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New COICA Bill Would End Free Speech Online - Video

September 28th, 2010

Shelly Roche

A Look At The Technologies & Industries Senators Leahy & Hatch Would Have Banned In The Past from the dedicated-to-infringing-activities dept
The more I look at the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act," (COICA) bill proposed by Senators Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch (and co-sponsored by Sens. Herb Kohl, Arlen Specter, Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse, Amy Klobuchar, Evan Bayh and George Voinovich) the worse it looks. The idea behind the bill is to give the Justice Department the ability to avoid due process in shutting down or blocking access to sites deemed "dedicated to infringing activities."

With such a broad definition of offerings dedicated to infringing activities, I thought it might be worth running through a list of technologies that and services that were all deemed "dedicated to infringing activities" in their early days, to give you a sense of what these Senators would have banned in the past with such a law: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100925/12401911168/a-look-at-the-technologies-industries-senators-leahy-hatch-would-have-banned-in-the-past.shtml

Contact congress and tell them to vote against this monstrous (COICA) bill or say good by to freedom of speech on the internet.

Save American Democracy, or What’s Left of It

September 21st, 2010

from Kevin Zeese

In the First Election After Citizens United, Voters Need to Beware and Organized to Combat Massive Power of Concentrated Corporations

This is the first election after the Citizens United decision which gave corporations complete freedom to spend as much money as they want to influence the outcome of elections.

Citizens beware. Citizens get active. Citizens get organized. Our fragile democracy is at grave risk.

We’ve seen in Obama’s time and office (and before) how corporations dominate Washington, DC. The health care “reform” turned out to be a re-enforcement of the insurance company dominated health care industry. And finance reform had to get the approval of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve before moving forward. Corporate welfare to the weapons industry, coal, nuclear and oil have continued or even grown under Obama. The housing crisis which should have ended with the bail out of Wall Street is getting worse with record foreclosures last month. But that is not enough for the oligarchs who control government through concentrated corporate power. They want more and are using massive spending on elections to get it.

A coalition of organizations has come together to expose groups spending hundreds of millions on the mid-term elections in secret, unlimited donations that avoid campaign finance laws.

The most aggressive post-Citizens United elections operator is Karl Rove’s American Crossroads working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s Chief Counsel, Steven Law, who is also a former chief of staff to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, was named CEO of American Crossroads. These groups take secret donations, sometimes create front groups to put out their views and are doing the work that political parties normally do – from advertising and data base management to getting out the vote – but without the restrictions on the size of donations or the need for transparency.

I wrote about how corporate power was creating deceptive elections on August 25, and now TIME Magazine is writing much the same story warning that several hundred billion will be spent by corporations and their executives in this election. In addition to mass advertising in at least six states they report that American Crossroads will be spending $10 million national get-out-the-vote campaign that will include 40 million pieces of political mail and 20 million phone calls to voters in key states. Essentially, Republican Party electoral operations have moved from the Republican Party to American Crossroads. Some have described this as a coup of Michael Steele’s Republican Party.

As a result, my organization, Prosperity Agenda, has joined, American Crossroads Watch, a sister group to Stop The Chamber. I serve as the spokesperson for both coalitions. We need your help in making this watchdog campaign effective. Please watch for actions being taken by American Crossroads and the Chamber of Commerce during these elections. If you see a suspicious new group – usually labeled “Citizens for . . .” or “Citizens against . . .” – that does not disclose who their donors are, you have most likely found one of their front groups. Let us know about it. Write me at KBZeese@gmail.com so we can look into it and report it. Part of our job is to let voters know how corporations are trying to deceptively influence Americans – usually to vote against the voters own interests.

Our watchdog campaign has put out rewards of $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Karl Rove and Tom Donohue, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. On August 4, 2010, we received a letter from a purported Chamber of Commerce insider who compares Tom Donohue to Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon and Bernie Maddoff, alleges fraud, campaign finance violations and financial impropriety. In a letter on behalf of our coalition I urged the FBI and DOJ to conduct an investigation of Tom Donohue and the Chamber based on this letter.

We have also requested the Department of Justice investigate the “shadow RNC”, American Crossroads. In a letter on behalf of the coalition I suggest formation of a campaign finance task force that investigates these groups, sets up a tip line to encourage information on violations of law, requires preservation of records and monitors their activities. We’ve also urged the Federal Elections Commission to find that these groups are doing the work of a political party and issue an opinion that applies campaign finance limits to their actions.

You can assist our efforts by joining us in writing the Department of Justice urging a criminal investigation. You can do so by clicking here. In addition, please write your member of Congress and urge that they push the Department of Justice to investigate American Crossroads. You can do so by clicking here.

This is the first election after the Citizens United decision allowed unfettered corporate spending on campaigns. Citizens who want people to control government and not corporations need to be organized in challenging the abuses of corporate funding of elections. Please work with us to put a spotlight on those abuses so voters know they are being manipulated and in getting the government to act to restrict corporate domination of elections.

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Prosperity Agenda (www.ProsperityAgenda.US)

Cut Social Security? Are the Democrats crazy?

July 22nd, 2010

from Kevin Zeese

The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform is sounding the alarm around deficit spending is using exaggerated rhetoric to heighten deficit fear at a time when more spending is needed.

The commission’s rhetoric is working against the antidote for the economy – spending to restart job and economic growth. Forty leading economists, including nobel prize winners, issued a statement calling for more spending in the short-term. They recognized debt as a long term problem, but urged immediate increased spending to avoid prolonging and deepening the economic collapse, writing:

“We recognize the necessity of a program to cut the mid- and long-term federal deficit but the imperative requirement now, and the surest course to balance the budget over time, is to restore a full measure of economic activity. As in the 1930s, the economy is suffering a sharp decline in aggregate demand and loss of business confidence. Long experience shows that monetary policy may not be enough, particularly in deep slumps, as Keynes noted.

“The urgent need is for government to replace the lost purchasing power of the unemployed and their families and to employ other tax-cut and spending programs to boost demand. Making deficit reduction the first target, without addressing the chronic underlying deficiency of demand, is exactly the error of the 1930s. It will prolong the great recession, harm the social cohesion of the country, and continue inflicting unnecessary hardship on millions of Americans.”

For list of signers and more information click here.

The Obama deficit commission is working against this urgent need. And, in pushing proposals that will weaken the middle class they risk real anger from American voters who are already unhappy with the administration’s handling of the economy. The commission is talking about cuts to Social Security, Medicare and middle class benefits like the home mortgage deduction rather then focusing on the three causes of the deficit: massive war and weapons spending, giant tax cuts for the wealthy and the faltering economy.

The time is now to build opposition to these recommendations and urge Congress and the administration to cut programs that will not make the economy worse for most Americans. When I testified before the commission I urged:

  • Cuts in military spending as this makes up half of U.S. discretionary spending and is filled with waste and bloat.
  • Cuts to corporate welfare, especially to the oil and gas industry which is scheduled to received billions in tax breaks despite massive profits.
  • Taxes on the purchase of stocks, bonds and derivatives where even a tiny micro tax could raise tens of billions annually.
  • Taxes on the estates of the wealthiest 97.5% of Americans which could raise more than $10 billion annually.

Click here to read my full testimony.

These are just a few of the areas where cuts in spending and taxes on wealth could balance the budget and avoid the need to cut Social Security and Medicare or tax the middle class.

In fact, Social Security is in good financial shape for upcoming decades and merely raising the cap on Social Security taxes will make the program secure for the 21st Century. In the long run the economy needs a stronger elderly economic class. The loss of pensions, stock market collapse and savings transformed to debt leaves too many Americans dependent on the measly $14,030 annual average benefits Social Security provides.

Medicare’s challenge is not the Medicare program but the cost of health care. Cuts to Medicare will make health problems and the cost of health care more expensive. Unfortunately, the new Obama health law does not control costs and the president did not even consider the real solution for health care: ending the waste of the private insurance industry by making improved Medicare available to all Americans.

The commission is preparing its report for after the mid-term elections this November. But, it is before the elections when voters have the most power. We need to demand elected officials protect Social Security and Medicare by cutting spending for weapons and war, and raising tax dollars from the wealthy – who profited from a decade of deficit spending, first. We also need to urge them to consider taxes on wealth before considering taxes on workers. We need to let them know that our votes are dependent on them taking these actions.

You can begin to respond to the deficit commission now by writing President Obama and your representatives in Congress. You can do so by clicking here. And, to begin to build opposition to the deficit commission and urge real solutions to the economy send this article to everyone you know and urge them to take action.

Tell elected officials that to solve the deficit problem, they should focus on the causes of the deficit: nearly the entire deficit for this year and projected into the foreseeable future are the result of three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the recession. The solutions are: end the wars, allow the tax cuts to expire and restore robust growth.

Stopping the deficit commission from making things worse is only a first step. Americans need to organize to re-make the economy. To end the wealth divide which has allowed the top 1% to hoard the nation’s wealth, end concentration of corporate power which not only adds to the wealth divide but stifles entrepreneurship and weakens democracy and stop crony capitalism which uses tax dollars to enrich a few. Much work is needed to democratize the U.S. economy so it is transparent and benefits all Americans not the economic elite. But the immediate task at hand is to stop the deficit hawks from making things worse as they are poised to do. An outcry from Americans can stop their worst proposals before they gain momentum.

-###-

Kevin Zeese is executive director of Prosperity Agenda: http://www.prosperityagenda.us/

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