. It’s the biggest, best argument we can make, and it resonates - LOUDLY -  beyond every boundary drawn on a map.
But here's something I find almost as frustrating as Republican deception: the unwillingness or inability of Democrats to smash Republican lies and myths with simple American history. One of Karl Rove's tenets is to attack your enemy's strength. And I think that is exactly what we should do. I think we should start calling Republicans' and conservatives' adoration of "market economics" what it actually is - the glorification of selfishness, the celebration of exactly some of the worst aspects of human nature. It is not Christian, nor is it American. And their hatred of a strong central government is neo-Confederate, plain and simple. Every statement a Rick Perry or a Newt Gingrich makes about secession and states rights should be flung in our foes' faces as treasonous and seditious. I'm tired of playing nice with Republicans and conservatives who openly say stuff like bi-partisanship is like date rape - with Democrats as the victim.

Well, about two weeks ago, I happened to be in a restaurant in Yanceyville, NC, about 25 miles from my home. It's the seat of the next county over, typically southern conservative Caswell County, which I am proud to say my wife was on a local phone bank here in heavily Democratic Orange County that helped swing Caswell into the Democratic column in 2008. I picked up the most recent copy of the local paper, the Caswell Messenger, and my eye settled on a letter to the editor from some local conservative named Mr. R., raving that Obama's proposal for free college tuition was evil government redistribution, theft, blah, blah - the usual wrong-wing crap.

Now, ever since it became clear to me around 2009 or so, that President Obama was unwilling to buck Wall Street and fight for policies that would dramatically shift the balance between capital and labor, I have been reading a lot of American history in an attempt to find the answers to two questions: What is a republic supposed to be? And, what policies of political economy should a republic follow? In other words, is there a republican political economy? As distinguished from a plutocracy, or oligarchy, or monarchy.

So, I determined to take the LTE by Mr. R. and write my own letter to the editor refuting him point by point, including some of what I've learned the past six years. A couple days after I faxed and emailed my letter, I received an email from the editor asking me to shorten it quite a bit. It was originally just under 1,400 words, and I was able to trim it to about 900. I received another email, apologizing that they were looking for letters of about 500 words. So, I got it down to about 600 words, and emailed it to the editor, noting that I did not feel I could cut it any further.

Today, I needed to return some books to the Orange County library. I decided I would check if they carried the Caswell Messenger to see if my LTE had been printed. I had thought to post one of the shorter versions here on DailyKos, but decided they simply were not strong enough. So, I was delighted to find that the editor had made an exception, and printed my original, uncut letter in its entirety. So, forthwith, I present it to my fellow Kossacks, below the orange squiggle of intergalactic righteousness and truth.

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Wed Mar 04, 2015 at 10:50 AM PST

LTE - Dynamic Scoring

by Frank Palmer

I seldom post a LTE which didn't get published. The data in this one, however, is stuff others should use. Also, while it is way over USA Today's space guidelines, it's information I hope to get into the mind of some editor or reporter on the issue.

We need to have the information on the past be part of the discussion of dynamic scoring.

Congressional Republicans are pressing for "dynamic scoring" for tax cuts. This means that the cost of a tax cut will be calculated taking into account the greater growth that Paul Ryan's Ouija board tells him will result from the tax cut. (The growth expected from a spending increase will not be considered, although various kinds of spending have a track record of accelerating growth.)

Let us look at the record, though. The marginal tax rate for the top bracket in the period from 1965 to 2011 (I don't have data since then.) looks as follows with transitional years 1987 and 2002 omitted:

1965-1981 top rate, 70%;  average growth,  3.26% /year
1982-1986 top rate, 50%;  average growth,  3.53% /year
1988-1992 top rate, 28%;  average growth,  1.84% /year
1993-1994 top rate, 31%;  average growth,  3.15% /year
1993-2001 top rate, 39.6%; average growth, 3.46% /year
2003-2011 top rate, 35%;  average growth,  1.74% /year.

These results are all over the map, and the individual years differ even more wildly. The correlation between top-racket tax rate and the rate of growth from 1975 through 2011 is +0.17. This is a very weak correlation, which supports the consensus of most economists that the top-bracket rate has no influence on growth. What correlation there is, however, is positive. That means that if the rate on the highest bracket has any influence on economic growth, then higher marginal rates bring greater growth.

Is the dynamic scoring going to reflect that correlation?

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Tue Jan 27, 2015 at 08:25 AM PST

RWNJ in TIME -- let's respond

by Frank Palmer

TIME (Feb. 1 edition -- magazines are dated the day they should be removed from the news stands.) Has published a commentary (p. 27 in the print edition) that contains on one page most of the right-wing bull shit on the economy.

A LTE should be a concise comment on one point. I've written my LTE on two of her claims, and I would urge you to:
read the article,
choose one point that you can refute briefly,
write TIME a note refuting that point,
send it in.

The claim, in the sidebar (center bar?) that a permanent ending of some business tax breaks would yield one-time revenue might not be from the author of the commentary. It might be simply clumsy writing trying to express that the infrastructure spending would be a one-time use of this permanent revenue stream. Still, the excuse that a professional editor wrote something silly because he couldn't express himself accurately is a fairly lame excuse.

(The author, Amity Shlaes -- useful information for Googling the article online -- chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation. I've never heard of either.)


Poll

You last wrote a letter to the editor

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Tue Jan 06, 2015 at 12:38 PM PST

Taking Scalise local

by Frank Palmer

One of the problems with publicizing the misdeeds of the Republicans is that "The Republicans" isn't a line on the ballot. Much of what congressional Republican leadership does cannot be hung around the necks of your particular representative or senator.

Scalise, however, is the Republican whip in the House. His job is to get Republican representatives to vote the way that leadership wants them to. He keeps his position partly because, although the Party is embarrassed by his addressing a white-supremacist group, he is somebody who the members like and who gets their votes.

It is perfectly fair, then, to ask in a LTE to your local paper: "Is Roskam's vote really going to be influenced by a man who said he was 'Like David Duke, but without his baggage'? If he isn't, he should say so."

(You, of course, would substitute the name of your -- or a nearby -- Republican congressman for "Roskam.")

Let's make each local representative own their party's racism.

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Reposted from kbman by Frank Palmer Editor's Note: Let's get more like this out there. -- Frank Palmer

Here is what they printed ...

Congress has enabled police abuses

I feel fortunate to have been born into a white, middle-class family and to live in a town like Eugene where the police actions are consistent with their traditional motto, “To serve and protect.”

Sadly, not all Americans are so lucky.

Events of the past few days in Ferguson, Mo., are a shocking reminder of just how radicalized and militarized some police have become in America.

Much of it is because of Congress, which ramped up the “war on drugs” throughout the 1980s and ’90s and started arming state and local police with military equipment.

That can’t continue. How many more innocent young black men need to be murdered by police? How many more peaceful protesters, legally invoking their constitutional right to assembly, need to be shot at, have assault rifles and sonic weapons trained on them and have tear gas and stun grenades thrown at them?

Meanwhile, reporters are being arrested, beaten and physically abused by police. That’s far from what freedom looks like.

So my questions to Congress are, “What do you intend to do to rein in out-of-control police nationwide? Are you going to take away their deadly toys, or at least stop sending them new ones?

“Or are you going to let them continue to terrorize our citizens while giving them the latest in high-tech equipment to do so?”

It is also in their online letters section. There are predictable right wing comments online.
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Will the citizens of the US be able to reverse this?

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Reposted from bearsguy by Frank Palmer Editor's Note: Here is a great example of retail bending the buzz -- one voter at a time. -- Frank Palmer

Here in Wisconsin, The latest poll has Mary Burke tied with Scott Walker at 46%. Since the Recall Election it is one side or the other, For or Against SKW. With the few sitting on the fence, Those are the ones that will have a huge impact on the Nov election. Unless of course Indictments get handed down before hand....
 The following is a story of an Independent Voter, Who doesn't care about Party lines, But simply, Who in their mind can do the Job. And btw, He happens to be a Very Good friend of mine.
 It started a few weeks ago, When I noticed that he Liked SKW on Facebook. I was like Wow, I didn't think He supported Walker. But I didn't say anything, Just let it be. A couple of days ago, He called me up and said that He would stop by to discuss some Fire related issues, See we are Both Volunteer Firemen, When I came aboard 8 years ago, He pretty much Mentored me and in a nutshell, WE both were part of a "Miraculous Save" as part of an Engine Co. called to a Structure Fire with Entrapment a couple of years ago. We share that Common bond. But that isn't the story. But when My Buddy did stop by and our Conversation was over about his initial Concerns, I mentioned about the Like of SKW on Facebook. I said, "Hey Bud, What's up with the Like of SKW?" He went on to state that He Independently chooses who He thinks can do the Best Job and that He was Happy with ALL the Jobs that SKW has Created additionally He mentioned that He wishes there was a Union in His Place of Employment, WHOA NELLY, Stop, Back -up, Say that Again!! Yes, I heard that correctly.
In a Calm manner, I proceeded to Inform My Buddy that the Job creation has been terrible and basically the State has been Ranked in the Mid 30's, (currently 37th) since SKW has been Governor. I went on to inform Him about the WEDC Fiasco, That Jobs Never took off like a Rocket (Walkers own Words) but Honestly SKW was never about jobs, Or the people of Wisconsin. But My Buddy after hearing My Viewpoint and simple facts said "Oh, I stand corrected". In that moment, He realized He was told the Truth, Because of the Trust WE have with each other as Firemen, He accepted what I had to say, He was Not really well Informed, But He also mentioned WHY cant SKW just come out and say what took Place during the John Doe's? Also My Buddy, Is a Legit Eagle Scout as well. But I simply said that SKW wasn't getting it done.
 This was a simple Honest, Truthful conversation, That changed a Mind in a Divided, Misinformed State. It can be done, Because I have changed a few other People as well. I didn't need fancy elaborate signs, Nothing at all, Just an Honest, Truthful, Simple, basic conversation. If I can do it, So can others, It takes patience and a willingness to Listen, Which I did. That in itself can be a Game Changer come this November!!
 So at the Urging of a fellow Diarist, MOPSHELL, I told My simple story, That a Difference can be made by simply telling the Truth.

Discuss

Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 08:00 AM PDT

Detroit Water Shutoffs

by Fuzzytek

Reposted from Fuzzytek by Frank Palmer Editor's Note: Here's somebody who is getting the word our in lots of places, including here. Getting the word out is something we all need to do. -- Frank Palmer

The past few months I've been rallying with the Peoples Water Board Coalition, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, and the Detroit Water Brigade. I've been digging into information posted by the various groups, published news, and government agencies. Last week I also attended a session to learn more about filing Human Rights Complaints with the United Nations. I can see there are a number of complaints needed and one of the issues is "has the United States endorsed" the article(s) of concern. This is one reason I blog... I just hope people see the posts.

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There has been a good deal of discussion of posting on social media instead of as LTEs. Here is my most recent FaceBook post.

Establishment of religion

The "Hobby Lobby" decision stated that employers (including corporations) which have a religious objection to contraception may refuse coverage for contraception in the insurance they offer their employees. Specifically in the decision, although it wasn't raised, is the statement that employers with a religious objection to blood transfusions may not refuse that coverage to their employees.

So, if you follow a court-approved religion, you may impose those standards on your employees. If you follow a religion which is not court approved, you may not.

Discuss
Every little boy or gal
Who comes into this world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative.
W. S. Gilbert

The beliefs of this piece of cynicism seem much more popular on dKos than the rhyme -- which is disconcerting, because the rhyme (and Sullivan's tune) is clever. The beliefs are bullshit.

Part of the argument against persuading voters is the false dichotomy which ignores that possibility. The dichotomy is, "Either you win by turning out your voters, or by running a candidate who is closer to the center than the last one." Since this doesn't consider persuading the voters, that possibility is never chosen.

I ran some figures a while back on the 2004 election in the 8th and 9th CDs in IL. Melissa Bean was a centrist, one of the two most conservative Democrats in the IL delegation at that time. She won her district by capturing some of those who voted for Bush.

Jan Shakowsky was one of the two most liberal representatives in the IL delegation. She got the same percentage of the (many fewer) Bush voters in the 9th CD. When I reported that on dKos, people answered me by saying that Jan could afford to be that liberal because her district was deep blue. And so it was, but the Bush voters in her district weren't liberals or yellow-dog Democrats. The argument was that she would have won the district anyway; so let's ignore how she got votes.

More on persuasion after the jump.

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Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:28 AM PDT

Winning - Beyond the House

by Frank Palmer

I wrote a series of diaries on ways that we, the participants on Daily Kos, can work to make 2014 a winning year for Democrats. I concentrated on the US House, because that is where my heart is -- and partially because I'm in IL, where Democrats dominate the legislature and hold more than half, and the more important ones, of the state-wide executive offices.

I do not, by any means, wish to restrict others to those offices, however. (If you want to go after a Republican candidate for some other office who is currently a sitting congressman, you might look at the list of ammunition I posted Friday and Monday.)

Local and, especially, state Republican office holders also have done their damage. Some of them have done enough visible damage that they can be held accountable.

Then, too, there are senators, although only in some states are they running this year. Most of what I said about congressmen holds for Republican senators, only not so strongly. There are two special complaints. The first is blocking judicial appointments. The courts are in crisis, and your state's federal courts may have experienced that crisis. This is a special issue, but it might resonate with lawyers. The second is like unto it: the filibuster. For decades, the filibuster was used sparingly for issues which mattered greatly to a minority of the states. Then the Republican senators decided to use it all the time until it wore out.

We can act now to persuade people. I use this diagram of voters to understand how persuasion works:


A B C D E
 F G H I
  J K L
   M N
    O  

Where A has decided to vote Democratic, E has decided to vote Republican, O has decided to not vote, and the letters in intermediate positions have intermediate opinions.

Persuasion is moving people not only along the top, but up the left side of the triangle or down the right side. When you get people conscious of how the actions of their elected Republican worked to their detriment, then you have started the process of persuasion.

You probably know about issues which are hot in your area that I don't know about. Below the fold, though, are some issues of which I am aware. I intend to spark your decisions, not to restrict them.

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Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 01:45 PM PDT

House 2014 -- ways to get it - 2

by Frank Palmer

As I posted Thursday, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives is within the range of possibility for 2014, but only if a great many Democrats beyond the standard professionals work on it from now until November.  I began posting  Friday on what WE, the writers and readers of dKos, could do between now and Labor Day to bring that possibility closer to a probability. The issues I discussed that day concentrated on the ACA, but those are far from the only issues where Republican incumbents are vulnerable.

Canvassing and GOTV will be necessary, but not sufficient. We must work in the public sphere to persuade people. If you will forgive me for reposting a diagram and 2 paragraphs from Friday, the task of persuasion can be visualized by this diagram:


A B C D E
 F G H I
  J K L
   M N
    O  

Where A has decided to vote Democratic, E has decided to vote Republican, O has decided to not vote, and the letters in intermediate positions have intermediate opinions.

Persuasion works not only to move people along the top, but to move them up the left side of the triangle or down the right side. People who want an excuse to avoid the work of persuasion pretend that the aim is to move someone who is at E to A. That is extremely unlikely to happen, especially with a single LTE or blog post. But that you cannot do the extreme with one effort is no excuse for avoiding the effort. You can move the intermediates.

Now Friday's discussion suggested issues on the ACA, which the Republicans have voted 50 times to repeal. This is not the only votes on which they are vulnerable, however. And there is also the issue of the actions that they did not take.

A few, Boehner and Ryan spring to mind, are vulnerable on what the House did. The rest are vulnerable as puppets for the leadership. He ran on "Jobs, jobs, jobs," but hasn't proposed one jobs bill because he is waiting for somebody else to think for him.

Below the fold are some areas where most of those guys are vulnerable in respect to:
The Ryan budget
Violence against women
Pay fairness
Government shutdown
Immigration
Minimum wage.

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Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 08:00 AM PDT

House 2014 -- ways to get it - 1.

by Frank Palmer

As I showed in my diary yesterday, the Democratic lead in total congressional votes in 2012 was a tiny lead in historical terms. The gerrymanders make winning a majority in 2014 harder; they are nowhere near enough to make it impossible. The sort of wave we saw in 2006 could sweep the Democrats into a comfortable majority. The House Republicans have a record, and the record is -- while it has been bad for the country -- a wonderful set of targets.

But that sort of wave cannot be generated by the professional Democratic politicians. It requires persuasion, and we, the writers and readers of Daily Kos and other Democratic activists, must do the persuading. And, we must do it before the campaigns officially start.

Now canvassing is critical, and there is a time for canvassing. Before canvassing time, however, there is a lot we can do. (Then, too, when you are campaigning for the candidate, the campaign must decide the message, and they are well-advised to accentuate the positive of the candidate. In the ideal world, we would have the negatives enough in people's minds before Labor Day that the campaign wouldn't have to mention them. That hasn't happened in my experience, though I think it might have in 1932. Still, let us have that as our goal: to get out the wrongs of the Republican incumbent so clearly that his Democratic opponent need not even refer to them.)

When I post about LTEs (letters to the editor), I get comments that those are old fashioned. That is fine, so long as you have a more modern way of getting your message out. (And, no, Daily Kos does not count. That is preaching to the choir.) I have posted more than 400 comments on the Washington Post blog. That has its advantages and disadvantages. There are hyper-local blogs with the general name of Patch; I'm not certain of the effectiveness of those, but you certainly should investigate whether there are any in your area. And, of course, social media is the new place for editorial comment.

We have many places to attack Republicans.

It seems to me that almost any Republican House incumbent has:
1) Voted to shut down the government, and then voted either to reopen it or to keep it shut down. (Check on which, if he voted to reopen, then he admitted that his first vote was simply a gesture that cost the taxpayers billions. If he was intransigent, he would have kept us out of government services for the past months.)
2) Voted to repeal the ACA. The candidate who is running has to defend the whole complex bill. But the incumbent who voted for repeal voted against each particular provision. You can attack him on any one of these provisions.
3) Voted for the Ryan budget, Medicare vouchers and all.
4) Refused to sign the petition to raise the minimum wage.
5) Refused to sign the petition to vote on the Senate immigration reform bill.

Can you influence voters? Not if you keep silent. Where voters are can be represented in 2 dimensions. Conservative to liberal on the horizontal and likeliness to vote on the vertical. (People with strong political positions are fairly likely to vote.)


A B C D E
 F G H I
  J K L
   M N  
    O  

Where A is certain to vote Democratic, E is certain to vote Republican, O is definitely not going to vote, and the letters in intermediate positions have intermediate opinions.

Persuasion works, when it works, not only to move people along the top, but to move them up the left side of the triangle or down the right side. People who want an excuse to avoid the work of persuasion pretend that the aim is to move someone who is at E to A. That is extremely unlikely to happen, especially with a single LTE or blog post.

The Republicans who pass laws to suppress the vote are more realistic. They don't try to make it impossible for likely Democrats to vote. They simply put obstacles, often a set of minor obstacles, in their paths. They don't aim -- in the past 50 years -- to reduce the Black vote to 0. They aim to cut it by a few percentage points.

Similarly, if you point out how Congressman Jones has voted to restore the pattern of insurance companies' cancelling policies for preexisting conditions just when their customers really need the coverage, you are not going to persuade a life-long yellow-dog Republican to campaign for the Democratic candidate.

You might make the Republican's brother in law, who isn't much interested in politics and generally follows that guy's advice, to skip this election because "They're all just as bad."

You might make the guy who was going to skip this election because he had all these hospital visits take the time to go vote out that bastard who threatened his health.

You might make Jones spend precious time at his next town hall defending his votes instead of spreading innuendoes against his opponent.

That is the point of the voice of the people. I can't write enough to make much difference. Neither can any one person reading this post. If enough of us do, we can.

This is already a long post, but head below the jump to see some examples of how to get the word out on your selected Republican incumbent on the "repeal Obamacare" votes.

The first point is that acting alone is fine, but if you can get a group to coordinate, it is better. One of your group writes a LTE or blog post saying:
"Rep. Caputo voted dozens of times to make Black-Lung compensation smaller and harder for West Virginia miners to receive."
Somebody writes back denying that her votes against the ACA meant that she opposed the provision making Black-Lung compensation better.
Another of your group writes:
"Rep. Caputo's supporters deny that she meant to reduce Black-Lung compensation even though she voted repeatedly to reduce Black-Lung compensation. They want you to pretend that when she voted to repeal the ACA, she was really voting to replace it. And since no replacement bill has reached the House floor, the imaginary bill that they are pretending she voted for might be imagined to contain provisions retaining the compensation levels set by the ACA. As long as you're pretending, you can pretend anything."

Now, Black Lung isn't an issue in the Chicago suburbs, but you can find the issue which resonates with the electorate you are trying to influence.

And that is the point of negative needle jabs. We don't have to argue for the entire bill and its thousands of pages. When the Republicans voted to repeal it, they voted to repeal each and every provision. Find a provision, and stick the House Republican you choose with his vote to repeal that provision.

How do you choose a Republican congressman? If your district elected a Republican, you should probably write against him. I assume that the majority of dKos readers have Democratic representatives.

While some of us may feel we have influence in the towns we've moved away from, I'm going to assume that living close to the targets makes us more influential. I would balance closeness to you with closeness of the last election.

While there is no perfect choice, neither is there a bad choice. Choose one, and go after him. Talk to your political friends about what you have done to pin the Republican's votes on him. Try to enlist them in the battle.

Similarly, it is better to hit a Republican on an issue which will resonate poorly than to wait until the one which will resonate perfectly appears to you. Hit him early and often on what matters to you.

It is easy to argue which votes make the Republicans most vulnerable. I'm quite willing to bow to your expertise on the race you have chosen. I know that others nearby will disagree with you. Wonderful! Let them write LTEs on the issue that they think is most important.

Having said that, here are some issues on the ACA.

Anyone who has voted to repeal has voted to:
1) Allow Insurance companies to spend less than 80% of premiums on payments for treatments.
2) Remove payments for preventative care from policies.
3) Allow insurance companies to try to find a pre-existing condition when they are faced with catastrophic illnesses. The ultimate example was the company who decided they didn't have to cover a woman's breast cancer because she had had adolescent acne.
4) Cut kids under 26 from their parents' policy.
5) Put lifetime caps on payments, so that babies born with serious conditions run out of treatments before they can enter school. Or so that if you really need the insurance, you soon don't have it.

He also has voted to open the can of worms that took Congress most of 2009 to negotiate.

He is flogging that dead horse rather than dealing with the serious problems facing the nation.

"Repeal and replace" is a slogan to fool people who have forgotten their high-school civics courses. In fact, Congress does not have to repeal a law to replace it. The new law takes the place of the old one. If Jones had wanted to replace the law, he would have waited for the replacement to be on the floor.

Poll

What methods of influencing others have you used?

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