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Citizens United and the Perils of Super PACs

September 3, 2013 by mstinnett311

Michael Stinnett - 9/03/2013: Legal rulings such as Citizens United and lax campaign financing laws have undermined the democratic process allowing wealthy donors to buy elections; so-called Super PACs are a pernicious influence on society and should be abolished. A Super PAC, or independent expenditure-only committee, “may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis – the Super PAC's choice – as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates” (Super PACs). The recent ruling protects political spending by corporations in candidate elections, citing the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. In justifying the ruling, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that “'If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech'” (The New York Times).    Read more

Nonprofits Are Our Informal Government

August 22, 2013 by Maureen Andrade

As the director of a nonprofit 501(c)(3), I have had to quickly learn how these kinds of organizations function. I had been an employee, volunteer, and member of nonprofits in the past, but taking a leadership position in one has been an entirely new experience. Now, I understand these organizations are sophisticated endeavors meant to do nothing less than fill in for government.

Where our representative government and its bureaucracy have utterly failed to meet the needs of communities in the US, nonprofits have stepped in. The modern nonprofit is a uniquely American creation, as other developed nations utilize the power and resources of government for education, arts, environment, health care, nutritional programs, etc.

In America, these kinds of “progressive” agendas can be defunded and neglected by local, state, and national branches of government. In response to unmet needs, grassroots groups form to gather resources, provide services, educate, and empower identified populations in their communities. In short, regular people are called and chosen by their neighbors to make what is missing and to scrape together resources.    Read more

It's Politics Stupid!

July 24, 2013 by Ted Frier

In May 2009, former International Monetary Fund chief economist Simon Johnson wrote an important essay in The Atlantic on the origins and implications of the 2008 financial collapse, called "The Quiet Coup."

The financial gloom that swept over the US economy at the twilight of the George W. Bush administration was "shockingly reminiscent" of other Third World, emerging economy crises Johnson had witnessed during his days at the IMF.

In each case, he said, concerns that the financial sector could not pay off the debts it had accumulated caused capital markets to seize up, forcing firms like Lehman Brothers into bankruptcy as fear of insolvency became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Weaknesses in the banking system "quickly rippled out into the rest of the economy," said Johnson, "causing a severe economic contraction and hardship for millions of people."    Read more

Return of the Pharaohs

July 22, 2013 by Maureen Andrade

First quarter of my freshman year in college, I took an ancient history course. Fascinated I was with early civilizations, and the art, culture, and politics they developed over thousands of years of thinking things over. The Egyptians were especially intriguing in their decadence and sophistication. Those pyramids were only one corner of their consciousness, a symbol of the complexity of their visions. At the core of these visions were the pharaohs, the first super-rich.

These “Lords of Two Lands” owned the land, made laws, collected taxes, and commissioned others to build fantastical monuments to them. Considered both god and human, these super elites were untouchable by the average man of their times, but had to watch out for treachery from those in their inner circles. Human ego can find a way to undermine even the mightiest king from within.     Read more

Defending the One Percent

July 12, 2013 by Ted Frier

It seems puzzling that Harvard University would grant tenure, let alone appoint someone to be the chairman of its economics department, who fundamentally doesn't believe in economics. But there it is, all spelled out in a much talked about new paper, "Defending the One Percent," by Harvard economics professor and former Mitt Romney advisor, N. Gregory Mankiw, in the June issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives.

After summarily dispensing with the arguments offered by those on "the left" for greater income equality, specifically those of Joseph Stiglitz who condemns today's yawning wage gap as not only unjust and obscene but economically inefficient as well, Mankiw concludes his 25-page apologia for the bulging portfolios of today's plutocrats by asserting that taxing the wealthy to support socially useful purposes is just plain "wrong."    Read more

Life Before Social Security

March 16, 2013 by toritto1942

This year I will be 71 years old, assuming I make it and I have close family now into their eighties. I was born in the first year of WW II and my older relatives born in the 1930s during the Great Depression.

When I was a kid grandparents lived with their children and their grandchildren. One of the kids took in their mom and pop while the rest of the kids were expected to kick into the pot to provide for their support.

That’s the way it was before Social Security.

Folks were expected to work until they died which usually wasn’t long. The average life expectancy for a male in the 1920s was 49 years. If you lived longer there was no expected retirement age. You worked until you could no longer work or until you could no longer find work.

Then you were expected to live on your savings. Home ownership at the time was below 20% in the lower working class and the average wage adjusted for inflation in today’s purchasing power was around $13,000. So usually old folks didn’t have sufficient resources to live on.

So you went to your children if you had any. It was expected. Grandma usually got one of the children’s bedrooms.    Read more

PPF at SxSW Interactive - come say hi

March 8, 2013 by David Moore

Two of the PPF team will be at SxSW Interactive this week.

I’ll be there to sneak-preview the recently re-designed OpenGovernment.org, for engagement with state & city government. I’m attending with James McKinney, the E.D. of the Canadian non-profit Open North, who is working as OpenGovernment’s technical lead. Here’s my draft pubilc schedule, feel free to suggest events. Ping me anytime to meet up to see the new OG user interface & give your feedback, we’re easy to reach & happy to chat. AIM / Skype: davidmooreppf, #opengovernment in Freenode on IRC, david at ppolitics.org over email.    Read more

One Year After Limbaugh Attack, 2471 Sponsors Lost is No Fluke

March 1, 2013 by ProgLegs

Posted "!title" on !site

Lest we forget, here are the highlights:

Susan Fluke … so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills.

What does that make her? It makes her a slut right? It makes her a prostitute! She wants to be paid to have sex

Ms. Fluke...Who bought your condoms in the 6th grade?

She’s having so much sex it’s amazing she can still walk.

Random hook-ups that these babes are encountering here … having sex nearly 3 times a day.

Ms Fluke and the rest of you FemiNazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex...then we want something in return, Ms. Fluke, and that would be the videos of this sex posted online so we can see.

There's more--a lot more. Although you can't find the transcript on Rush Limbaugh's website, which otherwise contains a meticulous archival treasure trove of hate speech. He erased it when he realized what he had done.    Read more

The Tea Party, part 1

February 28, 2013 by Sisu Nichols

The old saying goes: It's important to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Keeping this in mind, a few weeks ago I joined a Tea Party community undercover. I rarely post there, I'm too afraid too, what I've found is that they're a suspicious bunch and if I don't agree with their beliefs, I'd be labeled a "troll" and possibly get myself banned. Well, I am a troll, but just a "lurking troll"... like I said, I rarely post and when I do, I make sure that it's something I've come across on the site and share it... Staying undercover by blending in.

Can I say that the Tea Party scare the crap out of me?! I've learned several things about them. Most, not all, but most of them are religious fanatics. Quite a few of them home school their kids and college?... forget that, they feel that school and college introduce liberal ideas to their children. The irony in all of this is their poor use of grammar and spelling mistakes. Be prepared to be become dumb if they ever gain control.    Read more

#SoTU 2013

February 12, 2013 by David Moore

For updates on the State of the Union tonight, probably best-practice is to follow along with our lists on the micropublishing service :: 

  • #opengov & civic engagement & open-data leaders 

For video background see last Sunday’s edition of ‘Up with Chris Hayes’, the most substantive & empirically-accountable news show on cable TV. A lot of people prefer the popular social networking service, we keep a beachhead there too.     Read more

The Tea Party: Steeped In Perdition

February 10, 2013 by Upside Downtrodden

It’s Saturday February 9th! Do you know where your podcast is? On this day in history back in 2009, a few loose-screw Americans formed what we ended up calling the Tea Party thanks in large part to the funding and support of right-wing think tanks like FreedomWorks and ideologues like Dick Armey who oversaw the Tea Party’s perplexing (and totally manufactured) rise across the political landscape. Four years later, the Tea Party (having fulfilled its purpose as a punchline of choice to comics the world over) has dissolved into the impotent, irrelevant, waste-o’-space guano bucket we always knew it was. Thus, in honor of what is sure to be the last year of even Tea Party members taking the Tea Party serious, we’re delighted to share with you a letter we sent to Tea Party members back in 2009 in response to their solicitation to join the Tea Party. Enjoy.

"Dear Fellow New Tea Party Members,    Read more

Stopping Rush: A Modern David and Goliath Tale

February 5, 2013 by ProgLegs

Posted "!title" on !site

"The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance." --Samuel Butler

Rush Limbaugh has been spouting bile unchecked for many years, but the reaction to his obscene tirades against Sandra Fluke in February of 2012 set off an unprecedented grass roots movement which nears its one year anniversary with no signs of slowing. What has come to be known as StopRush serves both to educate often unwitting advertisers of the show about Limbaugh's hateful rhetoric and to offer consumers the opportunity to make informed decisions about where to spend their money.    Read more

Aloha Means Fuck Off

January 18, 2013 by Upside Downtrodden

Its January 18th, do you know where your podcast is? On this date in 1778, Captain James Cook “discovered” the Hawaiian Islands when he sailed past the island of Oahu. Thanks captain! I am sure the people living there were happy you found it. Two days later, he landed at Waimea on the island of Kauai and named the island group the Sandwich Islands, in honor of John Montague, who was the earl of Sandwich and one of his financial supporters. Thanks captain! I am sure the people living there appreciated the new name, and the shit sandwich they were eventually served by Sanford Dole, William McKinley and the United States government. Cook and his crew were welcomed by the locals and were able to trade iron products for important provisions like food and sex. Cook and his crew sailed on with bigger fish to fry, but would return with two ships in 1779 to Hawaii’s Kealakekua Bay. This was a very sacred time and place for the Hawaiians, Kealakekua Bay was considered the sacred harbor of Lono, the fertility god of the Hawaiians, and at the time of Cook's arrival the locals were engaged in a festival dedicated to Lono.    Read more

I Am a Teacher, Hear Me Roar: Another Way to Protest Gun Violence

January 15, 2013 by CSGV

[The following piece is a guest blog by global educator Laurence Peters. The views expressed here are his own, not those of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.]

In 1994, perhaps one of the most remarkable events of the 20th century occurred. The former leader of the anti-apartheid movement, Nelson Mandela, who was held captive for 27 years, was elected prime minister of South Africa. This peaceful handover of power was achieved not on the battlefield as many had feared, but because the world had divested from South African companies.    Read more

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