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A look at the tangle of money in politics: the IRS and its tea party tempest - Washington Post

A look at the tangle of money in politics: the IRS and its tea party tempest - Washington Post | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
The Internal Revenue Service is feeling the sort of heat that targeted taxpayers feel from the tax agency. It’s the sense that a powerful someone is breathing down your neck.

 

Republicans in Congress are livid with the IRS over its systematic scrutiny of conservative groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections. Democrats agree that something must be done. Likewise, President Barack Obama isn’t at all happy with the tax collectors.


Via Michael Charney
Greg Russak's insight:

"It’s all complex, squishy and in some ways subjective, so it might not come as a shock that the IRS would look for shortcuts such as political buzzwords and slogans when deciding what a group is really up to. But the record as yet known does not show that the scrutiny cut both ways."


This is the part that I think is the biggest red herring. I don't claim to be an expert, but this concept of a need for equivalent scrutiny strikes me as ridiculous. There was no tidal wave of liberal organizations flooding the IRS under the pretense of "social welfare" but with a mission to defeat their political enemies. It does, however, seem to me that there was, and still is, such a movement coming from the right and their surrogate astroturf tea party groups. They deserve extra scrutiny, and using keywords and phrases and lengthy investigations seems to me to be the IRS simply doing their job.


I wonder, but not all that much, about what the right would be saying if it had been discovered that the IRS was giving extra scrutiny to groups with the words "green" or "clean energy" or "human rights" or "single payer healthcare" in their names.

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Party Recon's comment, May 30, 2013 11:13 AM
Greg, this is where credibility on the left is lost. Why are you making excuses for and ole'ing reality? The President of the United States, who happens to have a -D after his name called it outrageous! He said, ""Because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity, and people have to have confidence that they're ... applying the laws in a non-partisan way." And the IRS fully admitted culpability and apologized for “Targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names”

So those of us that aren't willing to turn a blind eye (and I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN, they stink too, in their own ways) can't help but wonder what folks like you would have said if the IRS under Bush was caught targeting groups with the word "progressive" in their application. Would you make the same shoulder shrug, saying "eh, who really cares" and "C’mon. This is no big deal". Would you have called it a red herring? No way Jose. You folks lit up the Bush administration like a Christmas tree every chance you had – and Lord knows they gave you plenty of reason. But to sit here and act as an apologist for this President who admitted wrong-doing, well, there goes any hint of fairness or intellectual honesty. And once that’s gone, meaningful conversation aimed at finding common ground is simply impossible. I hate to say it Greg; but this partisan-based “pardon” you’ve granted our Commander in Chief is straight out of the Fox News playbook. Fair and balanced my eyeball.
Greg Russak's comment, May 31, 2013 3:27 PM
Lost all credibility, huh? Lit up Bush while acting like an Obama apologist, am I? Gone is any hint of fairness and intellectual honesty, eh? And, what's wrong with your eyeball?

Well, thanks for dropping by to insult me, Party Recon, while apparently choosing to remain safe and secure in your anonymity.

You don't seem to have read my comments at all. You attribute quotes to me I never made. Your behavior is borderline troll.

Tell you what. When you're ready to muster the courage to come out from behind your nom de plume to engage me directly without insulting me then maybe we can have a civil discussion. Until then, I'd just as soon you keep your insults to yourself. Have a nice day.
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Represent.Us: The Campaign to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act

Represent.Us: The Campaign to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Get money out of politics at Represent.Us, the campaign to pass the American Anti-Corruption Act - a bold new law that puts an end to business as usual in Washington.
Greg Russak's insight:

The system is broken. Our government has been corrupted by money. We need Congress to solve the nation’s problems, instead our politicians are out raising money for re-election. The country is run by lobbyists - fighting on behalf of big oil, pharmaceuticals, military contractors, labor unions, trial lawyers, insurance companies, food corporations, and on and on.

 

We may never get rid of lobbyists and big financial donors. But we all agree: citizens should come first.

 

Our government is corrupt. We need to fix it. We have a plan. We need your help.

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Political Scene: Elizabeth Warren's Influence

Political Scene: Elizabeth Warren's Influence | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Jill Lepore and Evan Osnos discuss how Elizabeth Warren is changing the Senate and the country.
Greg Russak's insight:

But it’s undeniable that Warren is changing the Senate and, by extension, the country. “Left-wing populism is on the rise, and right-wing populism has been losing a fair amount of ground,” Lepore says of recent political trends. Moreover, she continues, “If the momentum is on Warren’s side, then everything shifts left.”

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Video | BillMoyers.com

Video | BillMoyers.com | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Greg Russak's insight:
April 11, 2014

If you believe America desperately needs a great surge of democracy in the face of fierce opposition from reactionary and corporate forces, then remembering and reviving the spirit of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died 69 years ago this week, is in order.

 

In January 1941, FDR’s State of the Union address made it clear that a fight was inevitable, a fight to preserve, protect and defend four essential freedoms: freedom from fear and want and freedom of speech and religion.

 

This week, Bill speaks with historian Harvey J. Kaye, author of the new book, The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great, about how FDR’s speech was a rallying cry to build the kind of progressive society that Roosevelt hoped for but did not live to see at war’s end.

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Restoring Louisiana’s Coast Will Require Restoring Its Democracy—Governor Jindal Is Trying to Undermine Both

Restoring Louisiana’s Coast Will Require Restoring Its Democracy—Governor Jindal Is Trying to Undermine Both | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Genuflecting to Big Oil's pressure, Governor Bobby Jindal is
Greg Russak's insight:

You can file this one under, "No Surprise!"

 

A Louisiana elected official once said “the flag of Texaco flies over the Louisiana State Capitol.” Right now that flag is flapping in the face of every citizen. Tax-hating governor Jindall now wants to spend tens of millions of dollars of tax payer money to plug oil canals which companies are required by law to plug themselves. That money pales beside to the $50 billion cost of the state’s master plan to protect the coast. Jindal’s funding proposal caper will protect his oil industry patrons and stick the public with the bill: taxpayers will cover the costs of damage caused by oil companies.

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Monica S Mcfeeters's curator insight, April 18, 8:53 AM

I think politics should stay out of nature.

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Young Conservatives Group Pressures GOP on Gay Marriage - Washington Wire - WSJ

Young Conservatives Group Pressures GOP on Gay Marriage - Washington Wire - WSJ | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
A new effort is being launched to try to persuade the Republican Party to drop its opposition to same-sex marriage from the party’s platform, a steep climb that would require overcoming social conservatives who have dominated the GOP’s position on the issue.
Greg Russak's insight:

Signs of hope that the GOP may yet avoid political oblivion. There is, after all, no future in appealing only to old, white, straight men. We'll be a minority in America before long.....thankfully.

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Where have all the moderates gone? Politics as 'gladiatorial combat' - Los Angeles Times

Where have all the moderates gone? Politics as 'gladiatorial combat' - Los Angeles Times | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Where have all the moderates gone? Politics as 'gladiatorial combat' Los Angeles Times Barry Glassner first detailed how politicians use fear-mongering in his 1999 book “The Culture of Fear.” He wrote of politicians claiming America was on the...

Via Marilee Ritchie Hird
Greg Russak's insight:

Good question:

 

"Geoffrey Kabaservice said he set out to answer one question before writing his latest work: Whatever happened to the moderate Republican?"

http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-politics-media-panel-20140413,0,4396741.story#ixzz2z4LNqGPV

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No Taxation Without Representation

Money in politics means taxation without representation. We already have a tax day — It’s time for a representation day.
Greg Russak's insight:

On Tuesday, April 15th, people across America will hold a sign, recruit supporters, and do creative actions to demand “No Taxation Without Representation.”  It’s time for politicians to represent us, not big money special interests. Join us.


You can also join the hundreds of thousands of other concerned Americans who have signed up to be a Citizen Co-Sponsor of the American Anti-Corruption Act at http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/


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Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Rep. Paul Ryan Take-Down

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Rep. Paul Ryan Take-Down | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

Published on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 by Common Dreams

 

"Paul Ryan says, 'Don't blame Wall Street — the guys who made billions of dollars cheating American families."

 

 - Andrea Germanos, staff writer 

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren is making headlines for a speech some are saying is not only a take-down of Rep. Paul Ryan's views on poverty and unemployment but a lesson in the kind of visionary approach that Democrats would be wise to emulate.

 

Read more and watch the video at

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/04/09-3


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Greg Russak's insight:

Elizabeth Warren demonstrates "...the kind of visionary approach that Democrats would be wise to emulate."

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Oil Consultant Turned Whistleblower Exposes Fracking Crimes in Alberta

Oil Consultant Turned Whistleblower Exposes Fracking Crimes in Alberta | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Ernst explains how this failure at the top is resulting in the poisoning of the
Greg Russak's insight:

This You Tube is a compilation of segments from a 90 minute talk. Jessica Ernst worked for more than three decades as an environmental biologist doing research and independent consulting for the Alberta, Canada petroleum industry. One of her main clients was the EnCana Company, which began large-scale fracking in the region of her home community of Rosebud Alberta in the early years of the 21st century. 

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Sanders Bill S.1982 to Fund Veterans Programs Is More Proof That Both Parties Are NOT the Same

Sanders Bill S.1982 to Fund Veterans Programs Is More Proof That Both Parties Are NOT the Same | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
The meme below is fresh from this morning's Facebook feed. It inspired me to do some research. The result is more evidence that the two major political parties are simply NOT the same. So here's my...
Greg Russak's insight:

Draw your own conclusions. I've drawn mine.

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Mega-Donors Are Now More Important Than Most Politicians

Mega-Donors Are Now More Important Than Most Politicians | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
In the post-McCutcheon world, the 0.1 percent are far more important than most candidates. The press needs to treat them that way and subject their views to scrutiny.

 

PETER BEINART APR 4 2014, 12:17 PM ET


Quick: Name a senator who served between the Civil War and World War I. Struggling? Now name a tycoon who bought senators during the same period. J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller ... it’s easier.

 

And for good reason. The tycoons mattered more. Gilded Age industrialists—who had amassed levels of wealth unseen in American history—frequently dominated the politicians who enjoyed putative power to write the laws. In 1896, when corporations could give directly to political candidates, pro-corporate Republican presidential candidate William McKinley raised $16 million to populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan’s $600,000. “All questions in a democracy,” declared McKinley’s campaign manager, Mark Hanna, are “questions of money.”  

 

The Roberts Court seems to agree. The astonishing concentration of wealth among America’s super-rich, combined with a Supreme Court determined to tear down the barriers between their millions and our elections, is once again shifting the balance of power between politicians and donors. You could see it during last weekend’s “Sheldon primary,” when four major presidential contenders flocked to Las Vegas to court one man. When Chris Christie, not known for backing down from a fight, used a phrase (“occupied territories”) that Adelson disliked, he quickly apologized. And with good reason. Adelson, who probably spent north of $100 million in the 2012 election, can single-handedly sustain a presidential candidacy, or wreck one. He’s certainly wields more influence over American politics than most members of the United States Senate.

 

Read more at

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/04/mega-donors-are-now-more-important-than-most-politicians/360192/

 



Via Coffee Party USA
Greg Russak's insight:

We need a Fourth Estate who actually does their job, and part of that job is MASSIVE AND UNRELENTING SCRUTINY of rich and powerful people whenever they choose to wield their wealth AS power over our public institutions and elected leaders.

 

"Big donors will likely fund all this publicity unpleasant. Most would rather shape public policy in private. But the press has an obligation to follow power, to explain how our political system actually works, not to hew to a civics-class fantasy that less and less resembles reality. Since the Roberts Court is dismantling the legal obstacles that prevent America’s 0.1 percent from purchasing politicians, the press should erect cultural obstacles in their place. Our best hope now is massive scrutiny, and, hopefully, some measure of shame."

 

Take action. Add your voice, and help move our political system back in our favor instead of those with lots of money.

 

http://unitedrepublic.actionkit.com/event/cosponsor/9815/

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Coffee Party USA's curator insight, April 5, 8:46 AM

Absolutely. The press has an obligation, now more than ever, to expose Big Money and the power these people wield over our politicians and over us. (CP Curator, Greg R.)


"Big donors will likely fund all this publicity unpleasant. Most would rather shape public policy in private. But the press has an obligation to follow power, to explain how our political system actually works, not to hew to a civics-class fantasy that less and less resembles reality. Since the Roberts Court is dismantling the legal obstacles that prevent America’s 0.1 percent from purchasing politicians, the press should erect cultural obstacles in their place. Our best hope now is massive scrutiny, and, hopefully, some measure of shame."

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Does money make you mean?

Does money make you mean? | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
It's amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there's good news too. (Filmed at TEDxMarin.)
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Inequality For All: Q & A with Robert Reich - YouTube

This presentation was designed and produced by faculty and students of the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) department at San Francisco Sta...
Greg Russak's insight:

This YouTube Q&A is worth the 58 minutes, especially if you've already seen the documentary, "Inequality for All."

 

If you haven't, it's available in lots of formats, including now to stream from Netflix.

 

The accompanying website is http://inequalityforall.com/. You'll find a lot more information and more facts about our economy, the growing inequality, what it means, and what we as citizens can do to fix it.

 

It is up to us, after all. Politicians - at least most of the ones we have today - cannot be counted on to do anything. It's not in their self-interest. We need to be the ones to take action. We can and we must if anything is going to change.

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Lap Dancers, the CIA, Payoffs and BP’s Deepwater Horizon: Greg Palast

Lap Dancers, the CIA, Payoffs and BP’s Deepwater Horizon: Greg Palast | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Four years ago this Sunday, the Deepwater Horizon blowout incinerated 11 men and poisoned 600 miles of Gulf coastline. What political fairy dust allows BP to remain virtually immune from the consequences?
- 2014/04/18
Greg Russak's insight:

Palast connects the dots from the fall of the Soviet Union to a corporate-funded government overthrow in Azerbaijan, and from cost-cutting quick-dry cement that failed in the Caspian Sea the same way it would again at Deepwater Horizon to how it's possible that BP is allowed to drill again in the Gulf while no one is held accountable for the deaths of their workers and an ecological disaster.

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MoneyBomb | Take Back Tour

Greg Russak's insight:
The National Defense Authorization Act, aka the NDAA, is legislation every American ought to be aware of and ought to add it to the list of things that need to be changed in DC. A good place to start would be paying attention to PANDA, People Against the NDAA, and by supporting them and their Take Back Tour by donating and attending an event near you.
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Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want?

Who Are the Koch Brothers and What Do They Want? | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of bill...
Greg Russak's insight:

Bernie's right.

 

The Kochs are Libertarians in the most vile and despicable ideological sense of the word, and Libertarianism IS, in point of fact from it's earliest days until now, the epitome of crony capitalism at its worst.

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Another Orwellian Op-Ed From Charles Koch

Another Orwellian Op-Ed From Charles Koch | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Charles Koch, the misunderstood billionaire pollutocrat, explains his warmhearted benevolence in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. We beg to differ.
Greg Russak's insight:

....to which I respectfully add the following about libertarians and crony capitalism from my own research....

 

After all, not all libertarian ideas are bad ideas, just like not all Green, Republican, Democratic, or any other political party’s ideas are all bad.

 

While we might all find some amount of common ground everywhere, we should not mistake that for support.  Yes, I share some ideas with libertarians, but make no mistake about it. I consider hardcore libertarianism as not only bad for America, it’s bad for humanity and for civil society.

 

In fact, the only ones who actually benefit from libertarianism are the wealthy corporatists.

 

Milton Friedman would either have to agree or lie to our faces about that fact.

 

Why do I say that? Well, I wonder how many self-proclaimed libertarians and so-called “libertarian populists” actually know about their movement’s history?

 

Let me share some here.


“Libertarianism” was a project of the corporate lobby world, launched as a big business “ideology” in 1946 by The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The FEE’s board included the future founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch; the most powerful figure in the Mormon church at that time, J Reuben Clark, a frothing racist and anti-Semite after whom BYU named its law school; and United Fruit president Herb Cornuelle.


The purpose of the FEE — and libertarianism, as it was originally created — was to supplement big business lobbying with a pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-economics rationale to back up its policy and legislative attacks on labor and government regulations.


This background is important in the Milton Friedman story because Friedman is a founding father of libertarianism, and because the corrupt lobbying deal he was busted playing a part in was arranged through the Foundation for Economic Education.

- The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda, Sept. 6, 2013, Mark Ames

 

Seems that lobbying and corrupt lobbyists aren’t new ideas, and that even movements who profess to want smaller government aren’t above lobbying that very same government under the table.

 

----

 

(Excerpt from " Young (and Old) People: Do Not Be Fooled by Rand Paul",  http://didyoucheckfirst.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/young-and-old-people-do-not-be-fooled-by-rand-paul/)

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The History of Corporate Personhood | Brennan Center for Justice

The History of Corporate Personhood | Brennan Center for Justice | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
The Brennan Center for Justice is a non-partisan public policy and law institute that focuses on the fundamental issues of democracy and justice.
Greg Russak's insight:

A worthwhile read for anyone curious about how it is that corporations have been given rights intended for actual people.

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“You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” An anti-gay bigot gets humiliated

“You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” An anti-gay bigot gets humiliated | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Peter LaBarbera came to my college to "expose" the "gay agenda." He wasn't expecting what would happen instead
Greg Russak's insight:

In America, and with rare (and legitimate) exceptions, everyone has the right to speak freely even when what they have to say is vile, disgusting, and hateful. We have that right.

 

Here's the qualifier I add to that right. While everyone has a voice, not every voice is worth hearing. This is the 21st century, and if there are still gay haters in America pretending that somehow LGBTQ equality is an infringement on them, their "freedoms", or their religious beliefs then they have nothing to say worth hearing in a civil society.

 

Ignoring them - and voting against them and the politicians who won't support equality in all its forms and measures - is the best course of action to ensure they wield precisely zero power over the rest of us.

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'This Is Not Over': Gulf Life Still Reeling From Toxic BP Spill

'This Is Not Over': Gulf Life Still Reeling From Toxic BP Spill | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Greg Russak's insight:

Nearly four years after BP's Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe, plants, animals, and fish in the Gulf of Mexico are still reeling from the toxic spill, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Wildlife Federation.

 

The report, which arrives just ahead of the disaster's anniversary, examined 14 species of wildlife in the Gulf and found ongoing impacts of the disaster that could last for decades.

 

"Four years later, wildlife in the Gulf are still feeling the impacts of the spill," said Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation. "Bottlenose dolphins in oiled areas are still sick and dying and the evidence is stronger than ever that these deaths are connected to the Deepwater Horizon. The science is telling us that this is not over."

 

----

 

...and 25 years on, Prince William Sound is still not the same, either. 

 

Thanks, Big Oil. What would we do without you?

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Rep. Pompeo to Introduce Koch-Funded, Monsanto-Backed, Voluntary GMO Food Labeling Bill

Rep. Pompeo to Introduce Koch-Funded, Monsanto-Backed, Voluntary GMO Food Labeling Bill | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Consumers should be outraged that Rep. Pompeo would co-sponsor a bill written by
Greg Russak's insight:

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) will introduce legislation this month backed by the Grocery Manufactures Association—including biotech giant Monsanto and Koch Industries—that would establish a voluntary labeling system for food made with genetically modified organisms (GMO), according to an industry insider. 


The bill includes a “prohibition against mandatory labeling,” according to The Hill, and is designed to head off the many state bills and ballot initiatives that would impose more stringent labeling regulations on GMOs.

 

“Consumers should be outraged that Rep. Pompeo, or any member of Congress, would co-sponsor a bill written by industry, for the sole purpose of protecting corporate and shareholder profits, when 90 percent of Americans oppose the proposed legislation,” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association.


Read more at 

http://ecowatch.com/2014/04/04/pompeo-koch-monsanto-gmo-label-bill/

 

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House Passes ‘No New Parks’ Bill

House Passes ‘No New Parks’ Bill | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday limiting federal authority
Greg Russak's insight:

In this map, green is bad.

 

Green means a vote FOR H.R. 1459. A Yes vote is a vote AGAINST the right thing because H.R. 1459, "...prevents the president from using the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments, which presidents of both parties have used for more than 100 years to preserve iconic American treasures, including the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. In fact, nearly half of all national parks were first national monuments, like the Grand Canyon and Muir Woods."


The facts according to GovTrack.us (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr1459):

H.R. 1459: Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act


Sponsor: Rob Bishop, (R) UT


Cosponsors:

Amodei, Mark [R-NV2]
Chaffetz, Jason [R-UT3]
Gosar, Paul [R-AZ4]
Lummis, Cynthia [R-WY0]
Pearce, Stevan “Steve” [R-NM2]
Stewart, Chris [R-UT2]
Walden, Greg [R-OR2]

 

House Vote:

Aye: 219 Republicans, 3 Democrats

No: 10 Republicans, 191 Democrats

Not Voting: 3Rs, 5Ds


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McCutcheon, and the Vicious Cycle of Concentrated Wealth and Political Power

McCutcheon, and the Vicious Cycle of Concentrated Wealth and Political Power | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it

Published on Friday, April 4, 2014 by RobertReich.org

 

If wealth and income weren’t already so concentrated in the hands of a few, the shameful “McCutcheon” decision by the five Republican appointees to the Supreme Court wouldn’t be as dangerous. But by taking “Citizen’s United” one step further and effectively eviscerating campaign finance laws, the Court has issued an invitation to oligarchy.


Almost limitless political donations coupled with America’s dramatically widening inequality create a vicious cycle in which the wealthy buy votes that lower their taxes, give them bailouts and subsidies, and deregulate their businesses – thereby making them even wealthier and capable of buying even more votes. Corruption breeds more corruption.


That the richest four hundred Americans now have more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans put together, the wealthiest 1 percent own over 35 percent of the nation’s private assets, and 95 percent of all the economic gains since the start of the recovery in 2009 have gone to the top 1 percent — all of this is cause for worry, and not just because it means the middle class lacks the purchasing power necessary to get the economy out of first gear.

 

It is also worrisome because such great concentrations of wealth so readily compound themselves through politics, rigging the game in their favor and against everyone else. “McCutcheon” merely accelerates this vicious cycle.

 

As Thomas Piketty shows in his monumental “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” this was the pattern in advanced economies through much of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. And it is coming to be the pattern once again.

 

Picketty is pessimistic that much can be done to reverse it (his sweeping economic data suggest that slow growth will almost automatically concentrate great wealth in a relatively few hands). But he disregards the political upheavals and reforms that such wealth concentrations often inspire — such as America’s populist revolts of the 1890s followed by the progressive era, or the German socialist movement in the 1870s followed by Otto von Bismarck’s creation of the first welfare state.

 

In America of the late nineteenth century, the lackeys of robber barons literally deposited sacks of money on the desks of pliant legislators, prompting the great jurist Louis Brandeis to note that the nation had a choice: “We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth in the hands of a few,” he said. “But we cannot have both.”

 

Soon thereafter America made the choice. Public outrage gave birth to the nation’s first campaign finance laws, along with the first progressive income tax. The trusts were broken up and regulations imposed to bar impure food and drugs. Several states enacted America’s first labor protections, including the 40-hour workweek.

 

The question is when do we reach another tipping point, and what happens then?  


Via Coffee Party USA
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Week In Politics: Money In Campaigns And Health Care Numbers

Week In Politics: Money In Campaigns And Health Care Numbers | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Regular political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and David Brooks of The New York Times, discuss the Supreme Court campaign finance ruling and health care enrollment numbers.
Greg Russak's insight:

Conservative commentator, David Brooks, thinks we can't get money out of politics. He's wrong. Again.

 

"And so the way out of this mess is not to pretend we're gonna get money out of politics. That is a pipe dream. The way to get out of this mess is to channel the money through institutions that at least have some accountability and the parties have some accountability."

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A Threat to American Democracy - YouTube

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks on the Senate floor about skyrocketing income and wealth inequality and the destruction of the middle class.
Greg Russak's insight:

I really do hope this guy runs for President in 2016, and I hope Robert Reich will be his running mate.

 

They would have the vast majority of the populace behind them, and their agenda could not be denied even by an obstructionist Congress.

 

Here are the facts everyone needs to know

- Top 1% of Americans own 38% of the nation's wealth
- Bottom 60% of Americans own 2.3% of the nation's wealth
- The Walton Family wealth is more than the combined wealth of the bottom 40% of Americans
- 95% of all new income from 2009 to 2012 - economic growth in America - earned went to Top 1%
- Top 25 hedge fund managers last year - in one year! - made over $24Billion, or enough to pay the salaries of 425,000 of public school teachers
- The Koch Brothers last year saw a $12Billion increase in their wealth, for a total wealth of $80Billion
- Middle class families have seen a decline of $5,000/year in income, adjusted for inflation, between 1999 and now, and still makes less than they did 25 years ago

- 1 in 4 corporations pay zero in federal income taxes

 

All the gains in our society from productivity and technology are all going to the top. They aren't solely responsible and should not be realizing all the gains.

 

A handful of unfathomably wealthy people are influencing our government in ways that only benefit them and create a disaster for everyone else.

 

The Billionaire Party, led by the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, and who set up so-called "think tanks" meant only to dupe people into supporting horrendous ideas like tax breaks, more and more deregulation, and policies that will completely destroy this once great country.

 

Cut Social Security. Cut Medicare. Cut Medicaid. Cut funding early education and for public education. Privatize everything. Eliminate the minimum wage altogether. Abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. More and more and more  austerity, so that more and more and more benefits rise to the top while we stupidly believe that any of it will trickles down to us.

 

Both major parties are guilty, but let's be very clear and very honest. There is only one major political party in this country that is described precisely by the above. One.

 

It would behoove us middle class voters - senior citizens, young people, but especially people who make more than $25K but less than $75K a year - to understand and remember these fact in November and in 2016.

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Bush Health Secretary Louis Sullivan Is One Republican Who Supports Obamacare

Bush Health Secretary Louis Sullivan Is One Republican Who Supports Obamacare | DidYouCheckFirst | Scoop.it
Sullivan is especially dismayed that so many Republican governors have refused to expand the Medicaid program to bring more low-incomes individuals and families into coverage, as the Affordable Care Act makes possible....
Greg Russak's insight:

One of their own restates the obvious and exposes the Republicans who oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for what they are: Hypocritical, partisan obstructionists.

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