Friday, August 26, 2011

3 Things That Must Happen for Us To Rise Up and Defeat the Corporatocracy

Most Americans oppose rule by the corporatocracy but don't have the tools to fight back. Here's three things we need to create a real people's movement.

August 25, 2011  Transforming the United States into something closer to a democracy requires: 1) knowledge of how we are getting screwed; 2) pragmatic tactics, strategies, and solutions; and 3) the “energy to do battle.”

Read the entire article here:  3 Things That Must Happen for Us To Rise Up and Defeat the Corporatocracy  

Friday, August 19, 2011

4 Good Causes

1.  Verizon (from
45,000 working folks are fighting to save the American Dream right now—and they need your help.
Last year Verizon made $12 billion in profits,1 got $1 billion in subsidies, and paid $0 in taxes.2 But rather than sharing the profits with the working people who make the company successful, Verizon is demanding that their workers take pay and benefit cuts of $20,000 a year.3 This is at the same time that their four top executives have pocketed over $258 million in the past four years.4
But these workers are fighting back with the only tool left in their arsenal. They're striking to keep Verizon from killing the American dream for middle class families.5
This strike gets right to the core of what we're fighting for: good jobs for working families. We need to show Verizon that the country is watching, and we're disgusted with their greed and mistreatment of the men and women who built their company.
Call Verizon and tell them, "Support good jobs for workers, not corporate bonuses. Stop refusing to negotiate with your workers."
Verizon: 1-800-837-4966
When it comes to putting corporate bonuses over decent living wages, Verizon's behavior is unfortunately all too common. But because Verizon's workers are in a union, they have the means to fight back. But they need the help of Verizon's customers if they're going to shame Verizon into coming back to the negotiating table.
So make sure they hear you loud and clear. If we let Verizon know that their unfair treatment of workers is damaging the goodwill of potential customers, we can pressure them to come to the table and bargain in good faith.
Thanks for all you do.
–Daniel, Eli, Elena, Adam Q., and the rest of the team
1. "The Artful Dodgers: Telecommunications and Technology," Public Campaign
2. "Verizon Pushes for $1 Billion in Concessions from Workers, While Receiving Nearly $1 Billion in Subsidies from Uncle Sam," Citizens for Tax Justice, August 8, 2011
3. "Verizon workers hit picket lines from Mass. to Va.," ABC, August 8, 2011
4. "Company Refuses to Bargain Seriously, Verizon Proposals Would Take Workers Back Decades," Communication Workers of America, August 7, 2011
5. "CWA Union, Verizon Appeal to Congress Amid 4th Day of Strike," Bloomberg Businessweek, August 10, 2011

2.  AT&T (from
Guess what?

AT&T’s plan to take over T-Mobile is about gouging consumers, destroying a competitor and firing an estimated 20,000 American workers.
We at Free Press have warned about this from day one. Now, one of AT&T's own lawyers has confirmed it. He inadvertently leaked a letter that reveals the merger has nothing to do with expanding AT&T’s coverage to 97 percent of the country – the main argument the company has made to gain Washington’s support – and everything to do with eliminating the cheaper T-Mobile option from the marketplace (and laying off half of its workforce) to pad company profits.1, 2

The truth is out. Every AT&T argument about the supposed benefits of this merger has now been proven wrong.3 As AT&T’s case unravels, we must keep up the pressure and urge Washington to stop supporting a deal that is so harmful to workers, consumers and our economy:

President Obama has repeatedly called creating jobs his "singular focus."  If the White House signals to the FCC and the Department of Justice that this deal should go through, Obama will be breaking that pledge.  Please add your name to our letter and then share via Facebook so others can expose AT&T’s deception.
Last week, 32 respected industry analysts said in a survey that the deal now has less than a 50-percent chance of gaining regulatory approval. That’s a huge shift in momentum against this merger.4

Unless we act now on this momentum, the facts won't matter. AT&T writes more checks In Washington than any other company. (It has spent $200 million on lobbyists and campaign contributions over the years and gives more than $60 million a year to not-for-profit groups, many of whom have lent their name to letters in support of the merger.)5, 6

Regulators now have all the evidence they need to block this deal. If they ignore the public’s outcry and approve the merger, we'll have no clearer example of industry influence in Washington — where well-financed fictions trump reality.
It’s time for President Obama to step up and stop AT&T's charade:

Everyone in Washington must know that the price of approving this deal is too high. We need to remind President Obama that if this deal goes through, we’ll hold him and Congress responsible for higher prices, less choice and tens of thousands of lost American jobs.

Thank you for taking action.
Timothy Karr
Campaign Director
Free Press

1. Karl Bode, “Leaked AT&T Letter Demolishes Case For T-Mobile Merger,” DSL Reports, Aug. 12, 2011:
2. Dave Saldana, "AT&T Takeover of T-Mobile Won't Create New Jobs,” Other Words, Aug. 15, 2011:
3. Free Press, "Five Myths about AT&T’s Takeover of T-Mobile:" (pdf)
4. Todd Shields and Sara Forden, “AT&T Seeks to Bolster T-Mobile Case as Doubts Rise in Poll,”Business Week, Aug. 12, 2011:
5. Influence Explorer, “AT&T Inc. Contributions,”
6. Eliza Krigman, “AT&T Gave Cash to Merger Backers,” Politico, June 10, 2011:

3.  Bradley Manning (from

Gather your friends to celebrate and support the most important whistleblower of our time.

Bradley Manning Support Network

We are at an important crossroads. In a couple months, we expect the prosecution of Bradley Manning to begin in earnest with his first pre-trial hearing.

Hosting a dinner party can be a simple and fun way to raise awareness and funds for the Bradley Manning Defense Fund. Friendly conversation over dinner is a great opportunity to reach out to connections who might not already know about Bradley Manning's plight.

The Bradley Manning Support Network is powered by people around the world volunteering countless hours to educating their communities about what is at stake regarding Bradley's upcoming military court martial proceedings: Truth and accountability vs. a culture of secrecy and fear.

While our network is people-driven, a campaign of this magnitude is not without significant financial expenses. These costs include: fully funding Bradley's selected civilian legal team, producing and internationally distributing campaign materials, contractors for media and technical work, and a minimal staff to facilitate grassroots action. Now that appears the military will drag out the prosecution of Bradley over the next nine months or so, we need to ensure that we continue to build our campaign as to give Bradley a fighting chance for justice.

The good news is that it's as easy as making dinner.

So will you join us, September 9th and 10th?
Click here to register as a host, get materials and recipes, and get started.
We saved a seat for you
Thank you for supporting Bradley.

4.  Oppose the Internet Blacklist Bill (from:

Here it comes.  CNET's reporting that the House is about to introduce its own version of the Internet Blacklist Bill.
Will you urge your friends to demand that Congress reject this awful legislation?  You can use these links:

[fb]If you're already on Facebookclick here to share with your friends.
[fb]If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

Here's CNET:

[Bob] Goodlatte, a leader in Congress on technology policy, told a crowd of over a hundred that the House is working on its own version of the Senate bill....The House bill will be introduced in the next few weeks, and hearings will be scheduled for mid-September, Goodlatte said.

The Internet Blacklist Bill -- S.968, formally called the PROTECT IP Act -- would allow the Department of Justice to force search engines, browsers, and service providers to block users' access to websites that have been accused of facilitating intellectual property infringement -- without even giving them a day in court.  It would also give IP rights holders a private right of action, allowing them to sue to have sites prevented from operating.
Please urge your friends to demand that their lawmakers oppose the Internet Blacklist Bill:

[fb]If you're already on Facebookclick here to share with your friends.
[fb]If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

Thanks for fighting for Internet freedom.

-- The Demand Progress team

Paid for by Demand Progress ( and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Contributions are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

One last thing -- Demand Progress's small, dedicated, under-paid staff relies exclusively on the generosity of members like you to support our work. Will you click here to chip in $5 or $10? Or you can become a Demand Progress monthly sustainer by clicking here. Thank you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The SEC in the news

The Madoff family gained unusual access to Washington's lawmakers and regulators through the industry's top trade group. The Madoff family has long-standing, high-level ties to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), the primary securities industry organization.
Bernard Madoff sat on the Board of Directors of the Securities Industry Association, which merged with the Bond Market Association in 2006 to form SIFMA. Madoff's brother Peter then served two terms as a member of SIFMA’s Board of Directors. Peter's resignation as the scandal broke in December 2008 came amid growing criticism of the Madoff firm’s links to Washington, and how those relationships may have contributed to the Madoff fraud. Over the years 2000–08, the two Madoff brothers gave $56,000 to SIFMA,[55] and tens of thousands of dollars more to sponsor SIFMA industry meetings.[56]
In Molchatsky v. U.S. (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 19, 2011), the federal district court held that two Madoff victims could not sue the U.S. government under the Federal Tort Claims Act for the SEC's "gross negligence" in failing to discover the fraud.  The opinion recounts at some length the allegations of the agency's ineptitude, largely taken from the SEC Office of Inspector General's Report, but nevertheless ultimately agrees with the government that the agency's conduct is protected under the Discretionary Function Exception (DFE) of the Federal Tort Claims Act.  Because the SEC's decision regarding whom to investigate and how to conduct an investigation are discretionary,  any negligence or even abuse of that discretion is shielded from suit by sovereign immunity.
From The New York Times:
Four months after the Federal Communications Commission approved a hotly contested merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, one of the commissioners {Meredith Attwell Baker} who voted for the deal said on Wednesday that she would soon join Comcast’s Washington lobbying office.
From Reuters:
At least 219 former officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission have left since 2006 to help clients with business before the agency, bringing fresh allegations of a "revolving door" that leaves the commission too cozy with the Wall Street firms it regulates.
Hot off the press from Matt Taibbi of RollingStone:
Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes:  A whistleblower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals.
Two really great articles peeking into the industry:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The debt ceiling debate comes to a close

The Incredible Folding President from The Final Edition on Vimeo.

The debt ceiling has been signed by President Obama.  I think that the whole debt ceiling debate has been scripted.  As in pro wrestling, mostly fake with a little room to ad lib.  Certainly, President Obama has been in on the game.  When the Obama administration created their 2011 budget, no one realized that it would go over the debt ceiling?  When the Obama administration had their secret negotiations with Republicans as the lame duck session was coming to a close, no one saw the debt ceiling issue coming?  These people are much smarter than I am and no one saw the debt ceiling issue coming?  Come on!

Obama is quoted as saying something like, "I assumed that the Republicans would act rationally."  Yes, he's said that before.  See this:  Obama, Tea Parties, and the Battle for Our Brains. And finally, assuming that the first two oversights were merely honest "mistakes", when the Obama administration saw the debt ceiling issue looming ahead, they could have started securing programs like Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, food stamps, low-level government employees and our troops.  You know, things that are important to Democrats.  The Republicans would have been begging to raise the debt ceiling.  Certainly, people who may be living from check to check should have continued to get their checks.  The government who "borrowed" the excess funds from the entitlement programs and gave the funds "special treasuries" in return.  Consequently, the entitlement programs get paid first - that's why they're called entitlement programs.  That's why the entitlement programs are part of the mandatory budget.  Our government basically put the mandatory budget in play along with the discretionary budget. 

That this whole debate is contrived is the only scenario that makes sense at all.  Sure Obama talked a tough game with some cuts and some revenue generation.  Not even tax increases but closing loopholes.  In the end he 'compromised' with just getting the debt ceiling raised.  I don't think it's a case that the emperor has no clothes, no teeth and no balls.  I think it's a case of a wolf in sheep's clothing.  His campaign contributors who gave him almost $750 million dollars do want something back for their money.

The 'Main Stream Media' claims that this is the best deal Obama could get.  Umm, yeah.  Aren't they corporations (usually held by even larger corporations) selling commercial space to other corporations?  Give me a break!

Matt Taibbi of The RollingStone in Debt Ceiling Deal: The Democrats Take a Dive says:
...they {the Democrats} do not represent any actual voters. I know I've said this before, but they are not a progressive political party, not even secretly, deep inside. They just play one on television.
Glenn Greenwald of Salon thinks Obama is getting exactly what he wants: The myth of Obama's "blunders" and "weakness" and Paul Krugman rightly calls the debt deal a disaster - exactly what we shouldn't be doing: Macroeconomic Folly.

I'm not the only one who thinks that the debate has been manufactured.  See for example: The Debt Ceiling Debate--A “Charade,” says Paul Volcker; Trumped-Up Political Drama, Never an Economic Crisis, Another Fake Debate: Raising the Debt Ceiling, The Debt Ceiling Debate is just Pro Wrestling, National debt ceiling debate recalls Lansing struggles.

Time to protest?  See:  John Conyers Calls for Protest Against the Debt Deal.

Obama's 2012 Campaign Headquarters from The Final Edition on Vimeo.