Unions are in a death spiral. Private sector unionism has all but vanished, accounting for a measly 6.9 percent of the workforce. Public sector workers are being hammered by government cutbacks and hostile media that blame teachers, nurses and firefighters for budget crises. To counter this trend organized labor banked on creating more hospitable organizing conditions by contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party the last two election cycles. In return Obama abandoned the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made union campaigns marginally easier, failed to push for an increase in the minimum wage, and installed an education secretary who attacks teachers and public education.
The Obama administration’s dismal record on labor issues has been compounded by the rise of the Tea Party movement, which portrays unions as public enemy No. 1, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which opened the political floodgates to corporate money. By last year, organized labor realized that its days were numbered unless it took a different approach.
So it went back to basics. Across the country unions threw resources into community organizing, aiming to build a broad-based constituency outside of the workplace for progressive politics. In cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., newly formed community groups found ready support for organizing around issues of economic justice, but they were stymied by a national debate dominated by voices blaming government spending for an economic crisis caused by Wall Street.
Occupy Wall Street changed that. It flipped the debate from austerity to inequality, uncorked a wellspring of creative energy and started taking creative risks that unions typically shun. Within weeks unions adopted the 99 percent versus the 1 percent and started organizing actions under the Occupy banner. One labor leader said “the Occupy movement has changed unions’” messaging and ability to mobilize members. Union-affiliated organizers around the country say it has helped workers win better contracts and bolstered labor reformers.
While union organizers stress the importance of the movement’s autonomy, they are also joining in, providing advice, experience, supplies and access to money and space. Many believe, as one Chicago labor activist put it, that “Occupy is too big to fail.” In fact, the Occupy movement is in the vanguard of labor, enticing workers into the streets, making them negotiate harder and think bigger.
But the Occupy movement is also a double-edged sword. Some observers say organized labor shares the blame for its decline because unions treat members as clients who pay dues in return for benefits, are riddled with self-serving leaders, stuck in a busted collective bargaining system, too close to Democrats and too willing to ally with big business in return for jobs. If the Occupy movement revitalizes labor, as the left did during the 1930s, then it could invigorate rank-and-file militancy, foster internal democracy and sweep out officials who protect their fiefdoms and perks at the expense of fighting for the 99 percent.
“Point of no return”
Angus Maguire is communications director at We Are Oregon, a community group active in Portland that was established last summer by two Service Employees International Union locals. In 2011, he says, “there was a general conversation throughout SEIU, taking a sober look at the decline in labor organizing. It was an explicit acknowledgment that if labor doesn’t change how it engages with people it would cease to exist in a meaningful way. It was reaching a point of no return.”
In Oregon, SEIU locals 49 and 503, which represent more than 30,000 workers, decided they needed to organize non-union members outside of the workplace “around the most pressing issues relating to the economic crisis.” The genial 35-year-old father of two says, “We did a door-to-door outreach campaign in East Portland, the poorest part of the city, talking to people about unemployment and foreclosure.” Maguire says We Are Oregon’s goals are twofold. “One is to organize and achieve material wins. The second is to change the political environment and conversation. When we started last summer there wasn’t much conversation in the media around wealth disparity.”
On the East Coast, Anne Gemmell, political director of Fight for Philly, says the organization was founded in May by labor and faith-based groups such as the SEIU, to organize around issues of economic justice. One factor was Citizens United, which she says “was a scary development for churches and labor. If the gates are thrown wide open to corporate money, then traditional organizing models could be in danger.”
Fight for Philly also began with a door-knocking campaign, she says. “We were testing interest in fighting back against inevitable service cuts as the economic meltdown hit municipalities, and we had over 10,000 conversations.” Fight for Philly, she went on, is “trying to educate people that the budget crisis is due to the 2008 economic meltdown caused by banking and corporate greed, not by government waste, fraud and mismanagement as many anti-government voices would have the public believe.” But last summer, she explains, the media discussion “was all about austerity debates, the super committee and how we are going to cut social spending. It was not about growing inequality.”
In stepped Occupy Wall Street on Sept. 17, but nearly every left, progressive and labor group was skeptical or even dismissive of the few hundred scruffy campers raging against the machine in downtown Manhattan.
Some of the wariness stemmed from OWS’s congenital aversion to establishment politics. On the first day of the occupation Zuccotti Park I talked to organizers, seasoned and new, who were committed to radical democracy, skeptical of electoral politics and opposed to capitalism. Their politics couldn’t have been more distant from unions like the SEIU, Teamsters and United Auto Workers, which are top down and centralized, joined at the hip with the Democratic Party and eager, even desperate, to be the junior partner of capital.
Even before Occupy Wall Street pitched its first tent, the politics were so amorphous that one person kept blocking outreach to unions on the grounds that it needed to attract Tea Partyers. “When Occupy was conceived there was no outreach to labor,” says Ari Paul, a New York City labor reporter. “They were hesitant to even let unions be a part of it, because they were seen as bureaucratic and short-sighted.”
Jackie DiSalvo, who attended pre-occupation general assemblies, helped change that by forming the labor outreach committee the first week of OWS. She is a retired associate professor of English who took part in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer.
“I was attracted to the movement because they adopted the line of the 99 percent against the 1 percent,” DiSalvo said in an interview. “It was very class-conscious politics. I thought the only way it was going to have any strength was to have a working class and trade union base because they bring resources, numbers and political realism. They would give Occupy a broader constituency than the young people sleeping in Zuccotti who were precarious workers, unemployed or students.”
For the first few days, however, the unions stayed away because “the initial press reports were Occupy Wall Street was a bunch of freaks,” says DiSalvo.
On Sept. 22, five days after it began, Occupy Wall Street received its first union backing: delegates from the City University of New York’s 25,000-member Professional Staff Congress marched to the park in a show of support. Other unions “were hesitant,” says DiSalvo, “because they didn’t know who we were and what we were going to do, but they very quickly got over their hesitancy and embraced us, endorsed us, and provided support such as supplies, storage room, printing literature and meeting space.”
On Saturday an unpermitted march that began at Zuccotti Park swelled to more than 2,500 people as it coursed through the streets of Lower Manhattan. It was set upon by riot police, and in the first iconic incident of casual police violence against occupiers, a commander was filmed pepper-spraying women in the face who were standing on a public sidewalk.
The video of the women falling to the ground and screaming in agony went viral. When I visited Zuccotti Park on Monday, Sept. 26, it was bursting with occupiers and support. Unions started showing up, and I heard the same story from two reputable sources. A group of SEIU organizers with the gigantic healthcare workers Local 1199 stopped by to deliver blankets, ponchos, food and water. The labor organizers said that the previous Friday they had been barred by their union leadership from visiting the occupation, but now SEIU was on board.
DiSalvo says, “It was the police attacks that made them move. But it was also progressives in the unions who won the leadership over.” Over the next few months around 30 unions endorsed Occupy Wall Street including SEIU and the AFL-CIO executive board, whose president, Richard Trumka, traveled to New York to meet with the labor outreach committee. “Trumka felt that unions had been raising the point about the growing inequality and the seizure of power of the rich,” says DiSalvo. “Occupy Wall Street was the first time those issues received massive attention in the press. He felt we were creating a lot of support for labor that they were unable to generate because we broke through the media blackout.”
There is widespread agreement that the Occupy movement has directly benefited labor.
In Chicago an organizer with SEIU who wished to remain anonymous called the Occupy movement “a game changer.” He said his union “recognized that it can no longer focus just on what happens in the workplace. Our members who work in a hospital go home to a community that is being devastated by foreclosures and school closures.”
The SEIU co-founded Stand Up! Chicago, which kicked off last June with a protest against a convention for CFOs of major corporations. When Occupy Chicago formed it coincided with Stand Up! Chicago’s week of actions last October in the financial district. Occupiers were maintaining an around-the-clock protest at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The organizer says, “We had this great synergy because we were doing actions in the financial district and Occupy Chicago was right there and would join us. They helped us get the attention of the press in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise.”
“Occupy is a true left expression and expansion of free speech,” Anne Gemmell of Fight for Philly says. “We are going to occupy this space until you pay attention to us. It has empowered the organizations that do the door knocking, phone calling and rally planning.” She explains that the occupation at Philadelphia City Hall helped workers in contract negotiations. Gemmell says about 1,000 support staff and stagehands “were in negotiations that were tense and confrontational with the Kimmel Center, a major arts center near the occupation.” A week after Occupy Philadelphia set up camp the workers won a contract on better-than-expected terms. Following that victory 2,500 office cleaners who were negotiating with the management of some 100 corporate high-rises around City Hall inked a contract with wage increases for three years in a row.
“Occupy has a positive spillover effect, even if it’s not directly involved in the organizing campaign,” says Gemmell. “There were very few office cleaners or stagehands … sleeping in tents at city hall, but they are all part of the 99 percent and benefited from the new political climate that occupations created.”
Steve Early, a former union organizer and author of ”The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor,” says, “I was encouraged by the positive interaction between Occupy Wall Street and the Communication Workers of America,” which staged a 15-day strike against Verizon last August. Early says after the CWA called off the strike with inconclusive results, “the union was struggling to find ways to take action against Verizon.” Because Zuccotti Park is close to the work locations of CWA Local 1101, which was involved with the strike, CWA workers were regulars at the occupation.
“Things have gotten so bad in the private state of Verizon that workers are much more open to different viewpoints,” says Early. “At Zuccotti, unemployed youth were being thrown together with workers who’ve been with Verizon for 20 years and are trying to hold on to their pay and benefits.”
The cross-pollination aided dissidents in Local 1101 who had been organizing for four years, Early says. “The reform slate swept out the incumbents in the Local 1101 election held in November. Their victory was positively impacted by their work with the Occupy movement as well as other organizations like Labor Notes and the Association for Union Democracy.” Early adds, “The synergy works best when there is an organized group within the unions. The Occupy movement needs someone to relate to within labor.”
Early claims Occupy’s ability to organize with labor is hamstrung by the tendency of many unions to undermine rank-and-file militancy and democracy. He says union attempts to mobilize the public against corporations – like SEIU’s Fight for a Fair Economy campaign – have not resonated as well as the more spontaneous and grass-roots activities of OWS.
A year ago the 2.1-million member union launched the Fight for a Fair Economy to mobilize low-income workers in urban areas against public sector cuts. The price tag for the campaign was in the millions of dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal. Early says, “The campaign looked good on paper, but was top-down, staff-driven and a consultant-shaped message that was boilerplate union rhetoric. The ground troops for Fight for a Fair Economy did not have much visibility.”
As for another campaign run by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which called for a financial transaction tax on Wall Street traders, Early says it was “much more savvy and programmatic but it framed the fight as ‘Main Street vs. Wall Street,’ without actually reaching many Main Streeters beside nurses themselves.”
Early says contrast that with the Occupy movement. “It is bottom up, decentralized, has much better framing and uses direct action creatively. These unions and others have glommed onto it and have adopted the 99 percent versus the 1 percent rhetoric.”
Like many, Early sees potential for occupiers and unions to learn from each other, but he puts the emphasis on the workers themselves. He says, “Hopefully, rank-and-filers will realize they don’t need to wait for grand plans and official orders from union headquarters. As Wisconsin workers demonstrated a year ago, they can take their own creative initiatives and have much more impact. Plus, exposure to Occupy will hopefully foster more Madison-style cross-union activity and bottom-up decision making. By continuing to organize, agitate and educate around labor issues – while learning from union members in the process – occupiers can help spread an anti-capitalist message that is relevant to day-to-day workplace struggles but very different from the much fuzzier official messaging of organized labor.”
The Occupy movement’s 99 percent message could prove troublesome for labor leaders. Ari Paul argues. “There is a limit to how much union leaders will fight the 1 percent because they do depend on the 1 percent.” By way of example he points to the issue of healthcare: “One of the reasons unions don’t call for universal healthcare is because it is more politically expedient to get companies to fund good healthcare plans for union members who will keep voting you into office.”
DiSalvo echoes this sentiment. “The labor movement has fairly narrow orientation of just fighting for their own members’ contract demands to the point they don’t fight for their own members when they become unemployed. They should have set up an unemployed workers council by now.”
That is a big question on many people’s minds. While organized labor is potentially a powerful force with 17 million Americans in unions, it’s dwarfed by the more than 25 million people who are unemployed or can’t get full-time work.
“The labor movement has so far missed an opportunity in organizing the unemployed and underemployed,” admits Maguire of We Are Oregon. He says there are parallels with the Great Depression when unemployed councils were pivotal to securing relief and jobs programs as well as eviction defense on a mind-boggling scale. (Some historians claim that councils in New York City moved 77,000 evicted families back into their homes.) Maguire maintains, however, that there “are also big differences today in terms of the political climate and class consciousness. It’s fair to say there is an opportunity in organizing the unemployed, and no one including the labor movement has figured out how to do that.”
Unions are trying to think more creatively. On Nov. 17, as thousands of occupiers were trying to actually shut down Wall Street, unions organized actions in three dozen cities, focusing on shutting down bridges to highlight the crumbling infrastructure across the United States and the jobs that could be created by funding repair and rebuilding. Nearly 1,000 people were arrested in the peaceful sit-down protests and some bridges shut down for hours, but the unions seem afraid to escape the confines of the very system responsible for their demise.
The aim was to put pressure on Congress to pass the Obama administration’s jobs bill that could be most charitably described as inadequate. Paul, the labor reporter, notes that many unions back corporations in the hopes of getting union jobs: Carpenters and electricians unions in New York City side with the real estate industry in support of mega-construction projects and the United Steel Workers has been pushing for World Trade Organization sanctions against China over allegations of “unfair trade practices.”
More broadly, Steve Early has taken SEIU to task for collaborating with the healthcare industry against the interests of its union members. And Paul notes that leaders of New York’s Transit Workers Union Local 100, which was one of the first unions to endorse Occupy Wall Street, has not actively challenged the investment banks that make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit on the bonds New York State relies on to fund mass transit. Paul says while Occupy Wall Street has been calling for the public transit debt to be canceled, TWU leaders “do not publicly criticize the Wall Street banks too much because the same banks are managing the workers’ pensions.”
Many union organizers counter that labor is in a different position than the Occupy movement, but they can still work together. An SEIU organizer in Chicago, who asked not to be identified by name, says, “When you are a labor leader you have to be very pragmatic because you are making decisions about contracts, wages and healthcare that affect your members. What’s exciting about Occupy is that it doesn’t have those contradictions. Occupy doesn’t have to have a million conversations to mobilize its members. They just do it.”
Anne Gemmell seconds that. She sees Occupy benefiting labor in part because it doesn’t have any issues of potential liability that a union with resources, members and paid staff do. “There are no leashes holding Occupy’s energy back.”
That energy will intensify this year. Occupy Los Angeles has put out a call for a general strike on May Day. There are plans for a month-long occupation of Chicago in May when the rulers of the world come to town in the form of the G-8 and NATO, and it seems likely that many occupiers will flock to the Democratic and Republican national conventions next summer.
Next fall the presidential election could see both sides at odds as occupiers will be decrying both parties as hopelessly corrupted by corporate dollars, even as organized labor mobilizes tens of thousands of union members to get out the vote for the Democrats and Obama.
The Chicago organizer says, “The revolution is not going to come through the labor movement.” And that is true, at least in its current configuration. But the revolution that many occupiers dream about can’t happen without workers either. If the Occupy movement keeps growing, then organized labor will have to decide which side it is really on.
Link to original article from Salon.com
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In the hours working up to the government shutdown on Sept. 30, Republican members of the House Rules...
Ashley Alman | Huffington Post 14 Oct 2013 Hits:516 Blog Articles
WASHINGTON -- For Senate Democrats, the surest sign the party is on the brink of handing significant concessions to Republicans is that Democrats are so clearly winning the struggle.
"We are so totally, completely winning this thing that naturally it means we're gonna cave, right? I mean they're [the Republicans] getting hammered," a Democratic Senate aide said. "So when are we going to give them what they want?"
A Senate Democratic leadership aide, who has been buoyed throughout the showdown by the toughness displayed by the president, said he was getting signals...
Ryan Grim | Huffington Post 12 Oct 2013 Hits:768 Blog Articles
A new survey of voters in a dozen Republican-held districts indicates that the government shutdown has made the House increasingly vulnerable to a Democratic takeover.
Polling in the districts, conducted by the liberal-leaning Public Policy Polling and paid for by MoveOn.org, follows similar polling that found voters hostile to lawmakers supporting the shutdown.
Democrats need a net increase of 17 seats to retake control of the lower chamber, and the prior polling found 17 Republicans trailing generic Democratic opponents before voters were told they had supported the shutdown. After they were told...
Ryan Grim | Huffington Post 11 Oct 2013 Hits:696 Blog Articles
Forget the idea that this is both parties fault, or people aren't blaming the GOP. These facts show that's a crock
John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann (Credit: AP/Susan Walsh/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst/Joshua Lott)
Many analysts have compared the lopsided blame Republicans took for the 1995-96 government shutdown to today’s debacle and concluded that the public is more evenly split over who’s to blame this time around. Beyond the fact that hemorrhoids are polling better than Congress these days, here are five other data...
Kerry Eleveld | Salon 10 Oct 2013 Hits:682 Blog Articles
An old friend who has been active in politics for more than 30 years tells me he's giving up. "I can't stomach what's going on in Washington anymore," he says. "The hell with all of them. I have better things to do with my life."
My friend is falling exactly into the trap that the extreme right wants all of us to fall into -- such disgust and cynicism that we all give up on politics. Then they're free to take over everything.
Republicans blame the shutdown of Washington and possible default...
Robert Reich | Huffington Post 08 Oct 2013 Hits:1259 Blog Articles
Our eagles wings are provided by promises kept to each other -- birds cheerfully singing and honey bees pollenating our survival, we’re awaken by promises to ourselves of Exceptionalism, beckoning: l'avant toujours de l'avant. Or we could just shut it all down.
Even the most subtle gesture or tiniest injection of courageous wonder for what’s new beyond conservative nose tips, ventures us forward embraced by the possibilities of living from a life changing point of view, and voila: The New World.
Chasing her, a new puppy saves the life of a lazy...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 30 Sep 2013 Hits:616 Blog Articles
Despite failing bees, flagellant Congress, fraudulent banks and flailing pay check to pay check, each new dawn gives our mental sun opportunity to burn off the fog of yesterday, and clothed our vision with the promise, it’s going to be OK.
Then, we lift every voice for all with the courage to listen, and for all to see, guide the way to that place where all is peace; that place where we’re all OK.
So let us rejoice and be glad, prosperous, successful, loving, giving and forgiving in it – rising above...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 22 Sep 2013 Hits:811 Blog Articles
The right-wing billionaire brothers just bought one of Apple’s key suppliers, meaning lefty Apple lovers are about to be lining the pockets of their No. 1 political enemy.
Well, this is awkward: imagine if every time you went out and patronized your favorite store and bought your favorite product, you were putting money into the pocket of someone you loathe.
That’s the exquisite dilemma that Apple fanboys and fangirls of a liberal bent are about to face, now that a pair of left-wing hate objects have acquired a key supplier to...
Daniel Gross | The Daily Beast 11 Sep 2013 Hits:670 Blog Articles
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.
(click image to enlarge)
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.
The documents, provided earlier...
Barton Gellman | Washington Post 15 Aug 2013 Hits:499 Blog Articles
•XKeyscore gives 'widest-reaching' collection of online data• NSA analysts require no prior authorization for searches• Sweeps up emails, social media activity and browsing history• NSA's XKeyscore program – read one of the presentations
(One presentation claims the XKeyscore program covers 'nearly everything a typical user does on the internet')
A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The NSA boasts in...
Glenn Greenwald | The Guardian 31 Jul 2013 Hits:781 Blog Articles
Federal prosecutors have filed a sealed criminal complaint against Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked a trove of documents about top-secret surveillance programs, and the United States has asked Hong Kong to detain him on a provisional arrest warrant, according to U.S. officials.
Snowden was charged with espionage, theft and conversion of government property, the officials said.
The complaint was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction where Snowden’s former employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, is headquartered, and a district with a long track record in prosecuting...
Peter Finn and Sari Horwitz, | Washington Post 21 Jun 2013 Hits:707 Blog Articles
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, has seen the same interview transcripts as Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), documenting the interviews investigators conducted with IRS officials in Cincinnati. And with that in mind, Cummings was getting a little tired of Issa playing partisan games, releasing carefully edited, cherry-picked quotes from the transcripts in the hopes of keeping a "scandal" alive.
Indeed, Cummings has declared publicly, more than once, than if Issa didn't provide the public with all of the information -- rather than the portions...
Steve Bennen | Maddow Blog 18 Jun 2013 Hits:645 Blog Articles
Google is preparing to ask the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to ease long-standing gag orders over data requests it makes, arguing that the company has a constitutional right to speak about information it’s forced to give the government.
The legal filing, which cites the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, is the latest move by the California-based tech giant to protect its reputation in the aftermath of news reports about sweeping National Security Agency surveillance of Internet traffic.
Google, one of nine companies named in NSA documents as providing information to...
Craig Timber | Washington Post 18 Jun 2013 Hits:564 Blog Articles
Russ Feingold is no longer in the US Senate.
And that is unfortunate.
No one took more seriously the duty to defend privacy rights than the civil libertarian senator from Wisconsin, who served for the better part of two decades as the essential member of the Constitution Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee—and who cast the only Senate vote against the Patriot Act because of the threat he recognized to the guarantees outline in the Fourth Amendment.
But with the report by The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald that the NSA has been tracking every...
John Nichols | The Nation 06 Jun 2013 Hits:624 Blog Articles
Pick a scandal, any scandal, whichever GOP “look over there” distraction you prefer, but know, we are the central intelligence for solutions: first step – stop electing pretend patriots.
If your head is spinning from media hyperbole, you might be a misinformed patriot, but when you use the power of distractions from building a Walmart to save a JC Penny from pounds of Bangladesh flesh, trapped in GAP of collapsed Target fashions, you might be a corporate patriot.
If you think putting men in charge of preventing rape in the Military is...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 20 May 2013 Hits:520 Blog Articles
I’ve said before that everyone can be an activist because everyone has reach. Some have more and some have less, but even if you think your reach is small, using it can have a large effect. This is a story about an AMERICAblog reader who used her reach to question Dem. House member Henry Waxman (CA-33) at a town hall meeting about his support for Chained CPI. She asked him if he would sign the strong Grayson-Takano No Cuts letter (promising a No vote on any benefit cuts).
It turns out Waxman...
Gaius Publius | America Bog 14 May 2013 Hits:815 Blog Articles
Jobs up, unemployment down:
Imagine what a President could do if Congressional Corporatism wasn’t tunneling sinkholes beneath American recovery.
Even in the wake of Ashley Judd, “Make Obama a One Term President,” Senate Minority Leader has a problem: ”What About Us,” working class guy, Ed Markey.
Judging Mitch by the company he keeps in ‘good ol’ boy’ rebranding locker room, gun hands Glenn Beck, Teds Nugent & Cruz, Sarah Palin, Ricks Perry & Santorum, Eric Cantor and Wayne LaPierre, Congress needs a recall overhaul.
Is it wrong to long for that old time American...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 05 May 2013 Hits:727 Blog Articles
When I heard that Secretary of State John Kerry thought “there ought to be a recount” in the 2013 Venezuelan presidential election and said that the Obama Administration would be having “serious questions about the viability of that government" if “there are huge irregularities,” I did understand that this was pretty much pro forma stuff, not to be taken too seriously. The Cold War may be twenty years gone now, but the Administration probably still figures that it won’t hurt itself any by talking tough about people who sound like...
Tom Gallagher | Common Dreams 23 Apr 2013 Hits:815 Blog Articles
The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday that it would cancel plans to end Saturday mail delivery this summer, saying the new stopgap budget that Congress recently passed would prohibit the move.
The postal service’s board of governors made the decision Tuesday, according to a statement from the agency.
“The board believes that Congress has left it with no choice but to delay this implementation at this time,” the board said in the statement. “The board also wants to ensure that customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties and...
Josh Hicks | The Washington Post 10 Apr 2013 Hits:1094 Blog Articles
WASHINGTON — A bipartisan collection of senators on Wednesday announced a compromise measure to expand background checks for gun buyers, increasing the chances that a viable package of new gun safety laws will soon hit the Senate floor.
Senators Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, and Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, have spearheaded the deal.
Under the terms of the agreement, background checks for gun buyers would expand to gun shows and online sales — a huge portion of gun sales that are made without the background...
Jennifer Steinhauer | New York Times 10 Apr 2013 Hits:592 Blog Articles
Successful strategic thinking starts with gaining knowledge, particular gaining adequate knowledge of the big picture, of all the political and economic forces involved (Earth) and what they are thinking, about themselves and others, at any given time. (Heaven). It’s not a one-shot deal. Since both Heaven and Earth are always changing, strategic thinking must always be kept up to date, reassessed and revised.
To make a political assessment of the forces commanded by the U.S. bourgeoisie and its subaltern allies and strata, it helps to make an examination of Congress, the...
Carl Davidson | Keep on Keepin' On 04 Apr 2013 Hits:1412 Blog Articles
Who’s the one in your life who always injects the party with spoiler alert: “some things are not funny?” I love to laugh almost as much as I love making others laugh, but what if maybe, sometimes, some things are just not funny?
Like the injustice of giving such a beautiful name as Antonin to someone too unpatriotic to do what’s least funny for his country: desert it in resignation, as easily as his judgment deserts equality statutes which could decree a nation, exceptional. Still, further down the funny slippery sloop,...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 01 Apr 2013 Hits:600 Blog Articles
What’s the worst form of bullying in your workplace, household, community, neighborhood, or national experience? Is it sexual, cyber, voting rights intimidation; was it Slavery, school related, or women being paid 77% of a man’s salary? Is it football players being shocked to discover sexually assaulting a fellow student when she’s too incapacitated to consent or deny, has life changing consequences for both bully and victim? Or media and parents warning exposing yourself on social media can be dangerous?
Is it pollsters and media...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 18 Mar 2013 Hits:705 Blog Articles
All disruptive technologies upset traditional power balances, and the Internet is no exception. The standard story is that it empowers the powerless, but that's only half the story. The Internet empowers everyone. Powerful institutions might be slow to make use of that new power, but since they are powerful, they can use it more effectively. Governments and corporations have woken up to the fact that not only can they use the Internet, they can control it for their interests. Unless we start deliberately debating the future we want to live...
Bruce Schneier | Schneier.com 20 Feb 2013 Hits:700 Blog Articles
Ahh, the famous Missouri Argument, favored by Internet Libertarians of all varieties. What can you do about it? It's so simple - If I'm under contract, I must be able to point to a piece of paper that details the contracts, right? And if you can't produce such a thing, then any and all action taken against me is unlawful (heh) aggression!
With less ranting, here's the usual formulation:
Q: Can you please show me this contract that I signed obliging me to the agreement that you speak...
Roger Burgess | Zyx @ DailyKOS.com 06 Feb 2013 Hits:1073 Blog Articles
Okay, before we decide once and for all whether this is a win or a loss, there are a few things I want out on the table. And the first point, appropriately enough, is that whenever you're talking about the Senate, since the answer to any question about it is either "well, yes and no," or, "it depends," the answer to whether this is a win or a loss will be the same. Yes and no. And, it depends.
There's little sense in trying to tell...
David Waldman | Daily Kos 25 Jan 2013 Hits:789 Blog Articles
When I traveled to Norway a few years ago to see for myself what it was like to live under “socialism” I soon discovered the lies corporate media propagandizes to the American people every day about so called “socialism”. Boldface and outrageous lies. Corporate lies in furtherance of a corporate agenda.
Norway was teeming with corporate influence. Firestone, Ford, McDonalds, Burger King, TGIF among many others. Were all of these companies owned by the Norwegian government? Of course not. Corporate media propaganda. Oslo looks like most other cosmopolitan, sophisticated world class...
Milo Vannucci | Palm Beach Progressive Post 22 Jan 2013 Hits:859 Blog Articles
The People's Inauguration-- sponsored by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA)-- is live streaming now here.
Great stuff-- War on Poverty, immigration reform, organizing the unemployed, Robin Hood Tax, eminent domain for economic development.
Jesse Jackson, Randy Parraz, Congressman John Conyers, and labor leaders just spoke.
Randy Parraz: "Change is coming to Arizona."
Jesse Jackson: The US should be as tough on gun manufacturers as we are on tobacco companies.
Bill Fletcher of the government employees union: Unions should organize the unemployed. He also called for the government to use eminent domain to...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog For Arizona.com 19 Jan 2013 Hits:847 Blog Articles
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) is hosting Progressive Central: The People's Inauguration on January 19 in Washington DC.
Progressive pundits and politicians from around the country-- including our own Congressman Raul Grijalva-- will be there. If you're like me and will be in Tucson tomorrow, check out the live streaming of Progressive Central on the PDA home page, beginning at 8 a.m. (Eastern Time). Bisbee's own Loneprotestor will be in DC-- so look for video from her on this blog. I attended Progressive Central in Charlotte...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona 18 Jan 2013 Hits:721 Blog Articles
Though separation of ribcage and shoulder blade rendered my body tardy to New Year opinion party, my mind was always here and not just for the dessert. Following potluck is neither depressing 2012 review, nor spoon full of sugar to help the 112th Congress go down.
While I love an appetizer of language word games, this is no SE Cupp of tasteless murder most foul syntax, nor a sip of EPA approved Texas oil water.
Before the main course of once upon a time, let’s Rush to dump the leftovers:...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 17 Jan 2013 Hits:701 Blog Articles
Philip Diel ran the U.S. Mint from 1994 until 2000, and wasn't just the author of the 50-state quarters, but was also the co-author of the law that authorizes the Mint to issue commemorative coins—the same law that would authorize the Trillion Dollar Coin being discussed as a way to bypass Republican opposition to raising the debt limit. He dropped us an email, spurred on by this diary, to further discuss the idea.
Markos "kos" Moulitsas | Daily Kos 08 Jan 2013 Hits:810 Blog Articles
“It’s not all I would have liked,” says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, speaking of the deal on the fiscal cliff, “so on to the debt ceiling.”
For Republicans, the battle over the fiscal cliff is only a prelude to the coming battle over raising the debt ceiling – a battle that will likely continue through early March, when the Treasury runs out of tricks to avoid a default on the nation’s debt.
The White House’s and Democrats’ single biggest failure in the...
Robert Reich | Robert Reich's Blog 02 Jan 2013 Hits:784 Blog Articles
Getting my liberal friends to add emotive content to their arguments is like getting my three year old to eat anything we call chicken - it's not that she doesn't like chicken, but if we call it that, she won't eat it. She'll instantly claim that she doesn't like it.
Now, my wife and I know this cannot possibly be true, she loves real chicken: chicken soup, chicken and rice casserole and chicken fingers and more. So it goes with my three year old (and most others' three...
31 Dec 2012 Hits:697 Blog Articles
Tens of millions poured into a stealth redistricting project before the 2012 elections kept dozens of GOP Districts safe from Democratic challengers.
If somewhere in the recesses of your mind you were wondering how, despite President Barack Obama’s re-election victory and the Democratic Party’s gains in the Senate, Republicans continue to control the House of Representatives, think redistricting.
Redistricting is the process that adjusts the lines of a state’s electoral districts, theoretically based on population shifts, following the decennial census. Gerrymandering is often part...
Bill Berkowitz | AlterNet 31 Dec 2012 Hits:1847 Blog Articles
The bills we could have passed if it wasn't for GOP obstructionism -- from a minimum wage increase to the Buffett Rule.
1. A minimum wage increase.
House Democrats proposed legislation in June that would have national minimum wage to $10 an hour, but Republicans blocked it. The minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour, even though it would need to be raised to $9.92 to match the borrowing power it had in 1968. If it was indexed to inflation, it would be $10.40 today.raised the
2. Campaign finance...
ThinkProgress 29 Dec 2012 Hits:2108 Blog Articles
The “fiscal cliff” is a a metaphor for a government that no longer responds to the biggest challenges we face because it’s paralyzed by intransigent Republicans, obsessed by the federal budget deficit, and overwhelmed by big money from corporations, Wall Street, and billionaires.
If we had a functional government America would address three “cliffs” posing far larger dangers to us than the fiscal one:
The child poverty cliff.
Between 2007 and 2011, the percentage of American school-age children living in poor households grew from 17 to...
Robert Reich | AlterNet 07 Dec 2012 Hits:908 Blog Articles
Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) on Thursday called for Republicans to rethink their approach to the so-called "fiscal cliff" negotiations and instead fight for structural reforms, such as instituting a federal balanced budget amendment, requiring a super majority to raise taxes or creating term limits.
While he didn't explicitly suggest that Republicans should drop their opposition to tax increases on the wealthy, he argued that the party's focus should be elsewhere.
"[I]n the negotiations, Republicans certainly should fight to at least get something done that...
Ariel Edwards-Levy | Huffington Post 06 Dec 2012 Hits:822 Blog Articles
These are difficult times for the deficit scolds who have dominated policy discussion for almost three years. One could almost feel sorry for them, if it weren’t for their role in diverting attention from the ongoing problem of inadequate recovery, and thereby helping to perpetuate catastrophically high unemployment.
What has changed? For one thing, the crisis they predicted keeps not happening. Far from fleeing U.S. debt, investors have continued to pile in, driving interest rates to historical lows. Beyond that, suddenly the clear and...
Paul Krugman | Ny Times Op Ed 26 Nov 2012 Hits:836 Blog Articles
Mitt Romney said he wasn't concerned about the very poor, because they have a safety net. This is typical of the widespread ignorance about inequality in our country. Struggling Americans want jobs, not handouts, and for the most part they've paid for their "safety net." The real problem is at the other end of the wealth gap.
How many people know that out of 150 countries, we have the 4th-highest wealth disparity? Only Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Switzerland are worse.
It's not just economic inequality that's plaguing our country....
Paul Buchheit | Common Dreams 17 Nov 2012 Hits:1684 Blog Articles
We need to assert a new culture of organizing capable of meeting the demands it will place on us, and now is the time to begin.
Despite the efforts by the political Right to suppress the Democratic electorate, something very strange happened: voters, angered by the attacks on their rights, turned out in even greater force in favor of Democratic candidates. The deeper phenomenon is that the changing demographics of the USA also became more evident—45% of Obama voters were people of color, and young voters turned...
Bill Flether, Jr. and Carl Davidson 16 Nov 2012 Hits:1213 Blog Articles
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal hurled harsh criticism at his own party after the GOP was blindsided in the 2012 elections, telling Republicans to end "dumbed-down conservatism" by putting a stop to "offensive, bizarre" comments.
“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments -- enough of that,” Jindal told Politico. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had ...
Page Lavender | Huffington Post 15 Nov 2012 Hits:1871 Blog Articles
For much of the last forty years, ever since America “fixed” its race problem in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, we white people have been impatient with African Americans who continued to blame race for their difficulties. Often we have heard whites ask, “When are African Americans finally going to get over it?
Now I want to ask: “When are we White Americans going to get over our ridiculous obsession with skin color?
Recent reports that “Election Spurs Hundreds’ of Race Threats, Crimes” should frighten...
Andrew M. Manis | Macon Telegrah 01 Nov 2012 Hits:1315 Blog Articles
If you don’t know why Constitutional 12th Amendment was added to protect infant Republic from mob rule mentality, you might be a “Put the white back in the White House” Romnesiac
If you believe we’re worse off than when Cheney’s burning Bush scorched our economy, you might be a cinder simmering in Romnesia
But, if you know the difference between Socialism and Communism, you might be a high school graduate
If you blame the President for high gas prices, but “remain silent” when they drop, you might be a Romnesiac
If you Rush to mislead and...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 23 Oct 2012 Hits:1169 Blog Articles
There is much discussion these days of banning abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother. Setting aside the issue of whether this can possibly be true given the right's support for “personhood” amendments, I want the right to explain what the process would be to seek an exception from a ban on abortion.
If efforts to criminalize abortion succeeded, would it be a medical, legal, or theological authority that would make the determination as to whether a...
Bridgette Dunlap | RH Reality Check 20 Oct 2012 Hits:1305 Blog Articles
The second 2012 presidential debate was a rousing throwback to old school American politics. Both candidates were "fired up and ready to go." Both delivered a few zingers and gotcha moments. Both explained their plans for America's future... well, sort of.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney-- obviously hoping for a repeat of the frist debate in which he appeared energized, arrogant, and on top of his game, if you ignore the lies and the moderator bullying-- started the second debate smiling and upbeat. About 30 minutes into it, Romney was scowling in...
Pamela Powers Hannley | Blog for Arizona 18 Oct 2012 Hits:901 Blog Articles
Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone 14 Oct 2012 Hits:2342 Blog Articles
We've seen a general swing in the right direction on initial unemployment claims over the last several weeks, but I don't think anyone expected the new report from the Department of Labor to be this good.
First-time claims for state unemployment benefits fell sharply in the latest week to their lowest level since February 2008, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The number of initial claims in the week ending Oct. 6 fell 30,000 to 339,000. The decline was unexpected. The consensus...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 11 Oct 2012 Hits:1022 Blog Articles
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is taking a beating from fact-checkers, who have had to work overtime to try to verify the claims he made last week when accepting the nomination for vice president at the Republican National Convention.
Perhaps Ryan's biggest whopper was this statement:
“Back in 2008,” Ryan said, “candidate Obama called a $10 trillion national debt 'unpatriotic'—serious talk from what looked to be a serious reformer. Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him,...
Lisa Kaiser | Express Milwaukee 08 Oct 2012 Hits:1714 Blog Articles
If I had a nickel for every time Mitt Romney has said the unemployment rate has been above 8% throughout the Obama presidency, I'd have, well, nearly as much money as Mitt Romney.
Today, however, the talking point died. The unemployment rate fell unexpectedly, dropping from 8.1% to 7.8%.\
As we've discussed before, decreases in the jobless rate are not always good news -- the figure sometimes falls when discouraged Americans drop out of the workforce altogether -- but that's not the case with the new data. The employment-to-population ratio went up, job creation...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 05 Oct 2012 Hits:1145 Blog Articles
The jobless rate abruptly dropped in September to its lowest level since the month President Obama took office, indicating a steadier recovery than previously thought and delivering another jolt to the presidential campaign.
The improvement lent ballast to Mr. Obama’s case that the economy is on the mend and threatened the central argument of Mitt Romney’s candidacy, that Mr. Obama’s failed stewardship is reason enough to replace him.
Employers added a modest 114,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported on Friday, but estimates for what...
Shaila Dewan and Mark Landler | New York Times 05 Oct 2012 Hits:1277 Blog Articles
Romney won the debate, but lost the election. Here's why. Although many if not most pundits will immediately proclaim this debate a Romney victory and a turning point, and although they're definitely correct about some of all of that, they will miss the debate's real, lasting impact on the 2012 election.
First, why and how Romney won. He won by using the Reagan Gambit. In 1980, Ronald Reagan befuddled, frustrated, and defeated Jimmy Carter by running far to the left of decades-long held positions. Carter was prepared to pound away at...
Mike Hersh | PDA 04 Oct 2012 Hits:2783 Blog Articles
The new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll notes that Mitt Romney's favorability rating is still underwater: "[I]t's lower than every other presidential nominee's score at this similar point of time in the history of the poll -- except for George H.W. Bush's 34-52 rating in October 1992." The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows very similar results.
It's safe to say the "47 percent" video took a severe toll on the Republican's public standing.
But looking over the internals (pdf) of the NBC poll, it's not just Romney with...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 03 Oct 2012 Hits:1270 Blog Articles
When August's disappointing job totals were released a few weeks ago, it was considered important news. With that in mind, this seems like at least as big a story.
The government's estimates of job creation are not particularly accurate, a point that is often made and often ignored. On Thursday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics provided another reminder. The agency said it probably undercounted the extent of job creation between April 2011 and March 2012 by 20 percent.
The agency, which issues a much-discussed monthly estimate, also...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 28 Sep 2012 Hits:1283 Blog Articles
Neither candidate is interested in stopping the use of the death penalty for federal or state crimes.
Neither candidate is interested in eliminating or reducing the 5,113 US nuclear warheads.
Neither candidate is campaigning to close Guantanamo prison.
Neither candidate has called for arresting and prosecuting high ranking people on Wall Street for the subprime mortgage catastrophe.
Neither candidate is interested in holding anyone in the Bush administration accountable for the torture committed by US personnel against prisoners in Guantanamo or in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Neither candidate is interested in stopping the...
Bill Quigley | Common Dreams 24 Sep 2012 Hits:994 Blog Articles
A new international report demolishes several deeply held myths about our educational system. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, which compares the educational systems of over 30 developed nations, provides data that, when it comes to education, proves we’re so far from being number one, that the entire idea of American exceptionalism should be called into question. Rather than thumping our chests, we should be going to school on how other developed nations, especially those in Europe, invest in education....
Les Leopold | AlterNet 22 Sep 2012 Hits:1758 Blog Articles
While presidential contender Mitt Romney attempted to sway Latino voters at a Univision Forum in Florida last night, the fallout over his taped quips at a Republican fundraiser also include a joke about his Mexican-born father, George Romney. If he had been "born of Mexican parents," Romney said, as opposed to his Mormon transplanted ones, "I'd have a better shot at winning this."
One year ago, in a piece for Salon.com, I took a closer look at Romney's family history in Mexico, and more particularly, their illegal flight from...
Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 22 Sep 2012 Hits:1198 Blog Articles
Without regard to whether you are a Democrat, an Independent, or a Republican, no matter which of Mitt’s 47% groups you find yourself, there is lodged in the DNA of every man one concern and love. That love and concern exceeds a love for the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, our job or our work. This love and concern most often underlies our willingness to enlist for our country in time of war. We often sacrifice for this willingly and without question. Of all the above, this – exceeding even food as...
Rev. George Six 21 Sep 2012 Hits:1154 Blog Articles
House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced Friday that after next week, the House will stand in recess until November 13. His plan for a nearly two month vacation will undoubtedly allow more time for campaigning, but will leave several vital bills awaiting action.
Among the important legislation the House will likely not address before the November elections:
1. Violence Against Women Act re-authorization. Though a bipartisan Senate majority passed the a strong re-authorization bill in April, the Republican House leadership refused to allow a vote on the Senate...
Josh Israel | ThinkProgress 16 Sep 2012 Hits:1376 Blog Articles
CNN released an interesting poll yesterday that, on the surface, appeared to offer bad news for incumbent officeholders, especially President Obama. A plurality of Americans believes they're worse off than they were four years ago, and only a third believes the economy is in good shape.
ut the larger question is more important: who do Americans hold responsible for our ongoing challenges? I put together a simple chart to show why Republicans are discouraged by the results.
(click to enlarge)
Among registered voters, the results just aren't...
14 Sep 2012 Hits:1372 Blog Articles
On Tuesday, Universal Music Group submitted a cease and desist letter to Heidi Svenda Bernasconi - better known as Romney Girl - threatening legal action if the Romney Girl video is not removed from the internet by tomorrow.
In the letter, Universal Music Group attorney Cory Greenwell warns that:
"In the event that you fail to comply with any of our demands... we shall take whatever legal action we deem necessary and appropriate to protect our rights and interests in and to 'Barbie Girl,' including, but not limited to, commencing legal action...
Agenda Project.org 13 Sep 2012 Hits:2063 Blog Articles
A study of millions of Facebook users on Election Day 2010 has found that online social networks can have a measurable if limited effect on voter turnout.
The study, published online on Wednesday by the journal Nature, suggests that a special “get out the vote” message, showing each user pictures of friends who said they had already voted, generated 340,000 additional votes nationwide — whether for Democrats or Republicans, the researchers could not determine.
The scientists, from Facebook and the University of California, San Diego, ...
John Markoff | The New York Times 13 Sep 2012 Hits:1659 Blog Articles
Progressive Democrats of America's Tim Carpenter on Al Jazeera Inside Story
The US unemployment rate registered a drop on Friday, but mainly because so many have simply given up looking for work.
Barack Obama was aware of the new figures as he took to the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday night to promise that he could still fulfill his pledge of hope he made in 2008.
The US president spared no insult against his Republican opponents, taking on their plans...
Al Jazeera.com 08 Sep 2012 Hits:1828 Blog Articles
Proudly liberal activist Tim Carpenter, who toiled in Orange County for more than 20 years before resettling in Massachusetts and co-founding Progressive Democrats of America, has made a career of standing staunchly to the left of mainstream Democrats, relentlessly beckoning and cajoling others to come a little closer.
His 8-year-old PDA group was at it again Tuesday, with a “People’s Convention” at a Charlotte church and soup kitchen that featured the Rev. Jesse Jackson, former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, a couple Congress members, several Congressional hopefuls...
Martin Wisckol | OC Register 05 Sep 2012 Hits:1062 Blog Articles
In the year 1960 Jack Kennedy ran against Dick Nixon for President. Nixon had much going against him, including much less comfort with TV, which was becoming the medium of persuasion. But many believe his biggest headwind was the willingness of Chicago Democrats led by Richard Daley the father to diddle the election in Chicago and thus deliver Illinois. Whether he really did, the GOP believed he did and the election had been stolen. They vowed “Never again.”
In 1964 the GOP nominated Barry Goldwater, a man much too far to...
Philip L Marcus 04 Sep 2012 Hits:1251 Blog Articles
If starting wars without exit or pay is better than two year end to Iraq today, and for troops in Afghanistan you have nothing to say, Vote to take back America to the Republican way
With Convention preaching America in decline, while applauding how system helped parents and grandparents climb, being full of Red dread, Vote off center with Clint in prime time
Defining “Exceptionalism” with Founding Father religious liberty hypocrisy, hailing birther jokes with praise of meritocracy, Vote Lady Statue torches hopes of immigrants by...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 02 Sep 2012 Hits:1671 Blog Articles
Republicans, at their just-ended convention, featured not one but two "debt clocks." Led by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, they made countless references to President Obama's supposedly horrific tax policies, his failure to balance the budget and so on. Unfortunately for them, the U.S. Constitution is very explicit about who is responsible for budget, borrowing, spending, and tax policies: "Article One, Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide...
Mike Hersh | PDA Communications Coordinator 02 Sep 2012 Hits:1200 Blog Articles
Police really hate puppets. (And we don't mean the politicians!)
Every four years the United States becomes gripped in morbid fascination with our electoral machinations, and grassroots organizers often find their ongoing work derailed by the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions that precede our presidential elections. This 2012 cycle is no different. As activists prepare to protest, the police departments and ruling elites in the host cities are acquiring the newest non- and less- lethal weaponry, while passing laws and regulations that vie for...
Nadine Bloch | Waging Nonviolence 30 Aug 2012 Hits:1136 Blog Articles
This is the skinny: lacking a majority of supporters for its extremist social and plutocratic economic policies, the Republicans can only win with three combined strategies: lie and make it appear that they support prosperity for all Americans; make appeals to racism and dividing the white working class (union vs. non-union); and suppressing the vote.
The New York Times posted an August 22nd article, entitled "Racial Comment by Republican Official in Ohio Rekindles Battle Over Early Voting." Being status quo doormats as usual, the Times wouldn't put "Racist" in its headline....
Mark Karlin | BuzzFlash Blog 24 Aug 2012 Hits:1121 Blog Articles
Water. According to a new report by Food & Water Watch, a growing number of pirate equity firms are moving into struggling cities and buying out their public infrastructure – namely – the city’s water infrastructure. Anyone who is familiar with Mitt Romney – is familiar with pirate equity firms like Bain Capital – which take over a company – strip it to the bones – and sell it off for a profit.
When this strategy is used on public utilities – then consumers get...
Louise Hartmann | Thom Hartmann Blog 23 Aug 2012 Hits:1289 Blog Articles
If Americans who are embracing Rep. Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" -- and that now includes Mitt Romney -- spent a few minutes reviewing a few recent research reports, they just might conclude that the Wisconsin Republican's plan to reduce the deficit might better be renamed the "Path to the Poorhouse" because of what it would mean to the Medicare program and many senior citizens.
Ryan's proposal, which will get new scrutiny now that Romney has made him his running mate, would end the current...
Wendell Potter | PR Watch 19 Aug 2012 Hits:1363 Blog Articles
I was born in Detroit in 1961 and grew up in a working-class neighborhood just south of the famed 8 Mile Road. My block was stable; most of the fathers of my friends worked in the auto plants. In 1968 my parents divorced and my mother, armed with a high school degree, was thrust into the workforce. We were taken out of our Catholic school and moved into public schools. Dinner was often breakfast foods, which was fine with us. Mom is still a...
James C. Roumell | Washington Post 18 Aug 2012 Hits:1476 Blog Articles
There are, of course, many reasons to attend the Iowa State Fair.
As they say on the billboards: “Nothing Compares.”
The Canned Food Sculpture is striking.
Reserved seats are sold out for Saturday’s Journey, Pat Benatar and Loverboy show on the grandstand, but there is still standing-room-only space to be had for $40 a pop.
The deep-fried butter on a stick is, by most accounts, scrumptious.
And, if you are campaigning for, say, vice president of the United States, you could talk farm policy at the same place where Dwight Eisenhower,...
John Nichols | The Nation 17 Aug 2012 Hits:1334 Blog Articles
On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth District threw the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution out the window, ruling that police can track cell phone GPS data – and thus track you – without a warrant. The case of United States v. Skinner centered on a suspected drug trafficker who was tracked through his cell phone and arrested by the DEA. The Judge in the case, John Rogers said in his ruling, “Skinner did not have a reasonable expectation of...
Louise Hartmann | Thom Hartmann Blog 15 Aug 2012 Hits:1404 Blog Articles
Deep down we know if we keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome, we’re marketing victims.
First step out of the fog of programmed thinking is asking our political, corporate and government leaders, different and better questions.
As every magician’s trick needs to distract our attention, corporate hands in our pockets are trumping our thinking with marketing deceptions, as in ‘now you see a thriving economy, now you don’t.’
How did an America that produces fifteen trillion dollars worth of product internationally (in...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 13 Aug 2012 Hits:1068 Blog Articles
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing new scrutiny over revelations he founded the private equity firm Bain Capital with investments from Central American elites linked to death squads in El Salvador. After initially struggling to find investors, Romney traveled to Miami in 1983 to win pledges of $9 million, 40 percent of Bain’s start-up money. Some investors had extensive ties to the death squads responsible for the vast majority of the tens of thousands of deaths in El Salvador during the 1980s. We’re joined by Huffington Post reporter Ryan...
Amy Goodman | Democracy Now 12 Aug 2012 Hits:1211 Blog Articles
The 2012 election will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.
Let’s cut to the chase. The November 2012 elections will be unlike anything that any of us can remember. It is not just that this will be a close election. It is also not just that the direction of Congress hangs in the balance. Rather, this will be one of the most polarized and critical elections in recent history.
Unfortunately what too few leftists and progressives have been prepared to...
Bill Fletcher, Jr., Carl Davidson | AlterNet 12 Aug 2012 Hits:1275 Blog Articles
Mitt Romney has picked as his running mate 42 year-old Republican Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), the architect of the GOP budget, which the New York Times has described as “the most extreme budget plan passed by a house of Congress in modern times.” Below are 12 things you should know about Ryan and his policies:
1.Ryan embraces the extreme philosophy of Ayn Rand. Ryan heaped praise on Ayn Rand, a 20th-century libertarian novelist best known for her philosophy that centered on the idea that selfishness is “virtue.” Rand described altruism as “evil,”...
Igor Volsky | Think Progress 11 Aug 2012 Hits:1904 Blog Articles
The renowned physicist Max Planck once said, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
And this isn't just true of science: the same principle holds true in the political arena. Most progressive advances don't come about because vast numbers of people are persuaded to drop their prejudices, but because younger generations to whom new ideas...
Adam Lee | AlterNet 07 Aug 2012 Hits:1404 Blog Articles
This is probably the least important Presidential election since the 1950s. As an experienced political hand told me, the two candidates are speaking not to the voters, but to the big money. They hold the same views, pursue the same policies, and are backed by similar interests. Mitt Romney implemented Obamacare in Massachusetts, or Obama implemented Romneycare nationally. Both are pro-choice or anti-choice as political needs change, both tend to be hawkish on foreign policy, both favor tax cuts for businesses, and both believe...
Matt Stoller | Naked Capitalism 04 Aug 2012 Hits:2064 Blog Articles
A former lobbyist convicted in the Jack Abramoff congressional lobbying scandal has found a new line of work while still on probation: becoming a spokesman and self-appointed expert on allegedly rampant illegal voting by Democrats, according to an excellent report by Ryan Reilly in Talking Points Memo.
The ex-lobbyist, Horace Cooper, has authored a 'paper' for the right-wing National Center for Public Policy Research that recites a litany of instances where Democrats allegedly impersonated voters or thousands of non-citizens were on voter rolls. Needless to say, Fox...
Steven Rosenfeld | AlterNet 04 Aug 2012 Hits:2315 Blog Articles
Pre-empting Mitt Romney's campaign visit to Israel, President Barack Obama last Friday signed the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Co-operation Act of 2012.
The bill was drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and co-sponsored by Israeli firsters Barbara Boxer and Howard Berman, of the US Senate and House respectively.
The omnipresence of Israeli lobbyists at the signing of the "rare bipartisan" bill provided a perfect background display of the foreign lobby's power in the US.
President Obama used five pens to sign the Act as he was flanked by the...
Jamal Kanj | Children of Catastrophe 02 Aug 2012 Hits:1176 Blog Articles
Gore Vidal in 1974.
I remember Gore Vidal like a Bond villain. He was sitting on the edge of his bed in that same big house in the Hollywood Hills where he died Tuesday night. Holding on to a glass of whiskey with one hand, he used the other to stroke a giant white cat with an angry mouth and a cloudy gray eye. He called it “pussy.” Of course he did.
I was there to record the great man with the booming voice while he...
Peter Z. Scheer | Truthdig 02 Aug 2012 Hits:1222 Blog Articles
I recently retuned from population training by the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club promotes the stabilization of world population through:
Increased access to voluntary family planning and sex
Advocating for women’s and girls’ basic rights
Educating youth to support family planning
Grass roots organizing to increase public awareness
While PDA and the Sierra Club are different organizations both groups identify the importance of women’s reproductive rights and how birth control has elevated women’s lives. Birth control was not always legal in the United States. When it was it was often only provided...
Drew Martin | Palm Beach Progressive Post 31 Jul 2012 Hits:1084 Blog Articles
A six-minute tribute to the victims of the London subway terror attacks of July 7, 2005, was cut from the American broadcast of the London Olympics opening ceremony.
The NBC network showed a Ryan Seacrest interview with Michael Phelps instead
Choreographer Akram Khan told the BBC that he felt “disheartened and disappointed” by the NBC decision against airing his performance for U.S. television viewers. He added that “I am really sad that I couldn’t show the work in America, and that really upsets me, because I don’t...
The Inquisitr 30 Jul 2012 Hits:1329 Blog Articles
Here's something for Congress to maybe think about the next time it decides to have a big, stupid argument about the debt ceiling: These big, stupid arguments, while entertaining, cost a lot of money.
How much money? The 2011 argument about the debt ceiling--the most recent battle--cost the U.S. government about $1.3 billion in extra borrowing costs, according to a new study by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan congressional watchdog.
And that's just the costs that the GAO bothered to count. There are also probably extra...
Mark Gangoff | Huffington Post 23 Jul 2012 Hits:1264 Blog Articles
Come NovemberSoon it will be presidential voting time again in the U.S.. That four year cycle comes to us with the regularity of a returning comet, accompanied by a shroud of campaign fog that makes a guessing game of discerning fact from fiction when it comes to political promises.
A hefty minority have opted out of this process. Thus, if history runs consistent, when the designated day in November arrives, between 38 and 40% of America's eligible voters will automatically (without even thinking about it)...
Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analyses | Op-Ed 15 Jul 2012 Hits:1196 Blog Articles
I'm writing from Oceanside California, where budget constraints forced the city to cancel July 4 fireworks for the third year in a row. This is just one example of many US cities cutting back on essential and non-essential programmes during hard economic downturns. The economy is the lead issue in the upcoming election between presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney and unopposed Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama.
Despite the long and rigorous primary process, the voters' choice is limited to two candidates who have surrendered their worth to large campaign contributors. On...
Jamal Kanj | Gulf Daily News 13 Jul 2012 Hits:1211 Blog Articles
Clinton's law designates political conventions National Special Security Events, a category of state security that virtually dooms the exercise of First Amendment Rights.
The Republican and Democratic Party conventions later this summer will probably witness the mass arrest of many American citizens assembling to exercise their First Amendment rights. Mass arrests accompanied the Republican conventions held in New York in 2004, when 900 people were busted, and in St. Paul in 2008 when 300 were detained, including 30 journalists.
A political convention is designated...
David Rosen | AlterNet 05 Jul 2012 Hits:1386 Blog Articles
Minions maneuvered by marketing minutes of minute manipulated memories of the biggest, best and most powerful nation in the world, blindsided by those benefiting most from dumping loads of the unnecessary on the sold, to blot out “average” in education. It’s easier to control someone who buys the over advertized, diminishing adrenalin, momentum and drive to, where’s the remote and pass the fries.
Masters control best by prohibiting reading, writing, learning, knowing an educated people, inevitably transform from subservient property to dangerous minds. Corralling the masses to keep them “fat, lazy...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 05 Jul 2012 Hits:1115 Blog Articles
The Department of Justice is telling Congress that it won't prosecute Attorney General Eric Holder for contempt of Congress over his decision to withhold information about the "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the department says that it will not bring the congressional contempt citation against Holder to a federal grand jury and that it will take no other action to prosecute the attorney general.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole says the decision is in line with long-standing Justice Department practice...
Steve Frank | The Ed Show MSNBC 29 Jun 2012 Hits:1704 Blog Articles
America didn't used to be run like an old Southern slave plantation, but we're headed that way now. How did that happen?
It's been said that the rich are different than you and me. What most Americans don't know is that they're also quite different from each other, and that which faction is currently running the show ultimately makes a vast difference in the kind of country we are.
Right now, a lot of our problems stem directly from the fact that the wrong sort has...
Sara Robinson | AlterNet 29 Jun 2012 Hits:3181 Blog Articles
Has the Supreme Court made it possible for hundreds of thousands of police officers throughout the country to racially profile millions of people?
When she heard the Supreme Court decision upholding the “reasonable suspicion” (a k a “papers, please”) provisions of Arizona’s SB-1070, immigrant rights activist Isabel Garcia saw the Arizonification of the nation. “We’ve been fighting local ‘reasonable suspicion’ laws here in Arizona for decades,” said Garcia, a Pima County public defender and co-chair of Coalición de Derechos Humanos, an organization dedicated...
Roberto Lovato | The Nation 28 Jun 2012 Hits:1220 Blog Articles
Veteran Democratic pollster Peter Hart recently conducted a focus group in Colorado, and if President Obama's supporters want to feel depressed, they should certainly read what the undecided voters had to say.
One woman, a 49-year-old a customer service representative for an airline, said she'd consider voting for the president, but only if he "could do something huge, like really lower the price of gas."
Of course, the notion that Obama, by sheer force of will, can lower the price of gas is deeply foolish. The public's expectations...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 26 Jun 2012 Hits:1232 Blog Articles
Fran Hawthorne, author of "Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love," dishes on some big-name companies.
Many progressives know that some of their favorite companies have dirty secrets. Many are also aware that in the last 30 years, a number of socially responsible independent companies have accepted buy-outs from larger corporations for various reasons. French Group Danone acquired organic yogurt purveyor Stonyfield Farms in several stages over the last decade. Unilever bought Vermont-based ice-cream company Ben & Jerry’s in 2000. Colgate-Palmolive...
Brittany Shoot | AlterNet 19 Jun 2012 Hits:1667 Blog Articles
Be it ideology or stratagem, the GOP has blocked pro-growth policy and backed job-killing austerity – all while blaming Obama
So why does the US economy stink?
Why has job creation in America slowed to a crawl? Why, after several months of economic hope, are things suddenly turning sour? The culprits might seem obvious – uncertainty in Europe, an uneven economic recovery, fiscal and monetary policymakers immobilized and incapable of acting. But increasingly, Democrats are making the argument that the real culprit for the country's economic...
Michael Cohen | The Guardian 11 Jun 2012 Hits:3383 Blog Articles
When we hear progressive individuals speak about ‘special interests’ we are all pretty sure what they mean. Whether it is a financial conglomerate or a super PAC run by resource companies, we are clear on whom they are talking about. The term is a little less clear cut when we hear conservatives use it. Recently, Scott Walker declared that “finally someone has stood up against the powerful ‘Special interests’ and put the tax payers back in charge.” In this instance, it is obvious what Walker means. He means Unions. The...
David Joseph Deutch 09 Jun 2012 Hits:1605 Blog Articles
Last week, a divisive bill introduced by anti-choice Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Franks calls his bill the "Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act" (PreNDA), but contrary to its title, it does nothing to end sex discrimination or gender inequity.
All forms of reproductive coercion are wrong -- including societal pressures to have a child of a particular sex.
But the Franks bill exploits the very real problems of sex discrimination and gender inequity while failing to offer any genuine solutions that would eliminate disparities in...
Nancy Keenan | Huffington Post 06 Jun 2012 Hits:1118 Blog Articles
Occupy Wall Street protestors march down Fifth Avenue towards Union Square (Monika Graff/Getty Images/AFP)
One half of the ice cream duo Ben & Jerry’s has a message for Wall Street: Jamaican Me Crazy. The man behind flavors such as Cherry Garcia, Chubby Hubby and, yes, Jamaican Me Crazy, is rolling out a plan to stamp out corporate money in US politics.
Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen might rake in a hefty paycheck for being on top of the American ice cream game, but he hasn’t lost touch with the 99 percent....
RT Question More 05 Jun 2012 Hits:1422 Blog Articles
I gave a talk last week at Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University to the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Many in the audience had pinned small red squares of felt to their clothing. The carre rouge, or red square, has become the Canadian symbol of revolt. It comes from the French phrase carrement dans le rouge, or "squarely in the red," referring to those crushed by debt.
The streets of Montreal are clogged nightly with as many as 100,000 protesters banging pots and pans and...
Chris Hedges | Truthdig 04 Jun 2012 Hits:1655 Blog Articles
Three times in my life I’ve visited altars reputed to be “more powerful than a locomotive:” Lourdes, a NJ cloistered priests community and a tiny chapel in Lake Worth, Florida where a touring Madonna waited.
Each time, I was struck dumb, save for the words “thank you for forgiving me” and “I love you.” I always say, never miss an opportunity to say, I love you, but getting tongue tied on thank you and forgiveness, was perforce, a command performance.
Our 2012 election year...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 03 Jun 2012 Hits:1078 Blog Articles
I got an e-mail the other day from Richard Engle telling me that his son Charlie would be getting out of prison this month. I was happy to hear it.
Charlie’s ordeal isn’t over yet, of course. When he leaves prison on June 20, Charlie, 49, will move temporarily to a halfway house, after which he will be on probation for another five years. And unless he can get the verdict overturned, he will have to spend the rest of his life with a felony...
Joe Nocera | New York Times OpEd 03 Jun 2012 Hits:1431 Blog Articles
In an extraordinary article in Tuesday’s New York Times, “Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will,” authors Jo Becker and Scott Shane throw macabre light on the consigliere-cum-priestly role that counterterrorist adviser John Brennan provides President Barack Obama.
At the outset, Becker and Shane note that, although Obama vowed to “align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values,” he has now ordered the obedient Brennan to prepare a top secret “nominations” list of people whom the President may decide to...
Ray McGovern | Consortium News 30 May 2012 Hits:1227 Blog Articles
Mitt Romney appeared in Craig, Colorado, to deliver the same message he repeats at every campaign stop: the people in the area are "hurting right now under this president." The traditional Democratic response is that blaming President Obama for the economic crisis he inherited is ridiculous.
But yesterday in Northern Colorado was a little different: the small town of Craig isn't really hurting at all. The community's economy is faring pretty well, it weathered the recession better than most, and locals are pretty optimistic about the...
Steve Benen | The Maddow Blog 30 May 2012 Hits:1191 Blog Articles
National Nurses United (NNU), the union spearheading the drive for a Robin Hood Tax, also calls for a “participatory democracy,” evidence of the current vitality of a concept born at the Port Huron convention of SDS fifty years ago this June. Saying, "Democracy is not a spectator support,” a chart by the NNU envisions participatory democracy flowing into economic democracy, then political democracy, and finally into representative democracy.
Paradigm Publishers is publishing Participatory Democracy this September, a volume including writings by Tom Hayden, Linda Gordon, Robby Cohen, and 12 original participants...
Tom Hayden | Tom Hayden.com 29 May 2012 Hits:1079 Blog Articles
All my uncles were Veterans. My Dad, of both WWII and Korea. All said, wars change those who fight them.
I say, corporations have now changed War, so only the funeral homes and they win them.
Still as a Veteran who sang his way through wartime with The Soldiers Chorus of the Army Field Band, I bow before and salute all Veterans who have sacrificed their blood, body parts, time with loved ones and life here on earth, for they are the best among us.
I ask only that as...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 28 May 2012 Hits:1091 Blog Articles
Local post offices all across the country, which function as community commons, including this one in Gerry, New York, are threatened with destruction because of Congress's shenanigans with the USPS budget. (Photo by Ross Griff under a Creative Commons license from flickr.com)
As every 6 year old learns, there is real and there is make believe. The massive Post Office deficit that is driving its management to commit institutional suicide by ending 6-day mail delivery, closing half of the nations’ 30,000 or so...
David Morris | Common Dreams 27 May 2012 Hits:3783 Blog Articles
“You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out. You will not be able to skip out for beer during commercials, Because the revolution will not be televised. . . . The revolution will be live.”
--From the 1970 hit song by Gil Scott-Heron
Last week, the city of Philadelphia's school system announced that it expects to close 40 public schools next year, and 64 schools by 2017. The school district expects to lose 40% of its current enrollment, and thousands of experienced, qualified teachers.
Ellen Brown | Common Dreams 27 May 2012 Hits:1265 Blog Articles
Former Rep. Claudine Schneider (R) was the first — and only — woman to represent Rhode Island in Congress. Over five terms in the House (from 1981 to 1991), she helped pass key environmental, health, and gender-equity laws, including the Economic Equity and the Pension Equity Acts. Like former Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) and former Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), Schneider told ThinkProgress there is no longer a place for centrists like herself in the modern Republican Party:
THINKPROGRESS: Why do you think today’s Republican Congresswomen are so much...
Josh Israel | Sourced from ThinkProgress 27 May 2012 Hits:1380 Blog Articles
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.