Archive for politics

Highly Secretive Trade Agreement Designed to Exempt Multinational Corporations from Domestic Law

Leaked documents coming out of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations need greater public exposure before it is too late. Over the past two years, the United States has been meeting behind closed doors with eight Pacific nations, drafting an agreement designed to exempt multinational corporations from legal recourse if they violate domestic laws. If the leaks are anything at all representative of Trans-Pac’s final outcome, this agreement will set a dangerous precedent for government abdication of national interests to global corporatism.

We know that ‘hard to explain’ stories are sometimes ignored by mainstream media, but this could be a major game changer for the future of democratic self-governance, Rule of Law, and the ability of US citizens and political representatives to protect our national sovereignty. If you’re not getting more information on this story from sources you trust, you must demand a thorough investigation into how this dangerous trade agreement will limit our ability to hold foreign corporations accountable for activities on U.S. soil.

EFF created this infographic to capture the most problematic aspects of TPP, and to help users, advocates and innovators from around the world spread the word about how this agreement will impact them and their societies.

From Alternet

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Guns reduce and restrict liberty; they do not ensure our way of life.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower saw the national security implications of corporate influence on government, democracy, and civil society. He echoed Lincoln’s warnings in his farewell address to the nation on January 17, 1961:

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

The following New York Times op-ed written by Firmin Debrabander is right on the money. Guns reduce and restrict liberty; they do not ensure our way of life.

From The New York Times

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Change in Filibuster Rules May Spur Partisan Battle in Congress

Benjamin Franklin’s concern about the function of the Senate, it’s accountability, and the nature of its influence is more important today than when he raised the issue during the Constitutional Convention. More than one-half the nation’s population lives in just ten states, but they have only one-fifth of the votes in the Senate. This means that 12 percent of the U.S. population controls forty-one votes and can immobilize that chamber.

Given the transient character of the population and the changing nature of individual states, it is hard to justify this imbalance. Rules of the Senate, such as the filibuster must be reformed to encourage open debate and actual votes on the nation’s business.

From Politico

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Exchanging Our Mammoth Defense Industry for a Smaller, Cheaper, Stronger Military

Throughout President Obama’s first term, he kept Bush’s military leaders in charge of our defense and instituted a surge in Afghanistan. He also took out more terrorists in his first year than Bush did in his entire second term and is progressing on reducing nuclear weapons—one of Reagan’s most fervent wishes, and yet, daily he is proclaimed a socialist or worse.

Our global military presences requires both a powerful federal government and a mammoth defense industry. When big defense companies become indispensable, we should not be surprised at their political clout. What do you think of President Obama’s plan to reduce our huge industrial and military machinery of defense in exchange for a smaller, cheaper, stronger military?

For the Army, the Obama plan would reduce active-duty troops from 562,000 to 490,000. Photo illustration by 731: Photographs by Shaigan/AFP/Getty Images (missiles); Vahid Reza Alaei/AP Photo (smoke); Ron Sachs/Getty Images (Obama)

From Bloomberg Businessweek

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Presidential Election 2012: Protecting Our Long-Term National Interests

In 2008, Republicans suffered a major political defeat while Democrats crowed and claimed a mandate from the voters. Two years later, the parties traded places again. The GOP declared that liberalism has been rejected and promised a conservative agenda that would put the nation back on track. Unfortunately, the political narrative this election cycle has been one in which both parties have been guilty of misreading the general-election voters.

In establishing our Constitutional Republic, the Framers realized that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, and their crowning achievement was to make a vigorous democratic process, not partisan ideology, our constitutional mandate. As you go to the polls today, remember to take a step back and vote for who you think will best protect our long-term national interests: the Constitution and our democratic principles. Read the following article on the most influential factors going into Election Day, share your thoughts, and—most importantly—VOTE!

When the race is done, the balloons have wilted, and the confetti has been swept up, Campaign 2012 may be marked more by its failures than its triumphs. | Tom Foreman, CNN

From CNN Politics

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GOP Voter Fraud Accusations, or “The Wolf Who Cried Wolf.”

Over the past few months, Republican Party members have been tied to numerous reports alleging voter registration misconduct. Despite GOP claims that voter fraud is a widespread issue, the case for its effect on the 2012 election may have slowly become a story of “The Wolf Who Cried Wolf.”

The expansion of voting rights is essential to our democratic electoral process. Republican attempts to impose limitations on the franchise of Americans citizens have been repeatedly shot down by courts, so shady, even illegal suppression tactics are growing.

Republican officials, who have used hysteria about alleged voter fraud as an excuse to support measures that disproportionately block Democratic voters, are furiously trying to distance themselves from a growing number of GOP voter registration drives that either submitted false applications or threw away authentic ones. Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

From The Huffington Post

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Modern Conservatism and ‘The House That Reagan Built’

During the Reagan years, a dramatic shift took place within the Republican party. While President Reagan maintained his welcoming persona, conservative attitudes and policies became increasingly hard and authoritarian, exploiting cultural differences and financial inequities to serve powerful special interests. Today’s modern conservatives would likely find themselves at odds with many of the policies he touted in the ’80s.

We must stop voting on the rhetoric without examining the record. Remember Reagan’s “Trust, but verify.” Forget what you’ve been conditioned to believe is the liberal or conservative approach — both sides push a modern narrative that ignore real democratic values. Read Rick Perlstein’s latest op-ed on modern GOP ties to Reagan and share your thoughts.

Republicans love Ronald Reagan. First in 2008, and again in 2012, they had nomination debates at the Reagan Presidential Library, each candidate jockeying to establish their bona fides as the most dedicated Che Guevera in something they call the "Reagan Revolution". | Rick Perlstein, Al Jazeera

From Al Jazeera English

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Fears of Voter Intimidation in the Workplace As Election Day Nears

Employers have recently made numerous attempt to intimidate workers into choosing a presidential candidate that supports their company’s bottom-line. Mitt Romney, IL Rep. Joe Walsh, and Koch Industries have all endorsed the practice of goading employees to vote for Republican candidates this November.

No matter what their marketing campaigns may portray, corporate interests are not the same as those of a working community. Businesses do not live and work side by side with their employees and neighbors. Their political leanings are driven solely by what owners predict will further a company’s profit-margin. How do you think voter intimidation in the workplace will affect the outcome of the 2012 election?

From The Huffington Post

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Where does George Romney factor into Mitt’s political upbringing?

Walter De Vries, a longtime aide to Gov. George Romney, issued a scathing critique of Mitt Romney, calling him a businessman who “would say and do anything to close a deal – or an election.” Despite Mitt’s frequent claim that his father was highly influential in his political life, De Vries says George’s greatest strength “was his ability and determination to develop and hold consistent policy positions over his life.”

In a long-form exposé posted on BuzzFeed, John Bohrer posits that Mitt’s “chameleonic approach to politics” was actually a trait Romney picked up from his father. Read the following two articles on George Romney’s legacy and share your thoughts below.

The Republican nominee's father didn't walk out of the '64 convention. And George Romney didn't teach Mitt that you lose by being honest — he taught him that you change your positions to win. | John R. Bohrer, BuzzFeed Contributor

From The New York Times

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Romney’s Business Ties to An E-Voting Manufacturer Operating in 13 States

In 2011, Romney’s former business partners at Bain Capital acquired Hart Intercivic, a voting machine company known for their vulnerable, insecure, and often 100% unverifiable voting and tabulation systems now being used in all or parts of CA, CO, HI, IL, IN, KY, OH, OK, OR, PA, TX, VA, and WA.

Unsurprisingly, the frenzied GOP legislators who claim voter fraud is real threat to our democracy haven’t yet disputed the conflicts of interest for public officials and voting machine manufacturers who could electronically flip the 2012 presidential election in their candidate’s favor. Truthout takes a look at how this scenario played out in Ohio during the 2004 presidential election.

Hart Intercivic machines have famously failed in Tarrant County (Ft. Worth), adding 10,000 non-existent votes. The EVEREST study, commissioned by the Ohio secretary of state in 2007, found serious security flaws with Hart Intercivic products. In this photo, a PEB emulator running on a Palm Pilot simulates an initialization PEB during an open election, resetting all terminal passwords to "EVEREST".

Hart Intercivic machines have famously failed in Tarrant County (Ft. Worth), adding 10,000 non-existent votes. The EVEREST study, commissioned by the Ohio secretary of state in 2007, found serious security flaws with Hart Intercivic products.

 

From Truthout

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