Wednesday, October 07, 2015

From Backchannel: How Steve Jobs Fleeced Carly Fiorina

The former HP CEO boasted of her friendship with Apple’s leader — but he took her to the cleaners with the iPod

by Steven Levy

During Carly Fiorina’s triumphant performance in the wretched carnival that was the second Republican debate, she picked the perfect moment to play the Steve Jobs card. The subject had turned to her tenure as the CEO of HP, the single aspect of her resume that vaguely qualifies her as a presidential candidate. Industry observers have contended that she did her job poorly, and, indeed, when the board dismissed her in 2005, HP’s stock price rose by seven percent. Meanwhile, Fiorina fell to earth with the aid of a $40 million golden parachute.

Her comeback to this at the debate? Steve Jobs was on her side! She shared a story  — which may well be true — about how Apple’s late CEO had called to remind her that he had been fired as well, and it wasn’t the end of the world. “Been there, done that — twice,” he told her. Unlike Jobs, however, Fiorina did not go on to start a company, buy another small company and sell it for billions, or return to the place that fired her and restore it to glory. But the point of the story was that Steve was on her side, and by aligning herself with the sainted innovator, Fiorina racked up triple-bonus debate points.

Ms. Fiorina’s trainwreck stint at HP has been well documented. But I want to address one tiny but telling aspect of her misbegotten reign: an episode that involved her good friend Steve Jobs. It is the story of the HP iPod.

The iPod, of course, was Apple’s creation, a groundbreaking digital music player that let you have “a music library in your pocket.” Introduced in 2001, it gained steam over the next few years and by the end of 2003, the device was a genuine phenomenon. So it was news that in January 2004, Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina made a deal where HP could slap its name on Apple’s wildly successful product. Nonetheless, HP still managed to botch things. It could not have been otherwise, really, because Steve Jobs totally outsmarted the woman who now claims she can run the United States of America.

I can talk about this with some authority. Not only have I written a book about the iPod, but I interviewed Fiorina face to face when she introduced the HP iPod at the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show, and then got Steve Jobs’s side of the story.

It was at CES that year that HP announced its version of the iPod. That in itself was pathetic. The company’s motto at the time was Invent! But at the biggest event of the technology world, HP’s big newsmaking announcement was that it was selling someone else’s invention. Nonetheless in our interview on January 8, just off the show floor, Fiorina boasted about cobranding the iPod as if it were an innovative coup for her own company.

Apple chose her company, she told me, “Because HP is a company that’s an innovator. We believe innovation is our lifesblood. It’s why INVENT sits on our logo.” So why sell someone else’s product? She described her strategy as “focused innovation.” Apparently this meant throwing in the towel when a competitor came up with something really good.

It didn’t seem like a recipe for success, and indeed, HP was not successful at it, for a number of reasons. But before I get to that, let’s contemplate what Apple got in return for allowing HP to rebrand iPods and share the loot. HP agreed to pre-load Apple’s iTunes music software and store into its personal computers. This was a hugely valuable concession. Apple had only recently begun to push this key software into the Windows world. Millions of HP/Compaq customers would instantly become part of Apple’s entertainment ecosystem.

If it were a straight deal for HP to include Apple’s software, the fee might have been hundreds of millions of dollars. (Around that time, software companies were paying huge sums to have their products or services preinstalled, since people seldom deleted them and often used the default choices.) Even better, preinstalling iTunes was a way for Apple to stifle Microsoft’s competitor to the iTunes Music Store. As an Apple leader at the time puts it, “This was a highly strategic move to block HP/Compaq from installing Windows Media Store on their PCs. We wanted iTunes Music store to be a definitive winner. Steve only did this deal because of that.”

One might even argue that since Carly Fiorina wasn’t making much profit from selling computers, each machine her company sold under this deal delivered more value to Apple than it did to HP.

In return, HP got the right to sell iPods. But not in a way that could possibly succeed. Fiorina boasted to me that she would be able to sell the devices in thousands of retail outlets; up to that point Apple mostly sold them online and in its own stores. But by the time in mid-2004 that HP actually began selling its branded iPods, Apple was expanding to multiple retail outlets on its own. And soon after HP began selling iPods, Apple came out with new, improved iPods — leaving HP to sell an obsolete device. Fiorina apparently did not secure the right to sell the most current iPods in a timely fashion, and was able to deliver newer models only months after the Apple versions were widely available.

So it was no wonder that even at the program’s peak, it represented no more than about five percent of total iPod sales.

Even with a detail like the color of the iPod, Jobs totally rolled over Fiorina. When I spoke to Fiorina at CES, she crowed that HP’s iPods would be distinctive in their look; unlike Apple’s pristine white, the Pod would be a fetching shade of blue. Presumably, this would distinguish its iPod from Apple’s and provide a reason, however slight, for a consumer to choose it over the Cupertino model. She was adamant that HP had the right to determine what color the HP iPod would be. Knowing Steve Jobs and his protectiveness about all things design, this sounded dubious to me. I got on the phone with him that very day, and asked him if HP would be producing blue iPods. There was a significant pause. “We’ll see,” he finally said with a bit of ice in his voice.

Indeed, when the HP iPod appeared seven months later, it was exactly the same bright white as Apple’s version. The main difference was that a small HP logo was etched on the rear, underneath the usual Apple logo.

Fiorina got canned in February 2005. And HP ended the iPod deal that July. But the aftereffects of Fiorina’s incompetence in this instance lingered. The deal she struck with Jobs banned HP from selling a competitor to the iPod until August 2006. And until January of that year it still sold computers with iTunes preinstalled. (At that point HP made a deal with the music service Rhapsody to preinstall its software. Rhapsody Co-chair Rob Glaser, who had observed the drama from his Seattle base, now says, “Steve and Apple fleeced HP in that deal — HP’s version of the iPod was a failure, and Apple was able to grow the iPod.”)

The ultimate irony is that if Fiorina had been familiar with the assets of the company she ran, she might have had much more leverage to cut a better deal with Jobs. When she made her disastrous 2002 acquisition of Compaq, HP took possession of its patents, including those generated by the research division of the Digital Equipment Corporation, the iconic minicomputer company that Compaq itself bought in 1998. It turns out that researchers in DEC’s Palo Alto lab had created a hard-disk MP3 player — essentially inventing key parts of the iPod several years before Apple did. The project never got any love, though a clunky version of it had actually been announced at CES in 2000. Still, among the patents DEC secured were some very broad ones regarding the way music was drawn from the disk drive while conserving battery power. Had Fiorina known this, she might have been able to get a much better deal with Apple — because she could have credibly claimed that the iPod infringed on HP’s intellectual property. Perhaps she was too deep inside her bubble to understand what assets were buried in her own corporation. Instead, she expended a lot of energy trying to convince her board to buy five corporate jets.

In short, Fiorina’s “good friend” Steve Jobs blithely mugged her and HP’s shareholders. By getting Fiorina to adopt the iPod as HP’s music player, Jobs had effectively gotten his software installed on millions of computers for free, stifled his main competitor, and gotten a company that prided itself on invention to declare that Apple was a superior inventor. And he lost nothing, except the few minutes it took him to call Carly Fiorina and say he was sorry she got canned.

Those considering pulling a ballot lever for Fiorina should consider what she told me in January 2004 about why she thought Apple went to her for the iPod deal: “I think what Apple saw is an innovative company that they respected.” But Jobs and Apple apparently had a different view. As that aforementioned source told me, “We knew we were snowing them the entire time!”

Not an encouraging precedent for a person who wants to deal with Vladimir Putin.

See the original article here:

From Politico: Why Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO

Why I Still Think Fiorina Was a Terrible CEO

She can diss me all she wants on live TV, but personal attacks won’t take her from colossal business failure to leader of the free world.

By Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

September 20, 2015
As a professor, hearing my name once, let alone twice, before 25 million TV viewers in an historic U.S. presidential debate is a surreal experience. “The head of the Yale business school, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, wrote a paper recently,” Donald Trump proclaimed in his attack on Carly Fiorina’s business record, “one of the worst tenures for a CEO that he has ever seen.” Immediately, the phones started ringing, text messages dinging, emails beeping—notes from thrilled old students, proud colleagues, teasing friends, pleased former teachers, curious clients, and my own immediate family in shared, flushed, utter shock. So used to being identified before large audiences as Jerry Seinfeld, I’ll admit that I was surprised to hear my name pronounced correctly. But it was a bit traumatic to hear my professional title, professor and senior associate dean, blurred a bit too closely with that of my widely admired boss, who is the actual dean of the Yale School of Management. Last week on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Trump identified me as dean of the Yale Law School. When he makes me dean of the medical school, it will be very sad my mom is no longer around to share the joy. (Importantly, my perspective is my own, independent of any Yale affiliation.)

Trump did get something right, though: my criticism of Carly Fiorina’s disastrous term as CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

As Fiorina admits, I have been critical of her for over a decade—long before she announced her political aspirations. I have studied her business record, challenged her leadership abilities and have come to agree with the assessment that she was one of the worst technology CEOs in history. I stand by that evaluation.

Fiorina can attack me all she wants, as she did when she called me “a well-known Clintonite” (an absurd allegation I’ll get to later) who “had it out for me from the moment that I arrived at Hewlett-Packard.” But no amount of one-liners to Trump, weekend study of Middle Eastern names or ad hominen attacks on a university professor can take someone from gross business leadership failure to leader of the free world. To do that, she’ll have to own up to her missteps and try to learn from them—which she seems disinclined to do.

Here are the facts: In the five years that Fiorina was at Hewlett-Packard, the company lost over half its value. It’s true that many tech companies had trouble during this period of the Internet bubble collapse, some falling in value as much as 27 percent; but HP under Fiorina fell 55 percent. During those years, stocks in companies like Apple and Dell rose. Google went public, and Facebook was launched. The S&P 500 yardstick on major U.S. firms showed only a 7 percent drop. Plenty good was happening in U.S. industry and in technology.

It was Fiorina’s failed leadership that brought her company down. After an unsuccessful attempt to catch up to IBM’s growth in IT services by buying PricewaterhouseCooper’s consulting business (PwC, ironically, ended up going to IBM instead), she abruptly abandoned the strategic goal of expanding IT services and consulting and moved into heavy metal. At a time that devices had become a low margin commodity business, Fiorina bought for $25 billion the dying Compaq computer company, which was composed of other failed businesses. Unsurprisingly, the Compaq deal never generated the profits Fiorina hoped for, and HP’s stock price fell by half. The only stock pop under Fiorina’s reign was the 7 percent jump the moment she was fired following a unanimous board vote. After the firing, HP shuttered or sold virtually all Fiorina had bought.

During the debate, Fiorina countered that she wasn’t a failure because she doubled revenues. That’s an empty measurement. What good is doubling revenue by acquiring a huge company if you’re not making any profit from it? The goals of business are to raise profits, increase employment and add value. During Fiorina’s tenure, thanks to the Compaq deal, profits fell, employees were laid off and value plummeted. Fiorina was paid over $100 million for this accomplishment.

At the time, most industry analysts, HP shareholders, HP employees and even some HP board members resisted the Compaq deal. (Fiorina prevailed in the proxy battle, with 51.4 percent, partly thanks to ethically questionable tactics, but that’s another story.) But rather than listen to the concerns of her opponents, she ridiculed them, equating dissent with disloyalty. As we saw during the debate when she attacked me, rather than listen to or learn from critics, Fiorina disparages them. She did so regularly to platoons of her own top lieutenants and even her board of directors—until they fired her.

These facts have been documented, both with quotes from her own board members and leadership team and with raw numbers in such revered publications as Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and leading tech industry journals. I also have extensive first-hand knowledge of this situation, having spoken at length with two of Fiorina’s successors, past and present HP board members, fellow CEOs and scores of HP employees—including many of her own top lieutenants who contacted me directly, such as her head of employee relations.

And I have to point out the obvious: If the board was wrong, the employees wrong, and the shareholders wrong—as Fiorina maintains—why in 10 years has she never been offered another public company to run?

Now, Fiorina wants to run the country. I am a firm believer in second chances. Just because Fiorina failed at an early career does not preclude her from becoming a good leader later. But I do know, having written a book on how great leaders rebound after career disasters, that to overcome failure is to admit to it and learn from it. During the debate, instead of addressing the facts and taking on my professional observations, Fiorina decided to shoot the messenger. What she failed to see is that this behavior—sidestepping accountability by resorting to demagoguery and deflection—is exactly why she failed as a leader the last time.

Fiorina is clever and articulate, but during events like last week’s debate, it’s clear that she seems to have learned very little from her reign as a tech chief. On the campaign trail as in business, she still displays four key leadership flaws:

1. She refuses to learn from failure. Properly mastered, failure is a badge of honor for heroic leadership. People like Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Vanguard founder Jack Bogle, Anne Mulcahy of Xerox and Ellen Kullman of DuPont have all faced crushing adversity and rebounded from it. Walt Disney, Henry Ford and four U.S. presidents—Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Jefferson and William McKinley—all suffered bankruptcies. The difference between these people and Fiorina is that they all acknowledged their failures and learned from them, providing us with inspiring models of resilience. Fiorina thinks she can sweep obvious public facts of failure under the carpet. But what she doesn’t see is that talking about failure makes you stronger; hiding it makes you weaker. Fiorina’s denials inspire no one.

2. She plays fast and loose with highly misleading metrics, changing the goal posts by manipulating peer comparisons. Fiorina brags that she doubled revenues—but she cut value in half. She talks about doubling employment at HP when all she did was combine the employment of two huge firms—and then lay off 30,000 employees. She presents her story as rags to riches saga, from secretary to CEO, when in fact she is the daughter of a Duke University Law School dean and a federal Appeals Court judge. She just worked for a few months as a receptionist after dropping out of UCLA law school.

3. She makes irresponsible decisions. At HP, Fiorina abruptly pivoted from a strategy of chasing IT services to a splashier, but less sound strategy of ramping up in device manufacturing. While her predecessor, revered HP CEO Lew Platt, traveled coach in commercial planes, she demanded the company buy her a Gulfstream IV. More recently, her service on the Taiwan Semiconductor board indicates continued irresponsibility. Financial disclosures at the time Fiorina left the board in 2009 show that she attended just 17 percent of the company’s board meetings.

4. She is intolerant of dissent and resorts to personal attacks. Rather than address the points made by her critics—she elects to attack their character with false information, shifting the spotlight away from her. And, as much as she laid into Trump for his comments about her face, she has been known to be a queen of personal invective—even when it comes to physical appearance. She once ridiculed the music interests and appearance of a dissenting board member Walter Hewitt, son of HP’s co-founder—as well as the allegedly dowdy look of rival Senate candidate Barbara Boxer.

Now, as for Fiorina’s specific charge that I am a close adviser of the Clintons (a charge she repeated about me by name on NBC’s “Meet the Press” recently), that is false. I am a leadership scholar and impartial in my leadership reviews. I vote for the person, not the party. I have had private meetings with four current Republican presidential candidates for private exchanges of ideas—at their request—pro bono, two of them in just the past 10 days.                                                                                                                                     

I have never been part of any Clinton advisory group. I have personally known four U.S. presidents across parties—including Bill Clinton and the Bushes—and been the houseguest of President George H.W. Bush and Barbara on several occasions for small private non-political events. I have given unsolicited opinions to Bill Clinton while taking long runs with him, which we both needed. Once in 1994, I suggested to Clinton that he host regional economic summits, and he did so. I have known the Clintons as fellow participants in large recreational, non-political, intellectual/spiritual retreats where my fellow guests included prominent Republicans such as Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and Forbes publisher Rich Karlgaard.

My own CEO programs, including one just last week, hosted such Republican political titans and patriots as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. John McCain, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, political strategist Ralph Reed and taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist.

If the Republican Party seeks great women leaders with proven track records of accomplishment and character for national office, I could recommend many, including New Hampshire’s Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski and, especially, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. But Fiorina is not one of them. Her unacknowledged record of failure and intolerant, no-dissent “my way or the highway” leadership style might better fit high office in China or Russia—or on “The Apprentice” for that matter.

I love a good comeback. I’ve devoted my professional life to showing that comebacks and second acts can be positive and successful. But I also know that they must be earned. In order to overcome her business past, Fiorina must acknowledge her setbacks and show the American people what she has learned. She needs to display contrition—and earn redemption.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is senior associate dean of Leadership Studies and Lester Crown Professor of Practice Management at the Yale School of Management, as well as author of The Hero’s Farewell: What Happens When CEOs Retire (Oxford University Press) and co-author of Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters (Harvard Business School Press). The opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Yale University.

See for the original article.

From Daily Kos: Bill Maher on Republican Jesus

Sat Oct 03, 2015 at 08:53 AM PDT
Bill Maher used the Pope and the ill deeds of extortionist pharma CEO Martin Shkreli to make an important point. In effect, he called out right-wing supply-side Republicans for their anti-Jesus modal.

"They talk about the Pope like he's gone rogue," Bill Maher said. "He is off the reservation and inventing his own brand of socialist Christianity. No—he is just quoting Jesus."

Then came the perfect encapsulation of the inconvenient truth.

"Let's face it Republicans, this [Jesus image] is not really the face that best reflects your party's values," Bill Maher said. "This is [shows Martin Shkreli image]." Bill then told the story of Shkreli jacking up the price of Daraprim, then played his rather callous analogy in which he discussed pricing life-saving drugs like pricing cars.

Then came Maher's take:
"The fact that this story played out last week during the papal visit exposed how little these so-called Christians of the far right believe in what Jesus actually said," Maher said. "How could they? There is not a tent in the tent big enough to fit both Jesus and Ayn Rand. In order to be both Republican and Christian they had to create an entirely new Jesus [emphasis added]. We don't only have two Americas, we have two Jesuses now. It's true. Liberals have the traditional Jesus who hated rich assholes and wouldn't shut up about how they should give away all of their money. And conservatives made up a completely new Jesus. A small businessman from Galilee whose main gripe is big government and who wants to make Nazareth great again. I call him supply-side Jesus. He'd love to help the less fortunate but he's got investors to think about. Like the time supply-side Jesus performed a miracle and created a bounty of loaves and fishes and then gave them all to the top one percent so they can trickle down to the takers. ..."
The parody was spot on. Mirrors, anybody?

From Daily Kos: Treat Male Gun Buyers Like Women Seeking Abortions

Sat Oct 03, 2015 at 12:15 PM PDT
I saw this post on Facebook. I reposted it from my wife, who reposted it  from David Baker, who got it from a friend of a friend. Anyway, it is too good not to share.

"How about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion — mandatory 48-hr waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he's about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because).

"Let's close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work, and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun.

"Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

"It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right?

"I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?"

Funky Little Post from D. Kos: Fetus Persons May Be Criminals

by metonomy

If we grant (over my dead body) the fetus personhood, we get into all kinds of mares' nests of law.

The complications over taxation and inheritance are amusingly complex, as when a fetus survives maternal death only to then die shortly thereafter, resulting in double inheritance tax.

But here I want to consider fetus-persons and the laws of trespass.

It would seem to me that, of all kinds of property, the property of one's own body is absolute.

Even in jail, the body remains vigorously protected by law.

What then if a body is invaded by a fetus-person without the consent of the owner?

Under property law, this constitutes trespass--more specifically, the forms of trespass known as assault and battery.

Thus, said fetus-person is guilty under both criminal and tort law.

It thus follows that the authorities must enforce the laws of property by expelling the trespasser.

In other words, the defense of a person's property is the obligation of police departments, with the backing of the courts.

McFall v. Shimp Does Not Exclude Women

The 1978 ruling of Judge John P. Flaherty, Jr., in McFall v. Shimp established bodily autonomy as a legal precedent that does not exclude women, including those seeking abortions.
Here are some key points.
The plaintiff, Robert McFall, suffered from a rare bone marrow disease and sought the court to compel the defendant, McFall's cousin Shimp, to donate bone marrow to save McFall's life after Shimp refused.

The question posed by the plaintiff was that, in order to save the life of one of its members by the only means available, may society infringe upon one's absolute right to his "bodily security"?

The court found the decision to rest with the defendant, stating that "to compel him to submit to an intrusion of his body would change every concept and principle" upon which American society is founded.

Justice Flaherty continued: "To do so would defeat the sanctity of the individual, and would impose a rule which would know no limits, and one could not imagine where the line would be drawn.
"... For a society which respects the rights of one individual, to sink its teeth into the jugular vein or neck of one of its members and suck from it sustenance for another member, is revolting to our hard-wrought concepts of jurisprudence. Forceable extraction of living body tissue causes revulsion to the judicial mind. Such would raise the spectre of the swastika and the Inquisition, reminiscent of the horrors this portends."

So, whose property is a woman's body? Does it belong to the state, which may then decide who lives and dies? Does it belong to some stranger she never met and may never meet? Does it belong to her father or her husband, as the Bible says?

Or does a woman's body belong to the woman herself just as a man's body belongs to the man himself?

McFall v. Shimp Legal Precedent for Bodily Autonomy

10 Pa. D. & C. 3d 90 (1978)


No. GD78-17711.
Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.
July 26, 1978.
John W. Murtaugh, Jr., for plaintiff.
John Michael Studeny, for defendant.
FLAHERTY, J., July 26, 1978.
Plaintiff, Robert McFall, suffers from a rare bone marrow disease and the prognosis for his survival is very dim, unless he receives a bone marrow transplant from a compatible donor. Finding a compatible donor is a very difficult task and limited to a selection among close relatives. After a search and certain tests, it has been determined that only defendant is suitable as a donor. Defendant refuses to submit to the necessary transplant, and before the court is a request for a preliminary injunction which seeks to compel defendant to submit to further tests, and, eventually, the bone marrow transplant.
Although a diligent search has produced no authority, plaintiff cites the ancient statute of King Edward I, 81 Westminster 2, 13 Ed. I, c. 24, pointing out, as is the case, that this court is a successor to the English courts of Chancery and derives power from this statute, almost 700 years old. The question posed by plaintiff is that, in order to save the life of one of its members by the only means available, 91*91 may society infringe upon ones absolute right to his "bodily security"?
The common law has consistently held to a rule which provides that one human being is under no legal compulsion to give aid or to take action to save another human being or to rescue. A great deal has been written regarding this rule which, on the surface, appears to be revolting in a moral sense. Introspection, however, will demonstrate that the rule is founded upon the very essence of our free society. It is noteworthy that counsel for plaintiff has cited authority which has developed in other societies in support of plaintiff's request in this instance. Our society, contrary to many others, has as its first principle, the respect for the individual, and that society and government exist to protect the individual from being invaded and hurt by another. Many societies adopt a contrary view which has the individual existing to serve the society as a whole. In preserving such a society as we have, it is bound to happen that great moral conflicts will arise and will appear harsh in a given instance. In this case, the chancellor is being asked to force one member of society to undergo a medical procedure which would provide that part of that individual's body would be removed from him and given to another so that the other could live. Morally, this decision rests with defendant, and, in the view of the court, the refusal of defendant is morally indefensible. For our law to compel defendant to submit to an intrusion of his body would change every concept and principle upon which our society is founded. To do so would defeat the sanctity of the individual, and would impose a rule which would know no limits, and one could not imagine where the line would be drawn.
92*92 This request is not to be compared with an action at law for damages, but rather is an action in equity before a chancellor, which, in the ultimate, if granted, would require the forceable submission to the medical procedure. For a society which respects the rights of one individual, to sink its teeth into the jugular vein or neck of one of its members and suck from it sustenance for another member, is revolting to our hard-wrought concepts of jurisprudence. Forceable extraction of living body tissue causes revulsion to the judicial mind. Such would raise the spectre of the swastika and the Inquisition, reminiscent of the horrors this portends.
This court makes no comment on the law regarding plaintiff's rights in an action at law for damages, but has no alternative but to deny the requested equitable relief. An order will be entered denying the request for a preliminary injunction.


And now, July 26, 1978, upon consideration of the request for a preliminary injunction, hearing thereon, arguments and briefs submitted, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the request for a preliminary injunction is herewith denied.

From Bloomberg: The Vanishing Abortion Clinic

by Esmé E. Deprez

Updated Sept 14, 2015

Abortion clinics are closing in the U.S. at a record pace. In four states — Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming — just one remains. American women were having fewer abortions before clinic closings accelerated in the last couple of years. So no one can be sure how much the push to restrict clinics is connected to falling abortion rates. But the new strategy adopted by abortion opponents, and the court battles it has set off, may define how far abortion rights can be limited without being overturned.

The Situation

In mid-2015, abortion opponents in the U.S. Congress renewed a push to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a non-profit reproductive health network that is the country’s biggest abortion provider.

This followed the release of videos by an anti-abortion group purporting to show the provider offering to sell fetal tissue, which is illegal.

Planned Parenthood denies this, saying it sometimes charges researchers fees to cover handling costs after patients donate tissue for research.

Efforts to overturn abortion rights entirely through state ballot initiatives giving the unborn the rights of a person have failed repeatedly.

The more effective challenges have been less frontal. In November 2013, for instance, after a new law in Texas began requiring that clinics meet stricter building codes and that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals, 19 facilities stopped performing abortions, leaving 22 in the state.

The fate of another dozen or so hung in the balance after the Supreme Court in June 2015 blocked Texas from enforcing the new restrictions at least until the court decides whether to hear the case. The Texas law is a case study in the way abortion opponents have changed strategies, opting for legislative action over the clinic blockades and violence of the past.

Through 2014, states had approved 231 abortion restrictions since a Republican-led state-legislative push began in 2011 — more than had passed in the prior decade. Laws aimed at clinics are proving more potent than those aimed at patients, such as waiting periods or parental notification requirements.

Abortion-rights supporters have pushed back, introducing more state-level, pro-abortion bills than at any time since the early 1990s and challenging restrictive laws in court.

Judges have blocked enforcement of such measures, pending further legal rulings, in Alabama and Oklahoma. Courts have ruled them unconstitutional in Wisconsin, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Source: Guttmacher Institute

The Background

Abortion has persisted as a hot-button issue in U.S. politics since the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 legalized it in all 50 states. The groundwork was laid to undermine that ruling in 1992, when the high court said states could pass restrictions that don’t present an “undue burden” to women seeking the service. Courts are now clogged with challenges to laws testing just what that means. The ranks of clinics have been thinning since the late 1980s, when the number of nonhospital providers performing 400 or more abortions per year peaked at 705; by 2011, the most recent year for which data are available, that number had fallen to 553. Using states’ data, the Associated Press concluded that abortion had fallen 12 percent nationwide from 2010 to January 2015, with declines in states both with and without new limitations.

 The Argument Both sides of the abortion debate have a stake in the proposition that restricting access to clinics is holding abortion rates down. Health experts and social scientists say that is just one factor. Increasing cultural acceptance of single motherhood, the recession (which was accompanied by a decline in pregnancies) and more (as well as more effective) contraceptive use are also behind the drop. Almost half the 6.7 million pregnancies each year are unintended, and almost half of these end in abortion. One study concluded that if 31 states outlawed abortion tomorrow, the vast majority of women would still travel to states where it remained legal. But the impact on those unwilling or unable to travel could still produce a 15 percent drop in abortions nationally and as much as a 4.2 percent rise in the birth rate. As access diminishes, abortion rights advocates argue, more women will resort to dangerous and illegal pre-Roe means to avert motherhood.

The Reference Shelf
  • Bloomberg News articles about abortion.
  • The Guttmacher Institute researches and compiles medical statistics and legislative history about abortion.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data from most states for its abortion surveillance project.
  • The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers a resource guide for abortion, including medical guidelines and research.
First Published Nov. 20, 2013
To contact the writer of this QuickTake:
Esmé E. Deprez in New York at
To contact the editor responsible for this QuickTake:
Lisa Beyer at

From AlterNet: Right-Wing Foolies Dumb Us Down

5 Conservative Hoaxes, Lies and Absurd Urban Legends That Have Made America Stupider

Lies and hoaxes are a major part of modern-day conservatism.

Earlier this month, a Texan named Scott Lattin told police that Black Lives Matter activists vandalized his truck. It didn’t take long for police to figure out that Lattin had vandalized his own truck and then used social media to raise money off his fraud. He’s been arrested for filing a false police report and other charges are being considered.
A story like this is likely to give the reader pause to wonder why someone would think it’s okay to perperate a hoax like this. But if you look at the conservative movement, it becomes apparent that lying and spreading hoaxes are a major part of modern-day conservatism. It’s no wonder ordinary people might get the idea that blatant hoax-mongering is just a normal part of promoting conservative politics, because it is. Here are some of the uglier hoaxes and other big lies that have widespread appeal on the right.
1. Birtherism. Barack Obama’s presidency is in its twilight, but the bizarre conspiracy theory that he faked his American citizenship is still going strong. If anything, birtherism has only become more ingrained. A recent poll by Public Policy Polling found that when asked about Obama’s religion, only 14 percent of Republican primary voters correctly stated the president is a Christian. A majority — 54 percent — claimed he is Muslim, while another 32 percent say they are unsure, which suggests they find birtherism compelling even if they can’t quite commit. Fewer than a third say he was born in America.
Obama released his birth certificate four years ago, yet the constant drumbeat of cranks claiming to have new arguments and evidence (which they are never able to produce) that he is hiding his true identity has done its magic. Now birtherism, which is based completely on lies and wishful thinking, is a mainstream view in the Republican Party.
2. Planned Parenthood. You have to hand it to the hoaxsters who made a splash over the summer by claiming, with zero evidence, that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal body parts for profit: They clearly know their audience, because that lie quickly became a truism in the Republican Party that every political candidate repeats like scripture, even though it is undeniably false.
What makes the entire thing so amazing is that, from day one, the claims made by the Center for Medical Progress — a front group launched to perpetrate the hoax — had every red flag for a right-wing urban legend. The claim that a secret cabal of organ traffickers was operating behind Planned Parenthood’s sunny exterior was eerily reminiscent of previous conservative Christian accusations that Dungeons and Dragons was a secret plot to lure teenagers into suicide or that Procter and Gamble was trying to convert people to Satanism with the power of their soap products. But conservative voters want to believe, so Republican politicians act like they actually believe this crap (and some might) to hustle for votes.
3. Ahmed Mohamed. To see the right-wing hoax machine working in real time, look at the response to the arrest of 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed, who brought a homemade clock to school that teachers thought looked like a bomb. But because Islamophobia cannot fail, but only be failed, right-wing media swung into action.
The first move was to claim the clock looked like a bomb, because it had wires and stuff (though lacked anything that looked like an explosive). This quickly evolved into suggestions that Ahmed must have known he was going to be arrested. Now the accusation is being made, via Breitbart, that this is a coordinated campaign organized by CAIR to make conservatives look bad for the vague purpose of “Islamic supremism.” It’s been a week and already conservatives online are accusing Ahmed of conducting a “dry run” for his intended terrorist attack and nicknaming him “Jihad Junior” on Twitter. 
4. Jade Helm. The reaction to Ahmed is no surprise, since the same conservative base that’s attacking him now has been spewing the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theory for months now. The U.S. military conducted a bunch of training operations over the summer, and right wingers across the nation went nuts, claiming conspiracy. There are many flavor of Jade Helm theorizing, but the general gist of it is this: Jade Helmers believe that Obama, being a secret Muslim, is setting up operations across the country to impose martial law and turn our country into a dictatorship of the sharia law variety.
It’s the same old black helicopter madness that went on during the Clinton administration, sadly leading to some government standoffs and the Oklahoma federal building bombing. But now that paranoia is mainstream in the Republican Party. A lengthy list of Republican politicians have lent credence to the Jade Helm theory by claiming to investigate it, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul.
5. Columbine myth.This one started off as a legitimate misunderstanding, but has morphed into a popular right-wing hoax. In 1999, the story got out that Cassie Bernall, one of the victims of the Columbine shooting, refused to deny her belief in God before she was shot to death by Eric Harris. The problem is that it isn't true. Another girl, who lived, told one of the killers — Dylan Klebold — that she believed in God, and her life didn’t hinge on the answer.
Even though the FBI and journalist Dave Cullen debunked this myth in 1999, the legend of a teenage girl who chose death over denying her faith was simply too juicy for conservative Christians to relinquish. Ministers kept promoting it. A book claiming it happened has sold millions of copies. As recently as the CNN Republican debate, Rick Santorum invoked this myth to justify Kentucky clerk Kim Davis refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
This sad story tells us exactly how much conservatives value propaganda over truth, the belief-affirming hoax over the realities that undermine their views. No wonder Scott Lattin thought it was within bounds to fake a crime and blame it on liberal activists. Running hoaxes and lies is just the price of doing business in the conservative propaganda machine.

School Prayer: Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township

Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing Township, 330 U.S. 1 (1947)

A New Jersey statute authorized local school districts to make rules and contracts for the transportation of children to and from public and private schools. The Board of Education of Ewing Township authorized reimbursement to parents of money spent by them for the bus transportation of their children on regular buses operated by the public transportation system. A taxpayer brought suit claiming that reimbursement to the parents of parochial school students violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Whether reimbursing parents for their children’s transportation to and from religious schools violates the Establishment Clause when it is part of a general transportation reimbursement scheme.

By a 5-4 vote, the Court held that the state does not violate the Establishment clause when it reimburses parents, as the money flows to the parents as part of a general secular policy designed to keep children safe while en route to and from school.

The Court found that while the Establishment Clause requires that the state remain neutral among religions and between religion and non-religion, the New Jersey plan merely provided money to parents as part of a general government service that was not inherently religious in character, similar to providing sewer and police services to churches.

"The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State.’" (Justice Hugo Black)

Although the Court was unanimous in affirming the principle of "neutrality" by the government toward religion, four Justices disagreed with the majority’s view that allowing reimbursement for bus transportation to parents of students in parochial schools was not a breach of church-state separation. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Wiley B. Rutledge defined "no establishment" this way: "The prohibition broadly forbids state support, financial or other, of religion in any guise, form or degree. It outlaws all use of public funds for religious purposes."

Read more about this case at

See for the original article.

The Daily Show on Anti-Abortionists

They’re more like comic book collectors.
Human life only holds value until you take it out of the package.

--Trevor Noah

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

How Much to Rent a 2-BR Apartment?

Map showing how much per hour a minimum wage worker would need to earn to afford a two-bedroom rental unit

"Classic" Kos: Women Legislate Men's Reproductive Health

Mon Mar 12, 2012 at 08:22 AM PDT 
Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner (D) isn't happy with bills that seek to control women's access to contraception and abortion.
She has joined a trend across the nation by introducing a bill that would require men seeking a prescription for erectile dysfunction drugs to see a sex therapist, receive a cardiac stress test and "get a notarized affidavit signed by a sexual partner affirming impotency."
Sex therapists would be required to present the option of "celibacy as a viable lifestyle choice.”
"The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues—the least we can do is return the favor," Senator Turner said.  
"It is crucial that we take the appropriate steps to shelter vulnerable men from the potential side effects of these drugs.  
"When a man makes a crucial decision about his health and his body, he should be fully aware of the alternative options and the lifetime repercussions of that decision," Senator Turner said today.  
Men will be more easily guided through the process of obtaining treatment for impotence so they can better understand and more effectively address their condition.
Sen. Turner isn't the only legislator to introduce a "Viagra bill" or amendments in response to what mostly male legislators have been proposing around the nation.
In Illinois, for instance, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D) introduced an amendment to a bill requiring ultrasounds before a woman can get an abortion that would require men to watch an explicit video about the side-effects of erectile dysfunction drugs. And, Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) introduced a bill that would allow a man to obtain a vasectomy only when not doing so could cause him serious injury or death.
Some people may take these proposals as jokes. But the problem they spotlight, the war on women's reproductive rights and privacy, isn't funny at all.
Please sign a petition in support of Turner's, Newman's and Cassidy's proposed legislation here.

Daily Kos: Fiorina's Lies Easily Debunked

   Tue Oct 06, 2015 at 08:30 AM PDT

Fiorina swipes at liberal media for unpaid campaign debts story. But it's not hard to prove.

   by Laura Clawson   
    U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former CEO Carly Fiorina speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina on September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane - RTS1TQ3

Carly Fiorina is not happy with the Washington Post article about the 2010 campaign debts she left unpaid for years, including a debt to the widow of a pollster who died while working for Fiorina.
Apparently Fiorina thinks all she needs to do is blame the liberal media:
According to MSNBC, Fiorina assailed "the left and their allies in the media" for the story, which was based on more than two dozen interviews with staff members, friends, contractors and operatives who worked on the 2010 Senate campaign. All said there was a huge problem with the operation: It didn't manage money well. Fiorina said Monday that The Post doesn't "have much credibility" anymore.
If not the Post, how about the Federal Election Commission, and Fiorina's own FEC filings?
Because of course the Post has Fiorina's termination report from her 2010 Senate campaign, and of course it was filed in January 2015, immediately before she began running for president.
It shows payments for finance consulting, political strategy consulting, research consulting, web ads, web service, database management, compliance consulting, printing, and, yes, to the widow of the pollster who died on the campaign.
It's documentary evidence, from Fiorina herself, that the original Post story was accurate, and she did not finish paying off hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign debt until five years later when she began running for president.
Fiorina is accomplished at the Republican school of lying firmly, confidently, and flagrantly, but for real, when not only are there dozens of witnesses to what you did but you yourself have filed government documents to that effect ... blaming "the left and their allies in the media" is just not going to hack it.

Hightower Lowdown: Who is Carly Fiorina?

In 1992, Ross Perot chose a complete unknown to he his presidential running mate. In his first debate, the VP candidate began by asking a question: "Who am I? Why am I here?"

The same should be asked about Carly Fiorina, the Republican presidential contender who has surged in recent polls of GOP primary voters. Her campaign is positioning her as a no-nonsense, successful corporate chieftain who can run government with business-like efficiency. In a recent debate, Fiorina rattled off a list of her accomplishments as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, the high tech conglomerate; "We doubled the size of the company… quadrupled its top-line growth rate… quadrupled its cash flow… tripled its rate of innovations," she declared in power-point style.

Statistics, however, can be a sophisticated way of lying. In fact, the growth she bragged about was mostly the result of her buying another computer giant in a merger that proved to be disastrous – Hewlett-Packard's profits declined 40 percent in her six years, its stock price plummeted, and she fired 30,000 workers even saying publicly that their jobs should be shipped overseas. Finally, she was fired

Before we accept her claim that "running government like a business" would be a positive, note that the narcissistic corporate culture richly rewarded Fiorina for failure. Yes, she was fired, but unlike the thousands of HP employees she dumped, a golden parachute was provided to let her land in luxury – counting severance pay, stock options, and pension, she was given $42 million to go away.

But, here she comes again. Lacking even one iota of humility, this personification of corporate greed and economic inequality is now throwing out a blizzard of lies to hide who she is and to bamboozle Republicans into thinking she belongs in the White House.

"As Profile Rises, Fiorina Aims To Redefine Record as a C.E.O." The New York Times, September 21, 2015.

"From Finances to History, Details Prove Malleable," The New York Times, September 12, 2015.

Hightower Lowdown: the Rich "Check" the Will of the People

Donnie Trump is for it, Barack Obama is too, as are Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

"It" is the idea of finally ending a ridiculous tax loophole that was written by and for the richest, most pampered elites on Wall Street. An obscurely-titled "carried-interest" tax break allows billionaire hedge-fund hucksters to have their massive incomes taxed at a much lower rate than the one teachers, main street businesses, carpenters, and other modest-income people must pay.

This privileged treatment of money shufflers over people who do constructive work in our society adds to America's widening chasm of inequality. It's so unfair and unpopular that even Trump and Bush see that it has to go. So, it's bye-bye loophole, right?

Ha – just kidding! Trump can mouth all he wants, but no animal hath such fury as a hedge-funder whose special tax boondoggle is threatened. Trump had barely gotten the word "unfair" out of his puffy lips before the tax-loophole profiteers deployed battalions of lobbyists, PR flacks, and front-group operatives out to defend their precious carried-interest provision. Just one group, with the arcane name of Private Equity Growth Capital Council, rushed a dozen Gucci-clad lobbyists to Capitol Hill to "inform" lawmakers about the virtues of coddling Wall Street elites with tax favors.

Of course, "informing" meant flashing their checkbooks at key members of Congress. After all, even the loudest blast of political talk is cheap – and it's the silent sound of a pen writing out a campaign check that makes WashingtonWorld keep spinning in favor of the rich.

Sure enough, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Orrin Hatch, the two lawmakers who head Congress' tax-writing committees, quickly announced that – the will of the people aside – there would be no repeal of the hedge-fund loophole anytime soon.

"Defenders of Tax Break for Rich Rally to Defend It," The New York Times, September 19, 2015.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

From Daily Kos: Open Letter to an Anti-47%er

53% guy
I briefly visited the “We are the 53%” website, but I first saw your face on a liberal blog.  Your picture is quite popular on liberal blogs.  I think it’s because of the expression on your face.  I don’t know if you meant to look pugnacious or if we’re just projecting that on you, but I think that’s what gets our attention.
In the picture, you’re holding up a sheet of paper that says:
I am a former Marine.
I work two jobs.
I don’t have health insurance.
I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college.
I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.
But I don’t blame Wall Street.
Suck it up you whiners.
I am the 53%.
God bless the USA!

I wanted to respond to you as a liberal.

Because, although I think you’ve made yourself clear and I think I understand you, you don’t seem to understand me at all.  I hope you will read this and understand me better, and maybe understand the Occupy Wall Street movement better.

First, let me say that I think it’s great that you have such a strong work ethic and I agree with you that you have much to be proud of.  You seem like a good, hard-working, strong kid.  I admire your dedication and determination.  I worked my way through college too, mostly working graveyard shifts at hotels as a “night auditor.”  For a time I worked at two hotels at once, but I don’t think I ever worked 60 hours in a week, and certainly not 70.  I think I maxed out at 56.  And that wasn’t something I could sustain for long, not while going to school.  The problem was that I never got much sleep, and sleep deprivation would take its toll.  I can’t imagine putting in 70 hours in a week while going to college at the same time.  That’s impressive.

I have a nephew in the Marine Corps, so I have some idea of how tough that can be.  He almost didn’t make it through basic training, but he stuck it out and insisted on staying even when questions were raised about his medical fitness.  He eventually served in Iraq and Afghanistan and has decided to pursue a career in the Marines.  We’re all very proud of him.  Your picture reminds me of him.

So, if you think being a liberal means that I don’t value hard work or a strong work ethic, you’re wrong.

I think everyone appreciates the industry and dedication a person like you displays.  I’m sure you’re a great employee, and if you have entrepreneurial ambitions, I’m sure these qualities will serve you there too.  I’ll wish you the best of luck, even though a guy like you will probably need luck less than most.

I understand your pride in what you’ve accomplished, but I want to ask you something.

Do you really want the bar set this high?  Do you really want to live in a society where just getting by requires a person to hold down two jobs and work 60 to 70 hours a week?  Is that your idea of the American Dream?

Do you really want to spend the rest of your life working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week?  Do you think you can?  Because, let me tell you, kid, that’s not going to be as easy when you’re 50 as it was when you were 20.

And what happens if you get sick?  You say you don’t have health insurance, but since you’re a veteran I assume you have some government-provided health care through the VA system.  I know my father, a Vietnam-era veteran of the Air Force, still gets most of his medical needs met through the VA, but I don’t know what your situation is.  But even if you have access to health care, it doesn’t mean disease or injury might not interfere with your ability to put in those 60- to 70-hour work weeks.

Do you plan to get married, have kids?  Do you think your wife is going to be happy with you working those long hours year after year without a vacation?  Is it going to be fair to her?  Is it going to be fair to your kids?  Is it going to be fair to you?

Look, you’re a tough kid.  And you have a right to be proud of that.  But not everybody is as tough as you, or as strong, or as young.  Does pride in what you’ve accomplish mean that you have contempt for anybody who can’t keep up with you?  Does it mean that the single mother who can’t work on her feet longer than 50 hours a week doesn’t deserve a good life?  Does it mean the older man who struggles with modern technology and can’t seem to keep up with the pace set by younger workers should just go throw himself off a cliff?

And, believe it or not, there are people out there even tougher than you.  Why don’t we let them set the bar, instead of you?  Are you ready to work 80 hours a week?  100 hours?  Can you hold down four jobs?  Can you do it when you’re 40?  When you’re 50?  When you’re 60?  Can you do it with arthritis?  Can you do it with one arm?  Can you do it when you’re being treated for prostate cancer?

And is this really your idea of what life should be like in the greatest country on Earth?

Here’s how a liberal looks at it:  a long time ago workers in this country realized that industrialization wasn’t making their lives better, but worse.  The captains of industry were making a ton of money and living a merry life far away from the dirty, dangerous factories they owned, and far away from the even dirtier and more dangerous mines that fed raw materials to those factories.

The workers quickly decided that this arrangement didn’t work for them.  If they were going to work as cogs in machines designed to build wealth for the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Carnegies, they wanted a cut.  They wanted a share of the wealth that they were helping create.  And that didn’t mean just more money; it meant a better quality of life.  It meant reasonable hours and better working conditions.

Eventually, somebody came up with the slogan, “8 hours of work, 8 hours of leisure, 8 hours of sleep” to divide the 24-hour day into what was considered a fair allocation of a human’s time.  It wasn’t a slogan that was immediately accepted.  People had to fight to put this standard in place.  People demonstrated, and fought with police, and were killed.  They were called communists (in fairness, some of them were), and traitors, and many of them got a lot worse than pepper spray at the hands of police and private security.

But by the time we got through the Great Depression and WWII, we’d all learned some valuable lessons about working together and sharing the prosperity, and the 8-hour workday became the norm.

The 8-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek became a standard by which we judged our economic success, and a reality check against which we could verify the American Dream.

If a family could live a good life with one wage-earner working a 40-hour job, then the American Dream was realized.  If the income from that job could pay the bills, buy a car, pay for the kids’ braces, allow the family to save enough money for a down payment on a house and still leave some money for retirement and maybe for a college fund for the kids, then we were living the American Dream.  The workers were sharing in the prosperity they helped create, and they still had time to take their kids to a ball game, take their spouses to a movie, and play a little golf on the weekends.

Ah, the halcyon days of the 1950s!  Yeah, ok, it wasn’t quite that perfect.  The prosperity wasn’t spread as evenly and ubiquitously as we might want to pretend, but if you were a middle-class white man, things were probably pretty good from an economic perspective. The American middle class was reaching its zenith.

And the top marginal federal income tax rate was more than 90%.  Throughout the whole of the 1950s and into the early 60s.

Just thought I’d throw that in there.

Anyway, do you understand what I’m trying to say?

We can have a reasonable standard for what level of work qualifies you for the American Dream, and work to build a society that realizes that dream, or we can chew each other to the bone in a nightmare of merciless competition and mutual contempt.

I’m a liberal, so I probably dream bigger than you.

For instance, I want everybody to have healthcare.  I want lazy people to have healthcare.  I want stupid people to have healthcare.  I want drug addicts to have healthcare.  I want bums who refuse to work even when given the opportunity to have healthcare.  I’m willing to pay for that with my taxes, because I want to live in a society where it doesn’t matter how much of a loser you are, if you need medical care you can get it. And not just by crowding up an emergency room that should be dedicated exclusively to helping people in emergencies.

You probably don’t agree with that, and that’s fine.

That’s an expansion of the American Dream, and would involve new commitments we haven’t made before.   But the commitment we’ve made to the working class since the 1940s is something that we should both support and be willing to fight for, whether we are liberal or conservative.  We should both be willing to fight for the American Dream.  And we should agree that anybody trying to steal that dream from us is to be resisted, not defended.

And while we’re defending that dream, you know what else we’ll be defending, kid?  We’ll be defending you and your awesome work ethic.  Because when we defend the American Dream we’re not just defending the idea of modest prosperity for people who put in an honest day’s work, we’re also defending the idea that those who go the extra mile should be rewarded accordingly.

Look, kid, I don’t want you to “get by” working two jobs and 60 to 70 hours a week.  If you’re willing to put in that kind of effort, I want you to get rich.  I want you to have a comprehensive healthcare plan.  I want you vacationing in the Bahamas every couple of years, with your beautiful wife and healthy, happy kids.  I want you rewarded for your hard work, and I want your exceptional effort to reap exceptional rewards.  I want you to accumulate wealth and invest it in Wall Street. And I want you to make more money from those investments.

I understand that a prosperous America needs people with money to invest, and I’ve got no problem with that.  All other things being equal, I want all the rich people to keep being rich.  And clever financiers who find ways to get more money into the hands of promising entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their contributions as well.

I think Wall Street has an important job to do; I just don’t think they’ve been doing it.  And I resent their sense of entitlement – their sense that they are special and deserve to be rewarded extravagantly even when they screw everything up.

Come on, it was only three years ago, kid. Remember? Those assholes almost destroyed our economy.  Do you remember the feeling of panic?  John McCain wanted to suspend the presidential campaign so that everybody could focus on the crisis.  Hallowed financial institutions like Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch went belly up.  The government started intervening with bailouts, not because anybody thought “private profits and socialized losses” was fair, but because we were afraid not to intervene -  we were afraid our whole economy might come crashing down around us if we didn’t prop up companies that were “too big to fail.”

So, even though you and I had nothing to do with the bad decisions, blind greed and incompetence of those guys on Wall Street, we were sure as hell along for the ride, weren’t we?  And we’ve all paid a price.

All the” 99%” wants is for you to remember the role that Wall Street played in creating this mess, and for you to join us in demanding that Wall Street share the pain.  They don’t want to share the pain, and they’re spending a lot of money and twisting a lot of arms to foist their share of the pain on the rest of us instead. And they’ve been given unprecedented powers to spend and twist, and they’re not even trying to hide what they’re doing.

All we want is for everybody to remember what happened, and to see what is happening still.  And we want you to see that the only way they can get away without paying their share is to undermine the American Dream for the rest of us.

And I want you and me to understand each other and to stand together to prevent them from doing that. You seem like the kind of guy who would be a strong ally, and I’d be proud to stand with you.


EDIT:  Thanks to everyone for the recommendations and to Kos for the promotion to the front page.  I'm really stunned.  I hope it isn't weird to add an edit like this after you've been promoted to the front page.  But I wanted to say how much I appreciate the opportunity to be heard and I appreciate all the kind comments (which I will probably spend most of the rest of the night reading).