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‘I’m Right and Everybody Else Is Wrong. Clear About That?’

June 19th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2016 Election, Democrats, Organizing, PDA

Bernie Sanders will likely represent the hard-line Left in 2016. Will he help or hurt the movement?

By Simon van Zuylen-Wood

Progressive America Rising via National Journal

Shortly after 9 a.m. on the second Saturday in May, at the altar of a massive, ornate church in Northampton, Massachusetts, a lanky, white-haired reverend named Todd Weir assumes the pulpit. His congregation is hosting a conference celebrating the 10th anniversary of the grassroots organization Progressive Democrats of America.

Before him sits an audience of several hundred. In the course of welcoming them to the church, Weir directs their attention to a bronze relief of the fire-breathing, 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards. "Edwards preached over and over again about the dangers of the concentration of wealth and power that were happening here in the Connecticut River Valley," he says. "I think he would be here today with the Progressive Democrats of America, saying, ‘Run, Bernie, Run!’ "

The image of Jonathan Edwards—a Puritan in a white powdered wig—stumping for the socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in front of progressive diehards wearing hiking boots has hardly settled in our minds when, several minutes later, a man in a cowboy hat takes the podium and begins whipping the crowd into an even more frenzied state. "I’m happy to be here with you rompin’ stompin’ scrappy ‘n’ savvy attendees, you corporate greed-whackers and butt-kickers," twangs the populist Texan radio host Jim Hightower. A few more minutes of inspirational preamble follow before he introduces the guest of honor: that "hell-raiser extraordinaire who drives the Koch-head corporate plutocrats crazy."

A roar emanates from the pews, and 72-year-old Bernie Sanders trudges up to the pulpit. He waves tersely and motions for the crowd to sit down. "What I wanted to do this morning," he tells his adoring and expectant fans, "is kind of bore you a little bit."

True to his word, Sanders proceeds to drain all the energy from the premises with an hour-long lecture full of bleak statistics and wonky digressions. Phrases like "chained CPI" and "real unemployment" feature prominently, along with endless talk of the Koch brothers and their abettors on the Supreme Court.

According to the day’s agenda, the speech is supposed to be followed by a 15-minute meet-and-greet for the senator and audience members. Instead, when he finishes, Sanders bounds up the aisle, shakes some hands without breaking stride, then bolts out the front door. Back at the altar, a panel on media quickly assembles. It includes progressive radio host Thom Hartman, a baby-faced labor reporter named Cole Stangler, and the actress-activist Mimi Kennedy, who played the hippie mom on Dharma & Greg. "That," Stangler announces to the crowd, "was a pretty depressing speech."

Outside the Supreme Court on Oct. 8, 2013. (Getty Images)Indeed it was. The performance was vintage Sanders: brimming with umbrage and entirely lacking in charisma. It was also probably a warm-up act for what could be one of the more intriguing story lines of 2016. For months, it has seemed increasingly likely that Sanders is going to run for president. The founder of Progressive Democrats of America, Tim Carpenter—who died of cancer two weeks before the conference—had started a petition beseeching Sanders to run in 2016, and part of the point of the event was to gin up enthusiasm for his candidacy. Meanwhile, Sanders has visited Iowa and New Hampshire; boasted that he’d make a better commander in chief than Hillary Clinton; and repeatedly said he’s "prepared" to enter the 2016 race, even informing me at one point—without making anything official—that he was "looking forward to running for president of the United States."

If Sanders runs, he will do so as the candidate of the Democratic Party’s uncompromising left flank.

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Behind the Madness in Iraq

June 14th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in antiwar, Iran, iraq, Long War


By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPost

June 13, 2014 – The U.S. had no business invading Iraq. We toppled a dictatorship on a false 9/11 rationale, which plunged Iraq into a sectarian civil war inside a war with the United States. We left behind a vengeance-driven Shiite regime aligned with Iran. Now the sectarian war in Syria is enlarging into a regional one. The primary blame for this disaster is on the Bush administration, but also on all those who succumbed to a Superpower Syndrome, which said we could redesign the Middle East. There is no reason whatsoever to justify further loss of American lives or tax dollars on a conflict that we do not understand and that started before the United States was born.

Anti-war networks already are sending online messages to Congress opposing any U.S. military re-intervention in Iraq. Representative Nancy Pelosi already is there. Those voices need to be amplified to help President Barack Obama stave off the most irrational forces during this crisis.

Then we need to construct a narrative that blocks the hawks from blaming Obama for "losing" Iraq, and turns the focus on the neo-conservatives, Republicans, and Democratic hawks who took this country into a sea of blood. Most of them remain in power, unscathed and immune, even occupying high positions in this administration. What they fear most is not an Iraqi insurgency, but the risen families of the dead and wounded, on all sides, that increasingly ask who led them into an unwinnable, unaffordable war. The duty-driven bravery of their lost sons and daughters stands in direct contrast to shameless privilege of those who sent them into harm’s way.

As this immediate crisis unfolds, we must act to strip away certain delusions. The least of these, though still irritating, is the view of many visible anti-war "radicals" that says the United States never really withdrew from Iraq, but instead secretly left behind tens of thousands of Special Forces in disguise. This silly notion was meant to refute the belief that Obama had "ended" the war.

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Does Fox News Cause Ignorance, or Do Ignorant Viewers Prefer Fox News?

June 10th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in Media bias, racism, rightwing, Tea Party

A new study reveals the gap between the channel’s fans and the rest of America

By Danny Vinik @dannyvinik

Progressive America Rising via The New Republic

Immediately before the presidential election in 2012, Fox News viewers were certain of one thing: Mitt Romney was going win. It didn’t matter that poll after poll had President Barack Obama winning by a comfortable margin. Conservative pundits Michael Barone, George Will and Dick Morris all expected Romney to earn more than 300 electoral votes. Even after Obama’s victory was certain on election night, Karl Rove wouldn’t admit defeat.

For those of us reading Nate Silver and other election forecasters, those conservative predictions were laughably bad. And election night proved us correct: Obama won with 332 electoral votes. The millions of Republicans who were shocked and disappointed on election night were not let down by their hubris, although it undoubtedly played a role. The real fault lies with conservative media system, which had become an echo chamber of right wing talking points that did not reflect the national landscape.

In the aftermath of Obama’s reelection, smart conservatives argued that the right wing media was putting their party at a disadvantage by obscuring the truth. “You haven’t just been misinformed about the horse race,” the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wrote. “Since the very beginning of the election cycle, conservative media has been failing you.” While Friedersdorf hoped the shellacking would be an awakening for the party, he doubted it would be. Nineteen months later, Friedersdorf is looking prophetic: A new Brookings and Public Religion Research Institute poll shows just how out of touch Fox News viewers are with both their fellow Republicans and the rest of the country. They learned nothing from 2012.

The Brookings/PRRI report surveyed 1,538 adults focused on immigration reform, but also included questions on their news preferences and a collection of other policy issues. The focus on new preferences allowed the researchers to divide the Republican respondents into two groups: those that most trust Fox News “to provide accurate information about politics and current events” and those that most trust a different network. The former, whom the authors label “Fox News Republicans,” made up 53 percent of Republican respondents. “Non-Fox News Republicans” made up the remaining 47 percent. This was an easy split to make, but for Democrats there was no clear divide on news preferences. Thirty one percent of Democrats most trusted broadcast news stations (ABC, NBC, and CBS) while another 26 percent chose CNN. Smaller percentages chose public television (14 percent), MSNBC (10 percent) and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (9 percent).

Trust in Television News Sources


In other words, the Republican Party is extremely polarized among its news choices while the Democratic Party is scattered among a number of networks.

This makes a huge difference for the policy preferences among Republicans. For instance, 42 percent of Fox News Republicans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. For Non-Fox News Republicans, it’s 60 percent. That puts the views of Non-Fox News Republicans closer to those of Independents (61 percent support a path to citizenship) and Democrats (70 percent).

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John Lewis to Young Leaders: Get in ‘Necessary Trouble’

June 9th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in Civil Rights, Organizing, pushing obama, youth and students

By Marian Wright Edelman

Progressive America Rising via Huffington Post

June 6, 2014 – Not every speaker tells a crowd of young leaders that their job is to get into trouble.

But that’s part of the message iconic civil rights warrior and now Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) conveyed at this year’s week-long Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools National Training that began June 1 for nearly 2,000 college age Freedom School servant leaders and site coordinators.

They will mentor, teach, and lead Freedom School programs for over 12,500 pre-K through 12th grade students across the country this summer in faith congregations, public schools, college campuses, juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, and a range of other settings where the neediest children live.

Freedom Schools seek to empower children through reading wonderful books, to engage parents, and to reweave the fabric of community support for children. John Lewis and Andrew Young spoke movingly at the opening training session celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Freedom Summer, when young White people from around the country joined local Black citizens and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) workers to open up Mississippi’s closed Jim Crow society and demand the right to vote for Black citizens. Freedom Summer 1964 helped transform Mississippi and American society, but it demanded great sacrifice and courage. Three young people, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, gave their lives after investigating the burning of a local Black church where a Freedom School was to be held, victims of state and White supremacist violence.

As he spoke to today’s young Freedom Schools leaders John Lewis told them that when he was their age getting into “necessary trouble” shaped his life’s mission. As he explained, he grew up poor in rural Troy, Alabama, where his father, a former tenant farmer, had saved enough money to buy his own land. He worked on the farm alongside the rest of his family but was always desperate to get an education. A teacher encouraged him over and over to read all he could. Although he wasn’t allowed in his segregated county library like so many of our generation, he did his best: “I tried to read everything, the few books we had at home, the magazines. We were too poor to have a subscription to the local newspaper, but my grandfather had one, and when he would finish reading his newspaper each day, I would get that newspaper and read it.” He also listened to the radio to learn more about the news outside his small community, and eventually started hearing about new events that would change his life:

In 1955, 15 years old in the 10th grade, I heard of Rosa Parks. I heard of Martin Luther King, Jr. I heard his voice on an old radio, and it seemed like he was saying, ‘John Lewis, you, too, can do something… You can make a contribution.

John Lewis decided then that was exactly what he would do. He started with the library:

So in 1956, 16 years old, some of my brothers and sisters and cousins, we went down to the public library in the little town of Troy, Alabama, trying to get a library card, trying to check out some books, and we were told by the librarian that the library is for Whites only and not for coloreds.

A year later, as a high school senior, he decided to apply to Troy State College (now Troy University), a White college close to his home — but his application was ignored and unanswered. John Lewis was stopped temporarily — but he was not finished.

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Needed Infrastructure and the Bankster ‘Interest Trap’

June 4th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in Banks, Debt, financial crisis, Infrastructure

Infrastructure Sticker Shock: Financing Costs More than Construction

By Ellen Brown

Progressive America Rising via Nation of Change

“The numbers are big. There is sticker shock,” said Jason Peltier, deputy manager of the Westlands Water District, describing Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water tunnels through the California Delta. “But consider your other scenarios. How much more groundwater can we pump?”

Whether the tunnels are the best way to get water to the Delta is controversial, but the issue here is the cost. The tunnels were billed to voters as a $25 billion project. However, that estimate omitted interest and fees. Construction itself is estimated at a relatively modest $18 billion. But financing through bonds issued at 5% for 30 years adds $24-40 billion to the tab. Another $9 billion will go to wetlands restoration, monitoring and other costs, bringing the grand total to $51-67 billion – three or four times the cost of construction.

A general rule for government bonds is that they double the cost of projects, once interest has been paid.

The San Francisco Bay Bridge earthquake retrofit was originally slated to cost $6.3 billion, but that was just for salaries and physical materials. With interest and fees, the cost to taxpayers and toll-payers will be over $12 billion.

The bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, another pet project of Jerry Brown and his administration, involves a bond issue approved in 2008 for $10 billion. But when interest and fees are added, $19.5 billion will have to be paid back on this bond, doubling the cost.

And those heavy charges pale in comparison to the financing of “capital appreciation bonds.” As with the “no interest” loans that became notorious in the subprime mortgage crisis, the borrower pays only the principal for the first few years. But interest continues to compound; and after several decades, it can amount to ten times principal or more.

San Diego County taxpayers will pay $1 billion after 40 years for $105 million raised for the Poway Unified School District.

Folsom Cordova used capital appreciation bonds to finance $514,000. The sticker price after interest and fees will be $9.1 million.

In 2013, state lawmakers restricted debt service on capital appreciation bonds to four times principal and limited their term to 25 years. But that still means that financiers receive four times the cost of the project itself – the sort of return considered usurious when we had anti-usury laws with teeth. 

Escaping the Interest Trap: The Models of China and North Dakota

California needs $700 billion in infrastructure over the next decade, and the state doesn’t have that sort of money in its general fund. Where will the money come from? Proposals include more private investment, but that means the privatization of what should have been public assets. Infrastructure is touted to investors as the next “fixed income." But fixed income to investors means perpetual payments by taxpayers and rate-payers for something that should have been public property.

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Elizabeth Warren and The New Populist Challenge

May 28th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in Banks, Democrats, pushing obama, Wall Street

By Robert Borosage

Progressive America Rising via Campaign for America’s Future

May 28, 2014 – A powerful new populist challenge is emerging from the reality of an economy that is not working for working people. It is expressed not by the Koch-funded, rabidly anti-government Tea Party, but by the new populists, inside and outside the Democratic Party.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has emerged as its champion. Her speech at the New Populism Conference sponsored by the Campaign for America’s Future on May 22 summarizes the case.

For the mainstream media, the headline from the conference was Warren’s reiteration that she has no intention of running for president. Like all such statements, that pledge is written in water, inevitably impacted by times and tides. For progressives, the real news was the expanded agenda that she announced she was ready to “fight for,” and her forceful commitment to reframe the national debate.

Warren began with her basic case: Americans know that the “game is rigged.” That injustice is exposed in everyday scandals, from the tax dodges that allow millionaires to pay lower taxes than their secretaries, budget priorities that lard the most profitable corporations in the world while cutting funding for education, a justice system that jails kids for possessing “a few ounces of pot,” while bankers launder billions in drug cartel profits and “no one even gets arrested.”

This forces, Warren argues, not only a “fight over economics, over privilege, over power,” but also a “fight over values.” Conservatives are guided by their age-old principle: “I’ve got mine, the rest of you are on your own.”

“But we’re guided by principle, too. It’s a simple idea: We all do better when we work together and invest in our future.”

Then she outlined an agenda based on core values that the new populists “are willing to fight for.” This includes the senator’s signature issues: Cracking down on Wall Street; protecting consumers in from the “tricks and traps” of the financial world; giving every child a fair shot at an education, beginning by insuring that college is affordable; ensuring there is equal pay for equal work.

But her agenda also embraced big ideas that she has only just begun to champion. The commitment to retirement security requires not just defending, but expanding Social Security. The new populists, she argued, have to fight for “the right of workers to come together, to bargain together” for wages and working conditions. Strikingly, she called for a trade policy that works for Americans and not just for global corporations, noting the current discussions are secret because Americans would reject the deals if they knew about them.

She pledged to fight for the public investments vital to our future – from rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure, to expanded R&D, to affordable, high quality education for every child. And, of course, repeated her commitment to fair taxes on the rich and corporations to pay for what we need.

With this speech, Warren dramatized the fault lines between the new populism and core elements of the conservative economics of the last decades, from Reagan to Clinton to Obama: coddling Wall Street, peddling corporate trade accords, enforcing fiscal austerity, going AWOL in the war on workers, and now pushing cuts in retirement security to help pay down the debt amassed from the economic collapse caused by Wall Street’s excesses.

Warren’s list is not a fringe agenda. Elements have been adopted by Senate Democrats, even in an election year featuring a struggle to defend relatively conservative Democratic incumbents in largely red states. Their “fair shot agenda” includes raising the minimum wage, pay equity, and cracking down on wage theft. They’ve embraced the Warren proposal to refinance existing student loans at far lower rates, paid for by closing tax loopholes for millionaires. Democratic leaders Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have blocked a vote on “fast track” trade authority before the election. Democratic senators are increasing the pressure on the Justice Department and regulatory agencies to enforce the law on the big banks.

Warren’s commitment to “fight for” this agenda, already influencing the 2014 campaign, will surely help define the debate in 2016, whether the senator ultimately throws her hat in the ring or not. This will pose some “hard choices” to Hillary Clinton’s formidable candidacy. Hillary is Wall Street’s favored candidate. The new populism insures greater strain between Democratic voters and many of its donors. Hillary is quintessentially the candidate of experience. The new populism demands change.

Hillary and Bill have been reframing his presidency in more populist terms, sensibly contrasting the jobs growth and broadly shared rewards with what has followed. But Clinton embraced many of the conservative follies of the time – the NAFTA and China trade accords, tax cuts on investor income, tax breaks for CEO stock options, fiscal austerity, deregulation of Wall Street and escalating financial crises, welfare repeal, three-strikes-and-out sentencing and soaring imprisonment. Hillary will need to figure out how to tout the Clinton record while arguing that new realities require new directions.

With Americans discouraged by the economy and increasingly outraged at the rigged game, presidential candidates – in both primaries and the general election – will have to present themselves as clear and compelling champions of change. Warren and the new populists are setting down the markers that define what change is. That will have a major impact in 2016, whether Sen. Warren ultimately runs or not.

As the Global Economy Continues to Crumble, Old Fascism Finds a New Voice

May 26th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in elections, Europe, rightwing

Photo: Hungary’s Far Right

By Robert Koehler

Progressive America Rising via Truthout

Things rip apart. More and more people fall into desperation. Some of them decide it’s the fault of immigrants. Or homosexuals. Or . . .

"Today, Nazi influences are growing in Europe for the same reasons they did back then. The social safety nets have been torn, and people are left behind. Left alone. The hopelessness is what comes first, then the hatred. It’s never the other way around."

A campaign led by Sweden’s Social Democratic Party (quoted above), in the run-up to the European Union elections on May 25 — which features Rainer Hoess, grandson of the commandant of Auschwitz, warning people that democracy and human rights can never be taken for granted — is called: NEVER FORGET. TO VOTE. Its point is that far right politics, including a blatant neo-Nazism bent on rekindling the old agenda of "blood purity," racial solidarity and loyalty to the homeland, is spreading across the EU just as unemployment and austerity are spreading and Europe’s economy comes to resemble, more and more, the economy of the 1930s.

In other words, malignant racism combined with a bad economy can still foment social poison. Hatred seeks power and power seeks hatred, and they sometimes find each other. And what we call the "social safety net" might better, perhaps, be called the social immune system — because society is a living organism.

Europe’s history informs the whole planet that social caring isn’t simply an abstract principle.

In Greece, for instance, Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party, shocked the country by winning 18 parliamentary seats in 2012. This is a group with a serious us-vs.-them agenda, organizing itself around the scapegoats of the moment.

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Spiraling Student Debt and What To Do About It

May 22nd, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in Banks, Debt, Wall Street, youth and students


Marian Wang of Black Interviews Senator Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren knows what education can do. Her new book, A Fighting Chance, tells of what it did for her — starting at age 16, when she secretly applied to college and persuaded her parents to let her go. After earning both a bachelor’s and a law degree, she immersed herself in bankruptcy law, which taught her how easily ordinary people can spiral into debt. Here, the Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts tells ProPublica why she’s decided to tackle the problem of student-loan debt, and what the government can — and should — do to help.

Q: Why have you taken on the issue of student debt?

A: The cost of college has gone through the roof. More and more young people have to finance through bigger and bigger student loans. They leave school and they’re trying to start a life, start a family, get a job — and they’re drowning in debt.
I want every person to have the kinds of opportunities I had. It’s personal. My parents struggled financially. My father ended up as a maintenance man, and my mother worked the phones at Sears. Education opened a thousand doors for me. I had loans, and I worked part-time, and it was enough to keep me going. But the big difference is that I went to school at a time when this country was investing in students.

Q: How big a problem are we talking about?

A: There’s $1.2 trillion outstanding in student loan debt. That’s more than credit card or car loans, more than any other kind of consumer debt except mortgages. It’s crushing people.

Q: It also has the highest delinquency rate of all types of consumer debt.

A: That’s right. Because students can’t manage debt loads this size, particularly in a sluggish economy.

Q: Why should people care about this issue?

Student loan debt affects the whole economy. Instead of buying a house or a car, young people are pinching pennies to deal with crushing amounts of debt. That’s not good for the economy. It’s not good for businesses. We need those young people entering the workforce and able to spend.

Q: What is Congress doing to help?

A: This is the part that makes me grind my teeth. Right now, the United States government is making huge profits off the backs of our students. Our young people not only have to pay back the cost of the loans, they have to pay billions more in interest to the government — like an extra tax for trying to get an education. That’s just wrong. We ought to be investing in young people who are trying to get an education — not making it harder for them.

Q: Student loans are treated differently than many other kinds of debt under bankruptcy law, so it’s much harder for struggling borrowers to discharge their student loans. Do you think this should be changed?

A: Yes. I have co-sponsored a bill with Sen. Durbin, D-Ill., that called for making student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy. Keep in mind: Young people who have student loan debt — they didn’t go to the mall and charge up a bunch of things they couldn’t afford — but if they had gone to the mall, they could discharge those debts in bankruptcy. It’s only the student loan debt they can’t discharge.

Q: So whatshould the government be doing?

A: For both private loans and federal loans, the fixes are pretty similar. We need to restore bankruptcy protections, provide better oversight of the government contractors that work with borrowers and process loan payments, and ensure that struggling borrowers can get help to modify their loans.

Q: About those private contractors handling student loans, how could the Education Department be providing better oversight?

A: The first step here is transparency. There’s not much information about how student loans are performing or how the loan servicers are working with borrowers to help them repay their debt. The Department of Education should collect better information and make it public.

Q: The student-loan system is complex. What advice do you have people at different parts of the process?

A: For the person who hasn’t taken on any student loans yet, someone who’s looking at college: First, fill out the federal financial aid form. It’s online and it’s free. Students who don’t fill out the form miss out, not just on federal grants and loans, but also on scholarships from their colleges and from their state. Fill out the form. It’s really important.

Q: What about for people who are further along, and behind on their loans or teetering on that financial edge?

A: Find out about the help that’s available. The federal government has several repayment programs that can cut a borrower’s payment to a percentage of income, but it’s not as easy as it should be to enroll in these plans. People have to search online to learn about the programs and call their servicers to ask about them. For some people, this will provide real help.

Q: The cost of college is a huge, underlying part of this student debt conversation. How do we meaningfully attack the cost problem?
A: One of the ways we can do that is to make sure that colleges have skin in the game for getting their students educated and able to repay any money they borrow. It’s going to take everyone working hard on this: the colleges, the government, and the students. We’ve all got to push in the same direction on bringing down the cost of school.

I’ll say one more thing. Three out of every four students today is in a public university. When I was growing up, the states invested in public universities to keep the costs low for students. Today, the states make much smaller investments than they made a generation ago. That means our students and their families have to pick up the costs. We need to make those investments in education so that all of our kids have a low-cost option for a high-quality education.

Q: What are the odds that in this political climate Congress can get something done?

A: You can’t get what you don’t fight for. We make change when we get noisy and insist that Congress follow through. There’s so much at stake. Fixing the student-loan problem is about building a strong future for our country. That’s where I’m focused and that’s where I’m going to stay focused.

Republicans’ Insane Political Strategy: Ruining Our Country Hurts the Democratic Party

May 14th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in 2014 Election, GOP, rightwing

By Thom Hartmann

Progressive America Rising via Alternet

May 13, 2014 – The Republicans have their strategy, and they’re sticking to it, even though it involves destroying lives and even killing people.

It’s working so well based on a simple statistical reality.

The majority of Americans – depending on which survey you look at, between 60 and 75 percent – cannot name which political party controls the House of Representatives, which party controls the Senate [3], or either.

Because most Americans don’t know who controls Congress, when Congress misbehaves, as they have been doing for six years, most Americans aren’t sure who to blame.

Enter the Republican Chaos Strategy, based entirely on this statistical and political reality.

And common sense suggests that well over 90 percent of Americans know that Barack Obama is the president and that he is a Democrat.

The Republicans know this, too, and it’s the other half of their strategy.

Therefore, what the Republicans know, is that if they can cause damage to the American economy and to American working people, the average voter, not realizing it was exclusively the Republicans who did it, are going to assume that the president – and the Democratic Party he is a member of – must bear some or maybe even all of the responsibility.

It’s a brilliant strategy: Damage the country and you damage the Democratic Party.

And just in time for the midterm elections.

For six years now, Republicans have been hard at work damaging America and the American people. When the Democrats briefly controlled Congress, Nancy Pelosi got passed legislation that removed tax incentives for big companies to move jobs overseas and reversed those incentives to encourage companies to move factories back to the United States. This would seem to be a no-brainer, but Republicans filibustered it in the Senate and it died.

Why? Because it would’ve helped the economy, it would’ve lowered unemployment, it would’ve brought back good paying jobs, and it would’ve helped the American people.

The Republican Chaos Strategy dictates that you cannot allow these things to happen when there is a Democrat in the White House. Under their theory, if anything positive is done for the American people by Congress, the American people –  who don’t know which party controls Congress – will assume that the president and his Democrats must’ve had something to do with it. And therefore, the Democrats will get the credit.

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The Next Battle Against Wall Street? Los Angeles…

May 9th, 2014 by admin | Comments Off | Filed in Banks, Budget Debates, trade unions, Wall Street

Will The Occupy LA protestors, from October 2011, return to the steps of Los Angeles City Hall in this new battle against Wall Street? (Photo: Los Angeles Times, 2011).

By Tom Hayden

Progressive America Rising

The next battle against Wall Street may be brewing and this one is in Los Angeles City Hall.

If it erupts, the soldiers will be a scrappy, wonky, and sophisticated phalanx of labor, neighborhood, and religious activists. Their research has exposed the fact that Wall Street banks were paid $200 million in fees alone last year by the City of Los Angeles; many millions more than the city spent on fixing its streets.

The comparison between City Hall and our streets makes City Hall officials wince; claiming it mixes apples with oranges. But there’s more than catchiness in the comparison. The new report, Fix LA, shows that at least $106 billion in public money overall, from airports, seaports, utilities and pension funds, goes to private financial institutions that profit from fees, lending and leveraging those funds.

Citizens and elected officials often are overwhelmed and under-qualified to understand the weird and complicated transactions – debt swaps and derivative trades, for example – that Wall Street employs to extract maximum profit from all that public capital. There is no single Los Angeles official mandated to bargain with Wall Street. No official consumer watchdog, no fledgling Elizabeth Warren or Ralph Nader. No inspector-general to investigate financial industry fraud. No mainstream investigative reporters on the case, not so far anyway. While insiders and advocates will pore over the city’s multi-billion annual budget this month, no single monitor is minding the hundreds of millions funneled to Wall Street’s predatory care, as the report charges.

City officials will have their chance to respond in public hearings over the next several weeks, based on a motion being introduced by Councilman Paul Koretz this Friday; one seconded by Councilmember Gil Cedillo. Budget and Finance Committee chair Paul Krekorian, waiving the report, promised thorough public scrutiny of its data and claims.

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