Archive for December, 2007

With money we borrowed from the Chinese

Why does the US military spend more money than the rest of the world combined?

The decline and fall of the New York Times


It’s amazing how much we’ve learned over the last four years. We’ve learned about how a large segment of the Democratic Party is sympathetic to neo-conservatism and doesn’t care about our civil liberties or the balance of powers. We’ve learned that the mainstream press is more likely to aid and abet an obstruction of justice than they are to report what they know about White House crimes to the America people. We’ve learned just how much New Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council hates the left-wing of the Democratic Party. We’ve learned that the Washington Post editorial board is little better than the Wall Street Journal editorial board or FOX News. Now, we learn that even the New York Times editorial board is more inclined to amplify the most discredited people in the country than they are to push new voices that have been proven prescient.

Sulzberger should resign.

Lewis Powell and the VRWC

The Powell Memo

In 1971, Lewis F. Powell, then a corporate lawyer and member of the boards of 11 corporations, wrote a memo to his friend Eugene Sydnor, Jr., the Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The memorandum was dated August 23, 1971, two months prior to Powell’s nomination by President Nixon to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Powell Memo did not become available to the public until long after his confirmation to the Court. It was leaked to Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”

Though Powell’s memo was not the sole influence, the Chamber and corporate activists took his advice to heart and began building a powerful array of institutions designed to shift public attitudes and beliefs over the course of years and decades. The memo influenced or inspired the creation of the Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Accuracy in Academe, and other powerful organizations. Their long-term focus began paying off handsomely in the 1980s, in coordination with the Reagan Administration’s “hands-off business” philosophy.

Most notable about these institutions was their focus on education, shifting values, and movement-building – a focus we share, though usually with contrasting goals. One of our great frustrations is that “progressive” foundations and funders have failed to learn from the success of these corporate institutions and decline to fund the Democracy Movement that we and a number of similarly-focused organizations are attempting to build. Instead, they overwhelmingly focus on damage control, band-aids and short-term results which provide little hope of the systemic change we so desperately need to reverse the trend of growing corporate dominance.

We see depressingly little sign of change. Progressive institutions eagerly embrace tools like the web and e-mail as hopes for turning the nation in a progressive direction. They will not. They are tools that can and must be used to raise funds and mobilize people more effectively (and we rely on them heavily), but tools and tactics are no substitute for long-term vision and strategy.

So did Powell’s political views influence his judicial decisions? The evidence is mixed. Powell did embrace expansion of corporate privilege and wrote the majority opinion in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, a 1978 decision that effectively invented a First Amendment “right” for corporations to influence ballot questions. On social issues, he was a moderate, whose votes often surprised his backers.

The Ten Best Public Policies of 2007

D.C. in the House!

Forget the tacky mottos on the typical state license plate, Washington D.C.’s slogan, “Taxation Without Representation,” is a stinging indictment of the District’s lack of even one federal representative empowered to vote in Congress. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C’s indomitable delegate, can debate with the best of them, but without the D.C. Voting Rights Act, neither she nor anyone else D.C. residents elect to Congress can cast a binding vote. No matter that the District’s population is greater than, say, Wyoming’s (two senators and a representative, thank you very much) or that its residents pay taxes and serve on juries, or even that the U.S. is a signatory to international treaties guaranteeing full voting rights. The D.C. Voting Rights Act passed the House this year for the first time in decades. Supporters even had a plan to win over GOP Senators spooked by what would likely be a new Democratic seat: balancing it with another seat for the heavily Republican state of Utah. Alas, the deal still failed to overcome a partisan filibuster. We cast our ballot for the D.C. Voting Rights Act, an affirmation of America’s deepest democratic values, as one of the best policies of 2007.

The only blog awards which matter

The 2007 Golden Monkeyfist Awards

Defense of Marriage Act

Sharia law lives, walks, and kills women in the USA just like it does in Islamist countries.

Dobson is a very bad man.

Ron Paul is against the war in Iraq and he wants FREEDOM!

So that must make his racism okay.

Well why not? It worked for the other guy. This is the voice of progressive netroots.