Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times). Read more
In May 2009, former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson wrote an important essay in The Atlantic on the origins and implications of the 2008 financial collapse, called "The Quiet Coup."
The financial gloom that swept over the US economy at the twilight of the George W. Bush administration was "shockingly reminiscent" of other Third World, emerging economy crises Johnson had witnessed during his days at the IMF.
In each case, he said, concerns that the financial sector could not pay off the debts it had accumulated caused capital markets to seize up, forcing firms like Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy as fear of insolvency became a self-fulfilling prophesy.
Weaknesses in the banking system "quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy," said Johnson, "causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people." Read more
Margaret Thatcher visits with Augusto Pinochet while he was under house arrest in London.
Margaret Thatcher is dead.
While we in the United States tend to lionize our departed Presidents, a la St. Ronnie of Santa Barbara, British politics is not nearly so genteel or forgiving. Her legacy will be debated much more critically in Britain than Reagans’s has been in the U.S.
Aging punk-rockers, Irish Republicans and trade unionists greeted the passing of Baroness Thatcher which much less solemnity. On Face book, a movement began to push “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” temporarily to iphone’s number one downloaded song.
Thatcherism embodied the ultimate unrestricted “free market” anarcho-capitalist principles. And Thatcherism did not see industrial unions as part of a “free market”. Her policies destroyed the union movement in Britain and essentially de-industrialized vast swathes of the country. Read more
Labor Day Demonstration against child labor - 1909
So if "class warfare" actually breaks out (we’re not talking about beheading rich folks .... yet!) with what "class" do you identify?
Are you "middle class, upper middle-class, lower class?" These are categories we love to use and always see in the corporate media.
These categories are based on how much you make and how much you consume. They assume you work. You have a job. If if are "lower" or "middle" class you cannot stay home and live on accumulated wealth or on income generated by others working for you. Yet rarely are such folks characterized as "workers".
The broad categories of class are better defined by your relationship to the process of the production of wealth.
You are either a worker, selling your labor because you have no other adequate source of income or you are an owner, a capitalist whose income is generated by others - i.e workers in your factory/corporation or your investments, or your accumulated wealth. Read more
How are leaders made? Is it possible to raise children to become tomorrow's elected officials, or at least active voters? Wondering what my peers and I must do to rear a successful next generation, I’ve come up with one answer: involvement. Children need to be shown how to do things- leadership skills must be taught by engaging in the political process. And really, it’s not that hard to do.
When I volunteered for Organizing for America, I brought my children to most of the events. Towards the end of the campaign, I worked on material when they were at school, but often in the evenings, they watched me write blogs, respond to emails and texts, and edit photos. In real time, they saw how one small part in a huge endeavor got done. The results were posted online, and I occasionally showed them my work, so they could see how actions yield results. Read more
Romney's 47% insult to America was quickly followed by his 14% tax returns and an ever-diminishing percentage in the polls but he says it's still "early" in the race. Ryan's runs for VP like it's a marathon: a long, painful course requiring hard work at which he's mediocre, but claims he's world-class. GOP candidates everywhere are alienating women, youth, gays and non-white Americans, yet argue they represent the real America…or at least the aging white male part of it. Read more
The Trickle-Down effect (Reaganomics)
Many Americans bought into the idea presented to them back in the 80′s that cutting taxes for businesses, corporations and those who invest in those corporations would somehow stimulate the economy and create jobs. We were told our economy would be better because the better off business was, the better off all of us would be. That really just did not happen.
What really transpired from that moment on and even until today was that, a small percentage of Americans grew much wealthier at a faster rate but many Americans began to lose out, even before they knew they were losing out. Read more
Mitt Romney’s overseas trip has been fodder for the press and media as quite a source of humor and more example of fumbling and mumbling we have seen from the candidate since the primary season kicked off. Something that has been noted is that his trip was in reality a visit with potential donors for funding his silk stocking presidential campaign. The question I ask is when did this become ok for politicians in the US to seek campaign funding overseas? Read more
Rich people may be evil but they have rights
This post is to remind people that rich people have rights, too. They should not be treated differently because of their status for logical, moral and Constitutional reasons. The federal government’s primary role is to protect people–all people. It was wrong and hypocritical to slaughter scores of Native Americans, enslave African-Americans, and prohibit women and minorities from voting. Too often people go astray from following the Constitution, treating people equally–discriminating on race, religion, gender, status, etc.–and forget it is the primary role of government to protect all people. Read more
The accusation of “liar” goes around a lot in politics these days. Barack Obama has been called a liar many times, along with several other names, such as communist, Nazi and socialist.
Rep Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled “You liar” during President Obama’s speech to Congress about the health care law, in response from Obama saying that the Affordable Care Act would not provide free coverage to illegal immigrants. The health care law doesn’t cover illegal immigrants but Rep Joe Wilson obviously didn’t bother reading it to find that out, better just to embarrass the president instead. Read more
President Obama signed an executive order back in June of 2011 that lay out the rules of cyber warfare against our enemies with attacks on their grid system and their defense system as possible targets. Recently Obama has also admitted to working with Israel on cyber-attacks against Iran.
It’s obvious the president sees the future benefits of cyber warfare but he is also ushering in an era where there is no return. But then, if he doesn’t and our nation doesn’t take the initiative, another nation will and we could be its victim, and which we have already. Read more
three o'clock in the morning. Wake up on the growing roar of turbines - so I have a signal the arrival of SMSes. "Mom, I got! Immediately went to number 900 rubles ... ". Lazily yawning, I turn to the side and fall asleep better at first wrapped his only year-old son.
I hate these people who despise there ... you can answer, but it does not matter. It is important that as long as the light, they will always be among us. So our challenge - to do an interview with them as much as possible for the sad past. We can not know all the rules of detention and execution of contracts, paperwork, transactions, winnings, but we must always remember that these rules exist. Read more
Even when we have video of a death threat there are those who try to deny that scientists have been threatened. Like, oh, The Australian. Media Watch reports on media coverage of death threats on climate scientists:
One news outlet comes out of it, in our opinion, almost unscathed: Fairfax Media's The Canberra Times. The ABC doesn't look so great, and The Australian looks worst of all. Read more
As I reflect back to those days before the election in 2008 and I recall the feeling of hope so many of us had at the time. We had just lived through eight years of watching America become a mountain of falling dreams and Corporate America becoming more powerful, as ordinary people bought homes they couldn’t afford, thanks to subprime mortgages at high interests rates and those ordinary people, both Republican and Democrat all began to work a lot harder to make a living. Read more
More than half a century ago (yikes!) I got my first job on Wall Street. I was still a teen and would go to college later.
I noticed something right away. There were no women on Wall Street. Well, ok, there were some. There were old spinster ladies who never married and worked as "private secretaries"; and there were a few hot young college grads, mostly from the Ivy League working as "assistants".
Almost all of them lived in Connecticut, the Elysian fields of Northern New Jersey or in small studios in tonier parts of Manhattan. None of them lived in Brooklyn. Read more