A cursory investigation of the for-profit higher education industry reveals striking parallels between the economics of the for-profit colleges and universities and the Wall Street financial meltdown of 2008. The matter cries out for immediate attention for the breadth and speed of the extraction of public funds and their transfer into private hands is proceeding faster than could have been imagined five years ago.
That is why it was heartening to see one of America's largest unions, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), sponsor an event entitled, "Good for Wall Street - Bad for Students," a panel discussion and national webcast on the dangers of for-profit colleges - especially the 105 schools owned and operated by Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corporation (EDMC).
The event was organized by SEIU and I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend by organizer, Kevin O'Donnell from SEIU Communications. The webinar took place February 2, 2012 on-line between 12 noon and 2 PM (EST), and the group of panelists assembled for the webinar included a vast array of knowledgeable participants. The panelists were seated at the Fairmount Hotel, in downtown Pittsburgh.
According to O'Donnell:
"This was the first webinar on for-profit colleges sponsored by a worker's union. But in a broader sense, the webinar was part of the labor movement's traditional function of advocating for justice for all working families, not just members. SEIU is increasingly recuperating this tradition which is best exemplified historically by unions pushing for the eight hour workday, social security and the minimum wage. It often gets overlooked but unions have historically had an impact far beyond their membership. Consumer education for both members and the public is the top priority. But we have also been talking with Senator Harkin and some policy groups about how we can work together to prevent abuses in this sector." [Private email.]
"This was the first webinar on for-profit colleges sponsored by a worker's union. But in a broader sense, the webinar was part of the labor movement's traditional function of advocating for justice for all working families, not just members. SEIU is increasingly recuperating this tradition which is best exemplified historically by unions pushing for the eight hour workday, social security and the minimum wage. It often gets overlooked but unions have historically had an impact far beyond their membership. Consumer education for both members and the public is the top priority. But we have also been talking with Senator Harkin and some policy groups about how we can work together to prevent abuses in this sector." [Private email.]
Present at the webinar were Kevin Kinser, associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy Studies, SUNY-Albany; Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions (Nassirian was interviewed extensively in the "Frontline" documentary produced by PBS); officer José Cruz, vice president for Higher Education Policy and Practice and The Education Trust; Osamudia R. James, associate professor of law, University of Miami School of Law; Kathleen Bittel, former EDMC recruiter and career services employee; Jeremy Dehn, former EDMC instructor; Suzanne Lawrence, former EDMC recruiter; and Mike DiGiacomo, a former student at EDMC's New England Institute of Art. Although the forum was a webinar online, not unlike a seminar on the ground, the participants could have been testifying for a grand jury, law enforcement or before a Congressional inquiry; this was how informative, distressing and outright shocking the testimony of the participants actually was.
Defining Terms and Setting the Groundwork
The webinar began with moderator Kinser opening up the session with a clear definition of what exactly the difference was among public higher education institutions, non-profit higher education institutions and for-profit higher education institutions. This definition of terms was exceedingly important and provided an excellent opportunity to begin the discussion of the various themes that comprise any critical understanding of the for-profit higher education sector.
For-profit colleges and universities are part and parcel of the booming and increasingly accelerating private ownership of the educational means of production in the United States and abroad. As panelist Nassirian was quick to point out, the for-profit colleges and universities have managed to wrangle 12 percent of all college students in the United States. Cruz pointed out that this number includes one out of every four students of color in all colleges and universities, arguably making institutional racism a part of the for-profit industry's well-targeted business plan. Shockingly, Nassirian noted that these colleges and universities also receive 25 percent of all federal aid for colleges and universities, and they are responsible for a the lions share of student loan defaults - a whopping 50 percent of all college and university defaults.
Some History of the For-Profits
The panelists commenced with a bit of history for the audience, which was necessary in order to provide a critical understanding of the complex issue of for-profit colleges and their meteoric rise. Nassirian gave an overview of the GI Bill coming on the heels of World War II and how this was really the first time the federal government provided American citizens an opportunity to attend and participate in a higher education. Known and passed into law as The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, the new law provided college (or high school or vocational education) for returning World War II veterans as well as one year of unemployment compensation). The bill was passed to avoid the problems that had occurred with the "Bonus March" that had occurred in 1932 and to also provide a stimulus for the depression economy.
The GI Bill was stupendously successful providing 7.8 million World War II veterans benefits under the GI Bill and 2.2 million of them participated in higher education and/or training programs. During the 1950s, the number of college students doubled. Getting a college education was no longer the providence of the elite and the rich.
As the experiment wound its way through the 1950s with a great deal of fanfare and success, access was expanded through the Civil Rights Act of 1965, most notably The Higher Education Act of 1965 (the HEA). The HEA was specific legislation attached to the Civil Rights Act that was codified into United States law on November 8, 1965, as part of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society domestic agenda. (For more on this law and Johnson, see here, here and here.)
Although not the subject of the webinar, it is important for a thorough understanding of the current material economic and political conditions underlying the growth of for-profit colleges and universities to point out that the GI Bill was superseded by the Veterans Adjustment Act of 1952. This new bill offered benefits to veterans of the Korean War that served for more than 90 days and had received an "other than dishonorable discharge"; but it did something more: unlike the predecessor GI Bill, the substantial difference between the 1944 GI Bill and the 1952 Act was that it altered the distribution of federal funds for tuition use at higher education institutions.
To read other stories by Danny Weil or other authors in the Public Intellectual Project, click here.
Under the original GI Bill federal monies had been sent directly to the institutions of higher education. Now, with the new Veterans Adjustment Act of 1952, federal monies would no longer be paid directly to the various institutions of higher education, but instead, veterans would directly receive a fixed monthly stipend. They would then use this to pay for their individual tuition, fees, books and living expenses. The decision to end direct tuition payments or to stop the direct distribution of federal funds to the myriad institutions of higher education came after a 1950 House select committee hearing that uncovered incidents of fraud by many educational institutions through overcharging of tuition rates. Some 258 unnamed educational institutions were mentioned in Appendix D of a 1950 Veterans Administration report to the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare in what would be the first such incident of for-profit higher institutional fraud to plague the government, which would then set the stage for the present subsidized profit-extraction schemes by Wall Street. More investigations of the for-profit educational enterprise would occur in 1973, in the 1990s and now, once again, under the Obama administration and senate subcommittees.
Nassirian went on to note that in the late 1980s, after close to a decade of Reaganomics or neoliberalism, massive deregulation of governmental policies were put into motion that were to affect favorable consolidation and growth in the for-profit educational industry. This led to the development of what we now see as large "higher educational or vocational chains" owned outright through corporate ownership. Wall Street was now becoming a huge player in the burgeoning industry. For-profit diploma mills issuing four-year degrees rose steadily as a result.
It was not until the "selection" of George W. Bush that for-profit, corporate, educational stocks really took off to the pleasure of Wall Street. Under the tutelage of Ron Paige, education secretary under Bush, regulations governing the for-profit educational industry were further eliminated in the interest of profit-taking purposes on behalf of corporate shareholders, CEO's and Wall Street. Predatory recruitment practices by the for-profits that had been singled out for tight regulation earlier were now allowed to proceed with reckless abandonment. During this time, three million new students enrolled in higher education institutions and 10 percent of all of them were enrolled by the for-profit colleges and universities. The market was beginning to take shape and the profits had never flowed so quickly and so easily. Wall Street, sensing that it was profitable to financialize through privatization the educational sector in America, looked to the for-profit colleges and universities as a location to invest surplus capital to avoid stagnation and achieve capital maximization. What is now a $30-billion-dollar business began to take form and fully blossomed with results that would prove to be devastating for students and taxpayers.
Recruitment at the For-Profit Colleges
As the webinar moved from a brief history to the actual inner workings of the private ownership of the means of higher education production, various themes began to emerge. The first was the issue of recruitment.
Kathleen Bittel, former EDMC recruiter and career services employee, spoke first. As a former recruiter for the largest of the for-profits, her testimony at the webinar was compelling. Bittel spoke of the various "sales pitches" that she was taught to employ. Getting "asses in the classes," Bittel stated, was the primary goal of the for-profit college or university recruiter. Techniques and tactics deployed resembled the high-pressure sales tactics utilized by the matchstick men who sold subprime mortgages to unwitting Americans, especially to people of color, the same targeted audience for the subprime colleges and universities.
One favorite tactic used by EDMC recruiters, and actually taught and sanctioned by the corporation, was what Bittel called "overcoming death." The way this ruthless and cunning recruitment tactic was used was the following: Bittel said that when a student would mention to a recruiter that he or she had just had a death in the family, say a grandmother, the recruiter was to respond, "Wouldn't grandma want you to go to school? Wouldn't she be looking down right now and saying, 'get an education'?"
Nassirian was quick to point out that when a person goes to a used car lot they expect to have a "commercial encounter." In essence, you expect that the used car salesperson will be ruthless, cunning and otherwise attempt to get you to part with your money. But, he went on to mention, when a student approaches an educational sales pitch they have a reasonable expectation that there will be a modicum of trust - that the relationship between the colleges and universities would be a "use value relationship" - after all this is not about the purchase of a used car, but about access to education. Yet, as Nassirian noted, for-profit colleges and universities have turned educational encounters into little more than "exchange value relationships" where recruiting students into the program is the only salient issue. For "asses in the classes," much like with the subprime mortgage and Bush's "ownership society," translate into heady profits for Wall Street and the small circle of major stockholders and CEO's who profit from the exchange relationship.
James called participant's attention to the TV advertisements that these for-profit colleges and universities use in an attempt to recruit people of color. She noted that the ads employed by the for-profit corporations were purposefully racialized; they mimicked working class and minority dress and speech. And they relied on material conditions of the new Jim Crow to herd students into the institutions. By doing so, she argued, the companies use race and class to target the subprime population they so notoriously say they serve, providing a compelling and direct corollary to the subprime mortgage fiasco that stripped minority citizens of their assets, life savings and homes and is still hurdling them into foreclosure.
Academic Instruction at the For-Profits
Once the issue of military-style recruitment was fleshed out, the panel pivoted to the actual "educational products" the for-profit corporations sold.
Dehn, a former instructor at EDMC, began by addressing the instructional component. First of all, he was quick to highlight that none of the faculty at the schools were tenured. This is, of course, due to the fact they have no collective bargaining, no union to represent them. A full-time professor or teacher, Dehn testified, teaches 20 classes, many with class sizes of 45 students or more. Working conditions are arduous and stressful.
Teachers teach for a "term" (there are no semesters, the for-profits changed the language to reflect their corporate business plan), which is 11 weeks and the instructor receives $2,000 for the term. This compared to just five classes a teacher would teach in a state college. Kinser commented that many of the "adjuncts" utilized by the for-profits never had classes in how to teach or work with students and were to supposed to have a "real world" quality, meaning that many were simply technicians in their fields. Many of the adjunct laborers employed at the for-profits were professionals simply "moonlighting" with no commitment to either the institution or to helping the students enrolled in them. It is important to note that because these schools are directly subsidized by receiving 90 percent of their revenue from federal funds and loans, teachers' salaries were consequently subsidized, in part, by student loan debt.
As to student-teacher interaction, Dehn indicated that he could not possibly have given full attention to students or read the body of student work due to time considerations. Teachers, he noted, were mere "message board monitors" or low-paid "moderators," not real teachers. He said that as a teacher he was forced to prioritize what was most important in the interest of the corporation and that reading student work or giving feedback on each and every paper was simply not a priority nor was it possible. The result is that students hardly had the benefit of an education - giving credence to the claim that the entire relationship represented a commodified "exchange value', hardly a human "use value'. Again, not unlike the subprime mortgage fraud where consumers were sold overvalued and overpriced homes, students at for-profit colleges and universities are being sold a toxic educational product with little value other than the "title," which in this case would be the diploma, if one were ever able to pay for it.
Dehn also spoke to the "corporate culture," which forms the ideological basis for the schools. The corporate emphasis was strictly on "attendance'. This made sense from a profit perspective: for while the recruiter might have to get the "asses in the classes," the "instructor could be said to have to keep "the meat in the seat." For if students dropped out too soon, the federal funds dried up and this meant less profits for Wall Street. For-profit college and university teachers were much like jailers: they did the bed count for the warden, in this case, the for-profit CEO's.
Dehn went on to describe the curriculum as a "canned curriculum" where there is no meaningful teacher input. Standardizing curriculum is important, for keeping costs down is another grave concern of the corporations. Kinser called attention to the fact that there was no opportunity for academic development at these for-profit schools. Dehn concurred, noting that when he went to teacher in-services they had little to do with instruction and concentrated chiefly on avoiding copyright law, how to avoid lawsuits and, of course, how to keep students tethered to their seats for enrollment data purposes.
Finally, Dehn spoke of classes filled with a broad range of students, from those who were clueless, meaning they didn't even know why they were enrolled, to students who were semi-literate and could not possibly navigate through the "classes." The whole sordid affair took on the appearance of containment and resonated like a den of iniquity - a neo-Darwinian model of human suppression and control.
Tuition at the For-Profits
When it came to discussion about the high cost of tuition for the for-profit colleges and universities, officer Cruz was quick to weigh in, noting that non-profit colleges and universities in the United States spent 35 times more monies on instruction than did for-profit schools, even though the cost of tuition is notoriously high. At for-profits, costs for a four-year degree can range from about $35,000 to upward of $80,000. Nassirian correctly pointed out that the for-profits really receive a "federal voucher" in the form of direct subsidies to students that they then vacuum up through tactics like robo-signing. Think Wall Street subprime housing mortgage once again, but instead of selling the American dream of home ownership, the for-profits are using a typical American scheme to defraud taxpayers and students. According to Nassirian, "Capitalism fails the market test."
Markets are messy, which is why the for-profits hate them; direct guaranteed subsidies made up of taxpayer funds and transferred electronically faster than the speed of light from the government to Wall Street are quick, easy and immediately translatable into profits, which is what Wall Street covets.
As to the graduation rates, panelists spoke of how the graduation rates were actually manipulated at the institutions in a variety of ways by many teachers who were baptized in corporate culture and trained to understand and identify with corporate needs. One way the institutions control graduation rates and attendance at the for-profits is to remove any reasonable "cooling-off period" and allot only a two-week time frame for "dropping" a class. This two-week window begins from the first class to and including the second class. Mike DiGiacomo, former student at EDMC's New England Institute of Art, who himself now owes $80,000 in student loans, testified that he took one class and wished to drop it directly thereafter only to find he had missed the "window of opportunity" to do so. He was charged in full for the class and continued to be listed as enrolled. These tactics are designed to assure the student is listed as registered for the class and avoids "dropout" status, which blemishes the ability of the for-profit to get their hands on federal dollars.
While non-profit colleges and universities, along with public institutions, see graduation rates of 60 percent or more, the for-profit sector graduates as little as 20 percent of their recruits. For Nassirian, heavy-handed sales pitches that reel students in like fish on a hook coupled with the realization on behalf of many students that they have been duped, is responsible for dropout rates as high as 80 percent as many students inevitably squirm to get out from under the massive debt and perfidious subterfuge that has locked them down in these rapacious institutions.
The resemblance to homeowners that cannot make payment on the subprime mortgages that the banks and nefarious mortgage houses sold to them cannot go unnoticed. While minority and working students mark up alarming dropout rates at the for-profits and are left saddled with debt, minority and working-class homeowners experience accelerated incidences of forfeitures and home losses for mortgages that they could not afford on homes that have lost huge chunks of value.
Career Prospects and Job Placement at the For-Profits
When the discussion centered on student job placement, Bittel's testimony was invaluable. She spoke about how the for-profit colleges and universities manipulate data on job placements. Fictitious placement rates are the norm, she stated. In reality, Bittel testified, no one really knew how many students ever were lucky enough to get employment in his or her field of "study." What she did say was that EDMC, specifically, told students they would be placed in jobs in their fields and would count a graduate in "video game design" to be "placed" if they got a job at Toys "R" Us as a clerk or an inventory worker. Dehn was reminded of a student with a film and video degree from a for-profit who was counted as being placed when they got an ushers job at a movie theater. This student, noted Jeremy, now owes $90,000 in student loans.
Osamudia James made a very telling point when she argued that for-profits teach "know-how" skills not "know-why" skills. This is an important distinction for it goes, once again, to the core of the for-profit claims that they provide an education. In fact, they don't, but instead, provide a little more than an inferior commodity and a crippling dependence on the thinking of others and, thus, not only dummy down their curriculum to exclude critical thinking and citizenship education, but in doing so and by targeting working-class people of color, they steal educational opportunities that would allow people of color to understand their legacy of oppression, which is necessary to embark on a path of liberation. This is all part of the new Jim Crow. For James, a "know-why" education would require critical thinking about personal, social and economic life. This is hardly what for-profit colleges or the corporations that own them desire. In the for-profit model of education, people of color and working class origin are expected to go to school to learn how to make a living at a low-wage; they are not educated to learn how to live. James argued that the for-profit educational scheme, even if we accept its bogus claims that it readies people for employment, is clothed in racial and class discrimination and is designed to, as she stated, "spend less, teach less and expect less," all with deleterious effects on our citizenry.
Debt Load and Default Rates at the For-Profits
Lawrence, a former EDMC recruiter, testified that students were never really told how much tuition actually costs to attend for-profit colleges. Though she was speaking with first-hand knowledge of EDMC, the same holds true for most students ensnared by the for-profit colleges and universities. Students are quickly herded like cattle, after a brutal recruitment process, and directed to the financial aid offices that serve as the economic hub for the for-profits. Here, according to Lawrence, students are encouraged to apply for loans and are very rarely told they might qualify for grants or scholarships. Applying for loans translates into money in the bank for the for-profits, while scholarships and grants can take time, with no guarantee of success. Lawrence stated that, although students were never told they did not qualify for grants or scholarships, when students told financial aid "counselors" they didn't think they would qualify for either, they were never corrected.
Mike DiGiacomo remarked that students really did not know much about debt either, how it worked or the consequences of taking it on. He said students were tricked into applying and accepting various loans, both Sally Mae and private. This, too, of course, is analogous with the subprime mortgage and practices at Fannie Mae, for example, that left many homeowners in default and in debt. Giving students the "bum's rush" into debt accompanied with a lack of transparency and full disclosure meant that most students had no clue as to the ramifications of their liabilities. They neither understood who issued the debt, what institutions held the note, what a promissory note really was, what the debt meant; nor did they understand the terms of their loan agreements. DiGiacomo indicated that students often would get deferments from payment of student loans they owed. These deferments were referred to in corporate parlance, laughingly, as an "unemployment fee." The same sort of snickers and laughs that mortgage lenders would levy at home borrowers who had signed subprime loan agreements and had no idea of the terms of their mortgage loans.
James made even more of a direct connection between Wall Street practices in selling phony and toxic mortgages and Wall Street's for-profit college and university practices when she noted that most students, just like many consumers given subprime mortgages, did not even know what they were signing when they agreed to obligate themselves. Pages and pages of documents were placed in front of students to sign just as struggling home borrowers were forced to sign and initial stacks of documentation they never understood. Nassirian agreed, adding that issues of nondisclosure, lack of oversight and lack of transparency paralleled the Wall Street housing crisis to the letter.
All the panelists agreed that the real problem is student debt and the inability of student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy. The only exemption to the non-dischargeability of student loan debt is documented mental or physical disability. Most students do not qualify for this exemption and, besides, as some of the panelists were quick to point out, the Protestant ethic embedded in American culture and the American psyche has the effect of students blaming themselves for their failure to pay back loans. Rarely is the failure to pay back student loans looked at as a systemic problem. Students, if not directly told, are ideologically softened up to ask themselves, "Why can't you accept that you accrued debt and simply get on with the task of paying back what you owe?"
It is the moral bankruptcy of a system of corruption that puts the ideological and psychological onus on the borrower to believe they actually have failed in their obligations to the Wall Street banks that are responsible for much of what the for-profits get away with. By individualizing a social problem, students never think they might have been exploited, just like home borrowers might be convinced they were the cause of the housing collapse; it was the borrower's profligacy, they are led to believe, not the fraud perpetrated by Wall Street and the for-profits, which is built into the system of mendacity.
Questions and Answers About the For-Profits
From debt and default the conversation drifted to questions and answers with audience members. One such question came from an audience member who asked whether "credits" at the for-profit colleges and universities were transferable. Nassirian fielded this question and stated that, "there was a great uncertainty" in this area. He went on to explain that even if credits from the for-profit educational sector are transferable, there is no guarantee they would be transferable for any more than elective credit. This means that, although students might be laboring under auspices that they can transfer degree-specific courses, in reality they may find that they can only transfer them "generally" and are, therefore, saddled with superfluous general requirement credits, but then must retake courses taken at the for-profits for public or non-profit college credit. Students are rarely, if ever, told this.
The conversation then took a path into the area of accreditation. The for-profits, much like purchasers of liquor bars who look to capture a license from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission to sell alcohol to the public, look to purchase other colleges that already have accreditation so they will not need to reapply for a license. Here, Nassirian made a direct connection with the subprime mortgage fraud perpetrated by Wall Street, claiming that "the regulators were captured by the regulated." Nassirian was making reference to the fact that the accrediting agencies responsible for policing and "rating" the for-profit schools were bought off, much like stock rating agencies Moodys, Fitch or Standard and Poors that rated junk certificate of deposits AAA when, in fact, they were inundated with toxic mortgages that had been sold to unsuspecting consumers, who had no idea what they were actually buying. As Nassirian stated:
"If an accrediting agency says 'No' to a for-profit school they could face a $2 million dollar law suit."
"If an accrediting agency says 'No' to a for-profit school they could face a $2 million dollar law suit."
One audience member asked if the privatization efforts that are going on in K-12 education with charter schools, vouchers, tax breaks, and other financial incentives to and for Wall Street had anything in common with the for-profit frenzy taking place in higher education. The question was a good one and Nassirian jumped on it. He pointed out that the Apollo Group, the corporate ticket name for the owners of the Phoenix University, has started its own high school. Furthermore, up until last year, the for-profits were able to recruit high school dropouts who did not have a GED if the student could pass what was called an "ability to benefit test (ABT)." The "test" was hardly any test at all and droves of students who had not graduated high school or the equivalent were admitted into the corridors of the for-profits with devastating effects for the students and the colleges that served them. For example, 24 percent of all students at Corinthian College (Goldman Sachs) are ATB students. The ability to test was designed for the for-profits to benefit, not students, and was simply another corrupt tactic authored and designed to capture more and more federal dollars.
But more than anything else, what many panelists made clear is that one cannot understand Wall Street's attempts to privatize education at the K-12 level without factoring in the for-profit colleges and universities. Nassirian, for example, spoke about secretive backdoor connections between public high schools and for-profits. He told of his suspicion that there will be a future explosion of diploma mills as K-12 education is subject to the same forces on Wall Street. It makes sense. Wall Street is seeking a direct alignment between K-12 education and the for-profit higher education sector. As the public-sector economy is forced to scream in pain through the application of "austerity measures," Wall Street privatizers slash and burn the public commons through budget cuts and union destruction. Like a heat-seeking Predator drone looking to destroy all vestiges of public education, companies like K12, Inc., a big player in the online for-profit K-12 financialization racket, have become natural allies of all that is private and for-profit. In fact, the same Wall Street players who, like a cancer, are busy privatizing elementary and secondary education, are some of the same protagonists in the for-profit higher education industry. They are both part and parcel of the same sickening, commodified roux.
This cannot be stated loudly enough, for too many progressives and liberals have cordoned off the fight to prevent the movement to privatize of K-12 education from the struggle against privatization by for-profit colleges and universities. This conveys a debilitating misunderstanding of Wall Street's so-called "educational reforms" and atomizes the struggle being waged to protect the public commons. It has also allowed such public policies like the onerous Race to the Top to be considered as simply an issue of educational standards or achievement when it actually goes to the heart of the explosive attempt at corporate financialization of the entire $500-billion-dollar educational sector in the United States. The move is to have students placed on an educational for-profit fast track that will begin in kindergarten or before and traverse all the way to college or university.
With Citizens United in full force as a result of the Supreme Court decision to treat corporations as individuals, it is essential we see educational privatization, both K-12 and college and university, as part of the same whole cloth. If not, it is easy to fall prey to the story of the blind men struggling to make out an elephant by touching its various parts.
Policies and Solutions for the For-Profits
Addressing the issue of policy solutions to the problem of for-profit exploitation and proliferation, the panel was not as specific as it might have been and also not in collective agreement. Kinser mentioned that for-profits had a place in the educational drama and that non-profit and public institutions of higher education were simply not keyed to accept or absorb a deluge of for-profit students. James disagreed and argued that there were limits on what one might expect from regulations of the industry. She pointed to the fact that regulations are subject to political whims and can be removed when administrations or politicians change. Furthermore, she made the point that not all endeavors and ventures in human life are for-profit based and that education surely could be considered one of them. Instead, she argued for full disclosure of industry practices and clear transparency.
DiGiacomo stated he would like to see recruitment at the for-profits change, and he claimed that the institutions needed to put quality of instruction before quantity of students.
Nassirian spoke to the need for incentives that would put students and taxpayers in the center of consideration, not profits.
The topic of policies and solutions moved into a discussion of what the for-profits are doing to stop or thwart regulations. Dehn noted that, when he was working at EDMC, students were visiting classes on behalf of lobbyists for the industry to state erroneously that students would lose financial aid if they did not call Congress and tell them to stop the "gainful employment" provision of the new Obama regulations. At his school, students were recruited to get signatures on lobbyist petitions that were then forwarded to the Department of Education (DOE). They were also told to tell their story on paper and these stories would then be "customized" by paid lobbyists for the industry who would then take them to the DOE.
Nassirian talked about how the for-profits were partnering with outside lenders to get out from under the 90/10 rule which allows them to only receive 90 percent of tuition from the federal government; the other 10 percent is supposed to come from students themselves. Many for-profits increase tuition just to capture more federal funds, which is the lifeblood of their income and profits.
At a scheduled half hour time period directly following the panel, I asked Nassirian if for-profit distant learning colleges and universities could set up in a state without state regulators or state governing bodies being aware. He stated that in all 50 states this was possible. In 1992, the 50/50 rule was promulgated that required 50 percent of instruction be done on campus. This, however, was repealed under the tutelage of Ron Paige, head of the DOE under George W. Bush in 2005. It was removed late at night, with no hearing, as part of an attachment to another bill. What this means is that no for-profit distant learning college or university has to have a "footprint" in any state to do business. In fact, one can set up a for-profit in Belarus or Romania and enroll students in the US and there is nothing that the government, consumers or taxpayers can do.
Even more troubling is the fact that for-profits know that the states that impose the fewest regulations will become the states of choice for the for-profits to set up shop. They then can spread their tentacles across state lines and net more students.
As the session closed, it was apparent that the for-profit educational sector operates much like the Wall Street subprime home mortgage fraud. Unsuspecting working people, most notably people of color, are being herded into these for-profit schools by to benefit shareholders looking to exploit "sharecroppers." This is an 18th- or even 17th-century economic model that reeks of plantation politics and harkens back to feudalism. Wall Street seems to be setting the table for global elites looking to profit off of the educational sector. Outsourcing these colleges or outright selling them to foreign companies is not only not out of the question, but seems inevitable if the industry is left to grow, The whole enterprise is little more than organized corruption where the crime is actually "legal" in most cases and the victims are discarded or dumped by the side of the road.
What Is the Role of ALEC in the For-Profit Debacle?
The financialization of education is proceeding unimpeded across the nation and is the key to understanding why Wall Street is so infatuated with education these days. Wall Street has billions to invest in both the K-12 education, colleges and universities and they are loaded with the money needed to pay off supplicant politicians to do their deregulatory or regulatory bidding, whatever the case may be. Bill Gates is the latest to weigh in in favor of Wall Street's plans and this is no surprise. He recently praised Kaplan Higher Education and its CEO, Donald Graham for the company's predatory business practices. Of course Gates did not disclose that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are linked to the Post/Kaplan's profits.
Although it did not emerge in discussions at the webinar, interesting connections are emerging between the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and North Carolina politicians associated with the group in an effort to promote a corporate education agenda that serves to protect and enhance the power of the for-profit colleges and universities. North Carolina's community college system recently surrendered its responsibility to regulate for-profit schools that offer job training programs and grant associate degrees to an "outside advisory board" made up of seven members.
The transfer of the regulatory authority to a new State Board of Proprietary Schools comes on the heels of the passage of North Carolina Senate Bill 685 that was introduced in the North Carolina State Legislature in 2011 and passed on June 18 of that year. The bill sets up a State Board of Proprietary Schools in the North Carolina Community Colleges System Office, but one distinct from the prior regulatory board. The bill was sponsored by North Carolina Sen. Virginia Foxx, North Carolina Rep. Bryan R. Holloway, North Carolina Rep. Linda P. Johnson, North Carolina Sen. Donald Ray Vaughan and North Carolina Sen. Tom Apodaca, all members of ALEC. Foxx is the chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training and is a member of Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. Readers might remember the exposé written on Foxx for Truthout.
Thirty-three North Carolina Legislators have ties with ALEC. Thom Tillis, North Carolina speaker of the House, is on the ALEC International Relations Task Force and has been a member since 2011. He was also ALEC State Legislator of the Year in 2011 and he attended the ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting. Republican Rep. Justin P. Burr is on the ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force. He, too, attended the ALEC 2011 Annual Meeting, (In fact, 33 North Carolina legislators have ties with ALEC, lending credence to the assumption that ALEC is knee-deep in the for-profit higher educational scandals.)
ALEC is more than a front group for corporate interests; it is actually a working group of corporate heavyweights that are bent on buying legislation. ALEC hosts meetings in fancy hotel ballrooms where they fly in legislators, lawyers and lobbyists from across the country to sit together to draft model corporate legislation for use in states throughout the nation. ALEC then gives the legislation to participating ALEC legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, who then bring these proposals and legislation draft bills home, and where they introduce them in statehouses across the nation as their own unique ideas and crucial public policy innovations. They do this without disclosing that it is really a cabal of corporations and their silk-backed lawyers who have crafted and voted on the bills to enhance corporate control.
The question is, of course, did ALEC draft this North Carolina legislation as "model legislation" that can be used state by state to create regulatory boards that are then packed with lobbyists to govern for-profit colleges and universities in effect shielding? A North Carolina dental school recently was shuttered due to lack of accreditation and Kaplan Higher Education that ran the school was forced to pay out $5 million to students both past and current harmed by the fraudulent program. Congressman Waters of California recently penned a letter to CEO Donald Graham regarding the fraudulent college.
If ALEC is behind the North Carolina legislation Senate Bill 685, then we can expect that the for-profit college and university controversy will be swaddled in lobbyist cash even more than it has been and could spread like a cancer to other states that already have or are considering adopting legislation to rein in the for-profit predatory industry.
Link to original article from Truthout
For more information on SEIU's foray into the for-profit college and university visit scandals visit their web site at www.ForProfitU.org.
How would American media cover the news from Ferguson, Missouri, if it were happening in just about any other country? How would the world respond differently? Here, to borrow a great idea from Slate's Joshua Keating, is a satirical take on the story you might be reading if Ferguson were in, say, Iraq or Pakistan.
FERGUSON — Chinese and Russian officials are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis in the restive American province of Missouri, where ancient communal tensions have boiled over into full-blown violence.
"We must use all means at our...
Max Fisher | Vox 18 Aug 2014 Hits:348 Blog Articles
Despite all odds, Americans are finding a way forward, discovering their freelance entrepreneur within each other, knowing the traditionally promised 9-5 benefits are gone, we make our own.
Struggle has many faces and is multi-cultural. Struggle has empowered Justice for All, Freedom of Choice and religious murder. Struggle can lead to a Freelance Nation or its Feudal System.
As we commemorate the Civil War fallen 150 years later, remember, one hundred years ago conviction for The War to End All Wars, produced a cause and effect World War in response to the assassination...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 01 Jul 2014 Hits:153 Blog Articles
Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) is saddened to announce the passing of our founder, Tim Carpenter, who died at his home on Monday evening. He is survived by his wife Barbara Considine, and their two daughters, Sheila and Julia.
Tim was diagnosed with terminal melanoma in May 2013.
A lifelong political and social activist, Tim led PDA as National Director from the organization's launch in 2004 at Roxbury, Massachusetts until his death in the early morning hours on Monday, April 28.
Tim's work with PDA capped a career of activism for environmental protection,...
Mike Hersh | PDA Communications Coordinator 29 Apr 2014 Hits:553 Blog Articles
The Washington Post and the Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize for public service, among the most prestigious awards in journalism, for their stories based on National Security Agency documents leaked by the former government contractor Edward J. Snowden.
Through a series of reports that exposed the N.S.A.'s widespread domestic surveillance program, the Post and the Guardian sparked an international debate on the limits of government surveillance, a formal review from the White House and promises from President Obama himself to limit the agency’s powers. The newspapers also came under heavy criticism...
Ravi Somaiya | New York Times 14 Apr 2014 Hits:301 Blog Articles
If a majority of Americans are as dumb as the Koch brothers think we are, America loses. However, if we are a society believing everything we see, on a screen of any size, is true, how was a bi-racial president, despite multi-millions spent by spiteful billionaires, re-elected?
Maybe one can find five Supremists on a court ruling in favor of the ruling class, proving perhaps five robed easy pieces are dumb enough to think we’re superficial enough to forget the 1960s, and be fooled by Koch brother sins projected onto American...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 05 Apr 2014 Hits:478 Blog Articles
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that — if approved by Congress — would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials.
Under the proposal, they said, N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The records would be stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required...
Charlie Savage | New York Times 24 Mar 2014 Hits:367 Blog Articles
Now that turkeys shop before Black Friday, it’s not surprising that some media personality shows are rushing into 2013 year end memories before Christmas Eve.
As usual, however, media is reactionary at best and redundant as M. O., because we know memories recapture us in the twinkling of an eye, an aromatic breeze, rain on a tin roof, squeeze of a shoulder, or the moment of that burned taste, after a fire. Faster than a mouse clicked link, we’re back to: that owl in the woods, first kiss, first time, wedding...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 26 Dec 2013 Hits:366 Blog Articles
Unfair is a word that transforms time into waste. Though the system’s unfair is a fair statement, without following through for change, unfair is just arbitrary. The entire world could justifiably chant it’s unfair that America has so much for so few at the expense of so many.
Fair is subjective: One man’s presidential pardon for taking the fifteen year fall for savvy, fast tracking, plea bargaining, drug perpetrators, is another’s man’s copping leniency for a vehicular quartet homicide, due to extenuating circumstances: suffering from bad parents’ Affluenza.
Unfair isn’t enough for...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 23 Dec 2013 Hits:465 Blog Articles
Do you feel closure when relatives and friends ask if you miss an ex on their birthday, lost friends at Christmas or deceased parents on their anniversary, as if thoughts and memory shut down like government or shut off as easily as TV news producers forget Guantanamo never closed? Is forgetting grandparents, Mom & Dad or old friends you fell out with, as easy as forgetting the most infamous American prison on earth? I mean, forgetting’s not as simple as using political power to close the George Washington Bridge, is...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 19 Dec 2013 Hits:441 Blog Articles
A specter is haunting the Vatican.
November 27, 2013 | In 1992, the Catholic Church officially apologized for persecuting 17th-century astronomer Galileo, who dared to assert that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 2008, the Vatican even considered putting up a statue of him.
Could a certain 19th-century atheist philosopher be next?
It is true that in 2009, a Vatican newspaper article put a positive spin on one Karl Marx. The author, German historian Georg Sans, praised Marx for his criticism of the alienation and injustice faced by working people in...
Lynn Stuart Parramore | AlterNet 29 Nov 2013 Hits:677 Blog Articles
Bernie Sanders is not burning with presidential ambition. He doubts that he would consider bidding for the nation’s top job if another prominent progressive was gearing up for a 2016 run that would provide a seriously-focused and seriously competitive populist alternative to politics as usual.
But if the fundamental issues that are of concern to the great mass of Americans—“the collapse of the middle class, growing wealth and income inequality, growth in poverty, global warming”—are not being discussed by the 2016 candidates, Sanders says, “Well, then maybe I have to do...
John Nichols | The Nation 20 Nov 2013 Hits:624 Blog Articles
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to make sure that there is a strong progressive voice in the 2016 presidential field, and he's willing to jump in if no one else does.
"There are people in this world who, ever since they were 12 years of age, they decided they wanted to be president of the United States. That is honestly not me," Sanders told the Burlington Free Press last week. "Anyone who really, really wants to be president is slightly crazy because this is an unbelievably difficult job given the crises...
Amanda Terkel | The Huffington Post 19 Nov 2013 Hits:715 Blog Articles
Fifty years ago, on a cold day in Dallas, Nov. 22, 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated. To my mind, what is extraordinary about the Kennedy assassination is that the haters did not win. Instead, crucifixion led to resurrection. As a result, for decades, African-American homes across the nation featured pictures of three people: Jesus Christ, Dr. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. JFK was a cautious, pragmatic and stylish politician. He was a moderate in temperament and politics. His focus, to a large extent, was on the Cold...
Rev. Jesse Jackson | Chicago Sun Times 18 Nov 2013 Hits:432 Blog Articles
Last night, I was glued to my television set like many others around the country, watching and waiting for election results to pour in. It was a historic evening to say the least. A liberal Democrat won in Virginia, a non-tea party candidate who openly worked with President Obama was reelected in the state of New Jersey and a proud progressive who campaigned against current stop-and-frisk policies will be the next Mayor of New York City. In short, we witnessed a voter rebellion against the tea party that has strangled...
Rev. Al Sharpton | Huffington Post 06 Nov 2013 Hits:491 Blog Articles
On November 6, Elizabeth Warren will do a star turn before 400 progressive leaders, activists and legislators at the annual gala sponsored by the Campaign for America's Future. Her prominence is a tribute to her stunningly rapid ascension as a leader of what former Senator Paul Wellstone dubbed "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." (Full disclosure: I am a director of the Campaign.)
Like Barack Obama, Warren captured national attention with an electric speech at the Democratic Convention in 2012 while still a Senate candidate. She called herself the "warm-up...
Robert L. Borosage | Huffington Post 05 Nov 2013 Hits:473 Blog Articles
Where’s America? Filibuster or Exceptional? Regaining sense of decency or starving children? It’s not just a question for Presidents and members of Congress. It’s the question for We the People.
We need to ask it of each other over morning coffee, then by day’s end, answer it for ourselves. This isn’t the banality of, “Is America headed in the right direction?” The question is, what are we doing to regain balance after being betrayed by our Wall Street Financial institutions in 2008?
America’s Right direction uses fake patriotism to cover up American...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 03 Nov 2013 Hits:394 Blog Articles
Bank executives facing prison time for illegal activity would be better sanction than fine, say Wall Street reform advocates
(Photo: JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon. | Fortune Live Media/cc/flickr)
While JPMorgan Chase's $13 billion settlement for its "shady practices that five years ago helped trigger the financial meltdown, including manipulating mortgages and sending millions of Americans into bankruptcy or foreclosure" has gained attention for its record amount, a number of banking reform advocates are saying real accountability will come when executives are prosecuted and sent to jail for illegal activity.
Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams 03 Nov 2013 Hits:615 Blog Articles
Do you know what our 100 Senators and 435 Representatives know about running the government, the country, foreign policy and domestic programs? Do you know what’s required of them to run for and be elected to Congress? Do you know what our elected officials know most and best about working in government of, by and for the people at federal, state and local levels? Did you know that whether elected to the Senate or House of Representatives, you are by law, a member of Congress, and therefore a Congressman/woman/person responsible...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 28 Oct 2013 Hits:436 Blog Articles
WASHINGTON — Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, said in an extensive interview this month that he did not take any secret N.S.A. documents with him to Russia when he fled there in June, assuring that Russian intelligence officials could not get access to them.
Mr. Snowden said he gave all of the classified documents he had obtained to journalists he met in Hong Kong, before flying to Moscow, and did not keep any copies for himself. He did not take the files to Russia...
James Risen | The New York Times 17 Oct 2013 Hits:572 Blog Articles
The war isn't over. It's only a cease-fire.
Republicans have agreed to fund the federal government through January 15 and extend the government's ability to borrow (raise the debt ceiling) through Feb. 7. The two sides have committed themselves to negotiate a long-term budget plan by mid-December.
Regardless of what happens in the upcoming budget negotiations, it seems doubtful House Republicans will try to prevent the debt ceiling from being raised next February. Saner heads in the GOP will be able to point to the debacle Tea Partiers created this time around...
Robert Reich | Huffington Post 17 Oct 2013 Hits:534 Blog Articles
The government shutdown has hurt the GOP's chances across the Senate landscape, according to new polling conducted for the liberal group Americans United for Change.
Democrats lead in a number of Senate contests, according to the polls, and their leads expand in several of those races when voters are informed that the Republicans in the race "voted to support shutting down major activities of the federal government as a way to stop the health care law from being put into place."
In all of the tested states, voters oppose the government shutdown...
Cameron Joseph | The Hill 16 Oct 2013 Hits:444 Blog Articles
What discoveries has the turn of the 21st century revealed to us? After 2008 or nine months in 2013? What have we learned since October first? And from whom have we chosen to learn?
Keep in mind, for a mind to engage in learning, it must be open as wide as possible to all that is possible, and, listen.
Now with the vast starry universe full of mysterious miracles above us, Mother Earth and all that lives upon it at our feet, and a whispering world swirling all around us, what lessons...
Marcello Rollando | The Reasonable Voice 16 Oct 2013 Hits:386 Blog Articles
We were treated to a sad sight recently, as right-wing Republicans rallied in Washington against the President and the laws he has passed. Demonstrations are a measure of free speech, but this one featured a level of anger seldom seen and strange, ridiculous charges against the man in the White House. He was called a Muslim and told to get up off his knees, lay down his Koran, come out with his hands up, and resign. And he could look out the windows of his White House home and see...
Jack Burgess 16 Oct 2013 Hits:331 Blog Articles
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Tuesday will begin running 60-second radio ads targeting 10 House Republicans – each facing tough 2014 reelection campaigns – over the government shutdown.
The spots imagine a conversation between a Republican lawmaker and a constituent.
(Rep. Mike Coffman is one of the Republicans being targeted by the DCCC. | AP Photo)
“Hello, Congressman Coffman here, just in from Washington,” begins the ad taking aim at Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman.
The constituent responds: “Uh. Hi. Aren’t you supposed to be doing something about that shutdown?”
Coffman: “I’m here to talk...
Alex Isenstadt | Politico 15 Oct 2013 Hits:440 Blog Articles
All of Washington’s elected leaders earn negative marks for handling budget negotiations, but the public’s ire toward Republicans in Congress has hardened quicker than disapproval of President Obama and Democrats through a fortnight of failed negotiations.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds political independents are the most frustrated: 58 percent of independents disapprove of Obama, 68 percent are unhappy with congressional Democrats and 76 percent disapprove of congressional Republicans.
Barely one in five Americans (21 percent) approve of the way Republicans in Congress are handling negotiations over the budget, while nearly...
Scott Clement and Peyton M Craighill | Washington Post 14 Oct 2013 Hits:573 Blog Articles
In its effort to extract concessions from Democrats in exchange for opening the government, the GOP has faced a fundamental strategic obstacle: They don't have the votes. A majority of the members of the House have gone on record saying that if they were given the opportunity to vote, they would support what's known as a "clean" continuing resolution to fund the government.
So House Republican leaders made sure no such vote could happen.
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:483 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:713 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:635 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:630 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:1213 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:573 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:766 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:604 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:461 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:706 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:675 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:612 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:528 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:579 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:479 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:762 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:693 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:782 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:1017 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:554 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:1183 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:511 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:668 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:673 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:992 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:755 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:822 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:810 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:681 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:662 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:767 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:756 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:643 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:1791 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:2057 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:872 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:791 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:806 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:1590 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:1172 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:1826 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:1278 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:1140 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:1255 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:867 Blog Articles
Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone 14 Oct 2012 Hits:2267 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:978 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:1632 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:1109 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:1237 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:2724 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:1230 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:1233 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:965 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:1708 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:1162 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:1111 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:1328 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:1319 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:1983 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:1610 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:1779 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:1023 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:1212 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:1581 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:1164 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:1096 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:1086 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:1246 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:1314 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:1428 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:1296 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:1366 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:1034 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:1180 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:1237 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:1850 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:1354 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:2017 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:2281 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:1139 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:1183 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:1047 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:1285 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:1213 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:1146 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:1176 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:1344 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:1067 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:1663 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:3002 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:1175 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:1199 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:1609 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:3352 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:1563 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:1077 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:1366 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:1608 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:1047 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:1375 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:1188 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:1155 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:1026 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:1047 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:3695 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:1218 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:1341 Blog Articles
Three hundred feminists blanketed the concrete in Washington Square Park last night, their attention focused by the now-familiar mic check. The “Raging Grannies” had just performed. A banner, framed by the park’s iconic arch, declared that the first NYC Feminist General Assembly, presented by Women Occupying Wall Street (WOWS), was in full swing.
After seven months of reporting on feminism and the work of women activists in the Occupy movement, I wanted to know: could this meeting be a model for how OWS collaborates with...
Sarah Seltzer | The Nation 22 May 2012 Hits:1498 Blog Articles
With the Republicans outspending progressives 20-to-one, Obama’s Democratic National Committee stubbornly refuses to invest a penny in the battle to unseat Walker.
Jerry Brown, my California state’s Democratic governor, is a crushing disappointment.
We voted for him over the former Ebay CEO, rightwing Republican Meg Whitman, who promised to fire 40,000 public workers and end welfare, mainly because Brown trailed nostalgic clouds of progressive glory. A one-time governor himself, he banked on us remembering that he is also the semi-hippie son of a much-loved 1960s two-term governor,...
Clancy Sigal | Counterpunch 20 May 2012 Hits:1362 Blog Articles
People Demanding Action: The Politics of Faith with Rev. Rodney Sadler
Rev. Sadler is a leader, scholar, professor, and minister. He frequently lectures within the church and community on Race in the Bible, African American Biblical Interpretation,...
People Demanding Action on Movement Building with Joel Segal
Joel Segal is a longtime organizer, activist, and scholar. He served as a senior legislative aide to Congressman John Conyers for 13 years, and helped found and lead movements to...
People Demanding Action on Climate with Rev. Yearwood
Rev. Yearwood's special guest on this program is Bill McKibben of 350.org
Hip Hop Caucus President Rev. Lennox Yearwood will discuss the upcoming massive People's March on Climate in New...
Getting Away with Murder
Jacque DelRio interviews family members of David Silva, brother Chris Silva and mother Merri Silva.
People Demanding Action on Middle East Peace with Joel Segal
We selected the anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks, because our program is dedicated to healing the wounds of war, bringing people together, and building understanding to achieve...
People Demanding Action on Climate with Rev. Yearwood
Hip Hop Caucus President Rev. Lennox Yearwood will discuss the upcoming massive People's March on Climate in New York City. Other topics: green jobs, the economy, and the climate crisis....
Jacque Del Rio interviews Robert Dawkins
Robert Dawkins has worked as a grassroots organizer for a number of years, conducting organizing campaigns in Houston and Atlanta for ACORN before becoming their Head Organizer in Charlotte. He has also...
Diana Danis was the first military woman writing and anchoring radio news on the American Forces Network, Europe in 1974. Danis highlighted the accomplishments of women in the military during her tenure. She pushed members of Congress to investigate...
Guest is Chief Tom Dostou of the Algonquin tribe. Chief Tom discusses Federally recognized tribes vs. non-Federally recognized tribes, incarceration rates in the Indian nation and other topics with host Jacque DelRio
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.