Thursday, October 6, 2011

AFL-CIO: Help Us Stop the Free Trade Agreement!

Dear Coffee Party Cincinnati,

You don’t hear from me often. I spend most of my time on Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Congress, making the voices of working people heard in front of lawmakers and educating them about what’s important.

But today, I have a really important favor to ask of you. It will take about three minutes: I need you to pick up the phone and call 1-800-718-1008 right now to stop three unfair trade deals.

Here’s why:
The Korea agreement is the largest offshoring deal of its kind since NAFTA. If enacted, it likely will displace 159,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing. And its glaring loopholes would allow unscrupulous businesses to import illegally labeled goods from China and possibly even from sweatshops in North Korea—potentially without any tariffs at all.

In Colombia, one trade unionist is murdered almost every week and almost none of the murderers is brought to justice. In 2010, 51 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia—more than in the rest of the world combined. So far in 2011, another 22 have been killed, despite Colombia’s heralded “Labor Action Plan.” Would we reward a country where 51 CEOs were killed last year?

And the Panama agreement has many of the problems of the other two deals, like deregulating big banks and letting foreign investors bypass U.S. health, safety, labor and environmental laws. Panama is also a tax haven: a place where tax-dodging, money-laundering millionaires and billionaires hide their money.
I’ve done everything I can to try and get through to President Obama and leaders in Congress to stop these trade agreements behind the scenes. But it looks like many of our leaders in Washington—both Democrats and Republicans—are siding with corporate lobbyists instead of learning from the experience of working Americans.

For years, lobbyists have promised politicians that new trade agreements would lead to job creation and greater prosperity for our country. The “jobs” argument gives politicians a convenient excuse to push these agreements—which are good for the mega-rich but terrible for the vast majority of Americans. It’s sad, but not surprising, that many of our leaders in Washington are parroting these corporate talking points—and even are claiming these agreements will help solve America’s jobs crisis.

But what workers actually have experienced from new trade agreements is horrible. They have caused a devastation of our manufacturing sector, more outsourcing of service-sector jobs and a growing trade deficit that leaves us more and more in debt to the rest of the world.

Working people know the reality of these trade agreements better than corporate lobbyists—and Congress needs to listen. Please call 1-800-718-1008 right now.

Since it looks like a majority of our leaders are siding with lobbyists, I need your help to make sure Congress hears the voices of working people.

We’ve organized a national call-in day today to stop these unfair trade deals. Please pick up the phone and make your voice heard right now. Again, the number to call is: 1-800-718-1008.

Thank you for your help.

In Solidarity,

Bill Samuel
Legislative Director, AFL-CIO

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ACLU Releases Protester Advisory in Anticipation of Planned “Occupy” Demonstrations in Ohio

In anticipation of planned demonstrations around the state, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has released a protester advisory. This advisory gives basic information about the rights of protesters, the limitations of those rights, and what to do if these rights are violated.

“Peaceful protests are an important and constitutionally protected right,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “This advisory will help protesters anticipate and, if possible avoid confrontations with law enforcement.”The ACLU protester advisory also makes clear the difference between protected speech and civil disobedience, in which protesters choose to break the law, and face potential arrest, in order make a point.

“There is a reason Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from inside the Birmingham jail,” said ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman. “He chose to be arrested to highlight injustice. This advisory will help prepare protesters who choose to engage in this kind of civil disobedience for what happens after they make their choice.”

Protest groups are emerging around the state, many affiliated with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York City. The demonstrations attracted national attention when over 700 protesters were arrested while marching on the Brooklyn Bridge.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


An Open Letter from a Drop Inn Center Supporter

A Working Paper by Thomas Dutton

September 1, 2011

“Can you show me something beautiful?” (Trombone Shorty)

Cincinnati has not heard much lately about the “future” of the Drop Inn Center (DIC). Perhaps we should not mistake perceived inactivity with actual activity going on behind the scenes, as 3CDC’s 2010-11 Annual Report states clearly “there is an ongoing effort to identify a new site for the Drop Inn Center.”

I can certainly imagine that 3CDC would want its “ongoing effort” to remain out of sight. Such is how big, powerful interests play these days (and perhaps how they’ve always played): they would rather get things done stealthily in the shadows out of view. Because, when events come under too much democratic scrutiny, things get messy and shiny reputations tarnish a little. Recall this past summer’s resistance to the 3CDC-encouraged move of the City Gospel Mission by West End property owners who were outraged by the City Council’s dismissal of the Department of City Planning and Buildings’ judgment that such a relocation violated the zoning code. Or recall the aggressive, bully-like behavior of Western/Southern against the owners of the Anna Louise Inn, Cincinnati Union Bethel, and their plans to renovate their building for lower income women in the Lytle Park area. For many this aggression was just too naked, perhaps even for the likes of 3CDC, reinforcing the need to stay undercover and let things cool off.

There are many, many reasons why the Drop Inn Center should not be moved, but allow me to expound on a few of them.

First of all, the idea to move the DIC did not come from the DIC. The pressure to move is external, with Mayor Mark Mallory and Vice-Mayor Roxanne Qualls of the city and Stephen Leeper of 3CDC leading the charge. This became a public fact on March 30, 2010 when Mallory, Qualls, Leeper, others representing 3CDC, and members representing the Continuum of Care issued to members of the DIC Board their marching orders to move from Over-the-Rhine. The great question is Why? Especially when the Drop owns the land it sits on. Especially when the Drop, across its 38-year history, has been such a multi-dimensional, community-based organization that has benefited many, both homeless and non. Especially when “economic mix” and “mixed-income development” leading to “mixed-income neighborhoods” are all the rage among developers and policy-makers. Are people who are homeless allowed to be part of an economically mixed Over-the-Rhine? Apparently not. The two-faced, double speak here is shameful.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, a recent post by James Pogue, son of DIC board member Elissa Pogue, drives home the point ( “Just a few weeks [after a police officer last year ran over a sleeping woman in Washington Park, killing her] my mom, who is on the Drop-In Center board, got a call from the mayor, under pressure from 3CDC. You have to move this place, he said, somewhere further from all the beautiful new stuff. ‘Don’t you care about the city?’”

Such a comment by the mayor on behalf of the city-corporate alliance, if true, is troubling. It illustrates what many organizers in Over-the-Rhine have long feared, that “economic mix” is little more than cover for a ruthless social cleansing. The pressure on the Drop is not small. And you have to wonder why, especially in light of the Anna Louise Inn situation where a groundswell of public support, including Vice-Mayor Qualls, now stands with the Anna Louise Inn against the Goliath of Western/Southern. Such a courtesy is not afforded to the DIC even though, each in their own ways, the DIC and the Anna Louise Inn tend to our society’s most oppressed and vulnerable. The similarities here are arguably more alike than not, yet 3CDC escapes the label of bully that has befallen Western/Southern. That’s because 3CDC is blessed; it’s doing the city’s dirty work. This city-corporate alliance mobilized against the Drop Inn Center clearly makes things difficult, but social cleansing should never be tolerated.

Secondly, back to economic mix and how it may play out in Over-the-Rhine. Economic mix or mixed-income development have been the preferred consensus on the part of public policy makers for the last 15-20 years to address neighborhood revitalization and poverty amelioration. My fear is that the practices of economic mix are going to fall way short of the ideal. In fact, the research is showing precisely that. In a provocative article by James Fraser and Michael Nelson ( titled “Can Mixed-Income Housing Ameliorate Concentrated Poverty?” Fraser and Nelson present compelling empirical evidence that mixed-income neighborhood development does not automatically produce benefits for lower income residents. “Indeed,” they say, “the empirical research on mixed-income redevelopment of distressed urban neighborhoods suggests that the majority of benefits have been realized by private-sector developers, local government, and other stakeholders who are in the position to benefit from place-based revitalization. Low-income households, on the other hand, do not share in many of these benefits.”

There is another problem that accompanies the discourse of mixed-income development, and this is addressed in another article by Fraser, this time with co-author James DeFilippis, titled “Why Do We Want Mixed-Income Housing and Neighborhoods?” Here, Fraser and DeFilippis grapple directly with the gap they see between the espoused ideal of mixed-income neighborhoods, which they are attracted to, and the reality that contradicts that ideal. “This contradiction,” they go on to say, “could be handled in different ways. We could, for instance, stand behind the veil of ‘imperfect practice,’ as so many have done. Instead, however, we ask if maybe the recurring failure in practice is not simply a result of imperfect practice, but rather a result of flawed theoretical foundations.” One example Fraser and DeFilippis cite is an ideological assumption that damns poor people generally and labels them as “the problem” for concentrated poverty: “As they currently exist, mixed-income housing policies are largely based on the (hegemonic) mantra that low-income people themselves are the problem, and that a benevolent gentry needs to colonize their home space in order to create the conditions necessary to help the poor ‘bootstrap’ themselves into a better socioeconomic position.”

These are troubling concerns, and they should point to the need to hold policy makers and the corporate sector accountable to its own language (that Over-the-Rhine can be a “national model for economic mix”) and to usher forth development processes that actually serve lower income people and thus ameliorate poverty. Last February I was on a panel sponsored by Give Back Cincinnati to talk about development in Over-the-Rhine. My accompanying panelists were Steve Leeper of 3CDC, Vice-Mayor Roxanne Qualls, and Mike Moroski, recently appointed to the Drop Inn Center Board. About 70 people attended. I used this opportunity to put a distinction before the panel and the audience. I raised these questions: How does mixed-income development benefit the poor, precisely? How does such development actually ameliorate poverty? What benefits actually accrue to poor people? Through these questions I tried to make clear that “improving” an area does not necessarily improve the lives or opportunities of poor people. These have to be distinguished and cannot be conflated. So, in a newly “mixed neighborhood,” will the poor’s culture be affirmed? You might not think so if you’re a resident of the Drop Inn Center and you know the city and 3CDC are working to move you out. Will there be greater access to jobs and skill development, and will poor people’s incomes rise? With all the millions that have been poured into upscale development over the last five years, just how many from Over-the-Rhine have been employed? How many from Over-the-Rhine are employed in constructing the parking garage of Washington Park as well as its face-lift (though, to be fair, promising activity is starting to form across such groups as the Coalition for the Homeless, 3CDC, Workforce Development, and Hamilton County Reentry Program to address this question). How many will be hired as ambassadors when the park opens?

My point here is that benefits for poor people in neighborhoods undergoing new development cannot be left to chance. One cannot assume that as a neighborhood experiences upscale development and “improves” that benefits automatically accrue to poor people. My worry is that the powers-that-be think that economic mix is readily achieved simply by adding upscale development in neighborhoods that are mostly of low-incomes, like Over-the-Rhine. Just add in some market-rate condos, stir in some higher-end restaurants, Presto!, economic mix! When the cup of coffee goes from $1.25 to $2.25 per cup, or the sandwich goes from $3.95 to $7.95, including pickle, when the cost of living goes up generally all across the board, what will ensure the longevity of neighborhood serving businesses? Are the new jobs that become available in the new commercial establishments actually available to neighborhood residents, let alone those homeless? Or will these go to the new, whiter immigrants with surplus cash to spend? These are serious questions that demand serious discussion, and I am not comfortable with the idea that the letting-loose of the market will provide the answers.

After I finished my remarks on the panel, both Leeper and Qualls proceeded with their admiration about the recent changes in Over-the-Rhine—that progress was happening and the tax base will go up, that new businesses are opening, that new housing units are available, that more police are present, that utility wires have been placed underground, that Washington Park will be shiny and new, that the new SCPA is going well (while historic Rothenberg is just beginning its renovation when promised it would be done by now), that Music Hall soon will be investing in improvements, etc. I’m not sure they heard me, or they simply ignored the distinction I made. They conflated general area improvements with benefits for poor people; Fraser’s critique was personified.

And so this brings me to my third point, and perhaps the most important one: the main reason why the Drop should stay is because its removal would be a loss for the neighborhood. There are two ways that I would like to flesh out this point.

The first stems from the comment I’ve heard many times: if the Drop Inn Center decides that in its best interest it should leave Over-the-Rhine, shouldn’t it be able to do that? I would say no, that that would be a mistake, and the reason why is because the DIC would be violating its own principles of inclusion and social democracy. The Drop Inn Center is part of the history and tapestry of Over-the-Rhine, indeed, I still see it as one of the most important organizations of the Over-the-Rhine People’s Movement. I would hope people at the Drop understand this history, this tapestry, and that a move would sever those bonds. If the Drop feels it can make a decision unilaterally to move without a wider conversation, especially if residents, staff, and the board of the Drop do not understand this history, then I submit it is acting not so differently than when corporations—like General Motors in Flint in the 1980s, or DHL recently in Wilmington—make their decisions unilaterally to close facilities and leave town. The Drop Inn Center is better than that, and should safeguard its principles for a greater circle of democracy. The DIC historically always stood for an alternative, for what some have called economic democracy, where community citizens are able to voice their preferences in the organizations they helped found and benefit from. The most democratic act the DIC can do now is to reconnect itself to its historical vision and reweave itself into the fabric of Over-the-Rhine to develop citizen power.

The second reason why the Drop Inn Center’s removal would be a loss for the neighborhood stems from the fact that it is not just a shelter (though a lot of city-corporate propaganda relentlessly portrays it that way). It is a symbolic and sacred space, a moral beacon that by its very existence challenges society to the vast work it needs to do to address deep social need. On January 19, 2008 the Cincinnati Enquirer surprised me and published a short piece I wrote—“The Gift of the Drop Inn Center” (see What I said then I still believe: that the Drop Inn Center “is a place of compassion, a place of redemption in peoples’ struggle to overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol, a healing place. And it is out of this base of interpersonal dynamics that we can see the contribution of the wider political mission of the Drop Inn Center and the Over-the-Rhine People’s Movement: to restore Cincinnati’s humanity.” I continued: “This is the power of the Drop Inn Center. This is the Center’s gift to the larger world. And this is why the Center, with its capacity to love, remains for me the lead institution in the Over-the-Rhine People’s Movement, in its political mission to restore society’s humanity, a humanity that many of us recognize is not possible under current political-economic conditions.”

If the Drop Inn Center is moved, it will lose this humane mission and violate its own principles. Because it will be removed from sight, “from all the new beautiful stuff,” the values of compassion and empathy so embodied at the Drop Inn Center, and in such short supply these days, may be pushed out of mind. Worse, too many people may actually feel that homelessness has been eradicated.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Why President Gore might have gone into Iraq after 9/11, too

Photo courtesy of here.

In this excellent article, Steve Kornacki at Salon writes that, “Americans don't think the world would be much different if he'd been president on 9/11 -- and they may be right”. Having supported Ralph Nader since 2000, many Democrats would scold and blame me and other Nader supporters for the war in Iraq. I always thought it was somewhat amusing that the people that voted for one of the pro-war candidates blame the people that voted for the anti-war candidate for one of the wars.

I’m going to leave aside for this article the fact that the Gore-Lieberman ticket got more votes in Florida and therefore won the election -- and that over 200,000 Florida Democrats voted for Bush-Cheney. The reality is that Democrats supported the war and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Al Gore would have taken us to war in Iraq, too.

I usually would just point out that Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and most Democrats voted for the Iraq war too. Now I’m going to take my argument even further.

As Kornacki points out that there’s good reason to believe that a Gore-Lieberman administration would have taken us into war after 9/11. Some may argue that 9/11 wouldn’t have happened under Gore-Lieberman and that is also a separate argument. It should be noted that Lieberman was one of the main cheerleaders for the Iraq war and that John McCain actually wanted him to be his Vice Presidential candidate.

As I have pointed out in previous articles about the Clinton-Gore administration’s record, they were for regime change. They not only imposed sanctions that killed 1 million people -- half of them were children -- but they dropped massive amounts of bombs on the country. And they believed that Saddam Hussien had WMD’s.

I highly recommend reading Kornacki’s entire article, but here’s a excerpt.

Here it's worth remembering Gore’s own history. In the 1980s, he made his name as a senator and presidential candidate by positioning himself as one of his party’s foremost hawks. One of the reasons, in fact, that Clinton put him on the Democratic ticket in 1992 was Gore’s vote for the Gulf War, which most Democrats had opposed. You could argue that Gore was a changed man by 2001 and 2002, and that he saw the world in a fundamentally different way, and maybe that’s true.

But it should be noted that when he announced his opposition to Bush’s war push in the fall of '02, Gore endorsed the basic goal of removing Hussein and securing his (supposed) WMD stockpiles. What he objected to was more the go-it-alone nature of Bush’s approach. In other words, you could also argue that Gore, still stung by the 2000 election outcome, may have been motivated in some way by his desire to stage a big, principled fight with Bush -- and that a different result in '00 might have produced a different, more hawkish response from Gore, one that would have led to … an invasion of Iraq.

I have been told that because Gore has said he wouldn’t have gone into Iraq that the burden of proof is on me. But I would point out that his record of being a hawk, especially with regard towards Iraq, is clear. But don’t take my word for it, you can see for yourself at the links above.

It’s easy for Gore to take a different position then he had when he was in office, just as he has on the environment. (You can find the Clinton-Gore record here.) Now that he is out of power he has been liberated from the bipartisan Military Industrial Complex. But yes, we must always take politicians at their word. (wink, wink!)

Barack Obama also said that he wouldn’t have taken us to war in Iraq, but that was when he wasn’t in a position of power. Once he was elected to the Senate he voted for every Iraq war appropriation the Republicans put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He conveniently pointed out his previous opposition to the war to get an edge in the democratic primary.

He said the first thing he would do was bring the troops home and you can take that to the bank. But like so much of what he said on the campaign trial that was just overheated rhetoric. We are still at war in Iraq with no end in sight and Obama is actively working to extend our stay there.

As Matt Gonzalez pointed out in this article from 2008,

First, he opposed the war in Iraq while in the Illinois state legislature. Once he was running for US Senate though, when public opinion and support for the war was at its highest, he was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, “There’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.” The Tribune went on to say that Obama, “now believes US forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation – a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration.”

Obama’s positions are not dissimilar to Bush’s position indeed. In fact the top CIA official has stated that Obama changed virtually none of Bush’s controversial policies. But as Jack Goldsmith pointed out in May 2009, he actually strengthened them by taking them by “converting them from right wing dogma to bipartisan consensus”.

The truth is that the Democrats may like to blame the Iraq war on George W. Bush, but they supported the war and pushed the same lies. The quagmire in Iraq -- like all of the other wars we are currently in -- is bipartisan. Americans are right to say that the world wouldn’t be much different if the Gore-Lieberman administration had taken their rightful place in the White House.

The world hasn’t changed much since Obama-Biden took over from Bush-Cheney. As Yale Professor David Bromwich points out there are “impressive-continuities” in “the Bush-Obama Presidency”. We do have more wars though.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shocking new insights into the Tea Party

A new study about the so called Tea “Party” has been released. It was started back in 2006 and it confirms what many of us already knew about the Tea Party. Their origin story was false and it was just a rebranding campaign for the discredited GOP.

Here’s what the study reveals:

It turns out they are white.

They are partisan Republicans that most likely had engaged in the political process previously.

They don’t like Muslims, blacks or immigrants (in other words they are racist and xenophobic).

They are deeply religious and want religion to be a part of political debates.

They want to take their country back, but their country doesn’t approve of them. In fact their poll numbers are lower than Republicans, Democrats, atheists and Muslims. It notes that one of the few groups that approach their unpopularity is the Christian Right.

They are in line with the Christian Right.

Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

It brings to mind the example of the Erie County Tea Party's weird candidate questionnaire, which, among other things, insisted that humans have no influence over pollution in the environment, and that God controls carbon levels.

There are some things that the study didn’t confirm, but are still clear.

They claim to stand for the constitution, but they want to change it.

They wrap themselves in the flag, but they actually stand against everything the country stands for. The first amendment clearly states that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

They have utter contempt for the mainstream media even though the corporate media has promoted them and their narrative. The corporate media continues to promote their narrative and corporate friendly agenda despite the fact that the GOP didn’t win back the Senate because of the Tea “Party” candidates.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yale Professor examines the "impressive continuities" of the "Bush-Obama presidency"

Sen. Barack Obama gave millions of Americans unprecedented “hope” for “change” you can believe in’ in 2008. But Yale Professor David Bromwich does an excellent job of laying out the “impressive continuities” of the “Bush-Obama presidency”.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Social Security turned 76, now Obama wants to slash SS and Medicare

Photo courtesy of here.

Yesterday marked the 76th anniversary of Social Security-a retirement/disability program. SS has proven to be one of the most popular and successful programs in our nation’s history. Sadly, President Obama has proposed cutting it and Medicare in order to protect the bloated Pentagon budget.

Social Security and Medicare are extremely popular programs which have improved the quality of life for the elderly in a very efficient way for decades. Instead of protecting these programs President Obama has proposed making cuts to these programs which have been the Democratic Party’s crowning achievement.

The Republicans opposed these policies and have wanted to get rid of them ever since they were implemented. President George W. Bush took a political thumping in the polls when he went around the country attempting to drum up support for privatizing Social Security.

But now as Glenn Greenwald notes, we have a Democratic administration that has clearly stated that they want to cut these “entitlements” in order to protect the bloated Pentagon budget. Though polls clearly show that Americans from across the political spectrum don’t want cuts to Social Security or Medicare both parties are pushing for cuts to these programs.

It is clear that the politicians in Washington aren’t working for the American people. This difference between public opinion and public policy is striking and referred to as the Democracy Gap. We now know what the two corporate parties want to do. The only question that remains is ‘what will the American people do’. Will we watch corporate owned politicians dismantle the New Deal and the Great Society? Or will the American people roar as citizens in Egypt and around the world are at draconian government policies?

Monday, August 1, 2011

The myth of Obama's "blunders" and "weakness"

Glenn Greenwald explains how Obama got what he wanted out of the budget deal. The consensus in Washington is that Obama is a bad negotiator, but it was really a “shrewd negotiation” that got him what he’s wanted for a long time-which is to impose pain on those who can least afford to bear it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Action Alert! Stop new Republican ID laws that will disenfranchise the poor!

Republicans hate government and they don't want people to vote, especially minorities and the poor. They have consistently worked to disenfranchise minorities and the poor and they have been successful at it.

This is an important message from the Coalition on Homlessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO).

Rumors persist that the Ohio Senate will be voting on the restrictive photo-ID bill this Wednesday, 7/13. Senate President Tom Niehaus needs to hear from you today.

Please call (614-466-8082) or email ( his office and ask him to oppose Sub HB 159.

In a recent news release, COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith said, “It’s easy for many people – including legislators -- to sit in their comfortable chairs and say, ‘What’s the big deal about requiring a photo ID to vote?’ But they are making voting much more difficult -- if not impossible -- for nearly one million Ohioans who don’t have a photo ID today.

“The bill is unnecessary. It’s burdensome. It reduces access to voting under a flawed rationale of phantom voter fraud. And when absent of sound justification, this bill looks like voter suppression to us.”

For analysis of the bill, click on this

Thanks for your support,

Spread the word and act now!

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world"-Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Politics 101: Everything you need to know about American Politricks in 3 minutes

Glenn Greenwald shows once again why he is without a doubt one of the best political commentators alive in this latest article. And the George Carlin “American Dream” bit he links to should be mandatory viewing for every American citizen.

If you’re too busy or lazy to read Greenwald’s column just watch the Carlin bit. He was a genius and nobody could explain our political system more concisely. Greenwald just relates his premise to Obama and the two corporate parties. Pass these along to anyone that doesn’t understand politics because it’s actually pretty simple.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Discussing a Taboo Subject; Mandatory Voting

I’ve never spent much time thinking about a taboo subject like mandatory voting. There are some people that don’t think everybody should vote because many voters are already low information voters, but there’s an interesting case that was made for it here.

There’s no doubt that a democracy or democratic republic can’t work without citizen participation. Then again if people don’t know who or what they are voting for that can be problematic as well.

So what is the answer to restoring or improving our democratic processes? Well, that’s a tough question that probably requires a multi-pronged approach. And by disconnecting from the political process people have only allowed the abuses and political corruption to get much worse.

Maybe if people were required citizens to go to the polls they would take more time to get informed. But they shouldn’t be forced to vote for candidates that they don’t support. One option is allowing people to write in whoever they want or to vote none of the above. If none of the above gets the most votes a new field with a special election would be called for.

In reality we probably need to institute campaign finance reform, media reform, reinstitute civics classes in school and the idea that with the benefits of citizenship comes a responsibility to live up to our civic duties. We should also get rid of the Electoral College and electronic voting. Mandatory voting may or may not be a part of the answer, but it certainly shouldn’t be a taboo subject.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

9/11 and Bin Laden: Ralph Nader Was Right... Again

This article is an interesting read. Sadly, this is not part of the national conversation. Instead the convseration is about whether torture is a good idea. Of course torture doesn't work, it's illegal and immoral.

Monday, April 18, 2011

9 Things The Rich Don’t Want You To Know About Taxes

Today is tax day and most Americans would probably feel better about paying taxes if the system wasn’t rigged in favor of the rich. Here are 9 things the rich don’t want you to know about taxes. (Hint: They don’t pay their fair share.)

I saw this Associated Press article in the Enquirer today about how Taxes fell for the super-rich. Here’s an excerpt from it.

More than half of the nation's tax revenue came from the top 10 percent of earners in 2007. Still, the wealthy have access to much more lucrative breaks than people with lower incomes.

The vast majority of those who escape federal income taxes have low and medium incomes, and most of them pay other taxes, including Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and retail sales taxes.

Over all it seems like a good article, but it made me think of this excerpt from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston’s article on the same subject.
The Internet is awash with statements that the top 1 percent pays, depending on the year, 38 percent or more than 40 percent of taxes.

It’s true that the top 1 percent of wage earners paid 38 percent of the federal income taxes in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available). But people forget that the income tax is less than half of federal taxes and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government.

Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. That’s because, once you reach $106,800 of income, you pay no more for Social Security, though the much smaller Medicare tax applies to all wages. Warren Buffett pays the exact same amount of Social Security taxes as someone who earns $106,800.

It should be noted that taxes like the pay roll tax and sales taxes are regressive and disproportionately affect the poor. Yet conservative think tanks try to shape arguments that make people think that everybody will benefit if we cut taxes on the super rich and corporations. This of course is a big fat lie as one can easily see if they look back at what has happened over the last 30 years since the Reagan and Bush tax cuts.

The reason we are seeing budget problems is not because of the social safety nets. According to a new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the US is the 9th worst on social spending. The reason we have budget deficits is because the wealthy have successfully lobbied for loop holes and tax breaks for decades. And they have looted the public treasury.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Those Poor Billionaires!

In this excellent article Glenn Greenwald points out just how out of touch and delusional the billionaire Koch brothers are. These incredibly rich, powerful and influential billionaires actually think they are victims.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The legacy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire & collective bargaining

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history and a seminal moment for American labor. This legacy helped spark the New Deal, labor legislation reform of that era, the welfare state, and the creation of industrial unionism, and the right to organize. The struggle for justice continues here and abroad.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nader: Anyone can make a difference

Today an estimated crowd of 3,500 showed up on Fountain Sqaure to show their opposition to State Senate Bill 5 (SB5). The diverse rally had white, black, brown, old and young people. It was quite a contrast with a Tea Party rally. But we need more people to get engaged because as Ralph Nader recently said, "Anyone can make a difference" and we must fight the assault on the working class that is being waged like never before.

For those that don’t understand why people are so outraged about SB5 in Ohio and the similar bills that are being passed in states like Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan you can listen to Michael Moore here. They aren’t just trying to cut wages and benefits for workers, they are trying to take away our rights to collectively bargain, our democratic rights to have a seat at the table.

This is a battle that will rage on and we must win. It is no exaggeration to say that the house is on fire and we need all hands on deck. This won’t only hurt unions-the back bone of the working class. This will hurt the ability of the left to have a real impact in upcoming elections.

The billionaires now have new tools to pour unprecedented amounts of corporate cash into our elections. We can no longer afford to tune out, sit back and wait until we’re bored to act. We must put out the fire, educate each other, get organized and make our voices heard now. Otherwise the Tea Party and the billionaires they advocate for will win and our country will head in a devastating direction which will see the further decline of the middle class.

There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “To know and not to act is not to know”. Please act now. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU!

What you can do: Dial 1888-218-5931 type in your zip code which will connect you to your representative. Tell your House representative to stand up for workers by voting no on SB 5. If it's busy call back daily because it makes a difference.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world!” -Gandhi

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Stephen King, the rights worst nightmare?

Stephen King gives a speech that probably scares the hell out of the right wingers. Watch it below.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100th anniversary of international women’s day, Women’s rights are worker rights”

According to this a handful of European countries first marked the day in 1911 following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The UN has recognized March 8th as International Women’s Day since 1975. Read about the history of the struggle for women's and worker's rights here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't let corporations steal our elections!

You can sign this petition for a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Courts ruling that allows corporations to flood our elections with corporate money.

Here's a video on the Citizens United Ruling and the need for campaign finance reform.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

America is a nation of liberals

As Rachel Maddow pointed out tonight on her show, economic populism is popular. A” title=“new polls shows”]new polls shows[/url] that Americans want to tax millionaires 81%, eliminate the Bush Tax cuts 68%, cut oil and gas tax breaks 74%, and we support public bargaining 77%. Surprisingly 36% identified as conservatives and 24% identified as liberals.

She also pointed out that part of Ohio’s budget woes came about because the state eliminated income taxes for corporations a few years ago.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Rallies in Columbus and at UC tomorrow for worker rights!

If you can't attend please call your 33 State Senators starting with the Republicans. If you already called them please call again. If the old Tea Party Republicans can turn people out for their rallies what is our excuse for not turning out for progressive rallies. Sieze the day!

Rally in Columbus!

If you want to go to Columbus and need a ride email ASAP and we we help you get there!

The labor and community coalition against SB5 is calling for a rally:

Tues. March 1 starting 10am
And going all day long!
West Lawn of the Statehouse

National and state level leaders will be on hand to speak to the crowds.
The Senate Republicans are expected to vote it out of committee AND vote it out of the Senate in the same day. Please come to Columbus for this event! This bill is moving at lightning speed so we must make our biggest showing yet on the Statehouse grounds.Beginning at 8:30am, AAUP members are invited to come to the new Ohio Conference AAUP office at 137 East State Street, Columbus, 43215 for coffee and pastries. The office is only a half block from the Statehouse. (Parking options are shown on the attached map.)

Check out the AAUP Facebook page to offer a ride or look for a carpool. The Cincinnati Labor Federation will once again be chartering buses to Columbus. Check this website for more details: I'll also pass along more details as I receive them.

And at UC:

Cincinnati, OH - 24 February 2011 - On Tuesday, March 1, University of Cincinnati students will continue to show their opposition to Senate Bill 5 and the impending budget cuts. After a day of education, students will gather on UC’s McMicken Commons at 3:00 pm to rally against SB5. Students will then march through campus to the intersection of Clifton and MLK, where they will make their opinion visible to the public.

Last Monday, nearly 60 students, professors, and staff braved the rain to rally against SB 5 and deliver a letter to UC President Gregory Williams asking for his support. This Tuesday we will be even louder and show UC, Cincinnati, and Ohio that students support public workers, that we support our professors, that we will not roll over peacefully to budget cuts and tuition hikes, and that we support the democratic right of workers everywhere to collectively bargain.

“This is not a one-time thing,” says rally organizer Kyle Galindez. “First they go after firefighters, professors, and other workers. Next they'll go after the students.”

Senate Bill 5 would strip public workers of many rights that unions have gained, including the right to collectively bargain. It would affect large numbers of UC staff and faculty, including professors, groundskeepers, librarians, and others. This bill threatens professors’ right to collectively bargain not only about salaries and benefits, but also about how they teach their classes.

Stand up and defend our school and defend our future! Everyone is encouraged to join the action: students, professors, workers, and community members.

For more information contact Elisabeth Ampthor at 419.344.3149

Action Alert: Two rallies for workers rights today!!!

What will you tell your grandchildren when they ask you 'Grandma/Grandpa, where were you when the Tea Party was smashing the unions and workers rights? Were you one of those people that stood up for people's rights?'

1) OHEA Cincinnati Rally Against SB 5
Monday, February 28 · 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Intersection of Montgomery Rd. and Norwood Ave.
Cincinnati, OH

Rally organized and sponsored by Ohio Education Association:

"Please join us for a Rally to Protect Our Heroes! We will meet rain or shine at 4-6 p.m. Bring your friend, family, members, rain gear, and bring signs – let’s let Cincinnati and our elected leaders know we Oppose SB 5! Tell them to STOP attacking hard-working Police, Firefighters, Nurses, Teachers and Public Employees."

If you have questions, please email Katie Boerger at or call Cris Nedrow at 614-284-2357

2) Working Families Townhall Meeting (Senator Kearney, Rep. Denise Driehaus, Rep. Pillich ) Monday, Feb 28th at Tangeman University Center.
6 PM, Rally at 5 PM

3) PROTEST At UC: Defend Education, Support Public Workers!

Tuesday, March 1 · 3:30pm - 5:00pm

McMicken Commons


Monday Feb. 28th 2011 – 4-6 p.m at the intersection of Montgomery Rd. and Norwood Ave. there’s a rally to support the rights of working people.

Please join us for a Rally to Protect Our Heroes! We will meet rain or shine at 4-6 p.m. Bring your friend, family, members, rain gear, and bring signs – let’s let Cincinnati and our elected leaders know we Oppose SB 5! Tell them to STOP attacking hard-working Police, Firefighters, Nurses, Teachers and Public Employees.
If you have questions, please email Katie Boerger at or call Cris Nedrow at 614-284-2357

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What conservatives really want!

This article by George Lakoff, author of Don’t Think of an Elephant, is crucial reading for anyone that wants to understand what conservatives really want and how they seem to be getting it. We must understand their worldview, how they frame the debate and how we can challenge their framing and win the debate.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Patriotic Americans are standing up for workers in Ohio!

There’s a historic fight going on across the country and Ohio is a key battle ground. Today black, white and brown Ohioans of all ages and walks of life stood out in the cold rain to send a message to Gov. Kasich and the Tea “Party” Republicans. “We are patriotic Americans that support workers and public employees!”

If you can go to Columbus tomorrow and need a ride please contact us ASAP and we will try to find you a ride. (You can email Many organizations are sending up buses and many people are car pooling.

The rally in Columbus starts at 1-4pm but it will also go into the night. Some people are going early and coming back early and some are going up a little later. If you can’t make it please call your 33 State Senators. (It doesn’t take long!)

If you already have contacted your State Senators we thank you and urge you to please call them again tomorrow as soon as you can. If you have limited time please start with your own Sen. which you can find at this link by simply entering your zip code. Then click on Senators at the top and start by calling the Republicans.

You don’t need to follow a script and it’s better to sound unscripted. If you’ve never spoken to your Senators here’s an easy example of what I said. It doesn’t take long and you’ll likely get a voice mail.

Hi my name is (Justin Jeffre), I’m an Independent (you don’t have to say that if you aren’t) and I’m calling to urge Sen. (xxxx) to vote no on Senate Bill 5 (SB5) because it’s bad for working people in Ohio. I applaud common sense Republicans like Sen. Bill Seitz for standing up against this extreme bill which hurts workers and students in Ohio. Teachers, fire fighters, police officers and public employees aren’t overpaid or the problem. Tax cuts for corporations and the rich are.
Thanks for your service (It’s good to be polite), I’ll be watching this vote closely and please have a great day.

There are only 33 State Sen. and most are Republicans. I also called all the Democrats, but if you’re limited on time please start with the Republicans. I hope to see you in Columbus for this historic fight.

The Republicans know what they are doing, but when politicians see and hear the public roar they can be moved to stop what they’re doing. Bush backed of his scheme to privatize Social Security; Nixon ended the war in Vietnam and signed a lot of progressive legislation because the public roar. Let’s roar. You can be the change you wish to see in the world!

"A time comes when silence is betrayal"- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Protest at UC today: Support Workers!

Stealing Rights from Firefighters, Teachers, and Janitors only means
that Students will be next!

The Ohio legislature is facing a vote; to push this state and the
gains of the labor movement back more than fifty years, or remind the
public that through education, the working class, and the availability
of individual liberties, advancement is achieved.

Don't let Ohio go backwards, instead remind your representative that
through progress comes development.

Unite with fellow Ohioans on Monday February 21st at 3PM in McMicken
Commons to show support for public sector employees!

The right wing is mobilized and calling and writing our State Senators. Please stand up for working people and our rights to collectively bargain. Do not underestimate the importance of stopping this union busting bill.

More imporatntly don't underestimate your power to make a difference!!!

A call to action: Make your voices heard and support public workers

Dear Coffee Partiers,

If you’re like me you have been inspired by the young people in Middle Eastern nations like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen where young people are taking to the streets to overthrow dictatorships and bring about democratic change. We need to let that spirit spread here in the US once again. The Tea Party Republicans have dominated the national narrative and it’s time for us to lift our heads and our voices for change.

We all know that since his election the media has pushed the astroturfed, billionaire funded Tea Party Republican movement to expand corporate power, demonize the poor and to destroy the middle class. They are currently waging a war on working people with their efforts to break the public employee unions that have been key to creating and protecting the middle class.

We need to stand up like the people of Wisconsin to demand that the Republicans stop pretending that teachers and public employees are the reason that we’re having budget problems while they cut taxes on corporations and the wealthiest among us.
There’s a fight for justice, democracy and to protect working people right here in Ohio.

If S.B.5 is passed, our state's basic infrastructure - the most important elements of our safety, education, and advancement - will be left vulnerable. The employment status, pay, and benefits of thousands of state employees will be left in the hands of our state government, giving them no rights in negotiating the terms of their employment.

The exact wording of the legislation could not be more direct in defining its attacks on Ohio's public sector jobs "[S.B. 5 will make] changes to laws concerning state employees, including collective bargaining, salary schedules and compensation, layoff procedures, and leave"

In other words, S.B.5 will push our state 50 years in the past, to a time when workers were given limited rights and standards were set by the government.
Spread the word about these rallies and attend if you can. Please join us today February 21 in the "free speech zone" of McMicken Commons at 3PM, and show your support for the most important part of our states development, our working class.

John McNay, the elected President of UC's faculty/librarian union has an op-ed in the Enquirer, opposing Ohio SB5, opposite the op-ed of the bill's sponsor, Shannon Jones.

If you can only do one thing -- making phone calls is far better than emails, no time perhaps for letters. Here's a link to the phone numbers and emails of all 33 Ohio Senators:

If you go to -- -- bottom left corner, there's an option to enter your zip code with the plus 4, and then it tells you the senator representing that zip code.

If I can add an appeal to everyone -- there's only 33 Ohio senators. If you can, write, fax and email (don't stop at email) the Senator representing you -- but phone them all!

Rally in Columbus Monday, February 21st at 11AM President's Day Rally at the Statehouse in Columbus

Rally to Stop Senate Bill 5 - Defend Ohio Workers' Rights

The Ohio Education Association has a Facebook event page you can share.!/event.php?eid=190282400994663

There’s also a major rally Tuesday, February 22nd 1PM to 4PM (and probably into the evening). Pack the Statehouse in Columbus for more testimony on SB 5.

Tell your friends in Cleveland Tuesday, February 22nd a bus will be coming down to the Columbus rally. Contact Cleveland Jobs With Justice for more info(

Though many of us were inspired to get involved in 2008 too many of us have become disillusioned because the change we hoped for doesn’t feel like it has been coming fast enough. And not only that, there’s been a huge backlash to the election of our first black President and the modest changes he’s been able to push through. They are trying to roll back the progress that’s been made in the past 50 years.

The Tea Party Republicans are mounting counter protests and this is a fight that the Coffee Party shouldn’t just stand back and watch. This effort has been going on since the Reagan revolution and now they’ve kicked it into over drive. But we know that America’s glory days came about in the 50’s and 60’s when the unions were strong and government made rich people pay their fair share in taxes. Reagan’s own budget director has called the Republican mantra that tax cuts are the solution to all our problems and government is the enemy “demagoguery” that has created the financial mess we find ourselves in.

Democracy doesn’t end after there’s an election, it begins after Election Day. Our public servant’s job is to listen to the people and our job as citizens is to make sure they hear us. Half of democracy is just showing up, not just on Election Day but on a regular basis. Our ancestors have inspired the movements that we’re seeing around the world and it is time for us to get inspired and to get active.

Our civic duties should compel us to get informed, go to rallies, contact our representatives and make our voices heard. President Obama inspired many of you in 2008, but it’s important to remember he said he needed your help and he couldn’t do it alone. Simply voting or even working on politician’s campaigns isn’t enough. We must stand with the public employee unions and fight Gov. Kasich’s radical assault on working people. Thanks for all you do!

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941)

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why Kasich picking on teachers and other public employees is bullsh!t

Photo courtesy of here.

Guest article by Jason Haap aka The Dean of Cincinnati

Kasich says he's not picking on unions, but even a rudimentary sense of deductive reasoning shows this as flagrantly false. Kasich and the Republicans would rather pick on public servants than, for example, wage a small tax against the wealthiest one percent. As a result, we get the right-winged lunatic-fringe whipped into a frenzy about those who "abuse" the taxpayer, as if public servants like teachers are filthy stinking rich, or something. This is par for the course for Republicans -- abuse the middle class to protect the huge profits of the ultra-wealthy.

From the link above, Kasich talking:

“Look I come from a union town, McKees Rocks; we’re not at war with anybody. We’re not picking on anyone. What we’re trying to say is that if you want to create a rationale program to create jobs, so that Ohio can compete with Texas, and Florida and Tennessee, and North Carolina…we can’t compete in the current mode. We can’t do that so we have to bring about the changes we want, and we think a really good start is to make sure our local government officials have the ability to control their costs, to treat employees fairly, but to create equity between those people who pay the bills and those people who are basically have jobs because people have taxes.”


“Any successful business that loses an ability to control its costs, go bankrupt. In addition to that, this is a whole series of reforms that involve our prisons, involve our school, all of which is designed to set the stage for economic growth. We have been getting killed out here in terms of economic growth, job loss, loss of population, loss of knowledge workers, our students fleeing the state, a third of them after three years. This is all part of a program to make sure that we can revitalize, save Ohio, restore entrepreneurship, and create jobs—that’s what it’s all about.”

This is a strange way to imagine the role of public servants. Yes, they are paid by tax dollars -- but they provide a necessary service. And as a general rule, people recognize that teaching, for example, is not a job people enter to become rich. So what does he mean when he says he wants to "create equity between those people who pay the bills and those people who basically have jobs because the people have taxes"?

Maybe the middle-class shouldn't be over-tax burdened because Republicans like stumping for tax breaks benefiting millionaires.

And what's this comparison to "business"? First, a public service like "education" is not a business. It is a public service called "education." And second, when is anyone going to talk about Ohio's unconstitutional school funding formula, found as such by the Ohio Supreme Court on multiple occasions? No, Kasich ignores these other inconveniences, because they protect the interests of his rich friends, who benefit from an unconstitutional system that gives them tax breaks, even though they can easily afford to pay a little more.

I was impressed with the recent testimony given by former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper regarding this union-busting move by the Republicans.

Second, there is the fact that, on close examination, there is no evidence to suggest that collective bargaining is the cause of overall budget challenges. Many states that do not have collective bargaining—such as Arizona (highest gap), Nevada (4th highest) and North Carolina—have far larger budget deficits than many that do, including Ohio. There is simply no correlation.

Third, a quick look at salary decisions in Columbus suggests a one-sidedness in this body’s focus. I challenge you to aim higher! The Governor has given substantial raises to cabinet members, and hired aides that make double what your average Cincinnati firefighter makes. State legislators, working a part time job, make far more than my County’s sheriff’s deputies, who put their lives on the line every day. If we want to examine salaries, perhaps we should start with the highest as opposed to the lowest.

Fourth is the fact that the most expensive and costly decisions and actions in government are inevitably those made by the politicians, not the employees.


And just as the Governor justified higher salaries he is paying because he wanted the best people working for him, we can only get top-notch public servants if we can offer employment that at least assures they can raise a family with the wages they’ll earn, do their job safely, and understand that if they are injured on the job, they and their families are protected. Without basic protections such as these, a voice to seek those protections, and a process that ensures that this voice is heard, we will attract a lower caliber of worker, and we will degrade the quality of public work. And over time, the waning confidence our citizens have in government will only sink further.

Current County Commissioner Todd Portune also spoke up recently for the rights of public workers.

“In many cases, the problems that exist are the result of bad decision-making by those in office and they are now hiding behind these attacks on working people to mask their own faults,” Portune said. He blames the increase in the costs associated with local government on unfunded state and federal mandates.

“It is time to say ‘enough is enough’ of state and federal lawmakers getting elected on pledges to hold the line on taxes, while they, at the same time, foist necessary work and services onto the backs of local government to figure out how to do and how to pay for what must be done,” Portune said.

Lastly, he said, “all Americans should be shocked at what they are witnessing in this movement to eliminate collective bargaining and attack public employees because what these lawmakers are doing is actively working to reduce the standard of living of the American middle class.”

Unfunded mandates? Let's look at some specific examples with which I happen to be familiar.

In 2009, the State of Ohio spent over $30 million on the Ohio Graduation Test.

In 2008, the State of Ohio funneled nearly $60 million dollars into private schools for their compliance with record keeping activities such as "keeping attendance," and "distributing report cards" -- things any school should do to be open in the first place!

In other words, without even really thinking, I have already identified $90 million dollars in the kind of money about which Portune discussed. $90 million is not chump change!

And since 2008, this tax money to private schools has broken the $60 million dollar level. See for yourself.

Naturally, Kasich's sends his daughters to Worthington Christian Schools (which pull in over $200,000 per year in tax dollars) -- so it's in his financial interests to keep the money pouring into those institutions. It keeps his tuition payments down!

That number still pales in comparison to Elder High School -- a single school pulling in over $300,000 last year in tax dollars!

So I think it's interesting how none of this stuff gets discussed at the level of critical mass. The Republicans will be happy to take away from people like "teachers," under the banner of "reform" for education, but when it comes to the millions upon millions in unfunded mandates, they are silent. And when it comes to the fact that someone has to pay for this public service, raising taxes is off the table entirely. Not to mention the unconstitutionality of the school funding system in the first place.

Kasich is completely full of it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How the right is rewriting the Reagan legacy (Tear Down This Myth!)

Last Sunday marked Ronald Reagan’s 100th b-day and we once again heard the myths about his legacy. The reality is that Reagan’s legacy is far different than what so often gets repeated and were he alive today he probably couldn’t be elected as a conservative Republican.

(If you are a Reagan loving Republican Tea Partier reading beyond this line could blow your mind.)

This article describes “when Reagan was (much) less popular than Carter” and “how the Gipper was transformed into a conservative demigod”. It seems the further we get away from the Reagan years the easier it is to forget what he actually did while he was in office in the United States of Amnesia.

As I described in this article most other modern Republican Presidents (with maybe the exception for Bush I and II) would be considered far too liberal for today’s GOP which has moved to the extreme right. (Heck, Reagan was probably even more liberal than some Blue Dog Democrats.)

As one caller recently explained about Reagan to Rush Limbaugh before being muted, "He's a tax-raiser, an amnesty-giver, a cut-and-runner, and he negotiated with terrorists," Stark continued. "Why is he a hero to conservatives?"

As Cenk Uygur pointed out on MSNBC, Reagan raised taxes 11 times as President and as Governor of California he signed into law the greatest tax increase in the history of any state. He nearly tripled the Federal Budget Deficit. During his administration the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion.

It should be noted that the Republicans undermined the President of the United States of America and the US government by negotiating with terrorists during the infamous October Surprise which is widely believed to be the reason Reagan beat Carter. He secretly and illegally traded arms for hostages with Iran during the Iran Contra Affair. In 1984 Reagan “cut and run” out of Lebanon. He had deployed an American “peace keeping force” in Beirut but withdrew US troops after 241 servicemen were killed in a bombing ordered by Hezbollah during the Cold War.

You’ve probably heard things like “Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot”. But in realty Reagan supported brutal dictators around the world, funded and trained drug running death squads in Latin America and he certainly doesn’t deserve all of the credit for the end of the Cold War. Most Americans at the time gave most of the credit to Gorbachev.

I quote in "Tear Down This Myth" a USA Today poll that was taken after the Berlin Wall collapsed (in October 1989) and a majority of Americans credited Gorbachev and only 14 percent credited Reagan.

Reagan helped to start the Taliban by funding Osama Bin Laden and his Muhajadeen to fight the Soviets-who were also dumb enough to invade Afghanistan which needless to say didn’t work out so well for them either. (Can you say blow back?) Of course he had bipartisan support for those things. Imagine this, he worked with Democrats and was known for making compromises. How is that the model Tea Party Republican?

Reagan helped Saddam Hussein get WMD’s and turned a blind eye when he would use them. His use of WMD’s would be used as justification for the $3 trillion Iraq war which was based on lies.

Reagan supported “States rights” and he vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act. He strongly support South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

Desmond Tu Tu denounced Reagan for his racism. Reagan consolidated and fulfilled the racist Southern Strategy.

Reagan did so by beginning his general election campaign in 1980 in Neshoba County, Miss., where white supremacists had recently fire-bombed a black church and had earlier murdered three Northern civil rights activists, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney. In a thinly disguised appeal to white Southern racism, Reagan declared, "I believe in states' rights."

In this sense his values were right in line with the Tea Party Republicans. Reagan was the favorite candidate of the John Birch society. The group was considered fringe in those days, but now the extreme right has merged with mainstream conservatism.

Reagan believed he had seen a UFO and he often talked about extraterrestrial life visiting Earth. He dedicated lots of funding for SDI or Star Wars which never worked while ignoring the AIDS epidemic that was killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. AIDs has claimed many lives, but not one extraterrstrial has attacked yet.

Reagan hated public education saying, “Education isn’t a right, it’s a privilege”. Though he started out as a union boss he waged war on unions. He had the solar panels that Carter had placed on the roof removed and killed the investment in solar that Carter had championed. Carter was right and Reagan was wrong so now we lag behind countries like Germany that still have a lot of manufacturing jobs.

As this article describes there was a dark under belly to Reagan’s sunny optimism. "It wasn't all patriotic homilies: Just ask the "welfare queens," "radicals" and "filthy speech advocates".

Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants. How would that fly today?

Reagan’s own budget director sets the record straight.

The Reagan Revolution was a Lincoln Day Dinner speech. It never happened in the real world of fiscal policy. During the 1980's, Big Government got bigger and the Federal tax burden was just shuffled, not reduced. The main fiscal legacy of the Reagan era is that the Federal debt was raised from $1 trillion to $3 trillion. Unfortunately, when the economy rebounded after Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker's conquest of runaway inflation, Republicans embraced the dangerous shibboleth that deficit-financed tax cuts are good for growth.

Reagan’s real legacy is much different than the narrative Republicans are pushing. Flag waving Americans can only claim America’s past is so great by rewriting our history. If we went back to the original intent of the constitution our country would be a lot less free and democratic. We can’t understand where we really are as a nation until we get real about America’s past.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ron Paul wins CPAC poll again, Palin comes in last & the progressive-Libertarian alliance

Ron Paul has won the CPAC poll once again. He got 30% and Palin only got 3%. I have written a lot about the real “middle” or “center” in this country which is what Greens and Libertarians share in common. The Democrats and Republicans share a lot of bipartisan positions that aren’t popular like the wars, bloated military budget, corporate welfare etc.

Ron Paul, a Libertarian, is one of the few Republicans that excites young people, especially young conservatives. And they turn out to support him.

Paul has teamed up with Ralph Nader on many occasions to talk about what they describe as the most exciting dynamic in politics today and that is the broad consensus for change between Libertarians and progressives. They teamed up in 2008 to point out their common ground positions and how these issues can be a place where people from the left and right can work together for change. And they are not alone.

People may find it strange that people on the “far left” like Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders often find themselves voting alone with Ron Paul a guy from the “far right”. But that just shows how much common ground there really is between some on the left and some on the right.

What are examples of that common ground? Ending the wars and imperial foreign policies, getting rid of all of the well documented waste in the bloated Pentagon budget, no longer supporting dictatorships around the world, repealing the Patriot Act and reigning in the bureaucratic National (in)Security state and ending the failed war on drugs and prison industrial complex are all examples where we can show solidarity for policies that are both socially just and fiscally responsible.

Making these changes would free up massive resources that could be redirected into rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure and doing the things most people think government should do. This is the new progressive-libertarian alliance.

We can expect the corporate media to continue to marginalize Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. They will continue to focus on the bipartisan corporate politics and ignore public opinion on those corporate policies, but this message keeps being repeated and will soon catch fire because some ideas are to powerful to suppress.

And in times such as these where domestic American politics has become so partisan, divisive and causes so much disappointment and disillusionment this is a new cause for great hope. Young people are transforming the Middle East and young people can transform the US. As the democracy movements around the world continue to fight for justice there is one common theme that keeps reemerging. Another World Is Possible!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Change in speaker!

Hey Coffee Partiers,
We are pleased to announce that our guest speaker for tomorrow night’s 6pm meeting at the Ohm CafĂ© is Bill Woods. Woods is the Ohio Chair of Common Cause and he’s also the founder of Applied Information Resources. Woods was instrumental in creating more transparency in our local elections and he’s been working on these issues for decades.
He will be discussing the ongoing efforts for Campaign Finance Reform at the national, state and local levels and what we can do to help. This is one issue that we know Coffee Party members are passionate about so we hope that you will come and join us for his presentation and our discussion afterwards.
Also, our condolences go out to Mike Shryock and his family for the recent loss of their son. We wish them the best at this difficult time. We will invite him to come and speak in a future meeting and we thank him for his tireless efforts in reforming our criminal justice system. We hope to work with Mike and the NAACP on these fronts in the near future.
See you at the Ohm!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Action Alert! "Count the Votes Rally" Tonight at 7PM

Liberal groups and Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune will gather tonight in Forest Park for a “Count the Votes” rally in the still-not-over election for Hamilton County juvenile court judge.

Here’s the release: Faith leaders join with Commissioner Todd Portune to demand justice and an end to tax payer funded appeals

What: Hundreds attend “Count the Votes!” Rally with Todd Portune, demanding justice for voters and an end of appeals.

Where: Word of Deliverance Ministries of the World, 693 Fresno Rd, Forest Park

When: Tuesday, February 8, 7:00 – 8:30pm

Who: Todd Portune, Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners. Rally sponsored by The AMOS Project; Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance; Baptist Minister’s Conference

Why: Faith and community leaders continue to be disappointed by the steadfast refusal of the Hamilton County Board of Elections to not count provisional ballots, due to poll worker error, cast by voters.

County Commissioner Todd Portune will join leaders from the AMOS Project, BMC and IMA to at a “Count the Votes” Rally to demand justice and put an end to the Hamilton County Board of Elections’ appeal attempts.

Leaders in the faith community have consistently expressed disappointment that votes cast by citizens who showed up at the right polling place, but was directed to the wrong table by the poll worker, are not being counted. The tax-payer funded appeal process must come to end, and the votes must be counted.

At the rally, Commissioner Portune will share his approach to help bring an end to the tax-funded appeals, and faith leaders will rally over 150 supporters to continue to stand for justice and fairness at upcoming Board of Elections meetings and Board of County Commissioner meetings.

Friday, February 4, 2011

“Waiting for Superman” unfairly targets teachers unions and promotes Charter schools

The much hyped documentary “Waiting for Superman” sparked controversy because it targets teachers and teachers unions while promoting Charter schools. Critics say it was biased and in many ways misleading. Here’s what 'Superman' got wrong point by point.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dennis Kucinch, Olivegate and the need for strong tort laws

I usually like Kevin Osbourne’s take on issues, but he missed the mark by doing what too many in the media have done-- dismissing Kucinich’s right to sue a corporation for personal injuries. There’s a dangerous and ongoing PR campaign to take away our rights to seek personal redress through our civil justice system.

Osbourne puts Kucinich in the loser category and fails to give important details surrounding the case so the public can judge the facts for themselves. And he’s not alone -- Anderson Cooper put Kucinich on his “Ridiculist,"which itself is ridiculous. The corporate media’s general response has been to fail to present relevant facts and to blame the victim in much the way they treated the famous Hot Coffee case against McDonalds.

Most people don’t know the facts of that famous case, even though it is still referenced. A 79 year old woman named Stella Liebeck received third degree burns to 16 percent of her body including her genitals. She spent 8 days in the hospital and needed skin grafts because of severe burns she received after spilling a scalding cup of coffee that was served at 187 degrees. Her quality of life was severely diminished for the rest of her life.

She only sought to have her medical bills paid for and she became a national punch line for it because the corporate media failed to tell her story. Instead they pushed the multi-million dollar corporate propaganda campaign for Tort Deform which is an ongoing effort to take away your rights to use the court system to seek legal redress after you've been harmed.

Osbourne wrote,

“But we’re deeply disappointed in the diminutive lawmaker for filing a lawsuit against the House cafeteria over an April 2008 incident in which he says an unwanted olive pit in a sandwich injured his teeth; he sought $150,000 in damages."This injury required nearly two years, three dental surgeries and a substantial amount of money to rectify,” Kucinich said. Yet C-SPAN footage shows the congressman speaking on the House floor on the same day, so it wasn’t that severe. Tellingly, the operator settled the claim within days. Still, the good congressman has a Cadillac health-care plan, like all federal lawmakers, making us question his motives. Sometimes, Dennis, you just need to let it go.”

But as USA Today reported, days before his column went to print, “None of his dental work, he said, was covered by his health plan nor did he have dental insurance that covered his injury.” So the fact that he had a “Cadillac health-care plan” is irrelevant. (Kucinich has championed Medicare-for-all and was a lone hold-out for a public option.)

Osbourne and the others fail to make their case altogether. Why shouldn’t Kucinich seek to have the corporation that caused his injuries pay his medical costs? Why is it telling that the operator settled his case quickly and amicably? If he was in the wrong and had ulterior motives why didn’t they fight it altogether? The corporate media was totally biased in their favor from the start.

Like many others, Osbourne points to the fact that Kucinich still did his job and spoke on the House floor the day the incident happened as proof that his injuries weren’t “that severe”. But that proves nothing. Anytime you have to have three surgeries because of an injury I’d say the injury was pretty severe. How severe do injuries have to be to seek compensation for medical bills in their opinion? They never say, it’s just their knee jerk response.

As USA Today reported,

In the letter, Kucinich said he had three dental surgeries over two years after he split a tooth -- key to some upper bridgework in his mouth -- right through the crown and to a point below the level of the bone.

The problem was the internal structure of the injured tooth was shot and, Kucinich says, he was in "excruciating pain." He said he shook it off and went back to work.

The bone became infected, then Kucinich said he had an "adverse reaction" to antibiotics and then an intestinal obstruction. After more dental issues, including a failed implant, Kucinich in the end had to get new bridgework and six replacement teeth.

According to USA Today Kucinich said he declined interviews about the lawsuit because he "did not want it said that I was trying the case in the media." MSNBC commentator Ezra Klein wrote in the Washington Post, “Can $150,000 possibly be worth the bad publicity he’s going to get from filing a lawsuit over an olive pit.”

But both Dennis Kucinich and Stella Liebeck were well within their rights to seek legal redress through the court system. Both of them first sought to resolve the issues without legal action.

Why should Kucinich be judged differently than any other citizen by the public or the “liberal media”? In reality, I suppose he isn’t because there’s been a multi-million dollar campaign to brain-wash the American people into giving up their constitutional rights and to scoff at those who exercise those rights.

I suspect that if those who have disparaged the cases of either Kucinich or Liebeck had suffered the pain and expense of their injuries perhaps their attitudes might be a little bit different. These cases aren’t frivolous, but the multi-million dollar propaganda campaign to bring about Tort Deform has paid off.

People are giving away their constitutional rights every single day without even knowing it. (Do you have a cell phone or credit card contract? Yeah, you too then.)

And it’s no wonder the American people have such a distorted view of our civil justice system where the average Joe could go head to head with the richest and most powerful corporations in the world. Even people that are supposed to be trained to separate facts from fiction are pushing the same spin/lies as the mind-molding corporate propagandists that seek to limit your rights to seek justice after you’ve been harmed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hot Coffee, Corporate Propaganda & the effort to take away your rights

Photo courtesy of here.

Most of us remember that a woman sued McDonalds after spilling a scalding cup of coffee on herself, but most don’t know the truth - she got 3rd degree burns on 16% of her body including her genitals and there was a corporate PR effort to distort her story for “Tort Deform”.

I first read the truth about this story many years ago in Ralph Nader’s book “The Good Fight”. (I highly recommend the book which will get you fired up as you turn every page.) In it he describes how severe the injuries were to 79 year old Stella Liebeck. She spent 8 days in the hospital and had to get skin grafts. She sued to cover her medical costs.

Her lawsuit became a national story that was mocked and made fun of. The corporate media never told her side of the story, but a new documentary that just premiered at Sundance called Hot Coffee sets the record straight and exposes a multi-million dollar campaign to distort the story in an effort to push what consumer advocate Ralph Nader calls “Tort Deform” and corporate propagandist’s call “Tort Reform”.

McDonald’s policy was that there coffee was to be held at 187 degrees. And this wasn’t the first time they had been sued; they had been sued hundreds of times in similar suits.

In this interview the filmmaker Susan Saladoff describes what “Tort Deform” (I refuse to use term created by mind molding corporate propagandist) is and the effort to take away people’s constitutional rights to sue corporations or people that have harmed them.

SUSAN SALADOFF: There has been a huge public relations campaign over the last 25 years to convince the public that we have too many frivolous lawsuits, that we have out-of-control juries, that we need to change our civil justice system, which is our third branch of government, where an average person can go head-to-head with the rich and powerful, with corporations. And people have a completely distorted view of our civil justice system because of this public relations campaign. And I wanted to tell the truth. I wanted people to understand that they were giving up their constitutional rights every day to access the courts, and they didn’t even know they were doing it.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain tort. What do you mean by tort?

SUSAN SALADOFF: So a tort is a civil wrong. We have a criminal justice system and a civil justice system. We all know what the criminal justice system is. But when people are injured by a defective product or if they’ve had, you know, been the victim of a medical negligence, they have the right to go into a court system and bring a case against the person or the entity, the corporation, that harmed them. Those kinds of injuries are called torts. They’re civil harms.

The film focuses on four cases of corporate malfeasance.

In this interview they discuss the Chamber of Commerce’s effort to unseat judges that oppose “Tort Deform”.

In this interview they discuss how hard caps on malpractice awards shifts the burden onto taxpayers and away from the corporations that put profits over people and cause great harm to human beings without repercussions. (So much for the right wing “personal responsibility” crowd, they are the very people that support “Tort Deform”.)

We must spread the truth about this story far and wide. People need to know that our rights are being taken away by corporations that have become masters of deceit and whose influence on our political system continues to grow at alarming rates.

Hot Coffee is an important tool that we must use to fight back against these evil efforts to deceive the public and take away our rights. We must wake people up and lead the fight for justice and to shift the power from the corporations to the people. WARNING: President Obama has now jumped on the “Tort Deform” bandwagon!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Campaign Finance Reform is the key to getting Health Care Reform

Democracy Now! had two somewhat related stories that will interest Coffee Party members. One is about the effort to get the undue influence of money out of our political system and the other is about Vermont’s effort to get a single payer Canadian style health care system.

Today marks the anniversary of the Citizens Untied ruling by the Supreme Court that allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. Common Cause has been working on campaign finance reform for a long time. Today they have called on the Department of Justice to investigate potential conflicts of interest by Judge Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia because they failed to recuse themselves in the case.

In this interview with Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin he discusses Vermont’s effort to move towards a single payer health insurance system like Medicare. A majority of doctors and nurses support a single payer system because it is universal, more efficient and cheaper.

Many single payer advocates believe that the US will eventually move to a single payer system because it is the best to cut costs and cover every American cradle to grave. And they believe that it will take a state implementing first and demonstrating how well it works because the health industry floods our politicians with massive amounts of money to prevent single payer from being supported by either party.

Here Shumlin describes why Vermont is the state that is best positioned to move to a single payer system.

Listen, here’s why we can do this in Vermont, why we have a better shot than perhaps anywhere else in America. Today is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to spend unlimited cash to influence our elections. What is different about Vermont is that our legislators are not in the pockets of special interests; they’re in the pockets of their constituents. Now, there’s a very simple reason for that. I was president of the Senate. My last campaign cost $2,500. My counterpart in New York’s campaign, the president of the Senate just across the lake, probably cost multiple millions of dollars. My point is, we have a citizen legislature in the state. We are not beholden to the special interests. We fight for our constituents in their best interest. And frankly, our insurance companies are smart enough to know that. So, I think that—you know, we all know that what’s destroying democracy is the extraordinary influence of corporate money. The folks that are making money off the system then elect the politicians that make the decisions about their economic future. So we have a real opportunity here, and I think our insurance companies are smart enough to see that we’re going to make progress, and they want to be the company that has the single payer.

Medicare was named after the Canadian health care system which was championed by actor Kiefer Sutherland’s Grandfather Tommy Davidson. This article describes the Greatest Canadian’s effort.

As premier of Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas pioneered a number of progressive policies there, including the expansion of public utilities, unionization and public auto insurance. But his biggest achievement was the creation of universal health insurance, called Medicare. It passed in Saskatchewan in 1962, guaranteeing hospital care for all residents. The rest of Canada soon followed, province by province. After his death, Douglas earned the title of "The Greatest Canadian" in a poll by the CBC.

One day our nation will get a Medicare-for-all system, but the undue influence of money remains as the greatest obstacle. In our upcoming meetings we will be inviting a representative from Common Cause to discuss what we can do to support campaign finance reform and a representative from Ohio’s Single Payer Action Network (SPAN) to discuss the ongoing efforts to bring single-payer health care for all to Ohio. Stay tuned and engaged!