Supreme Court gives unlimited political spending to corporations but not unions

A few years back, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling gave corporations permission to spend unlimited amounts of money, “to buy elections.” The corporations don’t need to obtain stockholder’s permission to spend corporate money on political campaigns. But the Supreme Court ruled on June 21 that unions must obtain members’ permission in order to spend union money on the same campaigns.

The Supreme Court’s ruling regarding corporate spending was based on the premise that United States citizens have the right to information from all sources under the 1st Amendment. If it was found right for corporations to be able to spend without limits to make sure their points of view are heard, why is the same right being denied to unions? read more

Is increasing police violence the consequence of a conflicted society?

I’ve had strong responses on Facebook to the photo I posted showing Rhode Island Police Officer Edward Krawetz kicking a handcuffed and seated, White woman in the head. Krawetz was convicted but served no time due to a suspended 10 year sentence.

Police violence against citizens is truly a problem for society, an issue we need to think about, discuss and interact with. One comment I read really caught my attention: in a democracy, police must remain under civil control. So I did a bit of searching on this topic and found a thought-provoking article examining the question of what democratic policing actually is. MIT Sociology professor Gary T. Marx writes: read more

Obamacare is fair – and now constitutional!

Today, the Supreme Court justices announced through the SCOTUS blog that Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional and will be upheld as US law. The court’s decision hinged on the question of whether Congress has the power to force people to buy anything and was upheld on the basis that the government has the free right to impose taxes, and Obamacare (as the act is popularly known), does just that. The victory provides another shining example of how brilliant the president’s team is. Despite aggressive push-back from conservatives opposing the law, the legislation drafted by the White House team does what most of the people of the United States want it to do: it uses the constitution to protect and help its citizens. This is a true victory for America and a great day in Kimilandia. read more

Learn how to avoid falling victim to voter disenfranchisement

The League of Women voters is sponsoring a forum in Newark on Wednesday, June 27 2012 at the Newark Public Library’s Main Branch, 5 Washington Street, Newark NJ. You will learn about nationwide efforts to trample voting rights and what you can do to protect yours. Ryan P. Haygood, the national NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund director, will discuss his group’s legal work to protect voting rights. Here’s the background on why it’s so important to become educated on these measures and take pro-active steps to ensure that the vote you wish to cast next November will be both fairly and accurately counted. read more

Wisconsin’s movement turned political. Then got lost.

Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A. Dixon in his article, “Wisconsin: What Happens When Movements Turn Into Campaigns” gives us plenty of food for thought. He explains the difference between a campaign and a movement, and why we were pretty much slated to lose the battle in Wisconsin for rights once that movement’s momentum morphed from demands for social change into electioneering.

How did we get from hundreds of thousands in the streets of Madison, Wisconsin demanding union rights for everybody and fundamental economic justice for all, to a desultory set of Democratic campaigns for the candidates who, as they say, sucked the least, and ended up losing. read more

BCDO backed Rothman loses big time

Gee whiz! complete wipe out for Rothman in the 9th. I so wish Rothman had decided to run against Garrett instead of Pascrell. No matter the outcome, that would have been a heck of a race, and one certainly worth fighting. Running against Pascrell instead didn’t sit well with too many people – even me. Although Steve has been a family friend for many years, I couldn’t support him this time around.

On another note, I totally don’t understand what is up with the Bergen County Democratic organization. BCDO seems to feel that county Democrats are humble lapdogs that will roll over, sit up or beg when our party leadership whistles. But, this is the second important election where The People have shown that they possess an independent, collective will and desire and when that doesn’t exactly coincide with the agenda and candidates the county machine is pushing, voters can and will either stay home or vote against the party’s choice. Speaking of which, it’s worth mentioning that “the push” itself seems nowhere near hard enough. Only a few days ago did Rothman signs start to be visible in the area. And only a couple of brief weeks ago did the party get Rothman to begin making appearances in Passaic County. Pascrell’s team, by contrast, made sure their candidate was visible at all times; they had zillions of volunteers out canvassing constantly, tirelessly and skillfully; and the Congressman himself was both physically and frequently accessible to the people whose votes he courted. This demonstrated Pascrell’s appreciation for the people he represents and a clear willingness to be accountable to his constituents on a truly personal level. The only other federal politicians I’ve seen be so attentive and engaged with their constituents are President Obama and Senator Menendez, and it’s probably a big part of the reason voters chose Pascrell over Rothman by a 3 to 1 ratio. read more

We must keep the internet open

Vincent Cerf, one of the recognized fathers of the internet, writes in this New York Times op-ed piece:

Several authoritarian regimes reportedly would ban anonymity from the Web, which would make it easier to find and arrest dissidents. Others have suggested moving the privately run system that manages domain names and Internet addresses to the United Nations. …

When I helped to develop the open standards that computers use to communicate with one another across the Net, I hoped for but could not predict how it would blossom and how much human ingenuity it would unleash. What secret sauce powered its success? The Net prospered precisely because governments — for the most part — allowed the Internet to grow organically, with civil society, academia, private sector and voluntary standards bodies collaborating on development, operation and governance. read more

Fight for internet freedom and the open web

These organizations are fighting for your freedom and privacy (and mine) online and in all digital/electronic media. Learn about them – and from them, get involved with their campaigns, support them and publicize their efforts. We’re all in this together.

  • Free Press
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law Professor, who’s spending his life educating America about how disconnected American politicians have become from the American people and why we should take big money out of public elections: 28 Oct 2011 lecture
  • and book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It
  • read more

    Societal abuse built into big business

    I often say that the reason people don’t protest the skulduggery practiced in business and by the politically conservative right, is because the rotten things done in the name of legal profit-making and “improving society” boggle the minds of decent, hard-working people so much that those decent people cannot believe the terrible things they see done by people who are pillars of the community, some of whom are even sworn to protect the public interest, even when those things take place right in front of their eyes. Apparently, these acts are too horrible to witness. Mitt Romney is up to his eyeballs in a bilking scheme that while legal, is obviously amoral – and it also ends up causing formerly well-employed workers to become dependent on taxpayer supported program after they lose their jobs and then discover that Bain Capital’s recommendations have allowed their bankrupted employers to wipe out employee pension funds too. Bain Capital has been mentioned often in the news recently, because Mitt Romney is a former company executive. read more

    What is Cory Booker’s vision for Newark?

    Honestly, I don’t know enough about Newark politics to make a judgment call about how well Cory Booker governs. I do have growing questions about how some important city matters are being handled, though. As the Green Drinks Newark founding host, people bring issues and questions to my attention and I feel a moral obligation to look into them. This 21 May article by Josh Benson purports to addresses some of the underlying political reasons things happen the way they do in Newark. Josh quotes State Senator Ronald Rice as saying, “… if people don’t understand it now by … Cory traveling throughout the country, the people he meets with, people he supports and all the stuff happening in Newark with hedge funds and investors, if they don’t understand he’s completely beholden to them, there’s something wrong with them.” read more

    Brainwashed to mistrust

    Dear G-d, this is such a powerful statement on the chilling effects of racism. Whether we choose to believe it or not, each of us is truly a product of the messages disseminated through our society and popular culture. That’s why it’s so important to expose ourselves to the least possible propaganda: avoid malls and shopping centers, watch less TV, do not frequent commercial websites. Have more f2f conversations with people. Walk and bike more. Get involved with your communities.

    … I hadn’t realized it but I was crying. I must have been crying as he spoke to me. I thought about what it was that was making me so sad and I guess it was the recognition that I cannot escape the effects of our culture’s demonization of young black boys. I, who spend so much of my time in the presence of these young men, have internalized racism. Of course, I know this intellectually but it is something quite different to be called out on one’s internalized oppression and to have to face the fact that I am just like everyone else in America: I am afraid of the “criminalblackman” (a term that Kathryn Russell has coined). The “criminalblackman” mindset is pervasive and entrenched. The idea of young black men as being “problems” is a historical fact that has infected every institution in the country as well as infiltrated individual hearts and minds.” read more

    Support ban on prison-based gerrymandering in NJ

    The Integrated Justice Alliance (IJA) requests the help of New Jersey’s social justice community to assist in, “righting a wrong in New Jersey commonly referred to as Prison Based Gerrymandering (PBG)”. This practice is outlawed in several states and New Jersey State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D) has sponsored Senate Bill S-1055 to make this unethical practice illegal in our state too.

    S-1055 requires incarcerated individuals to be counted at their residential address for legislative redistricting purposes. The current practice of PBG permits the communities that house prisons to claim inmates as residents of their town. This allows those municipalities to lay claim to funds which might otherwise flow into inmates’ home communities and benefit their families. It also skews the fundamental democratic principle of one man, one vote, on which our country’s political system is based – as New Jersey prison inmates are not allowed to vote during the term of their incarceration. read more

    Draw your line for Trayvon Martin

    Hosts on a radio show this morning were discussing Trayvon Martin’s murder. A caller surprised everyone by saying that Trayvon’s death is a great tragedy, but it’s also tragic, “when we kill each other and no one ever talks about it.” The hosts acknowledged the truth of that statement and honored it by agreeing that there’s way too much acceptance in society today of urban violence whereas the “sexier” crimes that become high-profile stories grab maybe too much media attention. read more