Independent grassroots organization of progressives, liberals and moderates promoting an activist democratic agenda in the state of Illinois.

Claims of Knee-Jerk Liberalism are Highly Over-rated

I'm getting a bit tired of this 'liberal media' garbage. It's more a reflection of the person saying it and how far they are from the center than any particular orientation of the media outlet in question. I mean, it always seems a bit chilly once you step out of the steam bath.

Internet Bandwidth Caps are a Direct Muzzle on the Progressive Voice

Josh Silver of Free Press discusses the potential catastrophe of allowing the communication monopolies to cap internet use. He mentions Congressman Eric Massa's reaction:

Yesterday, Rep. Massa told the Philadelphia Inquirer he is looking for a Republican co-sponsor for the bill: 'This is bigger than a college kid surfing the Internet. Anything that limits access to the basic Internet is a threat to the economy."

It's more than a threat to the economy. It's a threat to our freedom of speech and ultimately to our democracy. Josh Silver elsewhere in the piece points to the plethora of showbiz garbage that's routinely spewed out by the corporate media. When you add to that, the thousand points of virulent right-wing talk radio, basically you've got our 'mainstream media' completely covered. It's not a pretty or friendly picture -- at least for progressives.

Before the Internet, progressives had no voice. There were the time-honored weeklies that went out but in no way could this match the mighty Wurlitzer arrayed against us. Part of Bill Clinton's problem was that this vast communications apparatus simply ganged up on him. We can't let this ever happen again.

Putting caps on bandwidth use isn't simply the sign of a service dangerously dominated by corporate monopolies, it's a direct throttle on our ability as progressives to get the word out and organize on anything approaching an equal basis.

Caps on bandwidth just as easily affect the distribution of videos on health care reform or employee rights as they do the downloading of reality shows or pop music. Caps on bandwidth allow the telco and cable monopolies to act as gate-keepers. It recreates a situation reminiscent of earlier technologies where content is favored, and hence most likely to get through, that comes from entities that look a lot like the gatekeepers themselves.

The Internet is all we have. There's never going to be another opportunity to develop yet another technology that gives all of us such equal access. We cannot allow this one final medium to go the way of television and radio.

[h/t CrooksandLiars]

Pocket Book Issues vs. Scare-mongering

So today, Obama's weekly address was about ending abuses by the credit card companies while the Republican Response, given by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO), was about Gitmo and scaremongering (more here).

It's hard to imagine a clearer contrast between the two parties and why one is in the majority and the other is on the ropes.

Your Strict Construction Looks Like Activism to Me

All day long, WBBM Radio played Sen. Orin Hatch's comment that 'empathy', which is one of Obama's criteria for selecting a Supreme Court justice, was just "a code word for an activist judge." All day long, they played this.

Hatch has said it on 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos'. What they failed to broadcast -- even once and hence I had no idea it existed till NPR reported on it this morning -- was Sen. Leahy's response. It went like this:

We've had a very activist court. We had an activist court that made a decision that allowed employers to covertly discriminate against women so that women wouldn't get paid equally. We in the Congress reversed that with a law, in fact, the first law that President Obama signed into law. I think he wants to have somebody to treat people all the same, whether they're Republicans, or Democrat, men, women, or whatever they may be.

So it's okay -- at least on WBBM Radio -- to spend the whole day with nothing but a Republican talking about 'activist judges' being appointed to the judiciary by Democrats, without a single contrary voice.

Is it any wonder that someone might come away from such coverage thinking Democrats only wanted 'activists' for the bench whereas Republicans only wanted 'strict constructionists'?

Trillions in Bailouts and Not One Investigation?

The worst possible outcome of our current financial mess is to end up with the exact same financial institutions that we started out with.

Obama's response to a question about Glass-Steagall in an interview he gave to the NYT last week didn't make me feel too confident:

"You know, I've looked at the evidence so far that indicates that other countries that have not seen some of the problems in their financial markets that we have nevertheless don't separate between investment banks and commercial banks, for example. They have a "supermarket" model that they've got strong regulation of."

So in other words, we'll have the same monster financial institutions around our necks at the end of this crisis that we had at the beginning -- minus the trillions coming out of our pockets either as unwilling taxpayers or consumers.

Robert Kuttner urges us to bring back the Pecora Commission:

Pecora's work led to several resignations of bank executives, but more importantly in created a climate for reform legislation. Pecora's findings helped inform the Glass Steagall Act of 1933 separating investment banking from government-insured commercial banking, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Most importantly, it functioned as a public shaming of Wall Street. It thus helped change the political climate so that radical reforms could proceed....

Defenders of the current regime treat with contempt any attempt to bring honesty back to the system. 'Glass-Steagall was already outdated in the Eighties', you'll hear them say. 'Such restrictions have no place in modern banking.'

Of course, these were the same arguments that were used in the attempt to stymie the original regulations in the 1930s. It's not like the bankers of that earlier period accepted these restrictions with open arms. In fact they opposed them tooth and nail though the regulations, once established, served us well over the decades until removed in the reckless Eighties and Nineties.

At that point Jamie Galbraith reminds us, "it took less than a decade to reproduce all the pathologies that Glass-Steagall had been enacted to deal with in 1933."

Chicago Tribune (4/30/1969): 'Nixon Standing Taller After His First 100 Days'

'Report from Washington' by Walter Trohan, Chicago Tribune (4/30/1969):

The first hundred days of Richard Milhous Nixon find him standing taller in the eyes of his countrymen and looming larger on the world horizon than most observers, and even many of his admirers, had expected....

...The business-like Nixon approach and the evident attention he gives to his homework before meeting the press, have paid off in a cordiality between the chief executive and the news media that has been surprising.

It can be expected to remain for some time, because the new administration is scrupulous in observing the right to know. Cabinet members and top officials are readily accessible on the record and for background sessions. They may not make much news, but they are available and apparently frank.... (p. B3)

*"Washington Correspondent Emeritus"

Obama: 'I'm a Reader'

The dark ages are over...

Transcript:

THE PRESIDENT: Dan from CNN.

DAN LOTHIAN (CNN): During the campaign you were criticized by some within your own party for perhaps not being able to be tough on foreign policy matters. Now you’ve had this friendly interaction with Mr. Chavez. Are you concerned at all about how this might be perceived back in the U.S. as perhaps being soft? Already one senator is calling this friendly interaction irresponsible. And as a quick follow-up, if I may, when you got the book from Mr. Chavez, what did you really think? (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: I think it was a nice gesture to give me a book; I’m a reader. And you’re right, we had this debate throughout the campaign, and the whole notion was, is that somehow if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness. The American people didn’t buy it. And there’s a good reason the American people didn’t buy it — because it doesn’t make sense.

[Courtesy of the Orange Satan]

Guy with Heath Insurance Explains Why You Can't See a Doctor

The Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune never ceases to disappoint. Here's their latest attempt at delaying universal healthcare -- complete with warmed-over talking points circa 1993. Nothing learned, nothing remembered.

The column goes everywhere from denying that this is an urgent problem to warning that they're going to take away your private insurance.

Here's my email to them:

Talk about "facts and fibs", you completely misconstrue the President's message about health-care. It is a problem that affects the long term health of our economy, not the more short-term economic "recovery".

Your opinion piece ends with a few words of wisdom. Here's some words most people in the city of Chicago would agree with: You don't go to a witch-doctor for a diagnosis on what ails you. You don't go to the Chicago Tribune for advice on health care policy.

You're just not licensed to practice in this area.

Sincerely,
LEO

Our Next Congressman from IL-05: Mike Quigley

Mike Quigley thanks his supporters at John Barleycorn in Wrigleyville for their help in achieving this progressive victory.

Lawn Sign for Quigley

On Addison near Cubs' Park. The Election is on Tuesday.

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