Saturday, June 30, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

US Supreme Court: The Citizens United decision stays

     The U.S. Supreme Court today, by a 5-4 vote, struck down Montana’s 100-year-old ban on corporate election spending — without even allowing full briefing or argument in the case. The decision reverses a Montana Supreme Court decision, which upheld the law due to the state’s dramatic history of corruption.

     In May, the Brennan Center submitted a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Court to uphold the law, and use the case to revisit the disastrous Citizens United ruling, which opened the door to unlimited spending in American elections. The brief, submitted on behalf of the Center and nine constitutional law professors in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, argued that Citizens United is untenable in light of the dominant role now being played in U.S. elections by super PACs and other outside groups.

     This is, of course, a great loss to the struggle for democracy in America.  Dozens of nationally-based, full-time non-governmental organizations have been continuously on the front lines fighting for 'one person, one vote,' and all that it entails.  Join me in thanking these nonprofits for their self-less hard work in many ways for campaign finance reform, in the Capitol, the internet and elsewhere over these many years.

UPDATE:  There is still hope: we are now working for a constitutional amendment to overturn the court ruling and reclaim our democracy!  Join now! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Phone in for information on your representatives in Washington, DC, and on elections, for free!

From:  Call on Congress  |  Sunlight Foundation

  • Available in both English and Spanish, one phone call provides you with instant information on what Congress is doing in Washington, D.C. 

  • Call 1-888-907-6886

  • Call to find out how your representatives are voting on bills and raising campaign money.  You can also be connected with your lawmakers’ offices or get details on where to vote on Election Day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Occupy," haiku poems by David Weller

I believe our political culture in the USA needs to be reformed into a system that a civilization can be proud of. Here a few insights as short poems I wrote tonight; I hope they are a blessing to you and this great nation of ours.

by David Weller

social acts of love,
signals not of good or bad,
but what's not evil

displaying one's own
originality is

can light main street, not wall street

the rich have it that
money creates politics
go pro-creation

hot are the sidewalks
that lead to chummy Wall Street
sneakers are required

greedy financiers
think they already do know,
yet the wise do sow.

Quickly, what is the
reason for the tax season?
Nourish government.

computer money
does not calculate into
honest transactions

commerce depends on
good managers to build on,
not manager's son

to be ideal is
not to be subliminal
it is substantial

Saturday, June 9, 2012

You can now get your absentee voter ballot through the internet

From:  U.S. Vote Foundation Debuts New Online Tool Customized for All 50 States  |  American Democracy Project

  • US Vote’s absentee ballot services will launch on June 8th for 22 states: AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, DC, IL, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NY, OH, RI, SC, TX, UT, WA, WY. The remaining states are planned to be online by June 15, 2012.

  • US Vote’s absentee ballot request tool can be accessed at  US Vote is the first-ever online system that offers users a state-specific absentee ballot request for every state in the U.S.

    • “We created this tool so that anyone who wishes to vote can be assisted – whether it be a traveling executive, a working parent, a home-bound person, or a college student away from home,” said Dzieduszycka-Suinat.

    • Users can complete the request form online, print it out, sign and mail it in to the local election office address that US Vote uniquely provides to them. No other system offers local election addresses and contact details for US absentee voters. Voter profile information can be saved online with the “My Voter Account” service. Users then have the ability to access their information from any computer at their convenience and edit it for future requests.

      • Its website features a complete suite of voter services. ...  “The point of our services is access. We want to make sure all Americans are equipped with the tools they need to vote, from the polling place to the kitchen table.”

      Thursday, June 7, 2012

      Be kind -- that's sustainable politics

           Why has the Occupy movement petered out so much?  Why isn't there an active organization of local groups against the Citizens United court decision?  Why are Americans being constantly bombarded with different forms of government and corporate spying?  Why do millionaire lobbyists have free access to critical points of legislation?

            We are not a people-centered society anymore, but a money-centered one.  There is a hollow existence to daily life, where financial comfort is the way of life.  And only those already comfortable can and will get more rich.  And the way one attains money these days leave open any quasi-legal means of doing so.

           If we are to be united again as a country, we must not forget who our 'neighbors' are.  We must care about their quality of life, while caring for ours.  We must constantly choose charity and service over advantage and competition.  Humanity is the ultimate quality of life.  Mercy reminds us of such sentiments...  Be kind.

      Monday, June 4, 2012

      Ross Perot's positions for government reform still hold true for today

      This is a position statement by Ross Perot when he ran for president of the United States in 1992 and 1996.  Mr. Perot single-handedly opened up the national debates on critical issues such as the national debt, campaign finance reform / special interests, and fair trade / saving American jobs.  Many of his national concerns have now come into full fruition, and it is still up to us to reform our political system for a sustainable future.


      I WANT TO BE YOUR PRESIDENT... I care deeply about the legacy we are leaving to our children.  We are at a critical moment in our nation's history and our failure to act now will leave the children of tomorrow a broken and destroyed nation.

      With the prospect of a soaring $5-TRILLION DEBT, out-of-control spending is destroying our future.  It is time we - not the special interests - determine our future.

      My commitment to you is:

      • The highest ethical standards for officials at all levels of government
      • Real campaign finance reform
      • Balance the budget and pass a balanced budget amendment
      • A new tax system that is fair and less complicated
      • Trade agreements that promote fair trade and American jobs for future generations
      • Protect Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security for the elderly while creating a new sustainable system for future generations

      By working together, we can solve these problems and leave a better, stronger country to our children and grandchildren.

      As your president, I will be proud to work for you, the OWNERS of this GREAT NATION!


      Nader asks Pres. Obama to support the Wisconsin Democrats for the June 5th recall elections

      From:  Letter to President Obama: Wisconsin’s Upcoming Elections, by Ralph Nader  |  The Nader Page

      • June 1, 2012

      • Dear President Obama:

      • ... Political observers are saying that if the Republicans defeat your Democratic Party on Tuesday, it will have wide ramifications throughout the country and will probably cost you Wisconsin this November.

      • Last year I noticed how quiet you were about the large and resourceful demonstrations in Madison that were so inspiring to many of your supporters around the country. You did not go to speak to these good Democrats. Your political operatives in the White House even turned thumbs down on the request by the Wisconsin state federation of labor that Vice President Joe Biden – a self-styled “union man”- address one hundred thousand working people and students before the state capitol in Madison.

      • So the main public organizations and demonstrations against the draconian Republican assault on your constituents and on long-standing Democratic Party policies – their rights and their livelihoods – were not supported by either you or an otherwise eager Joe Biden at any of those Madison turnouts. ...

      • Barack Obama did not have the time nor the interest to come and help us during the last days of our historic struggle against the cruelest, most craven, most corporatist-indentured Republican Party in history. Where was he?

      • Unless you fly to Wisconsin before Tuesday, you’d better HOPE that the polls CHANGE and the good people of Wisconsin turn out Governor Walker. Otherwise, you’ll be up against the memories of your abandonment all the way to November that will not be restricted to the boundaries of the Badger State.

      • Sincerely yours, Ralph Nader

      Saturday, June 2, 2012

      "Politics," a poem

      by David Weller

      Crass pundit hacks
      results in
      Crass candidate cracks

      Crass money bags
      results in
      Crass campaign ads

      Crass party movements
      results in
      Crass voter vents

      Crass representatives
      results in
      Crass officials' pensives

      Deformed political vultures
      its solution:
      Reformed national cultures

      Friday, June 1, 2012

      Huge-budget campaign advertisements will be secretly financed this election season

      From:  An end run around campaign finance laws  |  Democracy21
      This is a Democracy21 press release.  It starts:

      Enclosed for your review is a Washington Post column published May 31, 2012 by Ruth Marcus, entitled "An end run around campaign finance laws."

      An end run around campaign finance laws
      By Ruth Marcus
      May 31, 2012

      To grasp the clear and present danger that the current flood of campaign cash poses to American democracy, consider the curious case of Post Office Box 72465. It demonstrates that the explosion of super PAC spending is only the second-most troubling development of recent campaign cycles.

      Box 72465, on a desert road near Phoenix, belongs to a little-known group called the Center to Protect Patient Rights. According to reports by the Center for Responsive Politics and the Los Angeles Times, the center funneled more than $55 million to 26 Republican-leaning groups during the 2010 midterm election.

      Where is the money from? The Times found links to the conservative Koch brothers, yet because the center is a nonprofit corporation, it is impossible to know. Such groups must disclose how they distribute their money, not who donates to them.

      This privacy makes sense in the context of ordinary nonprofits. But in the ­push-the-envelope world of modern campaigns, in which such groups spend millions of dollars on thinly disguised campaign ads, the result is an end run around the fundamental principle of campaign finance law: that voters are entitled to know who is trying to influence elections.

      Even the Supreme Court understands this: Disclosure, it wrote in its otherwise appalling 2010 Citizens United ruling, “permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”

      Except when, as in the case of the Center to Protect Patient Rights, the identities — and motives — of those giving are hidden from public view. The center sent almost $13 million to the American Future Fund, a Des Moines-based group that ran campaigns against two dozen Democrats in 2010. Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) was targeted with what the Times described as “a $2-million fusillade” of radio ads, robo-calls and mailers.

      “It was almost a feeling of helplessness because there was no way to identify who the source of the funds was,” Braley said. He won by two percentage points, after a 29-point margin two years earlier.

      The gusher of secret money that nearly toppled Braley promises to be even more abundant this year — and the groups behind the undisclosed cash remain determined to do whatever it takes to keep the sources hidden.

      In March, ruling in a lawsuit brought by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a federal judge found that the Federal Election Commission was wrong to exempt nonprofits and other groups that run “electioneering communications” — advertising that names specific candidates within a short time before the election — from having to reveal their donors.

      It says something about the FEC that the agency charged with overseeing campaign reporting would come out against disclosure.

      Luckily, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson disagreed. “Congress intended to shine light on whoever was behind the communications bombarding voters immediately prior to elections,” she wrote. The federal appeals court in Washington refused to stay the ruling while an appeal was underway.

      The response from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was telling: It would switch its way of influencing elections rather than reveal its donors. The chamber, which has made itself a major political player, plans to spend more than $50 million during the 2012 campaign.

      At a breakfast with reporters this week, chamber officials said that, in reaction to the ruling, the organization would conduct its political spending through independent expenditures that explicitly support or oppose particular candidates.

      Such is the perverse mess that is the current campaign finance law. Under the Citizens United ruling, corporations, such as the chamber, can make unlimited independent expenditures. The upshot is that advertising like the chamber’s can be even more brutal — because it won’t have to pretend to be merely “educating” voters — and just as opaque.

      Meanwhile, the American Future Fund, the organization that ran ads against Braley, has brazenly asked the FEC to approve a different end run. The group contends that if its ads merely mention “the administration” or “the White House,” they would not be attacking a “clearly identified candidate” and therefore not subject to disclosure requirements.

      This would be laughable — if it were not such a scary illustration of the lengths to which these groups will go to avoid letting voters know who is trying to buy their elections, and the unfortunate likelihood that they will succeed.

      # # #

      Released: June 1, 2012

      Contact Kathryn Beard at 202-355-9600 or