DISCLAIMER

DISCLAIMER: I do not attempt to be polite or partisan in my articles, merely truthful. If you are a partisan and believe that the letter after the name of a politician is more important then their policies, I suggest that you stop reading and leave this site immediately--there is nothing here for you.

Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wolf PAC - The Effects of Corporate Lobbying Pt. 2


The Effects of Corporate Lobbying, Pt. 2

By Josh Sager

Virtually nothing in society or politics happens in a vacuum -- policies which regulate or tax one group have a ripple effect which impacts the lives of many other members of society. Since lobbying has such a pronounced effect on policy aimed towards the welfare of those with lobbyists, it stands to reason that there will also be a significant impact on the rest of society.
Lobbying affects those who lack the resources to lobby as well as those who voluntarily abstain from lobbying in several negative ways: As tax revenue from those who lobby decreases, services are cut, taxes are increased on everybody else, or the national deficit increases; regulations which could benefit society are not passed, causing people to needlessly suffer from avoidable injuries such as toxic chemical exposure; our government eventually moves away from a system which respects the will of the people, and becomes a society where only the rich have a say in the public policy which is created.
Tax revenue is required by any government to sustain its operations. When tax revenue is lowered on a single segment of society, there is a ripple effect on policy which affects the rest of society. When tax cuts are given to a certain group in society, taxes can increase on other groups (imagine a pie where there are fewer slices, causing all slices to be larger if the pie is to remain the same size). In addition to tax increases on others, a reduction in overall spending and services by the government can be used to compensate for tax cuts obtained by those who lobby (imagine a pie where slices have been removed, thus reducing its volume). If, in the face of lobbied tax cuts, the government wants to sustain its spending, while not increasing taxes or the government, it can take out a debt (deficit) in order to operate. A deficit can be used to fund the government in the short term, but sustained and growing deficits are a serious risk to the integrity of a government (e.g., Greece).  
As corporations and the wealthy in the USA have used lobbying in order to lower their taxes, national and state tax revenues have been gradually depleted. The US government has compensated for decreased revenues from those who lobby politicians with a combination of austerity aimed at the middle class and the poor, combined with massive deficit spending. Throughout the national and state governments, public institutions have been receiving decreased funding (e.g., cutting the budgets of schools and police departments), particularly if their services are geared towards those who have no lobbying presence; this makes sense, as those with lobbyists wouldn’t let their services be cut when there are ways to offset the costs onto others. Cuts have simply not been deep enough yet to fill the gaping hole in our tax revenue, so the government has been required to drastically increase the national debt. The unwillingness of some politicians to tax those who supply them with lobbying money and campaign donations is slowly strangling the government, and rendering our taxing/spending policies unsustainable in the long run.  
Due to the high prevalence of industries which pollute or cut corners in order to make a profit, regulations are vital to the health of the modern society. By lobbying the government, corporations can decrease their regulatory burden far below the safe levels, creating the potential for disaster. Citizens are allowed to be harmed by corporations, just because certain corporations have rigged the legislative process in their favor. Unfortunately, for as long as money decides regulation rather than objective scientific analysis of the potential consequence, people will be harmed due to chronic under-regulation of dangerous industries.
In the USA, deregulation due to lobbying has caused several severe, yet entirely avoidable, disasters. Among these disasters, the financial collapseof 2008 and the BP oil spill are probably the best examples of catastrophes which have occurred directly due to lobbying-driven deregulation. 
Banking lobbyists were instrumental in the removal of banking and mortgage regulations during the last decade. Where previous banking regulations would have prevented the decisions which led to the collapse, deregulation removed these rules and paved the way towards the banking collapse. Even after the 2008 collapse, lobbying has prevented any serious regulations on the banks from being passed, opening us up to another potential collapse. 
The deregulation of oil drilling, both in the fields of rig safety and cleanup requirements, as pushed for by lobbyists spending billions over the last decade, was the major cause of the BP gulf oil spill. BP used inferior materials in the construction of its rig and didn’t construct a redundant shaft, thus creating a perfect storm for an oil spill. BP was allowed to operate so negligently because the extraction lobby in the USA is among the largest and most well-funded lobbies; they have killed regulation, pay virtually every politician involved in deciding oil policy, and get their people into positions of power in regulatory agencies. Any attempts to regulate extraction safety and pollution standards is seen as an attack by the oil lobby and is pushed back against immediately, creating a system where regulations are perpetually sub-par.
The effects of lobbying do not stop at the corporations and wealthy interests which use lobbyists. Every member of society is affected by decisions made by politicians controlled by lobbyist money, sometimes in ways which are not immediately apparent. We must remember that nobody in society is an island, and that the increase in profits for some may lead to increased cancer rates, ecological degradation or even economic collapse for the rest of us.

Wolf PAC - The Effects of Corporate Lobbying Pt. 1


The Effects of Corporate Lobbying, Pt. 1

Corporate lobbying
By Josh Sager

In a post-Citizen’s United v. FEC political landscape, lobbying has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The floodgates were opened by the Supreme Court -- which decided that money was speech, thus making political donations constitutionally protected -- and we are now seeing more money in politics than at any other time in recent history. With the gigantic amounts of money being spent by corporations on lobbying, those who study politics are faced with answering three questions, the answers of which are vital for understanding the new political landscape:
  1. What are the policy results of lobbying?
  2. How do the results of lobbying affect the rest of society?
  3. Should citizens work towards getting money out of politics?
Only by understanding the results of lobbying, both on politicians as well as on the rest of society, can we understand why many Americans have begun pushing to separate money from politics. This is an uphill fight, against an adversary with virtually unlimited resources, and will likely take years to complete, if it is ever achieved.
As a corporation’s only goal is to make a profit, and close to $3.32 billion was spent by corporations to lobby the government in 2011 alone, the only logical conclusion is that corporations receive billions in benefits from their lobbying campaigns. The type of benefits from lobbying vary based upon the corporation doing the lobbying, but a majority of these benefits come in the form of reductions in taxes or regulations, government contracts, and sometimes favorable consideration under the law.
While the base corporate tax rate in the USA is relatively high (35%), most corporations pay only a small percent of this rate due to loopholes and subsidies. These loopholes and subsidies are protected (or even increased) by politicians who receive money from corporate lobbyists; the more lobbying a company does, the more likely it is to receive tax breaks and loopholes.lobbying2
According to a 2010 study by the Daylight Foundation, which used tax data to correlate increases in lobbying with decreases in real taxes paid for corporations, many of the top corporations in the USA have utilized millions in lobbying to save billions in taxes. As calculated in this study, between 2007 and 2009, the top eight lobbying spenders (Exxon Mobil, Verizon, GE, At&T, Altria, Amgen, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing) gave approximately $540 million via lobbying; by 2010, these companies had seen a reduction in taxes of approximately $11 billion. The potential return on investment demonstrated here is over 2,000% -- a higher rate of return of most any investment other than a winning lottery ticket. 
Regulatory laws and agencies are under the control of politicians, many of whom take money from lobbyists. In a manner virtually identical to tax rates, regulations decrease as corporate lobbying goes up. Corporate interests which cause pollution or pose a risk to public safety can reduce regulations, thus decreasing their costs, by lobbying politicians who control their regulations.
Tobacco and extraction (oil, coal, and gas) companies are the largest beneficiaries from reduced regulations, mostly due to the fact that their products are toxic to consumers and bystanders. Over the years, regulations have been slowed or suppressed totally by lobbying from these industries, increasing these industries’ profits by billions; a perfect recent example of this phenomenon is that of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Due to regulatory loopholes put in place by politicians -- who received thousands from extraction lobbyists -- fracking companies don’t even need to disclose what chemicals they are pumping into the ground. Despite evidence that these chemicals are toxic to humans and animals, can pollute groundwater or even render it highly flammable, and sometimes cause earthquakes, this loophole persists; there is no possible rationale for this continued lack of disclosure other than the effects of corporate lobbying swaying politicians (exploding water, higher cancer rates, and random earthquakes should sway even the most recalcitrant politician to action, barring the interference of money).
While Americans would like to believe that the law is applied equally, regardless of race, gender, or money, this is not always the case. Corporate lobbying is sometimes directed at preventing legal action against a company for illegal acts. The largest, and most consequential, example of a corporation mitigating legal consequences with money is that of the Wall Street banks. In 2008, the U.S. economy crashed, largely due to the systemic fraud perpetrated by the country’s top five banks. Despite clear proof of their crimes, banks received bailouts to save themselves, avoided any new regulations, and have yet to encounter any prosecution for fraud. These banks came within a hairbreadth of destroying the world economy and caused trillions in damage, yet there has been no accountability for those responsible. There can be only one of two explanations for this lack of legal accountability: Either bankers and banks managed to evade responsibility through targeted “donations” and lobbying to key legislators, or these same officials are merely so incompetent and spineless that they are unwilling to take on the banks.    
While the previously mentioned benefits are the most common goals of lobbying, there are many other ways that corporations benefit from their lobbying. Government contracts are often given out to corporations which have spent significant amount of money in lobbying (e.g., Boeing). Lobbying can get corporations increased access to information and allow for them to take advantage of opportunities which those without access would miss (e.g., JP Morgan execs being briefed about the impending bailouts). The limits on what lobbying can get a corporation are only limited by the willingness to sell out of the politician in question and the money spent by the corporation. As lobbying has an exceptional investment return rate and some politicians have been known to support virtually anything for the right amount of money, it is likely that lobbying will continue for as long as it is legal for huge amounts of money to interfere with politics.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Petition: Stop WI Police from Stealing Bail Money


PETITIONSPOLITICS — BY JOSH SAGER ON MAY 26, 2012 2:00 AM 



Target: The Brown County Drug Task-force
Goal: To stop the Brown County Police Department from robbing people who are trying to provide bail money.

Brown County, located in eastern Wisconsin, is currently experiencing a serious problem with its police department’s handling of bail money. In numerous cases where citizens are arrested in Brown County, particularly when the arrests are for drug offenses, the police have been seizing the bail money using their asset forfeiture policy.

“Asset forfeiture” laws allow for the seizure of property obtained through money gained in an illegal manner; once seized, this property is liquidated and a portion of the profits are given to the police department. The tactic of asset forfeiture is intended to punish drug dealers and to assist in funding the police departments which arrest drug dealers.
Many civil rights groups have claimed that asset forfeiture laws give the police a financial incentive to arrest more non-violent offenders and that these laws disproportionately affect the poor. Asset forfeiture disproportionately harms the poor because, as no lawyer is provided by the state to fight asset forfeitures, many poor people are simply unable to fight back, regardless of their guilt.

The Brown County Police Department has taken the concept of asset forfeiture to an entirely new level: When friends and family members of those arrested call in to the police to arrange bail, they are told (incorrectly, as a check is acceptable) that they must bring cash to the police station. Once the bail money is delivered to the police, they use drug sniffer dogs do determine whether the money has drug residue on it and, if it does, they seize the cash for themselves. Even in cases where the bail money has a paper trail directly from a bank, thus is obviously not from a drug deal, the money has still been seized under asset forfeiture.

Various studies, run by the federal government, have shown that between 75% and 90% of all currency currently circulating in the United States has enough drug residue to trigger a positive drug test. As drug residue is so commonly found on bills, this disqualifies it as proof of any wrongdoing in court and makes the seizure of money by the police wholly inappropriate; if the police officers were to empty their pockets, statistics would indicate that a majority of their money would be covered with drug residue as well.

A combination of the request for bail to be in cash and the systemic testing of said cash, even though the result is inevitably positive, proves intent on the part of the police to seize bail money.

Given the preponderance of the evidence against such use of seizure laws, the actions of the Brown County police department are little better than legitimized theft. Our police departments should protect our citizens from being victimized by those who wish to take our property, not join in on the victimization of citizens using the authority of their badges. Please sign this petition to protest the specious use of asset forfeiture laws to rob American citizens when they are simply trying to provide bail money to their loved ones.




PETITION LETTER

Dear Brown County Drug Task-force,

It has recently come to the attention of the public that your department is utilizing asset forfeiture laws to seize bail money, even in cases where this money obviously is not obtained from drug sales. While asset forfeiture laws are on the books in Wisconsin, this is never how they were intended to operate and utilizing them like this is little better than theft.

A vast majority of money in circulation has drug residue on it, including the dollar bills in your own pockets, thus the use of such residue to justify asset seizure is wholly unfair.

Please, remember why you became police officers – to protect and serve – and stop this victimization of the families of those who you arrest. Even if those who you arrest are guilty of a crime, it does not justify your department defrauding those who come in to post bail.

I, as well as everybody else who has signed this petition, implore you to immediately stop the policy of testing and seizing bail money from those who post bail within your jurisdiction.

Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Petition: Andy Gipson


Don’t Let Mississippi Republican Get Away With Promoting Violence Towards Gays

PETITIONSPOLITICS — BY  ON MAY 22, 2012 2:00 AM 

Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/21469/dont-let-mississippi-republican-get-away-with-promoting-violence-towards-gays/


Target: Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef
Goal: Demand that the Mississippi State Republican Party denounce the violently ant-gay comments of state representative Andy Gipson.
Mississippi State Representative Andy Gipson (R-MS) wrote a comment on his Facebook wall that promoted violence towards gay individuals. Any call for violence by a public figure, even one shrouded in a religious quote, should not be tolerated by the public and the offending individual should be compelled to condemn their violent remark. It is important to note that this is not intended to suppress the First Amendment right to free-speech, but rather the representative’s advocating for violence. For example, it is protected speech – if disrespectful – to condemn gays, but it is not protected speech to suggest that they be dealt with violently.
Gipson’s Facebook post read as such: Been a lot of press on Obama’s opinion on “homosexual marriage.” The only opinion that counts in God’s: see Romans 1:26-28 and Leviticus 20:13. Anyway you slice it, it is a sin. Not to mention horrific social policy.”
While the Romans bible verse condemns homosexuals as immoral, it does not promote violence towards gays and is not the focus of this petition; however, Leviticus 20:13 translates as “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (English Standard Bible).
Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but the use of a bible passage explicitly supporting the murder of homosexuals is far outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse. As Gipson quotes this passage of the bible after claiming that “God’s opinion” is the only one which matters, it is clear that he is explicitly supporting violence towards gays – who, at most recent count compose of over 5% of the US population.
It is absolutely unacceptable for a serving politician to condone violence towards an entire segment of the population, particularly in the face of the increasing number of anti-gay hate crimes in the US, yet Gipson has refused to apologize. This petition is directed at the chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party and is intended to convince him to compel Rep. Andy Gipson to retract his inflammatory and violent remark. – Perhaps the state leader of his party will be able to make Rep. Gipson see just how inflammatory his comments were, and make him change his mind.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef,
A member of your state party has recently posted a highly offensive remark on Facebook. This post promotes a bible verse, declaring the proper punishment for homosexuality to be death (Leviticus 20:13).
While every American is entitled to their own views, religious or otherwise, they are not entitled to promote violence towards a minority group. It is vitally important that a public official, particularly an elected official, not advocate violence, regardless of the context. In the United States, there are numerous unbalanced individuals who have been known to take violent action based upon the statements of public figures (Ex. recent police shootings caused by paranoia that guns will be taken away), and it is important that public figures take steps to remove even the suggestion that violence is appropriate.
Gipson is a member of the Mississippi Republican Party, thus you, as the party chairman, may be able to convince him to recant his statement. Our demand that Gipson recant his comment is not to imply that Gipson cannot claim his belief that homosexuality is a sin or even that he believes public policy should not accommodate gay rights, but simply the renunciation of promoting violence as a punishment for homosexuality.
Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Petition: Debt Ceiling Deal


Tell Republicans not to Threaten another Government Shutdown

PETITIONSPOLITICS — BY  ON MAY 18, 2012 11:18 AM 

Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/21178/tell-republicans-not-to-threaten-another-government-shutdown/


Target: Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
Goal: To demand that the Republican Party honor the debt ceiling deal so the economic recovery is not put at risk.
In 2011, there was a near shut-down of the federal government over an increase to the debt ceiling. In order to reach an agreement, thus preventing a shutdown, a deal was struck between the Republicans in the Legislature and President Obama. Unfortunately, recent comments by Republican politicians point towards an impending reneging on the terms of this deal, potentially causing another shutdown.
The deal reached between Obama and the Republican legislature had multiple parts, and didn’t give anybody everything that they wanted. The debt ceiling was raised by $400 billion immediately upon passage of the compromise, and could periodically be raised further by the Obama Administration, but these increases could be subject to a congressional motion of disapproval (which Obama could simply veto).
In return for capitulating on the increase to the debt ceiling, the Republicans got several concessions:
  1. Spending was to be cut by more than the debt increase.
  2. Democrats capitulated on the desire for tax increases.
  3. A balanced budget amendment to the constitution was brought to a vote (it failed).
  4. A bipartisan super-congress was created to deal with debt reduction, and automatic triggers for a lack to agree guaranteed cuts.
Despite the terms of the debt deal being agreed upon, Republican Party leaders have recently signaled a desire to make the debt ceiling a fight again. In an interview this week, John Boehner signaled a potential impending fight over the final installment of the debt ceiling increase, as agreed upon last year: “Allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process.”
Regardless of one’s partisan affiliation, most people can agree that another potential government shutdown will cause immense damage to the country’s fragile economic recovery and would harm millions of Americans. Millions of American families would not receive benefits and could fall below the poverty line and, depending upon the length of the shutdown, government jobs could be lost; we cannot afford either of these consequences, particularly considering the absolutely unnecessary nature of the fight. A deal was struck to avert this crisis last year, and those terms (whether or not one likes them) should be stuck to by both Democrats and Republicans.
This petition is intended for the two top legislative branch Republicans, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, and is intended to dissuade them from reneging upon the 2011 debt ceiling compromise. We, as a country, cannot afford needless political brinksmanship in our currently fragile economic situation.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,
As the federal legislative branch leaders of your party, you are in a position to avert an impending political crisis. The debt ceiling must be raised again, as agreed upon during the negotiations last year, lest the fragile economic recovery collapse. The only serious consequence of the last debt ceiling fight was a downgrade by the rating company Standard and Poor’s, but we may not be that lucky this time.
Whether or not you fully support the terms of the debt ceiling deal, it remains that this deal was willingly struck and has been held to by the Democratic Party. A vote was held on your constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget, spending was cut, the super-congress met for weeks, and no new taxes have been levied, thus showing that the Democratic party has held its end of the bargain.
The Republican Party should not violate the terms of their side of the debt ceiling deal, lest they lose all future bargaining credit and risk causing the U.S. economy to fall back into recession. If the Democratic Party cannot trust the Republican Party to keep their end of a political agreement (or vise-versa), the process of debate and agreement between the parties decays.
Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Important Reasons to Reject Mitt Romney


By Josh Sager

Now that all of the competition is out of the running, Willard “Mitt” Romney has become the heir apparent to the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. The Republican primary was one for the record-books, where a slew of colorful and interesting candidates crawled out of the woodwork to possibly capture the presidential nomination. There is a strong argument that Mitt Romney won the nomination, not by any charisma or skill of his own, but by a combination of an incredibly weak opposition, unlimited funds, and sheer persistence.


Based upon the low turnouts at state primaries and the explosive rises of multiple “not-Romney” candidates, it appears that nobody actually likes Romney but, because he is not insane (unlike Bachmann), not imbecilic (unlike Perry), not obviously evil (unlike Newt Gingrich), not a serial-philanderer (unlike Cain) and not Ron Paul, he became the de-facto choice. It is a sad day in American politics where a major political party chooses their candidate due to their  lack of being absolutely insane, ignorant, or immoral and not for their vision or personal triumphs.

While I am a progressive, and would never vote for a right wing candidate, there are several characteristics of Romney that should disqualify him, even to conservative voters. Put plainly, even I can identify the fact that the Republican Party has better and more legitimate candidates than Romney; they just chose not to run them this election cycle.

Out of all potential issues with Romney’s character (and there are many) I see five major problems with him, and would hope that the Republicans also identify these characteristics and vote for some other candidate Either Obama or a minor party). 


1. His “Etch-A-Sketch” policy positions
In New England there is a saying: “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes”. This cultural joke is based upon the rapid weather shifts (downpour to clear skies in minutes) sometimes experienced in the northeast. Unfortunately, Romney’s policy positions seem to be as flexible and changing as this saying would label New England weather – if you want a total change in Romney’s policy positions, just wait a few minutes.

Probably the largest and most troubling issue with Mitt Romney’s character (and thus his presidential candidacy) is the fact that he seems to have few immutable positions. While some policy evolution is expected over a political career, Romney has taken this to the very extreme by having supported both sides of every important issue. 

Romney’s apparent lack of core values is vitally important because it makes it impossible to determine what he will do in power - will he be the centrist from Massachusetts, or the “severe conservative” of today? If one looks at Mitt Romney’s policy positions in 2003 (at the beginning of his MA governorship) and his views today, virtually every policy position is at its polar opposite - here are a few important examples:


Healthcare → from writing “RomneyCare” to declaring the similar “ObamaCare” an unconstitutional assault)


Immigration → from supporting the dream act and compassion, to demanding “self-deportation” and supporting discriminatory laws


Abortion → from being a pro-choice donor to Planned Parenthood, to supporting a constitutional ban on abortion and a defunding of Planned Parenthood


Gay Rights → from supporting civil unions to demanding constitutionally enshrined discrimination


It absolutely strains credulity to claim that Romney has shifted all of his political positions from one end of the spectrum to the other out of anything but opportunism. People’s views on policy are constantly adapting but, barring some severe head trauma, these views rarely shift from one end of the political spectrum to the polar opposite position.  


Romney has undergone a polar shift on virtually every issue of importance, demonstrating that he is either a pragmatic political opportunist (only supporting policy positions which he believes will get him elected), or schizophrenic (having two different personalities, each with their own ideologies). Either potential explanation as to Romney’s bipolar political ideology should disqualify him for consideration the minds of the voters.


If you are still considering voting for Romney, ask yourself these two questions: What will you do if Romney shakes his policy “etch-a-sketch” and decides to erase his current ideology for his next incarnation? Can you take the chance that your candidate will invert his views upon getting into office (as he has a history of doing), or should you vote for somebody who has a consistent record of supporting your ideology?


2. His profound lack of convictions
Put plainly, Romney is a political chameleon and holds nothing sacred enough to compromise his political standing for. In the current climate of war, terrorism, corruption and very powerful special interests, the United States needs somebody with guts and the willingness to put themselves on the line for the American people to hold the presidency. Romney, who has no core values (as described above) will never put himself on the line politically to stand on principle. 

One only need look at the appointment, and near immediate forcing out of foreign policy adviser Richard Grenell to see this lack of convictions in action. Romney chose to hire a foreign policy adviser – Grenell - who he clearly saw as both experienced and competent; within two weeks, Grenell was forced out of his position, not because of any mistake on his part, but because he is gay and conservative groups were making noise. This firing proves that Romney is willing to put personal political gain over policy integrity. If 
Romney saw Grenell as the best man for the job, yet fired him because his personal life offends a small group of bigots, this raises large concerns over his ability to prioritize sound policy over the clamor of bigots.


If Romney were to become president, he would represent the status quo (which is currently broken) and we would have little chance to progress as a country. Probably the most that the country could hope for from Romney would be his performance as a ventriloquist doll, with various special interests and political ideologues controlling his every move.


Many would claim that Obama has shown the same timidity held by Romney on his personal conviction, but this is immaterial. If one candidate has a weakness, it does not excuse the same weakness in the other candidate – that path only forces a choice between two evils. There are Republican politicians who have very strong convictions (not ones I agree with, but there is no argument as to the depth of their conviction) and are far more deserving of the presidential nomination (Ex. Chris Christy and Ron Paul). 


3. His endorsement of the Ryan Budget in addition to crippling austerity
Mitt Romney has thrown his support behind the 2012 “Ryan Budget”, even referring to it as “marvelous”. While everybody is entitled to their own political opinions, Romney’s support for this budget signals his priorities in governing and should be used to determine whether or not he deserves support. 

The Ryan Budget would slash taxes for the wealthy, explode the national deficit, increase defense spending, and cripple most social assistance programs. By all objective assessments, this budget is simply a giveaway to the rich and an evisceration of programs aimed at the poor. If the Ryan Budget were to be signed into law, the federal government would be cut to the bone – destroying innumerable public sector jobs and reducing infrastructure investment -  and the economic recovery would likely halt.
When Romney was the governor of Massachusetts, he led the state to be 47th in job creation nationally. Even disregarding the fact that one of the states which he beat in job creation was Louisiana, which was hit by Hurricane Katrina, this job creation record is absolutely abysmal. The United States simply cannot afford to have such a president with such a terrible job creation record at the helm during a time of economic hardship.  


4. His unconditional support for corporations


In the current political climate, corporate involvement in, and interference with, government has become a vital issue. Romney has consistently supported tax breaks and decreased regulations for corporations, as well as the mass privatization of public services. Ironically, these views are probably the only views which have remained consistent for Romney’s entire career (from being the head of Bain Capital, to the Republican candidacy), thus they are the only ones which the public can truly trust. If Romney were to be elected to the presidency, there is little doubt that corporate interests would be celebrating in their boardrooms.


Romney’s support for corporations seems so reflexive that even a $3 billion loss during a single week incurred by JP Morgan has not shaken his support. In response to the staggering loss to JP Morgan, demonstrating the true danger of economic collapse which we still live under, Romney said that nothing should be done to prevent future losses, and that such losses are just part of business; the United States cannot afford a president with such a caviler and na├»ve outlook at corporate excesses.  

“Corporations are people, my friend”
- Mitt Romney; August 11, 2012 -

While the law recognizes corporations as people, as the law relates to free speech and political spending, it is rare for a politician to so clearly announce this in public. Romney appears to have spoken his actual belief, when he proclaimed that he sees corporations as people. Judging by this statement, it is unlikely that we would see campaign finance reform or a curbing of corporate interference in government during a Romney presidency – this is something that nobody, not Tea Partier, Occupier, conservative or liberal can support, or even tolerate. 


5. His utter lack of human empathy

Romney has spent his entire life without showing a significant amount of human empathy, conscience or social responsibility. While these traits are not required to be the president, they ensure that a politician doesn't take callous, immoral actions once in power or decide to ignore the plight of minorities of citizens.


Looking at his work history, we see that Romney made an industry out of human misery. As a pioneer of vulture capitalism and the Founder of Bain Capital, Romney systematically bought, drained, and eventually killed companies; Romney’s work history is similar to that of a spider killing its prey: capturing weaker organisms, liquidating their insides, and sucking out the resources before leaving empty husks. As vulture capitalism is not illegal, merely parasitic and immoral, Romney hasn’t actually done anything wrong, but this should be taken into account when he asks to be given control of our country.

In his personal life, Romney has shown indifference to suffering and a lack of social responsibility. Early in his life, Romney was a bigot and a bully. While this should not disqualify him from any position, it, in combination with other factors, points towards his predatory and callous nature. Romney’s tying his dog to the car for a long trip - simply hosing it off and continuing when the dog lost bowel controls due to fear - shows that even when the victim is a close personal contact, he still operates in clinical and callous manner.


In both his personal and professional lives, Romney has never show an ounce of conscience or empathy. This borderline sociopathic personality leads to the important question: If you aren’t rich and entirely self-sufficient, can you risk giving Romney, who will feel nothing regardless of what his policy does to you or your family, the deciding vote over policy affecting your family?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Petition: Reinstate Glass-Steagall


Protect America from Future Banking Collapses

CONSUMER PROTECTIONPETITIONS — BY  ON MAY 17, 2012 2:00 AM 



Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/21087/protect-america-from-future-banking-collapses/


Target: The Democratic National Committee
Goal: To convince the Democratic National Committee to adopt the reinstatement of a law which insulates the country from future banking collapses as a major policy platform for 2012.
For most of the 20th century, the Glass-Steagall Act separated investment banking institutions from investment banking firms. This separation was intended to prevent investment bankers from using other people’s money, obtained through commercial banking, in their investments. For decades, Glass-Steagall protected Americans from banking crises but in 1999, it was repealed. The repeal of Glass-Steagall created increased instability in the banking industry, promoted reckless investing, and eventually contributed to the financial collapse of 2008.
With the removal of Glass-Steagall, there exists a system of socialized losses and privatized gains in many investment banks. When the investments of the bankers gain money, they take the gains as income and repay the commercial banking wing of their bank; despite suffering no risk, these bankers take home huge profits for their bets on investments. However, when the investments of the bankers lose money, the investors socialize the losses through passing the debt back to the commercial banks and incur no personal losses. By separating risks and the gains, a moral hazard is created in the industry of banking and there is great potential for banking crises.
It is very easy for somebody to make unreasonable bets with other people’s money and, in the absence of Glass-Steagall, this philosophy is endemic in the banking industry. Risk is disregarded when making investments because there is no personal downside to the investor, only the potential for profit. Once investments go wrong (and they inevitably will), the government must either bail out the commercial bank, in order to protect the banking patrons (anybody who has money in a large bank), or leave these people responsible for the debt created by the mal-investment.
By signing this petition, you will be showing your support for a return to sane banking policy to the Democratic National Committee. If enough Americans show support for reinstating Glass-Steagall, it will compel the DNC to get behind it as a major policy position.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Democratic National Committee,
A return to the Glass-Steagall Act would help stabilize the banking industry, curb risky investing, and decrease the likelihood that another bank bailout would be necessary to protect the savings of the American people. It makes no sense to court a banking disaster, for no benefit other than increased profits for a small minority of bankers; we have seen what the end result of this path is.
While several Democratic politicians and candidates have endorsed a reauthorization of Glass-Steagall, the Democratic Party as a whole has not named it to be a core policy position. The DNC should throw its full support behind a return to Glass-Steagall. A return to Glass-Steagall Act regulations is not just good policy but also an important rallying point for increased accountability for the banks.
I, as well as everybody else who signed this petition, implore you to take up the fight for Glass-Steagall and to restore sanity to our banking regulations. We will support your efforts to protect our savings as well as to prevent future banking collapses and stand behind your efforts on our behalf.
Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Petition: Reform the Filibuster


Break the Gridlock in Washington by Reforming the Filibuster

PETITIONSPOLITICS — BY  ON MAY 16, 2012 2:00 AM 

Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/20991/break-the-gridlock-in-washington-by-reforming-the-filibuster/


Target: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Goal: Persuade Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to reform the filibuster and decrease governmental gridlock.
In recent years, Washington DC has been virtually paralyzed by the overuse of the filibuster in the Senate. This filibuster is a tactic which allows a minority in the Senate to continue debate indefinitely, thus stopping a bill from being voted on. In order to break a filibuster, 60 votes (a supermajority) are required to end the debate and begin voting; as 60 votes are very difficult to get in our hyper-partisan political environment, the filibuster is a very powerful obstructive tactic.
What originally was intended as a tool of last resort, allowing the minority to protest a bill which they absolutely object to, has become the norm. The filibuster abuse situation is akin to if a labor strike were to go from an extreme tactic to the norm: work would stop and the productivity of the corporation/government would grind to a complete halt.
With a de-facto filibuster attached to virtually every piece of legislation entering the Senate, a supermajority is needed to get almost anything done; this is not conducive to a functional government, nor is it how the filibuster, as originally designed, was intended.
Originally, the filibuster required a senator who wished to continue the filibuster to speak continuously for the duration of their filibustering – if there is nobody willing to continue the filibuster, debate ends and the voting begins. In 1957, Strom Thurmond set the current record of longest continuous filibuster (fighting the Civil Rights Act) by a single senator at 24 hours and 18 minutes. Unfortunately, the current operation of the filibuster has changed to allow a senator to simply declare a filibuster then go home, making it a tactic without a cost.
While the filibuster is important to preserve, as the minority must have some power to object to or stall extreme legislation, it should not be without cost. In order to sustain a filibuster, the filibustering senator/party should be required to continuously speak for the duration of the time they wish to prolong debate. By making it unreasonable to filibuster everything, as has been done recently, gridlock in Washington can be reduced and tyranny by the minority can be broken.
This petition is directed at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and is intended to persuade him to reform the filibuster by restoring it to its original rules. By signing this petition, you are signaling your support for the reform of the filibuster, not to remove it as a tactic, but to make it have a cost to the obstructing politicians; though this change, we can reduce gridlock in Washington DC and compel our politicians to stop partisan games and actually address policy.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,
As you are evidently aware, the filibuster has been abused in recent years, bringing the progress of the federal legislative branch to a halt. I am contacting you today to ask that you push towards reform of the filibuster tactic, while still keeping it as an option for the minority.
Out of the many ways which can be used to reform the filibuster, simply restoring the original rules of the filibuster is arguably the most effective method. By requiring the filibustering senator or party to have a continuous presence on the Senate floor for the duration of the filibuster, it is possible to retain the right to filibuster, yet disincentivize its use in all but the most extreme cases. While the filibuster is now being abused, it is an important tactic for the minority to have in order to stop extreme legislation, thus removing it wholesale is far more dangerous than this simple rule restoration.
I, and everybody else who has signed this letter, implore you to restore the filibuster rules to their original form, thus making it harder for a minority in one legislative branch to bring Washington to a halt. By making it possible, albeit very unpleasant to filibuster, it will allow Washington to move away from petty partisan gamesmanship and towards legislating solutions to the serious issues that currently face our country.
Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Petition: Protect Local Democracy in Michigan


Protect Local Democracy in Michigan

PETITIONSPOLITICS — BY  ON MAY 15, 2012 2:00 AM 


Sign the Petition: http://forcechange.com/20933/protect-local-democracy-in-michigan/


Target: Michigan State Legislature
Goal: Stop Governor Snyder of Michigan from giving unelected bureaucrats absolute control over entire cities.
In the past several years, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has massively expanded the powers and authority of state-appointed “emergency financial managers”, as well as expanded their use in cities across Michigan. Under Michigan state law, an emergency financial manager is a bureaucrat who is appointed over a city or school system when a state of financial emergency is declared. These managers not only have wide-ranging powers, ranging from nullifying union contracts to selling off city resources, but are able to unilaterally overrule decisions made by elected officials from the city which they are appointed to.
In cities where emergency financial managers are appointed, local democracy is completely nullified by the state. City official – who were duly elected by their constituency – have all of their authority, powers and responsibility taken from them and given to the appointed manager. There is no legal recourse to usurp the authority of an emergency financial manager, nor is there a method by which the citizens living in a city run by an emergency manger can restore their elected officials. For all intents and purposes, democracy is suspended in cities where the state has appointed an emergency manager.
During an interview with a local radio station, Lou Scimmel, the emergency manager controlling the city of Pontiac, described his role as emergency manager by referring to himself as “the tyrant in Pontiac”.
Over half a dozen Michigan cities (including Flint, Pontiac, and Benton Harbor) are currently under the absolute control of unelected officials. The voter in these cities has had the most basic level of their electoral decisions taken from them (or at least rendered irrelevant), and has no recourse. Democracy is a core value of our country, not a luxury that must be suspended when economic times are tough.
Unfortunately, a recent signature campaign to put this law up for repeal failed due to the paperwork being rejected because the heading font was too small. While a mere formality, this problem caused a state panel to reject the campaign intended to put the emergency financial manager law on the ballot next year to face a citizen’s repeal.
Regardless of whether or not one lives in Michigan, this is a vital issue for all of us to pay attention to. Democracy is a core American value, and no American should stand idle when the voting rights of fellow citizens are being trampled upon by a state. Local democracy must be restored in Michigan, and the emergency financial manager law must be repealed. The Michigan state legislature is able to pass legislation which will repeal the current emergency financial manager law and restore democracy to Michigan cities. Sign this petition to demand the complete repeal of the Michigan emergency manager law, thus restoring power to the locally elected officials as well as preventing further takeovers of cities across Michigan.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Michigan State Legislature,
As you are probably aware, several cities in your state have been put under the unilateral authority of an emergency financial manager. While the intent of the emergency manager law may have been good, the result has been the complete degradation of local democracy in the cities which have been taken over.
The local democratic process in cities where there is an emergency manager has become largely irrelevant. Elections are still performed, yet the results are meaningless, as the elected officials have essentially no power. Without the electoral process, there is no accountability in the government and there exists a huge potential for corruption. As the recent citizen’s repeal failed to get onto the ballot (not due to a lack of signatures, but rather a font-size problem), it appears that the state legislature is the most effective way to repeal this egregious law.
The repeal of the emergency financial manager law should not be a partisan issue. Democrats and liberal have shown concern about this law because cities with high numbers of poor and minority citizens are the targets of state takeover, as well as the fact that emergency financial managers are able to dissolve union contracts. Republicans and conservatives believe in a small government and local control over politics rather than centralized power; the idea of an emergency financial manager epitomizes the ideas of a big government and the centralization of power, thus those on the right wing should not oppose repeal of this law. The repeal of this law is a place where true bipartisan agreement can occur, and real change can be achieved.
I, along with everybody else who has signed this letter, implore you in the Michigan legislature to immediately consider the repeal of the emergency financial manager law. Please protect the democratic process in your state and reject the idea that democracy is simply a luxury to be enjoyed when there are no serious problems to solve.
Sincerely,
[Your Name Here]