Monday, February 13, 2012

Keystone zombie action alert + 3 takes on Obama & superpacs

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, February 08, 2012 9:14 PM

Dear Friends--

The Keystone XL zombie is lurching back to life and we need your help to knock it back again.

This week, the Senate is considering a series of tricks designed to force approval of the project. It's hard to track what's real and what's just noise, but our friends on the Hill assure us this is a crucial moment for the public to weigh in.

Can you take a minute to write Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and ask them to oppose any moves to approve the pipeline?

Keystone XL is the perfect symbol of the cronyism that's corrupting our government: the 44 Senators who co-sponsored the most recent piece of legislation have taken $22.3 million in oil and gas money -- that's more than three times as much dirty money as those opposing the pipeline. The one Democrat on this list, West Virginia's Joe Manchin, has taken more money from the fossil fuel barons than anyone else in his party—it's really just a game of follow-the- cash.

We need to let the Senate know that we're on to their game. Last month, we called a penalty on Congress with hundreds of referees blowing the whistle in Washington, DC. In the coming weeks, we'll be organizing dozens of similar referee actions in districts across the country.

Together, we're not only beating back Keystone XL but going on the offensive against an even larger scam -- the billions of taxpayer dollars the fossil fuel industry gets in handouts and subsidies every year.

Right now, the most important thing we can do is flood the Senate with messages opposing Keystone XL. Here's the link where you can send an email:

Your great work all fall and winter has meant that energy and climate issues are at the heart of the debate in Washington as they've really never been before. It's good to see our representatives engaged on this.

Now we need to press even harder—and not just about this single pipeline, but about the deeper question of whether we're ready to rein in the fossil fuel industry and get serious about clean energy. Thanks to you, that's what's on the line.

With respect,

Bill McKibben for


Russ Feingold
Progressives United  
Yesterday was a disappointing day. The President announced that he and his reelection campaign are embracing the corrupt corporate politics of Citizens United through the use of super PACs -- organizations that raise unlimited amounts of money from big corporations and the richest individuals, often in total secrecy.
 When wealthy individual and corporate interests buy the most access to our political system, our nation's policies inevitably are skewed in favor of those interests, at the expense of average American families.
 I understand that, already, campaign officials are on Wall Street, promising to play nice with the banks and soon we'll see the spectacle of government officials at events where money is being raised in unlimited amounts.
 I am writing to detail just why the President's decision is such a bad one, and why it will be so important that in the coming weeks and months we work even harder to demand that the President and Democrats continue to fight for our progressive ideals and not become corporate-lite as they raise unlimited sums of money. After you read this, I hope you will share your feedback with me on our website.
 The President's decision is a huge step back. Democrats have tried this strategy before, when party leaders decided to raise enormous amounts of soft money in the 1990s. The result was the enactment, with active Democratic support, of a corporate-dominated policy agenda, including:
  •     trade policies that shipped millions of family-supporting jobs overseas,
  •     fiscally reckless tax laws that greatly increased our long-term debt, and
  •     the disastrous banking and financial deregulation that paved the way for the worst recession since the Great Depression.
 Just as importantly, President Obama's decision to embrace super PACs will gut a winning, progressive strategy. When Democrats play by Republican rules, people see our party as weak, and a false alternative to the power of rich individual and corporate interests that are increasingly dominating our government. And we will never be able to raise the kind of unlimited money Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, and the Koch brothers can.
 I know a lot of Democrats in D.C. don't agree. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. The D.C. crowd is dominated by the political consultants who stand to gain significantly from the decision to use super PACs to fund the campaign. I understand the desire to do everything possible to win. But this is dancing with the devil, and progressives must unite against it.
 In the coming days, we will likely see the administration push for a weak foreclosure deal with the nation's biggest banks and that is just the beginning. Our government is for sale, and we are going to have to fight to get it back.
I founded Progressives United so that a grassroots movement of Americans could stand up to exploding corporate power. There is no silver bullet that can fix our broken system. The road to ridding our democracy of corrupt money is a long one, and it will not be easy. But united, we are strong.
 Progressives are discussing the president's decision and my argument against it on right now. Click here to join the discussion and let me know what you think.
Thank you for joining me and so many other real progressives in this fight,

Russ Feingold
Progressives United
 < the-sad-spectacle-of-obamas-super-pac 
 The Sad Spectacle of Obama's Super PAC
 By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
08 February 12 
 It has been said there is no high ground in American politics since any politician who claims it is likely to be gunned down by those firing from the trenches. That's how the Obama team justifies its decision to endorse a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums for his campaign.
 Baloney. Good ends don't justify corrupt means.
I understand the White House's concerns. Obama is a proven fundraiser - he cobbled together an unprecedented $745 million for the 2008 election and has already raised $224 million for this one. But his aides figure Romney can raise almost as much, and they fear an additional $500 million or more will be funneled to Romney by a relative handful of rich individuals and corporations through right-wing super PACS like "American Crossroads."
 The White House was surprised that super PACs outspent the GOP candidates themselves in several of the early primary contests, and noted how easily Romney's super PAC delivered Florida to him and pushed Newt Gingrich from first-place to fourth-place in Iowa.
 Romney's friends on Wall Street and in the executive suites of the nation's biggest corporations have the deepest pockets in America. His super PAC got $18 million from just 200 donors in the second half of last year, including million-dollar checks from hedge-fund moguls, industrialists and bankers.
 How many billionaires does it take to buy a presidential election? "With so much at stake" wrote Obama campaign manager Jim Messina on the Obama campaign's blog, Obama couldn't "unilaterally disarm."
 But would refusing to be corrupted this way really amount to unilateral disarmament? To the contrary, I think it would have given the President a rallying cry that nearly all Americans would get behind: "More of the nation's wealth and political power is now in the hands of fewer people and large corporations than since the era of the robber barons of the Gilded Age. I will not allow our democracy to be corrupted by this! I will fight to take back our government!"
 Small donations would have flooded the Obama campaign, overwhelming Romney's billionaire super PACs. The people would have been given a chance to be heard.
 The sad truth is Obama has never really occupied the high ground on campaign finance. He refused public financing in 2008. Once president, he didn't go to bat for a system of public financing that would have made it possible for candidates to raise enough money from small donors and matching public funds they wouldn't need to rely on a few billionaires pumping unlimited sums into super PACS. He hasn't even fought for public disclosure of super PAC donations.
 And now he's made a total mockery of the Court's naïve belief that super PACs would remain separate from individual campaigns, by officially endorsing his own super PAC and allowing campaign manager Jim Messina and even cabinet officers to speak at his super PAC events. Obama will not appear at such events but he, Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden will encourage support of the Obama super PAC.
 One Obama adviser says Obama's decision to openly endorse his super PAC has had an immediate effect. "Our donors get it," the official said, adding that they now want to "go fight the other side."
Exactly. So now a relative handful of super-rich Democrats want fight a relative handful of super-rich Republicans. And we call this a democracy.
 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 latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on and iTunes. 
 < super-pacs-presidential-election 
 US elections: curse of the Super Pacs 
 European politicians are far too often and far too easily beguiled by the surface glamour of American elections. This year in one vitally important respect, however, Europeans should look across the ocean at the 2012 presidential contest and pledge never to allow anything like it to take root here.
 The 2012 US presidential contest is the first to take place since the US supreme court's game-changing 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case, which was brought, revealingly, by a very well-funded rightwing group campaigning against Hillary Clinton's attempt to win the Democratic party nomination two years previously. The ruling, passed 5-4 by the court's conservative majority, blew away most of the pre-existing restrictions on independent spending for political purposes by business and the unions. By allowing corporates to make unlimited donations of this kind, the court gave birth to the so- called Super Pacs, which are turbocharged fundraising "political action committees" that support a candidate while remaining nominally independent of his or her campaign.
 The arrival of Super Pacs has allowed corporate big money to take control of the electoral campaign process to an unprecedented degree. The ability of the uncharismatic and relatively moderate (in Republican party terms) Mitt Romney to exert an increasing stranglehold over his party's nomination race has many causes, but the sheer size of Mr Romney's Super Pac, Restore Our Future, is certainly a crucial one of them. By the end of 2011 ROF had raised more than $30m, mainly from hedge funds and private equity groups, to promote Mr Romney. That money is overwhelmingly spent in paid-for TV attack ads. In recent weeks, ROF has blanketed campaign-trail states such as Florida, Nevada and Arizona with negative propaganda against Newt Gingrich. It is increasingly arguable that Super Pacs are buying the Republican election.
 Four years ago, Barack Obama raised a huge campaign war chest of his own, but insisted he did not want to be beholden to outside groups. This month, though, the president has begun signalling that he wants wealthy donors to contribute to Priorities USA Action, one of the leading Democratic Super Pacs. Mr Obama has done this simply because he risks being overwhelmed by hostile Super Pac spending if he does not. But it is a watershed step nevertheless, ensuring that the corporate donors whom he once talked of bringing to heel will now instead further tighten their grip on the election battle.
 More than ever before, American politics in 2012 is politics for sale – to the biggest donors. European politics may be frustrating in many ways, but it is better off not going anywhere near this baleful American example.

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"We are dealing with a far more ominous threat than sickness and death.  We are dealing with the dark side of humanity -- selfishness, avarice, aggression.  All this has already polluted our skies, emptied our oceans, destroyed our forests and extinguished thousands of beautiful animals.  Are our children next? …  It is no longer enough to vaccinate them or give them food and water and only cure the symptoms of man's tendency to destroy everything we hold dear.   Whether it be famine in Ethiopia, excruciating poverty in Guatemala and Honduras, civil strife in El Salvador or ethnic massacre in the Sudan, I saw but one glaring truth; these are not natural disaster but man-made tragedies for which there is only one man- made solution – Peace." 

~Audrey Hepburn, April 1989, in a speech given while serving as goodwill ambassador for Unicef

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