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NPP Plank 1: A Living Wage

May 31, 2009
It is the lack of money, not the love of it, which is the root of all evil.

In this land of plenty, tens of millions of working adults and their children—possibly as many as one in three or four of us,1 have less than enough for the bare necessities, let alone the “plenty” enjoyed by fewer and fewer of us as time goes by.2 The lives of the poor, like the lives of the most miserable sub-Saharan African, are spent scrambling for subsistence, working harder than the rest of us work,3 and exploited and further impoverished by an economic system that preys on them.4 The poor are an unending burden on the body politic; our health care system; our criminal justice system; and our local, state, and federal social welfare systems.

The first plank in the platform of a new political party (NPP) must address this issue, calling for a minimum wage which is a living wage, realistically indexed by place of residence.1 Until all working Americans are freed from what is essentially a modern serfdom, all our other social and economic ills will continue to plague us.

A more equitable distribution of the existing economic pie will, of necessity, result in less income for those in the top brackets, at least in the short term. Given the enormous gap between rich and poor which has been allowed to develop over the past thirty years,5 this may be looked upon as a correction rather than an attempt to “soak the rich.” In the medium and long term, economic justice and equity will act as a rising tide, lifting all boats to higher levels of fiscal well being.
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1 Poor and Poorer, All Together Now (ATN), Apr 28, 2009.
2 Wage Slave, ATN, Jan 29, 2009.
3 Poor No More; No More Poor!, ATN, Nov 19, 2008.
4 Soaking the Poor, ATN, Sep 4, 2008.
5 Gap between rich, poor seen growing, from CNNMoney.com, Oct 12, 2007, accessed May 31, 2009.
tags: Poverty | Politics | New Political Party

Memorial Day

May 25, 2009
Make no mistake. We are on the wrong track. This is no lone voice crying in the wilderness. Eighty-two percent of Americans during the last year of the Bush Administration1 and 56 percent of Americans still today2 agree.

The formation of a new political party is an idea that can only be entertained in the most extreme of circumstances. When a people’s elected representatives have ceased to represent the people; when inequities in opportunity, education, and income have metastasized beyond anything ever tolerated by a free society; when basic guarantees of liberty such as due process and an independent judiciary have been set aside in the name of expedience and fear; when a global economic system is crippled by a corporatocracy answerable only to itself; when military solutions are applied to social, political, and economic problems which military solutions cannot solve; and when an imbalance of such startling proportions raises the executive branch not only above the other two branches but above the rule of law itself;

Then, the contemplation of a new political party, one which engages the best wisdom of both conservative and liberal traditions; which invokes the wise counsels of our brilliant Founders; which, for all the abominations we have visited upon the colored races of the earth, yet understands the special nature of America’s origins and our purpose; the contemplation of such a new political party becomes not only a daring leap of faith but an urgent necessity in the face of an intolerable status quo.

With the waning of the Republican Party and the unwillingness of the Democratic Party to answer to the demands or to meet the needs of the people, the time has come for the formation of a new political party. We encourage the legions of individuals, groups, organizations, and interests who today are working for a strong, sane, and compassionate America to band together to form a political party in support of a new breed of candidate, one devoted to harnessing the promise and power of America for the betterment of all humanity.

This is our right and our responsibility. This is the time. The future awaits our courage.
____________________
1 Bush Hits New Low as “Wrong Track” Rises, by Gary Langer, from ABC News, May 12, 2008, accessed May 24, 2009.
2 Three in Five Americans Give President Obama’s Job Performance Positive Ratings (.pdf, 6 pp. 323Kb) from a Harris Poll, May 21, 2009, accessed May 24, 2009.
tags: Governance | Politics | New Political Party

The End of America

May 24, 2009
I have just finished a short (155-page) book which every American should read: The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot,1 by Naomi Wolf2. This “Citizen’s Call to Action” painstakingly documents the ten steps nations take toward what Wolf terms a “fascist shift.”

She sets forth examples of the worst regimes of the 20th century: Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mussolini’s Italy (where fascism was invented), and Pinochet’s Chile. Then, in ten central chapters, Wolf shows how America is following in the footsteps of those regimes every step of the way:





  1. Invoke an External and Internal Threat
  2. Establish Secret Prisons
  3. Develop a Paramilitary Force
  4. Surveil Ordinary Citizens
  5. Infiltrate Citizens’ Groups
  6. Arbitrarily Detain and Release Citizens
  7. Target Key Individuals
  8. Restrict the Press
  9. Cast Criticism as “Espionage” and Dissent as “Treason”
  10. Subvert the Rule of Law
Her examples are documented in 14 pages of endnotes. The actions and positions America has taken since 9/11—and continues to take in the Obama administration— parallel in a stark and irrefutable manner the worst extremes of the regimes that brought us the bloodiest century in human history. Her call to action is a nondenominational one:
[W]e on the left must snap out of our “it’s-all-the-WTO-the-two-parties-are-the-same” torpor; and we on the right must snap out of the “if America does it, it is right” torpor as well.

We all have to reengage in an old-fashioned commitment to democratic action and believe once again in an old-fashioned notion of the Republic. We need you to help lead a democracy movement in America like the ones that have toppled repressive regimes overseas.

We can’t, as a nation, switch on the metaphorical iPod and go for a run, somehow expecting a magical shift in the winds.
In my view, the greatest political and social danger we face today is that due process and habeas corpus have become optional for the executive branch (see #10 above). The Bush administration established and the Obama administration has preserved3 the notion that anyone—American citizen or otherwise—may be arrested and imprisoned forever with no access to a lawyer or to family and with no trial, on the president’s sole authority. If this idea doesn’t scare the pants off you, well, it is probably because you think you are a good American and it can’t happen to you.

You, above all others, need to read this book.
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1 The End of America at Amazon.com, accessed May 24, 2009.
2 Naomi Wolf, from Wikipedia, accessed May 24, 2009.
3 Obama’s Detention Plans Face Scrutiny, by Evan Perez, from the Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2009, accessed May 24, 2009.
tags: Governance

Noted With Interest, May 2009

May 23, 2009

Map of Madoff Victims
Mad at Madoff? Check out this mashup map of Bernie Madoff victims around the country. Maybe even find yourself out there. We are proud to see he only stuck it to five Vermonters. You can’t cheat an honest man. Accessed May 27, 2009

Iran: Political Prisoner’s Life in Danger
This is the sort of thing we, as a nation, can no longer object to, given our support for unlimited detention, suspended due process, and torture. Human Rights Watch, May 23, 2009. Accessed May 24, 2009

Senate Votes on the Gun Amendment
Find out how your senators voted on the amendment to the credit card bill—which passed!—that allows loaded assault weapons into national parks. From U.S. Senate. Accessed May 22, 2009.

Final Vote Results for Roll Call 277
And do the same for your representative. From The Clerk of the House of Representatives. Accessed May 22, 2009.

Keep Parks Safe: Say No to Loaded Guns in our National Parks
And if you do or don’t like the way they voted, go to this handy resource put together by the National Parks Conservation Association to find and write them. Do it! It matters! From National Parks Conservation Association. Accessed May 22, 2009.

Study: Climate change odds much worse than previously thought
Perhaps reality is two times more dire than predicted even six years ago. From R&D Daily. Accessed May 21, 2009.

Our unending war of terror, by Noam Chomsky
Words of wisdom and warning regarding our official policies on torture, from one of America’s pre-eminent thinkers. Wake up, America, before they come for you. Read this piece! With a hat tip to EF. From Salon.com. Accessed May 21, 2009.

Transparency in Government
Tennessee takes the lead, in this state website that is attempting to be a model of governmental transparency. Any thoughts from down that way? Accessed May 6, 2009.

This Is What Drives Us Nuts!
Two days after Defense Secretary Gates says we have enough C-17s for ten years, another Democratic voice, this one House Appropriations Committee Chair David Obey (D-WI), says he is putting $2.2 billion more into the budget to buy C-17s! Where does it end?! Accessed May 6, 2009.

13th Annual Webby Awards
The NYTimes calls them the Oscars for the Web. These cutting-edge sites are incredibly impressive. From The Webby Awards. Accessed May 6, 2009.

Should We Be Talking About Living Wages Now?
By Jeannette Wicks-Lim, from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), undated. Yes, we should! Wicks-Lim offers many of the arguments we summarized in Poor and Poorer. Accessed May 3, 2009.

Newsy.com
This Internet startup provides two- to three-minute videos on breaking news, with a credible effort at providing a balanced perspective. And can you resist falling for the lovely new Internet star Charlotte Bellus? G’day, Darlin’! Accessed May 2, 2009.

Workers Walk the Plank
By Bob Herbert, from the New York Times, Apr 27, 2009. We’ve said it all too often here on ATN: Jobs, not bailouts. Herbert agrees in this fine and heartfelt column. Accessed May 1, 2009.

The Clinton Bubble
By Robert Scheer, from truthdig.com, Apr 28, 2009. From Tim Geithner’s lunch dates to the growing numbers of erstwhile middle class falling into poverty, no one can wonder where Robert Scheer’s outrage is. Accessed May 1, 2009.

Books Books Books
Below is a list of books that have come to our notice recently (we’ll be adding to this list throughout the month). All are recommended reading. The links take you to the Amazon.com page for each book.

tags: Noted with Interest

All Together Now

May 18, 2009
All Together Now, begun on May 25, 2008, is currently suspended. Past postings are available via the monthly archives in the right-hand column or the category archives (Tags) in the left-hand column.

Aux Barricades! will continue to be updated with recommended political action items for the time being. They will also be available via our Twitter feed.
tags: ATN

Whither ATN?

May 11, 2009
As the first anniversary of All Together Now approaches (our first posting was on May 25, 2008), we will take the rest of the week off to contemplate what the second year may or may not look like.

The first year, we believe, fulfilled our three-part mission, as noted in About ATN:

  • To get our facts straight. Let’s understand the nature and extent of the problems we face, problems that threaten our own well-being on this planet, and, even worse, threaten to radically degrade the standard of living of our children and our grandchildren;
  • To acknowledge and celebrate the work of the individuals and groups that are working for a better world;
  • And to roll up our sleeves and get to work ourselves, whether by sending a few dollars to those individuals and groups mentioned above, or by immersing ourselves in the rough-and-tumble of social change.
We believe that over the past year we have come to better understand both the source of our nation’s and our world’s problems, and to begin to visualize effective ways to confront, ameliorate, and solve those problems.

The best course for us to take in continuing the struggle, both within and outside the context of All Together Now, will be the subject of our thoughts in the coming days. We welcome any input from readers.
tags: ATN

Guest Editorial: Alex Tabarrok

May 08, 2009
Perhaps the central theme of All Together Now is our belief that the way to future progress in the world—and away from the divisiveness, animosities, and looming social, political, and environmental disasters we face on so many fronts—is to optimize our human capital. We must free humanity from the shackles of poverty, ignorance, and oppression, not out of altruistic motives but as a survival tactic. We are going to need all the help we can get in the 21st century if our species is to survive, let alone to thrive. As we are now able to end poverty and ignorance and oppression, so we must work tirelessly to do so, liberating billions of minds and bodies to join in our common struggle for survival.

This TED Talk by economist Alex Tabarrok, entitled How ideas trump economic crises—a surprising lesson from 1929, supports and advances our thesis from an economic perspective.
tags: Economics | Poverty | Working Together

Earmarks

May 07, 2009
According to Wikipedia, “In US politics, an earmark is a congressional provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees.”1

Earmarks are a subject politicians love to go on about when they are attacking the other side; however, they are an equal opportunity provision protected by the appropriations privilege granted to the legislative branch in the Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 9). Earmarks circumvent the usual procedures involved with federal allocations of funds, including congressional debate (although requested earmarks are not always received), competitive bidding, and Executive branch oversight of expenditures. Until recently, congressional legislators could anonymously request and receive these special appropriations; since the 110th Congress (2007-2008), they have had to post their requests on their web sites.

Earmarks, or “pork,” as they are usually referred to in the media, constitute about two percent of the federal budget—not terribly significant, but neither is it a trivial figure. We wrote about earmarks last September at The Problem with Pork, where we said, “[T]he waste of a three-trillion-dollar mistake in Iraq dwarfs the cumulative effect of a hundred years’ worth of earmarks.”

In April, 2009, New Hampshire representative Paul Hodes introduced H.R. 2038 (linked via GovTrack.us), which would “prohibit an authorized committee of a candidate who is a Member of Congress from accepting contributions from any entity for which the Candidate sought a Congressional earmark.” The bill seeks to disconnect earmarks from campaign contributions, which, to the extent they are connected, could well (and should) expose a legislator to the charge of accepting bribes. The bill has been referred to committee (the House Committee on House Administration). The majority of bills never make it out of committee. We will be watching this one and, should some version of it be enacted into law, we will post it on Happy Daze.

Meanwhile, with an assist from Know Thy Congressman, which provides information on the number of earmarks requested and received by each congressional member (and the total amounts involved), and a trip to members’ websites, here are some data regarding our congressional delegation. If you would like to compile data regarding yours, send it to us, and we will add it to this posting.

Vermont
Sen. Patrick Leahy: 109 earmarks requested ($458M); 93 received ($221M)
Sen. Leahy’s FY2010 requests: About 120 ($Many Millions).
A hat tip to Bill Allison at Real Time Investigations, a project of the Sunlight Foundation, for digging up these (and Sen. Sanders’s) requests. Their offices never got back to us after multiple requests.

Sen. Bernard Sanders: 44 earmarks requested ($325M); 40 received ($125M)
Sen. Sanders’s FY2010 requests: About 60 ($Many Millions).

Rep. Peter Welch: 24 earmarks requested ($38M); 24 received ($38M)
Rep. Welch’s FY 2010 requests: 29 projects (c.$29M)

The Sunlight Foundation has provided a visualization of earmarks from 2005, which will show you how they were proportionally distributed that year among the states, among federal agencies, and among recipient organization types (for-profit, non-profit, etc.).

Are earmarks pork? When they are used as a means of rewarding a constituent for their support, they are worse than pork, they are a crime. If they award projects to specified contractors without competitive bidding, they may be circumventing rather strict federal regulations. If, however, the earmarks support intelligent, forward-looking projects which benefit all or a large segment of a state’s population, supporting economic, social, and environmental progress, then we may say earmarks constitute one important, and constitutionally legitimate method by which the country’s business is conducted.

Earmarks are probably here to stay. H.R. 2038 and other measures must ensure that they are employed appropriately and for the common good.
____________________
1 Earmarks (politics), from Wikipedia, accessed May 5, 2009.
tags: Governance | Congress

Flashbacks

May 06, 2009
Two previous ATN items came to mind this week, as further developments transpired in each.

In It Can Happen Here; It Is Happening Here back in September 2008, we highlighted the extreme secrecy of the Bush Administration and noted how that secrecy, combined with the unholy alliance and mutual dependence of government and industry, threatened to morph our free democracy into a fascist state. Paranoid conspiracy theory? Perhaps. However, since then, there are at least three disturbing developments that continue to lead us in that direction:

  • The Obama administration persists in invoking the state secrets privilege to quash judicial proceedings against long-term detainees. Our independent judiciary, surprisingly enough, appears to be finally taking a stand against this abuse of power.1
  • A U.S. Army unit (the Infantry Unit’s 1st Brigade Team) has been training for domestic operations since at least last October. The Army Times newspaper initially reported the unit “may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control,” and later issued a “clarification,” saying, “This response force will not be called upon to help with law enforcement, civil disturbance or crowd control.” Read more about the issue on Democracy Now.2
  • This week, the Washington Post reported that a domestic facility, the Murtha Airport in Johnstown, PA, has been “upgraded” to the tune of $30 million in order to “handle behemoth military aircraft and store combat equipment for rapid deployment to foreign battlefields.”3 With over 700 military bases in foreign lands, 38 of them considered large or medium-sized,4 it is difficult to understand the necessity of storing additional major weapons systems in the heart of the heartland for overseas deployment.
Between these revelations and the worrisome aspects of the Patriot Act regarding domestic surveilliance, one can only wonder whether our government is developing contingency plans to stifle dissent by military force.

* * *

On a brighter front, the speculations in R.I.P. G.O.P. are appearing less speculative all the time. This once-proud party of Honest Abe, T.R., and Ike, has, since the era of Nixon and the “southern strategy,” been co-opted by the lunatic fringe at the far right of American political discourse. The party’s inability to shake loose from the extremism represented by the Grover Norquist mentality5 is rapidly turning them into a fringe party. Recent developments haven’t helped them:
  • Arlen Specter (R-PA), fearing defeat in a Republican primary next year, followed 200,000 of his constituents to the Democratic Party. Should Al Franken ultimately be seated—which looks increasingly likely—the Republicans will lose their ability to kill legislation through the filibuster.
  • In the heavily Republican 20th congressional district in New York, Democrat Scott Murphy narrowly defeated Republican James Tedisco in a race for the seat vacated by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was named to replace Hillary Clinton as New York’s junior senator.6
  • Republicans come third in party preference polls, after Independents and Democrats.6
  • Only 23 percent of voters self-identify as Republicans, down from 30 percent six years ago. Meanwhile, during that same period, while those identifying themselves as Democrats crept up from 33 to 35 percent, self-identified Independents matched, in reverse, the Republican slide, increasing their numbers from 30 to 36 percent, advancing ahead of both parties.7
Have we had enough of mismanagement, towering deficits, runaway and futile militarism, corporate malfeasance, and rampant and crippling inequality, such that the party that was primarily responsible for bringing on all this may be fading from the political landscape, as the solidly centrist Obama Democrats capture the imagination and fealty of the people?

As the number of Independents indicates, that centrism is not good enough for millions of us who would advocate for greater systemic change in American politics. It is time for America to take the leadership in crafting a just, equitable, peaceful, and democratic world. The era of dog-eat-dog competition is over and the time has come to harness capitalism for the benefit of a new, cooperative, agenda favoring an end to the specter of nuclear winter, vast global inequality, and environmental degradation.

Today’s administration represents the viewpoint of the American center. The Republicans are fading into a grumbling fringe. The time is ripe for a new political party advocating higher and grander ideals that are technologically feasible and urgently needed in the face of all our challenges. The problem is how to forge those Independents—now in the majority—into that party. Ideas?
____________________
1 Overusing “state secrets privilege,” Editorial from the Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2009, accessed May 2, 2009.
2 Is Posse Comitatus Dead? US Troops on US Streets, from Democracy Now, Oct 7, 2008, accessed May 2, 2009.
3 Murtha Airport Got Military Upgrades, by Carol D. Leonnig, from the Washington Post, Apr 30, 2009, accessed May 2, 2009.
4 737 U.S. Military Bases = Global Empire, by Chalmers Johnson, from AlterNet.org, Feb 19, 2007, accessed May 2, 2009.
5 Grover Norquist, from Wikipedia, accessed May 2, 2009.
6 The Republican Party needs a leadership shake-up at all levels, by John LeBoutillier, from newsday.com, Apr 30, 2009, accessed May 2, 2009.
7 GOP Party Identification Slips Nationwide and in Pennsylvania, from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, Apr 29, 2009, accessed May 2, 2009.
tags: Politics | Governance

Happy Daze, May 2009

May 05, 2009
Happy Daze will compile only good news on a monthly basis, rather like Aux Barricades! lists action ideas, and Noted with Interest provides monthly short takes.

Happy Daze is devoted to reminding us that good things do happen, progress is being made, and even Armageddon may, at times, seem to have a silver lining.

Send us happy news we missed and we will add it to our monthly listings. Here comes this month’s so far:

First Black Mayor in City Known for Klan Killings
Philadelphia, Mississippi, where civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner were famously murdered in 1964, has elected its first black mayor. The city is 56 percent white. From the New York Times. Accessed May 22, 2009.

At Xerox, a Transition for the Record Books
Xerox’s white female CEO, Anne Mulcahy, passes the reins to black female Ursula Burns, the first black woman to head up a Fortune 500 company of this size, and the first time in history that one female chief exec of a F500 company was replaced by another. From the New York Times. Accessed May 22, 2009.

More people are reading
Up 28 percent, to 84 percent worldwide since 1950! A literate population is an informed population. An informed population will be an angry, and an active, population. From Progressive Policy Institute, Apr 29, 2009. Accessed May 3, 2009.

Bank of America’s Lewis ousted as board chairman, stays as CEO
By Jonathan Stempel (Reuters). The first chink in the armor of the big banks? Could this be the start of accountability, with the first head rolling (albeit not far from the center of power)? Accessed May 2, 2009.

tags: Happy Daze

Aux Barricades!, May 2009

May 04, 2009

Those who profess to love freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are those who want crops without plowing. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did, and it never will.
—Frederick Douglass, 1857
Follow us on Twitter.com for early notice of these Action Items, and click the Aux Barricades! tag in the left-hand column to display earlier Action Items. Send your Action Items to us and we will add them to this list.

  • May 29, 2009: Sign a Sierra Club petition to Interior Secretary Salazar, to prevent the extinction of the Florida panther by setting up a protected area (fewer than 100 are left and they are dying on the highways at a fearsome rate). Sign HERE.

  • May 29, 2009: Write Obama, via Human Rights First, urging him to keep his word and end military tribunals. Sign HERE.

  • May 29, 2009: Say NO via Food&WaterWatch to food irradiation and to the potential naming of an irradiation zealot to the Dept. of Agriculture. Sign HERE.

  • May 29, 2009: Tell NBC NOT to run an "infomercial" after Meet the Press this Sunday, arguing against a public health care option. It contains demonstrably false information and will maliciously mislead viewers. No "Swift Boating" of health care reform. Via Democracy for America Sign HERE.

  • May 23, 2009: Thank your representative for voting the Clean Energy Bill out of committee. Thank HERE.

  • May 23, 2009: Donate to an Avaaz.org billboard in D.C. urging Obama to close Gitmo and end torture. Let us assume for the time being that he requires what he says he requires: the staunch support of the grassroots. Donate HERE.

  • May 21, 2009: Send a Food&WaterWatch letter to Obama and Ag Sec Vilsack, urging them not to lift restrictions on Chinese poultry imports. Sign HERE.

  • May 20, 2009: Sign a TrueMajority letter to your representative, asking them not to give away carbon credits in a cap and trade system. Sign HERE.

  • May 20, 2009: Sign an Avaaz.org petition to Ban Ki Moon to free Aung Sun Suu Kyi. Sign HERE.

  • May 19, 2009: Sign a National Parks Conservation Association letter to your congressional delegation, asking them to support the Public Lands Service Corps Act. Sign HERE.

  • May 16, 2009: Sign a NPCA petition to your congressional delegation urging them to vote against OK Sen. Coburn’s rider on the Credit Card bill (S. 235) allowing loaded assault rifles in national parks. Sign HERE.

  • May 16, 2009: Sign a TrueMajority petition to the Senate, asking them to eliminate from the Pentagon supplemental spending bill pure pork items (including $2 billion for the C-17s that nobody wants). Sign HERE.

  • May 15, 2009: Sign a ColorOfChange petition to your congressional delegation asking them to support the Youth PROMISE Act. Sign HERE.

  • May 15, 2009: Send an Avaaz.org letter to Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone asking him to intervene in the genocide in Sri Lanka. Sign HERE.

  • May 15, 2009: Sign a Human Rights First petition to Obama, asking him to name an independent commission to examine and report on torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees in the period since 9/11. Sign HERE.

  • May 14, 2009: Donate to Avaaz.org to help pay for ads encouraging Obama to provide a plan for peace in the Middle East. (Netanyahu will meet with Obama next week.) Donate HERE.

  • May 13, 2009: Sign a National Parks Conservation Association letter to your representative, urging them to pass meaningful climate change legislation to aid our parks, our children, and our nation’s future. Sign HERE.

  • May 9, 2009: Sign a Human Rights First petition to the Dept. of Homeland Security, arguing against jailing immigrants seeking political asylum in the U.S. “Give us your tired, your poor, and we’ll sling them into jail for you!” Sign HERE.

  • May 6, 2009: Sign a TrueMajority.org petition to Congress to cut unnecessary spending from the Pentagon budget. Especially, do not add the $2.2 billion House Appropriations Chair David Obey wants to add to purchase C-17s which Secretary Gates says we will not need for another ten years! Sign HERE.

  • May 4, 2009: Sign a J Street petition to Congress and the media asking them to support Obama’s mideast agenda and oppose Newt Gingrich’s recent speech favoring a return to the failed policies of the Bush administration. You can sign HERE.

  • May 4, 2009: Sign a TrueMajority petition to your congressional delegation asking them to support Obama’s effort to close overseas tax havens. You can sign HERE.

  • May 3, 2009: Signed a petition to free Laura Ling and Euna Lee from a North Korean prison. They were detained for an illegal border crossing (it is unclear whether they actually crossed into North Korea), while investigating North Korean sex trafficking to China. You can sign HERE and follow the story on Twitter.

  • May 2, 2009: Signed a Food&WaterWatch petition asking our senators to oppose taxpayer-subsidized privatization of wastewater facilities. You can sign HERE.

  • May 2, 2009: Signed a MoveOn.org petition, advocating the impeachment of Jay Bybee, who was rewarded with a lifetime seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for writing some of the more despicable torture memos. You can sign HERE.

  • May 1, 2009: Signed (and re-wrote) a J Street petition to my congressional delegation, urging them to support a one-state solution in the Middle East and to support Obama’s attempts to give peace and reason a chance in talking with the Iranians. No More Sanctions. You can write your own delegation HERE.

  • May 1, 2009: Signed a ColorOfChange petition to Obama, seeking justice for Black farmers. The USDA is in the process of cheating them out of hard-won recompense for years of discrimination. You can sign HERE.

tags: Aux Barricades! | Working Together

Noted With Interest, April 2009

May 01, 2009

Creep, by Radiohead
A moving, if depressing, animation of the Radiohead song. If it is no longer at this site, try the less sharp version on YouTube. Accessed Apr 5, 2009.

YouTube EDU
YouTube has produced a site containing an educational subset of their videos. The self-starter can get a million-dollar education online today, without ever stepping foot inside a classroom. Accessed Apr 5, 2009.

Transaction Data
Wondering where all that TARP money went? Check out this Google Maps mashup. Find out how much YOUR bank got. From FinancialStability.gov. Accessed Apr 8, 2009

Charter Schools in Eight States: Effects on Achievement, Attainment, Integration, and Competition
The first charter school (1992) is only 17 years old, so studies of the effects these 4,000 school are having on our children are still sketchy and contradictory. However, this Rand Corporation book does examine four primary research questions: (1) What are the characteristics of students transferring to charter schools? (2) What effect do charter schools have on test-score gains for students who transfer between traditional public schools (TPSs) and charter schools? (3) What is the effect of attending a charter high school on the probability of graduating and of entering college? (4) What effect does the introduction of charter schools have on test scores of students in nearby TPSs? Bottom Line: Charter school performance is comparable to traditional public schools, though some scant evidence exists that a greater proportion of charter school students graduate and go on to college. From Rand Corporation. Accessed April 11, 2009.

Baracknophobia: Hannity, Bachmann and Beck are Terrified of Obama
A truly funny Comedy Central routine by Jon Stewart. Found on the Huffington Post. Accessed Apr 11, 2009.

The Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Vermont
It’s positive! From Policy Archive. Accessed Apr 23, 2009

Happy Daze (April 2009)
Don’t forget to check out all the GOOD NEWS from April, now that we are into May.

How to Grow Your Own Fresh Air
Science fiction, or the way we will all be living soon? Kamal Meattle is living this way now. See his fascinating four-minute video on how he is doing it. From TED Talks. Accessed Apr 26, 2009.

A Torturous Compromise
By Thomas L. Friedman, from the New York Times, Apr 28, 2009. Friedman, as he has done before, comes down on the side of expedience, prepared to forgive torturers and abandon the rule of law, for the sake of peace in our time. Be sure to read the Editors' Selections from the 399 Comments posted—they are unanimously condemnatory. Accessed Apr 30, 2009.

“They Frankly Own the Place”
By Paul Blumenthal. The title quotation is from Senator Dick Durbin, referring to the financial sector—banking, insurance, and real estate. They have spent $3.6 billion since 1997 lobbying Congress, and they have gotten everything they paid for. From the Sunlight Foundation. Accessed Apr 30, 2009.

Books Books Books
Below is a list of books that have come to our notice over the past month. All are recommended reading. The links take you to the Amazon.com page for each book.

tags: Noted with Interest

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