Monthly Archives: December, 2011

What to do when there is no right answer.

Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com.

This article raises several uncomfortable questions that APV and its members will be struggling with in 2012.  To our credit I think, we have not ignored the many failings of this president, still many of us I’m sure, feel pulled in multiple directions, and I for one will not refuse to participate out of some sense of political purity.  So what’s a body to do?

Right now I guess I’m with Katrina vanden Heuvel, Paul is repugnant, but he’s the only one raising questions that need to be addressed and for that reason he needs to be taken seriously by us on the left.  He may come to the same places I do,  or at least much closer to them than the president, but I can’t say I’d ever pull the lever for him, mostly because he gets to these places by taking a series of twisty, turny back roads through crazyville and racist town.

“There are, as I indicated, all sorts of legitimate reasons for progressives to oppose Ron Paul’s candidacy on the whole. But if your only posture in the 2012 election is to demand lockstep marching behind Barack Obama and unqualified scorn for every other single candidate, then you are contributing to the continuation of these policies that liberalism has long claimed to detest, and bolstering the exclusion of these questions from mainstream debate”.

Here’s how Greenwald would describe an honest Obama supporter, I don’t know if I agree with his characterization completely, but I don’t think he’s far wrong either.  It is the conundrum of our times, I am so tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.

“Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.”

What a Hobbsian choice is that.

I will say this, the Obama presidency should be a lesson to us all, not to support individuals, but policies, not good intentions, but concrete actions.  I’m not a big believer in third parties or withdrawing from the battle because we don’t like the ground it’s being fought on, but we, as progressives have to do a better job exerting the power we do have.  This president may well get my vote on election day, but he will not get the money, the time or the effort he got from me in 2008.  Maybe he can win without it, probably he can, but if not, it is his own fault  I’ve suffered from battered liberal syndrome for long enough.

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Good News

Yesterday,  Judge Victoria A. Graffeo, New York Court of Appeals, returned a decision that could have broad impact on the enforcement of federal consumer protection and securities laws.

In her conclusion, “an injured investor may bring a common-law claim (for fraud or otherwise) that is not entirely dependent on the Martin Act for its viability. Mere overlap between the common law and the Martin Act is not enough to extinguish common-law remedies.”

From FDL, David Dayen:

“Until now, only the State Attorney General could bring action under the Martin Act, a securities fraud law in New York State that is much more expansive than federal statutes. Typically the plaintiff must prove intent to commit fraud; under the Martin Act the plaintiff need only prove that fraud was committed. Now, as a result of a new ruling, any aggrieved private actor can use the Martin Act as part of their lawsuit. This empowers investors of all sizes to go after the banks on securities fraud.”

Though commenter, Sanctimonious Purist, foresees some complication down the road, for now this appears to be a significant consumer victory.

“Theoretically, this decision cannot be appealed. The New York “Court of Appeals” is really NY’s highest state court. Misnomers abound in the NY judicial system: there are a zillion NY “Supreme Courts,” which are their low level trial courts.

So, now that NY’s highest court has interpreted NY’s own Martin law to allow a private right of action (civil only, to be sure), that should be the end of the issue. Federal courts are supposed to defer to the interpretation of a State law by the State’s highest court.

But don’t be surprised or appalled if/when the banksters take this matter up in the Federal courts, arguing that the Martin Act impinges on some Federal securities law or other Federal statute, that the Federal statute “occupies the field,” and therefore the Martin Act is pre-empted by Federal law. And you can bet your last dollar that at least 5 of the Supremes will agree once the case gets there.” ~Sanctimonious Purist

DCKennedy

Thoughts for a Wonderfilled Week

The fabled musk deer searches the world over for the source of the scent which comes from itself.
~Ramakrishna (photo Altfast)

You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.  ~Arlo Guthrie

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand – and melting like a snowflake… ~Francis Bacon, Sr. (photo Malechki)

There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic. ~Anais Nin (image Bedingfield)

Yet, taught by time, my heart has learned to glow for other’s good, and melt at other’s woe.
~ Homer (photo B. Rosen)

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows;
But like of each thing that in season grows.
~William Shakespeare

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

Peace is always beautiful. ~Walt Whitman (photo May Pang)

Wishing you a happy, thoughtful and safe week ~
DCKennedy

Blutocratic Party vs. Spinach Party

Their hooey is a lot of phooey. ~ Olive Oyl

These old cartoons are fun, especially when you think about what was happening when they were created. This is Betty Boop for President (1932 events)

Mr. Nobody was voiced by Irving Aaronson, a successful band leader of the twenties most notably with the Commanders. The lyrics to Betty’s songs were by Al Lewis, who also co-wrote the classic Blueberry Hill. Betty Boop’s voice, Mae Questrel, would become the voice of Olive Oyl.

In 1948, Olive Oyl decides “their hooey is a lot of phooey”, and gets a dream run of her own.
(1940’s events)

In 1956, candidates Popeye and Bluto are full of promises, but the experienced winner, who wouldn’t vote for either one until the work was done, is … Olive Oyl!
(1956 events)

There’s a lot that could be said about how or whether campaigning has changed over the years, but in keeping with the animation, here’s a more recent take on it.

Family Guy – Undecided Voters (2008):

DCKennedy

Creating Education

“Creativity gives rise to the limited out of the unlimited, to sanity out of madness, to the valuable out of the priceless, to abundance out of nothingness, to the original out of the familiar and to hope out of despair.” —Wallace Huey

I believe our children deserve an education more suited to their individual needs. Their development and creativity are society’s guide to progress, and America will change for the better in accordance with their self-awareness and acceptance, not their test scores.

If our tolerance and care for them as young individuals were reflected in their care for others, what else would be needed to insure the strength and will of the people? At the end of the day, everything depends on it. Our real national security, I think, is not in our military might, but in preparing our children to be happy with themselves, to live peacefully and thoughtfully in the world with others, and to enjoy their own talents.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? is an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. An internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources, Robinson expresses a desire to “allow” for the best in all of us before it’s too late.

I especially liked his recounting of an interview with Gillian Lynne, highlighting a need to consider individuals in different stages of development.

Gillian Lynne
This is the most viewed TedTalk of all time:

“When solving problems, dig at the roots instead of just hacking at the leaves.” —Anthony J. D’Angelo

DCKennedy

Apple, Martin Luther King, the Wright Brothers and Bernie Sanders?

People don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it. ~ Simon Sinek

Senator Bernie Sanders, December 8, 2011
The Saving American Democracy Amendment

The Petition to Support the Saving American Democracy Amendment

One of the 10 most watched TEDTalks of all time:

DPKennedy

What real education reform looks like – Education – Salon.com

 

“…with a rising “income achievement gap, a family’s economic situation is a bigger determinative force in a child’s academic performance than any other major demographic factor. For poor kids, that means the intensifying hardships of poverty are now creating massive obstacles to academic progress.”

via What real education reform looks like – Education – Salon.com.

Militarization of U.S. Police Forces

The effect is a loss of civility, and an erosion of constitutional rights, rather than a building of good will. ~Timothy Lynch

Photo: DAVID PARDO/AP
The BobCat is equipped with battering rams, tear-gas dispensers and gunports.


This is about conditioning – desensitizing the people to domestic militarization. Not many things are all good or all bad, but weighed in the balance, this seems like a very bad trend. Here are two good articles with some background and recent opinions on where this is leading.

I might add, that though the police departments are acquiring this equipment at low or no cost, the people paid full price for it when it was new, and continue to pay for its exorbitant up-keep. We own it.
DCKennedy

BATTLEFIELD MAIN STREET
Pentagon project lets police forces – even in small towns – arm themselves with military gear
By Benjamin Carlson
Monday, December 5, 2011

[The police force of Erie, Pa., has worked to avoid that perception by taking its BearCat out into the community. SWAT team commander Lt. Les Fetterman told The Daily that his department took the armored vehicle to a city picnic, where “a couple hundred inner-city kids” played in and around it.”

Most of the people, they see it — it looks, I don’t want to use the word, intimidating — so you get some stares,” Fetterman said. “But it’s actually become a community relations tool … It’s an ice breaker, like a firetruck when they take it to parades.”

For some critics, though, the concern is not alienating neighbors, but the change in attitude of police themselves.”]

And:

Arthur Rizer, a Virginia lawyer who has served as both a military and civilian police officer, stressed that their outlooks and missions are fundamentally different.

“If we’re training cops as soldiers, giving them equipment like soldiers, dressing them up as soldiers, when are they going to pick up the mentality of soldiers?” he asked.

“If you look at the police department, their creed is to protect and to serve. A soldier’s mission is to engage his enemy in close combat and kill him. Do we want police officers to have that mentality? Of course not.”

The second article is, When the Police Go Military, by AL BAKER.

“The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 generally bars the military from law enforcement activities within the United States. But today, some local and city police forces have rendered the law rather moot. They have tanks — yes, tanks, often from military surplus, for use in hostage situations or drug raids — not to mention the sort of equipment and training one would need to deter a Mumbai-style guerrilla assault.”

This NYT graphic, Riot Gear’s Evolution, shows the about-face change since 1995 in what had otherwise been progress in communication and cooperation with the people of America.

How They Roll

Good news?

On Thursday, December 1st: “Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is suing five major US banks for allegedly seizing properties unlawfully and failing to help struggling borrowers keep their homes by lowering mortgage payments.”

State sues five big US lenders

AG alleges banks skirted rules, sped foreclosures

It is the first major legal action taken against the nation’s biggest banks since they started foreclosure-settlement negotiations with the 50 state attorneys general in the spring. The talks began after the attorneys general launched an investigation into reports of fraudulent and sloppy foreclosure-related practices by the banks. (…)

Coakley said she was forced to sue because negotiations had stalled. The banks taking part have failed to offer any meaningful restitution, she said, but insist on broad immunity from liability for the nation’s foreclosure crisis.

‘‘They have had more than a year to show they understood their role and their need to show accountability for this economic mess and they failed to do so,’’ she said. ‘‘Whether through the courts or negotiations, we will accept only one result, obtaining accountability from these banks and getting real relief for homeowners.’’

Bad news?

On Friday, Dec 2:  Mortgage Lender GMAC Retaliates Against Massachusetts Lawsuit By Ending Most Lending In The State ThinkProgress

Good news?

Shortly thereafter, Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP ) Inspector General Neil Barofsky tweets that GMAC parent company Ally’s behavior is disgraceful:

… and Coakley’s office raised the bar on the “rule of law”:

“In order to do business in Massachusetts, GMAC has to follow the law before foreclosing on homeowners,” Coakley said in a statement. “With today’s action, it appears GMAC has acknowledged it has a problem following those laws and being held accountable for doing so.” – BizSm@rt

… so Ally broadened its threat:

Ally, GMAC’s parent, said “that it plans to limit its purchases of mortgages from lenders across the country. The firm received a taxpayer-funded bailout of about $17 billion during the 2008 financial crisis, and is now mostly owned by the US government.”

~~~~~~

Okay. So … after all that, where do the people stand? Forcing accountability by enforcing the rule of law is good. Law suits take forever. The people are losing their homes everyday. Banks continue to hold back on lending, and with this new development, “GMAC is trying to get other big banks to follow suit.”

And what about this? If we the people – the U.S. government, own most of Ally, then isn’t there anything more that could be done to aid homeowners and borrowers during the period of litigation?

The best answers I could find this morning come from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism, who finds a good comparison in what took place in Georgia in 2003, and has suggestions on how to apply some direct pressure on lenders. With typical candor, she concludes: “The insolence of the securitization industry continues to be astonishing. They act as if they have an imperial right to dictate to governments, and refuse to admit any role in a disaster of their own creation. I hope those of you who do business with Ally close your accounts immediately and tell the bank that it is due to their Mafia style move in Massachusetts.”

For background information, this is great: Le Show Interview with Yves Smith.

Occupy’s next move regarding home foreclosures is here: Occupy Wall Street Goes Home

We at APV hope you have a great weekend.
DCKennedy

APV is a part of the Move to Amend Movement.

LOS ANGELES POISED TO BE THE FIRST MAJOR U.S. CITY TO CALL FOR END TO CORPORATE PERSONHOOD

Grassroots Momentum Builds Toward Passage of a Constitutional Amendment

LOS ANGELES, CA – Next week the Los Angeles City Council will vote on a resolution that calls on Congress to amend the Constitution to clearly establish that only living persons — not corporations — are endowed with constitutional rights and that money is not the same as free speech. If this resolution is passed, Los Angeles will be the first major city in the U.S. to call for an end to all corporate constitutional rights.

The campaign in Los Angeles is the latest grassroots effort by Move to Amend, a national coalition working to abolish corporate personhood. “Local resolution campaigns are an opportunity for citizens to speak up and let it be known that we won’t accept the corporate takeover of our government lying down,” said Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, a national spokesperson for Move to Amend. “We urge communities across the country to join the Move to Amend campaign and raise your voices.”

Earlier this year voters in Madison and Dane County, Wisconsin overwhelmingly approved ballot measures calling for an end to corporate personhood and the legal status of money as speech by 84% and 78% respectively. In November voters in Boulder, Colorado and Missoula, Montana both passed similar initiatives with 75% support.

“We are experiencing overwhelming support for what may be a historic turning point in restoring a voice to the voters and setting an example for the rest of the country,” stated Mary Beth Fielder, Coordinator of Move To Amend LA. “This action would provide the basis for overturning the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”

Move to Amend volunteers in dozens of communities across the country are working to place similar measures on local ballots next year, including West Allis, WI, a conservative suburb of Milwaukee where last week local residents successfully qualified a measure for their spring ballot.

Move to Amend’s strategy is to pass community resolutions across the nation through city councils and through direct vote by ballot initiative. “Our plan is build a movement that will drive this issue into Congress from the grassroots. The American people are behind us on this and these campaigns help our federal representatives see that we mean business. Our very democracy is at stake,” stated Sopoci-Belknap.

The campaign in Los Angeles is endorsed by a growing list of organizations including Common Cause, Occupy LA, LA County Federation of Labor, Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Environmental Caucus of the CA Democratic Party, Southern California Americans for Democratic Action, MoveOn LA, Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, Democracy for America, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, AFSCME 36, LA Green Machine and California Clean Money Campaign.

Please join APV in support of the Move to Amend movement. We need your help!

The Alliance for Progressive Values ~ Giving your values a voice!

DCKennedy