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.

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

End Oil Subsidies

Take action!As Americans continue to struggle with outrageous, unstable gas prices, big oil companies continue to benefit from them.
Today, BP announced a first-quarter profit of $7.1 billion, a 16% increase from last year. Exxon, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips are expected later this week to report $18 billion in earnings — just in the first three months of this year — an increase of more than 40%.1 In all, the five largest oil companies have reaped nearly $1 trillion in profits in the last 10 years.
But more outrageous than jaw-dropping oil company profits, is the fact that our government actually rewards these companies with even more of our money for maintaining this disastrous system — to the tune of $4 billion a year in tax credits and subsidies. It's time for that to end.
It is a testament to the influence of polluters, and the power of the money they shower upon congress, that so many of our leaders have continued to defend these senseless subsidies.
As recently as this March, House Republicans — while simultaneously pleading poverty and fighting for crippling budget cuts elsewhere — voted unanimously against repealing these oil subsidies, at a total cost to us of $45 billion over 10 years.
But in the face of these huge budget cuts, painful gas prices and shocking oil company profits, it is becoming harder and harder for Republicans to defend this policy.
In a surprising move, Speaker John Boehner said Monday that repealing oil subsidies "is certainly something we ought to be looking at" and that oil companies "ought to be paying their fair share."2 While his statement was quickly walked back the next day by an aide who said Boehner was simply trying not to "fall into the trap of defending 'Big Oil' companies"3 it's clear that cracks are beginning to show in the Republicans' brazen defense of senseless oil handouts.
Yesterday, President Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to end oil subsidies, and Speaker Pelosi also sent a letter to Speaker Boehner asking him to schedule a House vote next week.
Momentum is building. This is a key moment to keep the pressure on, and force every member of congress to chose: Americans, or the oil companies?
Between the ruining of our gulf, the increasing frequency of extreme weather events brought on by climate change, and now — once again — astronomical oil company profits and oil prices that literally threaten our economy, we don't need any more reminders that it's time to end our reliance on oil.
Yet we're handing oil companies billions as we slash funding for the investments in clean energy and transit we need to break oil's grip on our lives.
This must end. And if we raise our voices, we can finally end it.
Thank you for taking action.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tax Millionaires and Billionaires

Tax millionaires and billionaires
Clicking here will add your name to this petition to Congress:

Click to sign.

Republicans continue to hold Americans hostage in ongoing negotiations over raising the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget.
Meanwhile there's an epidemic of home foreclosures. Unemployment is rampant. The cost of food, gas and health care is going up. Families across the country are falling into poverty, while many more are struggling just to get by.
And now the same Republicans who only months ago went to the mat to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are saying we cannot afford our social safety net because "we're broke."
There is something deeply wrong with our priorities as a country if we're cutting back on services for children and the elderly, the sick and the destitute, and anything that helps the middle class stay afloat while simultaneously cutting taxes for the likes of Paris Hilton and the Koch brothers.
We cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of the very people who've taken it on the chin during this economic crisis.
Progressives need to offer an alternative to the morally bankrupt and economically baseless dogma of "tax cuts for the rich, massive spending cuts for everyone else." And the alternative cannot be simply to propose slightly less brutal spending cuts. We need to put tax increases back on the table.
While some members of the Democratic leadership have fallen into this trap of accepting the rightwing framing of the debate, progressive champions Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Sen. Bernie Sanders are leading the fight for a real solution to our budget crisis.
They have each introduced a bill to raise the income tax rates on people who make more than one million dollars a year. And they need our help to start changing the narrative around the budget.
Increasing taxes on millionaires and billionaires won't be a silver bullet, but it would bring in tens of billions of dollars that would allow us to avoid some of the most brutal budget cuts we're now facing. And it would be a step toward making our tax system more fair.
The disparity between the rich and the poor is growing in a way that is deeply unhealthy to our society. The richest 1% of Americans are making 24% of the country's income, which is the highest share it has been since the 1930s. The 1930s were also the last time the richest 1% have so consistently paid such a low income tax rate. And as Michael Moore has pointed out, the top 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 50% of Americans put together.
This wide gulf between the haves and the have-nots not only affects our economy, it distorts our democracy. We have to take action before it's too late.
Now, more than ever, we need you to speak out.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
P.S. There is also a "big picture" reason to support these bills. Democrats are the party of FDR. With the introduction of the bills to tax millionaires and billionaires, we can push the Democratic leadership to start acting like it.
The government should be expanding services to the needy and investing more in infrastructure and education, not cutting back.
Our country isn't broke. And if we don't stand up to the Republican's intellectually dishonest claim that it is, our moral compass may become broken.
We cannot shred the social safety net when it's most needed. It's long past time to require the super wealthy to pay their fair share.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Work 'Til We Die

Submitted for your approval – a rare glimpse into an alternate dimension…”
So began each episode of “The Twilight Zone,” the show in which different twisted tales played out on television set each week.
Now, the Strengthen Social Security coalition, of which AAUW is a part, has put together its own eerie video, a look into a different reality – one in which Social Security is trampled in the stampede, slashing seniors’ benefits and raising the retirement age. In this reality, seniors are forced to work, and work, and work…right up until they die. Not quite the golden years we all hope for.
This nightmare isn’t confined to the TV – and it’s nearer than you think.
What can you do to preserve and strengthen Social Security, one of the most successful anti-poverty – and one of the most efficient – government programs of all time?
First, and watch the coalition’s video about a future without Social Security.
Then, stand up and participate in a local or virtual rally next week in support of Social Security.
Finally, share your Social Security story with your members of congress and tell them:Don’t make us work ‘til we die – strengthen Social Security!
Follow AAUW on Twitter, and read our award-winning AAUW Dialog Blog for discussion, information, and advocacy for women and girls! 
General AAUW questions? Please contact or call 800/326-2289 between 10 am and 5 pm Eastern, Monday through Friday.

Return to Tax Sanity


sign the petition 3-d
New polling shows that 64% of voters think the best way to address the deficit is to raise taxes on the wealthiest. A whopping 80% oppose any cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. 

Voters get it. Why don’t Republican lawmakers? 

Last month, when it was reported that GE and many other major American corporations paid nothing in U.S. taxes due to corporate tax loopholes and tax refunds amounting to more than taxes owed, we launched a petition calling on Congress to get its priorities straight. 

Here’s what you can do:
  • Sign the petition. Then share it and urge others to sign.
  • “Like” the Facebook page "I Pay More Taxes Than GE." Also use Facebook to share the petition and post a photo of yourself holding an “I Pay More Taxes Than GE” sign on that Facebook page.
  • If you are on Twitter, please post a message about this issue with the “hash tag” #IPayMoreTaxesThanGE.
  • Donate to our efforts to change the debate, and advocate and mobilize grassroots support for a budget that doesn’t pay for corporate welfare on the backs of the middle class and seniors.
On virtually a straight party line vote, Republicans in the House of Representatives last week passed a budget plan that would decimate a fundamental cornerstone of the social contract it would extend trillions more in tax breaks to billionaires and corporations and essentially privatize Medicare and Medicaid, leaving countless seniors and their families with a crippling and likely unbearable burden. 

Something is very wrong here. Even every conservative’s hero, Ronald Reagan, was willing to raise taxes on corporations when the need arose. In 1986, in the biggest corporate tax increase in history, he raised corporate taxes by $120 billion over five years and closed corporate tax loopholes worth about $300 billion over that same period. 
Please take action now using the social media tools we’ve provided or by contributing to our work on this critical issue. 

Americans are jobless and hurting while corporations’ and their executives rake in record profits. But the GOP in Congress and the states wants to burden the middle class, the poor and seniors with even more sacrifice via draconian program cuts rather than ask millionaires, billionaires and corporations to pay their fair share. A janitor in NYC pays a higher effective tax rate than a millionaire who makes 
50 times his salary! 
It’s time to change the debate from one about cuts to one about revenue. Congress must protect Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other vital programs that are part of the social safety net which millions of Americans need now more than ever. But Republicans are hell bent on sacrificing those programs to protect tax breaks for billionaires and their corporate donors. 
The American people are on our side -- this is a debate we want to have and that we can win.Help us do it. 

Thank your for standing with us to defend the American Way. 

-- Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager 

BP's $10-Billion Tax Break

Take action!
Clicking below will add your name to the petition to BP:
Take action now!
One year ago today, BP's oil began to pour into the Gulf of Mexico. It did not stop for 87 days.

Today, economic and environmental devastation remain. Thousands of Gulf Coast residents cope with massive health problems from oil and toxic dispersants.
BP, on the other hand, just scored a nearly $10 billion dollar tax credit, by writing off its "losses" incurred from the tragedy.1
$10 billion is the entire annual budget of the EPA, whose funding was just slashed in the continuing resolution. It is almost one third of all the cuts in the continuing resolution.
Responding to BP's monumental catastrophe cost a massive amount of resources from local, state and federal governments. Now, BP is dealing another massive blow to our nation's tax revenue.
The $10 billion savings comes after BP wrote-off the $32.2 billion it set aside to cover clean-up costs, fines, and a $20 billion victim compensation fund (which has been notoriously slow and stingy in responding to claims, paying out less than $4 billion so far.2)
But there is an excellent precedent that says BP did not have to deduct these costs for tax advantages. Last year, Goldman Sachs waived a tax deduction it could have claimed as a result of paying $500 million in fines to the Securities and Exchange Commission for giving bad information to mortgage investors.3
BP's $10 billion tax credit slashes its liability by one third — at every US taxpayer's expense.
Over the weekend, I was in Washington D.C. for the Powershift conference, attended by 8,000 young climate activists.
Hundreds attended from the Gulf Coast, and I heard their stories of oil still remaining on beaches, of its smell still permeating the air, of legions of dead dolphin, turtles and fish, of neighbors who are sick or jobless. I heard them say that BP hasn't done nearly enough to make it right.
Meanwhile in Washington, BP just restarted political contributions to the Republicans who continue to push for expanded offshore drilling,4 oppose lifting oil spill liability caps,5 and do everything in their power to keep our nation addicted to dirty crude, as millions of Americans literally drain their paychecks into their gas tanks every day.
To take our nation off of dirty, dangerous, expensive fossil fuels, we must force polluters to pay for the damage they do.
One year ago, BP brought us what would become the worst environmental disaster in our nation's history. We don't owe BP a tax-credit. BP owes us our gulf back. The least it could do is pay its fair share.
Thank you for holding polluters accountable.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets

No Methyl Iodide!

Take action!
Submit a public comment to the E.P.A., urging them to ban the use of toxic methyl iodide in agriculture.
Take action now!
Methyl iodide is a nasty chemical. It is a known neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor, and scientists in labs handle only small amounts using special protective equipment because it is so toxic. But do you know where else it is used? As a pesticide on strawberries and other food crops.

The battle against methyl iodide is being fought on several fronts. Last summer, Washington state banned the use of the pesticide. Unfortunately, the pendulum swung the other way in California, when despite more than 53,000 public comments submitted by CREDO activists and our allies, the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation approved the chemical for agricultural use last December.
But the ultimate power to regulate pesticides lies with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has just decided to reconsider its approval of methyl iodide — approval that was granted during George W. Bush's administration.
This is our chance to finally ban this toxic chemical from being used as a pesticide on our food. But we must act quickly.
Methyl iodide has been subject to ongoing controversy in its approval process. The U.S. EPA approved methyl iodide for agricultural use in 2007, amid criticism from more than 50 prominent scientists1 that the process was hidden from public view and the research focus was too limited. In California, evidence has come to light that the DPR ignored advice from its own scientists. The head of that agency has since resigned — to work for the chemical company Clorox.
There is little to debate about methyl iodide's toxicity. It is a known neurotoxin, disrupts thyroid function, damages developing fetuses, and has caused lung tumors in laboratory animals. Fumigating fields with the gas — even with the strictest regulations — would no doubt still result in unacceptable exposures to farmworkers and surrounding populations.
Urging the E.P.A. to permanently suspend and cancel all uses of methyl iodide as a pesticide is the only surefire way to keep this poison away from workers and our food.
Thank you for standing up for safe and healthy food.
Adam Klaus, Campaign Manager CREDO Action from Working Assets

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Making History in Wisconsin

A message from
Today, we made history in Wisconsin.

WI Democrats -- supported by over 2,600 DFA volunteers on the ground -- submitted over 150% of the signatures needed to demand the recall election of the 5th Republican State Senator: Alberta Darling.

This is unprecedented. 
In the history of Wisconsin there have been only 4 recall elections ever. Now, in just the last two months, we've legally required 5.

Republicans from Madison to Washington D.C. are watching every single step of this fight and we're not going to let up until we win. With signature gathering continuing for the 3 Republicans left who are eligible for recall, it's vital we keep covering TV with our hard-hitting real people ad. 
If we hit $600,000 by Friday night, we'll be able to stay on the air in target districts through the end of next week. Please contribute now to make it happen.
Watch the Ad and Contribute $5 to keep it on the air

Our TV ad, which we created with our friends at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, features life-long Republican voter Mike Crump.
"As a Republican my entire life I'm appalled at what Scott Walker and the Republicans did. This hurts my family. It's about my kids in school."
Mike is one of the many reasons MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Lawrence O'Donnell, and Cenk Uygur have all praised our Wisconsin ads. It's also why local activists in Wisconsin have asked us to keep it on TV. 
Please watch the ad and contribute now. 

Thanks to the support we've had so far from DFA members nationwide, we're closer than ever to flipping the WI Senate and stopping Governor Walker's anti-families agenda.

Working together with our members on the ground, we won't stop until we win. Thank you for everything you do.


Jim Dean, Chair
Democracy for America

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Obama, Bush, Clinton: Who's Worst On The Deficit?

There’s a rumor going around that all Democratic presidents want to increase the national debt. Take a look at this chart.  (Click on chart to enlarge it.)
Originally submitted by Gabe. Found on The Rachel Maddow Blog.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Big Mike Breaks the Deficit Down

     Do you have a conservative uncle, or someone in your family that you've gone 'round and 'round with over the budget fight that nearly shut down our federal government? Or did you find the whole thing totally impenetrable as the story seemed to change daily?
     Well, here's a video that breaks it down. It's a quick, funny, and honest explanation of what actually went down last week in D.C. Check it out, and then share it with anyone you think could benefit from a little straight talk.
We need to have a real national conversation about how we can address the deficit. This video can help kick that off, but only if you share it.
Want to support the work of They're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And their tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. Chip in here.

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tell Obama: Don't Sell Out Medicare

Hands off Medicare!Like many progressives, we were both relieved and devastated when President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced their deal with Republicans on the budget. They averted a government shutdown while fending off some of the biggest attacks on women and the environment. But shockingly, Speaker Boehner emerged from the negotiations with billions more in cuts than he initially asked for.
How did we wind up in a situation where Democrats ultimately agreed to more spending cuts to avert the government shutdown than House Speaker John Boehner first demanded in February? There is no way to describe the Democrats' disastrous negotiating strategy other than one of appeasement.
In effect the Republicans took hostages and, in response, Democratic leadership agreed to pay a very high ransom.
As a result, Republicans are newly emboldened. And they have already boasted about the price they will exact from Democrats in the coming fights over the 2012 budget and the debt ceiling.
President Obama will address the nation today. This will be his opening salvo in the looming fights over the 2012 budget fight and the lifting the national debt ceiling. As he makes his opening bid, he needs to know that he must take Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security off the table.1
From the beginning of this budget battle, CREDO believed the fight would come down to two ideological battles: Planned Parenthood and the Clean Air Act.
At critical moments, our activists made over 25,000 calls to Democratic senators and the White House demanding that Democrats draw a line in the sand to protect women and the environment. Hundreds of thousands of our members signed petitions. And in key Senate districts, our members attended meetings we arranged with staffers to drive the message home.
In the end, your pressure was great enough that Democratic leadership blunted the Tea Party attacks on women and the environment. Unfortunately on almost every single other priority, Democrats caved to Republicans, giving Speaker Boehner billions of dollars more than the initial $32 billion in cuts he requested when he first came to the table.
And the cuts that have been agreed to are absolutely brutal. Over $1 billion cut from HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD, and TB prevention, $600 million cut from funding for community health centers, and $500 million cut from the Women Infant and Children (WIC) nutrition program for low-income pregnant women.
While we stopped the destruction of the Clean Air Act, the EPA's budget was itself cut by $1.6 billion, or 16% compared to last year.
And what's more, Democrats gave conservatives a right-wing wish list when it comes to the inhabitants of Washington DC by agreeing to abolish needle exchange programs, shifting money from public education to vouchers for parochial schools, limiting access to abortion care and more.
This is what happens when Democrats abandon the principled position that corporations and the rich need to pay their fair share before we inflict suffering on the most vulnerable members of our society.
It is just another example of how the Democrats constantly offer to meet the Republicans halfway, only to see the goal posts moved even further to the right.
The fact of the matter is that the Democrats set themselves up for failure last fall when they extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans and agreed to take other tax increases off the table. The cuts the Democrats agreed to — a brutal $39 billion in the last 6 months of this year — pale in comparison to the $150 billion that would have been raised during the same six months if President Obama had not cut a deal with Republicans to continue the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.2
And now that the stakes are even higher, we simply cannot afford for President Obama to preemptively cede this ground and allow vital programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to be used as bargaining chips in some sort of grand compromise that will ultimately leave most Americans much worse off than before.
Without enormous pressure, Democrats will continue to pay ransom to Republicans rather than defending the most successful, popular and important social programs in our country.
Republicans claim to be alarmed by the deficit. But between needless wars abroad, massive tax cuts for the wealthy and corporate welfare, they have done more than anyone to cause the deficit. Now Republicans are predictably claiming that in order to responsibly deal with the deficit, we need to destroy the social safety net.
Democrats must actually take a stand for a progressive vision of how to deal with the economic crisis we find ourselves in. Destroying Medicare and making more brutal cuts to vital social services is not the answer. In the near term, the best way we can address the deficit is by getting millions of Americans back to work. But if deficit concerns are driving the narrative, basic fairness demands that we make the rich and obscenely-profitable corporations pay their fair share, we revoke Bush era tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and we stop throwing away over $100 billion a year on an unwinnable war in Afghanistan.
Thank you for speaking out.
Becky Bond, Political Director CREDO Action from Working Assets

Notes:1"Obama's new approach to deficit reduction to include spending on entitlements," Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post, April 10, 2011.2 "Deal To Avert Government Shutdown Saves $38 Billion — Bush Tax Cut Deal Spent $150 Billion," Alex Seitz-Wald, Think Progress, April 9, 2011.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Top Ten Corporate Freeloaders

For most of us, early April means tax season. But not for 10 of the country's biggest corporations who pay little or nothing in taxes. Some of them, like GE, are actually paying negative taxes: $14 of your family's tax money this year will go to GE's $3.2 billion rebate.1
The thing is, most Americans don't know this freeloading is happening. So with help from Senator Bernie Sanders, we put together the chart below detailing the exact numbers for 10 of the biggest corporate freeloaders. 
Senator Bernie Sanders Guide To Corporate Freeloaders
Click here to share: Bernie Sanders' Guide to Corporate Freeloaders

Source: 1. "G.E.'s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes All Together," The New York Times, March 24, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tell Congress: Don't Build Budget on the Backs of America's Families

A message from AAUW Action Network: Tell Congress: Don't Build a Budget on the Backs of America's Families 
Early next week, the House is expected to vote on Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) proposed budget for fiscal year 2012. This plan, which has already passed out of committee, slashes nearly every program which invests in everyday Americans' education, employment opportunities, health care, and housing – while cutting corporate tax rates by ten percent. Ryan's proposal hacks away at Medicaid and Medicare, Pell grants and federal student loans, and eliminates numerous other investments in our country's long-term economic security and strength.
This budget is built on the backs of America's families, robbing seniors, students, and workers in the name of helping America's corporations get richer. AAUW unequivocally opposes Ryan's plan, which relies on flawed math and assumptions, and will do real and lasting harm to families, workers, and retirees.
Take Action!
Send a message to your representative and tell him or her that Ryan's proposed budget for 2012 is bad for ordinary Americans and bad for the economy. To send a message, simply click on the "Take Action" link in the upper right hand corner.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Beck "Transitioning Off" His Poisonous Talk Show

This message is a long time coming, and it feels good to finally tell you the news. Yesterday, Fox News announced that later this year, toxic talk show host Glenn Beck would "transition off" from his nightly hour of hate, falsehoods, extremism, and absurd conspiracy theories.
It's thanks to your support that we've been able to continually monitor and fact-check Beck and his relentless tide of smear campaigns and lies. With your help, we've been able to make the case that Beck has a dangerous impact on the national conversation -- and we've been able to ensure that Fox's promotion of Beck has had real-life consequences for the network's credibility and its advertising dollars. Beck's show has lost nearly 1 million viewers in the last year, and more than 300 advertisers since its debut.
It took two years too long for this to happen and the fight isn't over: Fox News and its allies in the right-wing media will continue to distort and undermine the political process. The right-wing noise machine still injects political attacks and falsehoods into our national debate through outlets like Fox News and talk radio.
As long as conservatives continue to broadcast misinformation and hate speech, we'll keep working around the clock to monitor and fact-check it and to prevent it from influencing the national dialogue.
Donate today to support the important work Media Matters for America does to ensure honesty and accountability in the media.
Thank you for your continued support -- this wouldn't have been possible without you.
David Brock
Founder and Chairman
Media Matters for America