Archive for July, 2012

ALEC AND ITS SECRET AGENDA

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Critics of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are increasing in number as more information becomes known about this secretive, corporate-controlled lobby that writes legislation for conservative causes. The veil of secrecy surrounding this dark group of power mongers is slowly beginning to lift.

Recently ALEC held its national convention in Salt Lake City. Supporters of this secret society claim they simply exchange conservative ideas and information between the public sector and the private sector. But in reality they work for the rich and corporations and do their bidding.

They claim they are an organization that promotes the principles on which this country was founded — free enterprise and free markets. The organization is funded by powerful rich corporations and the wealthy that do not have the best interest of the country or the American people at heart. Many feel that supporters of ALEC are simply paid for by special interest and corporate lobbyists.

Members of ALEC hold secret meetings around the country where they develop model legislation on various issues beholden to their corporate sponsors. This extreme radical legislation has been adapted in many states that fell to republican takeover in the 2010 elections. Tennessee is one of several states to adapt the extreme agenda of ALEC.

ALEC simply drafts a model bill on a given topic before the bill is adapted and introduced in a Republican state legislature. They mold their legislation based on politics and contributions rather than on best practices or best solutions to problems. Their agenda has always been very partisan and radical in nature.

The agenda of ALEC includes legislation designed to encourage states to reject the Affordable Care Act and backing of legislation requiring a government-issued photo identification for voting “voter suppression” rights which target African Americans, college students, the elderly and minority voting rights.

In Tennessee, ALEC membership includes 32 current state legislators and two former legislators, all Republicans except for two Democrats who recently withdrew from the organization.

Some supporters and many opposing ALEC feel they have been lobbying social agendas by supporting extreme social issues of the right. Supporters feel ALEC had gotten off track by getting into social issues but this appears to be the main reason the organization was exposed as a rigid secret society designed to craft legislation that favored the whims of the rich and powerful.

Supporters of ALEC claim they are refocusing on its founding principles of free enterprise and less government. Those opposing ALEC point to the legislation on extreme social issues as evidence of a darker agenda of the organization and their supporters. It is becoming more obvious that ALEC’s mission is not in the best interest of a state, the American people or our nation.

The ALEC Exposed website states it best, “Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called “model bills” reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. In ALEC’s own words, corporations have “a VOICE and a VOTE” on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?”

Blow up Rocky Top? Special Topic at UCDP Meeting

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Blow up Rocky Top? This will be a special topic at the July 21st Unicoi County Democratic Party Meeting at 11 am at Erwin Town Hall on Main Street in Erwin, TN. Jennie Young, mountain activists, will be addressing this very important subject.

In March of this year, a state House subcommittee failed to pass legislation to stop coal companies from blowing the tops off Tennessee’s mountains.

The political hacks on the misnamed Conservation and Environment Subcommittee could not say no to the rich coal companies and bring themselves to actually vote down the bill itself.

Instead, lawmakers voted 6-4 to send the bill to summer study where Ron Ramsey plans to bury it for good. He knows that this is the same as voting to kill this bill, but Republican lawmakers insisted they want to study this issue. They claim they have not had had the time to think about it during any of the five sessions it’s been debated so far in the legislature.

Sadly, the coal companies are stuffing money in the pockets of these same legislators. Needless to say Ron Ramsey is a few hundred thousand dollars richer from his coal buddies filling his political coffers.

“What would Tennessee be without our mountains?” asked Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Portland, the bill’s sponsor.

He said coal companies have started mountaintop removal mining at eight locations in Tennessee since this bill first was proposed.

“We have delayed and delayed action on this and we’ve lost eight mountains since 2008 by delaying. If we don’t pass this bill this year, we’ll lose more mountains. … Just like it was historic when the Great Smoky Mountains were protected and preserved for future generations, this committee has a historic opportunity today to protect Tennesseans and Tennessee’s mountains. Without our mountains, Tennessee is not Tennessee.”

But Republican Legislators say they need more time to think about whether it’s “OK” to blow up our Tennessee Mountains. Once again, Tennessee Republicans show us that anything is possible and “everything is for sale” when you have no moral compass.

President Obama Accomplishments

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama has accomplished much to help Middle Class working families since elected President. More importantly, Barack Obama prevented the complete collapse of American financial and economic institutions shortly after beginning his term.

President Obama was left with the worse financial and economic conditions since the Great Depression. Over 750,000 jobs were being lost each month when Mr. Obama was elected. Over 4 million new jobs have been created since he took office.

Unfortunately, many Americans are still struggling as the recession slowly recovers. Sadly, the obstructionists Republican Congress voted down a bill that would have created over 1 million new jobs.

Also this week, the Congress voted against the Affordable Care Act for the 33rd time. They have failed to vote for one bill to create one new jobs yet they continue to waste time voting against health care for all Americans. Recently the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act is constitutional; even though Republicans have falsely claimed it was unconstitutional since the day it became law.

President Barack Obama continues to fight for all Americans while the Republican obstructionists fight valiantly for the rich and big corporations.

The following list is a partial list of Obama accomplishments:

05/19/12 Agreement negotiated and completed to allow blind Chinese dissident, Chen Guangcheng, to study in USA

05/09/12 Barack Obama becomes the first President to publicly support the legalization of same sex marriage

04/04/12 STOCK Act signed into law

02/22/12 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act signed into law

02/09/12 Pakistan Al-Qaeda leader Badar Mansoor killed by U.S. drone attacks

01/30/12 U.S. drone attack in Yemen killed 12-15 militants, including at least four Al-Qaeda leaders

2012 JAN Senior Al-Qaeda figure Aslam Awan killed in U.S. drone strike

12/17/11 War in Iraq ended with last American troops crossing border into Kuwait

12/06/11 US government international campaign initiated to build respect for the human rights of LGBT persons worldwide

09/30/11 Child and Family Services Improvement Act signed into law

09/30/11 Senior Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki killed in Yemen by a CIA-led U.S. drone strike

09/16/11 America Invents Act signed into law

09/11/11 Al-Qaeda’s operations chief for Pakistan Abu Hafs al Shahri reported killed in U.S. Predator strike

09/06/11 U.S./Pakistani joint arrest of suspected Chief Al-Qaeda Younis al-Mauritani in Quetta Al-Qaeda

08/22/11 Al-Qaeda No. 2 Atiyah Abd al-Rahman Killed in Pakistan by CIA predator drone strike

06/07/11 East Africa’s Al-Qaeda senior leader Harun Fazul killed at security checkpoint in Somalia

06/03/11 Al-Qaeda Commander Ilyas Kashmiri Killed in U.S. Predator Strike

2011 JUN 6 senior Al-Qaeda figures killed in U.S. Air Strike

05/02/11 US Forces Kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan

02/23/11 Defense of Marriage Act declared unconstitutional and no longer defended in federal courts by the Obama Administration

02/05/11 New START Treaty ratified

01/04/11 Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law

12/22/10 US sponsored measure to include “sexual orientation” in the definition of human rights adopted by the UN General Assembly, 122- 0.

12/22/10 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act signed into law

12/17/10 2010 Tax & Jobs Compromise signed into law

12/13/10 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law

12/08/10 Claims Resolution Act signed into law

10/14/10 Veterans’ Benefit Act signed into law

09/27/10 Small Business Jobs Act signed into law

08/03/10 Fair Sentencing Act signed into law

07/22/10 Wall Street Reform Act signed into law

06/29/10 U.S. drone attack killed 7 known terrorists, most notable Al-Qaeda operative from Egypt Hawza al Jawfi

06/02/10 Federal benefits extended to same sex partners of workers through memorandum by Obama administration

05/21/10 Al-Qaeda’s number three commander Sheik Saeed al-Masri killed in U.S. drone attack

05/05/10 Caregivers & Veterans Health Services Act signed into law

04/18/10 Joint American and Iraqi operation killed Al-Qaeda leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi

03/30/10 Student Aid Act signed into law

03/23/10 2010 Health Care Reform Act signed into law

03/18/10 Hire Act signed into law

2010 MAR Al-Qaeda operative Hussein al-Yemeni killed by U.S. drone attack in Pakistan

02/24/10 Al-Qaeda and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam leader Qari Zafar killed in US airstrike

2010 FEB Militant commander Muhammad Haqqani killed by U.S. drone attacks

01/01/10 Discrimination based on gender identity banned in federal workplaces

2009 $28.6 billion net public benefit in income taxes and social security taxes paid because liquidation of GM and Chrysler avoided

2009 $96 billion in personal income losses avoided by government financing and restructuring of GM and Chrysler to avoid liquidation Labor Workers & Improving the Economy

2009 1.45 million American jobs saved overall by government financing and restructuring of GM and Chrysler to avoid liquidation Jobs Workers & Saving Jobs

2009 115,000 jobs created at General Motors and Chrysler since government financing and restructuring implemented Jobs Workers & Creating Jobs

2009 Liquidation of General Motors and Chrysler avoided through government mandated restructuring plans and conditional investment and loan programs Business & Economy

12/17/09 Al-Qaeda Operational Commander Abdallah Sa’id killed in U.S. drone attack

12/08/09 Al-Qaeda Operational Commander Saleh al-Somali killed in U.S. drone attack

10/30/09 People with HIV/AIDS no longer prohibited from entering the United States
10/28/09 Matthew Shepard Act signed into law

09/14/09 Operation Celestial Balance: Navy Seals Kill Somalian Al-Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan in raid

09/14/09 Somalian Al-Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan killed by U.S. raid

09/04/09 White House voluntary disclosure of visitor logs Improving Govt Transparency

08/29/09 Co-founder of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Tohir Yo‘ldosh killed by U.S. drone attacks

08/05/09 U.S. drone attack killed Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan leader Baitullah Mahsud in Pakistan

06/29/09 First-ever reception at the White House honoring Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Bisexual Pride Month hosted by the President and First lady

05/25/09 Sonya Sotomayor nominated and approved as Supreme Court justice

05/22/09 Credit Card Act signed into law

05/22/09 Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform signed into law Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform

05/20/09 Fraud Enforcement Act signed into law

05/20/09 Helping Families Save Their Homes signed into law

04/21/09 Serve America Act signed into law

04/13/09 Restrictions eased on Cuba travel, money transfers, and cellular telephone/satellite service.

04/11/09 Maersk Alabama Capt. Richard Phillips rescued during operation in which U.S. Navy Seal snipers kill three Somali Pirates holding him for ransom aboard lifeboat Somali Civil War

02/17/09 2009 Stimulus Bill signed into law

02/04/09 Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) signed into law

01/29/09 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed into law

Willard Romney’s Bain Capital Lie

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Rich boy, Willard “Mitt” Romney’s “corporate raider” career at Bain Capital, which he owned and ran as chief executive, is the cornerstone of his business campaign for the Republican presidential nomination — the credential, he argues, that showcases his management skills and business acumen that America needs to revive a stalled economy. Creating jobs “by Outsourcing jobs”, Mr. Romney says, is exactly what he knows how to do.

At Bain Capital’s direction, Dade International quadrupled the money it owed creditors and vendors which lead to the businesses bankruptcy. And in waves of layoffs, as a result 1,700 workers in the United States lost their jobs at a plant in Massachusetts as a result of Mr. Romney’s business skills.

The White House is presenting a less flattering portrayal, framing Willard Romney’s record at Bain as evidence that he would pursue slash and burn economics and that his business career thrived by enriching the elite at the expense of the working class.

A few months before the dirty deeds, in February 1999, Mr. Romney claimed to retire from Bain Capital to oversee the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. He nevertheless benefited from the transaction, a financial disclosure form indicates. Records show that until at least 2001, he remained the chairman, CEO and President of Bain Capital.

Yet when it came to his considerable personal wealth and leadership, Mr. Romney never really left Bain. In 2001, Mr. Romney announced that he had formally transferred his ownership of Bain Capital Inc. to other partners.

Government documents filed by Mitt Romney and Bain Capital say Romney remained chief executive and chairman of the firm three years beyond the date he said he ceded control, even creating five new investment partnerships during that time.

But public Securities and Exchange Commission documents filed later by Bain Capital state he remained the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.” Bain Capital made Willard Romney a very wealthy “vulture capitalist”.

Also, a Massachusetts financial disclosure form Romney filed in 2003 states that he still owned 100 percent of Bain Capital in 2002. And Romney’s state financial disclosure forms indicate he earned at least $100,000 as a Bain “executive” in 2001 and 2002, separate from investment earnings.

Today Willard demanded an apology from President Obama for making what he called “reckless” and “absurd” allegations about his record while repeating his insistence that he left Bain Capital in 1999 to run the Olympics.

Instead, Mr. Obama on Friday added his voice to the attacks on Mr. Romney’s record at Bain Capital, telling a local news anchor in Virginia that Mr. Romney should answer lingering questions about what his role was at the firm.

“I think most Americans figure if you are the chairman, C.E.O. and president of a company that you are responsible for what that company does,” Mr. Obama said, “Ultimately Mr. Romney, I think, is going to have to answer those questions.”
Mr. Obama is running millions of dollars in television advertisements calling on Mr. Romney to reveal more about his personal taxes, offshore bank and investment accounts, and linking him to investments made at Bain from 1999 to 2001, when

Mr. Romney says he was no longer at the company. On Thursday, the president’s aides said Mr. Romney was either lying on federal documents or to the American people.

Corporate raider Willard Romney will have to do a better job of explaining “lying” his way out of this lie. Several months ago when Willard Romney said, “Lies are not sins; they are business plans” he was actually telling us the truth about Willard “Mitt” Romney being a lier.

Supreme Court Upholds Affordable Care Act

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

After a year of lies and deceptions by those who fought health care at the bequest of the Health Care Industry, the Supreme Court affirms Americans’ right to quality, affordable Health Care by upholding the Affordable Care Act as constitutional.

The law is already helping millions of Americans and will help millions more in the years to come. In Tennessee over 500,000 will receive medical coverage because of this act.

Republicans told the same lies about “socialism” Social Security, the current social program that most in NETN would fight you over if you tried to take it from them.

“Obamacare” is already helping millions of Americans save money and live healthier lives, and will help millions more in the years to come. Americans aren’t losing coverage or going bankrupt just because they get sick, pre-existing conditions are being covered, and millions of Americans will keep saving money on their premiums, preventive care and prescription drugs.

“Obamacare” will save middle-class families up to $2,300 a year on top of its largest health care tax cut in history, worth an average of $4,800 to about 19 million middle-class Americans.

The court’s decision means that free riders (those who can afford insurance but won’t buy it) either have to get insurance or pay a fine –which would apply to about 1 percent of Americans. The individual responsibility requirement is the same policy Romney put in place in Massachusetts.

Why is the Insurance Industry and its Republican friends against the Affordable Care Act?

o Insurance companies can’t drop you because you got sick or
hit an arbitrary cap on coverage. Already 105 million
Americans no longer have lifetime caps on their coverage.

o 86 million Americans now have more access to preventive
care without a co-pay or deductible.

o By August 1, 12.8 million Americans will have received
rebates from their insurance company because it spent too
much of their premium dollars on administrative costs or CEO
bonuses.

o 3.1 million Young adults, up to age 26, have coverage
through their parents’ plans.

o More than 5 million people got discounts on their prescription
drugs in the Medicare “doughnut hole” – each saving an
average of more than $600 last year.

o Starting in 2014, insurance companies won’t be allowed to
deny coverage or charge more based on health conditions,
protecting up to 129 million Americans with preexisting
conditions. Already up to 17 million kids with preexisting
conditions can’t be denied coverage anymore.

o People who couldn’t afford insurance will either be able to
get insurance through Medicaid or get generous tax credits
that finally make coverage affordable. A typical middle-class
family could pay up to 60 percent less for the same
coverage – the largest-ever health care middle-class tax cut.

o The independent Government Accountability Office (GAO)
verifies Obamacare will reduce the deficit by more than $120
billion by 2021.

Health Care is not a privilege, it is a right. Wing nuts and Teabaggers will continue their crusade of ignorance against health care for all and the middle class. But the Supreme Court decision was a major victory for the American people and middle class.

Voter Suppression in Unicoi County?

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Since the 2010 elections, voting rights have been under attack in this country as Republican state legislatures pass voter suppression laws designed to prevent Democratic leaning voters from voting.

During the 2011 legislative sessions, twenty-one states across the country passed laws to make it harder for Americans – particularly African-Americans, the elderly, students and people with disabilities – to exercise their fundamental right to cast a vote. Studies show that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID.

The measures passed have resulted in voter rosters being purged at alarming rates, dumping large numbers of voters off the rosters and recently purging voting histories as well.

Voter histories are important because the lack of a voting history leads to voter purges. Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-2-106) grants local county election commissions the legal authority to purge voters from the rolls who have not voted in the past two federal elections. In many incidences, voters are unaware of this although law requires notification.

Many election commissioners have routinely “purged” voters’ names from voter registration rosters after those voters failed to participate in at least two federal elections in a four year period. Such purging, when done without bias and legitimately, usually results in reducing the roster size by 1 percent to 3 percent.

In Tennessee there has been a great deal of attention given to the mysterious disappearance of voting histories for 488 registered voters in Shelby County, but an analysis of two recent statewide voter files provided by state election officials paints an even more troubling picture.

In November 2010, there were 602, 647 registered voters in Shelby. Now there are 431,054 registered voters – a drop of 171, 593 voters or a 28.5 percent decrease in eighteen months.

An internal analysis conducted by the Tennessee Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee’s voter protection team has found that more than 11,000 voters across the state in Tennessee, who are still active on the voter file, have had parts of their voting history disappear. Ninety-two people in Unicoi County have had voting history disappear.

Left unaddressed, these mistakes, whether intentional or not, could endanger the right to vote for thousands of law-abiding Tennesseans. Nationally this problem will endanger registered voters rights to cast a vote.

Free and fair elections are the lifeblood of a democracy. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, all courts, regardless of ideological beliefs, have frowned upon states and municipalities that erect barriers to free and transparent voting procedures. Voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege. Across Tennessee and America, the right to cast a ballot is under attack and this is a clear attack on our Constitution. Maybe instead of sending Americans to monitor other countries elections, we need to put them at work at home.