Monday, January 30, 2012

Cole Case, Merkley on Social Security and Taxes, Bentz Team for 2012


Cole Case
[Edited, 1/31/12]

I heard back in mid-2011 that Brian Cole, a former Baker Economic Development Director, consultant, former County Commissioner, and former Nazarene Sunday school teacher, was being fingerprinted to fulfill one step in getting his arrest record, as it relates to four counts of sex abuse in the Third Degree (Class A Misdemeanor), and one of Providing Liquor to a Person Under 21 (Class A Misdemeanor), set aside in this case, which began on Halloween evening, October 31, 2009. He plead guilty to one count of Providing Liquor to a Person Under 21 (Class A Misdemeanor) on December 15, 2010.

The motion to set aside the arrest on the other counts was filed by Baker City attorney Bob Moon on October 17, 2011. It has been slow to develop, but there is reason to believe that a hearing on the motion may be set in the not to distant future. Former Umatilla County Chief Deputy prosecutor Dan Wendel, now Assistant Oregon Attorney General, is representing the state as a Special Deputy District Attorney for Baker County.

Interestingly, many of the principles in this case have worked in Umatilla County. Cole did development consulting there, Judge Garry Reynolds served there, and Wendel was a prosecutor there.

They say that after a year or so, people's memories begin to fade, certainly mine, so here are the links to my more informative posts on the subject, with the December 1, 2010 post being perhaps the most important (read down below the first two photos of County Courthouse damage issues in that post):

Halloween Happenings: Brian Cole Cited for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

Cole Case & Baker County Birds

Cole Case: Is Justice Delayed, Justice Denied?

Cole Case: Justice Delayed IS Justice Denied: Reynolds Dismisses Sex Abuse Charges Against Cole.

Cole Case (18 months probation) & County Court House Damage [Cole was actually given 1 year bench probation]

So now, over a year after now retired Judge Garry Reynolds issued his, in my opinion, infamous decisions in the case, we have Brian Cole and his attorney returning to court to have Cole's arrest record on the dismissed charges "set aside."

I'm no lawyer (who knew!), but ORS § 137.225, Order setting aside conviction or record of arrest allows :

- "the victim to make a statement at the hearing."
- "the court shall issue an order sealing the record of conviction and other official records in the case, including the records of arrest whether or not the arrest resulted in a further criminal proceeding."
- "Upon entry of the order, the conviction, arrest or other proceeding shall be deemed not to have occurred, and the applicant may answer accordingly any questions relating to its occurrence."

Also, under ORS § 181.548 Confidentiality of some records:

- Notwithstanding the provisions of ORS 192.410 (Definitions for ORS 192.410 to 192.505) to 192.505 (Exempt and nonexempt public record to be separated) relating to public records the fingerprints, photographs, records and reports compiled under ORS 137.225 (Order setting aside conviction or record of arrest), 181.010 (Definitions for ORS 181.010 to 181.560 and 181.715 to 181.730), 181.511 (Fingerprints, identifying data, disposition report required upon arrest), 181.521 (Transmittal of disposition report), 181.555 (Establishment of procedures for access to criminal record information), 805.060 (Law enforcement undercover vehicles) and this section are confidential and exempt from public inspection except: . . . .
So, despite the evidence produced in this case, if this motion is granted, the public record of what transpired, suppressed as it was by judge Garry Reynolds, and the arrest record for all but one charge, may disappear from the government record, and the "arrest or other proceeding shall be deemed not to have occurred, and the applicant may answer accordingly any questions relating to its occurrence."

A Note from Senator Jeff Merkley on Social Security, Taxes, the Afghan War, and the Defense Budget

Tomorrow’s a special day. 72 years ago, Ida May Fuller was the nation's first recipient of a Social Security check.

Also, tomorrow, Republicans in Florida will vote in the GOP presidential primary. But, unfortunately for seniors in Florida and across the country, the candidates are humming an all-too-familiar tune.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Leading Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have pushed to privatize Social Security.

Surprised? I’m not. For years, Republican leaders have been saying that “reforming” Social Security is critical if we’re going to get our nation’s deficit and debt under control.

Here’s the truth: Social Security is fully solvent, and will be through 2038. So why all the bluster? It’s a giveaway to Wall Street, plain and simple.

Republicans like Romney and Gingrich claim that breaking our promise to seniors will reduce the debt. But I have a few other ideas that are more fair and make more sense:
- End the Bush Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
- End tax subsidies to big oil companies.
- End the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.
- Reform our outdated tax code that lets ultra-wealthy individuals (like Romney) pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.
- Trim our nation’s bloated defense budget by cutting out unnecessary, sweetheart projects that the Pentagon doesn’t even want.

Starting with Ida May Fuller in 1940, our nation has a proud history of rewarding a lifetime of hard work with the promise of financial security in one’s golden years. It’s been the most effective anti-poverty program in the history of the world.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Would you join me on Facebook and tell me: How is Social Security important to you and your family? Let’s have a conversation about our nation’s priorities.

All my best,



Representative Bentz's Team for 2012

Bentz Assembles Ace Team for 2012 Session
SALEM--Representative Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario) has assembled an excellent staff for the 2012 Legislative Session, which convenes Wednesday, February 1.

Andrea Goodwin, originally from Claremore, Oklahoma, will join Rep. Bentz as Legislative Director. She holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa--College of Law, and a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from the University of Kansas. Ms. Goodwin has previously worked as a Legal Intern for the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, sat on the Executive Board for the Energy Law Journal, and served as the Student Editor-In-Chief for the American Bar Association's Year in Review: Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources publication.

Ms. Goodwin will be a full-time employee. One half of her salary will be paid from Rep. Bentz's campaign account (money donated by supporters of Rep. Bentz), and one half will be paid by the state. Ms. Goodwin will focus on legislative analysis, hearings, policy issues, and strategy.

Cheryl Williams of Dallas, Oregon, will manage the Salem Capitol office as Receptionist/Scheduler. Mrs. Williams holds a Bachelor's degree in Office Administration from Eastern Washington State University. She most recently worked as an Administrative Assistant for Home Aid Northern Virginia and the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association before retiring in 2008.

Although Mrs. Williams will be a full-time employee, all of her salary will be paid from campaign contributions received by Rep. Bentz. She will schedule meetings, email correspondence, and help manage mail and paper flow.

Andrea Dominguez, of Ontario, Oregon, will act as Rep. Bentz's Chief of Staff for the 2012 Session, and will continue to manage the day-to-day operations at the district office in Ontario. She has been a member of Rep. Bentz's staff since August 2009. Mrs. Dominguez holds a Bachelor's degree in Media Arts with a concentration in Journalism from Eastern Oregon University and an Associates' degree from Treasure Valley Community College.

Mrs. Dominguez is a full-time employee. Her entire salary is paid for by the state. She will continue to work on research projects, constituent concerns, and Eastern Oregon issues.

William Newell, a junior at Willamette University originally from Newton, Kansas, will join Rep. Bentz's staff as a volunteer Legislative Intern. He has previously worked for Rep. Vicki (R-Salem) Berger writing and researching legislation, and is currently attending Willamette University on an academic and debate scholarship.

Andres Oswill, a native of Pleasanton, California, and a freshman at Willamette University, will also be joining the Bentz staff as a volunteer Legislative Intern. He is a founding member of the Willamette College Republicans, and wrote Congressional panel simulations and case law for the "We the People-Unit 6" organization in California.

Mr. Newell and Mr. Oswill will both focus on bill research, policy analysis, the legislative process, and committee research.

Each legislator is allocated funds for 1.5 FTE positions during the one month Session. As indicated, Rep. Bentz will use contributions made to his re-election campaign to pay for additional staffing.

Rep. Bentz said, "Having these great employees working in both Eastern Oregon and Salem will provide District 60 with a significant advantage in the legislative arena. Not only will we be able to research and develop informed positions on issues during the 2012 Legislative Session. We will be able to get a head start on the 2013 Legislative Session. I truly appreciate the fact that money contributed to my campaign account can be used to better serve the constituents in my District and Eastern Oregon."

"I welcome you to stop by my offices in Salem or Ontario during the Session to say hello and witness our legislative team in action."

258 S. Oregon St., P.O. Box 1027, Ontario, OR 97914
900 Court St. NE, H-475, Salem, OR 97301


Friday, January 27, 2012

So How's That "Citizens United" Thing Working Out For Ya?

After the rabidly Zionist gambling Mogul and newspaper owner, Sheldon Adelson, and his wife, revived Newt Gingrich's campaign with $10 million plus in contributions, even some in Congress were rattled. But, this was the predicted outcome of the "Citizens United" decision, so no one should be surprised. You might, however, want to support the groups that are trying to promote a needed constitutional amendment that would overturn the decision like Move to Amend. Interestingly, Mr.Adelson seems to prefer giving his money primarily to political ventures favoring Israel, where he maintains the most read newspaper, and along those lines, he is willing to provide whatever it takes to influence our Presidential election on Israel's behalf. Unprincipled politicians like Gingrich are all too eager to become Adelson's sock puppet for 10 million dollars, and Gingrich's hyperbolic and exaggerated, Likud-like statements about the Palestinians and Iran in recent weeks demonstrate that Adelson's purchase may be a sound one.

Here are some articles about Sheldon and his good work:

Adelson, Gingrich, and the Selling of America
Posted By Justin Raimondo On January 24, 2012

If you want to know what’s wrong with our campaign finance laws – and our political system in a more general sense – look at the way Sheldon Adelson is buying the Republican nomination for his sock puppet, Newt Gingrich.

Right now, the anonymous donors to a political action committee, or PAC, can buy ads on behalf of – or against – a candidate, and spend unlimited amounts as long as there is no official connection between the PAC and any candidate. This degree of separation, however, is pure fiction: in reality, “former” aides to the candidate can and do operate these “Super PACs,” which are funded by one Daddy Warbucks or another: no overt coordination is necessary. What’s important here is disclosure, or the lack of it: the PACs don’t have to say who is funding these ads, only that the “Committee for Good Government” or some such semi-fictional entity is paying for it. In this way, Adelson – a casino billionaire, one of the richest people in the country – can drop a cool $10 million into the race (with more in the pipeline) and in effect buy the election, without the average voter knowing who is paying the bills. In short, Adelson can operate in the dark, as far as Joe Voter is concerned – and darkness is what the Adelsonian agenda requires above all.

So what is Adelson’s agenda? . . . .


Gingrich’s Extremist Anti-Palestinian Stance Follows Millions from Casino Magnate Sheldon Adelson
Democracy Now! 1/27/12

. . . . Gal, explain what it is, this Adelson-Gingrich relationship, why he supports him.

GAL BECKERMAN: Well, he supports—the relationship is really symbiotic, in a way. It developed, as you said, in the mid-'90s over issues of union busting. Adelson wanted some help; Gingrich was able to offer it. And it developed as time went on. It seems to have helped kind of in Gingrich's evolution in terms of his pro-Israel stance. Wayne Barrett recently reported in The Daily Beast that, you know, if you look at what Gingrich was saying about Palestinians and Israel in 2005, even, as recently as 2005, it was kind of a different line. He was talking about investing in their ancestral lands. He was really speaking a much different language. This is now changed. You won’t hear Gingrich saying anything like that anymore. And it’s not—you know, one can’t draw a direct causal link, you know, find the telephone call in which Adelson said, you know, "I want you to say this." But it’s not hard to imagine that if your political life depends on a man who has very extreme-right views when it comes to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, that you’re going to hear that same language come out of that candidate’s mouth. . . . .


NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly Urged to Resign After Police Conceal Role in Anti-Muslim Documentary
Democracy Now! 1/27/12

. . . .
LINDA SARSOUR: The film is absolutely outrageous. Any rational-minded person that watches it will say, "Wow! How did the New York Police Department, the largest police force in this country, supposedly the most credible, have access to this film?" And what’s most astonishing is that while the NYPD surveils our community and creates files on us and checks us and all this kind of intelligence, the fact that there was no due diligence on the part of the NYPD to check out who the Clarion Fund is and to look up—look at their history—you don’t even need to have intelligence; just go on Google and find out who these people are—and connecting the dots, and looking at, you know, someone like Sheldon Adelson, who like funded this film, is also funding Newt Gingrich. It’s all connected. And this Third Jihad is not a one-time, you know, just a film, and we’re all mad and offended. It’s not about being offended. It’s about the security of all New Yorkers. If one bad judgment like this is happening in the NYPD, only God knows what other films are being shown that we don’t have the names in order for us do a FOIA request on these films. It’s absolutely outrageous. . . . .


Who is Newt Gingrich’s biggest donor and what does he want?

. . . . Sheldon Adelson is also, far and away, the biggest patron of Newt Gingrich’s now-surging Republican presidential bid. Adelson and his wife, Miriam, have pumped $10 million into a political action committee backing Gingrich that is run by the former House speaker’s onetime aides. Campaign finance experts say the two $5 million contributions are among the largest known political donations in U.S. history.

No other candidate in the race to challenge President Barack Obama in the November election appears to be relying so heavily on the fortune of a single donor. It’s been made possible by last year’s Supreme Court rulings — known as Citizens United — that recast the political landscape by stripping away restrictions on contributions and how outside groups can spend their money.

Sheldon Adelson is Citizens United come to life. . . . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Some Views on Obama's State of the Union Address

I want to be a believer. I want to believe that President Obama is a born again progressive populist, who after having tried compromise with the Republicans for three years, and finding out that they aren't interested, is now returning to some core set of principles related to the "hope and change," "yes we can" rhetoric of his first Presidential campaign. I want to believe that the Democratic leadership, both local and national, was, and is correct to support him, despite his record of severely diminishing our civil rights at home while engaging in, and still supporting, probable war crimes abroad, and despite his capitulation to Republicans on important social and economic issues in the name of compromise. I realize that the Republican leadership has cynically opposed most of his efforts to revive the economy in order to get "regime change" at home, and I realize that the Republican candidates represent destructive forces that are at best no better than Obama, and which at worst will likely hammer the hopes and dreams of the American poor and middle classes, while worsening the prospects for peace in the world. Once again, progressive independents and Democrats are left on the horns of a dilemma, as the corporations and power brokers have the radical Republicans as their first choice, and Obama as their slightly less desirable backup, with no reasonable, or at least visible, alternative yet in the "race." Those who feel that Obama sold them out will have to decide whether to sit the election out or to hold their nose and vote for him in the hopes of keeping a Radical Republican out of the executive office.

Will Obama return to his imagined progressive roots and turn things around? I don't know, except that it doesn't look good.

Here, below, are two reactions by progressives to his SOTU speech, and one good suggestion for how he should proceed if he is interested in salvaging a decent place in history for himself.

"He Says One Thing and Does Another": Ralph Nader Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

. . . .
RALPH NADER: Well, I think his lawless militarism, that started the speech and ended the speech, was truly astonishing. I mean, he was very committed to projecting the American empire, in Obama terms, force projection in the Pacific, and distorting the whole process of how he explains Iraq and Afghanistan. He talks about Libya and Syria, and then went into the military alliance with Israel and didn’t talk about the peace process or the plight of the Palestinians, who are being so repressed. Leaving Iraq as if it was a victory? Iraq has been destroyed: massive refugees, over a million Iraqis dead, contaminated environment, collapsing infrastructure, sectarian warfare. He should be ashamed of himself that he tries to drape our soldiers, who were sent on lawless military missions to kill and die in those countries, unconstitutional wars that violate Geneva conventions and international law and federal statutes, and drape them as if they’ve come back from Iwo Jima or Normandy. So I think it was very, very poor taste to start and end with this kind of massive militarism and the Obama empire. . . . .

But then, when he said to the American people, "no more bailouts, no more handouts, and no more cop-outs" — but that’s what’s been going on. And it’s going on today and it went on last year under his administration. Washington is a bustling bazaar of accounts receivable. They’re bailing out and they’re handing out all kinds of subsidies to corporations—handouts, giveaways, transfer of technology, transfer of medical research to the drug companies without any reasonable price provisions on drugs, giveaway of natural resources on the federal lands. You name it, it’s still going on. And as far as a cop-out, how about his deferred prosecution gimmicks with these corporations under the Justice Department, where they never have to plead guilty, they never have to make themselves vulnerable to civil lawsuits so they pay back the American people what they’ve stolen from them?

So, obviously, State of the Union speeches are full of rhetoric, they’re full of promises, but it’s good to measure them against the past performance of the Obama administration and what his promises were in 2008. They don’t really stand up very well.
. . . .

For rest of article see: "He Says One Thing and Does Another": Ralph Nader Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address

Sen. Sanders Reacts to Pres. Obama's State of the Union Address

"The American people are beginning to catch on that there`s something fundamentally wrong in our society when so few have so much and so many have so little," Bernie said after President Obama made economic fairness a key theme in his State of the Union address. The senator also praised the president for stressing the need to create millions of good-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuels.


Obama Can Win Big with FDR Formula
by Robert McElvaine

Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn’t always “Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
. . . .
FDR launched his 1936 reelection campaign by warning against a dictatorship by the over-privileged and declaring that private enterprise had become “too private. It became privileged enterprise, not free enterprise.”

“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America,” he said, expressing sentiments that could resonate now. “What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.”

Running against economic royalists, Roosevelt won reelection in one of the largest landslides in U.S. history. The Democrats, moreover, won 77 percent of the House seats and increased their hold on the Senate to 79 percent.

As 2012 begins, such a resounding victory for Obama and the Democrats looks impossible. Whether it is depends on which past reelection campaign recipe Obama decides to follow. . . . .


More Views on SOTU:

Money in Politics Groups Mixed on Obama’s Speech


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

As the Republican Presidential candidates focus on each other's numerous faults, America focuses on tax injustice

[Edited 1/25/12]
As most of the Republican candidates turn their inherently mean, greedy, and compassionless natures against each other during the debates, in what has become a free-for-all circus of incompetence, demonization of poor people, and back-biting, they have managed to bring the issue of tax fairness into America's living rooms. Mitt Romney has become the poster boy for how fabulously wealthy people can end up paying a lower tax rate than ordinary working people. Mitt Romney, who even though he tells us he does his own laundry, does have an estimated wealth of $190 to $250 million, and paid only about 13.9% in taxes, i.e. $3 million, on $21.7 million of unearned income in 2010. (Unearned--they got that adjective right, because the easier the work, the more you make) At least he pays more than nothing, as is the case with many corporations. His tax rate for the 2011 tax year is estimated to come in around 15.4%. The reason offered for why his rate is so low is due to the fact that most of his income is from investments (long-term capital gains), which are taxed at a 15% rate. The average person pays above 15%, some much more, when payroll taxes for medicare and Social Security are included. Newt Gingrich says he paid almost $1 million, or about 30%, on his 2010 income of roughly $3.1 million. Perhaps it is worth noting that in 1961, an individual making $200,000 or over, and a couple making $400,000 or over had a tax rate of 91%, which, even when adjusted for inflation ($200,000 in 1961=$1,504,608.70 in 2011), would still include both Romney and Gingrich.

The long-term capital gains tax rate is currently as low as it has been for at least the last 50 years. Until the George W. Bush administration, when it was lowered to 15%, it has ranged from a high around 40% to a low of 20%, and for most of the years before W, it was at, or most often above, 25%.

It is difficult however, for Newtie to criticize Romney or even to capitalize on what many people see as inherent unfairness in the tax code, because Gingrich has a 15% flat tax plan, which he now calls the Mitt Romney flat tax, and which would eliminate taxes on capital gains entirely, while cutting his own taxes in half. Then Newt will be able to keep $2.6million instead of a paltry $2.1 million on a $3.1 million income derived from influence peddling and speech making, and Mitt would pay almost nothing as a corporate raider/restructurer. Under Newtie's plan, the corporate rate would fall from its current 35% to only 12.5%, lower that the individual's flat 15%, and both corporations and the rich would reap large tax savings, while tax revenues tumble into the abyss. Fabulous ideas? Are we going to saddle the resurgence of the American Dream on the backs of the vast majority who are already seeing their share of the dream continuously shrink towards desperation? I read tonight that Obama said in his SOTU that he wants a tax plan where people making a $million or more pay at least a 30% rate, which is definitely a move in the right direction.

Romney responds to any criticism of capitalist inequality or thoughts of increasing the low tax load of the rich as "the politics of envy" and "class warfare," as if there couldn't possibly be an objective, fact based, critical analysis and thoughtful evaluation of tax fairness and our growing inequalities in wealth and opportunity between the rich, the middle class, and the poor. No, he and his class would have us believe that it's not the politics of fairness and justice, it's only "envy." He, and many Republican leaders, would have us believe that "class warfare" isn't by the rich on the poor, and isn't about the growing inequality and the increasing wealth and power of the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class, but that somehow, in the face of the facts, the poor are waging war against the rich! If he thinks that listening to poor and middle class people criticizing and protesting against outrageous inequality, in a peaceful, democratic fashion is warfare, then what would he call a situation where the poor actually decided to stand up and fight?

Partly in the hope of avoiding that eventuality, some folks are turning their skills to documentary film making so as to clearly explain the situation to Americans, in the hope that once armed with the facts, they will be able to bring change through the ballot box, even in the face of the Citizen's United ruling which grants corporations and unions unlimited campaign spending.

Below are two video variations on the same theme: We're Not Broke (We're just not taxing the rich and corporations enough, like we used to when all Americans mattered!) These are followed up by an informative Democracy Now! article on the Sundance Film Festival documentary "We're Not Broke," and a blog article by Robert Reich on the effects of globalization and "a Government Overwhelmed by Corporate money."

We're Not Broke (Documentary at Sundance Film Festival)

From Synopsis in Sundance Film Festival Film Guide:

"With the United States in the grip of the worst economic recession since the Great Depression and an unprecedented budget deficit, the conclusion that our country is broke seems unquestionable. At least that's what politicians and pundits want ordinary citizens to believe as they call for massive spending cuts.

Karin Hayes and Victoria Bruce's searing exposé reveals that, strangely absent from this rhetoric, is the infuriating fact that multibillion-dollar corporations are based in the U.S., make money from American consumers, and often even receive lucrative contracts from the government, yet pay nothing in U.S. income taxes. By exploiting tax-law loopholes and spending millions on lobbyists to pressure politicians to protect their interests, corporations pocket billions while the less-connected middle class disappears, and the poor get poorer. . . . ."

Watch a short clip on Prescreen:

Democracy Now!
As Romney Releases Tax Returns, Fmr Senate Investigator Says: We’ve Got To Start Taxing Corporations

During the GOP primary, Mitt Romney has come under fierce attack for parking millions of dollars of his personal wealth in investment funds set up in the Cayman Islands, a notorious Caribbean tax haven. We speak with Tax Justice Network USA chair Jack Blum, a former top congressional investigator of financial crimes, who says tax evasion could seriously cripple the already struggling economy. Blum appears in "We’re Not Broke," a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film examines widespread corporate tax evasion in the United States and the increasing role of offshore tax havens. "Has [Romney] cheated? No," Blum says. "What he’s done is take full advantage of a system that has been structured the way it is because of political influence and a tremendous amount of lobbying money on Capitol Hill... We must not only rewrite the Internal Revenue Code, but we must get a fair contribution from the very wealthy and from corporations, and that is the only way to balance the budget."
[Link added] [Read rush transcript]

We're Not Broke, Just Twisted: Extreme Wealth Inequality in America

Go To

The State of Our Disunion: A Globalizing Private Sector, A Government Overwhelmed by Corporate Money

Robert Reich

. . . .
An Apple executive says “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.” He might have added “and showing a big enough profits to continually increase our share price.”
. . . .
What they want in America is lower corporate taxes, less regulation, and fewer unionized workers. But none of these will bring good jobs to America. These steps may lower the costs of production here, but global companies can always find even lower costs abroad.
. . . .
Put simply, American workers are hobbled by deteriorating schools, unaffordable college tuitions, decaying infrastructure, and declining basic R&D. All of this is putting us on a glide path toward even lousier jobs and lower wages.

Get it? The strategic responsibility for making Americans more globally competitive can’t be centered in the private sector because the private sector is rapidly going global, and it’s designed to make profits rather than good jobs. The core responsibility has to be in government because government is supposed to be looking out for the public, and investing in public schools, colleges, infrastructure, and basic R&D.

But here’s the political problem. American firms have huge clout in Washington. They maintain legions of lobbyists and are pouring boatloads of money into political campaigns. After the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision, there’s no limit.

Who represents the American workforce? Organized labor represents fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers and has all it can do to protect a dwindling number of unionized jobs.

Republicans like it this way, and for three decades have been trying to convince average working Americans government is their enemy. Yet corporate America isn’t their friend. Without bold government action on behalf of our workforce, good American jobs will continue to disappear.

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor 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. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock. His "Marketplace" commentaries can be found on and iTunes. He is also Common Cause's board chairman.


See also:

Income inequality: Theme of 2012
By Marshall McComb
LTE, Baker City Herald
Baker City, Oregon
. . . .
But the inequality issue is not going away. Despite Republicans’ avoidance of this issue or their decrying it as “class warfare,” most of us realize that we have become a society more unequal than at any time since the 1920s. Automation, globalization, union-busting, and legalized financial abuse have drained middle-class purchasing power and stymied upward mobility. Health care and public education are in critical decline. Most of us have been left behind, while Romney and his cohorts pursue a never-ending quest for more money ... and the political power to cut their taxes even further. . . . .


Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Internet Censorship Bills In Congress: SOPA and PIPA

In December, 2010, I received the following message from Google about "offending content" on my blog (see below). The email did not in fact tell me what the offending passage was. At the time, I checked with the "Chilling Effects" website to see what the problem was. I could not find anything due to their overload. Google took the blog post down without telling me what the "offending content" was. Their action has not been challenged or reposted as I do not yet know how to challenge or correct an error I am not privy to. This action was due to alleged violation of Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The new SOPA/PIPA bills would enshrine in American law even more dubious censorship. Now, under the proposed law, it seems they could just takedown an entire blog without much recourse.

We have received a DMCA complaint for your blog, Baker County Blog. An e-mail with the details of the complaint was sent to you on Dec 14, 2010 , and we reset the post status to "Draft"; you can edit it here. You may republish the post with the offending content and/or link(s) removed. If you believe you have the rights to post this content, you can file a counter-claim with us. For more on our DMCA policy, please click here. Thank you for your prompt attention.

Update, 1/21/11, [Edited 1/22/12]
I checked the Chilling Effects website yesterday to see if they had posted my offense. They did finally put up an undated post of the original dated complaint from Salon Media Group, Inc. concerning copyright infringement for an article of Glenn Greenwald's that I had posted back in December of 2010. I actually got the article in it's entirety from another website, but posted it with the link to the original Salon website. I edited the post yesterday and hopefully it will comply with their demands. The point is, aside from me not having used a proper disclaimer for a non-profit site or cutting Greenwald's article down to a paragraph, is that Google has the right under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to take down a post upon a complaint without the kind of protections we have been accustomed to, and without even informing the alleged offender of the specific violation. Go figure! Guilty until proven innocent?

The Megaupload takedown two days ago, and the arrests of its founder and other employees, would seem to contradict the arguments put forward by proponents of SOPA and PIPA, i.e., that the bills were needed to take down and prosecute allegedly criminal, overseas-based file hosting sites. Given that the government just did, without the benefit of SOPA and PIPA, what the heavy-handed legal tools in the now sidelined bills were designed to allow it to do, one wonders why the bills were proposed in the first place. The unbridled power, control, and convenience of corporations and their government?

The End of the Blog?

By James Kwak

As you may have noticed by now, Wikipedia’s English-language site is (mostly) down for the day to protest SOPA and PIPA, two draconian anti-copyright infringement laws moving through Congress. . . .
See The End of the Blog? for article.

SOPA Will Take Us Back to the Dark Ages

By Lance Ulanoff

January 18, 2012 "Mashable" -- I had an epiphany today. The Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, was not written by people who fundamentally misunderstand how the web works. They understand all too well, and want to change it forever.

Behind the almost unreadable (yet truly scary) text of SOPA (and its Senate doppelganger, PIPA, or the Protect Intellectual Property Act) is a desire, likely fueled by powerful media conglomerate backers, to take us all back to the thin-pipe, content-distribution days of 1994 — right before the World Wide Web launched. From the moment the Internet and websites arrived, a veritable Pandora’s box of opportunities have opened to every average Joe and Josephine in the world. Everyone became a content creator. Everyone had an audience. . . . .

See link above for entire article.

Wikipedia on SOPA and PIPA - Learn more

Sen. Wyden's Statement on the Letter to Senator Reid Calling for More Time to Consider PIPA and Dropping of DNS Provision in SOPA

Senator Wyden's Letter to Harry Reid

Sen. Jeff Merkley Tweets he's Opposing SOPA/PIPA

OpenCongress Opposes SOPA/PIPA

Here is a recent OpenCongress Blog on the subject:

Open Congress : Congress Gossip Blog

PIPA first on Senate agenda on Jan. 24th, 2012
Posted: 03 Jan 2012 10:26 AM PST
Happy 20-12 all, looking ahead to the second session of the 112th U.S. Congress. The House is officially back in session on Jan. 17th, and the Senate convenes on Monday Jan. 23rd. Until then it’s all about district visits & fundraisers, generally speaking.

The most important blog post of the new year – so far – is by our ally Ernesto Falcon of Public Knowledge, giving an overview of the legislative process surrounding the net censorship bill PIPA when the Senate returns under Sen. Reid’s prioritization. I hope Ernesto won’t mind if I excerpt at length, with a second vociferous recommendation to read it all and share it with your online communities ::
. . . .
Why, again, is it so urgent to oppose these terrible legal frameworks for an internet blacklist? Answers via our deeply-researched partners EFF, FightForTheFuture, and of course our own OC Blog. . . . .


See Also:

Democracy Now! Wednesday, January 17, 2012

Please sign the petition:

If you have tried to Google anything today, you know why it is very important and "on topic".

"The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty." -- Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948) Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Source: Lovell v. City of Griffin 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Celebrating Our Glorious Wars, Plus Are Corporate Leaders Egotistical Psychopaths?

In This Edition:

- Celebrating Our Glorious Wars
----Iraq. Began with big lies. Ending with big lies. Never forget. (William Blum)
----Debacle! (Tom Englehardt)
- Our Innocents Abroad? (Pat Buchanan)
- Are Some Corporate & Government Leaders Egotistical Psychopaths? (A Nation on Meds. YouTube)


(First three articles via Tom Feeley at Information Clearinghouse)

Celebrating Our Glorious Wars

Iraq. Began with big lies. Ending with big lies. Never forget. (William Blum)

"Most people don't understand what they have been part of here," said Command Sgt. Major Ron Kelley as he and other American troops prepared to leave Iraq in mid-December. "We have done a great thing as a nation. We freed a people and gave their country back to them."

"It is pretty exciting," said another young American soldier in Iraq. "We are going down in the history books, you might say." (Washington Post, December 18, 2011)

Ah yes, the history books, the multi-volume leather-bound set of "The Greatest Destructions of One Country by Another." The newest volume can relate, with numerous graphic photos, how the modern, educated, advanced nation of Iraq was reduced to a quasi failed state; how the Americans, beginning in 1991, bombed for 12 years, with one dubious excuse or another; then invaded, then occupied, overthrew the government, tortured without inhibition, killed wantonly, ... how the people of that unhappy land lost everything — their homes, their schools, their electricity, their clean water, their environment, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their archaeology, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their state-run enterprises, their physical health, their mental health, their health care, their welfare state, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their safety, their security, their children, their parents, their past, their present, their future, their lives ... More than half the population either dead, wounded, traumatized, in prison, internally displaced, or in foreign exile ... The air, soil, water, blood, and genes drenched with depleted uranium ... the most awful birth defects ... unexploded cluster bombs lying anywhere in wait for children to pick them up ... a river of blood running alongside the Euphrates and Tigris ... through a country that may never be put back together again.

See Iraq. Began with big lies. Ending with big lies. Never forget. (William Blum) for rest of article.

How Two Wars in the Greater Middle East Revealed the Weakness of the Global Superpower

By Tom Engelhardt

. . . . In a final flag-lowering ceremony in Baghdad, clearly meant for U.S. domestic consumption and well attended by the American press corps but not by Iraqi officials or the local media, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke glowingly of having achieved “ultimate success.” He assured the departing troops that they had been a “driving force for remarkable progress” and that they could proudly leave the country “secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people begin a new chapter in history, free from tyranny and full of hope for prosperity and peace.” Later on his trip to the Middle East, speaking of the human cost of the war, he added, “I think the price has been worth it.”

And then the last of those troops really did “come home” -- if you define “home” broadly enough to include not just bases in the U.S. but also garrisons in Kuwait, elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, and sooner or later in Afghanistan.

On December 14th at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the president and his wife gave returning war veterans from the 82nd Airborne Division and other units a rousing welcome. With some in picturesque maroon berets, they picturesquely hooahed the man who had once called their war "dumb." Undoubtedly looking toward his 2012 campaign, President Obama, too, now spoke stirringly of “success” in Iraq, of “gains,” of his pride in the troops, of the country’s “gratitude” to them, of the spectacular accomplishments achieved as well as the hard times endured by “the finest fighting force in the history of the world,” and of the sacrifices made by our “wounded warriors” and “fallen heroes.”

He praised “an extraordinary achievement nine years in the making,” framing their departure this way: “Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq -- all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering -- all of it has led to this moment of success... [W]e’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.”

And these themes -- including the “gains” and the “successes,” as well as the pride and gratitude, which Americans were assumed to feel for the troops -- were picked up by the media and various pundits. At the same time, other news reports were highlighting the possibility that Iraq was descending into a new sectarian hell, fueled by an American-built but largely Shiite military, in a land in which oil revenues barely exceeded the levels of the Saddam Hussein era, in a capital city which still had only a few hours of electricity a day, and that was promptly hit by a string of bombings and suicide attacks from an al-Qaeda affiliated group (nonexistent before the invasion of 2003), even as the influence of Iran grew and Washington quietly fretted. . . .

For rest of article see Tomgram: Engelhardt, Lessons from Lost Wars in 2012

Our Innocents Abroad? (Pat Buchanan)

As Leon Trotsky believed in advancing world communist revolution, neocons and democratists believe we have some inherent right to intervene in nations that fail to share our views and values.

But where did we acquire this right?

And if we are intervening in Egypt to bring about the defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, and the Islamists win as they are winning today, what do we expect the blowback to be? Would we want foreigners funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into our election of 2012?

How would Andrew Jackson have reacted if he caught British agents doing here what we do all over the world?

See Our Innocents Abroad? (Pat Buchanan) for rest of article.

Are Some Corporate & Government Leaders Egotistical Psychopaths? (A Nation on Meds--Snakes In Suits)
"I Am Fishead" Are Corporate Leaders Egotistical Psychopaths ?‬ (Long)