Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dean Baker of CEEP: Gang of Six is Blind to Information, Such as Elderly Spending Increases Exceed Rate of Inflation

July 21st, 2011 6:48 PM
The Drive to Cut Social Security: Why Are the Gang of Six Scared of Information?

By Dean Baker

Read the full opinion piece at OpenMike at MichaelMoore.com.

Jeff Cohen: Obama is not Caving into Corporate Interests; He already has Caved in

Jeff Cohen of Ithaca College makes a compelling argument at MichaelMoore.com against the corporate bias that President Barack Obama has demonstrated from the start of his presidency.

He wraps up by suggesting that a progressive candidate challenge him in the 2012 Democratic primaries for president.

July 25th, 2011 8:24 AM
Obama is NOT “Caving” to Corporate Interests

By Jeff Cohen

In a campaign almost as frenzied as the effort to get Barack Obama into the White House, liberal groups are now mobilizing against the White House and reported deals that would cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They accuse President Obama of being weak and willing to “cave” to corporate and conservative forces bent on cutting the social safety net while protecting the wealthy.

Those accusations are wrong.

The accusations imply that Obama is on our side. Or was on our side. And that the right wing is pushing him around.

But the evidence is clear that Obama is an often-willing servant of corporate interests -- not someone reluctantly doing their bidding, or serving their interests only because Republicans forced him to.

Since coming to Washington, Obama has allied himself with Wall Street Democrats who put corporate deregulation and greed ahead of the needs of most Americans:

In 2006, a relatively new Senator Obama was the only senator to speak at the inaugural gathering of the Alexander Hamilton Project launched by Wall Street Democrats like Robert Rubin and Roger Altman, Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary and deputy secretary. Obama praised them as “innovative, thoughtful policymakers.” (It was Rubin’s crusade to deregulate Wall Street in the late ‘90s that led directly to the economic meltdown of 2008 and our current crisis.)
In early 2007, way before he was a presidential frontrunner, candidate Obama was raising more money from Wall Street interests than all other candidates, including New York presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani.
In June 2008, as soon as Hillary ended her campaign, Obama went on CNBC, shunned the “populist” label and announced: “Look: I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market.” He packed his economic team with Wall Street friends -- choosing one of Bill Clinton’s Wall Street deregulators, Larry Summers, as his top economic advisor.
A year into his presidency, in a bizarre but revealing interview with Business Week, Obama was asked about huge bonuses just received by two CEOs of Wall Street firms bailed out by taxpayers. He responded that he didn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus to J.P. Mogan’s CEO or the $9 million to Goldman Sachs’ CEO: “I know both those guys, they are very savvy businessmen,” said Obama. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

After any review of Obama’s corporatist ties and positions, the kneejerk response is: “Yes, but Obama was a community organizer!”

He WAS a community organizer. . .decades before he became president. Back when Nelson Mandela was in prison and the U.S. government declared him the leader of a “terrorist organization” while our government funded and armed Bin Laden and his allies to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. That’s a long time ago.

It’s worth remembering that decades before Reagan became president, the great communicator was a leftwing Democrat and advocate for the working class and big federal social programs.

The sad truth, as shown by Glenn Greenwald, is that Obama had arrived at the White House looking to make cuts in benefits to the elderly. Two weeks before his inauguration, Obama echoed conservative scares about Social Security and Medicare by talking of “red ink as far as the eye can see.” He opened his doors to Social Security/Medicare cutters -- first trying to get Republican Senator Judd Gregg (“a leading voice for reining in entitlement spending,” wrote Politico) into his cabinet, and later appointing entitlement-foe Alan Simpson to co-chair his “Deficit Commission.” Obama’s top economic advisor, Larry Summers, came to the White House publicly telling Time magazine of needed Social Security cuts.

At this late date, informed activists and voters who care about economic justice realize that President Obama is NOT “on our side.”

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- widely seen as “America’s Senator” -- is so disgusted by recent White House actions that he called Friday for a challenge to Obama in Democratic primaries: “I think it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition.”

Although Sanders has said clearly that he’s running for reelection to the senate in 2012 – not for president -- his comment led instantly to a Draft Sanders for President website.

Imagine if a credible candidate immediately threatened a primary challenge unless Obama rejects any deal cutting the safety net while maintaining tax breaks for the rich. Team Obama knows that a serious primary challenger would cost the Obama campaign millions of dollars. And it may well be a powerful movement-building opportunity for activists tired of feeling hopeless with Obama.

It’s time for progressives to talk seriously about a challenge to Obama’s corporatism. Polls show most Americans support economic justice issues, and that goes double for Democratic primary voters.

If not Bernie, who? If not now, when?

GOP Further Burns its Bridges to the Latino Community

Republican Party or "Grand Old Party" (GOP) leaders have been alienating themselves from Latinos since the mid-1990s by supporting state and national legislation that is hostile to Latinos.

None of the top five GOP presidential candidates for the 2012 nomination for president have committed to appear at a La Raza conference.

"Republican Presidential Candidates Skip Latino Group Conference", by Elise Foley and Sam Stein in Huffington Post, July 25, 2011.

GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and Jon Huntsman were invited to the annual conference of National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino organization in the nation.

All five chose to skip the affair.

The absence isn't highly unexpected considering the crowded schedules that presidential aspirants often face. But in the context of an increasingly frayed relationship between Latino voters and the Republican party, it has provided another clear hint that the GOP sees this ever-expanding constituency group as a lost cause.

"To me, that sets a signal that we're not a priority," said National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia. "And quite frankly, when you look at the actions that have been occurring by the leaders of the Republican party, it is, I think, alarming for us in the Latino community."

The National Council of La Raza's annual conference is in progress, from July 23 to July 25, in Washington, DC.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ALEC -bolder than shadow government, Blatantly pull strings

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), after a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request, has been exposed by John Nichols in the nation, in "ALEC Exposed".

One contributor at democraticunderground.com
Who are your state ALEC members? Maybe you have Billionaires that can thank them.

Find a list of who has been exposed so far.

What is ALEC ?
ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve “model” bills.

More than 98% of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009.

Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. Through ALEC, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?
Thanks to annm4peace at democraticunderground.com.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

7.1 Richter scale earthquake hits NE Japan; tsunami alert called off

A 7.1 earthquake has struck northeast Japan. This comes just months after the quake in the same region a few months ago.

A tsunami alert was called. But authorities have called it off, TVNZ (New Zealand television) reports.

Area nuclear plants are on alert.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Avoid terrible Verizon service --online payment site sends user in a circular loop

Verizon, similar to many companies, has made their websites profoundly user-hostile.

Try to pay a bill? Pay online --they've closed down their brick and mortar offices, throwing thousands out of work. Time was that you could pay easily at the site. Now, they want you to merge your phone account with the Verizon email.
Of course, as you haven't used that Verizon mail, you have forgotten the password for that. So, you cannot pay your bill at their online payment site.

Circular loop with the web page that is ostensibly for online Verizon telephone bill payment:

Verizon phone support loop: 2:13 spoke with some one and then put on hold. That was at 2:14 Verizon phone support loop: 2:13 spoke with some one and they’ve put me on hold.

Finally, someone picked up at 2:21. On hold at 2:22, :24, :25. And again at 2:23, 24.
Now onto a different recording.
and on and on 'til 2:33. Significant other came on the other line, so I interrupted the Verizon. They picked up at 2:35, back on hold at 2:38, because they were the FIOS department.
Giving up on them at 2:46. Paying a king's ransom of 30 cents per minute at Kinko's.
People, consider your other telephone and Internet options. You don't have to stay with Verizon. Look at the lousy service I got!

They are definitely going to be the subject of a complaint with the New York State Attorney General.

New York State Public Service Commission
Office of Consumer Services
Three Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12223-1350
Toll Free: 800-342-3377 Fax: 518-472-8502

Please contact your service provider before filing your complaint with the New York State Public Service Commission.

Issues pertaining to Cellular Telephone, Satellite Television, Internet, Home Heating Oil, and Propane should be directed to the NYS Attorney General.

If you have a complaint concerning long distance telephone calls made to locations outside New York State you should contact the Federal Communications Commission.