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Archive for the ‘Activism’ Category

People are taking action across the country to mark the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that corporate political spending is the same thing as real speech by real people.

Left unchecked, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling will have grave consequences for our democracy. In last fall’s elections, corporate spending soared, and sources of outside spending were kept secret. This outside money was a major factor in 80 percent of the races where power changed hands.

Now, any lawmaker who is interested in standing against corporate interests has to figure out how to say ‘no’ to corporate lobbyists wielding the resources to replace him or her with a more corporate-friendly lawmaker.

But We, the People are mobilizing to fight back.

From Massachusetts to Oregon, Florida to Alaska, more than 100 demonstrations are being held throughout the nation.
Even a group of socially conscious business corporations, led by Ben & Jerry’s, is standing up to assert that we need a constitutional amendment to stop the corporate takeover of our democracy.

Nearly a million concerned citizens have signed petitions calling on Congress to pass such a constitutional amendment — petitions that will be delivered to Congress at noon today (Public Citizen’s petition is at www.DontGetRolled.org).

If you’re participating in today’s actions, be sure to take pictures, make videos, blog and tweet about what you’re doing. You can share your photos, videos and other documentation with us by sending an email to action@citizen.org, sending a tweet to @Public_Citizen or posting it on our Facebook page. (more…)

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A meager $293? That’s the average weekly unemployment check collected by the 15 million Americans looking for work right now. Or $293 million? That’s what outside groups funded primarily by corporations and the very wealthy spent on the 2010 elections.

$75 billion? That’s the windfall coming to people who are already rich if the Bush tax cuts are extended. $145 billion? That’s the record amount Wall Street is paying in bonuses this year.

Trillions? In the wake of the financial crisis, that’s what We, the People provided in bailouts, loans and other supports to save Big Business from its own greed and irresponsibility.

At Public Citizen, our mission is to counteract the policies that cause numbers like these. We can defeat corporate power. But we need your help.

Please contribute $10, $20, $35 or whatever you can today.

Contribute $100 or more and get a free DVD from a selection of popular progressive films!

Corporations just elected their dream Congress. It’s going to take all of us doing everything we can, together, to prevent Congress from rolling back our health and safety protections and showering gifts on their corporate patrons—and to win new public interest initiatives.

Public Citizen will be leading the fight against corporate power in the new Congress, a Congress that will be less critical of corporate America’s agenda than any we’ve ever seen.

The critical first step is making sure we can hit the ground running when Congress returns to Washington in January. That’s why I’m writing now to ask for your help to raise $150,000 by the end of 2010.

Your contribution of $10, $20, $35 or whatever you can afford will be put to work immediately building on our important achievements in 2010 and growing our movement against runaway corporate power.

For four decades, Public Citizen members have stood together to face down corporate power.

I need you to stand with me today.

Robert Weissman is president of Public Citizen.

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Today’s Flickr photo

Wikileaks supporters rally in Sydney, Australia. Flickr photo by MrReebDoog.

If you read one thing today . . .

Count David Corn,  Mother Jones’ D.C. bureau chief, as one of the few progressives coming to the defense of President Obama over his acquiescence in extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. In his Politics Daily column, Corn says that after gaining insights from high-level administration sources, he’s of the mind that the president’s decision was less about giving in to GOP demands and more about salvaging something for beleaguered middle-class Americans.

But come this point, Obama had to play a lousy hand — even though it was a hand he had a hand in dealing. And here comes the sympathy.

In meeting after meeting, during which the president and his aides discussed his options, Obama repeatedly asked if anyone could guarantee that were he to put up his dukes, go to the mat, and play chicken with the GOPers, mid- and low-income Americans would end up with the breaks and benefits he believed they need. If he went nose-to-nose, mano-a-mano, and the R’s didn’t blink, they’d be nothing for nobody — and the Bush tax cuts would end for the middle class, mean that come Jan. 1, hard-working Americans would see a smaller paycheck. To make matters worse, this might have an anti-stimulative effect on the economy.

Then what would happen? He might be able to win the blame-game against the Scrooge-ish Republicans — which would be a significant victory, especially heading into the next Congress. But there would be no action until next year, and any tax-related bill would have to originate in the Republican-controlled House and pass a Senate with a larger and more tea party-ish GOP caucus. It could take weeks or months to hammer out a package. What were the odds it would contain as much assistance for the non-rich? In the meantime, working-class Americans would be contending with less money. That is, hurting more.

Overheard:

The progressive uproar over President Obama’s decision to cave to GOP demands over extending the Bush tax cuts extends beyond the president’s shaken grassroots base and outspoken liberal members of Congress — now the voices of dissent are coming from some of his big financial backers. Matea Gold in the L.A. Times writes that Obama’s lack of fight is hurting the Democratic fund-raising effort.

“I would say I’m not a happy camper,” said Paul Egerman, a software entrepreneur in Boston, who said this was the first time he felt Obama reversed himself on a significant policy issue. “That troubles me. I need to be convinced he really had no alternative.”

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We figured there was no better place to mark the U.N.’s International Anti-Corruption Day (you missed it?) than in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That’s the same Chamber of Commerce that would like to seriously weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FCPA basically makes it illegal for a corporation to bribe foreign government leaders. Back in the 70s before the act was passed, it was pretty common for corporations to bribe foreign governments in exchange for all sorts of favors.

Friends of the Earth, Common Cause, U.S. Chamber Watch and Public Citizen all took a moment today to talk about the need for strong anti-corruption measures. Unfortunately, no one from the Chamber attended our rally.

From today's rally in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Dorry Samuels.

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Weissman

With the year coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on how things are going. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done together. We won some hugely important victories and built an increasingly powerful movement to take on corporate power.

I’ll be reviewing our achievements—and addressing the just-announced deal to give massive tax cuts to the nation’s richest people—in subsequent messages.

For now, I want to offer a snapshot of corporate power in Washington. It’s not a pretty picture.

Corporate crime and wrongdoing is an everyday fact of life in the United States and around the world. Still, the past year has been remarkable for a series of (more…)

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Today’s Flickr photo

Tabi, an indigenous community affected by climate change. Flickr photo by Oxfam International.

If you read one thing today . . .

Here’s an interesting question to ponder: What happens to the island nations that get swallowed up by the rising oceans because of global warming? Do the nations cease to exist? Do they lose their seats at the United Nations? Charles J. Hanley reporting from the U.N. climate conference in Cancun, Mexico ponders the dilemma in the Huffington Post.

From 7,000 miles (11,000 kilometers) away, the people of the Marshalls – and of Kiribati, Tuvalu and other atoll nations beyond – can only wonder how many more years they’ll be able to cope.

“People who built their homes close to shore, all they can do is get more rocks to rebuild the seawall in front day by day,” said Kaminaga, who is in Cancun with the Marshallese delegation to the U.N. talks.

The Marshallese government is looking beyond today, however, to those ultimate questions of nationhood, displacement and rights.

“We’re facing a set of issues unique in the history of the system of nation-states,” Dean Bialek, a New York-based adviser to the Republic of the Marshall Islands who is also in Cancun, told The Associated Press. “We’re confronting existential issues associated with climate impacts that are not adequately addressed in the international legal framework.”

Overheard:

President Obama’s decision to compromise cave on extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy has pushed some progressives in Congress to the breaking point, report Politico’s Jonathan Allen and Josh Gerstein. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said the fight over the tax cuts could define Obama.

“They’re bullying him. For the country’s sake, he’s got to stand up,” said [McDermott], who worked as psychiatrist in the Navy. “It’s setting the standard for the next two years.”

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Corporate America is raking in higher profits than ever before.

On Capitol Hill, lobbyists are calling for cuts to line the pockets of the super-rich while gouging holes in the safety net for those hit hardest by the Great Recession.

And in January, a new Congress will arrive — a Congress stacked with members whose campaigns reaped the benefits of the limitless corporate money unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s time for We, the People to take a stand.

Join us next month in demonstrations against Corporate America on the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. To stay in the loop on planning and preparations, sign up at www.citizen.org/i-will-stand-up-to-corporate-america.
(more…)

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Flickr photo by kuddlyteddybear2004

Thanksgiving brings many things to mind: family and friends, football and fireside naps, colorful leaves and cozy sweaters, cranberries and pumpkin pie.

At Public Citizen, our thoughts also turn to how thankful we are for the activists and supporters all across the country who stand with us day after day, year after year.

We look forward to working with you in the coming year to protect our democracy and take on runaway corporate power.

And we wish you and yours a relaxing and joyful holiday.

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Tea Party protestersTea Party members who want to punish corporations for supporting the policies of President Obama or congressional Democrats should demand that their senators pass the DISCLOSE Act (S.3628).

That’s the conclusion I came to after reading Paul Bedard’s Washington Whispers column in today’s U.S. News & World Report.

Bedard’s piece offers some interesting speculation by Tea Party organizers about upcoming campaigns to punish corporations that supported “President Obama’s progressive agenda.”

But Bedard doesn’t mention that the eager Tea Partiers will have no way to know which corporations to target, since so many corporations secretly give money to Big Business’ lobbying heavyweight, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and let it do the dirty work. (more…)

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Today’s Flickr photo

Scroll with signatures collected by the Monahan brothers who walked across the country to protest the Citizens United ruling. Flickr photo by M.V. Jantzen

If you read one thing today . . .

It’s pretty clear that Tea Party matriarch Sarah Palin  is no lover of Big Government or big bailouts. Except, she was for the bailouts before she was against them. David Corn in Mother Jones has an interesting look at the old Sarah’s defense of bailouts and the new Sarah’s displeasure.

Palin went further this summer, when she contended that Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s support for the bailout was grounds for voting against her. Palin was backing Joe Miller in the GOP primary against Murkowski. In an endorsement message for Miller posted on her Facebook page in August, Palin, bashing Murkowski as a faux Republican, declared,

Alaska deserves a senator who will not talk one way in the Last Frontier and then vote the opposite way in the Beltway. It’s time for Alaskans who are concerned about endless bailouts, ever increasing debt and deficits, and the government take-over of health care (all planks Lisa Murkowski has walked) to get behind Joe Miller.

Palin added, “We know Joe won’t support more bailouts, but we know Lisa already has.”

In less than two years, Palin had gone from endorsing the bailout to using it as ammo to slam a fellow Republican who had also supported TARP.

Overheard

That nervous rattling you hear is coming from the U.S. Capitol where those up for election in 2012 who must feel like they have targets painted on their chest after watching so many incumbents and party favorites bite the dust during the midterm primaries and general election. Call it the Tea Party effect. Politico’s Manu Raju writes that several veteran Republicans and Democrats are worried. Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who faces the prospect of running in a solid red state, is stressing her independence:

“I don’t think you have to be disloyal to President [Barack] Obama, to be independent,” said McCaskill, who is facing reelection in a state that Obama lost in 2008. “And I think that’s the message that I got to make sure that Missourians understand: that I haven’t been afraid to differ from Harry Reid; I have not been afraid to take on Nancy Pelosi; I have not been afraid to tell the president he is wrong. And that I have been the independent that I think most Missourians want.”

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