Jeff Bryant

Big Money Taking Over Education Politics

Most folks in the Democratic Party have a problem with the Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that permitted goo-gobs of corporate and private interest cash to be dumped onto our elections. The party’s platform supports amending the Constitution to reverse the decision. President Obama has also called for such an amendment, and Hillary Clinton has said she would consider supporting it. Most Democrats are also alarmed by the enormous amounts of cash funneled into the electoral process by folks like Karl Rove and the Koch brothers who use corporate and private interest money to overwhelm citizen voice in elections and usurp democracy.

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Richard Eskow

Corporations Act To Make Congress A Wholly Owned Subsidiary

As Election Day approaches, two reports show us exactly how corrupted our political system has become. Unless voters come out in force, it looks like corporate money is about to buy itself another house of Congress. The Wall Street Journal analyzed filings from the Federal Election Commission and concluded that In a significant shift, business groups gave more money to Republican candidates than to Democrats in seven of the most competitive Senate races in recent months, in some cases taking the unusual step of betting against sitting senators. The Journal found that corporate PACs gave most of their donations to Democrats in the early part of the campaign. That fits with a longstanding pattern: big-business interests shower incumbents with money to encourage special treatment, both during the election year and in the upcoming term. But giving has shifted dramatically since June.

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Isaiah J. Poole

New Insight Into A Democratic Populist Path To Victory

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is not all doom and gloom about the Democratic Party’s chances of keeping control of the Senate. The polls may suggest otherwise, but Greenberg still sees a way for Democrats to have a good outcome Tuesday – and it’s through the Democratic Party’s base in the “rising American electorate” of single women, millennials and people of color. But to get to that path of victory, Democrats will have to pivot much more strongly and convincingly toward a populist economic message that identifies the villains responsible for economic inequality and middle-class decline as well as the policies needed to address those problems.

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Terrance Heath

Rioting in Black and White: From Pumpkin Fest To Ferguson, And Back

A riot in New Hampshire, and a likely acquittal in Ferguson, Missouri, underscore that blacks and whites still live in very different Americas, under very different rules. The comparison was inevitable, as the images of unrest in Ferguson were still fresh in the minds of Americans, when a riot of a different color broke out in Keene, New Hampshire last week. Predominantly white Keene State University students and non-students destroyed street signs, threw liquor bottles and billiard balls, set fires, pushed barricades, shouted curses at police officers, and flipped at least one car. Students weren’t the only ones getting, “rowdy.” Pumpkin Festival coordinator Ruth Sterling even fought with local reporter Jared Goodell, wresting away his microphone in an attempt to keep him from covering the riots. More than 30 people were injured, most by thrown items.

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Richard Eskow

7 Signs That the American Dream is Dying

Originally published in Alternet A recent poll showed that more than half of all people in this country don’t believe that the American dream is real. Fifty-nine percent of those polled in June agreed that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve.” More and more Americans believe there is “not much opportunity” to get ahead. The public has reached this conclusion for a very simple reason: It’s true. The key elements of the American dream—a living wage, retirement security, the opportunity for one’s children to get ahead in life—are increasingly unreachable for all but the wealthiest among us. And it’s getting worse. As inequality increases, the fundamental elements of the American dream are becoming increasingly unaffordable for the majority. Here are seven ways the American dream is dying. Most people can’t get ahead financially.

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Robert Reich

Empathy Deficit Disorder

Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality. “When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said. Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.” Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in America – almost twice the national average, and a leading cause of death in Alaska for young people ages 15 to 24 — but I doubt it’s because Alaskans lead excessively easy lives. Every time I visit Alaska I’m struck by how hard people there have to work to make ends meet.

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Isaiah J. Poole

Failures of Conservatism Weighing Down Seven Republican Governors

Seven Republican governors who rode 2010s tea-party political wave into office, promising that their budget-slashing, tax-cutting and bowing to corporate interests would unleash economic prosperity, are now being judged harshly by voters now that their right-wing policies have failed to deliver. Their attacks on all things Obama, on unions and on government programs designed to help the unemployed and other financially struggling people gave them varying degrees of national prominence – Rick Scott in Florida, Nathan Deal in Georgia, Sam Brownback in Kansas, Paul LePage in Maine, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania and Scott Walker in Wisconsin. But all but one of them now are in tight races in their re-election bids going into Tuesday’s balloting. The one who isn’t, Pennsylvania’s Corbett, is widely expected to lose by a significant margin.

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Dave Johnson

Polling Irony: People Think Economy Is Rigged; Trust The GOP To Fix It

“It’s the economy, stupid” is from a sign that hung in the Clinton “war room” during the 1992 election. The point was that the economy was the only thing that really mattered in the election. This election is a statement that the economy is not working for people. However else you analyze what happens next week, this is the core of all of it. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows why the Republicans are doing so well in the polls right now. “Recovery” Or Not, The Economy Sucks For Most People Q: Would you describe the state of the nation’s economy these days as excellent, good, not so good or poor? Positive 27% Negative 72% Excellent 1% Good 26% Not so good 44% Poor 28% People Think The Economy Is Rigged To Favor The Wealthy Q: Do you think the U.S.

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Richard Eskow

Secret Amazon: The Hidden Costs of Big Tech

An Amazon River legend says that its famous pink river dolphins sometimes become shapeshifters and assume human form to seduce unwary travelers and lure them to a magical city called Encante. The catch is that this city is underwater. Once you’ve been there you can never go back home. That’s the thing about myths: There’s always a catch. Our society runs on a digital myth, a myth which says that the technology-based economy is different, special and somehow not subject to the principles of mathematics and human nature that govern the rest of our lives.  This myth tells us there is something called a “sharing economy,” a wealth-creating phenomenon with no downsides and no human costs.

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Dave Johnson

Week Of Action Nov. 8-14 To Stop Fast Track

A broad coalition of organizations has announced a national week of action November 8-14 to drive public awareness of and opposition to fast-track trade promotion legislation. Visit the “No Fast Track” website at NoFastTrack.com for information. Visit FlushTheTPP.org to find events in your area. Write or call your member of Congress to say “no” to fast track. Bad Trade Deals Hurt Us Our country keeps entering into trade agreements that hurt us. These “NAFTA-style” trade agreements are sold with a promise of more jobs and expanding our economy, but every single time the result is lost jobs and an increase in the trade deficit instead. Every single time. But these agreements enable to wealthiest few and their giant corporations to make more and more profits and pass the income and wealth ever upward.

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Sam Pizzigati

Democracy Lite: All Form and No Substance

The most revealing moment of our ongoing 2014 election season? That may have come last week in a Florida gubernatorial debate when former governor Charlie Crist, now a Democrat, and current governor Rick Scott, a Republican, went mano a mano over who “has led a more privileged life.” Crist — net worth, $1.2 million — pronounced that Scott’s lavish “oceanfront mansion” lifestyle had him out of touch with average Floridians. Scott — net worth, over $132 million — countered that he had grown up in a much more hardscrabble home than Crist. “You grew up with money,” Scott fumed. “You can’t tell my story,” Crist retorted. Great theater, observers agreed. In fact, the exchange amounted to much more than theater. Crist and Scott had stumbled into what should be the central issue of this year’s elections: America’s great divide. The U.S.

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Richard Eskow

GOP Betrays Social Security-Cutting Dems: Who Could’ve Seen It Coming?

Who could’ve seen it coming? Progressives could be forgiven for developing something of a Cassandra complex when it comes to the Democratic Party’s economic stances. Here’s the latest case in point: The Washington Post and Politico have warned us that Republicans, led by Karl Rove’s dark-money outfit, are attacking Democratic candidates for supporting the “bipartisan” cuts to Social Security that were all the rage in Washington for a few years. Amid what the Post’s Lori Montgomery calls “charges of hypocrisy,” Democrats like Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina are being slammed for supporting increases in the retirement age and cuts to future benefits.

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Leo Gerard

Chinese, GOP Agree Non-Rich Shouldn’t Vote

Photo by Stephen Melkisethian on Flickr, taken Feb. 8 at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. during a Moral Monday Movement rally. Speaking just like an American Republican, the Communist Chinese-appointed leader of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, said last week that if the state granted democratic rights to its poor and working class, they could dominate elections and choose leaders who would meet their needs. If Hong Kong’s 99 percenters picked their leaders, Mr. Leung said, “Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”  To ensure politics and policies favoring Hong Kong’s one percent, Mr. Leung insists that a committee appointed in Beijing approve all candidates to succeed him. Mr. Leung fears rule by the majority – just as U.S. Republicans do. It’s the reason the GOP has launched a massive voter suppression campaign across the country.

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Joshua Holland

Dark Money Makes Our Politics Nastier

We’re less than two weeks away from a midterm election that could decide which party controls the Senate, and ultimately shape the final two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. It’s the first complete midterm cycle since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United — it came down just nine months before the 2010 election — and the first since another key campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. FEC.  Mountains of money are flooding key races in the most expensive non-presidential campaign in history. To keep you up to date with the latest, we’ve rounded up some key campaign finance stories from the past week.

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Dave Johnson

President Obama’s Latest Manufacturing Push

The White House unveiled new executive actions on Monday directing federal money toward new technologies, apprenticeship programs and competitions designed to assist small manufacturers. The idea is to make the U.S. a magnet for new jobs and investment. The new executive action will: Allow the Pentagon, NASA, and the Energy and Agriculture departments to spend $300 million to develop advanced materials and new technology for sensors and digital manufacturing. Direct $100 million in Labor Department funds for apprenticeship programs aimed at advanced manufacturing. Authorize the Commerce Department to spend $150 million over five years in 10 states to help manufacturers adopt and market new technologies.

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Dave Johnson

Whoever Wins, Democrats Should Learn This Lesson: Be Democrats

Democrats should to learn a lesson from this year’s election campaigns: Democrats should be Democrats. Democrats should not try to run away from the things Democrats stand for. It doesn’t work. Supporting Republicans ideas is not going to win you Republican votes. It won’t stop Republicans from calling you a socialist, communist, extremist, or whatever. It is not going to give you any cover at all when the public gets their chance to weigh in. If you do things the public doesn’t like, it is going to come back and bite you. Unless you are campaigning for the job of post-defeat lobbyist, embracing Republican ideas so you can call yourself a “moderate” or a “centrist” buys you nothing. Exhibit A: the “centrist” Simpson-Bowles deficit-cutting plan.

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Robert Borosage

The Republican Governing Vision: Not

This should be a banner year for Republicans. To pick up the six seats they need to take control of the Senate, Republicans need only to pocket three open seats in red-state South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana, and knock off endangered incumbents in states Obama lost in 2012 like Louisiana, Alaska, Arkansas, and North Carolina. This should have been a dead-pipe cinch, given an economic recovery that still hasn’t reached most families, a dysfunctional Washington, two-thirds of voters thinking the country is headed in the wrong direction, the growing disapproval of the president, the millions in “dark money” flowing into right-wing attack ads and the lousy turnout predictable in a sixth-year bi-election. Yet with the election a week away, Republicans still haven’t been able to close the deal.

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Dave Johnson

David Brooks’ Infrastructure Column Makes You Say “Oh My God!”

The New York Times’ David Brooks writes today in “The Working Nation“: ” Western economies delivered broad and growing prosperity for the middle class. This nurtured a general faith in political institutions and culminated in the democratic triumphalism of the 1990s.” But now government is not delivering, he writes. The result, he says, is that the middle class is hollowing out, earnings are stagnant, there is not enough work, people are left without purpose, morale and faith in government and institutions has plummeted. The labor force participation rate is at its lowest in decades. Millions are in part-time or low-wage jobs that don’t come close to fulfilling their capacities. Millions more are in dysfunctional or unhealthy workplaces, but they don’t feel they can leave because they don’t think there are other jobs out there that pay the same amount.

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Sam Pizzigati

On a Top-Heavy Planet, A Bit Of A Nordic Puzzler

The latest annual Global Wealth Report from the Credit Suisse Research Institute has everything you would expect from a report on global wealth. And one thing you wouldn’t: a mystery. The media coverage of the new Credit Suisse report hasn’t focused much at all on that mystery. Reporters have zeroed in instead on the report’s host of startling stats on global wealth distribution. The top attention-grabbing stat in the new Credit Suisse study? The richest 1 percent of the world’s adults now hold nearly half the world’s wealth, 48.2 percent to be exact. Entering this global top 1 percent takes a personal net worth of at least $798,000. A net worth of anything over $77,000, adds the fifth annual Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, suffices for entry into the world’s top 10 percent. Adults in this richest 10 percent hold an amazing 87 percent of the wealth in the world.

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Terrance Heath

Wingnut Week In Review: Gay Gremlins

Calling gay people names is nothing new. We’ve been called many things throughout the ages. But “gremlins”? That’s a new one. The first — and perhaps only — Wingnut WTF prize goes this week to South Carolina Republican congressional candidate Anthony Culler. His accomplishment: potentially minting a brand new anti-gay slur when we were positive we’d heard them all by now. Culler, who is challenging Democrat James Clyburn — the only Democrat in South Carolina’s congressional delegation — didn’t settle for the usual schoolyard taunts when he posted an anti-gay tirade on Facebook. Culler reached all the way back to 1984 and called us “Gremlins.” Yes, gremlins.

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