Snark: to annoy or irritate

"Snark" has been in English language dictionaries since at least 1906, and Lewis Carroll used the word to describe a mythological animal in his poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1874). Most recently, the word has come to characterize snappish, sarcastic, or mean-spirited comments or actions directed at those who annoy or irritate us.

At first, this blog was just going be a place to gripe, but because it's more satisfying to take action than it is to merely complain, now most of the posts/reposts suggest ways to get involved in solving problems.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

AAUW "21 Days of Action" Calendar

AAUW Action Network
American Association of University Women (AAUW)

Let's Get it Done
The Senate is about to leave for their August recess without having taken action on the Paycheck Fairness Act.  While we're disappointed they didn't pass this critical legislation before heading home, we're not giving up -- in fact, we're turning up the heat.  Join AAUW in our "Get it Done!" 21 Days of Action campaign to get the Paycheck Fairness Act passed in September.
For three weeks in August and September, we'll be turning up the heat on the Senate through emails and phone calls, in-district meetings, Facebook and Twitter messages, events across the country, and more.  Pick a day and action that works for you, or better yet, participate in all 21 days!  Our handy calendar makes it easy for you to get ideas and get involved.

Take Action!
Our "Get it Done!" 21 Days of Action campaign officially starts August 15, but you can start planning now.  Click on the calendar for a larger, reader- and printer- friendly version, select the days you want to take action, spread the word to friends and family, and get a group together to join in on the movement.  Even if both of your senators are already cosponsors, we need your help to urge them to do all they can to move this important bill to the floor for a vote.

As we've said before, the number of legislative days left on the calendar is dwindling.  If the Senate doesn't pass the Paycheck Fairness Act before the end of the year, we'll have to start all over again in both chambers of the new Congress next year.  We all know that women can't afford to wait for that to happen. 

[Click on Calendar to enlarge it.] 
AAUW "Get it Done!" 21 Days of Action Campaign Calendar
Turn up the heat on the Senate this August with AAUW's "Get it Done!" 21 Days of Action campaign, and help us make a real difference in the fight for pay equity.

Paycheck Fairness Act Sticker

AAUW's Action Network makes it easy for advocates to influence Congress to act on issues critical for equity for women and girls. Help Action Network grow and be even more of a force in our nation's capital. Urge your friends and family to join AAUW's Action Network today. 

The grassroots liaisons in AAUW's Leadership Corps program will be reaching out to AAUW branch leaders to provide mentoring and assistance. Whether you are a member of an AAUW branch (an officer or not) or a member-at-large interested in becoming involved with other AAUW members, please fill out the online form here to indicate areas of branch programming or administration for which you would like assistance.

Washington Updatea weekly e-mail bulletin for AAUW members, offers an insider's view on the public policy process, the latest policy news, resources for advocates, programming ideas, and updates from the Public Policy and Government Relations Department. Subscribe today!
Read the 2009-2011 AAUW Public Policy Program.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In These Times Article: Biting the Hand That Feeds

Biting the Hand That Feeds

Capitalist elites attack what saved them: government.


Early last year, even free market fundamentalists confessed that capitalism was in crisis. ANewsweek cover trumpeted, “We are all socialists now.” Alas, the headline was mistaken: Government responses to the crisis did little to democratize economic power or challenge narrow market values, as socialism implies. The U.S. government had simply bailed out big finance with remarkably lenient conditions (and, even now, inadequate regulation) and had passed a large—but still insufficient—package of spending initiatives and tax cuts to keep the economy from collapsing.

This government intervention saved capitalism from itself. So one might expect some humility and gratitude for the public sector from the titans of finance. You would be wrong. Instead, those same financial elites, from Europe to the United States, now oppose deficit spending to stimulate the global economy—rejecting the thinking of British economist John Maynard Keynes, let alone Marx.

Capitalist elites are engaged in a frontal assault on government workers, on government regulation and on the social safety net. In other words, they are attacking social democratic institutions—the heart of the welfare state. In the United States they’re often joined by right-wingers, from the “Patriot movement” to Glenn Beck, who attack government itself.

The financial crisis has mutated into a fiscal crisis of governments, and the perpetrators of the economic crisis are back calling the tune. “A year ago, capitalism was wobbling,” says John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation. “It was saved by the taxpayer, saved by the public realm, saved by welfare spending and tax cuts. Banks were saved in particular, and now the private sector is headed back to business as usual. In the present circumstance, it’s almost, ‘Let’s get down to cutting back the role of the state and restore primacy of the market in as many places as we can.’ "

The ostensible problems are government deficits and accumulated debt, whether in countries like Greece or states like Illinois. But in their opportunistic attack on government, the business and politically center-right elites are taking advantage of the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression to push their long-term (and longstanding) political agenda to secure more wealth and power at the expense of working- and middle-class families. But with the notable exception of the global labor movement, even many political leaders of the mainstream left—from “new labor” in Britain to more conservative Democrats—are unwilling to adopt the full range of government policies needed to recover from the crisis or avoid a repeat.

Beyond their substantial political influence, the financial elite wields power through the bond market, where governments turn for deficit financing. Once the choice of conservative investors, since the 1980s bonds have become much more a means for speculation, more globalized, and more a tool of political influence, says University of Michigan economist Gerald F. Davis, author of Managed by the Markets: How Finance Re-Shaped America. Bond markets—in conjunction with bond-rating agencies—decide whether and at what cost governments can borrow. Governments now fear what bond markets might do as much as what they actually do.

At the moment, fear—used to bolster neoliberal political ideology—is driving conservatives’ demand for government austerity programs and deficit reduction, as well as general cutbacks in wages and worker protections (or, as mainstream economists say, labor market “rigidities”). First, the most vulnerable governments come under attack. Then even the more economically secure countries—like Britain, under a new Conservative government—cut budgets, workers, wages and services to reduce deficits and avoid a loss of investor “confidence.”

Yet government austerity and cuts in workers’ wages will simply reduce demand, slowing recovery from the Great Recession or even creating a second downturn. And weak recovery will bring lower tax revenues, continued pressure for austerity and difficulty repaying debts. In short, the medicine the financial markets and their political allies prescribe will make the global economy sicker.

Politicians now seem frightened of deficits, even though nearly all U.S. public opinion polls show voters are far less concerned about deficits than jobs and the economy. President Barack Obama has partly succumbed to this deficit hysteria, pumped up by conservative institutions like the Peterson Institute and some supposedly center-liberal forces like the Washington Post. After adopting a moderate Keynesian policy last year, in February he shifted course and created a conservative-dominated commission to propose how to reduce future deficits.

Yet even if Obama is not promoting another much-needed big stimulus, he is at least still committed to smaller stimulus policies, unlike Republicans and a growing number of conservative Democrats, most notably Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who in early June killed a crucial bill that would have extended unemployment benefits, saved state and city jobs and created new jobs.

Obama has also challenged European leaders to maintain stimulus policies, but the euro crisis—starting in Greece—has spooked virtually all of them. In a dramatic shift from last fall, both conservatives holding power in the major economies and some social democratic leaders have proposed austerity plans. European labor unions have led the opposition. Monks, for example, shares other labor leaders’ “despair and alarm at the prospects of growth in Europe as all countries, not just those in distress, move to cut their budgets.”

Link: Biting the Hand That Feeds -- In These Times

FEATURES » JULY 28, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Google, Don't Be Evil

Google's motto is "Don't be evil," but Google is about to cut a deal with Verizon that would end the Internet as we know it.
According to a front-page New York Times story, the deal would allow "Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege."1
It would create fast Internet lanes for the largest corporations and slow lanes for the rest of us.
That is why CREDO is joining MoveOn, Free Press, and Color of Change in rallying Google users to tell Google, "Don't be evil."
Google is furiously backpeddling on its closed door negotiations with Verizon over the future of the Internet — a direct result of a strong and immediate public backlash. The company has denied some details from the New York Times story, but won't say definitively that it is not striking a deal with Verizon that will stop the FCC from imposing net neutrality rules.
From the beginning, the Internet has been a level playing field that allows everyone to connect to one another and to the world of content available online — whether it's Daily Kos or FOX News.
This deal would change all of that by allowing Google and Verizon to pick what websites you can see over others. It would undermine the open Internet upon which hundreds of millions of people rely.
Our Internet connection should be free of corporate gatekeepers — there's only one Internet, and it shouldn't matter who your provider is or whether you're logging on from home or your cell phone.
Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google to make information freely available to everyone online.
But this deal is a complete reversal that abandons their core principles. It's evil and Google must walk away from it.
Thank you for working for a better world.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BP vs. Taxpayers

Even though President Obama promised BP will cover 100% of the cost of repairing and cleaning up the Gulf Oil Disaster, the Wall Street Journal reports that BP will force taxpayers to pick up at least $9.9 billion of the bill.

How will this happen? BP is planning to use tax-code provisions that allow companies to get refunds on losses. Since the disaster will cost BP at least $32 billion, they want almost $10 billion dollars from taxpayers -- effectively cutting BP clean-up costs by a third.

This is unacceptable.

The good news is getting BP to drop their claim is a fight we can win. Just this year, public pressure got J.P. Morgan Chase to drop its plan to claim $1.4 billion in tax credits after receiving $25 billion of bailout money. And Goldman Sachs Group agreed not to claim $187 million in tax breaks on the $550 million SEC fine over the Abacus mortgage lawsuit.

We can win with your support. Contribute $20 right now to fuel our aggressive campaign to hold BP accountable.

DFA members haven't been sitting around waiting for BP to get its act together. You've been leading some of the most aggressive campaigns in the country to hold BP accountable. Take a look at some of the work we've done together so far:
  • 82,372 people joined our BP Makes Me Sick campaign to make sure clean-up workers were being provided with the protective gear needed to keep from getting ill. Over 50 members of Congress and candidates for office have signed on to add pressure and make it happen. Fuel the campaign to win.
  • 48,617 DFA members from across the country joined our Boycott BP campaign, refusing to buy gas from BP stations until the company cleans-up the spill. Our Boycott campaign has received press in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and in over 300 Associated Press stories nationwide. Meanwhile BP has seen a 40% drop in sales in locations across the country. Contribute now to hold BP accountable.
  • 47,581 people joined our Stop Big Oil Bailouts campaign to end subsidies and tax breaks to Big Oil companies like BP. With Social Security under attack again as Congress starts looking at ways to lower the deficit, our campaign highlights the high cost to taxpayers of giveaways to corporations who sell dirty fuels. This campaign is just getting started and already Senators Robert Menendez and Bernie Sanders are working to make it happen. Deliver the resources -- Contribute $20 right now.
These campaigns show the White House, Congress and every candidate for office where we stand. BP created the biggest environmental disaster in American history and they want to use taxpayer money to clean it up. Enough is enough -- Stop Big Oil Bailouts. We can make sure BP cleans up the mess they created, provide the protective gear clean-up crews need, and start ending our addiction to Big Oil. But we can't do all of it without your support.

Fuel the fight to hold BP accountable.

You're making a difference. Thank you for everything you do.

-Charles Chamberlain, Political Director
Democracy for America
Democracy for America relies on you and the people-power of more than one million members to fund the grassroots organizing and training that delivers progressive change on the issues that matter. PleaseContribute Today and support our mission.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Important Legislation for Women

We are in the final weeks of the 2009-2010 Congressional Session. Key legislation for women is pending in the Senate. We must act before Congress adjourns for the elections:
  • Pass the International Violence Against Women Act. It will be voted on tomorrow in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Let your senators know it's time to do all we can to reduce violence against woman.
  • The Paycheck Fairness Act - Approved by the House in 2009. Tell your senators wage discrimination against women must stop. It's long past due to strengthen the Equal Pay Act (1963) and Title VII (1964) to help women workers close the wage gap - especially in these hard economic times when a women's paycheck is more important than ever.
  • Ratify the United Nations Convention (Treaty) to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Only 7 nations of the world have not ratified CEDAW - Somalia, Iran, Sudan, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, and the United States. It's a disgrace and an insult to all women that the U.S. Senate has still not ratified CEDAW. The women of the world deserve and need their rights. CEDAW promotes education of women and girls, economic opportunity, and works to reduce violence against women. Please go to the new website for detailed information.
Let your Senators know - reducing the needless suffering of women deserves their time and their votes now.
Please help the Feminist Majority organize in these last weeks of this historic Congressional session. E-mail your Senators and donate to the Feminist Majority so we can organize for women's rights and lives. You can be sure we are on the front lines daily fighting for women and girls.
For Equality,
Ellie Smeal
Eleanor Smeal
Feminist Majority

P.S. Because of this difficult recession, this will be a tough election. We must pass important legislation now to help women and girls. Women don't deserve to wait any longer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

FOX vs. NPR Up-Date

 stood up, they backed down.
Fight FOX
Because of your pressure, the White House Correspondents Association denied FOX the coveted front row center seat in the White House press briefing room recently vacated by Helen Thomas. 

On Wednesday CREDO Action asked: Should the White House 
Correspondents Association let FOX News have the best seat in 
the White House press briefing room and the legitimacy that it 
The answer from respondents was a resounding "Hell no!"
In just four days, over 311,000 CREDO Action members and 
180,000 MoveOn members — over 491,000 people — petitioned 
the board of the White House Correspondents Association and 
asked them not to give the best seat in the White House press 
briefing room to the rightwing noise machine's key propaganda 
Just hours ago the board of the White House Correspondents 
Association met and decided not to give the seat to FOX.
There was clearly strong internal bias towards giving the seat 
to FOX. CNN reporter and WHCA board member Ed Henry 
publicly pledged to cast his vote for FOX before our campaign 
launched. And after CREDO delivered the first 150,000 petition 
signatures, board member Julie Mason complained to an 
insider DC blog that "the reporters, producers and 
photographers from Fox News assigned to the White House 
are some of the best and well respected in the business" and 
furthermore accused CREDO of "smearing" her "colleagues."1
While it's disappointing that the seat did not go to NPR, at least 
the board found a way to avoid giving the coveted front row 
center seat to FOX. No doubt CREDO's pressure made a huge 
difference. The country's most influential reporters need to 
put journalistic principles before any kind of loyalty they 
feel to fellow members of the elite club which is the White 
House press corps.
CREDO members' participation in this campaign helped 
expose that choice. Every member of the WHCA board 
received updates every day on the growing numbers who were 
joining CREDO's campaign. When they cast their votes today, 
they were well aware of how it would be perceived by the public
 — and by the nearly half million people who spoke out during 
the campaign — if they chose to legitimize FOX.
We don't win if we don't fight. CREDO members fought back 
by signing the petition, sharing the campaign on Facebook 
and email, and organizing friends and family to join the fight, 
and it made a difference. Thank you for making this 
campaign a success.
Of course, this is a symbolic victory over who occupies a 
chair, but symbols do matter. Fox plays to win, and so must we. 
This is just one among many battles to lessen the massive power 
of Fox. Let'sl celebrate briefly and then CREDO asks you to 
join together to fight again.
Becky Bond, Political Director CREDO Action
 — They Prefer NPR to Fox News,, July 30, 2010.