The Right-Wing Corporate Takeover of America

It's a long piece, but worth a read: Alternet's Don Hazen and Colin Greer provide an overview of the 40-year effort of the right-wing to allow the corporate takeover of America. The question is: if we know how we got here, can we use that to get back to where we want to be?

We repeatedly see how money, tightly controlled manipulators can manipulate the masses. But, thankfully, hope lies in the new activitists and the young.

The Dangers of Voter Suppression

Club member Jim Soper passes along an important link to a Brennan Center study showing that nearly 5 million eligible voters could be impacted by voter suppression legislation around the nation. As the Brennan Center reports:

"Ahead of the 2012 elections, a wave of legislation tightening restrictions on voting has suddenly swept across the country. More than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year — a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

This report is the first full accounting and analysis of this year's voting cutbacks. It details both the bills that have been proposed and the legislation that has been passed since the beginning of 2011."

This is a problem about which all of us should be concerned. You can read this troubling report at http://www.brennancenter.org/content/resource/voting_law_changes_in_2012.

Help Shape the California Democratic Party Platform

A message from California Democratic Party Chair John Burton:

Dear Supporter,

The California Democratic Party invites all Democrats to help shape our 2012 Platform. Join our effort to promote a progressive platform that all Democrats can be proud of.

Please go to www.cadem.org/platform to read the 2010 Platform – the current Platform will serve as a base to develop the 2012 Platform.

If you have changes or new language you would like to suggest, please fill out our online submission form at www.cadem.org/platformtestimony.

The deadline to submit changes for consideration to the 2012 Platform is November 18, 2011 at 5pm. The Platform will be adopted at the 2012 State Convention, February 10-12 in San Diego.

Platform hearings are taking place throughout the state. Testimony is being heard at Regional meetings and there will be two statewide hearings as well.

The statewide hearings will take place on the below dates and locations:

October 22 – Fresno
Time and location TBD

November 18th – Burlingame
Crowne Plaza SF International Airport
1177 Airport Blvd.
Burlingame, Ca. 94010
5:30 PM (tentative)
www.cadem.org/eboard

Please go to our calendar at http://www.cadem.org/resources/calendar for the most up to date information, including a schedule of regional meetings at which Platform testimony is being heard.

Peace and friendship,

John Burton
Chair
California Democratic Party

Don't Let the GOP Fool You on the Economy

Here's an outstanding Paul Krugman column that debunks the rising myth that the current economic conditions are the result of President Obama's policies. After debunking several claims, Krugman makes a vital observation:

So Republican assertions about what ails the economy are pure fantasy, at odds with all the evidence. Should we be surprised?

At one level, of course not. Politicians who always cater to wealthy business interests say that economic recovery requires catering to wealthy business interests. Who could have imagined it?

Yet it seems to me that there is something different about the current state of economic discussion. Political parties have often coalesced around dubious economic ideas — remember the Laffer curve? — but I can’t think of a time when a party’s economic doctrine has been so completely divorced from reality. And I’m also struck by the extent to which Republican-leaning economists — who have to know better — have been willing to lend their credibility to the party’s official delusions.

This is, of course, a huge problem. One we all must be ready to work against as we work in 2012.

In Praise of Extremism

I found this Frank Rich essay in New York magazing to be extremely thoughtful. It is well worth your time. As he writes:

This delusional faith in comity reached its apotheosis in the debt-ceiling showdown. With the reliable exception of Paul Krugman, who shuns Washington and calls centrism “the cult that is destroying America,” almost every Establishment observer in our own time bought into the magical thinking that the radical Republicans would never go so far as to risk a default of the American government. Only when the tea-party cabal in the House took Washington hostage did it fully dawn on the Beltway gentry that the country was in danger.

Republican Attacks by the EPA

by Clyde Rich
Guest Columnist
Former President, Democrats of Rossmoor

Reagan started making  tax cuts  for the wealthy and deregulation.  Bush expanded the tax cuts and appointed leaders who continued the attacks on regulation.  If tax cuts and deregulation were the answer to our current economic problems we would not be in the condition we face today.  Currently there are several different views on how to improve the economy and reduce the deficit:  Republicans argue for making cuts in spending.  Democrats argue for increasing revenues by taxing the wealthy and making the tax code more progressive.  A third view, proposed by progressive legislators, is to increase jobs by investing in rebuilding our deteriorating infrastructure and reviving our manufacturing industry – (“Make it in America”).  Corporations offer a fourth solution and that is to eliminate environmental protections affecting their operations.  Unfortunately, there is no one best solution that will solve the economic problems we face today.

If Corporations are successful in eliminating environmental protections we will surely face more serious problems in the future: depletion of natural resources, increased effects of climate change, lack of clean water and the air we breathe.  The unfettered pursuit of profit by big business, at the expense of the environment, will ultimately be more devastating and reduce the quality of life for everyone on planet earth. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to finalize new rules to curb pollution from coal fired power plants.  Mercury, smog, ozone, greenhouse gasses, water intake, and coal ash will all be more rigorously regulated.  Not surprising, right wing legislators and various industry groups claim that the new rules will result in higher electric charges and increase business operating costs.  Environmental groups say the new rules will bring sizeable health benefits.  So, who’s right?  The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) says industry groups overstate the cost they will incur.  In addition, the reports says the new regulations will result in saving $290 billion in health care costs compared to $2.8 billion in increased costs to businesses. 

A few days ago, Michelle Bachman while on the campaign trail, said if she becomes president “I guarantee you that the EPA will have the doors locked and the lights turned off”.    Could it be that this kind of knee jerk reaction is simply the result of wanting to continue to receive huge contributions to her campaign and that utilities and other corporations  want to continue to receive the tax breaks and other benefits provided by votes of Republican legislators in support of deregulation?

Republicans in Congress are trying to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, repeal the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, and defund efforts by the Department of the Interior to protect the nation’s wildlife and natural treasures.  Elimination of the EPA will take us back to the day when smokestacks fouled the air, rivers were treated like open sewers, and chemical plants poisoned our communities. Extreme Republicans are putting corporate interest ahead of America’s most treasured natural resources which will increase the threat of illnesses from contaminated water and polluted air.

Koch Industries operates 57 chemical factories in the US.  They have spent millions on lobbyists and made huge donations to Republican politicians to avoid spending on the most basic safety precautions.  A Greenpeace report cites 680 safety violations at these plants  involving water, air, hazardous waste, pesticides and emergency planning and preparedness violations.

Most of the Republican presidential candidates have declared war on the EPA.  They claim that the economy is smothered by regulations to keep our air and water safe.  However, they offer no evidence of that; and recent profits of the big energy companies  show the lack of any suffering. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas shares Bachman’s  hatred of the EPA.  Like Bachman, Perry refuses to accept that global warming is real.  He thinks that the EPA regulations are killing jobs when the majority of Americans are worried about clean air and water pollution and hold a positive view of the EPA.

Earlier this month Obama backed off on a previous pledge to enact stricter rules on Bush-era ozone laws.  It is difficult to understand this decision and deeply disappointing to environmentalists and others.  Even the Center for American Progress, a leading Democratic think tank, issued a statement critical of his decision.  They called it a gift  to Big Oil’s wish list at the expense of children, seniors and the infirm.

Of all the reasons government exists, none is more important than keeping its citizens safe from terrorist’s attacks, Wall Street’s recklessness, and industrial poisoning of our air and water.