The 2012 election may come down to how many Americans become familiar with this graphic. It's the dawn of the information age. Social media is still a baby. And, in the era of unlimited, undisclosed campaign spending courtesy of an activist Supreme Court, will Americans have this image in their minds by the time November arrives, or visions of Sheriff Joe Arpaio with a birth certificate and Rush Limbaugh with a trans-vaginal probe? [MORE]
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $554 billion defense bill that rejects Pentagon proposals to curtail or slow weapons programs, bans same-sex marriages on military bases and backs indefinite detention without trial of terrorism suspects.
Our government needs to be rescued from the elephant worshipers. These are Members of Congress (MOC) who fervently believe that the way to feed the birds is to give the elephants more peanuts. I call them peanut baggers and unless we purge them from our government the have nots in our country (which is around 80 percent of us) will have less and less and less.
By identifying legislation that corporate interests have supported or written (think ALEC) and initiatives they've opposed, say over the last ten years, we can develop the following metric to sort out the offenders:
a) MOC that have signed a pledge never to raise taxes
b) MOC that are global warming deniers/skeptics
c) MOC that have voted for most of the legislation favored by corporate interests
d) MOC that have voted against most of the legislation opposed by corporate interests
MOC that test positive for (a + b) or (a + c and d) or (c + d) are peanut baggers. This is the biggest problem we face because as long as peanut baggers wield sufficient power in our government, the economy will only work for their supporters and the rest of us will continue our descent into slave labor and poverty. The sooner we hand the peanut baggers their pink slips the sooner the peoples government can begin to build a country that works for everyone. The new government should give the following reforms the highest priority:
a) Campaign finance reform - Establish a reasonable limit for political contributions based on what the average citizen can afford. Treat corporations as one person and make them subject to the same limit (no exceptions). Provide public funds for legitimate candidates to present their agendas to constituents (think websites and unscripted local and national televised debates).
b) Lobbying reform - Place the same limitations on lobbyists that an individuals has when they want to petition their Senator or Representative, write a letter or send an Email. Lobbyists have more resources so they'd be allowed to circulate a white paper. Alternatively, a MOC would have to allocate equal time to any constituent that wished to weigh in on any legislation lobbyists wish to influence. Lobbyists would not be granted any additional time until all constituents have been heard.
c) Electoral reform - Pass laws that effectively prevent gerrymandering and other forms of disenfranchisement. Consider amending the constitution to eliminate the Electoral College. Think of how much better off we would have been without George W Bush.
The issues voters are concerned about: the economy, the national debt, unemployment, health care, retirement, fair wages are all legitimate but divide and distract us. None of these problems are solvable as long as the Elephants rule. As long as we allow the peanut baggers to sell us out, we don't have a chance.
Why are we talking about contraception right now? Folks on the left say it's a right wing Republican ploy to distract from an economy that's improving. Folks on the right say its a Democratic ploy to distract from an economy that's not improving fast enough.
SPEAKING of AMERICA with Don Manning Mondays from 11 pm to 1 am Eastern Time (8 pm to 11 pm Pacific)
“Republicans have done a mystifying job of either ignoring or offending Hispanic voters,” said Mark McKinnon, a strategist who worked for former President
George W. Bush: “And the consequences for the general election are likely to be significant and perhaps determinative to the outcome.”
This comes after other top GOP officials whose job is to win elections, such as NRSC chair John Cornyn, have privately warned the Romney campaign that his embrace of extreme positions on immigration risks becoming a drag on GOP Senate and House candidates.
Republican officials have begun to push back publicly on the narrative that the GOP has a major Latino problem. They told the New York Times in a big piece today that Republicans would be able to seize on economic suffering among Latinos to make inroads among them, offset any problems being created by the primary’s harsh immigration rhetoric, and loosen traditional cultural bonds between Latinos and the Democratic Party.
But if anything, what’s really revealing is how weak and insubstantial this pushback is. Republicans who talked to the Times present no significant evidence that Latinos are inclined to agree with Republican ideas about the economy. Indeed, a recent Univision/ABC poll found that 55 percent of Latinos agree with Dems that the best way to grow the economy is to invest in federal projects to stimulate the economy. Only 31 percent agree with the GOP agument that lowering taxes is the way to go. Less than a quarter of Latinos trust Republicans to make the right decisions to improve the economy; 61 percent pick Obama and Dems. [MORE]
Arizona, seemingly determined to take bad ideas and make them worse, is moving ahead with a bill that both makes explicit and codifies into law the current fights over contraception coverage. Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Republican Debbie Lesko, allows employers with religious or moral objections to contraception to deny insurance coverage of it to their employees. This is in response to the Affordable Care Act’s provision that insurance be required to cover contraception without a co-pay; the Obama administration already made a compromise that should protect religious employees. Yet conservatives have had a hard time letting it go.
The interesting thing about Arizona’s bill, however, is that it does have an exception built in for women who don’t use birth control for sex. If it is for other medical reasons, employers are required to cover it. The tricky question is, How would anyone know the difference? The bill takes care of that conundrum by allowing employers to ask their workers for proof that their baby pills are not being used during baby making time. Some are speculating that this opens up the door to employers firing their employees because they’re on the pill.
Here’s the crazy thing: employers should want their employees to use birth control for reproductive purposes. As Annie Lowrey recently wrote, “A number of studies have shown that by allowing women to delay marriage and childbearing, the pill has also helped them invest in their skills and education, join the work force in greater numbers, move into higher-status and better-paying professions and make more money over all.”
She points to an influential study by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, which shows that the pill encouraged women to pursue careers by ensuring that their investments in education and training weren’t disrupted by unwanted pregnancy, as well as changing the marriage market so that career women could delay and be more attractive mates. “Because up-front, time-intensive career investments are difficult for women with child care responsibilities, the pill encouraged women’s careers by virtually eliminating the risk of pregnancy,” the authors write. On top of this, the pill importantly decoupled sex and marriage. That meant that the cost of delaying marriage went down, which made women with good career prospects more attractive as potential wives. Take that, Rick Santorum. [MORE]
How the anti-tax activist hijacked the GOP on behalf of the rich
by TIM DICKINSON, Rolling Stone
Grover Norquist has never held elected office. He's not a political appointee or a congressional staffer, and few voters know his name. Yet this anti-tax lobbyist wields immense power over the Republican Party, enforcing a hard-line position that compels the GOP to protect tax breaks for the rich and billions in federal subsidies for America's wealthiest corporations. "It all comes from a single guy," says Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator. So how does Norquist do it?
Norquist's influence over the GOP began in 1985, when Ronald Reagan tapped the little-known staffer at the Chamber of Commerce to head up Americans for Tax Reform, a pressure group organized to push a comprehensive tax package through Congress. With backing from the Chamber, Norquist – a Harvard MBA and former head of the College Republicans – challenged GOP candidates to take a two-part pledge: that they would never raise taxes, and that they would only close tax loopholes if the additional revenue was used to pay for further tax cuts. Before long, he had 102 congressmen and 16 senators signed up.
Over the past 25 years, Norquist has received funding from many of America's wealthiest corporations, including Philip Morris, Pfizer and Microsoft. To build a farm team of anti-tax conservatives, Norquist shrewdly took the pledge to state legislatures across the country, pressuring up-and- coming Republicans to make it a core issue before they're called up to the big leagues. "We're branding the whole party that way," Norquist says. "The people who are going to be running for Congress in 10 or 20 years are coming out of state legislatures with a history with the pledge." [MORE]
First it came from Rep. Michelle Bachmann, and then again today from Gov. Bob McDonnell on Meet the Press. "Gas prices have doubled since President Obama took office." That would mean that gas prices were under $2.00 during the Bush years, and that's not what I recall.
Fox News, is blaming the Obama Administration for rising gas prices in light of the fact that the economy and jobs numbers have been improving. But if we watch this video from 2008, when the relationship between Fox's hyper-partisan agenda and the White House was otherwise aligned, we see it's very easy to make the argument that the President cannot be blamed for gas prices if accuracy and integrity are as important to you crudely disguised electioneering.
Can their be any explanation for the 180 degree about-face on Fox "News" than a change in who occupies the White House? How stupid do they think we are?
Excerpt from piece by MICHAEL MASSEY for Coffee Party USA
Progressive Income Tax — Just Another Dirty Socialist Plot?
Adam Smith wrote in his classic treatise on free market capitalism, The Wealth of Nations:
The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. They find it difficult to get food, and the greater part of their little revenue is spent in getting it. The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. A tax upon house-rents, therefore, would in general fall heaviest upon the rich; and in this sort of inequality there would not, perhaps, be anything very unreasonable. It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.
Adam Smith's idea that it would be "not very unreasonable" to ask the wealthy to contribute proportionally more to the public expense is foundational to progressive tax systems. A separate, but interesting question is the idea of who derives more benefit (and therefore should pay more) from a stable, peaceful, lawful society — that is for another post.
Progressive taxation is built on the principle of diminishing marginal utility: the idea that additional units of a thing are less valuable than the ones acquired before. Cars are a decent example: in our society, having one car is very useful; in many places, automobile ownership is nearly a necessity. Having two cars might also be useful, but the second car is probably not as useful as the first since one person can't drive two cars at the same time. A tenth car is probably more of a hindrance than a help, even for a large family — unless they own a parking lot. The same principle can be applied to money.
An additional dollar is generally more useful to people with fewer dollars. If I don't have a lot of money I might have to choose between paying for rent, food, or health insurance. Once I've got the basics covered, additional dollars are still useful — but they're less useful since they’re paying for lower-priority things. The same can be applied to even more dollars — still useful, but not as useful to me as the ones before. At the extreme end of the spectrum, some of the richest people in the world seem to have trouble finding even frivolous ways to spend vast sums of money that we "commoners" only dream about. The less money you have, the more useful each unit of money is to you.
A progressive income tax takes this into account. The tax paid on each additional dollar increases gradually (the tax is “progressive”) because the relative utility of additional dollars decreases. [MORE]
by Suzette Hackney and Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing was shocked when he first saw what Gov. Rick Snyder was proposing: a rescue plan that would strip Bing and the City Council of much of their power and put a financial advisory board in charge of the city's future.
To Bing, the governor's proposed consent agreement, unveiled Tuesday, looked more like a takeover than a joint effort to solve the city's financial perils.
To Snyder, it was the only option he had after months of watching the city slip closer to financial meltdown.
In his proposed consent agreement, Snyder would give a nine-member financial advisory board and its appointees sweeping power to restructure city government and control Detroit's purse strings, while leaving Bing and the council in office -- but with reduced powers.
Although Snyder stopped short of appointing an emergency manager to fix Detroit's financial troubles, critics say his proposal could be considered as far-reaching as one.
"I'm tremendously disappointed that this consent agreement proposed by Gov. Snyder does not represent the spirit of partnership needed between the city and the state to resolve the city's financial challenges," Bing said in a statement. "It forfeits the electoral rights of the citizens of Detroit guaranteed by the democratic process."
Snyder said in announcing his plan, "For several months, I have made very clear through my discussions with the mayor that the best possible outcome would be for the city to develop its own, workable plan to address this financial crisis. Over time, it has become increasingly clear that may not come to fruition. If the city cannot implement its own recovery plan, to address both short- and long-term problems, a consent agreement is the next best option."
Details of the agreement -- first reported on freep.com -- call for Bing to continue as chief executive of the city and the council to continue as the city's legislative body. But the financial advisory board would have full authority to make fiscal decisions for the city.
The board would appoint a new chief operating officer, chief financial officer and a human resources director who would serve under the direction of the advisory board.
But the agreement doesn't come empty-handed. It includes an infusion of $137 million in cash to help with Detroit's immediate budget shortfall that puts the city at risk of payless paydays and service cuts, according to state Treasurer Andy Dillon. The amount is not included in the state document released Tuesday.
This week, the city is projected to have $42.4 million in the bank. Detroit needs roughly $60 million to operate each month. By the end of the fiscal year on June 30, the city is projected to have a $46.8-million negative balance in the general fund.
But the bailout money won't come directly from the state, Dillon said Tuesday. The state will allow the city to refinance some of its debt, generating $37 million in available cash for the city and help Detroit borrow up to $100 million more to deal with short-term cash flow problems.
"Clearly time is running out, and doing nothing is not an option," Dillon said.
Among the various regions of the commonwealth, Western Massachusetts residents seem to be supporting Republican Sen. Scott Brown and chief Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren at nearly an equal rate in the U.S. Senate race.
This according to one data table from the poll conducted by the Western New England University Polling Institute in a partnership with The Republican and MassLive.com.
In the survey, 527 registered voters from across the commonwealth were asked various questions pertaining to the 2012 Senate and Presidential races. The poll has a 4.3 percent margin of error, according to the polling institute.
When asked which candidate they were leaning toward at this point, 42 percent of Western Mass. residents said Warren while 44 percent said Brown.
But state-wide, 41 percent of those surveyed said they were leaning toward Warren with 49 percent supporting Brown.
Overall, 10 percent of those surveyed said they were still undecided, signifying that there is enough time for either candidate to rise or fall based on what happens over the coming months on the campaign trail.
Boston and its suburbs hold the highest concentration of support for Warren with 48 percent saying they are leaning toward her. The area with the lowest concentration of support, according to the poll, is the North and South shores, with 33 percent support.
Brown has the highest concentration of support on the North and South shores with 54 percent, with 46 percent of those polled in Central Massachusetts and Boston and its suburbs also supporting the senator.
The GOP has been on an economic wrecking mission ever since the election of Barack Obama - indeed we now know that leading Republican strategists and legislators met and planned a course of economic sabotage and complete obstruction on Obama's very first day in office.
This obstruction has had a huge price - a deliberate price that the GOP is betting the American people will blame on President Obama. GOP obstruction did not prevent the passage of ARRA - the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - popularly know as "The Stimulus" bill of 2009 during the height of the economic disaster as the economy was falling off a cliff - the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that ARRA has saved up to 3 million jobs. But nearly every economic measure since then has been blocked by GOP obstruction, filibusters and brinksmanship.
What has been the result of GOP obstruction?
It is hard to quantify what constant obstruction has cost - you could tally up estimates of every measure that came along, but not all would have passed - nor even been introduced if previous measures had been adopted that obviated their need. But we can look at just two big examples and get a minimal measure of the human cost to American citizens of a deliberate policy to destroy the economy in order to bring down the president; 1) austerity, and 2) obstruction of the 2011 American Jobs Act. Taking just those into account, the unemployment rate would be under 6% were it not for deliberate GOP wrecking. [MORE]
Our Facebook page alone reaches more than a million people every day. It's an honor and a dream come true to connect with so many people using 99 Percent Media (media that most Americans can afford). It's a lot of fun too! But most of all, it's a huge responsibility. To compete with One Percent Media, we need more people like you to get involved.
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Help us "be the media" by signing up and or registering for an upcoming strategy call that will teach you how to help us operate one or more of our social media platforms...
Fair Food Network is a national nonprofit that works at the intersection of food systems, sustainability and social equity to guarantee access to healthy, fresh and sustainably grown food, especially in underserved communities.
When Wall Street giant JPMorgan Chase announced this week that it had lost an estimated $2 billion (now upped to $3 billion) on risky trades, Republican and Democratic members of Congress rushed to make their political cases: Either this was something that more regulation couldn't have prevented, or this was exactly what stronger government rules could have thwarted.
None of them, however, mentioned whether they had a financial stake in JPMorgan Chase.
Before we get conservative politicians to change their minds regarding climate change we must get them to listen, a rather Herculean task in itself. (Why Is the GOP Ignoring Its Own Climate Scientists About Climate Change?
by Marvin Meadors, 3/22/2012
According to a fascinating article by Katherine Bagley prosaically titled "GOP Not Listening to its Own Climate Scientists on Climate Change," a group of prominent conservative scientists, many of them evangelicals, approached conservative politicians to educate them on climate change and predictably the pols have not "warmed," shall we say, to their efforts.
Although usually loath to announce their political leanings, these Republican-affiliated scientists thought conservatives may be receptive to scientists with conservative credentials. Who are these concerned scientists and how do they get conservative politicians to embrace climate change when many of them see the use of alternative energies as a step toward anarchy? more...
Just two years after President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010, millions of Americans have already benefited from its sweeping reforms. While the new law’s provisions will not be fully implemented until 2014, it is making a difference by drastically improving access to higher-quality care, addressing rising health care costs, and protecting consumers. [MORE]
March is Women’s Month worldwide, intended to celebrate the advancement of women’s accomplishments and equality. While there are many individual accomplishments to celebrate overall the picture is not rosy, particularly in the United States.
Research data from the workplace shows evidence that in North America, and particularly in the United States, the situation for women is deteriorating and the glass ceiling may become concrete. [MORE]
We are living in revolutionary times. Scary, yes, but it is the truth, and the signs are everywhere. Historians will point to two factors, and Lawrence Lessig is the clearest, most compelling voice speaking to both of them:
The corrupting influence of money in politics.
The Wall Street crash, the Wall Street bail out, the media-induced cover-up, Occupy Wall Street, the recent SOPA/PIPA showdown, and the most unpredictable presidential primary race in history — all have these two factors in common.
Enormous sums of money have deformed our political process and allowed an invading empire to grow inside us and attack us from within. But it is not in our nature, as Americans, to go down without a fight. Thus, a fight has begun.
Lessig’s conversation with America has always been a two-way street — whether through The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, through his public speaking engagements, or through his writing. And, in revolutionary times, things happen fast. Thus, right on the heels of his 369 page masterpiece Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, Lessig released today a 73-page e-book called One Way Forward ($1.99, Byliner).
Here he explains why:
First the good news: For the first time in a hundred years, we have the technology to empower ordinary citizens to be engaged and passionate about their government again.
Now the bad news: The business model for this engagement, of the entities that build these movements of passion, whether for profit or not for profit, make it extremely hard to imagine them ever working together on anything.
The DNA of America is a house divided. A Civil War without guns. Just at the time technology enables us the most, the business model of hate disables us the most. Unless we can find a way around it. [MORE]
4,000 Americans have signed up to coordinate resolutions week efforts in more than 1000 cities and towns for Resolutions Week!
Sign Up to Organize for a Constitutional Amendment in Your Community this spring, we’re planning a push to pass 100 new local resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment, centered around Resolutions Week in June. Will you join us? We also know that many cities and towns have already passed resolutions.
If this is the case, you can work to move forward a ballot initiative or work to get a resolution passed in your county or state.
ACTION: They did it in Vermont. Will YOUR town be next? CLICK HERE to join the movement.
Op-ed by KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL for The Washington Post
A certain kind of politician is becoming a dwindling breed. I’m not thinking of the over-praised and frequently eulogized centrist, the kind who spends a career watering things down and gets lionized for having done so. I mean the bold, politically courageous people who make real the cliché, “Speak truth to power.” The ones who are, perhaps, a little too righteous, who don’t compromise easily, but who prove again and again a tendency to be correct. They are the ones who are harder to dismiss, no matter how much the pundits or corporate media try. They insert themselves into the national conversation, pushing their ideas and their vision into the debate.
Dennis Kucinich is one of those politicians. At least, he was. Last week, thanks in large part to Republican gerrymandering, he lost his bid for reelection. In his loss, the country loses something too. Whatever your view of Kucinich’s politics or style, he mattered a great deal.
Kucinich was never afraid to take the positions that should have been at the core of the Democratic party. He opposed the Patriot Act when few brave Democrats would join him. He was opposed to the Iraq war from the outset, whipping his colleagues against it, with the result that three-fifths of House Democrats voted against that immoral, illegal invasion. Once it began, he called on Congress to defund it, when few in his party were willing to go along. Despite almost no political support, he introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, accusing him (rightly, I believe) of lying to the American people to get us into the war in Iraq.
He railed against the expansion and abuse of executive authority, during both Bush’s and Obama’s terms. He called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in America, modeled after those in South Africa, to shed light on the politicization of 9/11. He called forcefully for an end to hostilities in Gaza, deploring the killing of innocent civilians by Israeli soldiers. He warned, as he still warns, of fear-mongering that would lead to another war of choice, this one with Iran.
"A joint panel of the Maryland legislature approved on Valentines's Day a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, adding to national momentum for gay nuptials following advances in California, New Jersey and Washington state over the last week." - Ian Simpson