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Monday, February 28, 2011

Leaving Children Behind

New York Times
February 27, 2011

Will 2011 be the year of fiscal austerity? At the federal level, it’s still not clear: Republicans are demanding draconian spending cuts, but we don’t yet know how far they’re willing to go in a showdown with President Obama. At the state and local level, however, there’s no doubt about it: big spending cuts are coming.

And who will bear the brunt of these cuts? America’s children.

Now, politicians — and especially, in my experience, conservative politicians — always claim to be deeply concerned about the nation’s children. Back during the 2000 campaign, then-candidate George W. Bush, touting the “Texas miracle” of dramatically lower dropout rates, declared that he wanted to be the “education president.” Today, advocates of big spending cuts often claim that their greatest concern is the burden of debt our children will face.

In practice, however, when advocates of lower spending get a chance to put their ideas into practice, the burden always seems to fall disproportionately on those very children they claim to hold so dear.

Continue reading here.

Maddow Show: Republicans Openly Push Higher Unemployment, Lower Wages, Slowdown in Economic Growth,

The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions

By Rick Ungar
Feb. 25, 2011

Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Via tax.com

How can this be possible?

Simple. The pension plan is the direct result of deferred compensation- money that employees would have been paid as cash salary but choose, instead, to have placed in the state operated pension fund where the money can be professionally invested (at a lower cost of management) for the future.

Continue reading here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Nationwide Effort To Restrict Reproductive Rights

By Jason Linkins, jason@huffingtonpost.com
& Kevin Bunkley, Kevin.Bunkley@huffingtonpost.com
Huffington Post
2-25-11 06:07 PM 

As has been noted here and elsewhere, 2011 has seen a nationwide resurgence in the effort to curtail women's reproductive rights. I know! It's almost as if an entire political faction that preaches the importance of a small and unintrusive government doesn't actually mean it, right?

Here in Washington, D.C., we've seen the House of Representatives pass an amendment that would defund Planned Parenthood and attempt to create a whole new crazy definition of rape. And state governments have been doing much the same: South Dakota lawmakers briefly floated the idea of making protecting the unborn a justifiable reason to commit homicide -- with language that didn't make it clear that abortion providers who perform legal medical procedures wouldn't be, in some way, protected from the crazy people who believe they are morally allowed to murder them. That law's been shelved in South Dakota, but it's being emulated elsewhere.

And others are going further, including a Georgia lawmaker who's crafted a law that would make miscarriages a felony. Again, there's vague wording there, that seemingly exempts miscarriages that are not brought about by "human involvement." Unfortunately, medical professionals do not know, with precision, what causes miscarriages, and the law doesn't set sufficient parameters.

But that's all beside the point: why bring miscarriages into the matter at all? No one has ever suggested that miscarriages of any sort by subject to criminal penalty, so why start now? The answer is that this is all some "moving the Overton Window" nonsense -- by pushing boundaries further past the fringe, it makes the original fringe position more palatable. I've said this once before, but it bears repeating:

Just to review, the way this game is played is that a legislator will conceive of an absolutely insane anti-woman law, stoke outrage, then make a big show of relenting on the crazy part of the law in order to get what they want -- making abortion illegal -- enacted. They will then aver that this is the result of "negotiations" in which "all sides" have been "heard out" resulting in a "compromise."
Here, for your benefit, we've collected many examples of the ways in which reproductive rights are being encroached upon. Some are more reasonable sounding than others. There's a wide gulf between a radical redefinition of rape and a law that aims to shut down abortion providers in the name of enhanced patient comfort. But one thing that all of these laws have in common is that they suggest a deep and abiding belief that women are chattel. 

Click Here for Slide Show.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Republican Strategy

By Robert Reich
Fmr. Secretary of Labor; Professor at Berkeley; Author, Aftershock: 'The Next Economy and America's Future'
Huffington Post
19 February 11

The Republican strategy is to split the vast middle and working class - pitting unionized workers against non-unionized, public-sector workers against non-public, older workers within sight of Medicare and Social Security against younger workers who don't believe these programs will be there for them, and the poor against the working middle class.

By splitting working America along these lines, Republicans want Americans to believe that we can no longer afford to do what we need to do as a nation. They hope to deflect attention from the increasing share of total income and wealth going to the richest 1 percent while the jobs and wages of everyone else languish.

Republicans would rather no one notice their campaign to shrink the pie even further with additional tax cuts for the rich - making the Bush tax cuts permanent, further reducing the estate tax, and allowing the wealthy to shift ever more of their income into capital gains taxed at 15 percent.

The strategy has three parts.

Continue Reading here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

12 News' Sunday Square Off: Jan Brewer's "Let them eat cake" moment

By Craig McDermott, cross-posted from Random Musings and Blog for Arizona
Feb. 20, 2011

Resnik - "Is it fair that businesses should get these tax breaks while universities suffer and those patients suffer?"

Brewer - "Absolutely.  Absolutely."

Earlier on Sunday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer appeared on 12 News' (KPNX) Sunday Square Off program, hosted by Brahm Resnik, to defend the hundreds of million dollars worth of corporate tax cuts she signed into law a few days ago.

Her appearance was an exercise in regurgitation -

She regurgitated the long-refuted theories of trickle-down economics (which should be referred to as "tinkle down" economics).

I regurgitated the undigested remnants of breakfast while listening to her spout (that's just a metaphor - I hadn't eaten breakfast yet :) ).

My favorite quote is above, but there were other "profound" tidbits from the program (video clip embedded below) -


Brewer -  ...I know that the free enterprise is what really stokes the fuel of the furnace, and the furnace is business in Arizona..

Resnik -  So it *is* something of a gamble?

Brewer -  Life is a gamble.

Or how about -

4:00 (talking about the impact of the corporate tax breaks on Arizona's unemployment crisis)

Resnik - People are asking "How soon will half a billion dollars in tax breaks create a job for me?"

Brewer - Because we know businesses, particularly high paying wage businesses, are the people who create those jobs and if you stymie them and you make it impossible for them to maintain here by charging them above their competitive states that we're competing with, they won't come here, they won't stay here, they will go someplace else and if we become competitive, they will bring new jobs, we will keep the jobs that we have, and that means that it's, [not] to use the phrase "the trickle down, the bottom line is that more people will have jobs, and therefore those people with the jobs are going to go out and it's going to trickle down to the lawnmower guy, to the dry cleaner, it's just the facts.


Continue reading here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What Conservatives Really Want

By George Lakoff
Author, The Political Mind, Moral Politics, Don't Think of an Elephant!
The Huffington Post
Posted: February 19, 2011 10:37 AM

-Dedicated to the peaceful protestors in Wisconsin, February 19, 2011.

The central issue in our political life is not being discussed. At stake is the moral basis of American democracy.

The individual issues are all too real: assaults on unions, public employees, women's rights, immigrants, the environment, health care, voting rights, food safety, pensions, prenatal care, science, public broadcasting, and on and on.

Budget deficits are a ruse, as we've seen in Wisconsin, where the governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement.

Continue reading here.

Student captures spirit of Wisconsin pro-union rallies in music video

Posted on 02.18.11
Raw Replay
Categories: Activism

Matt Wisniewski, a 22-year-old college student at the University of Wisconsin, put together this inspiring video in support of unions in Wisconsin. The video consists of three days of footage of the 30,000 protesters at the state capitol in Madison against a bill that would drastically curb the bargaining power of public employees in unions. The accompanying song is Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion (Lies).”

This video was posted to Vimeo on Feb. 18, 2011, by Matt Wisniewski.

And here is the rest of it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dean Baker: Budget Cuts Are the Real Job-Killers

Thursday 17 February 2011
by: Laura Flanders  |  GRITtv | Video Interview

And here is the rest of it.

Battling 'Neoliberalism' in Wisconsin

By Daniel C. Maguire
Consortium News
February 18, 2011

Editor’s Note: For a third day, protesters rallied in Wisconsin’s capital to protest a plan by the state’s new Republican governor to reduce the budget, in part, by stripping public employee unions of many collective bargaining rights.

These Wisconsin demonstrations are the first major challenge to the newly empowered Republicans and their "neoliberal" goal to slash government and to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, as Marquette Professor Daniel C. Maguire notes in this guest essay:

It has been well noted that the protest in Madison, Wisconsin, is not about the budget but about union-busting, but that is a symptom, not the root of the problem.

Gov. Scott Walker’s project is to impose the neoliberal (neoconservative) political economy on a state that pioneered many progressive traditions and reforms.

Neoliberalism (or neoconservatism) has been the operating system of the Right since the 1980s, though its roots go back further. It has these four characteristics:

---Neoliberalism has been called a philosophy of “possessive individualism.” Historian Richard Hofstadter called it “beneficent cupidity” or the notion that “greed is good,” in more modern parlance. It embodies Social Darwinism — survival of the fittest — which sees society, as C.B. MacPherson said, as a mass of competing “dissociated individuals.”

Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister in the 1980s, even asserted there is no such thing as “society,” only individuals and families. If there is no “society,” we owe society nothing – and there is no such thing as social justice.

And thus Fox News’ Glenn Beck, the clown prince of neoliberalism, can urge his faithful to walk out of church if their pastor so much a mentions social justice.

Continue reading here.

Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier Talks About Her Abortion

By Ryan Grim
Huffington Post
First Posted: 02/18/11 09:46 AM Updated: 02/18/11 12:33 PM

WASHINGTON -- Before Rep. Jackie Speier took the House floor late on Thursday night, New Jersey Republican Chris Smith used his time to graphically describe the process of an abortion. That's when the California Democrat decided to scrap her planned remarks.

"That procedure that you just talk about was a procedure that I endured," she told a hushed chamber. "I really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey just put my stomach in knots, because I'm one of those women he spoke about just now. I had a procedure at 17 weeks pregnant with a child who moved from the vagina into the cervix."

After a weighty pause, Speier went on. "I lost a baby," she said, pausing again. "But for you to stand on this floor and suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous."  

Continue reading here

Brewer's 'jobs bill' very irresponsible, Effort would cost burdened state $500 million

By  Robert Robb - Feb. 18, 2011 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The "jobs bill" Gov. Jan Brewer and Republican legislators hustled through a hastily called special session this week is grossly irresponsible.

The only truly indispensible duty the Arizona Legislature has is to enact an honestly balanced budget each year. The last time the Legislature did that was 2007. Since then, the Legislature has employed constitutionally suspect borrowing and fundamentally dishonest accounting to get from year to year.

There is not any proposed or even plausible scenario in which it gets back to an honestly balanced budget at any time in the future. Not in one year, not in three years, not in five years, not in ten years.

The state currently has a structural deficit - the difference between ongoing revenues and spending - of $3 billion. Yet the "jobs bill" would cost the state more than $500 million annually when fully implemented.

Continue reading here.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/02/17/20110217robb18.html#ixzz1EKkdRMMl

Breaking: Obama joins Wisconsin's budget battle, opposing Republican anti-union bill

By Brady Dennis and Peter Wallsten
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, February 18, 2011; 11:07 AM

MADISON, WIS. - President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin's broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals.

Obama accused Scott Walker, the state's new Republican governor, of unleashing an "assault" on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.

>Continue reading here. 

People Are Fighting Back, Join With Russ

It's been all over the national news this week: Progressives across Wisconsin are standing up and speaking out against the outrageous push by Governor Walker & Republican legislators – backed by big business -- to strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights.

I went on the Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday night to talk about what the protests this week in Wisconsin mean for our state and our country – and how our new grassroots organization, Progressives United, is joining the fight.

Watch the video of my appearance with Rachel Maddow now -- and pledge to stand with your fellow progressives and me in this fight:

Big business threw unlimited money at electing Governor Walker, who now is returning the favor by trying to advance a pro-corporate, anti-worker agenda. That flies against the hard-fought worker protections we've worked generations to achieve in Wisconsin, and we won't let our work be undone.

So right now, America needs progressives like you and me - and millions of others - to unite.

These rallies are getting huge TV coverage.  This is our time to make our voices heard. Pledge now that you will stand with us and fight
Thank you for uniting with your fellow progressives,

Russ Feingold
Progressives United

P.S. Progressives are so eager to unite that our website was overwhelmed when we launched earlier this week. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. We’re fully back online today, and I hope you’ll check out our website, if you haven’t already.

Class Struggle in Wisconsin

26dems Editorial Note: MSNBC's Ed Schultz is broadcasting live from Madison, the only national network who has a reporter on the ground. He reported that Sen. Dick Durbin has decried the assault on labor and the middle class, the only Democrat outside of Wisconsin to squarely support the protesters right to bargain collectively.  Yesterday 14 Democratic Senators fled Wisconsin to prevent a quorum in the Republican dominated legislature that was set to vote on the bill that would prohibit collective bargaining. As the Ed show points, going into 2011, Wisconsin had a SURPLUS. The new tea party governor, along with all Republican governors are pushing this agenda across the country. Although President Obama has sympathized with the workers, he has not yet pushed back against the false narrative that Wisconsin needs to do this, not because the state is broke, but because the Reublicans want to use money to give it to their corporate donors. Since January 1, the Wisconsin 
Republican legislature has enacted into law special tax breaks for corporations. The protests have already spread to Ohio and other states.
More than 30,000 protesters were in the streets and in the Capitol building yesterday.  The puppet governor, like Brewer, is doing the bidding of the billionaires who are instituting a coordinated attack on public employees and middle class workers. As Rachel Maddow pointed out this is a political struggle.  The Republicans are boldly suggesting that we cannot afford a middle class in this country.  She pointed out very starkly that the Republicans are attacking unions because three public employee unions, AFSCME, SEIU and the NEA are the primary funders of the Democratic party.  If you bust the unions, and their ability to mobilize voters and contribute to the Democratic party, it will mean the end of the ability of Democrats to compete and win elections.  Organized people need their own organized money in order to win.  This is all about Republicans trying to win a permanent super majority and thus permanent control over our lives.  As Rachel put it, it's the billionaires vs the bake sales. Without unions, the Democrats can't make it on bake sales.  

Watch this REAL NEWS video that features the AFL-CIO Director of Policy Special Counsel Damon Silvers:

More at The Real News

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Childrens Action Alliance: "GOP Tax Cut Plan is Education Destruction Act"

Tucson Weekly
The Range

The Children's Action Alliance responds to the tax-cut plan devised behind closed doors that's flying through the Legislature. Would that lawmakers could act as swiftly to find $5 million to restore transplant funding as they can to find $500 million for tax breaks.

Late yesterday, Governor Brewer called a special session so the Arizona legislature could quickly approve a package of corporate tax breaks that fails to balance cuts with revenues, and risks education in our state. SB 1001 and HB 2001 would cut corporate taxes and reduce revenue which will result in greater cuts to education. Governor Brewer and legislative leaders have already called for additional cuts to education, even though elementary and high schools have already sustained an 18% per student cut in funding under the Brewer Administration.
Click here for Report

Today, the House of Representatives rushed HB 2001 through committees and caucus; Senate leadership pushed SB 1001 (their version of the House bill) through their committees. CAA anticipates that legislative leaders will continue to push the corporate tax cuts package (under the misnomer "The Jobs Bill") through final votes tomorrow. The Governor is expected to sign the bill.

CAA President and CEO Dana Wolfe Naimark testified today against SB 1001 and HB 2001 before the House Ways and Means Committee, and Senate Commerce and Education Committee. “Economists disagree about many things but there are two things upon which they all agree,” said Naimark. “First, high quality education is necessary for economic success. And second, Arizona has not engaged in a balanced fiscal strategy of cuts and revenue, focusing only on severe budget cuts.

“SB 1001 and HB 2001 go in the wrong direction on both counts. These bills continue to focus only on cuts without balancing the other side with revenues. And every dollar of these corporate tax cuts will drain dollars from K-12 education, universities and community colleges.

“Governor Brewer recognizes the link between taxes and education. When the temporary sales tax was being considered last year, her own Office of Strategic

Planning and Budgeting calculated the cost to each school if that tax vote failed. Now, less than a year later, Governor Brewer is supporting a corporate tax cut that would have a similar effect.

“These bills are not a blue print for improving Arizona. There’s no plan to repay debt and no plan to improve math and science education, core curriculum for our future economic growth. This plan is unbalanced and unaccountable, and Children’s Action Alliance urges legislators to oppose these bills.”

CAA will continue to keep you informed as updates are available.

Click here for the CAA's analysis of the bill's provisions.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ed Showcases Dems High Speed Rail Plan to Boost Jobs, Contrasts with GOP Anti-Govt Naysaying

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

ANALYSIS — The Insurers’ Real Agenda for Change

By Wendell Potter
Center for Public Integrity
February 08, 2011

The media had lots of health care news to obsess about last week. A federal judge ruled the health care reform law unconstitutional, and Senate Republicans tried in vain to repeal the law. But most of the press paid virtually no attention to a potentially much more important development — a multi-pronged effort by five major insurers to strip from the law key regulations and consumer protections that aren’t to their liking.

The insurers do not want the bill repealed or declared unconstitutional. Congress gave them exactly what they wanted by including in the legislation a requirement that all Americans not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid buy coverage from a private insurance company. That provision alone will result in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and profits the insurers otherwise would never see.

Officially, the insurers are maintaining neutrality on the court challenges to the law and the repeal efforts. They understand that Republican attorneys general who filed the lawsuits and the Congressional Republicans who voted to repeal the law — most of whom received campaign contributions from the insurers’ political action committees — must go through the motions to satisfy “the base.”

The court challenges and repeal efforts are, in reality, a useful smokescreen for the big insurers, whose real agenda is to gut the law while preserving the mandate. Expect a big lobbying and PR campaign — financed by our insurance premiums — to persuade us that the new regulations and consumer protections will make those premiums skyrocket.

Continue reading here.

Stealing the Constitution

26Dems Editorial Comment: This law professor explains why it's past time for Americans to read the Constitution to combat the in-plain-sight hijacking of America's founding document by the far right. We should begin now to form constitution study groups.

By Garrett Epps
January 20, 2011 
This article appeared in the February 7, 2011 edition of The Nation.

This essay is adapted from a work in progress, tentatively titled Unhinged: Reclaiming Our Constitution From the Lunatic Right.

In October I spent a crisp Saturday in the windowless basement of a suburban Virginia church attending a seminar on "The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution." I was told the secrets the "elite" have concealed from the people: the Constitution is based on the Law of Moses; Mosaic law was brought to the West by the ancient Anglo-Saxons, who were probably the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel; the Constitution restores the fifth-century kingdom of the Anglo-Saxons.

There's more: virtually all of modern American life and government is unconstitutional. Social Security, the Federal Reserve, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, hate crime laws—all flatly violate God's law. State governments are not required to observe the Bill of Rights; the First Amendment establishes "The Religion of America," which is "nondenominational" Christianity.
The instructor was Lester Pearce, an Arizona judge and the brother of state senator Russell Pearce, author of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. (Perhaps not surprising, Lester tended to digress about how he cracks down on Mexican immigrants in court.) Pearce got rapt attention from the fifty people in the audience, although one boy near me spent his time perfecting a detailed sketch of an assault rifle.

These were earnest citizens who had come to learn about America and its Constitution. What they were being taught was poisonous rubbish.

Americans today are frightened and disoriented. In the midst of uncertainty, they are turning to the Constitution for tools to deal with crisis. The far right—the toxic coalition of Fox News talking heads, radio hosts, angry "patriot" groups and power-hungry right-wing politicians—is responding to this demand by feeding their fellow citizens mythology and lies.

Continue reading here.

Garrett Epps, a law professor at the University of Baltimore and a former reporter for the Washington Post, is a legal correspondent for The Atlantic Wire. He is the author of Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recognizing the Language of Tyranny

By Chris Hedges
Feb. 6, 2011

Empires communicate in two languages. One language is expressed in imperatives. It is the language of command and force. This militarized language disdains human life and celebrates hypermasculinity. It demands. It makes no attempt to justify the flagrant theft of natural resources and wealth or the use of indiscriminate violence. When families are gunned down at a checkpoint in Iraq they are referred to as having been “lit up.” So it goes. The other language of empire is softer. It employs the vocabulary of ideals and lofty goals and insists that the power of empire is noble and benevolent. The language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators. The road traveled to total disempowerment, however, ends at the same place. It is the language used to get there that is different.

This language of blind obedience and retribution is used by authority in our inner cities, from Detroit to Oakland, as well as our prison systems. It is a language Iraqis and Afghans know intimately. But to the members of our dwindling middle class—as well as those in the working class who have yet to confront our new political and economic configuration—the powerful use phrases like the consent of the governed and democracy that help lull us into complacency. The longer we believe in the fiction that we are included in the corporate power structure, the more easily corporations pillage the country without the threat of rebellion. Those who know the truth are crushed. Those who do not are lied to. Those who consume and perpetuate the lies—including the liberal institutions of the press, the church, education, culture, labor and the Democratic Party—abet our disempowerment. No system of total control, including corporate control, exhibits its extreme forms at the beginning. These forms expand as they fail to encounter resistance. 

Continue reading here.

“Civility in Political Discourse” UA Roundtable, February 15

“Civility in Political Discourse” roundtable on February 15, for upcoming Week of Civility at UA
by Carolyn Classen on Feb. 07, 2011

KJLL (1330 AM) radio talk show host Bill Buckmaster will be moderating a roundtable/panel discussion at the UA Student Union North Ballroom on Tuesday Feb. 15, entitled “Civility in Political Discourse”, at 12 noon.


  • – former Arizona U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini
  • –former Tucson City Mayor Tom Volgy (and Professor in Government & Public Policy at the U of A)
  • –UA Assistant Professor Kate Kenski, Dept. of Communication
  • –David Fitzsimmons, political cartoonist for Arizona Daily Star newspaper

The Student Union is at 1303 E. University Drive, and this ballroom is on the north side of the building, south of Mountain Avenue and E. 2nd Street. The event is open to the public, and students are encouraged to attend. Parking is available at the 2nd Street Garage just north of the Student Union, or on the street (metered), or take the Sun Tran Bus.

This roundtable is part of a Week of Civility starting on February 14 on the UA campus, organized by UA Attorney Bruce Skolnik. He joined The University of Arizona in 2008 where he “represents the University in matters pertaining to intercollegiate athletics and student affairs.” 

For more information click here. 

How to get to 100 percent renewables globally by 2050

By Kees van der Leun
4 FEB 2011 4:00 AM

There are many reasons to move to a sustainable energy system: fossil fuel supplies getting tighter, easy oil increasingly having to be replaced by uneasy oil, accelerating climate change. And most indications are that we'll have to go there as soon as possible.

But is it possible? And when? At Ecofys, we've been working for 25 years on our mission: "a sustainable energy supply for everyone." Two years ago, we figured it was about time to bring all our experts together to find out whether that really makes sense. Excited by our first findings, we found WWF [World Wildlife Fund] willing to commission an in-depth study. And since today, the word is out! Or actually, 250 pages of it, in what's now called "The Energy Report." And the good news is: it's possible indeed, by 2050.

We started out by charting expected developments (population, economy) in 10 world regions. Global tempering of consumption is an easy way out for a scenario builder, but not very acceptable in the real world. And trying to keep up with the present growth in energy demand makes catching up with renewables practically impossible. So we went for maximum materials and energy efficiency, and looked for all available ways to provide the rising demand for services and goods with as little input of energy as possible. And there's a huge potential out there, given the fact that 95 percent of present energy consumption is waste, if one really looks at the end service provided (such as useful light).

Applying all those measures in industrial processes, buildings, and transport, and taking into account feasible implementation rates, leads to global energy demand stabilizing around 2020, and then slowly going down to just below 2000 levels, in spite of economic activity tripling by 2050.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reaganomics Sucked Wealth Up, Did Not Trickle It Up

More at The Real News

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Egyptian Uprising Is a Direct Response to Ruthless Global Capitalism

By Nomi Prins
February 4, 2011

Economic decline at the hands of 'hot' money has driven Egyptians' discontent.

The revolution in Egypt is as much a rebellion against the painful deterioration of economic conditions as it is about opposing a dictator, though they are linked. That's why President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he intends to stick around until September was met with an outpouring of rage.

When people are facing a dim future, in a country hijacked by a corrupt regime that destabilized its economy through what the CIA termed, "aggressively pursuing economic reforms to attract foreign investment” (in other words, the privatization and sale of its country’s financial system to international sharks), waiting doesn’t cut it.

Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian who catalyzed this revolution, didn’t set himself on fire in protest of his inability to vote, but because of anguish over his job status in a country with 15.7 percent unemployment. The six other men in Algeria, Egypt and Mauritania who followed suit were also unemployed.

Tunisia’s dismal economic environment was a direct result of its increasingly “liberal” policy toward foreign speculators. Of the five countries covered by the World Bank’s, Investment Across Sectors Indicator, Tunisia had the fewest limits on foreign investment. It had opened all areas of its economy to foreign equity ownership, except the electricity sector.

Egypt adopted a similar come-and-get-it policy, on steroids.
From 2004 to 2008, as the world economic crisis was being stoked by the U.S. banking system and its rapacious toxic asset machine, Mubarak’s regime was participating in a different way. Mubarak wasn’t pushing subprime loans onto Egyptians; instead, he was embarking on an economic strategy that entailed selling large pieces of Egypt’s banks to the highest international bidder.

The result was a veritable grab-fest of foreign bank takeovers in the heart of Cairo. The raid began with Greek bank, Piraeus, taking a 70 percent stake in the Egyptian Commercial Bank in 2005, and included the sale of Bank of Alexandria, one of the four largest state-run banks, to the Italian bank, Gruppo Sanpaolo IMI in 2006. For the next two years, "hot" money poured into Egypt, as international banks muscled into Egypt and its financial system, before the intensity leveled off in 2008.  

Continue reading here. 

Reagan's Epoch Shatters in Egypt

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
February 4, 2011

The political crisis sweeping the Middle East is another part of Ronald Reagan’s dark legacy that is shattering into chaos even as the United States prepares to lavishly celebrate his 100th birthday.

Upon taking office in 1981, Reagan turned the United States onto a new course, away from Jimmy Carter’s intensive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and toward tolerance of the Likud strategy of expanding settlements on the West Bank and lashing out at Israel's enemies in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories.

This Reagan-Likud cooperation also affected politics and media inside the United States. In the early 1980s, with Reagan's assistance and blessings, a group of articulate operatives known as neoconservatives emerged as a powerful political/media force. Their dual role was to buttress U.S. support for the security interests of Israel and to rebuild a consensus around the U.S. global agenda, which had been shattered by the Vietnam War.

The neocons – through their work inside the Reagan administration and in key parts of the U.S. news media, such as The New Republic and the Washington Post’s opinion section – became, in essence, the arbiters of Washington’s conventional wisdom, setting the parameters of acceptable debate.

Even before the days of Fox News, their voices were prominent on the TV talk shows, the likes of Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes and William Kristol, or as publishers of influential opinion journals, such as Martin Peretz, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz.

As the Reagan era advanced in the 1980s, journalists and politicians who showed skepticism about U.S. foreign policy -- the sort of attitude that had been common in the 1970s -- were dismissed as “blame America firsters,” a phrase coined by Reagan’s UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Skeptics who continued to insist on challenging the Reagan/neocon propaganda saw their careers damaged or destroyed.

More malleable journalists ensured their status in the well-paying world of Washington media by bending to the prevailing winds. Many politicians did the same, recognizing the trouble they could get into by crossing Reagan's team and its ideological heirs.

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The Real News: Reaganomics Was Pro Business, Not Pro Free Market

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

FCIC Report Exposes Reckless Wall Street As The Real Job Killers: U.S. Chamber Attacks Report as New "Wikileaks"

 By Mary Bottari
From Center on Media and Democracy
January 27, 2011

The Real Job Killers

The U.S. Chamber is in panic mode for two reasons. One, the FCIC report details in its 576-page report who the real job killers are: reckless Wall Street financial firms and negligent government officials who took a series of specific actions that resulted in 30 million unemployed and underemployed Americans who are still barely scraping by.

They are also panicked because the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law is kicking in to high gear. Federal banking agencies are issuing new rules under the act that will clamp down on some of the reckless behavior in the big banks, mortgage services and other financial firms. Unbelievably, the Chamber is fighting hard to protect the lucrative shadow banking industry from being dragged into the sunlight, rigorously protesting the new transparency, capital and margin requirements for all over the counter derivatives traders.

This week the Chamber released an amusing art work, placing the array of Dodd Frank rules into a graphic chart full of polka dots. Our friends at U.S. Chamber Watch noted: "Although the Chamber has unveiled this pointless pointillist masterpiece, (probably being secretly funded by the big banks that, left unregulated, led to the recession in the first place), it still has yet to release a substantive plan for jobs or avoiding future financial meltdowns."

Buy the FCIC report today on the web or at your local bookstore, and call the U.S. Chamber of Commerce toll-free and tell them what you think of their foray into modern art. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Customer Service: 1-800-638-6582.:"

Pew Immigration Study Undermines 'Anchor Baby' Argument

By Eric Lach
February 2, 2011

New estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center find that the "number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent in 2009 was 350,000, essentially the same as it was a year earlier." These children accounted for 8% of newborns in the U.S. from March 2009 to March 2010. But interestingly, only a fraction of the babies were born to parents who have recently arrived in the country -- running counter to an argument made by conservatives who want to do away with birthright citizenship.

61% of new illegal immigrant parents arrived in the country before 2004 and 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007. Just 9% arrived from 2008 to 2010. Conservatives have raised the specter of "anchor babies" in their arguments against birthright citizenship. State Legislators for Legal Immigration, a group which advocates changing the interpretation of the 14th amendment, has claimed that "hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child as an 'anchor baby.'" Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has even claimed that some women come to the U.S. to have children with citizenship, only to raise them abroad and train them as terrorists.

Continue reading here.

Exclusive: Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan Spoke At The Koch Strategy Meeting

By Lee Fang
Think Progress
Feb. 02, 2011

26Dems Editorial Note: Rep. Paul Ryan is the architect of the GOP's Budget plan to pursue radical cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Congressman Ryan's office has confirmed his attendance at the Koch's secret meeting. Ryan did not mention the radical cuts the GOP has planned for Social Security and Medicare in the GOP response to the State of the Union.  To understand Paul Ryan, check out Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky's  take in A Frightening "Roadmap" for America in the Republican Rebuttal to the State of the Union and search this blog (upper left hand corner) for more references to Paul Ryan.  The attendance of top elected Republican leaders like Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Rep. Ryan at corporate strategy meetings is further evidence that the GOP is  coordinating electoral and fundraising strategy with billionaires who fund fake grassroots outrage through the Tea Party.

Last October, ThinkProgress helped break the story about secret political strategy meetings, convened by polluter billionaires Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, to coordinate the funding and direction of the conservative movement. Previous meetings have included Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, top hedge fund managers like Cliff Asness, business executives, Republican strategists, and various other political operatives. Following the revelation of these meetings, a group of progressive organizations protested the most recent meeting in Rancho Mirage, California last weekend.

Continue reading here. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Criminal Charges Must Be Laid - Former Finance Regulator

William Black: Regulations were deliberately weakened to create conditions for systemic fraud

More at The Real News

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The Birther Plan To Block Obama's Reelection

By David Corn
Mother Jones
Mon Jan. 31, 2011

The birthers have a plan to end Barack Obama's presidency—and in Arizona, they're making progress.

Last week, Arizona state Rep. Judy Burges, a Republican, introduced a bill that would bar presidential candidates who do not prove they were born in the United States from appearing on the ballot in the Grand Canyon state. And state Rep. Chad Campbell, the top Democrat in the GOP-controlled Arizona House of Representatives, tells Mother Jones that the bill is likely to pass. It was introduced with 25 co-sponsors in the House and 16 co-sponsors in the state Senate; the measure needs 31 votes in the House and 16 in the Senate for approval. "Will it matter?" asks Campbell. "We've started a tradition here of passing legislation that is political grandstanding or that sets up litigation."

But the birthers—those ardent Obama foes who believe the president was not born in Hawaii and, thus, is not constitutionally qualified serve as president—see this measure as more than symbolic. For them, it's part of a well-orchestrated campaign to deny Obama reelection.

It's not that Obama necessarily requires Arizona's 10 electoral votes to win reelection in 2012. In 2008, he lost there to John McCain,  Arizona's senior senator (though in 2012, Obama could make a play for the state). More important, Burges' bill—which would establish a strict standard for proving natural-born citizenship (which the birthers presume Obama could not meet)—is a model for other states, and similar efforts are under way in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, Georgia, and Texas. (Obama won Pennsylvania in 2008 and lost Missouri by less than 4,000 votes.) Arizona may be where this birther ball gets rolling.

Continue reading here.

Rallying Against The Koch Agenda, Van Jones Warns Of ‘Excessive Concentrations Of Economic Power’

By Brad Johnson
Jan 31st, 2011 at 9:55 am

ThinkProgress is reporting from the Koch summit in Palm Springs, CA. See our coverage here, here, and here.

This weekend, David and Charles Koch, the co-owners of the $100 billion Koch Industries pollution conglomerate, hosted their annual meeting in Palm Springs to coordinate strategy and raise funds for the conservative movement. For decades, the Kochs have quietly led a political agenda to concentrate America’s wealth and power among the richest few in the name of “liberty,” at the expense of the health and opportunity of the middle class.

At an event organized by Common Cause to “Uncloak the Kochs,” Center for American Progress senior fellow Van Jones described the threat that concentration of economic power poses to American liberty, democracy, and justice:

I hear a lot of talk now about liberty. There is a movement in our country that has grown up, the Tea Party movement, that has raised the question of liberty, and I say, “Thank goodness.” I’m glad that someone’s raised the question of liberty. There’s nothing more precious to an African American than liberty and justice for all. I’m glad to hear that somebody’s concerned about liberty.

But I think that what we have to be clear about is liberty always has two threats, there’s always two threats to liberty. One is the excessive concentration of political power — excessive concentration of political authority — the totalitarian threat to liberty. And that is a threat to watch out for. But there is another threat. And it is in our country a graver threat. And it is the threat that comes from excessive concentrations of economic power. Excessive concentrations of economic power in our country pose as big a threat, and frankly a greater threat than any concentration of political power. What we have to remember is that our republic is founded not just on the question of liberty, but also on democracy and justice.

And it is when the predatory, monopolistic dimension of the economic system starts to gain momentum, then the question of justice and democracy has to come forward too. Not just liberty and property rights, but justice and human rights, and democracy, and the people’s rights to be free from economic tyranny and economic domination. We will not live on a national plantation run by the Koch brothers. We’re not going to do that. We refuse to do that.

Watch it:

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Rep. Wasserman Schultz: Bill Redefining Rape To Prevent Abortions Is ‘A Violent Act Against Women’

By Tanya Somanader at 11:50 am
Think Progress

 House Republicans wasted no time in declaring their legislative priorities for the 112th Congress. The first: repeal health care for millions of Americans. The second: redefine rape. A day after repealing health care, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced the No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act, a bill that would not only permanently prohibit some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions, but would change the language exempting rape and incest from rape to “forcible rape.”

By narrowing the Hyde Amendment language, Republicans would exclude the following situations from coverage: women who say no but do not physically fight off the perpetrator, women who are drugged or verbally threatened and raped, and minors impregnated by adults. As the National Women’s Law Center’s Steph Sterling puts it, this new standard of force “takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.”

Continue reading here.

Clarence Dupnik's National Support: If Words Don’t Matter, Why Use Them?

National Commentary
Falls Church News-Press (VA)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12 2011 06:51:19 PM

It is this writer's recommendation to the editors of Time magazine that they add the name of Clarence W. Dupnik to its short list for "Person of the Year" in 2011.

Less than two weeks into the new year, this outspoken and articulate sheriff of Pima County, Arizona, home of the horrific murders and assassination attempt against U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, spoke for an entire nation by indicting the rise in the politics of hate in the land.

Sheriff of Pima County since 1980, it didn't take proof of any specific connection of the murderer in this case to any political or hate group for Dupnik to condemn all the political peddlers of anger and hate in the entire nation.

This seasoned lawman could see the impact of words on actions in ways that the dissemblers of the political right and many in the cowardly national media have tried to obfuscate.
"People tend to pooh-pooh this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that," Dupnik said during a press conference the night after the shootings. "That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences."

Earlier in the day, he told a TV network,

"It's time that this country take a little introspective look at the crap that comes out on radio and TV."
 Elected seven times to his post, the 73-year old Dupnik made national headlines last summer for his outspoken refusal to enforce what he called a "racist" new immigration law.

"This law, it's just irresponsible," he said. "It makes them (Arizona legislators) look like racists."

In the immediate aftermath of the shootings Saturday, Dupnik wasn't the only one to raise his voice in anger against the climate of hate that political demagogues have fomented. In a live interview within a couple hours of the shootings, an Arizona Daily Star columnist and cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, a life-long resident of Tucson, called Arizona a "gun-happy state" (some CNN coverage Saturday originated from a TV station with the call letters "KGUN" there). He added that the "rabid right" was "stoking hate and rage" in the state.

Continue reading here


Arizona Daily Star
4850 S. Park Ave. Tucson, AZ 85714

KVOA 4 - KVOA.com 792-2270
KGUN 9 - KGUN9.com 722-5486
KMSB 11 - Fox11Az.com 770-1123
KOLD 13 - KOLD.com 744-6397

Send Sheriff Dupnik a note at:

On the eve of the rally to kick off a "Dump Dupnik" event Pima County Democratic Chair issued this call for uniting the community by requesting the Sheriff's supporters donate to the Red Cross and the Community Food Bank.

Pima Dems ask Dupnik Supporters to Contribute to Blood and Food Banks, Rather than Counter-Protest

Pima County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rogers issued the following statement today:

“The right to free speech and peaceful assembly are sacred and should be cherished. Butin this difficult time as our community heals, we would like to encourage a spirit of togetherness. We would like to celebrate that which unites us rather than highlight that which divides. This is an opportunity to come together to be the change that we want tosee in our community. We hope that the politics of personal destruction that have marred the public dialogue for far too long will give way to a renewed sense of charity, compassion and community pride. 
It has been brought to our attention that a rally supporting the recall of Sheriff Dupnik is planned for Friday, January 28th. Today we ask that all of the Sheriff’s supporters who would like to “counter-protest” do so in a manner that helps those in need in our community.
The world is watching and we know that the people of southern Arizona will rise to the occasion.”

 Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Red Cross is currently recruiting O Neg, A Neg and B Neg donors. We highly recommend contacting the local Red Cross office at (520) 230-7295 to schedule an appointment to donate.

Contributions for the Community Food Bank can be made online or may be dropped off at any of the locations listed online or at Pima County Democratic Party Headquarters, 4639 E. First St.,
Tucson, AZ 85711