Monday, October 15, 2012

Will Mitt Romney's latest ad blitz bury Obama?

Team Romney is flooding the airwaves in battleground states in a last-minute push to overtake the incumbent

Mitt Romney is flooding the airwaves in states like Ohio with TV ads that come in rapid succession, at all hours, and cover everything from jobs to trust.
Mitt Romney is flooding the airwaves in states like Ohio with TV ads that come in rapid succession, at all hours, and cover everything from jobs to trust. Photo: Photo by Ty Wright/Getty
President Obama's campaign was the early aggressor in the advertising wars, spending a fortune over the summer and early fall to define Mitt Romney as a heartless corporate raider who skimps on his taxes. Analysts say the Democrats' early-and-often attack ad campaign gave Obama an advantage that continues to be reflected in polls showing him with an edge over Romney in areas of likability and trustworthiness. However,Romney's dominant performance in the first presidential debate has tightened the race in several swing states, and the GOP campaign is hoping to capitalize on his momentum with a late advertising push that seeks to drown out Obama's message. "Swing states from Florida to Nevada are being swamped under a fresh tsunami of political advertising," says Catherine Philp at The Times of London:
Total spending [by the Romney campaign] has doubled and in some cases tripled in closely fought states such as Florida and Virginia over the past week. It was the first week since the campaign began that spending by Mr. Romney and his supporters exceeded that of President Obama…
Many strategists believe that [Romney's] campaign erred by holding back on spending in the summer and early autumn, ceding the advantage to President Obama and his relentless campaign of negative advertising against Mr. Romney's business record and character. The decision to reverse the gold rush until now might have come too late for Republicans were it not for the boost that Mr. Romney received from his decisive win in the first debate.
So, will Romney's late advertising blitz work? Republicans say the ads could help sway undecided voters in critical states like Ohio, but they could also backfire, says The Associated Press:
The TV ads come in rapid succession and at all hours — in the middle of newscasts, soap operas, and talk shows. They cover everything from jobs to education to trust, and they're sharply negative.
It's all enough to turn off voters, leaving them frustrated and annoyed.
Indeed, two out of every three commercials on ABC's affiliate in Cleveland will soon either "hawk a candidate or a cause," says Celste Katz at New York Daily News. And even if the ads are effective, it's a lot of money to throw around for a tiny slice of the electorate.

Here Is What Is Happening With #Sensata

Posted: 10/15/2012 1:44 pm

PLUS a Daily Kos campaign: Send a message of support to the Sensata workers as they fight to keep their jobs and shine a light on what a Romney economy would look like.

If you are hearing about a company named Sensata, here is the story. Right now this company is moving equipment out of a factory in Freeport, Il. and shipping it to China. They are making the workers there train their Chinese replacements. And at the end of the year they are laying off the American workers. The workers have set up a camp across from the factory and have named it Bainport. (please click!) Supporters are trying to block the trucks, and some have been arrested. This is all happening right now, even as Mitt Romney says he wants to "get tough on China." So the workers have asked Romney to come to Freeport and help them.

"The week before they came they took the American flag down outside the plant. The week after they left they put it back up."
See Wendi Kent's moving photos of the Bainport camp, where workers are asking Romney to hep them:
Bainport, Illinois Pt. 1.
Bainport, Illinois Pt. 2 -- Profits Over People.
What's Going On?
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney started the "private equity" firm Bain Capital. Bain Capital makes its money by purchasing companies using "leveraged buyouts" that borrow huge sums using the purchased company's own assets as collateral. They often use part of the borrowed money to immediately pay itself. Bain then cuts costs by doing things like sending jobs to China, cutting wages and manipulating tax rules to cut taxes owed, along with standard big-business practices like consolidating business units, taking advantage of economies of scale not available to smaller competitors, squeezing distribution channels for price cuts, and other practices that bring competitive advantages. (Please see "So DID Mitt Romney Really 'Create Jobs' At Staples?" for a look at how this works.) Then, after reorganizing the purchased companies Bain "harvests" them for profit. ("Harvest" is Romney's word, watch the linked video.)
Bain Capital purchased a sensor manufacturer that makes key components for our automobile supply chain, and named it Sensata. They immediately announced that they're closing a factory in Freeport, Ill., and sending the manufacturing and jobs to China to save money. (This is significant because China is engaged in efforts to dominate American auto supplies. See "China Cheating Costs 400K Auto Parts Jobs" and "Why The Latest Trade Complaint Against China Matters." )
Bain/Sensata brought in Chinese workers and made the Freeport workers train them. Bain/Sensata is moving the equipment out of the Freeport factory and shipping it to China right now. The Freeport employees have set up a camp outside the factory that they call Bainport and are trying to stop the Bain trucks that are moving the equipment out for shipment to China. Supporters were arrested this week, trying to stop those trucks.
The Sensata employees have asked Romney to come to Freeport/Bainport and help them. Read on to learn about Romney's response to the Sensata workers, and how Romney is actually making big money right now from shipping their jobs to China.
Romney's Opportunity
Mitt Romney is not running Bain Capital anymore. While he still makes millions from the company, and gets checks from the profits made when they ship jobs to China, this is a tremendous opportunity for him. Can you imagine a better spokesman for the Bainport employees than the former head of Bain Capital, who now says he opposes the kinds of things that Bain Capital is doing here?
This is an opportunity for Romney to show the public that he actually means it when he says he wants to do something about companies sending jobs to China! Here is his former company, people who know him, sending jobs to China right now and there is no one in a better position to put pressure on them to stop this than the former head of the company, and on top of that a presidential candidate!
What an opportunity for Romney to show that he means what he says!
Will Romney Help?
Mitt Romney wants to be president, and polls show that the public overwhelmingly wants something done about jobs and factories moving to China and the resulting pressure that puts on the rest of us and on our economy. So Romney says he will do something about it.
But Romney's current actions are opposite his current words. He complains about China currency manipulation, but refuses to ask the Republican House leadership to bring the China currency bill up for a vote, and refuses to ask more than 60 Republican co-sponsors of that bill to sign a "discharge petition" that would force a vote.
And Romney refuses to even meet with Sensata workers. When asked if Romney would help these workers the Romney campaign says Romney will not do it:
"Governor Romney has not worked at Bain Capital for over a decade, but for four years President Obama has been presiding over an economy that is creating too few jobs and sending more jobs overseas. Despite the President being invested in Sensata through his personal pension fund, and the government owning a major Sensata customer in GM, President Obama has not used his powers to help this situation in any way."-- Curt Cashour, Romney Campaign Spokesman.

Here is SNL addressing the disparity between how Chinese workers are treated (because they don't have a say) and American expectations:

For More On Sensata
Is This Why Romney Won't Talk To Sensata Workers Whose Jobs Are Being Shipped To China?
You Should Know About Sensata - It's What The Election Is About
Election Or Not, What Happens To Sensata-Style Workers?
Blocking Bain Trucks To Save Jobs In Freeport - This Is An IMPORTANT Story
Breaking - Arrests At Sensata "Bainport" Camp
Paul Harris at the Guardian: 'I'm sick to my stomach': anger grows in Illinois at Bain's latest outsourcing plan
Also, see:
Bain Of Our Existence --
 Mitt Romney profits as Bain sends American jobs to China

Romney, Jobs And China -- Let's Connect Dots
Rights Report Describes Romney-Owned "Brutal Chinese Sweatshop"
Romney, Republicans Again Side With China Over US Companies
Ohio And China -- One Side Promises While The Other Delivers
China Is Very "Business-Friendly"
Will Conservatives Support American Companies ... Or Chinese?

Here is a Democracy Now! report:

This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.

Ten conservatives who have praised slavery

Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard is the latest to deem it a blessing. His position is not as uncommon as you'd think

Ten conservatives who have praised slavery 
Jon Hubbard (Credit: AP/Arkansas Secretary of State, Lori McElroy)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
AlterNet For obvious reasons, the American conservative movement has long been dogged by accusations of racism and racial insensitivity. From their famed Southern strategy to their determined efforts to suppress minority voting via phony voter ID initiatives to their race-baiting Obama attacks, conservatives have made clear their opposition to a tolerant, multicultural America. In fact, much of their electoral strategy relies on scaring older, white voters about blacks and Hispanics taking over “their” country.
So it’s not uncommon to hear a prominant conservative, even one who holds elected office, make patently offensive remarks. Yet some occasionally hit an unimaginable low. This week, it was revealed that Republican Rep. Jon Hubbard has published a book in which he wrote that “[T]he institution of slavery that the black race has long believed to be an abomination upon its people may actually have been a blessing in disguise.” He defended his book on Wednesday, telling the Jonesboro Sun that he still believed slavery to be a blessing because it helped blacks come to America. Yes, he praised slavery. And when given the opportunity to backpedal, he doubled down.
You may think that this does not occur often. You would be wrong. Here are a few other prominent conservatives who have suggested slavery was not all that bad.
1. Pat Buchanan. In his essay “A Brief for Whitey,” Buchanan suggested that slavery was a net positive, saying that,“America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”
2. & 3. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Bob Vander Plaats, the leader of the arch-conservative Family Leader, a religious organization that opposes same-sex marriage, got GOP presidential candidates Bachmann and Santorum to sign his pledge asserting that life for African-Americans was better during the era of slavery: “A child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.”
4. Art Robinson. Robinson was a publisher and a GOP candidate for congress in Oregon. One of the books he published included this evaluation of life under slavery: “The negroes on a well-ordered estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people than the laborers upon any estate in Europe.”
5. Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson. Peterson is a conservative preacher who articulated this bit of gratitude: “Thank God for slavery, because if not, the blacks who are here would have been stuck in Africa.”
6. David Horowitz. Horowitz is the president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and edits the ultra-conservative FrontPage magazine. In a diatribe against reparations for slavery, Horowitz thought this argument celebrating the luxurious life of blacks in America would bolster his case: “If slave labor created wealth for Americans, then obviously it has created wealth for black Americans as well, including the descendants of slaves.”
7. Wes Riddle. Riddle was a GOP congressional candidate in Texas with some peculiar conspiracy theories on a variety of subjects. His appreciation for what slavery did for African Americans was captured in this comment: “Are the descendants of slaves really worse off? Would Jesse Jackson be better off living in Uganda?”
8. Trent Franks. Franks is the sitting congressman for the second congressional district in Arizona. As shown here, he believes that a comparison of the tribulations of African Americans today to those of their ancestors in the Confederacy would favor a life in bondage: “Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery.”
9. Ann Coulter. Known for her incendiary rhetoric and hate speech, Coulter was right in character telling Megyn Kelly of Fox News that, “The worst thing that was done to black people since slavery was the great society programs.”
10. Rep. Loy Mauch. This Arkansas GOP state legislator has found biblical support for his pro-slavery position. He wrote to the Democrat-Gazette to inquire, “If slavery were so God-awful, why didn’t Jesus or Paul condemn it, why was it in the Constitution and why wasn’t there a war before 1861?”
There is an almost palpable nostalgia among some conservatives for a bygone era wherein they could sip mint juleps under the magnolias while the fields were tended to by unpaid lackeys. And it isn’t a vague insinuation. Mitt Romney supporter Ted Nugent declared, “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War.” No one should regard it as a coincidence that so much of this racist animus has surfaced during the term of the first African-American president of the United States. It’s one thing to harbor such offensive racial prejudices privately, but when people in public life are comfortable enough to openly express opinions like these, it reveals something of the character of their movement. And what’s worse is that conservative and Republican leaders, given the opportunity, refuse to repudiate the remarks. Mitt Romney has stated that all he’s concerned about is getting 50.1% of the vote, and if that means tolerating appeals to racist voters in order to attain his goal, then it’s just a part of the process.

Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXXVIII

By Steve Benen
Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:20 PM EDT

Associated Press

The broader concerns about Mitt Romney's comfort with dishonesty reached a milestone this week -- it got The Onion treatment. (Remember, this is satire. The quotes in this excerpt are not actual quotes.)

For weeks many Beltway insiders had written off the Romney campaign as dead, saying the candidate had dug himself into too deep a hole with too little time to recover. However, with a month to go before ballots are cast, Romney has pulled even with President Obama, and the former Massachusetts governor credits his rejuvenated campaign to one, singular tactic: lying a lot.

"I'm lying a lot more, and my lies are far more egregious than they've ever been," a smiling Romney told reporters while sitting in the back of his campaign bus, adding that when faced with a choice to either lie or tell the truth, he will more than likely lie. "It's a strategy that works because when I lie, I'm essentially telling people what they want to hear, and people really like hearing things they want to hear. Even if they sort of know that nothing I'm saying is true."

"It's a freeing strategy, really, because I don't have to worry about facts or being accurate or having any concrete positions of any kind," Romney added.

The satirical report added that Romney has vowed to continue to "just openly lie [his] ass off" until Election Day. It also "quoted" the Republican's campaign manager saying, "It's late in the game, but this campaign has finally found its groove. And that groove is lying. Bald-faced, make-no-apologies, dirty, filthy lying."

Behind all great satire, of course, is a degree of truth -- or in this case, more than a degree. Consider, for example, the 38th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (This is the second longest list of the year -- and the quotes below are entirely real, not satire.)

1. At a town-hall forum in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Romney said of President Obama, "He said he was going to cut the deficit in half; he's doubled it."

Romney is still having trouble with the definition of "double." The deficit on Obama's first day was $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was also $1.3 trillion. This year, it's projected to be $1.1 trillion. When he says the president "doubled" the deficit, as he has many times, Romney's lying.

2. At the same event, condemning the Affordable Care Act, Romney said, "We'll let people choose the plans they want, as opposed to the plan that the president thinks he and the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are going to impose on the American people."

As Romney surely knows -- his state-based policy works the same way -- the whole point of the Affordable Care Act is to provide consumers with choices of private plans, made available through regulated exchanges. Giving people choices in place and "imposing" a plan are opposites.

3. Romney added, "[W]hen I went to the Olympics and helped guide the Olympics, I learned as well you got to balance the budget here or we'll be in real trouble."

In context, Romney made it sound as if he balanced the Olympics' books through skill. In reality, he balanced his budget at the Olympics thanks to a taxpayer bailout.

4. In an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Romney argued, "I know the Obama people are excited about trying to find a way to say, 'Oh, you're going to raise taxes on middle-income people,' and I keep pointing out, 'No, no.'"

Yes, yes.

5. In the same interview, Romney said that under his proposed plan, "[W]e get to a balanced budget in eight, 10 years."

No we don't. Romney says his plan "can't be scored," but independent budget analysts have found his agenda would make the deficit bigger, not smaller, and add trillions to the national debt.

6. Romney added that no abortion legislation is part of his agenda: "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

Even his own aides said he didn't mean what he said.

7. In reference to the president, Romney said, "He wants to hire more school teachers. We all like school teachers. It's a wonderful thing. Typically, school teachers are hired by states and localities, not by the federal government. But hiring school teachers is not going to raise the growth of the U.S. economy over the next three-to-four years."

Romney himself doesn't seem to believe this is true, since he said largely the opposite just last week.

8. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Romney said, "I want high income people to continue to pay the same share they do today."

With rhetoric like this, Romney is playing a deeply deceptive game, and playing voters for fools.

9. In the same interview, citing a document from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Romney said, "The president's plan, on the other hand, cuts 700,000 jobs."

Oh, please.

10. Hoping to lower expectations for last night's debate, Romney said, "I don't know how Paul will deal with his debate. Obviously, the vice president has done, I don't know, 15 or 20 debates during his lifetime, experienced debater. This is, I think Paul's first debate. I may be wrong. He may have done something in high school, I don't know."

Ryan has been in Congress for 14 years, and has participated in eight election debates before this week.

11. Romney also told Blitzer, "[M]y campaign is about 100 percent of the American people."

I seem to recall watching a video in which Romney said it's not his "job" to "worry about" 47 percent of the population.

12. At his latest "major" foreign policy speech, delivered in Virginia, Romney said of the Middle East, "As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how this happened? How the threats we face have grown worse?"

The threats we face haven't grown worse. In fact, the number of attacks on U.S. embassies is near an all-time low.

13. In the same speech, Romney said, "The president has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years."

You've got to be kidding me.

14. Romney added, "The greater tragedy of it all is that we're missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East."

Did Romney miss the protests against the militants in Benghazi, featuring Libyans who consider the United States their "new friends" after Obama helped topple the Gadhafi regime?

15. Romney went on to say, "The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put daylight between the United States and Israel."

That's not true.

16. On Iraq, Romney said, "The president ... failed to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains."

That's not what happened.

17. On Iran, Romney declared, "I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region -- and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination."

Obama is already doing all of this. For Romney to suggest his approach would represent a new course is absurdly untrue.

18. On a related note, Romney said, "[W]hen millions of Iranians took to the streets in June 2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world, when they cried out, 'are you with us or are you with them,' the American president was silent."

That's really not even close to being accurate.

19. Romney complained, "The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916."

For months, Romney stopped repeating this bogus claim. Alas, it's back.

20. Romney added, "I'll roll back President Obama's deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military."

Romney appears to be referring to cuts, which have not yet kicked in, and which were crafted by Romney's own party and endorsed by his own running mate.

21. Romney also denounced Obama's "politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country."

And in the same paragraph, Romney endorsed Obama's 2014 withdrawal timetable, offering a rare instance in which the GOP candidate debunked his own falsehood within seconds of saying it out loud.

22. At a campaign event in Van Meter, Iowa, Romney said, "I want to take that tax rate down. I want to take it from 35 percent to 28 percent and help American farmers and small business."

Fewer than 3 percent of American farmers and small businesses pay the top marginal income tax rate, leaving a whole lot of farmers and small businesses without "help."

23. At the same event, Romney argued, "Now there are differences on regulations, by the way. And you know this. The regulatory burden under this administration has just gone, has just gone crazy."

He may be surprised to learn that Obama approved fewer regulations in his first three years in office than Bush did in his first three years.

24. Romney went on to argue that Obama administration officials "of course, want to regulate dust."

Actually, the truth is more complicated, and it's certainly not what Romney said.

25. Romney added, "Let me just also note that, you know, people have been waiting a long time for a farm bill. And the president has to exert the kind of presidential leadership it takes to get the House and the Senate together and actually pass a farm bill."

For Romney to blame the president for a good bill House Republicans refuse to pass is ridiculous.

26. Romney went to say, "There are big differences between the president and me. He has no plan for rural America, no plan for agriculture."

Romney doesn't have to agree with Obama's plan for rural America, but he shouldn't lie about its existence.

27. In the next breath, Romney added, "[Obama has] no plan for getting people back to work."

Romney doesn't have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn't lie about its existence.

28. At a campaign event in Apopka, Florida, Romney said about the president, "[W]hen he took office, instead of focusing on jobs, he instead focused on Obamacare."

When Obama took office, the very first thing he focused on was jobs, approving an economic plan that ended the recession.

29. At the same event, Romney said, "[T]hey calculate, because of all that interest expense, and all the spending he's doing, that he's going to also raise taxes on middle-income families by an average of $4,000 per family."

It takes some policy acrobatics to get to this claim, and it's still not true.

30. Romney added, "[A]s you know, the president has made it clear that he's going to go ahead with $716 billion in cuts to Medicare."

As I suspect Romney knows -- he'd already endorsed these same cuts earlier in the year -- he's just not telling the truth.

31. Romney also said, "Gasoline prices are up twice what they used to be."

To blame gas prices on the president's policies is ridiculously misleading.

32. Romney went on to argue, "You see, if the number of people, if the percentage of the American population that were in the workforce were the same today as the day he was elected, our unemployment rate would be above 11 percent."

That's a nice effort to move the goalposts, but it's still wrong.

33. Romney also said, "And let me tell you, if this president keeps spending a trillion dollars or more than we take in, than we take in every year, you're going to see us on the road to Greece."

For those who have even a passing familiarity with the Greek crisis, this is painfully untrue.

34. Romney also argued, "Obamacare ... kills jobs and small business."

There is literally no evidence to support this claim in any way. Indeed, a big chunk of the Affordable Care Act goes to give small businesses a tax break.

35. In a tweet, Romney said, "The middle class can't afford four more years of [President Obama's] tax hikes."

Obama has approved some of the largest middle-class tax cuts ever.

36. In his weekly podcast, Romney boasted, "My 'Plan for a Stronger Middle Class' will lead to rising incomes for everyone and create 12 million new jobs in my first term alone."

Putting aside the pesky detail that Romney doesn't actually have a specific jobs plan, the fact remains that if we do nothing, we're on track to create 12 million new American jobs over the next four years anyway.

37. At a campaign event in Abingdon, Virginia, Romney said, "The road this president's put us on looks like Europe. Europe isn't working in Europe.

It'll never work here."

The irony is, Europe is trying to grow through austerity, just as Romney intends to do here. He's lying in a self-refuting sort of way.

38. In a campaign ad this week, Romney argues, "Since President Obama took office, there are over 450,000 more unemployed women."

We haven't heard this one since April. It's still ridiculously deceptive.

39. And finally, with an important falsehood I missed last week, Romney argued, "Right now, the (Congressional Budget Office) says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year."

That is 100% wrong.

[Video via WJHG]
It's not like they weren't warned. There was already the example of Arizona, whose wrecked economy lies in ruins in the wake of SB1070 and the wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that came with its passage.
People warned Alabamans that if they went ahead and passed their own version of anti-immigrant legislation, they would suffer similar economic consequences. But they did it anyway. Now, the state's anti-immigration laws -- which involve using schoolchildren as proxies for enforcement -- are easily the most draconian and vicious anti-immigrant laws in the country.
And guess what? They are now paying the price. Not only are the schools suddenly emptying of Latino children, more tellingly, the state's tomato farmers are in crisis because there's no one available to harvest the fruit. And the authors of the legislation are just telling them, "tough luck":
STEELE, Ala. -- A sponsor of Alabama's tough new immigration law told desperate tomato farmers Monday that he won't change the law, even though they told him that their crops are rotting in the field and they are at risk of losing their farms.
Republican state Sen. Scott Beason of Gardendale met with about 50 growers, workers, brokers and business people Monday at a tomato packing shed on Chandler Mountain in northeast Alabama. They complained that the new law, which went into effect Thursday, scared off many of their migrant workers at harvest time.
"The tomatoes are rotting on the vine, and there is very little we can do," said Chad Smith, who farms tomatoes with his uncle, father and brother.
"My position is to stay with the law as it is," Beason told the farmers.
Beason helped write and sponsor a law the Legislature enacted in June to crack down on illegal immigration. It copied portions of laws enacted in Arizona, Georgia and other states, including allowing police to detain people indefinitely if they don't have legal status. Beason and other proponents said the law would help free up jobs for Alabamians in a state suffering through 9.9 percent unemployment.
The farmers said the some of their workers may have been in the country illegally, but they were the only ones willing to do the work.
"This law will be in effect this entire growing season," Beason told the farmers. He said he would talk to his congressman about the need for a federal temporary worker program that would help the farmers next season.
"There won't be no next growing season," farmer Wayne Smith said.
"Does America know how much this is going to affect them? They'll find out when they go to the grocery store. Prices on produce will double," he said.
Good question. No doubt these good Republicans will find a way to blame it on President Obama.
This is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to conservative ideology, just as it does when Randian fantasy meets reality -- which is to say, it quickly comes apart. The right-wing nativists want to pretend that undocumented immigrants are taking away jobs that Americans want to be doing, but the reality is they are largely filling unskilled-labor positions that involve back-breaking work -- the kind of work Americans simply are incapable of performing nowadays, regardless of pay.
Another report on the crisis in Alabama delves this point:

From 11Alive in Atlanta:
CHANDLER MOUNTAIN, Ala.-- Chad Smith's family grows tomatoes on a mountaintop in rural northeast Alabama, and ships them from to Canada.
The summer's crop has been good. But Smith sees thousands of overripe tomatoes rotting alongside his vines, and sees only trouble.
"As of right now, we could lose probably fifty percent of what we have left for the year," Smith said.
That, said Smith, is because of a stiff shortage of field hands, traditionally Hispanic migrant workers. And Smith doesn't sugar-coat their status.
"Farmers across the whole country and every state (rely) on illegal immigration workers to do this kind of work," Smith said, "because that's the only people that's willing to do it."
Like Georgia, this year Alabama enacted a tough new immigration law designed to squeeze out people working and living illegally in the US. By the time Smith's crop started ripening in July, he says most of his usual workers had disappeared.
Chad Smith says he's tried local workers.
"It ain't about the money, it's about the work physically. If a person can't do the work, they can't do it no matter how much you pay them," Smith said.
"As of next year, if nothing changes, there won't be a tomato grown here."
It appears that many of the Alabama workers are fleeing to Florida, which has more sane immigration statutes on the books.

Meanwhile, the farmers have been trying to talk sense into state officials, but to no avail:
"Give us hope, give us something," said farmer Jeremy Calvert, who served as moderator at the meeting. "We feed more people than ever before. We have to have a labor force. There are no machines to pick fresh tomatoes or cucumbers. We use Hispanic labor because we have to. We're caught between a rock and a hard place."
Calvert's words were repeated often concerning the largely Hispanic workforce that harvests the state's and nation's crops.
Keith Smith, a Gold Ridge area farmer who helped organize the event, said the labor issue extends beyond the agriculture community. He said other industries rely heavily on Hispanic labor because of necessity.
As the farmer in the video above observes:
FARMER: I was at a meeting at the Greenbriar restaurant in Huntsville several weeks ago, and there were several senators and legislators there ... Some of them spoke and said where were we at when this law was being debated. They heard from 80 percent of the people that said they were in favor of this law. Well, there's a fundamental problem with that. Eighty percent of the people that's for this law doesn't understand that the 1 percent of us feeds the United States. Our voice is small because we are small. ,,, But we have to have a labor force.
This is all very reminiscent of what's happened when there have been previous outbreaks of xenophobic hysteria. One prime example of this occurred during World War II, when an even more intense outbreak of hysteria in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor led Americans to incarcerate 120,000 Japanese Americans in various internment camps.
As it happened, Japanese Americans provided a substantial portion of the nation's fresh produce supply, particularly on the West Coast, but also in the Midwest. And when we shipped them off to concentration camps, we lost all that production -- even though the nativists who ardently pushed for the evacuation had dismissed this concern beforehand.
I explored this in some detail in my book Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese American Community. The question first was raised when the idea of removing all Japanese Americans to the interior was being debated by the public:
The removal would not be without problems, warned some. “Approximately 95 percent of the vegetables grown here are raised by the Japanese,” noted J.R. Davidson, market master for the Pike Place Public Market in Seattle, where Eastside Japanese sold many of their goods. “About 35 percent of the sellers in the market are Japanese. Many white persons are leaving the produce business to take defense jobs, which are not open to the Japanese.” Letter writers to the local newspapers raised the same concern.
Their fears were quickly derided. Wrote Charlotte Drysdale of Seattle in a letter to the Post-Intelligencer:
It has been interesting to note how many contributors have been afraid we would have no garden truck if the Japs are sent to concentration areas. We had gardens long before the Japs were imported about the turn of the century, to work for a very low wage (a move for which we are still paying dearly) and we can still have them after we have no Japs.
Isn’t that discounting American ability just a little too low?
These concerns were raised during the congressional hearings that preceded the internment episode too:
Floyd Oles, a spokesman for the Washington Produce Shippers’ Association, warned the committee that the state’s vegetable and fruit production would suffer if the Japanese were evacuated and urged the members to reconsider. He was told that plans were already being formed for replacement farmers to take over the operation of the Japanese farms. And he was questioned about his business connections with Japanese produce cooperatives, including Bellevue’s.
The result was anything but pretty:
The day after Bellevue’s Japanese residents were loaded aboard the train for evacuation, the May 21 edition of the local weekly, the Bellevue American, noted their departure with a front-page story headlined, “Bellevue Japanese are Evacuated Wednesday -- Sent to California.”
On the same page was a smaller item headlined, “No Strawberry Festival This Year.” The story put a wartime face on the reasons presented for ending the city’s main summer attraction, a 16-year tradition: “With the rationing of gasoline, all agreed that the Festival would have to be abandoned this year. Other reasons given were: the shortage of sugar, conservation of tires, avoidance of large crowds and the war effort that is keeping so many busy.”
A simpler explanation, of course, was that 90 percent of Bellevue’s agricultural workforce -- the people who provided the Strawberry Festival with strawberries -- was riding a train to Pinedale, Calif. That loss became painfully obvious in the next week’s paper. A front-page headline read: “200 Workers Needed Now to Care for Crops in Overlake Area.”
The Japanese farmers, under threat of law, had maintained their crops through the spring. At the time they were evacuated, the lettuce crop was ready for harvest, peas were a week or two away, and strawberries were red and ready for plucking. Tomatoes and the second crop of lettuce were due for harvest by the end of July.
Western Farm and Produce Inc., which had stepped in as the wartime substitute for the Japanese, received a Farm Service Administration loan the day of the evacuation for $32,107, mostly to cover the costs it incurred in purchasing the remaining crops, and equipment to grow and harvest them, from the 33 lease farmers who had signed agreements. The company also set up operations at the Midlake warehouse the Japanese growers owned.
But it quickly became apparent that the company was going to have trouble raising enough labor to work the fields. H.C. Van Valkenburgh, the lawyer who formed the company and managed it, pleaded for help through the story in the American. “Labor is the biggest immediate problem because of the highly perishable nature of these crops, which are maturing rapidly,” the story reported. “The pay is much higher than in normal times, and many of the good people who are helping with such fine spirit, consider the money as secondary to the national need of preserving these foods.
“Most of these foods are going to the armed forces, according to Van Valkenburgh, who pointed out that a carload of cauliflower has just been shipped to men in Alaska, and another carload of lettuce has just been shipped to Chicago for the armed forces.” Van Valkenburgh told the reporter he needed 100 workers immediately for picking strawberries and another 100 to care for other crops.
A week later, Van Valkenburgh still needed 100 workers for the strawberry harvest. The following week’s story in the American made no mention of the other crops, but simply appealed for labor. “ ‘We much prefer to employ local help,’ said Mr. Van Valkenburgh Wednesday night. ‘Local help proves more reliable, transportation difficulties are avoided, the number of workers can be regulated, there is more interest aiding a local industry, workers can be trained into steady year-around jobs -- and, of course, we would much prefer to keep the money here.’
“ ‘Consequently, we are making an urgent appeal to all who want to aid in harvesting and caring for these crops to notify us at once, so that we can organize our labor. If insufficient local labor is available, we can get the workers from Seattle, but we want to know how many to send for.’ ”
Actually, the ready labor pool in Seattle was not merely short; it was practically nonexistent. Local Filipinos were already in place on Bainbridge Island farms, and the larger White River land tracts were also sapping the usual workforce. Few white farmers would touch the small Japanese tracts, and other laborers were signing up to join the war effort, which had the advantages of better pay and considerably greater glory.
Berry pickers were paid by the carry -- a wooden tray that held a large number of smaller berry crates, which meant that the fastest pickers were paid the most. The company also hired tomato planters and weeders, who were paid 50 cents an hour. Truck drivers to haul the goods were paid the best: $1 an hour.
But Western Farm and Produce lost a large portion of the strawberry crop to wet weather conditions, so returns on its first harvest were a considerable disappointment. Soon, it was cutting back its operations.

Confusion soon set in, especially as the Japanese leasees began to settle into the camps. In most cases, the farmers had reached agreement with Western Farm to continue paying them through the harvest, so they could in turn make their lease payments to the landowners. A few had been released of their lease obligations altogether, and so the company itself became responsible for paying the rent.
But Western Farm fell down on both accounts. First, it began receiving letters of complaint from the landowners who had released the Japanese from their leases, demanding rent for the land the company was working. The company paid up for a few months in some cases -- it contested others -- and then quit paying altogether after the summer.
Then the Japanese internees, with War Relocation Authority officials backing them, began demanding their unpaid rent. In some cases, the company made partial payments, but even those ended after 1942.
And, with only a handful of workers available for the harvest, it became clear that Van Valkenburgh’s grand scheme to become “the successor to the Bellevue Vegetable Growers Association,” as Western Farm and Produce Inc.’s letterhead suggested, was a money-losing proposition, and the operation quickly dried up.
The crops were abandoned. The company kept hiring tomato planters and weeders through July, but there is no indication that either the tomatoes or the second lettuce crop were ever harvested.
When the Nisei came back three and four years later, it was obvious that only a fraction of the crops they had planted were harvested. The farms had lain fallow since they had left.
And the Strawberry Festival, that great gathering in tiny Bellevue of thousands of people from all walks of life and from all around the Puget Sound, was gone forever.
Similarly, you have to wonder what will happen now to Alabama's tomato-farming industry. Once it gets blown away like this, it may take years to recover -- if it ever does.

National Dems boost Bachmann challenger

The Democrat running against Rep. Michele Bachmann has earned more help from his party

National Dems boost Bachmann challenger 
Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., arrive at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, Va., in May. (Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Muslim Brotherhood agents must have infiltrated the campaign arm of House Democrats, because the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced today that it’s giving a boost to the Dem candidate running against Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Just nine months after she ended a surprisingly competitive presidential bid, the infamous Muslim-hunting Tea Party congresswoman is now clinging to her House seat in one of the most watched House races in the country. Her opponent, hotel magnate Jim Graves, the first serious challenger Bachmann has faced in years, has closed on Bachmann in the polls and has earned the confidence of the DCCC, which announced today that it’s adding the Democrat to its Red-to-Blue program, a group of top-tier candidates wh0 can expect “financial, communications, grassroots, and strategic support.”
Graves has surpassed ambitious fundraising, organizing and infrastructure goals, which are required to enter the elite group. “Jim has proven his commitment to standing up for the middle class and creating good-paying jobs for Minnesotans,” DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel said in a press release. “During Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s career in Washington, she has been more focused on being a national right-wing celebrity than on delivering for the Minnesota families she represents. Voters are experiencing buyer’s remorse with Congresswoman Bachmann and her relentless desire to put ideology over solutions.”
The DCCC also announced today that it had outraised its Republican counterpart in September and broken a fundraising record for the third quarter. House Democrats are quietly bullish about their prospects, even though most independent analysts still think Democrats have little hope of winning control of the lower chamber.

UPDATE: Graves campaign manager Adam Graves passed along this statement: “The DCCC’s decision to target our race confirms that this election cycle is by far the best shot we’ve ever had to defeat Rep. Bachmann. Her favorability has been in a free fall ever since her failed presidential bid, and she’s facing her toughest opponent yet — a businessman with a record of creating thousands of private sector jobs. Independents are dramatically shifting in our favor — we’re now up 15%.”

Deal on a Farm Bill Appears Unlikely

WASHINGTON — Congressional agreement on a stalled farm bill seemed increasingly out of reach on Wednesday, as a few hundred farmers gathered near the Capitol to press for its passage. They were greeted by an unusually bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing for action in the House, where Republican leaders have declined to pursue legislation.
“Americans want us to work together to get it done for rural America,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan and chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to the farmers’ cheers.
Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, also spoke, chiding members of his own party in the House for refusing to bring their own committee’s farm bill to the floor. “Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for something to happen,” he said.
Over the summer, the Senate passed a five-year farm bill with bipartisan support, and the House Agriculture Committee came up with a similar bill, with deeper cuts.
But House leaders declined to take up either version of the legislation. They are not eager to force their members to take a vote that would be difficult for some of them, nor would they wish to pass a measure largely with Democrats’ votes right before an election.
Just before the August recess, the House instead passed a short-term $383 million package of loans and grants for livestock producers and a limited number of farmers. Senate leaders declined to act on that measure because they said it was too limited, a view shared by many farmers.
Should the current law expire at the end of the month, direct payments to farmers would still continue at $5 billion a year, and the food stamp program would continue through other spending bills. But nearly 40 other programs would not be financed after the 2012 fiscal year.
Cobbling together a new farm bill, something that used to be fairly easy, is difficult within the political architecture of the current Congress.
Some conservatives in each chamber dislike the farm bill generally and would like to see it cut back much further than House or Senate committee members propose. Many Democrats dislike the $16 billion in cuts to nutrition programs in the House bill, and some Southern members who represent rice and peanut growers do not like other proposed changes.
“Agriculture has always been bipartisan,” Ms. Stabenow said. “But the extreme element of the House doesn’t believe” in a farm bill at all, she said, while others “don’t want reforms.” She added, “The anti-reformers are hiding behind the extreme elements.”
Some Republicans are now pondering a one-year extension of the current law. Democrats in both chambers have declined to entertain that idea for now.
Just outside the Capitol on Wednesday, the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation held a modest rally to press for the approval of a bill, and lawmakers appealed to them with folksy talk about tractors.
Lynn Belitz, a farmer from Nebraska who attended, said, “They should just get it done.”
Some Democrats are trying to press the House leadership to allow a vote through something called a “discharge petition,” which, if signed by 218 members, would force a floor vote. But it is being held up by procedural impediments.
“I’ll sign it as soon as it’s available,” said Representative Kristi Noem, a Republican freshman from South Dakota. When it was pointed out to her that this would probably greatly dismay Republican leaders, she added, “I take my orders from my district.”
Some liberal Democrats said that though they opposed even modest cuts to the food stamp program, they would support the House bill because they assumed its cuts would be reduced somewhat during negotiations over the final bill. They also reason that should Mitt Romney prevail in the November presidential election, larger cuts to nutrition programs would most likely be in the offing.
“This is far from a perfect bill,” said Representative Peter Welch, Democrat of Vermont. “But we should vote up or down on this bill, and then we can be held accountable. We could be in a worse position next year, including on food stamps.”
Ms. Noem and Mr. Welch sent a letter late Wednesday to Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the majority leader, requesting a meeting “to discuss our urgent concern that a farm bill be brought to the floor for a vote.”
Republicans are feeling the heat from some of their members in farm states, like Representative Rick Berg of North Dakota, who is running for an open Senate seat. Mr. Berg’s opponent, Heidi Heitkamp, spent much of August attacking him about the bill, even though he has been outspoken about supporting a vote on the measure.
“In North Dakota the number one job of a member of Congress is to secure a farm bill,” Ms. Heitkamp said.

Congress Puts Farm Bill On Post-Election Chores List

OPB | Sept. 25, 2012 4:58 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 26, 2012 3:24 a.m. | Portland, Oregon

Farm near Sublimity, Oregon
Michael Clapp / OPB
Farm near Sublimity, Oregon

Congress has adjourned without approving a farm bill. As Rob Manning reports, that means the current farm bill expires this weekend.
Without Congress enacting a farm bill federal law reverts back to a bill from the first half of the 20th century.
Experts say the old bill includes out-of-date price supports that either pay too much, or nothing at all, for farm products.
It does not include food stamps.
The federal Food Nutrition Services agency has told Oregon officials “there will likely be no interruption” in the program.
But Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader says without a new farm bill, the program’s legal foundation is in question. The Democrat says he’s not sure whether to tell constituents they’ll get food stamps after Sept. 30.
“And I would say honestly ‘I don’t know if you’re going to,'" he says. "It’s a very, very scary situation out there.”
Schrader blames House Republicans for stopping the farm bill he supported in committee. GOP leader John Boehner says the House will tackle the farm bill after the election.

Food-stamp reliance at record high, overpayments at all-time low

Only 1 percent of program expenditures are lost to fraud or abuse

Food-stamp reliance at record high, overpayments at all-time low  
(Credit: (Shutterstock))
While a record number of Americans rely on food stamps, the Department of Agriculture reports that overpayments of aid are at an all time low. According to Bloomberg News, a record 46.68 million Americans received food stamps in July, the most recent month for which data was available.
The percentage of food-stamp payments that were above program guidelines fell to 2.99 percent in the year ending Sept. 30, 2011, the most recent available, according to the department. The overpayment rate was less than half what it was a decade earlier, while the number of recipients more than doubled to 44.7 million people on average in 2011.
Despite an oft-repeated conservative narrative that the food-stamp program is regularly abused, recent government data shows that food-stamp spending lost to fraud or abuse (as opposed to overpayment, or payments being higher than they should have been) amounts to only 1 percent of expenditures.