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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Make the Call or Get Out of the Booth: After the President's "Wall Street" Speech

26Dems Editorial Comment: Simon Johnson, former IMF official and MIT professor is urging us all to contact Congress to pass a strong reform act that will make the banking system safer.

By Simon Johnson, MIT Professor and author of 13 Bankers
Huffington Post
April 22, 2010

The President's rhetoric today at Cooper Union was impressive and his body language indicates a major shift in administration attitudes towards the big banks over the past year. This is commendable.

But there is still the awkward question of legislation that would actually reduce the political power of big banks -- and make our financial system significantly safer. The latest indications from the Senate are that there will be some sort of "Dodd minus" compromise bill brought to the floor early next week. The Republicans have substantially backed down from Senator McConnell's "hell, no" position of last week because the polling is crystal clear: Anyone perceived as opposing financial reform will lose badly in November.

But the Democratic leadership is not seizing on this advantage and on the opportunity presented by the SEC case against Goldman Sachs -- key figures in the Democratic establishments are too worried about upsetting financial sector donors. As a result, come November, independents will view the Democrats with scorn, while the Democratic base will be far from energized; you do the math.

What can you do? What makes sense in both economic and political terms?
Call your Senator [Sen. Kyl [(202) 224-4521Fax: (202) 224-2207 Email.]
Sen. McCain [(202) 224-2235 Fax: (202) 228-2862 Email],
Call Senator Harry Reid (Senate majority leader) [Phone: 202-224-3542 / Fax: 202-224-7327Email], and
Call the White House [(202) 456-1111 Email]
Tell them that you support the Brown-Kaufman SAFE Banking Act (unveiled yesterday) -- as an amendment that would greatly strengthen the Dodd bill by capping the size and leverage of our biggest banks. Politely ask the people who answer the phone to make certain that this amendment gets an "up or down vote" in the Senate.

The Brown-Kaufman Act is our best near-term chance to reduce the size of Wall Street megabanks that are too big to fail and that threaten our economy. (If you don't understand why this is important, read 13 Bankers; quickly -- this could all be over by this time next week.)

Tell everyone you know why this makes sense and ask them to make the call also. These calls will determine the outcome. If the Democratic leadership understands the groundswell of support for breaking up big banks, the Brown-Kaufman proposal has a chance to come to the floor -- and who exactly on the Republican side would like to be on the record as opposing it?

If no one who reads this post speaks out (and makes the call), the Brown-Kaufman amendment will not come to the floor. If some of you speak out, there is a sliver of a chance. And if all of you -- and everyone you know and everyone they know -- make three simple, short, and friendly phone calls, there will be a vote.

This post is crossposted at The Baseline Scenario. The book 13 Bankers is on sale now.

26Dems Editorial Comment: Simon Johnson and Co-Author James KWAK appeared on Bill Moyers Journal April 18. The authors sum up how Big Finance grew powerful enough to bring down the global economy, plus their take on Washington politicians and hope for real reform. Click on the picture below to view this important commentary.

Arizona’s Plain Old Politics

By John Cheney-Lippold
Posted on Apr 23, 2010

Even before Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the racist, anti-immigrant SB 1070 into law Friday, the climate around the debate on immigration in that border state had been saturated by politics.
Plain old politics, the refuge of self-involved scoundrels who vote and act not for the greater good but for the greater length of their terms in office. Plain old politics, the world of white men and corruption and corporate pillow talk.
Plain old politics, the ideological place from which we should expect a bill like SB 1070—one which legalizes the profiling of brown people, with or without documents and with or without cause—to spring, and to which it should be summarily thrown back. The public discourse surrounding the legislation has pointed out beyond a doubt its unconstitutionality, its waste of resources and its ultimately immoral standing.

Political opportunism has made a bad law a reality, as in so many of the critical political decisions that we have seen go awry in this country. “Everybody was afraid to vote no on immigration,” declared Republican state Sen. Bill Konopnicki in the most honest quotation I have heard from a politician in the past decade. The climate in Arizona proved terrifying enough to make every Republican legislator—even Konopnicki, who said he doesn’t even believe the bill will work—vote for it, as politicians prepare for re-election in the coming months. As far-right challengers attack Republican Party conservatives, more and more politicians are following in the footsteps of state senator and SB 1070 author Russell Pearce, darling of the discredited Minuteman movement and, until a couple of months ago, outlier of Republican ideology. The New York Times reports that while surveys show immigration to be less an issue than it was half a decade ago, many Republicans still wave their anti-immigrant banner and 82 percent of self-identified tea party advocates believe illegal immigration to be a “very serious” problem.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

William Black Warns That Financial Reform Bill Won't Stop The Wall Street Crime Wave

By Dan Froomkin
Huffington Post
Posted: April 21, 2010 04:28 PM

The answer, in this crisis, is "the financial version of Don't Ask Don't Tell,"

The securities fraud case against Goldman Sachs is a powerful reminder that the financial crisis responsible for millions of lost jobs and lost homes wasn't just the result of market vagaries and regulatory failure -- it was also the result of massive fraud at all levels of the financial system.

This epidemic of fraud has gone largely uninvestigated and almost entirely unprosecuted.

And the incentive structures that led so many people to intentionally take advantage of so many others for personal gain remains largely unaddressed by the legislation being considered in Congress.

Indeed, while there's plenty of talk of unwinding big banks, there's been little discussion of undoing the system that rewarded mortgage brokers for getting people to lie on their applications, sent more business to credit raters the fewer questions they asked, and encouraged massive investment banks to hide their losses and pitch investment vehicles designed to crash.

When you start to see fraud at the heart of the financial crisis, you turn to different people to explain what happened -- and to propose solutions. "Once you understand the implications of massively fraudulent practices," said James Galbraith, a progressive economist at the University of Texas, "it changes the professional community that has the principal say about interpreting the crisis."

Economists, he said, should move into the background -- and "criminologists to the forefront."

One such criminologist -- with a personal track record of two-fisted regulatory effectiveness during the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s -- is William F. Black, now a professor at the University of Missouri and author of the book, "The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One".

Black sees what he calls "control fraud" at the heart of the financial crisis. "Control fraud," he explained, "is when the people controlling a seemingly legitimate entity use the entity as a weapon to defraud." It's fraud committed by design, by the people at the top. And here is the rest of it.

Continue reading here

House Financial Services Committee Testimony: Lehman's Failure A Story of Fraud, "Liars Loans"

Giffords Highlights Successes in Curbing Border Drug Trafficking

Ed Schultz Show: Supreme Court Pick Should Stick Up for the Powerless

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Ed Schultz Show: Arizona's Immigration Meltdown

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Students Arrested at AZ. State Capitol opposing SB 107

Attorney General Candidate Vince Rabago Blasts Senate Bill 1070 | Urges Gov. Brewer to Veto Dangerous Legislation

TUCSON — Democrat Vince Rabago releases the following statement concerning SB1070, “safe neighborhoods; immigration; law enforcement”:

Prior to making a decision on whether or not to sign SB 1070, I urge the governor to stop, take a deep breath and fully consider the implications of enacting this shortsighted bill and the inevitable consequences to our state.

The threats to our constitutional rights from this legislation are much too significant to ignore. The proponents’ stated reason for this legislation is to secure our border. This bill does absolutely nothing to secure the border. Instead, it scapegoats significant segments of our population and targets them for racial profiling.

This legislation effectively establishes a national ID – if you do not have the appropriate identification, then you are “presumed” to be an illegal immigrant and subject to arrest. This is wholly inconsistent with the values of justice and liberty on which our great nation was built. Simply put, it’s un-American.

This bill will also shift the burden of enforcing federal immigration laws to local law enforcement. This will inevitably lead to diversion of limited law enforcement resources away from protecting the public and will result in higher taxes. This bill simply enables the federal government’s continued negligence in failing to secure the border and enact comprehensive immigration reform.

Border violence is caused by criminal activities — drug and human smuggling. More law enforcement resources are needed at the border to stop these criminal activities. SB 1070 does not address this issue and does not make our border more secure or protect Arizonans.

I strongly urge Governor Brewer to veto this legislation.

Paid for by Vince Rabago for Attorney General
P.O. Box 24515
Tempe, AZ 85285

Rep. Raul Grijalva Proposes Economic Boycott Over Racial Profiling Measure

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Roots of Stalin in the Tea Party Movement

By Yasha Levine
April 17, 2010
The Koch family, America's biggest financial backers of the Tea Party, would not be the billionaires they are today were it not for the godless empire of the USSR.
The Tea Party movement's dirty little secret is that its chief financial backers owe their family fortune to the granddaddy of all their hatred: Stalin's godless empire of the USSR. The secretive oil billionaires of the Koch family, the main supporters of the right-wing groups that orchestrated the Tea Party movement, would not have the means to bankroll their favorite causes had it not been for the pile of money the family made working for the Bolsheviks in the late 1920s and early 1930s, building refineries, training Communist engineers and laying down the foundation of Soviet oil infrastructure.

The comrades were good to the Kochs. Today Koch Industries has grown into the second-largest private company in America. With an annual revenue of $100 billion, the company was just $6.3 billion shy of first place in 2008. Ownership is kept strictly in the family, with the company being split roughly between brothers Charles and David Koch, who are worth about $20 billion apiece and are infamous as the largest sponsors of right-wing causes. They bankroll scores of free-market and libertarian think tanks, institutes and advocacy groups. Greenpeace estimates that the Koch family shelled out $25 million from 2005 to 2008 funding the "climate denial machine," which means they outspent Exxon Mobile three to one.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Let’s Have a Real Debate About the Court, Expose Radicalism

By Joe Conason
Posted on Apr 14, 2010

Choosing a Supreme Court justice has become a deplorably dishonest process that hides ideological disputes behind petty and often personal matters. Nominees pretend to have no opinion about controversial issues such as abortion, when everyone listening knows they certainly do. Politicians pretend to worry about nothing except judicial qualifications, temperament and balance.

It is a summer exercise that often descends into ugly insinuations and cheap shots while evading real questions. But perhaps this time will be slightly different, as the president nominates—and the Senate considers—a replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. For once, the nation may confront fundamental differences with a degree of candor.

Influential pundits on the right are advising the Senate Republican leadership to mount a sustained opposition to virtually any nominee chosen by President Barack Obama. The time has come, they argue, for a partisan showdown on the most basic issues that divide the country.

“I think Republicans should want to have a serious debate on the Constitution,” says William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, Fox News commentator and Republican strategist. “I’m struck when you listen to the tea party activists. They often talk about, ‘We need to be constitutionalists, we need to be constitutional conservatives.’ ”

The aim of such a debate would not be to influence the court, since the Senate’s majority seems certain to overcome opposition to an Obama nominee—as it did when Sonia Sotomayor ascended to the highest bench last year.

Continue reading here.

Joe Conason writes for The New York Observer.

© 2010 Creators.com And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kyl Litmus Test on Supreme Court Nominees: It's Back to the (18)90s|Exposes sham "populism"

By Carl Pope Chairman of the Sierra Club
Huffington Post
April 16, 2010 05:08 PM

No, not the 1990s (Bill Clinton's era). I'm talking about the 1890s, when William McKinley served as the 19th century's last president. That's where the Senate Republican leadership wants to take the Supreme Court.

In one of the most politically bizarre moves of the year, Arizona senator and Republican Whip
Jon Kyl announced that his party will use the next Supreme Court nominee's position on the right of corporations to spend unlimited funds on supporting or opposing political candidates as a litmus test for that nomination.

Technically, Kyl claimed that he was merely warning President Obama against making the Supreme Court's 5 to 4 Citizens United v. FEC ruling in favor of corporate influence-buying a litmus test for choosing a nominee. But the press (and everyone else) understands by now that when the extreme right talks of an Obama litmus test, they are actually projecting their own plans. As a headline writer for The Hill put it: "Money Case Is New Test for Nominee."

Let's remember that even Justice Stephen Breyer, who was the most pro-business Democratic nominee to the Court nominee in 40 years, opposed the Citizens United decision. For that matter, former conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist resolutely opposed efforts to give corporations political rights to his dying day. There is no plausible Obama nominee who would be likely to favor the decision. Therefore, no litmus test will be necessary -- for President Obama.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Support President Obama: Join 2 Million Strong for Net Neutrality

Sign the petition here

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Olberman: McCain Goes Rogue on Iran

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Leading Education Scholar Diane Ravitch: No Child Left Behind Has Left US Schools with Legacy of “Institutionalized Fraud”

By Amy Goodman
Democracy Now
March 15, 2010

As the Obama administration touts No Child Left Behind and the “Race to the Top” competition for school grants, we speak to leading education scholar and former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch. She’s long been known as an advocate of No Child Left Behind, charter schools, standardized testing, and using the free market to improve schools. But she’s had a radical change of heart, as chronicled in her latest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. Ravitch says, “The evidence says No Child Left Behind was a failure, and charter schools aren’t going to be any better.”
Watch Video:

26dems Editorial Comment:
Teachers and public schools are under siege in Arizona as the Republican legislature brutally cuts education while preserving tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.
A 1% temporary sales tax will be on the ballot May 18. The Pima County Democratic Party passed a resolution in support of the sales tax because the Executive Committee was persuaded by the arguments of school board members that if the sales tax measure does not pass, Arizona's children will be harmed by a doubling of the cuts to already devastated budgets. Refusing to make the children pawns in a political game controlled by the majority Republicans, Democrats decided to put kids first, believing that several conditions make it decidedly unlikely that the legislature and the Governor will go back on a promise that money earmarked for education will fund school budgets.

The leading Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal touts his accomplishments that form the basis for a privatization education agenda in Arizona. Dave Safier writing in Blog for Arizona demonstrates that the package does not serve 80% of Arizona's children.

Here are the accomplishments he lists:
  1. "Removing the caps on charter school enrollment" (Republicans love charter schools almost as much as they love private schools. The more the better.)
  2. "Creating Arizona's Tuition Tax Credit, helping our Christian & Catholic schools" (Yes, they love their private schools, especially the religious ones -- if you're the right religion. Did you know tuition tax credits don't help Jewish or Muslim private schools? Or secular ones? At least they don't merit a mention. And did you know Catholics aren't Christians, so they need a separate religious category?)
  3. "Supporting English Language Immersion for students who can't speak English" (It's cheap the way we do it in Arizona, and recent research show it's not very effective, but according to Republicans, it's all they deserve. Why should we let them talk all that Spanish-talk in schools anyway?)
  4. "Developing and passing the best home school laws in the nation" (Did I forget to mention Republicans love home schooling as much as private schooling? And that Hupp thinks home schools are public schools too?)
  5. "Providing the very best computer technology for our deaf and blind students" (But if you can hear and see, you don't get the best of anything. Sorry, can't afford it.)
  6. "Establishing a model summer school for children with autism" (But if you aren't autistic, good luck finding a "model summer school" to attend)
Show unenthusiastic voters this agenda and tell them if they don't support the destruction of public education in Arizona they should come out and vote for the sales tax increase and LD 26 education defenders, Cheryl Cage for Senate and Rep Nancy Young-Wright for the House of Representatives--and against candidates who have voted for massive, draconian cuts to education that will deprive our children of educational opportunity.

Maddow: GOP Faking Outrage

MSNBC Video: Let Them Eat Fake

Friday, April 9, 2010

KUAT-TV sponsoring debate/panel discussion on Proposition 100: The 1% Temporary Sales Tax

Arizona Education Network News

Proposition 100 Debate/Panel Discussion

April 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm

KUAT-TV is sponsoring a debate/panel discussion on Proposition 100 called "Arizona's Sales Tax: Fix or Folly" at 6:30 p.m. this Sunday, April 11, at the Stevie Eller Dance Theater, 1713 E. University Blvd. (On the UA Mall, just west of Campbell.)

Representing the pro-temporary sales tax view is Ann-Eve Pedersen from the Arizona Education Network, with the opposing view represented by Farrell Quinlan, the Arizona State Director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Stan Reynolds, Vice Dean of the Eller College of Management, will also participate as a neutral economist.

Confirmed media panelists for the forum include Jim Nintzel from the Tucson Weekly, Linda Valdez of the Arizona Republic and Tom McNamara from KVOA-TV Channel 4. Bill Buckmaster from Arizona Illustrated will moderate the forum.

Attend, Send a Question or Watch On-line

We need education supporters to attend this event! Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Seating is limited and on a first come basis. For directions, click here.

The public can ask questions during the event as well as submit them in advance by emailing
questions@AZpublicmedia.org and online at the Arizona Public Media Facebook page.

The forum will be broadcast live on PBS World Channel 27.3 (Cox 83 and Comcast 203). It will also stream live on the web .

Voters can request early ballots now and begin voting by mail as early as April 22 for the MAY 18th SPECIAL ELECTION for PROPOSITION 100 by linking here:

Action Alert: Don't Let the AZ Leg Sell Democracy to the Highest Bidder|Save Citizens Clean Elections Act

Twelve years ago, Arizona voters created the Citizens Clean Elections Act to kick big money out of politics. At the time, the state was still reeling from the AZScam scandal, when politicians traded money for votes with developers, corporations and mobsters.1

But the Clean Elections Act has changed Arizona politics one $5 bill at a time. Under the law, candidates who demonstrate community support by collecting a bunch of $5 qualifying contributions can use a shared pool of money to run a competitive election.2 That cuts big donors and corporations out of the process and keeps the focus where it belongs - on working Arizonans and their interests.

But with budgets tight because of the recession, those big donors and their buddies in the Legislature want to repeal the Clean Elections Act, use the money for something else and get back to the bad old days when decisions were made by the highest bidder.3

A bill to kill clean elections has already been introduced in the Legislature and a vote could come soon.4 But you can stop it. Click here to send your elected leaders a message supporting Clean Elections:

Candidates who run using the Clean Elections system really ARE different: After a majority of the Arizona Corporation Commission ran and won using the Clean Elections Act, they passed a law requiring that 15 percent of all power produced in Arizona come from renewable energy sources by 2025.5 And new candidates are signing up to use the system every day.6

Opponents of Clean Elections say the program is too expensive. But not a single dollar of Clean Elections money comes from Arizona's cash-strapped General Fund -- in fact, the Clean Elections Fund has donated $20 million to the General Fund in the last two years alone.7

But this fight isn't really about budgets. This is about power: If the people fund elections, then we still have the power to decide who's in charge and what kind of laws they make. But if elections are for sale to the highest bidder, then people like us get cut out in favor of corporations, rich folk and out-of-state donors.

That's not the democracy we want or deserve. Act now to save the Citizens Clean Elections Act.


Drew Hudson
TrueMajority / USAction

1 - time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972359,00.html
2 - azcleanelections.gov/home.aspx
3 - kpho.com/news/22920525/detail.html
4 - azcapitoltimes.com/blog/2010/04/01/facing-defeat-measures-to-gut-clean-elections-system-held-in-committee/
5 - azcc.gov/divisions/utilities/electric.asp
6 - tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2010/03/29/first-in-the-crowded-house-democrat-bob-gilby-files-in-ld27
7 - azadvocacy.org/issues/cleanelections.html

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Network Neutrality Supporters Back FCC After Court of Appeals Decision

Sen. Kerry looks for ways to make commission's authority over Internet clear

By John Eggerton --
Broadcasting & Cable,
4/6/2010 1:46:38 PM

The FCC is getting support from network neutrality fans on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington after Tuesday's (Apr. 6) D.C. Court of Appeals ruling that calls some of the commission's authority into question.

The FCC will likely need clear authority if it is to help implement the national broadband plan, and certainly in its effort to codify and expand the network neutrality guidelines it used to find Comcast wanting in its network management of BitTorrent.

"Clearly, the court's decision must not be the final word on this vitally important matter, and I intend to work vigorously to ensure an open Internet for generations to come," said Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who has proposed network neutrality legislation,

Markey said what the court had done was "[throw] out the previous commission's shoddy legal theories." Though the court also threw out the justifications provided for those theories by the current commission's attorneys. "In light of the court's ruling," he said, "I encourage the current commission to take any actions necessary to ensure that consumers and competition are protected on the Internet. It is important to note that the Court neither called into question the wisdom of network neutrality policies nor did it exonerate Comcast for its unreasonable interference with lawful consumer Internet use."

The court confined its decision to the issue of jurisdiction over network management practices; a jurisdiction it said the FCC failed to justify under broad ancillary authority.
Continue reading here.

Court Decision Endangers FCC's Ability to Protect Net Neutrality and Implement National Broadband Plan

FCC Can and Must Act Quickly to Close the Bush Era Loophole


Date: April 6, 2010
Contact: Liz Rose, Free Press, 202-265-1490 x 32 or 202 355 3559 (c)

WASHINGTON -- S. Derek Turner, research director for Free Press, made the following statement in response to the DC Circuit's opinion in Comcast v. FCC:

"The decision has forced the FCC into an existential crisis, leaving the agency unable to protect consumers in the broadband marketplace, and unable to implement the National Broadband Plan. As a result of this decision, the FCC has virtually no power to stop Comcast from blocking Web sites. The FCC has virtually no power to make policies to bring broadband to rural America, to promote competition, to protect consumer privacy or truth in billing. This cannot be an acceptable outcome for the American public and requires immediate FCC action to re-establish legal authority."
"This crisis is not a result of a weak congressional law, but a direct consequence of the previous two Commissions' misguided and overzealous attempts to completely deregulate America's communications networks. Past FCC actions created a huge loophole in the law that leaves the agency unable to protect consumer privacy or promote universal broadband access."
"The FCC must have the authority to carry out its consumer protection and public interest mission in the 21st-century broadband marketplace. The current Commission did not create this existential crisis, but it now has no choice but to face these tough jurisdictional questions head on, and do what is necessary to protect consumers and promote competition."

Court Says F.C.C. Cannot Require ‘Net Neutrality’

New York Times
Published: April 6, 2010

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court on Tuesday dealt a sharp blow to the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to set the rules of the road for the Internet, ruling that the agency lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks.
The decision, by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, specifically concerned the efforts of Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, to slow down customers’ access to a service called BitTorrent, which is used to exchange large video files, most often pirated copies of movies.

After Comcast’s blocking was exposed, the F.C.C. told Comcast to stop discriminating against BitTorrent traffic and in 2008 issued broader rules for the industry regarding “net neutrality,” the principle that all Internet content should be treated equally by network providers. Comcast challenged the F.C.C.’s authority to issue such rules and argued that its throttling of BitTorrent was necessary to ensure that a few customers did not unfairly hog the capacity of the network, slowing down Internet access for all of its customers.

But Tuesday’s court ruling has far larger implications than just the Comcast case.

The ruling would allow Comcast and other Internet service providers to restrict consumers’ ability to access certain kinds of Internet content, such as video sites like Hulu.com or Google’s YouTube service, or charge certain heavy users of their networks more money for access.

Continue reading here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Act Now to Debunk the Junk: Massive Lobbying Threatens to Kill Open Internet

Stand Up for the Open Internet

Comcast, AT&T and Verizon have deployed hundreds of lobbyists in a final push to kill the open Internet.

Their goal: Take control of Internet content away from Internet users. Their tactic: Tell outrageous lies about Net Neutrality — the only thing stopping them from interfering with your online experience.

You now have four days left to convince the FCC that these companies are wrong:

Demand Net Neutrality.

Free Press and our allies in the SavetheInternet.com Coalition are gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures to show the FCC that Internet users -- and not corporations -- should control the Internet.

In the last year alone, phone and cable companies have spent more than $90 million to hire nearly 500 D.C. lobbyists in a last-minute push for power over what we do, where we go and with whom we connect online.

Their lobbyists are now flooding the FCC with lies that portray Net Neutrality as a threat to the free-flowing Internet.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We need to speak out now to keep the Internet open. The FCC must craft new Net Neutrality rules that protect our Internet freedom. Our best chance to be heard by the agency ends Thursday, April 8, when the agency’s docket for public comments closes.

Tell the FCC: Net Neutrality Protects the Open Internet

Set the record straight: Tell the FCC that Net Neutrality is essential to keeping the future of communications open and available to all Americans.

It’s critical that the FCC hears from you before the April 8 And here is the rest of it.

McClatchy: Is American History Being Changed?

Not satisfied with U.S. history, some conservatives are rewriting it

Click on the picture to view Video

Bachmann: FDR "Caused" the Depression

By Steven Thomma | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The right is rewriting history.

The most ballyhooed effort is under way in Texas, where conservatives have pushed the state school board to rewrite guidelines, downplaying Thomas Jefferson in one high school course, playing up such conservatives as Phyllis Schlafly and the Heritage Foundation and challenging the idea that the Founding Fathers wanted to separate church and state.

The effort reaches far beyond one state, however.

In articles and speeches, on radio and TV, conservatives are working to redefine major turning points and influential figures in American history, often to slam liberals, promote Republicans and reinforce their positions in today's politics.

The Jamestown settlers? Socialists. Founding Father Alexander Hamilton? Ill-informed professors made up all that bunk about him advocating a strong central government.

Theodore Roosevelt? Another socialist. Franklin D. Roosevelt? Not only did he not end the Great Depression, he also created it.

Joe McCarthy? Liberals lied about him. He was a hero.

Read more here

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cornered: Thom Hartmann's Buzzflash Independent Review of the Month & "Capitalism Hits the Fan"

26dems Editorial Comment:

The Republicans have failed at governance in Arizona. Failed formulas pushed by Republicans Al Melvin and Vic Williams have done harm to their constituents. Melvin and Williams are faithful followers of the Phoenix GOP. They choose to reward corporations with tax breaks at the expense of children and families. These actions have worsened the economic crisis and caused disruption and suffering in our state. The stakes in this election are high. It's time to bring new leadership to the Capital. We need change that will put our state on the right track. Democratic candidates Cheryl Cage for Senate and Rep. Nancy Young Wright have worked tirelessly for education and for innovative solutions that will enable our state to succeed.

Arianna Huffington has made a strong case that America is no longer the innovation leader. She cites statistics that show the United States as 18th out of 24th and falling in educational achievement. Arizona ranks 50th in education. No wonder we are failing as a nation to promote policies that improve the stakes for labor and business to thrive whenever obstructive Republicans won't budge from their nineteenth century mindset.

How bad does it have to get before Republicans recognize what failure is? The Republicans in the Arizona legislature are behaving in lockstep as if they are entitled to govern and have consistently locked out voices that are crying for relief and a restoration of opportunity. The Republican dogma is blind to the fact that corporate welfare is eroding the very foundations not only of democracy, but capitalism itself. Their "Hell No" game playing, abandonment of government responsibility, and refusal to deal with the crisis in the face of reality has thrust us upon the road to ruin. These two scholars take a comprehensive look at the history and causes of the economic crisis and the central role innovation must play to pull our country back from the brink.

BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
March 2010

Each month or so, BuzzFlash is privileged to have nationally syndicated progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann review a progressive book or DVD exclusively for BuzzFlash. See other progressive premiums at The BuzzFlash Progressive Marketplace. See all of Thom's reviews for BuzzFlash at "Independent Thinker"

Thom Hartmann's Review -- Exclusively for BuzzFlash -- for March 2010:

"Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction"

By Barry C. Lynn

Reviewed by Thom Hartmann

This book is about power. It documents how practices that were illegal at the opening of the Reagan administration have not only been legalized but used extensively to consolidate economic and political power in a way that threatens our very republic. It’s almost impossible to overstate its importance.

Most adults in America have, at one time or another in their lives, played the game Monopoly.

Monopoly started out as a game invented by Elizabeth Magie and patented in 1904 (she sold her patent to Parker Brothers in 1935 for $500, and they incorporated it into the modern Monopoly game, which was patented that year by Charles Darrow). The goal of the game is to buy up every business and property available, and through the monopoly ownership of all business and rents, over time bleed every other player into poverty.

Magie was a political activist who wanted to create a way to inform the average person of how concentration of ownership of property and aggregation of rents over time would lead to the concentration of wealth in a few hands with the rest of the population experiencing widespread poverty.

Today people like Mitt Romney and T. Boone Pickens play the game in the real world, impoverishing real people and destroying real businesses while taking all the cash they can for themselves.

As Barry C. Lynn (no relation to Barry Lynn of Citizens United for Separation of Church and State) writes in meticulous detail, the free enterprise of the founding era of this nation has, twice in our history, morphed into a cancerous economic state. Monopolies are not free enterprise, they’re not even good capitalism.

When one particular set of cells in a body rise up and decide to take to themselves all the nutrients in the body, growing without limit while robbing every other organ and cell of its necessary nutrients, we call that cancer. When it happens in a political and economic system, it’s called monopoly.

This is only the second time in American history when we’ve faced such a concentration of wealth and power, of business and money, and of the political control that flows from it.

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Capitalism Hits the Fan DVD: How Did the American Dream Turn Into the Nightmare on Wall Street?

By Richard Wolff

BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
"Capitalism Hits the Fan" is a DVD at its most basic (a lecture as if you were back in college) brimming with an electrifying explanation of how the "American Dream" evolved into the "Nightmare on Wall Street."

Our guide (lecturer) is economics Professor Richard Wolff of the University of Massachusetts. As much as we have read at BuzzFlash about the economic meltdown, Wolff shed a new comprehensive perspective on the Wall Street bubble (now bursted) at the expense of the decline of the middle class.

Wolff tautly strings together an economic theory (some of the observations with which we might differ)that offers a persuasive explanation of how Wall Street exploded by increasing our indebtedness as individuals and as a nation, at a time when wages remained stagnant.

Continue reading here.

For more information visit the Media Education Capitalism Hits the Fan Website

When It Comes to Innovation, Is America Becoming a Third World Country?

By Arianna Huffington
Huffington Post
March 29, 2010

Is America turning into a third world country? That was the provocative topic of a panel I took part in last week at a conference sponsored by The Economist entitled "Innovation: Fresh Thinking For The Ideas Economy."

Once upon a time, the United States was the world's dominant innovator -- partly because we didn't have much competition. As a result of the destruction wreaked by WWII, the massive migration of brainpower to the U.S. caused by the war, and huge amounts of government spending, America had the innovation playing field largely to itself. None of these factors exist as we enter the second decade of the 21st century.

America now has plenty of countries it's competing with -- many of which are much more serious about innovation than we are. Just look at the numbers:

A report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation looked at the progress made over the last decade in the area of innovation. Out of the 40 countries and regions it examined, the U.S. ranked dead last.

A study on innovation by the Boston Consulting Group concluded that America is "disadvantaged in several key areas, including work force quality and economic, immigration, and infrastructure policies."

In 2009, patents issued to American applicants dropped by 2.3 percent. Those granted to foreign-based applicants increased by over 6 percent.

Why are we falling behind like this? For one thing, we've lost our educational edge. America once led the world in high school graduation rates. We are now ranked 18th out of 24 industrialized countries.

And the percentage of 15-year-olds performing at the highest levels of math is among the lowest. South Korea, Belgium and the Czech Republic, among others, have at least five times the number the U.S. does.

Plus, we are no longer investing in innovation. Until 1979, around 50 percent of all research and development funds were provided by the federal government. That number has fallen to 27 percent. And, during the 1990s, the bottom fell out of U.S. funding for applied science, dropping by 40 percent.

The economic crisis is also taking a toll on innovation. Venture capital investment in the U.S. for the first three quarters of 2009 was $12 billion. Over the first three quarters of 2008, it was $22 billion.

These numbers may not place us in the third world ... yet. But the trend is not a good one.

Adding to the problem is the sense that America's best days may be behind us. Many economists and historians are warning that our current economic downturn has created a new normal. That the country will never be the same. Things are, of course, going to be different. But that doesn't have to mean that they are going to be worse. However, if we don't get serious about innovation, they will be. When it comes to our approach to innovation, we desperately need some innovation.

For starters, we need to kick our high-speed Internet plans into high gear. A robust, broadband-charged, countrywide information superhighway is going to be key to staying ahead of the innovation curve.

Click here to continue reading this must-read article.

Can We Keep The Dream Alive? On Easter, The 42nd Anniversary of Dr.King’s Murder

By Danny Schecter
April 4, 2010


Ordinarily, I don’t post on a Sunday but today is special—the 42nd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a brave and prophetic voice in the years he became a moral and political leader before he became a martyr for justice.

During his time, he was spied on and defamed, with his own share of personal contradictions, but somehow he rose above it all to set down some universal markers in the struggle for racial and social justice, as an opponent of war and an organizer — “a drum major” in his lingo, ‘It’s a kind of drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first. And it is something that runs the whole gamut of life,’ in a fight that is more urgent than ever.

Painful In Any Language But Remember We Must [videos of those who were there]

Walter reported it:

And even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despite,
against our will,
comes wisdom to us
by the awful grace of God.
agamemnon - aeschylus - 5th century bce

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Kyl threatens filibuster if next Supreme Court nominee stands up ‘for the little guy’

By David Edwards and Gavin Dahl
Sunday, April 4th, 2010 -- 10:53 am

There is not yet a vacancy on the Supreme Court but the second-ranking Republican in the Senate is already planning a strategy of opposing President Barack Obama's potential nominee.

Jon Kyl (R-Az) told Fox News' Chris Wallace that Republicans are prepared to fight a nominee who might stick up for the little guy, a position he called "overly ideological."
Kyl had decried the use of the filibuster when Republicans were in the majority. "It's never been the case until the last two years that a minority could dictate to the majority what they could do," Kyl said in 2005.

Since Democrats were the first party in decades to use the filibuster to block a judicial nominee, Republicans are within their rights to continue to use it, according to Kyl. Democrats blocked George W. Bush's nominee, Miguel Estrada in 2001.

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