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.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Outspent by the 1%

Dear Friends and Readers:
Below is an email from President Obama, whose campaign is being outspent by the billionaire forces backing Mitt Romney. 
The Republicans may outspend the Democrats, but Democrats can outvote the Republicans if the 99% will exercise their right to vote and urge others to do the same.
Think how satisfying it would be for the 1% to waste their wealth on anti-Obama campaigning and then have their guy lose at the polls.
Please do your part to stop the Big Political Grab of the wealthiest Americans and their corporations. Vote!
Thank you,

Here's President Obama's message:
I will be the first president in modern history to be outspent in his re-election campaign, if things continue as they have so far.

I'm not just talking about the super PACs and anonymous outside groups -- I'm talking about the Romney campaign itself. Those outside groups just add even more to the underlying problem.

The Romney campaign raises more than we do, and the math isn't hard to understand: Through the primaries, we raised almost three-quarters of our money from donors giving less than $1,000, while Mitt Romney's campaign raised more than three-quarters of its money from individuals giving $1,000 or more.

And, again, that's not including the massive outside spending by super PACs and front groups funneling up to an additional billion dollars into ads trashing me, you, and everything we believe in.

We can be outspent and still win -- but we can't be outspent 10 to 1 and still win.

More than 2.2 million Americans have already chipped in for us, and I'm so grateful for it. As we face this week's fundraising deadline, will you make a donation today?

Every donation you make today automatically enters you to join Michelle and me for one of the last grassroots dinners of this campaign -- today is your last chance to get your name in.

These dinners represent how we do things differently. My opponent spent this past weekend at a secretive retreat for the biggest donors to both his campaign and the super PACs that support him.

I've got other responsibilities I'm attending to.

Donate today to stand for our kind of politics:

Thank you,

Monday, June 25, 2012

Supreme Court Rejects Montana's Citizens United Challenge

Today, in a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Montana case challenging Citizens United. The same 5 conservative justices who swept away decades of case law when they first ruled on Citizens United, now continue to destroy any and all forms of common sense campaign reform.

We can now expect what the people of Montana fought so hard to prevent: widespread corruption as the moneyed interests buy government piece by piece. Already this election has been defined by Super PACs pouring millions of dollars into attack ads to protect the agenda of their anonymous donors.

We will not sit back while our country is slowly picked away by the 1%. We must join together across this country and organize to take back our government from corruption.

Contribute $10 now to help DFA fight back against Citizens United.

Even the 4 dissenting justices on the Supreme Court see the corrosive power of this decision. As Justice Breyer's writes:
"Thus, Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court's decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court's supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so."
The stakes are too high to allow our elections to be determined by the higest bidder. Just as the people have risen to reclaim their government before, we must once again fight back for the power and representative we need and deserve.

DFA members like you collected 105,640 signatures in support of MT Attorney General Steve Bullock, and made over 1,200 phone calls urging your Attorneys General to support this case.  Because of those efforts, 22 states stood with Montana today. We have people-power on our side, and at the end of the day that is the only thing that can beat back corporate money -- its the only thing that ever has.

Contribute $10 to build the next stage of the DFA campaign against Citizens United. 

Thank you for your work,

-Michael Langenmayr, Political Director
Democracy for America  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Who Owns Your Computer?

Do you really own the smartphone you’re using to read this email?

If you sold your computer, would you be breaking the law? A federal court in New York says you would be.
It's unbelievable, but trademark and copyright holders really are trying to take away your right to sell things that you own.

Please click here to fight back by sending emails to Obama and Congress and telling them to protect our resale rights.

If we don't speak out now, we won’t be able to sell almost anything we own -- and if we do, we'll face charges for violating intellectual property law!

First-Sale Doctrine gives us the right to sell most property we own. But if the Supreme Court supports the lower court’s decision, we won't really “own” anything if it's been made in a different country. We expect them to issue a ruling later this year.

If we want to sell products that were made abroad, from Macbooks and iPhones to our clothing and textbooks -- even our homes -- we'll have to ask copyright holders for permission first. And they'll have the right to deny it!

This is bad for so many reasons: It'll undermine Craigslist and Ebay, hurt the environment, increase incentives for manufacturers to make things and move jobs off-shore, and effectively ban the traditional American yard sale.

Please help us fight back. Just click here to email your lawmakers right away and tell them to stop shilling for copyright holders.

Thanks so much -- and please share this campaign with your friends by forwarding this email or using the links below.

--Demand Progress
If you're already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.
If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

Paid for by Demand Progress ( and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Contributions are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.
One last thing -- Demand Progress's small, dedicated, under-paid staff relies on the generosity of members like you to support our work. Will you click here to chip in $5 or $10? Or you can become a Demand Progress monthly sustainer by clicking here. Thank you!

Don't Attack Iran

Don't attack IranThe next few days are critically important for those of us who want to avoid an unnecessary and costly war with Iran.
Iran has come to the table for negotiations about the future of its nuclear program, with the next round of multilateral negotiations scheduled to take place today and tomorrow in Moscow.
But the Obama administration is under tremendous pressure to abandon diplomacy with Iran, and follow a path that would make war inevitable. And much of the pressure is coming from warmongers like John Bolton (an ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush), who want the talks to fail.
We need to speak out now to ensure that President Obama knows the American people support diplomacy, not war.
Many in power seem to have learned nothing from the catastrophic mistake and tremendous moral failure that was the war in Iraq.
There is already dangerous momentum to begin a war of choice with Iran. And should the Moscow negotiations break down or bear no fruit, the drumbeat for war will only grow more intense.
Those who would welcome a war with Iran are trying to suggest that the window for a diplomatic solution is rapidly closing.
But both American and Israeli intelligence services agree that Iran neither has made a decision to build a nuclear bomb nor currently has the capacity to do so. So there is no short-term imperative to wage war.
To his credit, President Obama is clearly not rushing to start another war. But many members of Congress, including many Democrats, are pushing him to offer nothing meaningful to Iran until Iran gives the United States and its allies everything we want.
Fundamentally, this kind of negotiating strategy would set us up for failure.
While there is no easy solution to the challenges we face with Iran, it is imperative that we pursue diplomacy in good faith and give diplomatic solutions the time they need to bear fruit.
And that means being open to a slow but steady move away from the brink of war through mutual concessions.
In an election year, when many of President Obama's traditional allies are either opposed or highly skeptical of his strategy, President Obama must know that there is full-throated support for diplomacy that can prevent an unnecessary war.
Tell President Obama: We support diplomacy with Iran, not an unnecessary and costly war. Click the link below to automatically sign the petition:
Thank you for speaking out for diplomacy.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Dow's Agent Orange Corn

Action!Ready for what's next from Dow Chemicals? GE crops modified to be resistant to the herbicide that's a main ingredient in Agent Orange! 

The herbicide, 2,4-D, is linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and Parkinson's and is banned entirely in parts of Canada and Europe. And yet the USDA seems ready to approve the new GMO Corn and Soybeans, unleashing a major increase in the use of 2,4-D.1
Now, the EPA is considering stepping in to stop or restrict the application of 2,4-D, which would be a major blow to Dow's Agent Orange veggies. Can you urge EPA to reject Dow's plans to spray this incredibly toxic herbicide?
If you care about food safety or the environment, you know about Roundup, developed by Monsanto, and so toxic to plants that Monsanto had to engineer "Roundup Ready" crops that wouldn't be killed when farmers applied Roundup to their fields.
From 1996, when Roundup Ready crops were introduced in the US, through 2008, there was a 383 million pound increase in the use of herbicides. Now, it turns out that weeds are becoming Roundup resistant, requiring the use of even stronger pesticides (like 2,4-D) and the engineering of crops that can withstand their use.
That's where Dow's "2,4-D resistant" corn comes in.  Because the corn will be resistant to 2,4-D, farmers will be able to blast their fields with the main ingredient in Agent Orange.  We can expect the increase in the use of 2,4-D to be enormous.2
Big Ag armed with 2,4-D is a scary scenario — 2,4-D has been shown to be contaminated with dioxins, is linked to numerous health problems, is highly likely to drift onto neighboring fields, is frequently found in groundwater, and is likely to already be negatively impacting several species of at-risk animals. But despite this, the USDA has not done any meaningful review of possible consequences to human health, the environment, or other farms that could result from approving "2,4-D resistant," genetically engineered corn.
With the USDA seemingly ready to approve the 2,4-D resistant corn, the EPA's involvement is crucial. If the EPA stands strong, and rejects 2,4-D, they can effectively kill Dow's 2,4-D resistant corn and soy. Please take action now:
Thanks for fighting to keep dangerous pesticides out of our food system,
Heidi Hess, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Save the Bees

Tell the EPA: Save the bees!
In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin — which scientists believe is a major factor in this alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off yearly. One third. Every year. That's a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it's also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world's food supply.1

More than 125,000 CREDO Activists joined the Pesticide Action Network and other groups this March in urging the EPA to suspend its approval of Clothianidin.

The EPA is about to respond, but if the agency doesn't actually act, it likely won't review Clothianidin again until 2018 — and by then it could be too late for the bees.

Tell the EPA: Bee die-offs are an emergency. Ban the pesticide that's killing bees. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

While the causes of Colony Collapse disorder are complex, studies are increasingly pointing to the role played by pesticides like Clothianidin.

Produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, it is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants' pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees' favorite sources of food.

Shockingly, Clothianidin was approved without any independent study verifying its safety.The Pesticide was conditionally approved for use in 2003, and then fully approved by the EPA in 2010, on the basis of only one test conducted by Bayer, which EPA scientists later said was unsound and not sufficient to be the grounds for unconditional approval of the pesticide.2

Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that's killing bees. Click here to automatically sign the petition.

Clothianidin has already been banned in France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany — the home of Bayer — but it continues to be applied to over 100 million acres here in the U.S., at the peril of bees and our ability to produce foods like apples, blueberries, almonds, pumpkins and dozens of other vital crops.

For the EPA to take action and suspend the use of Clothianidin it must declare bee die-offs to be an "imminent hazard." And with massive continuing die-offs of the species that is a cornerstone of our crop production, it's clear that is the case.

For too long, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the problem, trusting a sham study by pesticide makers over the mounting evidence that Clothianidin is not safe for our food system. It's time for the EPA to ban Clothianidin and save the bees.

Click below to automatically sign the petition:

Thanks for defending the bees.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. "Pesticides and Honey Bees: State of the Science," Pesticide Action Network North America
2. "Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists' red flags," Grist, 12/10/10

Overturn Citizens United

Members of the House who have introduced constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United and limit corporate and special interest spending in elections sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to their fellow members of Congress urging them to sign the Declaration for Democracy.
The Declaration reads:
I, ____________, declare my support for amending the Constitution of the United States to restore the rights of the American people, undermined by Citizens United and related cases, to protect the integrity of our elections and limit the corrosive influence of money in our democratic process.
Dozens of U.S. senators and representatives have already signed on in one way or another to endorse amending the constitution to solve the problem of unlimited spending by corporate special interests in our elections.
Even if your senators or representative have endorsed our efforts already, they still should hear that their constituents are concerned about the issue and are supporting their efforts to take back our democracy for the PEOPLE. You can see a list of current endorsers here.
The constitutional remedy is the only cure for what Citizens United has wrought. Therefore, we need as many members of Congress as possible signed on as official or potential cosponsors of amendment legislation. The Declaration of Democracy is one easy way for your elected officials to join this movement.
Thank you for your activism and for being part of the national movement to reclaim our democracy and restore Government By the PEOPLE, not the corporations.
-- Calvin Sloan, Field Organizer

Obama/Biden "Dashboard" App

We've got a brand new app that you should check out.

It's called Dashboard -- and it's going to be a game-changer in this election.

It's our national online organizing platform, and if you're hoping to make an impact on this election, it's where you need to be.

Take a look at Dashboard today.

You already know how we're planning to win this thing: by running the best ground game in politics. From coast to coast, folks like you are out registering voters, recruiting volunteers, and having the conversations that will tip states our way.

Dashboard is our online hub for the organizing that's going on in every single state -- from now up until the last vote gets cast.

It'll be where you can connect quickly with other volunteers to help get out the vote. You can join or organize an event right then and there. Dashboard will help you stay in touch and swap stories with other supporters to keep one another inspired for what lies ahead.

When you join Dashboard, you'll also get special updates on this race, new tools to track your progress, and access to groups you can join to organize around the issues you care about most.

No one else in this race has anything like it.

So be one of the first people to check out Dashboard:

Marlon Marshall
Deputy National Field Director
Obama for America

The "Romneymobile"

A message from
This past week, we tried a new grassroots strategy to take on Mitt Romney. And it worked, better than we could have ever dreamed! 
Right now, President Obama is sinking in the polls, and the race looks very tough. But the more people know about Mitt Romney's economic plans—tax breaks for millionaires, layoffs and cutbacks for the rest of us—the less support he gets.  That's why we're launching a huge program to make sure that swing voters realize that Romney isn't just some rich guy who happens to be running for office—he's running to raid America for the 1%. 
Our first action already had great results: we followed Mitt on his bus tour with our own "Romneymobile", a Cadillac covered in corporate NASCAR-style decals (with a fake dog strapped to the roof). MoveOn members came out to join the Romneymobile wherever Mitt went, carrying "President of the 1%" signs. 
There were so many of us at a WaWa in Pennsylvania where Romney was scheduled to stop that his bus just drove right by, leaving his supporters and reporters baffled.Romney's lavish and carefully orchestrated tour was focused on getting him positive local news stories—but our message about Romney and the 1% made it into much of the tour press coverage!2 
In our MoveOn member vote yesterday, 91% of us voted endorse President Obama. It's time to go all-in to stop Mitt Romney and use people power to counter Super PAC dollars. Our campaign has just gotten off the ground and is already getting great media coverage in key swing states. But we need to raise $350,000 this week to replicate our success everywhere Mitt goes. Can you chip in? 
We've launched "99Airlines," our plan to fly a plane overhead at all of Romney's big events with a message from MoveOn members. Our banners were getting so much attention that Romney got his own plane with a banner in the air. Only his team didn't quite think it through. 
The Romney campaign's banner read: "Romney for President 2012." Our plane was following right behind it with one that read "Romney: Every Millionaire Counts Tour." It looked like the Romney campaign was saying our message himself! The media loved it and wrote tons of stories.
Getting the real truth out about Mitt Romney is priceless. But keeping the planes in the air, funding the "Romneymobile," and all the other elements of our election program cost money. If we can raise $350,000 we can make sure that swing voters nationwide know that Romney truly would be "President of the 1%." Can you chip in today?
MoveOn is independent of political parties and politicians, and we know that re-electing the president will not bring progress in itself, but rather is a precondition to progress. We're going all-in not just to win this election, but to keep building progressive power for the battles to come.
Thanks for all you do.
–Justin, Garlin, Victoria, Emily, and the rest of the team
1. "Obama supporters disrupt Romney event," CBS News, June 16, 2012
Want to support our work? We're entirely funded by our 7 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 June 21, 2012. To change your email address or update your contact info, click here. To remove yourself from this list, click here. 

You've Been Owned!

"You've been owned!" That's what product manufacturers are hoping the Supreme Court will tell Americans this fall.

The Court will decide if you have the right to resell the very things that YOU OWN -- your clothes, your iPod, even your house:

Please click here for more details, and tell the White House and Congress to stand by Americans' rights to resell the things we own.

Product manufacturers are trying to take away your right to resell items that are manufactured abroad, in whole or in part. In this globalized world, that's almost anything you own. Today we're launching to help Americans fight back.

If the Supreme Court rules with manufacturers, we might have to say goodbye to Ebay, Craigslist, and the old-fashioned American yard sale.

Manufacturers will have an extra incentive to off-shore jobs. Re-use and recycling efforts will be undermined, harming the environment.

Please tell the White House and Congress to stand by Americans' rights to resell the things we own -- just click here.

Almost nobody knows about this far-reaching case yet -- please use these links to get your friends involved in the effort:

This case is flying under the radar, so please use these links to get your friends involved and help us fight back:
If you're already on Facebook, click here to share with your friends.
If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

--Demand Progress

End Secret Election Spending

Become a citizen co-sponsor of the DISCLOSE Act of 2012 to end secret election spending.The U.S. Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United v. FEC ruling has unleashed a torrent of anonymous campaign spending into our political system. And the results have been absolutely corrosive to our democracy.

Political organizations like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, powered by tens of millions of dollars in anonymous contributions, have spent alarming amounts of money to elect their preferred candidates.
And corporations have been able to exert a massive influence on our electoral process without being subject to any accountability for that influence.
Progressive champion Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is fighting back by pushing Congress to pass the DISCLOSE Act. And he has asked the public to join him as citizen co-sponsors.
As Sen. Whitehouse said, "We need a groundswell of support to show Congress that the American people want an end to the secret election spending that is threatening our democracy."
The DISCLOSE Act would force most groups spending money on elections to reveal the corporations, individuals and entities who fund them.
As the Washington trade publication The Hill explains:
The new version of the Disclose Act would require any group that spends $10,000 or more on election ads, or any other political activity, to file a disclosure report with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) within 24 hours. Groups would also have to file a new report for each additional $10,000 spent, disclose donors who gave $10,000 or more and provide a statement from the group's head ratifying that there was no coordination with any campaign, which is illegal.1
While it won't end unlimited corporate election spending, the DISCLOSE Act at least brings this spending out of the shadows — where we can expose it, and fight back.
To be clear, what we really need is to get all corporate money out of politics, to roll back Citizens United, end corporate personhood and institute public financing of elections. And we are working hard toward those long term goals.
But the DISCLOSE Act is the first step to restoring the voice of everyday citizens in our elections, and restoring a small measure of sanity to a system of campaign finance that has become completely insane.
And even taking this first step will require a massive outcry by the American public to make sure Congress does not sweep this issue under the rug.
Matt Lockshin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Senate Dems push 'Disclose Act 2.0'The Hill, March 21, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

End Polluter Welfare

Tell Congress: End Polluter Welfare!How much money will you give to the fossil fuel industry today?

A lot — even if you don't fill up your gas tank. $30 million of our tax dollars go to oil, coal and gas polluters every day in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes.
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act to end these wasteful giveaways. Congress' inaction has already cost us nearly a billion dollars, and the price goes up another $30 million every day.
Congress' continued inaction will cost us $110 billion over ten years, in needless giveaways to the most profitable on the planet.
Just the five largest oil companies alone made more than $1 trillion in profits, just in the last five years. Some of these companies paid no taxes for some of these years.1
These fossil fuel companies doesn't need the extra help. But for them, the math is very simple:
• Oil, gas and coal companies gave $106,993,6862 in direct campaign contributions to Congress, and spent $1,077,417,6933,4 on lobbying over the last 10 years.
• Congress gives them $110,000,000,000 of our money in polluter welfare over the next 10 years.
Polluters get a huge return on their investment. We pay the price.
As Republicans and some Democrats continue using growing budget deficits to call for brutal cuts to vital social programs, it is astonishing and shameful that these same politicians are protecting billions upon billions in wasteful polluter welfare to the richest, most dangerous industry on the planet.
The details of these subsidies and giveaways are just unbelievable:
We lose $12 billion dollars by allowing fossil fuel polluters to take deductions aimed at helping American manufacturers, by claiming they are manufacturers. We lose $10.6 billion by not setting fair royalties for oil drilling leases in federal waters — currently we give many leases away for free! We lose $6.8 billion by subsidizing oil-spills; allowing companies like BP to deduct billions in clean-up costs from its tax bill after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that did catastrophic damage to the Gulf of Mexico.5
Those are just a few of the $110 billion worth of giveaways that the End Polluter Welfare Act would end. And unlike other tax breaks which expire after a set time period, the fossil fuel industry has rigged the system so that many of their giveaways will continue indefinitely if Congress fails to act.
Of course, the biggest loophole of all remains wide open — that which allows oil, gas and coal companies to freely dump climate-change causing greenhouse gasses into our atmosphere, at no cost to them whatsoever.
Our government is supposed to subsidize programs and behaviors that we want to encourage, for the good of our nation. Yet as our planet heats up, we continue subsidizing the cash-rich fossil fuel companies endangering our future at six times the rate of the renewable energy investments that are our best hope.
We cannot afford any of this. And as many in Congress continue defending these needless giveaways, we must let them know that, for the sake of their jobs, they cannot afford it either.
Thank you for working to end wasteful fossil fuel subsidies.
Eijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

1. "Let's end 'polluter welfare'" Sen. Sanders and Rep. Ellison, 5/18/12
2. "Dirtiest congresses," Dirty Energy Money
3. Lobbying: Oil and Gas, Open Secrets
4. Lobbying: Coal Mining, Open Secrets
5. "End Polluter Welfare Act," 350

Thursday, June 7, 2012

NDAA Lawsuit Update

More great news on the NDAA lawsuit:
Federal Judge Kathryn Forrest just rejected the Obama administration's request that she reverse her ruling against indefinite detention.
Please send emails to Obama and the Senate right away to urge them to put and end to indefinite detention -- just click here.

In May Chris Hedges, RevolutionTruth, et al won their lawsuit asserting that indefinite detention violates the Constitution. 
Obama asked for a reversal of that decision, which was just rejected.
More than 50,000 Demand Progress members have signed on as supporters of the lawsuit.
Now Obama needs to decide if he'll take his crusade against the Constitution to a higher court. 
And the full Senate is taking up indefinite detention as it debates this year's NDAA later this month.
Please help fight indefinite detention by sending emails to Obama and the Senate right away -- just click here.

Obama signed last year's National Defense Authorization Act even though it included provisions which could let the military detain civilians indefinitely without a trial or charges.

Despite a valiant effort by opponents, the House retained indefinite detention when it passed the new NDAA last month. 
The Senate will take this issue up soon, and President Obama can drop his defense of it in court.

Please send emails to Obama and the Senate right away, by clicking here.
Keep up the fight.
-Demand Progress
PS -- Please help us spread word far and wide and bombard Obama and the Senate with emails.  You can use these links, or forward this email:
[fb]If you're already on Facebookclick here to share with your friends.
[fb]If you're already on Twitter, click here to tweet about the campaign: Tweet

Bernie Sanders' Update on Citizens United Impact

As perhaps the most progressive member of the U.S. Senate I want to thank many of you for the support that you've provided me in my re-election campaign for the U.S. Senate from Vermont. I also want to take this opportunity to update you as to what is going on in Washington and the progress we are making on the campaign.

Of the many serious crises facing our country, and there are many, there is none more dangerous than the absurd Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. As you know, by a 5-4 vote two years ago, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that a corporation should be considered a person with first amendment rights to spend as much money as it wants on political campaigns.

Today, we are seeing the results of that decision. Billionaires and large corporations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make sure we elect a president, Congress and governors who will represent the interests of the richest people in our country. Incredibly, one family, the Koch brothers, who are worth some $50 billion, intend to spend $400 million in this election cycle in support of right-wing extremists. Other billionaires are also making huge contributions. In Wisconsin, we have just seen what the infusion of big money means. It is estimated that Republican Governor Scott Walker received $30 million in campaign contributions, while Democratic candidate Tom Barrett received $4 million.

Watch Bernie discuss the Wisconsin recall on MSNBC
When we were kids in elementary school we learned that democracy had to do with one person, one vote. We learned that in America all of us played an equal role in the political process. Well, those days are long gone. Now, at a time when we already have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920s, the richest people in this country want more, more and more and they are using their obscene wealth to get still more. Today, the big money interests are buying politicians and elections and are undermining the democratic process in this country. This is a tragedy of huge consequence. It’s something that we must vigorously oppose. It is for that reason that I have introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn that horrendous Supreme Court decision and am very proud that Vermont, and four other states, have already passed resolutions in support of that goal.

Needless to say, as someone who has taken on Wall Street, the insurance and drug corporations, the coal and oil companies, the military-industrial-complex and virtually every other powerful special interest in Washington, I do not receive campaign contributions from corporate America. That is why the financial help that many of you have provided my campaign is so important. Instead of receiving a handful of huge contributions, my campaign has received over 100,000 individual donations -- from Vermont and across the country -- averaging less than $50. These are contributions that come from working families, seniors, small businesspeople, professionals and young people. Some of them are as little as $5.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you who have contributed. I look forward to your continued support.

Please support my re-election campaign by contributing now.

In this era of Citizens United, when billionaires and corporations can drop huge sums of money into a campaign at a moment’s notice, your support is making all the difference.

The good news is that our Vermont campaign is off to a great start. We have submitted to the Secretary of State’s office the requisite number of signatures to officially get on the ballot. We have held campaign meetings with progressives and trade unionists around the state. We are getting our "Bernie" bumper stickers distributed far and wide.

It has always been my belief that the most effective way to campaign is door-to-door, face-to-face. Our job is to educate and organize and bring working families together to create a government which represents them, and not just the very wealthy. As part of that approach we will be holding dozens and dozens of political rallies in every corner of the state -- in our largest cities and smallest towns. In fact, my hope is that we can bring out ten percent of the voting population to our events -- which would be a huge accomplishment. In Vermont, my intention is to mount the strongest grass-roots campaign in the state's history. If we accomplish what I hope we will, we can become a model for other progressive candidates in this election cycle as well as into the future.

Together, through strong grass-roots activity in Vermont and around the country, we can change the direction of this country. Please don’t ever forget that, even in these difficult times.

There are many, many important issues that I will be discussing throughout this campaign. Let me very briefly touch on a few of them:
• We must address the fact that the United States today has, by far, the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider. The rich are getting much richer, the middle class is declining and poverty is increasing. This is not just a moral issue, it is an economic issue. When so few have so much while so many have so little, there will simply not be the buying power that we need to create a strong economy. There are just so many yachts and planes, fancy jewelry and big homes that the super-rich can buy. We have got to create millions of decent-paying jobs and put money into the hands of working families. We do not need to make the richest people in our country even richer.

Today, the wealthiest 400 individuals own more wealth than the bottom half of America -- 150 million people. The top one percent own forty percent of all wealth, while the bottom sixty percent owns less than two percent. Incredibly, the bottom forty percent of all Americans own just three-tenths of one percent of the nation’s wealth.

The distribution of income is even worse. While the top one percent of earners makes more than the bottom fifty percent, a recent study shows that the situation is becoming even more unfair. Incredibly, in 2010, 93 percent of all new income created in the previous year went to the top one percent, while the bottom 99 percent of people had the privilege of enjoying the remaining seven percent. In other words, the rich are getting much richer while almost everyone else is falling behind.

• We must not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children or the poor. We must fight to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that all Republicans (and some Democrats) want to see cut. It is absurd to be talking about austerity for the most vulnerable people in our country -- people who are already experiencing great financial hardship -- while protecting the interests of the rich and the powerful.

If we are serious about dealing with the deficit and creating jobs in America, the wealthy are going to have to start paying their fair share of taxes and we have to eliminate the loop-holes that giant corporations enjoy. That is why I have introduced legislation to end massive federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies, even as they register record profits. Further, at a time when the United States now spends more money on defense than the rest of the world combined, we also have to cut back on military spending.

• At a time when nearly 15 percent of American workers are unemployed or under-employed, we need a major jobs program to put people back to work. And we know how to do that.

We know that the fastest way to create decent paying jobs is rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, rail, airports, water systems, wastewater plants, deteriorating schools, etc.). We also know that we can create a great deal of employment by transforming our energy system away from foreign oil and coal and into energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geo-thermal, bio-mass and other clean technologies. Further, we should address our massive human needs by hiring teachers, police officers and firefighters -- not laying them off.

• We need real Wall Street reform. It is not acceptable that the six largest financial institutions in this country own assets equivalent to over two-thirds of our GDP -- more than nine trillion dollars.

The giant banks need to be broken up and I will soon be re-introducing legislation to do just that. The banking industry must invest in the real productive economy and help us create jobs, goods and services. They can no longer continue operating as if they were gambling casinos. We also need fundamental reform of the Federal Reserve. It is absurd, and a total conflict of interest, that Wall Street tycoons like Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase sit on the Board of the New York Fed. Senators Boxer, Begich and I have introduced a bill to end this "fox guarding the hen house" situation.

While we continue to do everything we can during the next five months to defeat Republican right-wing extremism, it is also important that we never lose sight of the progressive vision that we are fighting for.

If we don’t know where we want to go, it will be impossible to get there.

Not only must we resist cuts in Social Security, we must lift the cap on taxing higher incomes so that Social Security will be strong for the next 75 years.

Not only must we oppose cuts in Medicare and Medicaid, we must see health care as a right of all and continue the fight for a Medicare for All Single Payer health care system.

Not only must we oppose placing the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of working families, we must demand a progressive tax system in which the wealthy and large corporations start paying their fair share of taxes.

Not only must we oppose those who deny the reality of global warming, we must demand the transformation of our energy system away from fossil fuels into energy efficiency and such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geothermal and bio-mass.

Not only must we oppose cuts in unemployment compensation, we must fight for a jobs program that creates the many millions of jobs our country desperately needs.

Not only must we vigorously oppose the war against women, we must fight to end all forms of discrimination and prejudice in this country.

These are pivotal times in the history of our country. I have been extremely proud to have represented Vermont in the Senate for the last five years and to have worked with you in the fight to protect and expand our progressive vision.

I would very much appreciate your continued support in my re-election effort.


Senator Bernie Sanders

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Big Money Wins

Despite the national headlines, last night’s results from Wisconsin were a mixed bag. It appears that by just a few hundred votes, our efforts in the Racine State Senate district were successful, meaning we flipped the Senate to Democratic control and the new majority will be able to block Walker’s aggressive ideological agenda moving forward.

PFAW’s intense focus on that senate district and, particularly, our efforts in the Latino community there no doubt made a huge difference -- very likely THE difference -- in putting us over the top.

There’s no point in sugarcoating the disappointment we all feel about the governor’s race -- that was a tough loss. But we should feel good about our Senate victory and good about the work we did together to stand up to the Right Wing’s overreach and attacks on Americans’ fundamental rights. Further, this election is chock full of important lessons moving into the November elections and it needs to be a wake-up call to progressives across the country. How did they beat over 1 million citizens signing recall petitions? Simple: with enormous, unprecedented amounts of money. The Citizens United-era landscape, of Super PACs and unrestrained corporate and special interest spending, is presenting new monumental challenges that Democrats and progressives must find a way to overcome.

Find out more about the startling amount of money behind the Wisconsin recall election>>

Scott Walker outspent Tom Barrett by a margin of 7 to 1. He had been effectively campaigning against the recall with TV ads promoting his policies since the end of last year. Because Wisconsin state law allowed him to raise unlimited funds starting very early, Walker was controlling the message uncontested for many months before the recall election ever took shape.

In addition to TV ads by Walker and his allies, the Koch brothers-founded Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) spent $10 million dollars on a field operation starting back in January to convince Wisconsinites that Walker’s policies were right and working. The persuasion and get out the vote operation of AFP alone included, by their own reporting, 70 paid staff members (not including many more volunteers). And the Wisconsin GOP along with the RNC had 20 field offices across the state, and made more than 4 million voter contacts -- twice as many as they made before the 2010 election.

The exit polls from the recall offer critically important takeaways -- some encouraging. We saw that Scott Walker’s long campaign and overwhelming money advantage was effective in selling many voters on his message. But this election does not mark a hard swing to the right for Wisconsin.

Most importantly, among voters in this recall election, President Obama actually outpolled Mitt Romney by as many as 12 points. So rest assured, the Obama voters who voted to keep Walker have not abandoned the president or converted to right-wingers. A majority of voters still had a favorable opinion about public sector unions and labor’s role, although somewhat paradoxically, a slim majority also said they agreed with Walker’s budget plan that stripped collective bargaining rights for most public employees. This shows that Walker’s obfuscation about his record and fudged numbers worked on the voters he reached, but their progressive-leaning values appear to remain intact.

Finally, we must consider that Walker, in large part, was running against the recall process itself -- and that was a contest he clearly won. A whopping 60 percent of polled voters said that “recall elections are only appropriate for official misconduct,” and another 9 percent said they were never appropriate, showing that voters didn’t necessarily support Walker, they just opposed the recall. This is a testament to Walker’s ability to downplay his radical overreach as mere “policy disagreement” -- something he was only able to do because of his unprecedented campaign war chest and the massive spending of his allies.

There’s much more analysis to do, and it is very important to take every lesson we can to make sure we’re equipped for victory in November. But long story short, even though our victory was short of what we had hoped for, every minute of this fight was worth it. The Wisconsinites who stood up to Walker and his cronies, and the activists from coast to coast like you who supported their efforts, were nothing short of heroic. I hope you are proud of what you have done in this important and historic fight, because I know I am.


Michael Keegan, President

Here's a link to a related New York Times article:

Senate Rejects Fair Pay Bill: Thank or Spank Your Senators

AAUW Action Network
Senate REJECTS Fair Pay Bill: Thank or Spank Your Senators for their Votes
Take Action!
Yesterday afternoon, the Senate voted along straight party lines to prevent the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3220) from receiving an up-or-down vote. Even with support by a majority of senators, this important fair pay legislation was blocked by procedural rules and partisan deadlock.

This is so frustrating! Two-thirds of American families depend fully or in part upon women's paychecks, and yet women still make just 77 percent, on average, of what men made on average in 2010. The senate's inability to act has significant, real-world implications for millions of American women and families.

Your senators need to hear how you feel about their votes. If they supported the bill you can strengthen their resolve and encourage them to keep fighting for fair pay. If they chose partisan gridlock over real change for women, you can express your disappointment in their vote.

To send a message, click on the "Take Action" link in the upper right corner (note: the system will indicate if your senators voted for or against the bill), or visit AAUW's Two-Minute Activist.
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Protect Troops, Not Oil

Don't let Republicans force the military to use dirty energy

Here's the most direct proof yet that Republicans care more about protecting Big Oil than anything else — even our national security and our troops:
Republicans in Congress are working to block the military from developing biofuels that will save lives and save money by reducing the military's dependence on oil.1
This is brazen — even for the GOP. As Congress works to finalize the defense budget, we need to call out Republicans' attempts to keep the military locked into dirty, dangerous energy.
We know that as a whole, our dependence on oil is a threat to our national security and well-being, both in terms of our dependence on hostile regimes and the rapid escalation of climate change.
But for the military, the costs of oil dependence are far more acute. One in eight troop casualties in Iraq came as a result of protecting fuel convoys, according to a 2009 study by the military.2 And the rising price of oil will put the military more than $3 billion over budget this year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said earlier this month.3
So it only makes sense that the military, as our nation's largest and most demanding energy user, would seek alternatives to ever more costly fossil-fuel, whose transportation and defense represents a clear point of vulnerability for our soldiers. Everyone from the President, to military leadership4, to the airline industry5 agrees.
But not the oil-money soaked Republican party. Earlier this month, the House passed a 2013 defense budget which included provisions that would block the military from purchasing, developing and even testing biofuels. And last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee — with the help of Dirty Democrats Sens. Jim Webb and Joe Manchin — followed suit.6 But if we raise enough pressure, there's still time to strike these provisions from the final bill on the Senate floor.
Republicans claim these provisions are about the costs of alternative fuels, but immediately undermined that hollow claim by passing a resolution to promote the use of expensive and filthy coal-to-liquid fuel.
It is literally sick that oil industry campaign contributions to Republicans could so successfully maintain the vicious cycle of our continued dependence on oil, which creates the need to engage with hostile nations, which endangers our troops in military operations, which require even more fossil fuel transported at higher costs and greater risk to military personnel, (all while speeding catastrophic climate change.)
Republicans love to talk about "supporting the troops." We need to remind them that that should mean our soldiers in harm's way, not oil industry lobbyists.
Click below to automatically sign the petition:
Thanks for fighting our dependence on dirty oil.
Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets