The Morality Brigade

— by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton

Robert ReichWe’re still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.

In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in “Roe v. Wade,” which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

imageThe morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.  

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Despite the Supreme Court’s willingness to consider the constitutionality of California’s ban, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California’s law while allowing other states to continue their bans.

Conservative moralists don’t want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don’t give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that’s essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called “Citizen’s United,” the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were “people” under the First Amendment.

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson —seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

They didn’t entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

Yet where is the morality brigade when it comes to these moves to take over our democracy?

Among the worst violators of public morality have been executives and traders on Wall Street.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s biggest bank, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion “London Whale” losses in 2012. 

This is the same JPMorgan that’s lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists for the giant banks have been systematically taking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.

The so-called “Volcker Rule,” intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits – itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act – still hasn’t seen the light of day.

Last week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank – expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e., JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.

Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.

And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.

Why doesn’t the morality brigade complain about the rampant greed on the Street that’s already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity — and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn’t be the public’s business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

But what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public’s business. Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Robert Reich, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller,Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future; The Work of Nations; Locked in the Cabinet; Supercapitalism; and his newest, Beyond Outrage. His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at http://www.robertreich.org.

Will ‘Compromise’ Mean Sacrificing Our Social Safety Net?

— by Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under President Bill Clinton

Disturbing reports that the White House is already caving on Social Security and Medicare — telling Republicans it’s willing to cut yearly inflation adjustments to Social Security (thereby stranding seniors who must already pay 20-40% of their incomes for drugs and healthcare, whose prices are surging faster than inflation); and means-test Medicare (thereby greasing the way for it to become akin to Medicaid, a program for the poor). Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are on board.

But these so-called entitlement programs aren’t entitlements; people have paid into them their whole working lives. They’re the nation’s key programs of social insurance — and they’re wildly popular. Democrats are and should be the protectors of these programs, not the first proponents of reducing them. Republicans, meanwhile, won’t give an inch on closing giant tax loopholes for the rich (such as Mitt Romney’s “carried interest” boondoggle) or raising capital gains on the rich or capping the mortgage interest deduction for the wealthy or adopting a wealth tax or a tax on financial transactions. Why do Democrats always negotiate with themselves? Please send a message to the White House:  Stop giving away the store!

Read more from Robert Reich here.

Under the Reading Lamp — April 12, 2012

CAMPAIGN ISSUES:
The Choice in 2012: Social Darwinism or a Decent Society
imageRobert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog: “[Obama] kicked off his 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney with a hard-hitting speech centered on the House Republicans’ budget plan – which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed. That plan, by the way, is the most radical reverse-Robin Hood proposal propounded by any political party in modern America. It would save millionaires at least $150,000 a year in taxes while gutting Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, transportation, child nutrition, college aid, and almost everything else average and lower-income Americans depend on.”
Five Preposterous, Persistent Conservative Myths
by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams: With the mainstream media in the hands of the mostly conservative wealthy, it’s difficult for average Americans to learn the truth about critical issues. The following five conservative claims are examples of mythical beliefs that fall apart in the presence of inconvenient facts.
CIVIL RIGHTS:
Labor Organizing as a Civil Right
Richard D. Kahlenberg, Moshe Z. Marvit, Dissent Magazine: “It is time for supporters of labor to try an approach to reforming labor laws … and instead focus on the fact that labor organizing should be written into our civil rights laws. The result of an amendment to the Civil Rights Act would be significant: just as it is now illegal to fire or discipline someone for race or gender or national origin or religion, it would be illegal under the Civil Rights Act to fire or discipline someone for trying to organize or join a union.”
CULTURE WAR:
Pregnancy, Sexual Congress and the (In)Visibility of Men
Ellen Dannin, Truthout: “When it comes to being an expert on birth control and women’s sexuality, men are apparently the experts, the go-to guys. Men are twice as likely as women to be pundits on birth control on cable news, and men were the sole panelists when birth control was discussed in Congress. However, except for commenting on women’s sexuality, and testifying, legislating, and deciding who can or cannot have birth control and who can or cannot terminate a pregnancy, men are invisible.”
ECONOMIC ISSUES:
Unmasking the GOP’s Faith-Based Economics
Faith based economicsJohn Kane, Truthout: “From Ron Paul to Mitt Romney, politicians consistently employ their own framing of why the economy is performing poorly, and thus, promote a consistent remedy for how to improve it. Government doesn’t need to do more, they contend, it needs to do less – less regulating, less spending, less taxing. They believe in these solutions, I argue, not necessarily because of some secret allegiance to the rich, but because of their longstanding blind faith in the ability of the so-called ‘free market’ to correct economic problems on its own.”
Whose Recovery? Many Americans Remain in Critical Condition
by Robert Reich, Common Dreams: The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter (far better than the measly 1.8 percent third quarter growth). Personal income also jumped. Americans raked in over $13 trillion, $3.3 billion more than previously thought. Yet it’s almost a certainly that all the gains went to the top 10 percent, and the lion’s share to the top 1 percent. Over a third of the gains went to 15,600 super-rich households in the top one-tenth of one percent.
The Best Congress the Banks’ Money Can Buy
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Common Dreams: Here we go again. Another round of the game we call Congressional Creep. After months of haggling and debate, Congress finally passes reform legislation to fix a serious rupture in the body politic, and the President signs it into law. But the fight’s just begun, because the special interests immediately set out to win back what they lost when the reform became law.
EDUCATION ISSUES:
The Assault on Public Education
Noam Chomsky, Truthout: “Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere…. ‘In most states,’ The New York Times reports, ‘it is now tuition payments, not state appropriations, that cover most of the budget,’ so that ‘the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the state, may be over.’ Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.”
ENERGY ISSUES:
USGS Report implicates oil and natural gas drilling, aka fracking
Is your home insured for earthquake damage? It’s a special rider you need to purchase to cover such damage, and it they’re fracking anywhere near your home, well you might need to purchase such a rider. A US Geological Survey research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies. A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies. (Image: EcoWatch.org). According to the study led by USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth, the spike in earthquakes since 2001 near oil and gas extraction operations is “almost certainly man-made.” The research team cites underground injection of drilling wastewater as a possible cause.
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:
Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?
by Brian Moench, Common Dreams: A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune’s front page headline declared, “Highest rate in the nation, 1 in 32 Utah boys has autism.” This is a national public health emergency, whose epicenter is Utah, Gov. Herbert. A more obscure story on the same day read: “New pesticides linked to bee population collapse.” If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, this is another national emergency, Pres. Obama. A common denominator may underlie both headlines.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS:
Report: Worldwide Opposition to Monsanto

“Farmers worldwide are resisting for food sovereignty, but the rest of the world must join us.”

A report released today shows that worldwide opposition to the biotechnology giant Monsanto and “the agro-industrial model that it represents” is growing. “This new report documents the intense opposition to this powerful transnational company, which peddles its genetically modified products seemingly without regard for the associated social, economic and environmental costs,” said Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty programme coordinator.

HEALTH CARE ISSUES:
SCOTUS Invalidates Breast Cancer Gene Patents
SCOTUS Invalidates Breast Cancer Gene PatentsThe Supreme Court set aside a lower court ruling that allowed a company to patent two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer and limit access to potentially life-saving genetic tests for at risk-women, giving women a rare victory over corporate interests and continuing a promising line of decisions that refuses to corporatize human genetics.
A Very Sick Country by David Michael Green, Common Dreams:
It looks now like the regressive majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, his health care bill. That is so fitting. More than that, it is also a reminder of just how sick this country truly is. Imagine that the lab returned the results from your battery of blood work tests, and all the indicators were screaming out “Danger!” and “Broken!”. That’s us, baby. Get this patient to the ER!
JUDICIARY
Partisan Rulings on Strip Searches and Citizens United Could Put Supreme Court on Trial in 2012 (Video)
Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show: “Rachel Maddow reviews the details of a controversial 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on strip searches.”
Watch the Video
NATIONAL SECURITY:
The Real Costs of War
Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co.: “Most discussion about the ‘costs of war’ focuses on two numbers: dollars spent and American troops who gave their lives. A decade into the war on terror, those official costs are over a trillion dollars and more than 6,000 dead. But as overwhelming as those numbers are, they don’t tell the full story. In one of the most comprehensive studies available, researchers in the Eisenhower Study Group at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies looked at the human, economic, social and political costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as our military actions in Pakistan.”
TAXES:
U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Much Lower Than Most Other Developed Nations
imagePat Garofalo, ThinkProgress: “Republicans have been kvetching about the fact that, as of Sunday, the U.S. will have the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the world following a scheduled cut in Japan’s corporate tax. ‘The United States is a world leader in countless ways. ‘World’s Highest Taxes’ is a title we should give up as soon as possible,’ wrote Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in a Fox News op-ed…. The U.S. both taxes its corporations less and raises less in revenue from corporate taxes than its foreign competitors.”
WILDLIFE
Stripped of Protection, Wolves Face ‘Second Extermination’ in US
Wildlife advocates are outraged by photos that show a captured wolf being tortured by a Forest Service employee in Idaho. The Center for Biological Diversity sent letters to both the Forest Service and Idaho Attorney General, Lawrence Wasden, today requesting investigations into the actions of Josh Bransford, who posted photos of a wolf he had trapped in northern Idaho that had been maliciously and non-fatally shot by people who spotted the animal from a nearby road.

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.”

Under the Reading Lamp — 1/22/2012


Does US Senate Commit Treason with NDAA Bill?

Jeanine Molloff, Op-Ed: “December 1st, 2011, the US Senate accomplished the unthinkable–with the nearly unanimous passage of the National Defense Authorization Bill of 2012–they committed treason. Written and planned in secret by the Senate Armed Services Committee, the newly minted NDAA contains three sections which collectively sanctions indefinite detention of alleged terrorists or ‘terrorist sympathizers’–anywhere in the world including the US– and designates the military the duty to arrest, imprison and interrogate without benefit of counsel,’ accused civilians here on Main Street.”


After ‘Citizens United’: The Attack of the Super PACs

John Nichols and Robert W. McChesney, Op-Ed: “Citizens United’s easing of restrictions on corporate and individual spending, especially by organizations not under the control of candidates, has led to the proliferation of “Super PACs.” These shadowy groups do not have to abide by the $2,500 limit on donations to actual campaigns, and they can easily avoid rules for reporting sources of contributions. For instance, Super PACs have established nonprofit arms that are permitted to shield contributors’ identities as long as they spend no more than 50 percent of their money on electoral politics.”


Corporate Rule Is Not Inevitable

Sarah van Gelder, Op-Ed: “You may remember that there was a time when apartheid in South Africa seemed unstoppable. Sure, there were international boycotts of South African businesses, banks, and tourist attractions. There were heroic activists in South Africa, who were going to prison and even dying for freedom. But the conventional wisdom remained that these were principled gestures with little chance of upending the entrenched system of white rule. ‘Be patient,’ activists were told. ‘Don’t expect too much against powerful interests with a lot of money invested in the status quo.’”


A Credit Union to Bail out People, Not Big Banks

Judith Scherr, News Report: The Occupy Movement condemns the banks’ role in predatory lending and the foreclosure crisis, the high-interest student loans they say enriches the bankers and impoverishes college students, bank investments in private prisons and more. But protesting isn’t enough for Occupy San Francisco activist Brian McKeown. He says a bank should be a transparent institution whose mission is to help people. And so, with like-minded partners, McKeown is putting together a plan for the People’s Reserve Credit Union (PRCU).


Boehner Threatens to Hold Payroll Tax Holiday Hostage to Approval of Keystone XL

Zack Ford, Video Report: On Fox News Sunday this morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told Chris Wallace that “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure the Keystone Pipeline is approved.” When Wallace pressed him whether Republican leadership would make the pipeline a condition for extending the payroll tax holiday, Boehner admitted, “We may,” adding (several times) that “All options are on the table.” Proponents of the pipeline have dwarfed opponents in lobbying spending, inflated the actual effect it will have on job creation, and spread various myths designed tocircumvent its environmental impact.


Bernie Sanders: We Must Stop This Corporate Takeover of American Democracy

Bernie Sanders, Op-Ed: “Two years ago, the United States supreme court betrayed our Constitution and those who fought to ensure that its protections are enjoyed equally by all persons regardless of religion, race or gender by engaging in an unabashed power-grab on behalf of corporate America. In its now infamous decision in the Citizens United case, five justices declared that corporations must be treated as if they are actual people under the Constitution when it comes to spending money to influence our elections, allowing them for the first time to draw on the corporate checkbook – in any amount and at any time – to run ads explicitly for or against specific candidates.”


How the Republicans on the FEC Are Making Citizens United Even Worse

Josh Israel, News Analysis: “Three Republican appointees to the Federal Election Commission may be as responsible as anyone for the lack of transparency of post-Citizens United political spending. Two years ago, when the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United ruling, one bright spot was that the majority explicitly endorsed the constitutionality and necessity of disclosure rules that inform voters who paid for the political ads they see. ‘Disclosure is the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations,’ they affirmed.”


The Green Economy, Boon or Menace?

Emilio Godoy, News Report: In its study “Who Will Control the Green Economy?”, published Dec. 15, 2011, the ETC Group argues that the development of a green economy will primarily benefit large corporations, unless changes are made to the current models of production and consumption of goods and services and international governance. It reveals that large transnational corporations in the energy, pharmaceutical, food and chemical industries are already forming alliances to exploit biomass and grab control of natural resources like land and water.


Christopher Petrella | Death, Taxes, and Alcatraz

Christopher Petrella, Op-Ed: “Please allow me to introduce some figures that I believe will convincingly demonstrate the scope and depth of our predicament. Although the United States represents less than 5% of the world’s population, we harbor over 25% of those incarcerated. In fact, we’ve incarcerated more people in absolute terms than China, whose population is four times the larger. Despite these sobering figures, few thinkers, however—even those of avowedly ‘progressive’ persuasion— have sharply critiqued the well-worn diptych of ‘crime and punishment.’”


Bad Bankers, Bad Fraud Deals, And The President’s ‘Great Gatsby’ Problem

Richard (RJ) Eskow, Op-Ed: “Investigate the Banks!” Today a coalition of progressive groups handed in a petition with more than 360,000 signatures that demanded exactly that. It calls on the Obama administration to stop pushing a cushy fraud settlement for bankers, to pursue a fair deal for shafted homeowners, and to let criminal investigations against Wall Street crooks proceed. Yet White House officials are still aggressively pushing the very same cushy deal on foreclosure fraud that inspired the petition.


How Payday Lenders Make Billions By Fleecing Americans In Poverty

Tanya Somanader, News Report: “As a growing number of Americans slip out of the middle-class into economic insecurity, they are increasingly vulnerable to predatory lending schemes like the payday loan. Each year, about 12 million Americans incur long-term debt by taking out a short-term loan that’s intended to cover a borrowers’ expenses until they receive their next paycheck. Payday lending takes ‘unfair advantage of lower-income borrowers,’ with most taking out nine repeat loans per year with an interest rate as high as 400 percent.”


Robert Reich | Amend 2012

Robert Reich, Video Presentation: Thanks to the Supreme Court and Citizens United, the same big corporations and billionaires that destroyed our economy and caused millions of us to lose our jobs and homes, are spending obscene amounts to drown out our voices in elections and take over our government. But together, “We the People” can set things right. Stand with Robert Reich and join the movement for a constitutional amendment today.


Kucinich Announces Constitutional Amendment to Publicly Finance Federal Elections

Dennis Kucinich, Op-Ed: On the eve of the second anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United, which opened the floodgate of unlimited, shadowy corporate spending in public elections, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced H. J. Res. 100, a constitutional amendment to rescue American democracy from corporate money’s corrupting influence.