Can You Hear Us Now?

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is refusing to participate in any public hearings on Net Neutrality.

By Mary Alice Crim and Candace Clement

Mary-Alice-CrimCandace-Clement

On a recent Monday night in Brooklyn, five empty chairs stood on stage — one for each member of the Federal Communications Commission. A crowd had amassed in the room for a public hearing to send this message to the agency: Don’t hurt the open Internet.

But the commissioners’ absence sent a stronger message: We’re not listening.

The Corporate Fox in the Chicken Coop, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

When Corporate Foxes Mind Internet Coops, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

The FCC — the agency charged with regulating telecommunications — is expected to vote by the end of the year on Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to let Internet service providers (ISPs) offer “fast lanes” to companies that can afford to pay for speedier access.

Hundreds of businesses, organizations, and websites that rely on an open Internet have slammed the plan, which would kill Net Neutrality — the principle that requires ISPs to treat all traffic equally. Net Neutrality has made the Internet an unrivaled space for free speech, civic participation, innovation and opportunity. Without it, a few ISPs would become the gatekeepers of everything we do, say, and see online.

During the public comment period, nearly 4 million people— a record-breaking figure — weighed in on Wheeler’s plan. A whopping 99 percent of these comments oppose this proposal, according to one study.

Given the unprecedented public interest in this issue, many groups have urged the FCC to get out of Washington and host public hearings. But so far Wheeler has ignored this call.

In fact, the FCC has gone out of its way to avoid attending public gatherings like the one in Brooklyn. It’s been more than five years since all five FCC commissioners left Washington together to participate in a public hearing where anyone could testify.

These kinds of public hearings used to be commonplace for the agency, regardless of which political party was in control of Washington. But Wheeler’s FCC is different.

Instead of appearing at events with open microphones, Wheeler — a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries — has opted to attend industry trade shows. In fact, all five commissioners consistently attend the annual conventions of the cable, wireless, broadcasting, and electronics industries.

Yet somehow they just can’t find the time to meet with the public.

The FCC seems to fear hearing from everyday people who use the Internet to communicate, connect, learn, and survive. And while some of the commissioners have left Washington on a few occasions since Wheeler proposed his rules (Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai convened an official FCC hearing in College Station, Texas), the chairman himself has been absent from any public events on Net Neutrality.

“This is a real inflection point for us as a society,” says former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who attended dozens of public hearings during his decade in office and spoke at the event in Brooklyn. “The decisions they’re going to make between now and the end of the year are probably the most important that the FCC is going to make in a generation.”

The commissioners, Copps concludes, shouldn’t vote “until they get out of the Beltway and listen to the people who have to live with the results of their decisions.”

As the clock ticks down to a final FCC vote — which could happen as soon as December — the question looms large: Where is Tom Wheeler? And why won’t he meet with the people he’s supposed to serve?

Candace Clement is the Internet campaign director for Free Press and Mary Alice Crim is the organization’s field director. FreePress.net
Distributed via OtherWords

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Under the Reading Lamp — 4/27/2012

Why Your Prius Will Bankrupt Our Highways

Gas taxes have funded our roads for decades. But our fuel-efficient cars and tax-allergic Congress are leading to an infrastructure break-down. Since back in the Eisenhower era, the federal government has maintained a Highway Trust Fund, paid for mostly by taxes on fuel, that helps cover the repair and construction of our country’s roads, bridges, and mass transit. The idea was that drivers themselves should bear some of the cost of the roads they used. Unfortunately, Congress hasn’t raised the gas tax since 1993. Since then, inflation has eaten away at least a third of its value.

Could New Argument Against SB1070 Prove Law Is Unconstitutional?

Yana Kunichoff, Truthout: “Margaret Hu, an assistant professor at Duke University, argues that by making laws like SB1070, Arizona ‘represents an attempt to control the terms of what federal resources and officers must be appropriated to accommodate a myriad of state immigration enforcement programs.’ While it’s unconstitutional for the federal government to do this under the ‘anti-commandeering principle,’ Hu argues that it should be unconstitutional for states to do it as well. She calls the attempt by Arizona to use federal resources for its enforcement goal ‘reverse-commandeering.'”


Budget Control Act Military Cuts Will Cover the Social Security Shortfall

Robert Naiman, Truthout: “But if you look at the claims advanced on behalf of cutting Social Security benefits, a common theme is the claim that ‘the country can’t afford’ the Social Security benefits that we have been promised. That claim has nothing to do with the method of financing. Well, if the country can’t afford to pay the Social Security benefits that we were promised, then the country can’t afford to maintain current levels of military spending, and the level of military cuts in the sequester must stand. Because the two things are the same size.”

Disabled People Protest to Preserve Their Benefits

Rose Aguilar, Truthout: “We should all be outraged over how people with disabilities are treated in a country with so much wealth. For many of these activists, just leaving the house is a chore. But if they don’t travel to the nation’s capitol to speak out and raise awareness, who will? They could lose their in-home supportive services; they could lose the right to stay in their homes. And that’s why, year after year, they make the trek, knowing they might be arrested and won’t get much media attention unless a celebrity joins them.”

Romney’s Magical Capitalism

NationalMemo_300x250_1EJ Dionne:  Mitt Romney has a utopian view of what an unfettered, lightly taxed market economy can achieve. He would never put it this way, of course, but his approach looks forward by looking backward to the late 19th century, when government let market forces rip and a conservative Supreme Court swept aside as unconstitutional almost every effort to write rules for the economic game. This magical capitalism is the centerpiece of Romney’s campaign, and it may prove to be his undoing.

Are States’ Rights More Important Than Human Rights?

Dekker Dreyer, Op-Ed: “Two modern examples of States’ Rights being used as an attack on ethnic minorities are the numerous citizenship checkpoints which dot the interior of South-Western states and Arizona’s identification check laws enacted in 2010 which allows police officers to demand proof of citizenship from any person at any time. When my wife and I were stopped on a recent drive through New Mexico so that we could have our citizenship checked our hearts sank for every person living in that state who doesn’t “look” American.”

Gov. Rick Scott’s Drug Testing Regime for State Employees Declared Unconstitutional

Ian Millhiser, News Report: “It’s important to note that these drug-testing laws are not just unconstitutional, they are also completely unnecessary. Only one percent of Florida workers who took drug tests tested positive, and only two percent of state welfare recipients subject to Scott’s other drug testing law failed their drug tests. Yet, while these tests are both unconstitutional and a solution in search of a problem, there is still some risking that they could be upheld by an increasingly partisan Supreme Court.”

Is CISPA SOPA 2.0? We Explain the Cybersecurity Bill

Megha Rajagopalan, News Analysis: “The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, up for debate in the House of Representatives today, has privacy activists, tech companies, security wonks and the Obama administration all jousting about what it means – not only for security but Internet privacy and intellectual property. Backers expect CISPA to pass, unlike SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act that melted down amid controversy earlier this year. Here’s a rundown on the debate and what CISPA could mean for Internet users.”

When Half a Million Americans Died and Nobody Noticed

Alexander Cockburn, Op-Ed: “In September 2004, Merck, one of America’s largest pharmaceutical companies, issued a sudden recall of Vioxx, its anti-pain medication widely used to treat arthritis-related ailments. There was a fair amount of news coverage after the recall, but it was pretty slim considering the alleged 55,000 death toll. A big class-action lawsuit dragged its way through the courts for years, eventually being settled for $4.85 billion in 2007.”

Is There Room for Accountability in a Society Plagued by Everyday Corruption?

Shelly Bernal, Op-Ed: “Our political system is structured in such a way as to include money and influence as vital and integral components of the election process. Any elected official on local or national levels is required to accept money to pay for activities that will get him/her elected. The average winner of a U.S. House race in 2008 spent about $1.4 Million. The Senate? About $8 Million. I suspect that an untold number of promises must be made to motivate enough people to separate from that amount of money.”

Halfway Through the Lost Decade

Robert Scheer, Truthdig Op-Ed: “Without resurgence in housing value, consumer confidence will remain moribund and a woefully weak labor market will persist. Every time housing seems to be rebounding, the banks and the feds unload more of their toxic mortgages and prices edge lower. The only thing preventing a complete collapse, one that would plunge us into deep recession or worse, is the Fed’s extremely low interest rate, which Wednesday’s report reiterated will remain at near zero until late 2014.”

Millennium Scholarship gets no new aid from Nevada lawmakers

With the state in recession, legislators over the past two sessions have reduced funding for higher education and have had to find funds to keep the Millennium Scholarship solvent. Gov. Brian Sandoval has vowed not to make any additional cuts to education in 2013.

Killing the Messenger: The Downsizing and Death of the Postal Service

Dean Baker, Op-Ed: “If the Postal Service had a more reasonable prefunding requirement and were allowed to invest its pension in the same way as private companies, it would have run a profit over the last decade. This does not change the fact that the Post Service faces enormous challenges going forward. First class mail volume, the system’s bread and butter, has collapsed. Some of this is due to the recession, but most of it is clearly technological. It’s easier and cheaper to pay bills online.”

Senate Passes Postal Service Reform: Sanders Provisions Strengthen Bill

News Report: “The Senate bill would keep open more than 100 mail processing plants that were on the Postal Service chopping block. It also would prevent the closing of many of the more than 3,600 mostly rural post offices from being closed and would require additional reviews before a facility could be shuttered.”

Citizens Sue Iowa Plant Over Air Pollution

Chris Hamby, News Report: Grain Processing Corp. spokesperson Janet Sichterman said the company, known as GPC, hadn’t received a copy of the lawsuit and had no comment on it. As the Center documented, GPC reported releasing more acetaldehyde — a substance the Environmental Protection Agency considers a probable carcinogen — than almost any plant in the country in 2010. A state inspector has repeatedly noted a “blue haze” coming from some of the plant’s smokestacks that could indicate the presence of acetaldehyde.

Under the Reading Lamp — 1/30/2012


Jim Hightower | Buying Our Future
Jim Hightower, Op-Ed: “Already, four of the top GOP presidential contenders have dropped out. Michele Bachmann went first, because she was too wacky, followed by Jon Huntsman, because he was too sane. Herman Cain gave up because he was too exposed, and Rick Perry because he was too dim-witted. But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, has made his mark in Florida, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.”


Plan for Popular Presidential Vote Quietly Advances
Matthew Cardinale, News Report: Unlike many of the younger democracies around the world, the United States still does not elect its president by popular vote. Indeed, a majority of U.S. citizens elected Al Gore to be president in 2000, but because the U.S. elects its presidents by way of a convoluted system called the electoral college, George W. Bush was declared the winner that year instead.


Robert Reich | Why No Responsible Democrat Should Want Newt Gingrich to Get the GOP Nomination
Robert Reich, Op-Ed: “Independents, who will be key to the general election, are especially alarmed by Gingrich. As they should be. It’s not just Newt’s weirdness. It’s also the stunning hypocrisy. His personal life makes a mockery of his moralistic bromides. He condemns Washington insiders but had a forty-year Washington career that ended with ethic violations. He fulminates against finance yet drew fat checks from Freddie Mac. He poses as a populist but has had a $500,000 revolving charge at Tiffany’s.”


ALEC’s Latest Actions
Ben Adler, Op-Ed: “These include bills that are plainly counter-productive, such as the ‘Eliminating Support Services for Newborn Children’ Act. According to Granite Progress ‘This legislation would eliminate support services for newborn children whose parents are utilizing TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).’ How that will break the cycle of the poverty or give the disadvantaged children of poor people a more fair shot at becoming productive citizens is unclear.”


Foster Care, Uncertain Futures Loom for Thousands of Immigrant Children
Marjorie Valbrun, News Report: More than 5,000 children of immigrants are languishing in state foster care nationwide because their parents were living in the United States illegally and were detained or deported by federal immigration authorities. These children can spend years in foster homes, and some are put up for adoption after termination of their parents’ custody rights. With neither state nor federal officials addressing the problem, thousands more are poised to enter the child welfare system every year.


Dream Activists Heckle Romney in Miami
Amanda Peterson Beadle, Video Feature: Three immigration activists interruptedMitt Romney’s stump speech in Miami last week, shouting, “Why are you trying to separate our families?” and “What about equality?” Romney ignored the three hecklers, who said they were part of the DREAM Act movement. This is not the first time Romney has been targeted by students because of his promise to veto the DREAM Act or for his extreme immigration views — the harshest among the GOP presidential field. “We are here for a pro-family agenda. Pro families that are undocumented, pro families that have parents who are same-sex couples,” one activist said. “Romney has a platform that is anti-family.”


Future of U.S. Manufacturing Begins With Education
George Koo, News Analysis: “Advanced manufacturing depends on staffing the factory floor from the production line to the line supervisors with people possessing technical skills. The training programs Obama talked about might serve as temporary Band-Aids that might keep certain production from leaving in the short term. But to maintain a world leadership position, the US will need far more technicians, engineers and scientists than the country is producing.”


Wisconsin Recall Drive More Popular Than GOP Presidential Candidates – Combined
John Nichols, Op-Ed: “America is almost four weeks into the voting stage of the Republican presidential race. The candidates are debating. The media is covering the competition 24/7, and in such minute detail that Rick Perry’s quitting of the contest was treated as news. And Republicans in three states have caucused and voted in numbers that party leaders, pundits and the talk-radio amen corner tell us are significant. Yet at the same time, those same party leaders, pundits and radio talkers continue to dismiss the movement to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a false construct with little real hope of prevailing.”


A Tale of Two Cities: Beijing and Detroit
Helena Norberg-Hodge, Op-Ed: “Around the world, two opposing forces are contending to define our future. On one side are those working for a new economy—one that is more equitable, decentralized, and attuned to the needs of people and nature. On the other are the forces behind corporate globalization and its consolidation of political and economic power. While thousands of people have braved the winter cold and pepper spray to alert the world to the plight of the 99%, our governments are still forging ahead with destructive deregulatory treaties.”


Shedding Light on the Shadow Banking System
Ellen Brown, Op-Ed: “The scandal involves employees signing names not their own, under titles they did not really have, attesting to the veracity of documents they had not really reviewed. Investigation reveals that it did not just happen occasionally but was an industry-wide practice, dating back to the late 1990s; and that it may have clouded the titles of millions of homes. If the settlement is agreed to, it will let Wall Street bankers off the hook for crimes that would land the rest of us in jail – fraud, forgery, securities violations and tax evasion.”


Analysis: Buffett Rule Will Raise $50 Billion Per Year, Affect Just 0.08 Percent of Taxpayers
Pat Garofalo, News Analysis: When President Obama announced his latest vision for the so called “Buffett rule” — a 30 percent minimum tax on millionaires — during his State of the Union address this week, Republicans were quick to criticize it. For instance, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) derided the proposal as a “political gimmick.” “It’s a smokescreen,” added Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA). However, as a new analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice pointed out, the Buffett rule as laid out in the speech could raise up to $50 billion per year to pay down the deficit, while affecting just 0.08 percent of taxpayers.


After the Battle Against SOPA-What’s Next?
Lawrence Lessig, Op-Ed: “January 18, 2012, could prove to be an incredibly important day, and not just for copyright policy or the Internet. On that day, two critically important things happened. First, with its 6-2 decision in Golan v. Holder, the Supreme Court shut the door, finally and firmly, on any opportunity to meaningfully challenge a copyright statute constitutionally.”


Civil Rights Advocates Meet in L.A. to Discuss Voter Suppression Laws
Jose Luis Sierra and Zaineb Mohammed, News Report: Earlier this week, at a press briefing co-hosted by New America Media (NAM) and Common Cause, civil rights lawyers and advocates representing California’s largest ethnic communities spoke of the need to work together to ensure that 2012 elections are open and accessible, in light of a rash of state laws that they say are being deliberately designed to suppress the vote of ethnic minorities and the poor.


Growing Elite Opposition to Military Option Against Iran
Jim Lobe, News Analysis: “Like the imminent prospect of one’s hanging, to paraphrase the 18th century British essayist Dr. (Samuel) Johnson, the suddenly looming possibility of war can concentrate the mind wonderfully. If that aphorism didn’t apply in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq 10 years ago, it appears to be the case now for key sectors of the U.S. foreign-policy elite – notably, liberal hawks who supported the Iraq war – with regard to the sharp rise in tensions between Iran and both the U.S. and Israel earlier this month.”


Mega Manufacturer Caterpillar Locks Out Workers to Force Pay Cuts While Making Record Profits
Pat Garofalo, News Report: While certainly not in the same league with Apple’s abuses, Caterpillar is just the latest company attempting to force workers to accept wage cuts at the same time its hauling in huge profits and paying its CEO millions. AT&T, Navistar, John Deere, and Wellpoint have all pulled the same trick in the last few years, laying off hundreds of workers. Caterpillar’s CEO, John Oberhelman, made $10.5 million in 2010.


US Media Iraq Reporting: See No Evil
Dave Lindorff, Op-Ed: “The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place. On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad.”

Tell Electronic Arts to Oppose Internet Censorship

Congress has a plan to change the Internet forever. A bill they’re debating right now would give the government power to shut down whole websites, and even let corporations say which websites should be shut down.

That means a huge corporation could have any website even suspected of violating a copyright shut down — no questions asked. The government could then completely block all access to sites as big as Facebook or YouTube if one person posts one thing on those websites that corporations don’t want online.

Most major entertainment companies have come out in support of the bill, but despite swirling rumors, the huge video-gaming company Electronic Arts (EA) has yet to take an official stance. However, EA is part of the Entertainment Software Association, one of the big corporate lobbyists for the bill to censor the Internet — meaning that if EA came out against the bill, that would be a serious blow to the people trying to get it passed.

Shashank Kasturirangan is a student at NYU who’s a huge fan of gaming — including EA’s games — but he can’t believe that EA would want to mess with the Internet. Shashank started a petition on Change.org calling on Electronic Arts to stop lobbying for Congress’s plan to censor the Internet and come out against the bill. Click here to add your name to his petition.

The Internet censorship bill is particularly dangerous, according to advocates, because it would enable the government to set up the same type of tools to block online content that are used in repressive regimes around the world, like China, Iran, and Syria. For the first time, corporations and the government would be able to say what’s acceptable to put on the Internet.

While some companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter have come out against the bill, big movie studios, record companies, and their corporate lobbyists like the Entertainment Software Association are pushing Congress hard to pass Internet censorship.

Electronic Arts has millions of customers around the world playing video games like Madden 2012The Sims, and Scrabble, and they care deeply about what the public thinks about their company. If enough people call on EA to oppose the plan to censor the Internet, they will be forced to come out against the bill. And if EA backs off, other companies that haven’t yet taken a position will certainly think twice before supporting Congress’s plan to censor the Internet.

Sign Shashank’s petition to Electronic Arts to stop lobbying for Internet censorship and oppose the bill in Congress. Click here to sign.

Under the Reading Lamp — 8/13/2011

Clueless in Washington — Eugene Robinson, Op-Ed:
“The survey by the Post shows that while officials in Washington may be clueless in the face of economic turmoil, most of their constituents see things quite clearly. Seven out of 10 respondents said the federal government is “mostly focused on the wrong things” — and blamed Democrats and Republicans for this misdirected focus in precisely equal measure. How many times does this message have to be delivered? In poll after poll, Americans have said their top concern is the jobs crisis. Unemployment is at 9.1 percent. The worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression robbed the nation of 9 million jobs and only a fraction have been replaced.”

Republicans Strain Facts in Debate — News Analysis:
Michele Bachmann cast her opinion as a settled fact when she said Thursday that a key element of President Barack Obama’s health care law is unconstitutional. And Mitt Romney danced around an attempt to learn why he stayed largely mum on the epic debt limit standoff between Obama and Congress. The first big GOP debate of the primary season brought viewers a flurry of claims and counterclaims, not all built on solid ground.

You Can’t Waive the Reality of Our Public Schools — Jeff Bryant, Op-Ed:
Secretary Duncan’s once-reliable “reform” backers, true champions of the New Consensus, were mostly vehement in their criticism — slamming it as a “back door” strategy, a grasp for “greater presidential authority,” and a “gambit” pleasing no one. It seemed the best support that Duncan could get from the self-anointed reformers would be the incoherent declaration from loyal ally Michelle Rhee that waiving NCLB “accountability” is okay only if the government enforces “rigorous accountability.” And those who’ve long opposed NCLB were uniformly and unsurprisingly critical of the waiver plan.

Franken Calls for Oversight of Ratings Agencies — Joe Conason, Op-Ed:
“By setting up an independent federal board to assign ratings jobs to the agencies — rather than letting them be paid by those who issue the securities they grade — his proposal would have severed the industry’s gross conflicts of interest. Known as the “issuer pays” model, that traditional relationship let the banks reward S&P and Moody’s for awarding rubber-stamp AAA ratings to worthless mortgage-backed securities (as they did for years before the housing bubble burst). It was those abuses, he said, that left taxpayers, workers and government “holding the bag” while the bankers and ratings firms walked away with huge profits.”

Verizon’s Battle with Striking Workers — Kanya D’Almeida, News Analysis:
“On Monday, 45,000 workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) staged a coordinated walkout across a range of northeast and mid-Atlantic states, from Maine to Virginia. The workers are disgruntled employees of Verizon Communications, which, according to its website, is “America’s largest and most reliable wireless voice and 3G communication network”. Infuriated that the company is requesting 20,000 dollars in givebacks from every employee, Verizon workers are refusing to back down.”

Buzzsawing Bachman — Ruth Marcus, Op-Ed:
“The unavoidable fact of the matter is that, at least for the foreseeable future and most likely beyond, readers and viewers are going to focus more on female candidates’ looks and clothes than they do when men are involved. This is a phenomenon that journalists and fellow politicians need to keep in mind when choosing words and images. In fact, the phrase “Queen of Rage” may be more troubling than the photo that’s created so much fuss. Both words — “queen” and “rage” — are fraught. Queen has its Marie Antoinette-esque overtones. Would a male candidate be dubbed the “King of Rage?” And “rage” conjures unhinged, out-of-control anger, raging hormones and all that.”

VIDEO — U.S. Navy Vet Sues Donald Rumsfeld
On Monday, a federal appeals court refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two U.S. citizens against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and unnamed others for developing, authorizing and using harsh interrogation techniques against detainees in Iraq. Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel were working for a private U.S. government contractor, Shield Group Security, in 2006 when they witnessed the sale of U.S. government weapons to Iraqi rebel groups for money and alcohol. They were arrested and detained by U.S. troops, moved to the U.S.-run prison at Camp Cropper, and subjected to extreme sleep deprivation, interrogated for hours at a time, kept in a very cold cell, and denied food and water for long periods.

Collateral Damage in the War on Anonymity — David Sirota, Op-Ed:
“In the media and political arenas, we’ve seen paparazzi culture famously fetishize the outing of anonymous iconoclasts, from Watergate’s Deep Throat (Mark Felt) to a top CIA agent working on weapons of mass destruction (Valerie Plame). Likewise, in our communities, we now know that we are almost always being monitored in highly trafficked parks, malls, airports and stadiums — and as Slate recently reported, we may soon have apps on all of our smartphones that let us identify random faces in a crowd.”

Has Obama Found A New Voice on The Economy? — Lesley Clark, News Analysis:
In a rhetorical turnaround, President Barack Obama on Thursday described the debt debate in Washington as a symptom of a broken political system that puts party before country. His fiery comments, at a high-tech battery factory in Holland, Mich., evoked the passion of his 2008 presidential campaign and stood in contrast to his careful, almost bureaucratic message of recent weeks. “Time and again we’ve seen partisan brinkmanship get in the way,” Obama said. “As if winning the next election is more important than fulfilling our responsibilities to you and to our country.”

“Using Children”: Fox Hypocritically Attacks Progressive Video For “Indoctrinat[ing]” Kids
Research: On Monday afternoon, MoveOn.org and Rebuild the Dream announced a campaign to build up a popular movement that could match (if not surpass) the debt reduction crowd in both size and energy. And they have borrowed a concept from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) as their organizing principle. The basic premise of the campaign is that America isn’t broke, it’s merely imbalanced. In order to stabilize the economy, politicians should make substantial investments in infrastructure, energy, education and the social safety net, tax the rich, end the wars, and create a wider revenue base through job creation.

CPI Will Mean “Real Sacrifice” for Veterans — Daniel Marans, Op-Ed:
“Eight leading veterans’ groups sent letters to President Obama, and members of the House and Senate this week, urging them not to adopt the chained Consumer Price Index (CPI) for determining cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for Social Security and VA benefits. The letter relied on information from a new analysis by the Strengthen Social Security Campaign showing that the chained CPI will have an especially large effect on veterans and their families. The chained CPI, a change in the way inflation is measured, which would reduce Social Security and VA benefits, by cutting the annual COLA, as well as increase taxes, by slowing the rate at which tax brackets rise, has been on the table in deficit reduction talks for months.”

The 13 Best Positive, Progressive Bills of 2011 — News Analysis:
In states where the corporate right did not control the agenda, some landmark legislation passed that may point the way forward for future years in other states—when they will surely find themselves out of power once again. In no particular order, here are 13 positive, progressive pieces of legislation from around the states that advanced in 2011, and that represent some of the key policy solutions featured in the Progressive States Network’s Blueprint For Economic Security. Some are more prominent, others less so—but all advanced policies that promise to continue gaining momentum across the nation in the years to come.

Health Reform Without an Individual Mandate? — John Nichols, Op-Ed:
“The individual mandate was always a bad idea. Instead of recognizing that health care is a right, the members of Congress and the Obama administration who cobbled together the health-care reform plan created a mandate that maintains the abuses and the expenses of for-profit insurance companies – and actually rewards those insurance companies with a guarantee of federal money. Those who think that the for-profit (or even not-for-profit) insurance industry has to control any health-care reform initiative have every right to be upset with the 11th Circuit’s ruling – which almost certainly will send the case of the Obama health-care plan to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Corporate Informants May Benefit From Exposing Fraud — Michael Hudson, News Report:
“The Securities and Exchange Commission’s new whistleblower rules went into effect Friday, paving the way for tipsters who expose corporate fraud to collect rewards that could total millions of dollars. To highlight the official start of its new whistleblower bounty program, the SEC launched a Web page, http://www.sec.gov/whistleblower, that includes information on eligibility and directions on how to submit a tip. Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, whistleblowers who provide useful and original information could be eligible to receive between 10 percent and 30 percent of penalties of $1 million or more that the SEC collects in criminal or civil cases.”

Gov. Perry’s Ties to Radical Evangelicals — Video Interview:
“Republican Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is expected to announce his entry into the 2012 presidential race. Perry will make the announcement Saturday at a conference in South Carolina organized by Erick Erickson’s RedState.com. Early backers of Perry’s presidential run have heralded him as being behind the so-called Texas economic miracle. However, many have questioned Perry’s economic claims in Texas. Questions have also arisen over Perry’s close ties to the radical wing of the Christian evangelical movement.”

Critics Accurately Accuse Limbaugh Of “Lying” — Research:
“Rush Limbaugh complained recently that critics constantly accuse him of “lying” and “making [things] up,” a charge he steadfastly dismissed. However, Media Matters has rounded up some of the whoppers he’s told this week alone. Limbaugh Whined That Critics Accuse Him Of “Lying”. On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh said: “I’m wondering if maybe these emails are coming from actual supporters disguised as critics, because my email box gets flooded every time I make an assertion: “You’re lying about it, just like you lie about everything. You’re just making it up.”

Republican Debate Offers No Policy Solutions — Ben Adler, Op-Ed:
“In general the debate featured unanimity despite the loud, petty arguments about who supported raising cigarette taxes in Minnesota (Tim Pawlenty versus Michelle Bachmann), and who said what about who (Pawlenty versus Mitt Romney). There was plenty of sniping, but no meaningful disagreement, except for Ron Paul versus Rick Santorum on Iran. There were pledges of undying fealty to extremist ideology, but no practical explanations of how change would be achieved, other than Representative Michele Bachmann’s promise not to rest until Republicans win a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.”