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, October 29, 2011

4 Reasons to Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street is Fox News' worst nightmare, so they're doing everything they can to downplay this movement and distort its message. It's up to people like us to tell the real story. This amazingly powerful video—featuring Elizabeth Warren, no less—does exactly that. It's a must-see for everyone in America who's got any questions about what #OWS is really all about. Check it out, and share it with your friends on Facebook today. 

It's already been viewed over 180,000 times. But that won't be enough with a media entity like Fox intent on hushing #OWS up, so please watch this video and then share it with all of your friends and family. 

Thanks for all you do.
−Peter, Eli, and the rest of the team

Act for Iraq Vet

Received on October 28, 2011 from "Other" via a friend:

Scott Olsen, US Marine and Iraq War Veteran, is in critical condition after an assault by police officers on Occupy Oakland last night. Meanwhile, the police chief has been making highly dubious claims about police conduct, slandering protesters - all while Occupy Oakland remains unsure about their right to free assembly.

This is unacceptable - and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan needs to hear from us that we simply won't accept it.

ENOUGH. It's time to tell her we want her to do right by Scott Olsen - fire the police chief, investigate police misconduct and protect the rights of Occupy Oakland:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Occupy Oakland

A message from
Tuesday night, Scott Olsen, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq, was struck in the head by a "nonlethal" projectile fired by the Oakland police. The round fractured his skull, leaving him in critical condition.1 

Olsen had joined with other members of Occupy Oakland to peacefully protest the group's eviction that morning. When a group gathered to help Olsen after he was hit, a police officer threw a flash bang grenade into the group from a few feet away. 

Deeply disturbing video of the incident was captured by a local news crew and provides the clearest evidence yet of the lengths that authorities will go to to stop Occupy protesters from voicing uncomfortable truths about our economy.

Yesterday's eviction in the predawn hours2, and last night's violence against protesters, are only the latest attempts to silence the voices of those who are speaking up for the 99%. But members of Occupy Oakland, who faced the most brutal crackdown yet, refuse to be intimidated. They've called for another peaceful gathering tonight to stand up for their First Amendment rights.3

To help defend their rights, we're scrambling to put together a rapid response ad to run in Oakland urging the mayor and the police to end their brutal tactics and respect the protesters' rights. We want to make sure everyone in Oakland sees the footage of the crackdown for themselves. Every dollar we raise will go to pay for the ad, and if there's anything left over, we'll donate it to a group doing good work helping our veterans as they come home from war.

We're also supporting a petition by a local Oakland group—Causa Justa :: Just Cause—to Oakland's mayor to stop the police repression of Occupy Oakland. 

Many MoveOn members experienced the police crackdown firsthand last night. Here's what some of them said:

The police were intimidating and I have been to many protests in my life, but nothing quite like this. I have never seen such a police presence with such force, especially for a calm crowd. The tear gas was pretty brutal, it is still on my clothes and skin this morning. Anywhere in downtown Oakland had the smell and sting of the gas all night.  —Gina W.

We talked to the police across the barricades about how we were also fighting for them, for their children's shot to education without lifelong debt, for the preservation of their collective bargaining rights. We expressed this solidarity knowing that they might not be listening, but we also know that the reasons for not listening are deeply personal...  —Julie K.

As a retired military man, I wanted to reiterate what [I heard] the Marine Sgt espousing to the police: There is NO honor in brutalizing your own people. The tear gas stung but I have been exposed to worse, including Agent Orange. What I saw at Ogawa Plaza made me extremely proud of those brave souls that were passionate about their causes. As we say in the Marine Corp and Navy...BRAVO ZULU.—Pete H.

Thanks for all you do.
Justin, Marika, Anna, Laura, and the rest of the team
P.S. Many occupations are gathering at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT to stand in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. To find an occupation near you and see if they'll be gathering, go to


1. "Occupy Oakland protests—live coverage," The Guardian, October 26, 2011

2. "Police tear gas Occupy Oakland protesters," San Francisco Chronicle, October 26, 2011

3. Occupy Oakland, accessed October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Troops Leaving Iraq

A message from
On October 21, President Obama formally announced the end of the war in Iraq, as the remaining 48,000 American troops in Iraq will be brought home by year's end.1 
After almost nine years, the loss of more than 4,400 American troops and countless Iraqi civilian lives, and a cost of $800 billion that was badly needed at home, a war that should have never begun is finally coming to an end.2 It's bittersweet relief from an ongoing tragedy—and for MoveOn members who lost loved ones, a very personal tragedy. 
While it's long overdue, it's important to remember that even up until today, conservatives and military advisers have been pressing to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely.3
So there is no doubt that we would not be here without the dedicated work of millions of Americans nationwide who struggled tirelessly to bring this war to an end and our troops home. From small vigils to massive marches, from phone calls to our leaders to letters to the media, you and many others helped make this day possible. 
Yet, it's also true that the struggle to bring our troops home continues, as long as tens of thousands of troops remain in Afghanistan. The future of Iraq will now be left to the Iraqi people, and it's long past time to leave the future of Afghanistan to its people as well. 
And though the war is ending, tens of thousands of troops will continue to struggle with the physical and psychological wounds from their service in Iraq. We encourage you to visit the Wounded Warrior Project to learn more and to donate to support those who served:
We can't rest until all troops are safely out of harm's way—and our veterans and families are given the support and care they deserve. 
Thanks for all you did to fight for this day and for all you do to fight for a safer, more peaceful world.
–Justin, Carrie, Elena, Sarah, and the rest of the team
P.S. You can see photos from years of MoveOn member work to prevent and end the war here:
1. "Obama announces full withdrawal from Iraq," USA Today, October 21, 2011
2. "After Nearly Nine Years of War and Occupation, America to Withdraw All Troops from Iraq," The Nation, October 19, 2011
3. Ibid.
"Conservatives launch pre-emptive strike against Obama's Iraq plan," Foreign Policy, September 15, 2011
"A troop drawdown that would fail Iraq," The Washington Post, September 16, 2011
Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 5 million members—no corporate contributions, no big checks from CEOs. And our 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. This email was sent to Cheryl Lyda on October 21, 2011. To change your email address or update your contact info, click here. To remove yourself from this list,click here. 

How Did Your Senator Vote?

Take Action! Tell your senators how you feel on their vote to fund teachers and first responders.

Last week the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act (S. 1723) failed a vote on cloture by a vote of 50-50. Under the rules of the Senate, 60 votes were needed to continue toward action on the bill. All 47 Republicans voted against allowing the bill to proceed to a full debate joined by Democrats Sen. Ben Nelson (NE), Sen. Mark Pryor (AR), and independent Joseph Lieberman (CT).
Write your senators about their vote on the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act. Simply click on the “Take Action” link in the upper left corner (note: the system will indicate if your senators voted for or against the bill), or visit AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist.
Double your impact! Tweet, Facebook, and forward this action alert to friends and family. 

Follow AAUW on Twitter, and read our award-winning AAUW Dialog Blog for discussion, information, and advocacy for women and girls! 

Go on the Offense

A message from
In a few short weeks everything's changed. America is finally talking about how our economy is rigged to advantage the wealthiest 1% over the rest of us.
Thanks to the bravery of the protesters down on Wall Street, real change is now possible. So we all need to drop what we're doing and go on offense.
In addition to providing all the support we can to #OccupyWallStreet, at MoveOn we're scrambling to launch a huge campaign to make Wall Street pay. We're organizing mass meetings in hundreds of cities. We've hired filmmakers to tell the stories that the mainstream media are ignoring. We're turning up the heat on the banks by helping people move their money. And we're helping organize two major national days of protest in November.
Together, we can make sure this momentum keeps building. But this all takes money—for materials, coordination, tech, and supporting thousands of volunteers. This is the moment.
The tide is turning. We have to capitalize on this momentum now—because those standing with Wall Street and the 1% won't stay quiet for long. Here are just a few of the things we're doing:
  • Building tools to help you, along with cities, pension funds, and universities, take money out of the banks that crashed our economy and keep profiting by hurting the 99% 
  • Participating in a massive "Make Wall Street Pay" global day of action for November 5, where we all put those tools to move our money to use 
  • Empowering people to hold teach-ins in their communities to tell their friends and neighbors the story of how our economy came to favor the 1% over the 99%
  • Working with partners to organize a massive day of action on November 17 before the congressional Super Committee's deadline, to make sure Washington creates Jobs Not Cutsand makes the ultra-rich pay 
These are huge undertakings to match a huge moment. Can you chip in $5 now so we don't lose this opportunity?
Thanks for all you do.
–Daniel, Stefanie, Elena, Peter, and the rest of the MoveOn team


Dump Doma
On Friday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that he intends to bring the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), before his committee for a vote in November. 

Even as more states move to expand marriage equality to their same-sex couples, these couples are still prevented from partaking in many of the most basic benefits of marriage because the federal government won't recognize their unions as legal. 

Please take a moment to add your name to PFAW's petitionurging Congress to Dump DOMA and end this unconstitutional, discriminatory policy once and for all. 

Find out more and take action at 
-- Diallo Brooks, Director of Field Mobilization 

Read Occupiers Journal

A message from Democracy for America:

An important part of what sets the Occupy Wall Street movement apart is its leaderless organizing and organic growth. No one person or organization leads it. That's also why no one person or organization can stop it. No one person owns it. We all own it. Because of that, it can be hard sometimes to find out what's really going on.

You can follow the blog or watch the live stream at You can get up to the minute updates by following the many hastags on Twitter. But for me that's not enough. Since I can't be there on the ground, I always want to know what it really feels like at the occupations in New York and other cities across the country -- the personal, gritty stuff the big news media sources won't tell you. Real stories from real people taking part everyday on the ground.

That's why we've created "The Occupiers Journal" -- first-hand accounts, personal stories and regular updates from DFA members taking part on the ground, in the middle of all the action.

Sign up here to receive these first-person stories from Occupy Wall Street protesters.

The idea started from a personal email from Josh Silverstein, a leader of the local DFA group Democracy for New York City. He was there for that inspirational moment last Friday when the police and Mayor Bloomberg backed down and the thousands of protesters in Zuccotti Park won their right to stay there.

Here's part of what he wrote:
At about 5:30am, I happened upon a large crowd where at the center were several of the people in the @directaction group. They were unsure of how large the crowd was going to be so there was discussion of a back-up plan. Apparently they were going to try to hold a portion of the park.

Then just before 6:00am the crowd swelled to encompass the entirety of the park and people were increasingly pumped and excited, many of whom had seemed to be visiting the park for the very first time (I heard several perplexed protesters asking why people said "mic check.")

Then the very people of @directaction I had been speaking with an hour before convened a General Assembly and went over the plan, which was to have those willing to be arrested stand on the perimeter of the park and lock arms and then those not willing to be arrested to go across the street. Nearly everyone at the General Assembly raised their hands indicating they'd stay in the park. We started going over what to expect if you are arrested and then the breaking news was announced that Brookfield Properties retreated from their threat to "clean" the park and were willing to work with protesters and let them stay. Cheers immediately broke out and a band soon started parading through the crowd.

We beat Bloomberg and Brookfield properties back from trying to retake the park!
We're going to collect as many as these kinds of stories as we can and send out at least one a week -- or whenever something big happens. Sign up here if you'd like to get them.

Together, we will fight and we will win.

In solidarity,

- Gregg Ross, Political Campaign Manager
Democracy for America

Ron Paul Would End Student Loans

Ron Paul Says He Would End Student Loans

From The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 24, 2011, 12:00 pm
Ron Paul, the Texas congressman who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said on Sunday that he would end the federal student-loan program if elected president, calling it a failed program that has driven up college costs, Politicoreports. That position could alienate some of the college students who support him, the article notes.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tell Reps to Keep Social Security

AAUW Action Network
Tell the House to Help Keep the Promises of Social Security
Several weeks ago, thousands of you took action urging your senators to cosponsor a bill that would close Social Security's funding gap by lifting the cap on payroll taxed for Social Security purposes.
Now it's time to send the same message to the House of Representatives. We need the House to hear the same, powerful support for an even stronger Social Security. Take action now!
Right now, 94 percent of Americans pay into Social Security on the basis of their whole salary -- but the wealthiest 6 percent do not. Because the cap for individual income stands at $106,800, someone who makes that much pays exactly the same amount into Social Security as does a millionaire or a billionaire.
The No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act (H.R. 797) would gradually lift the cap so that by 2033, the wealthiest 6 percent of Americans will be on equal footing with everyone else. This plan would extend the full solvency of Social Security for the next 75 years, ensuring that the program continues to help provide retirement security for future generations.
Here at AAUW, we think of Social Security as a promise, a commitment that we as Americans make to care for one another across the generations. Although Social Security is among our nation's best and most efficiently-run anti-poverty programs, it's critical for elderly women -- more than half of whom would fall into poverty without it. So, we are particularly interested when good ideas come along aimed at strengthening and improving Social Security.
Take Action! Ask your representative to become a cosponsor of the No Loopholes in Social Security Taxes Act (H.R. 797). You can send a message by clicking the "Take Action" link above or by visiting AAUW Two Minute Activist.
Remember: You can always help strengthen AAUW's efforts to protect and strengthen Social Security by making a tax-deductible donation to AAUW's Public Policy Fund!
Double your impact! Tweet, Facebook, and forward this action alert to friends and family.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"We Are the 99%" Bumper Stickers

A message from Democracy for America:
One of the most powerful things about the Occupy Wall Street movement is that it's leaderless. No one person or organization controls it, drives it or can take credit for the movement that's continuing to build everyday. Most importantly, that also means no one person or organization can stop it.

That's why big corporations and their right-wing allies are freaking out. They're scared of the movement that's sweeping the country because they know it's real. It's organic. And it has the power to win because it's clear we're not going away until change happens to improve the lives of the 99%.

Here at DFA, we know that it's not our job to try to take over this movement or take credit for its work. We're here to help grow and support the work that people across the country are doing organically. So, when thousands of DFA members started writing in to ask us to make "We are the 99 percent" bumper stickers so they could show their support, we knew we had to do it.

Get your FREE "We are the 99 percent" bumper sticker right now.

You can put these stickers wherever you want to show your support for this incredible movement -- on your car, in your window, on your laptop...

Whether you're in a city with a occupation or, better yet, in an area where there isn't one -- you can use our stickers to show people everywhere that this is a movement with huge national support. We can show them exactly what the 99 percent looks like.

So, sign up to get your free sticker right now, or get a pack of 10 for $10.

Help support and grow the occupation -- Get a free "We are the 99 percent" sticker today.

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.
Paid for by Democracy for America, and not authorized by any candidate. Contributions to Democracy for America are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

American Jobs Act

Vote Yes Button

The President is not giving up on the creation of jobs and the American Jobs Act. The Senate failed to pass the bill last week because it was blocked by a Republican filibuster. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is trying again, this time bringing a vote on pieces of the Act. As early as tonight, the Senate could vote on whether to allow debate on the new Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act. We must stop these Republican filibusters.  Urge the two Senators from your state to vote "yes"!
This act will allocate $30 billion to save 280,000 teachers jobs and create more teaching jobs. Women comprise 78% of elementary and secondary school teachers. The bill will also allocate $5 billion to save the jobs of our first responders.
This bill would be fully paid for. It includes a provision that places a 0.5% surtax on incomes over $1 million, including capital gains. Only individuals with incomes over $1 million will be affected and only income over the 1st million will be so taxed.
Give teachers, police officers, and firefighters a chance. Email your Senators immediately to urge them to vote "yes" to allow debate on the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act. Our teachers and first responders provide vital services to our communities and we owe it to them to save their jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not giving up on the American Jobs Act and he's taking it piece by piece to make sure Americans get the relief they deserve. Support the President and tell your Senators that you support teachers' and first responders' jobs. Urge your Senators to vote for job creation with a "yes" vote on the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act.
For Equality,
Ellie Smeal
Ellie Smeal
Feminist Majority Header

Teachers & First Responders Back to Work Act

The Senate will soon consider legislation that would protect the jobs of up to 400,000 teachers across the nation (S. 1723).

Ask your senator to support the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act (S. 1723) which would protect the jobs of up to 400,000 teachers across the nation!

Teacher and first responder employment is a women’s issue. Women are 78% of k-12 teachers and 91% of teacher assistants. They are 89.7% of medical assistants who are part of every first responder team. Women, their children and elders deserve to have a full complement of first responders when an accident or heart attack lead to an emergency call.

The legislation would provide $30 billion for teachers in grants to local school districts and early-learning programs, which would fund up to 400,000 educator jobs by avoiding planned layoffs, rehiring teachers previously laid off, and hiring additional educators to decrease class size. This targeted approach to job creation will make a big difference to women’s employment outlook because approximately 76 percent of elementary and secondary teachers are women.   

These grants would be paid for by a 0.5 percent surtax on income in excess of $1 million annually for individuals and couples, which would take effect in tax year 2013. The surtax is a small step toward implementing the “Buffet Rule,” which would reform the tax code so that Wall Street bankers have at least the same tax rate at firefighters and teachers. Only one-fifth of one percent of U.S. taxpayers would be impacted by this change. The revenue generated from this surtax will pay the salary of hundreds of thousands of teachers and first responders who teach our children and keep our nation safe. AAUW supports, “public budgets that balance individual rights and responsibility to the community.”

The last few years have been particularly unkind to American women. According to the Pew Research Center, “Employment trends during the recovery have favored men over women in all but one of the 16 major sectors of the economy.” Women working in the public sector have been hit particularly hard. While women comprised just over half of the public sector workforce at the end of the recession (June 2009), they lost 71.2 percent of the 572,000 jobs cut from this sector between June 2009 and September 2011. That’s 407,200 jobs lost for women in the public sector in just two years.

These cuts can have devastating impacts on American families, which have come to increasingly rely upon women’s wages to make ends meet. Consequently, many women are the sole breadwinners for their families – making women’s economic security not just a matter of simple fairness, but the key to families making ends meet. AAUW strongly believes that Congress should support our nation’s teachers and education systems by supporting legislation to keep teachers in the classroom and off the unemployment line.

We need you to tell your Senators that you support legislation to protect the jobs of America’s teachers, and that you want them to do the same. To send a letter to your senators, visit AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Best "Occupy" sign of the day. It's from Occupy Together.

CitiBank Arrests

The NYPD arrested the wrong people today. They wrestled and manacled the customers, not the CEOs. Here's one of the videos of the arrests:

"But, I'm a customer," says the woman in the business suit, holding up her checkbook to ward off police batons. Apparently, it takes 5 burly NYPD guys to herd one woman into a corner and arrest her.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bloomberg Backs Down (for now)
A message from

Huge news! This morning at 6 o'clock, MoveOn members, union members, community organizers and thousands of others gathered in Zuccotti Park to stand in solidarity with the people who are occupying Wall Street and to defend them from eviction by Mayor Bloomberg.

They were supported by hundreds of thousands of people from around the country like you who signed petitions and flooded the city with calls.

And they won!

We've got video of the scene as the announcement was read and, well, you've got to watch it.

Occupy Wall Street Signs + Donation

We are the 99 percent

A message from Democracy for America:

ActBlue is selling "Occupy Wall Street" yard signs. Part of the cost goes to provide supplies to the Wall Street occupiers. To learn more, go to:

Stealing an Ad from the Opposition?

A message from PFAW:

This is outrageous. A corporate-backed right-wing group fighting to dismantle workers' rights in Ohio hijacked the words and image of a great-grandmother who had filmed an ad for our allies, distorting her message and making it look like she supported their position against workers.

Tell Ohio TV stations to pull the Right's ad from the air now!

Cincinnati resident Marlene Quinn had filmed a TV ad for our friends at the "No on Issue 2" campaign -- the campaign to repeal Senate Bill 5, Ohio's version of the Wisconsin bill that stripped public workers of their collective bargaining rights. In the ad, she told the story of her grandson and great-granddaughter's rescue by firefighters, and rightly made the case that passage of Issue 2 on the ballot this November, affirming SB 5, would lead to less firefighters there to protect Ohioans.

In a shockingly underhanded move, a leading right-wing group in the fight, Building a Better Ohio, stole the footage of Marlene for its own ad, and presented it in a way that made it look like Marlene was for Issue 2!

Ten Ohio TV stations have already pulled the ad and we're going to keep the pressure on the rest until do too. Help us by joining our petition to Ohio TV stations now.

In an email for our allies at the No on 2 campaign, Marlene said of the Right's ad:

"It's insulting to the brave firefighters who saved the life of my great-granddaughter. I'm outraged they are using my face and my words to push their harmful agenda. They certainly did not ask my permission. I feel violated."
Watch a side-by-side video comparison of the two ads and sign our petition now.

We hope you'll speak out against the Right's latest dirty tactic, and then engage others to do the same.
Thank you for all your support and activism to fight the Right's dirty tricks.
-- Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager 

JC Penney Responds

letter from JC Penney CEO.

When JC Penney and Forever 21 began selling sexist shirts marketed to young girls with slogans like "Allergic to Algebra" and "I'm too pretty do to homework," we asked you to call on the corporations to make a public commitment against selling sexist merchandise in the future.*
In response, JC Penney CEO Myron Ullman wrote a personal note to CREDO and our members stating that:
"[JC Penney] used this incident as a 'teachable moment' for our buying teams. I can assure you and your petitioners that our teams fully understand their responsibility in upholding the integrity of our company and share with you their commitment to ensuring better merchandise decisions in the future."

While not quite the strong public commitment we would like to see from JC Penney, it is clear that our petition reached the highest levels of management at the corporation and they know that we will continue to hold them accountable for the merchandise they sell.
Without the activism of over 120,000 CREDO Action members like you, it wouldn't have been possible for us to force JC Penney to take this concrete step of committing to make better merchandise decisions in the future.
At CREDO, we believe that activism by our members has the potential to make change — and this response by JC Penney's CEO is an example that our activism can make a difference.
We will continue to work to ensure that JC Penney upholds its commitment to us and to hold other corporations to the same standard of merchandise. And we are still urging Forever 21 to make this right. We hope that you will join us as we continue to fight against sexism at the public and corporate levels.
Thank you for speaking out and joining us in this fight. Your activism matters.
Ali Rozell, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
*See original post at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

GOP Economic Vandalism

Editorial in The New York Times
October 12, 2011
It was all predicted, but the unanimous decision by Senate Republicans on Tuesday to filibuster and thus kill President Obama’s jobs bill was still a breathtaking act of economic vandalism. There are 14 million people out of work, wages are falling, poverty is rising, and a second recession may be blowing in, but not a single Republican would even allow debate on a sound plan to cut middle-class taxes and increase public-works spending.
The bill the Republicans shot down is not a panacea, but independent economists say it would have a significant and swift effect on the current stagnation. Macroeconomic Advisers, whose forecasts are often used by the Federal Reserve, said it could raise economic growth by 1.25 percentage points and create 1.3 million jobs in 2012. Moody’s Analytics estimated new growth at 2 percentage points and 1.9 million jobs. Those economists say that Republican ideas for increasing growth would have no measurable effects in the next year.
The Republicans offer no actual economic plans, only tired slogans about cutting regulations and spending, and ending health care reform. The party seems content to run out the clock on Mr. Obama’s term while doing very little. On Tuesday, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, accused Republicans of trying to “suffocate the economy” in hopes that the pain would work to their political advantage. They are doing little to refute that charge.
Their lack of serious ideas was on full display in both the Senate and the presidential debate on Tuesday night in New Hampshire. The debate was ostensibly about the economy, but when the freshest and most-talked-about idea is Herman Cain’s ridiculous “9-9-9” tax plan, it is clear that the economy they were debating is not the one Americans are forced to live in. Mr. Cain — whose rise in the polls says everything you need to know about the amateur-hour decline of his party — wants to replace all federal taxes with a 9 percent levy on corporate income, personal income and sales. As Bruce Bartlett, an economist who has worked in Republican administrations, recently wrote in The Times, it is a formula designed to cut taxes for the rich and increase them for the poor, raising the deficit and doing nothing for growth.
The other candidates were no less vacuous. Mitt Romney offered an ash heap of used ideas, saying he would push a balanced-budget amendment, cut back on regulations, and go chest to chest with China on trade. Rick Perry, when he could be stirred to speak, vowed to somehow put 1.2 million people to work in the energy industry, as if the whole country were Texas and drills could pop up on every block.
Republican candidates fear the Tea Party too much to acknowledge that economists are solidly behind government intervention to awaken growth. The jobs bill rejected by Republican leaders will now be reintroduced piece by piece, and Republicans are not likely to go along with much more than an extension of the payroll tax cut (which is opposed by Mr. Romney). But at least the record is increasingly clear who is advocating real ideas and who is selling an empty vessel.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Imagine Peace Tower

IMAGINE PEACE TOWER was relit by Yoko Ono
on October 9th, 2011, in memory of John Lennon.
It will now be lit until Dec 8, then Dec 21-28, Dec 31, 2011 and then March 21-28, 2012.
It lights about @2PM Mountain Time (USA) and goes for about four hours.
Go to:
Be sure to scroll down to the world map and see your light shine.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Protect the 99%

crowdA message from PFAW: 
The Occupy Wall Street protests -- which have now become the Occupy Everywhere protests -- and the announcement by Bank of America and other banks of new banking fees, such as monthly debit card usage fees, underscore the urgent need for a working Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ... and for the confirmation of the nominee to head that bureau, Richard Cordray. 
After using tens of billions in taxpayer bailouts to pay executive bonuses instead of reinstituting the lending our economy needed, big banks are again choosing to pad their profits by exploiting consumers with new monthly debit card fees which would make customers shell out additional payments just to use their own money. It's no wonder that it's being seen a final straw by many in "The 99%" -- the bulk of Americans victim to an inadequate job market, stagnating wages, disappearing benefits and consumer abuse at the hands of companies like the big banks.

Defenders of the new bank fees say that as private companies, banks have the right to make a profit, and if they are losing revenue elsewhere, they should be able to make it up by charging fees, and if consumers don't like it they can take their business to another bank. The problem with that argument is that new fees like this are becoming the industry standard -- so consumers won't have other options. That's what happens when you have an industry that is not only shielded from government regulation, but is shielded from the market forces which would make banks compete against each other for customers ... in short, it's what happens when the companies that make up an industry are allowed to be "too big to fail." 

In discussing the bank debit-purchase fees, President Obama noted, this is "exactly why we need somebody whose sole job it is to prevent this kind of stuff from happening." He was referencing Richard Cordray, the president's nominee to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) -- an agency, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, which Americans desperately need but which remains hamstrung and ineffective as long as it does not have an official director. 

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs approved Richard Cordray's nomination just yesterday, but the committee's Republican members voted unanimously against him and are intent on keeping the nomination from coming to the Senate floor for confirmation. Despite the party-line vote,Republican senators are quite clear that they know Cordray is qualified for the position -- it's the position itself, the CFPB and consumer protections in general to which they are opposed. 

Even though the legislation creating the CFPB was passed by Congress, Republicans are refusing to let the bureau function unless they can force structural changes which would render it wholly ineffective. Rep. Barney Frank -- the House's chief sponsor of the bill that created the CFPB -- explained:
"Forty-four Republicans have announced that in disregard of their constitutional duty to consider nominations on the merits. They will not confirm anyone until the Senate majority reverses itself to once again put bank regulators in a position to overrule virtually all of the policies that would be set by the consumer agency."
This unconscionable obstruction shows exactly whose interests Republicans care about and are fighting for ... and it's not the 99%. 

If you haven't already, sign our petition now telling senators to CONFIRM Richard Cordray. 

And check out more coverage of The 99% movement on our blog. 

Thank you for your ongoing support, your activism and your commitment to fighting Government By the People (NOT the Corporations) -- the American Way. 

-- Ben Betz, Online Strategy Manager

Friday, October 7, 2011

Deadline Today: Comment on Tar Sands Pipeline Project

Stop Keystone XL!
A message from CREDO Action:

We've suspected for quite a while that the State Department was biased towards approving the Keystone XL pipeline.1
But if there was any remaining doubt, it has been shattered.
Evidence is piling up that the State Department has maintained a corrupt and biased "review" process, including cozy ties between State Department officials and TransCanada lobbyists, and — incredibly — allowing a company employed by TransCanada to conduct the environmental review and public hearing processes.
The State Department is accepting final public comments on the Keystone XL pipeline until Friday. We need a flood of comments to call out their blatant bias, and send a strong message to President Obama to reject this project.
The Keystone XL Pipeline asks America to endure great risks in a desperate attempt to maintain our reliance on damaging fossil fuels.
But rather than conducting a thorough, good-faith review of this dangerous project, in a stunning conflict of interest, the State Department handed over the environmental review and public hearing process to a company called CARDNO Entrix, a contractor literally working for pipeline developer TransCanada!2
Cardno ENTRIX worked previously for BP to conduct the environmental review of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the gulf last year.3
Since the Bush Administration, Cardno ENTRIX has been working on behalf of the State Department to evaluate Keystone XL. Their woefully inadequate environmental review of the project was finalized by the State Department a few weeks ago, despite the EPA raising numerous concerns and warning that the review was "insufficient."4
Their so-called "State Department hearings" were similarly biased. According to numerous reports from the more than 300 CREDO members who attended the hearings, and many other activists, the Cardno ENTRIX representatives running the public hearings consistently gave the first few hours of speaking spots to oil-industry workers who were bussed in from out-of-state, and were paid to wait in line starting early in the morning. Only when pipeline opponents began speaking, did the moderators start enforcing stricter time limits.
An 85-year-old CREDO Activist had to go home after waiting for five hours at the Lincoln, Nebraska hearing, and never had the opportunity to speak. She wrote us that "It was the poorest excuse for a hearing I've ever witnessed." According to another participant at the hearing in Austin "This was not a hearing, this was a farce."5
This bias has pervaded the entire Keystone XL process. But it's still up to President Obama, and we need to send him a strong message now on the illegitimacy of the State Department's review.
On top of all of this, numerous emails released by our friends at Friends of the Earth reveal shockingly cozy relationships between State Department officials and lobbyists for the Canadian pipeline company TransCanada.
One of the lobbyists is a man named Paul Elliot, who previously served as the Deputy Campaign Manager on Hillary Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign. State Department officials cheered Elliot on as he convinced one Senator to endorse the pipeline project,6 and even appear to have coached Elliot and other TransCanada staff about how to build their case for approval, and even how to respond to questions and concerns about pipeline safety and environmental impact.7
The State Department has a solemn obligation to the people of this country to conduct an impartial evaluation of the impacts of this pipeline. Instead, officials appear to be acting in cahoots with the foreign company they are supposed to be evaluating.
Even if the State Department drops the ball, President Obama still has the power to lead. This final public comment period is a crucial opportunity to show that the State Department is working for TransCanada's interest, not our national interest — and send a message that this pipeline must be rejected.
Thanks for fighting Keystone XL.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets