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Member since: Sun Jul 11, 2004, 07:58 PM
Number of posts: 35,518

Journal Archives

DERFCITY TOON: update on healthcare battle

I'm already thinking of opening a new business with that tax deduction.


Chicago Democrats and Wall Street at War with CTU

I would like to see Obama beat Romney, but as a college instructor married to a K-12 teacher, I'm trying to figure out how to cast my vote without it being taken as an endorsement of this conservative, corrupt education policy that is breaking our K-12 schools and just starting to do the same to public colleges and universities.

Teachers are among the most reliable foot soldiers for Democrats in campaigns, but it's hard to walk a precinct after someone has just kicked you in the nuts.

Obama has done better on funding education than Romney ever would, but that would be cold comfort if my wages get cut in half and my job security destroyed, just so some hedge fund manager can skim taxpayer money meant for schools into his own pocket.

The first link in this post says David Axelrod's old firm is running the anti-union ads in Chicago.

What is it going to take to break the stranglehold this cancerous policy has on so many Democratic politicians? What do we have to do to get them to return the loyalty teachers show them at the polls?

If DLCers aren't careful, their dismissive "they don't have anywhere else to go" attitude is going to come back and bite them in the ass someday.

Diane Ravitch's blog

More evidence, this time in the Chicago Tribune, that Wall Street hedge fund managers and Obama Democrats are pouring money into the fight against the public school teachers of Chicago.

I know that Republicans get a hearty laugh when they see Democratic mayors like Rahm Emanuel and Cory Booker and Antonio Villaraigosa at war with the teachers' unions in their cities. I am on several conservative mailing lists and I can practically hear they snickering and cheering every time a Democratic mayor praises school choice, privatization, and charters while warring with the teachers.

I wonder if any of the people at the White House pause to wonder how these district-level battles will affect the election in 2012? Remember, the Presidential election?

Will teachers who have been pounded into submission by Rahm Emanuel and Obama operative and Wall Street titans vote for Obama? Maybe they will hold their noses and vote, but will they knock on doors, will they call their friends and relatives, will they volunteer on election day to help the same people that are now bullying them?


PREDICTION: the "HAVE YOU NO SHAME" moment for capitalism

Our current form of capitalism is no longer based on real wealth of resources and manufacturing, but the investment and currency Ponzi schemes of the finance sector.

What it's probably going to take for people to realize this is some hedge fund to decide to goose their profits by cannibalizing a company we all like and even depend on.

It's not that far-fetched: they already do it to companies that are profitable--just not profitable enough to suit them.

It wasn't quite enough for most people that it was done to the dream of home ownership, or the ongoing assaults on a middle class standard of living, secure pensions and access to higher education.

Some icon of capitalism itself needs to be hobbled and torn to shreds by the jackals of Wall Street because a speadsheet showed it was far more profitable than merely investing in it and collecting dividends, or even running another pump and dump scam.

When we see what we idealize as capitalism killed by what it really is, maybe people will realize our biggest enemy isn't the last three hundred al Qaeda in Pakistan or the last three commies in North Korea, put the sociopathic trust fund babies on Wall Street who crush our dreams and make us work three minimum wage jobs to survive, so that their descendants won't have to get a job for the next ten generations.

STIGLITZ: The World's 99% Knows Capitalism Is Failing and Believes That Change Is Possible

This was the headline over at Buzzflash.

I think everyone ought to copy and paste it into an email to the White House and their congressman and senators.

They need to know that they have done far too little punish those who broke the World economy or to fix it so they can't break it again.

They probably won't do anything, but at least they won't be able to say we didn't ask them to.

Hell, send it to Mitt too. But I think his idea of change is having someone hold us by our ankles and shake it out of our pockets and into his off shore accounts.

There are moments in history when people all over the world seem to rise up, to say that something is wrong, to ask for change. This is what happened in the tumultuous years 1848 and 1968. Each of these years of upheaval marked the beginning of a new era. The year 2011 may prove to be another such moment.


Americans, Europeans, and people in other democracies around the world take great pride in their democratic institutions. But the protesters have called into question whether there is a real democracy. Real democracy is more than the right to vote once every two or four years. The choices have to be meaningful. The politicians have to listen to the voices of the citizens. But increasingly, and especially in the United States, it seems that the political system is more akin to "one dollar one vote" than to "one person one vote." Rather than correcting the market's failures, the political system was reinforcing them.

Politicians give speeches about what is happening to our values and our society, but then they appoint to high office the CEOs and other corporate officials who were at the helm in the financial sector as the system was failing so badly. We shouldn't have expected the architects of the system that has not been working to rebuild the system to make it work, and especially work for most citizens - and they didn't.

The failures in politics and economics are related, and they reinforce each other. A political system that amplifies the voice of the wealthy provides ample opportunity for laws and regulations - and the administration of them - to be designed in ways that not only fail to protect the ordinary citizens against the wealthy but also further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the rest of society.


GREENWALD: The imperatives of political pressure

One of the best ways we can help Obama in this election year is to demand that he be all that he can be, which would serve two positive purposes:

  • draw a sharper contrast between Romney and Obama, probably getting more people excited about the election and helping him win.

  • a precedent making it at least a little harder for Obama to say his win was a validation of the DLC, corporate compliance without the lynch mob and religious nuts, way.

If we demand nothing, the Democrats will continue to chase the GOP to the right, and say that's what we voted for.

Throughout the Obama presidency, one of the most vocal and demanding factions in the Democratic Party base has been activists for gay and lesbian equality. They repeatedly protested at Obama events and even at the White House, complained loudly about Obama’s broken promises, and even threatened to boycott Obama’s re-election campaign by withholding donations. In light of that ongoing confrontationalism, as well as the importance of gay voters (and especially gay donors) to the Democratic Party, it’s no surprise that their agenda has been repeatedly attended to by Obama, as he engineered the successful repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell, ordered his DOJ to stop defending the constitutionality of DOMA, and then finally “evolved” to an Election-Year endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Latino activists have been as confrontational and unwilling to fall into line as good, compliant partisan soldiers. They publicly protested Obama’s record number of deportation, complained about his immigration policies, loudly accused him of “betrayal,” and expressed subsstantial disapproval for him in polls. Thus, five months before the election, we have this today:

Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children will be able to obtain work permits and be safe from deportation under a new policy announced on Friday by the Obama administration. . . .

These qualifications resemble in some ways those of the so-called Dream Act, a measure blocked by Congress in 2010 that was geared to establish a path toward citizenship for certain young illegal immigrants. The administration’s action on Friday, which stops deportations but does not offer citizenship, is being undertaken by executive order and does not require legislation. It was announced by the Department of Homeland Security. . . .


DSCC email on Florida voter purge has wrong solution.

The good: unlike prior years, Dems are giving the issue a high profile

The bad: a petition to tell the GOP to STOP DOING IT? Would that be an effective approach to dealing with terrorists, drug lords, and serial killers?

When someone is committing a crime, you don't ask them to stop, you ask the cops to do their job and stop them. If Florida ignores the Justice Department order, arrests should be made, and the courts should supervise whose on the voter rolls and the voting for duration. Republicans might actually stop using this tactic if a governor and/or Karl Rove level strategist did some prison or even just jail time.

Our right to vote should not be something we have to petition the GOP to grant us.

TOON: why Wall Street & Washington aren't that interested in alternative energy

Has a privately owned business ever turned into a co-op?

Co-ops would eliminate some of the problems of our finance driven corporate business culture, but most businesses seem to start from one person's vision or obsession.

The turning point seems to be when they go public and become a corporation.

Suddenly the original vision to provide a product or service is subordinate to meeting profit goals set by the financial sector, and even if the company is profitable and the product is beloved by the public, if someone in finance thinks they can make a quick buck by killing the company, they can and will.

The same can happen to employees well before the company itself is killed. While an individual owner may have benevolent feelings and policies toward his employees, once it goes corporate, bookkeeping sleight of hand to goose profits take priority over treating them right and even getting the best efforts from them.

I wonder if some of the founders of companies wouldn't be happy with less money if they knew their company would survive with something like its original vision after their active leadership rather than being prostituted and cannibalized.

It would certainly be more likely to survive as a one person (including employees, investors, and even customers) one vote as opposed to one dollar one vote.

Has anyone ever done this and converted a family business or partnership into a co-op?

Is there any effort to convince small businesses this is the better way to expand?

If not, there should be.

Letter asks retiring members of Congress if negotiating for lobbying job and posts responses

Drawing attention to this is at least as important as campaign finance reform and overturning Citizens United.

Even if elections were totally clean on the front end, corporations have a profound advantage over any union, consumer, environmental, or social policy group on what they can offer politicians on their way out of office:

Jobs that pay up to 14.5 times as much as their congressional salary or more as lobbyists, CEO's, do-nothing board members, consultants, and lawyers.

Republic Report asked retiring members of Congress if they were already in negotiations for lobbying jobs, got some responses, and even a couple on video.

If the media did their job, this would be a standard exit question leaving office, and coming in the front door, politicians should be asked how we can be sure they aren't working for their former employers or their own bank accounts rather than the public welfare.

Corruption is at the root of all the other problems our democracy has, and we've don't weld the revolving door shut (especially with a couple of pols stuck inside) to fix things.

You can also SIGN THEIR PETITION demanding Congress end this backdoor bribery.

Republic Report Sends Letter To 36 Retiring Members of Congress: Stop Backdoor Bribery, Disclose Your Job Negotiations With K Street
By Lee Fang posted Mar 15th 2012 at 11:01AM

Is your member of Congress serving you, or serving himself? Many lawmakers, when they approach retirement, begin negotiating with lobbying firms to receive multimillion dollar salaries after they leave office. In some cases, a Senator or Representative will slip language into a bill or write an earmark that benefits a special interest, and when they leave Congress, a big paycheck is waiting for them from the very same company.

While the process of public officials going to work for lobbying firms is often called the “revolving door,” we think this issue deserves more emphasis and urgency. With members of Congress secretly manipulating the laws we must all live under, and then receiving lavish rewards, so they can live lavish lifestyles, we call that Backdoor Bribery.

Yesterday, we published a report detailing the problem, and revealed that the lawmakers-turned-lobbyists we profiled received up to a 1,452 percent raise on average. Congressman Billy Tauzin (R-LA), for instance, made $158,100 as a lawmaker his last year in office. He went on to make nearly $20 million the next few years as a drug company lobbyist — after he wrote the law in Congress that prevents Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices for seniors (a rule that costs taxpayers billions). And Backdoor Bribery occurs on both sides of the aisle. It was reported earlier this year that Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA) earmarked hundreds of thousands of dollars in special projects before retiring, then began a lobbying job that counts his earmark recipients as clients.

Members of Congress owe their loyalty to the people they represent, not to big companies offering them future riches. We need to stand up against this abuse of our democracy.


59 Schools Parents Boycott Field Tests for High-Stakes Exams, demanding more teaching less testing

Too many Democrats are on the same side as Republicans on this issue, and these parents have figured out one of the ugly reasons why: constant redundant testing puts money in the pockets of testing companies which they then use to buy politicians to require more testing.

These parents bypassed the politicians and went directly to the source of the problem: they protested at the testing company.

Like the Occupy Movement, to get action to stop education "reform" that is destroying our public schools so for-profit charter and management companies can take over, we need to go to the source, the companies buying the corrupt politicians.

Pearson might make a good test case. Since it's clear even many Democrats are ignoring good policy on this educators have a simple way they can effect change themselves: Whenever they have an individual choice of textbooks or materials or are involved in purchasing decisions for their schools, districts, or even states, they should refuse to consider Pearson, and send them a brief letter saying why. Pearson also does a substantial business in college textbooks, so higher ed instructors can cut them off too.

Over time, educators should figure out which textbook, software, and other companies are pushing for these policies, and boycott them until education decisions are back in the hands of educators and those who put kids ahead of profits.

Parents across New York City and New York State, fed up with high-stakes and excessive standardized testing in public education, are boycotting the “stand-alone” field tests scheduled for middle and elementary schools this week. And many are joining a protest at the headquarters of Pearson, the state’s for-profit test development contractor, to demonstrate their anger as well.

From June 5^th to June 12^th , children across the state are being forced to give up learning time solely to serve the research purposes of billion-dollar test publisher Pearson, which has a $32 million contract with the New York State Education Department. But parents in 59 schools – an unprecedented number – are fighting back by refusing to allow their children to take these field tests.

In support, the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council (CPAC) passed a resolution on May 31 endorsing the boycott and urging all parents to opt their children out of the field tests. The Community Education Councils (CECs) of District 3 in Manhattan (Upper West Side) and District 20 (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Borough Park, Kensington) in Brooklyn passed similar resolutions.

“All this testing is out of control,” says Dani Gonzalez, a Bronx parent who is protesting at today’s demonstration. “Real learning happens when children can explore and experiment and do projects, when they can read books and discuss them. All this testing is crowding real learning out of the classroom. My children can’t learn when all they do is prepare for tests and take tests.”

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