Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers.....



The Strengths and Weaknesses of American Exceptionalism

This is an excellent piece on the need for a transformational shift of the American model to reverse stagnant wages and the debilitating income inequality levels that have made the US a country defined by high and longterm unemployment, poverty, inequality and debt.
"But there is no such conservative openness to economic management and social reform in the contemporary United States. On the contrary, the current Republican Party debate is truly exceptional, characterized as it is by an internationally-unique rigidity of dogma, ignorance of foreign practices, and barely-disguised contempt for foreign models. Nativism, intellectual bankruptcy and self-delusion go hand-in-hand in what passes for intelligent economic discourse in right-wing circles in America these days. The danger is that their folly might yet rub off on the rest of us."

Are Petitions An Effective Way of Remedying Important Issues?

I have recently been wondering about the potential effectiveness of on-line petitions, and had hoped that massive responses to such petitions could, in fact, influence policies in a meaningful way. Many of you may already be familiar with this report from Snopes on this issue, but it was news to me and I post a link to it here. The bottom line, apparently, is that online petitions are largely ineffective beyond reflecting a subset of public opinion, and are easily dismissed by policymakers and manipulated by computer techies to distort the authenticity of 'signers.' Many petitions, furthermore, are never delivered to the intended politician or group after signatures are collected. A much more effective activity for those who truly want to demonstrate their position on an issue is to write letters as a constituent to elected officials.

Big Cat News discusses the empty promise of the online petition and points out that many such petitions are used primarily to collect email addresses of individuals sympathetic to specific issues. They referred me to the Snopes piece above and also to the Capwiz site at the bottom of this post which enables citizens to write directly to their representatives on any issue they wish. site for writing directly to elected officials.

Guidelines on effectively letter writing from Friends Committee on National Legislation - this is a terrific resource for people determined to have their voices recorded on the great issues of the day.

6 State Battlegrounds in the Right-Wing War Against Teachers, Firefighters, Caregivers and the Entire Middle Class

I've also admired the fire and homespun combativeness that Jim Hightower has brought to his writings over the years. He and Molly Ivins, one of the great truth-tellers of journalism who died a few years ago, were terrific friends as I read in her biography, A Rebel Life. Jim is still kicking those in political power who seek to marginalize the rights and pocketbooks of working Americans, with this recent piece about the legislative assault that is currently being carried out against the public throughout the nation, honing in on the activities of six key states.,_firefighters,_caregivers_and_the_entire_middle_class/?utm

THE SECRET SHARER - Is Thomas Drake An Enemy of the State?

Thomas Drake was a whistleblower at the NSA and sought only to inform the public of waste and fraud at the agency. In doing so he attracted the wrath of the national security apparatus and Obama's DOJ which has charged him with violating the Espionage Act. It turns out that the Obama Administration has been the most aggressive presidency in history in acting against whistleblowers, bringing more Espionage Act charges against Americans than all precious administrations combined. These suits are designed to have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers, cutting off the major source of information that has traditionally existed for information based on government documents about corruption and other wrong-doing to the public, through releases to the press. America is fast becoming a police state and the forces behind these trends are formidable and organized effectively. Proponents of civil rights and privacy rights had better get it together quickly, and on a massive scale, if there is any hope to reverse the tide.

Lynch vetoes anti-union bill in New Hampshire

The Governor of New Hampshire, John Lynch (D), vetoed the Republican-controlled legislature's anti-union bill to make the state "right-to-work,"pointing out that states with such laws tend to have workers with a lower standard of living who more often have to do without health insurance. It's really great to see some reasoned push back against the assault on workers collective bargaining rights for a change.