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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Thursday, June 7, 2012

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.

Sincerely,


Senator Bernie Sanders

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