The Tea Party Propaganda Factory You Probably Don’t Know About

From Alternet:

The documentary production company Citizens United has dedicated itself to furthering the interests of the far right and the super-rich.

By David Rosen
April 19, 2011

The 2010 Supreme Court decision permitting unlimited campaign spending by corporations, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is one of the most momentous rulings in U.S. legal history. It transforms the long but unspoken truth of American politics – corporate wealth buys legislative power — into the law of the land.

The Court’s judgment adds one more nail to the coffin of transparent governance based on popular democracy. The unlimited financing and unreported accountability of the media message complements generous campaign contributions, well-paid lobbyists and effective regulatory capture to further ensure that corporate wealth maintains political influence. The Court’s decision is the icing on the cake to an era of unprecedented class polarization, with the rich seizing an ever greater share of the nation’s wealth.

As has been much reported since the decision was handed down in January 2010, the Court overturned a lower court decision and found that a corporation’s First Amendment protections overruled the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Reform Act.

At issue was Hillary: The Movie, a film produced by Citizens United, a staunch rightwing political action group. Since its founding in 1988, Citizens United has matured into one of the nation’s leading documentary production companies. Its films are produced, written and directed by reputable industry professionals and hosted by well-known rightwing figures like Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson. To date, it has released 17 full-length documentaries on such topics as Ronald Reagan, Bill and Hillary Clinton, 9/11, Barack Obama, the UN, conservative womanhood, and religion.

Citizens United is a cornerstone member of a growing praetorian guard furthering the interests of the super-rich. This guard includes law firms, think tanks, policy groups, PR firms, astroturf organizations, co-opted civil-rights groups, talking-head bloviators and unquestioning reporters who further a well-orchestrated rightwing, corporatist propaganda agenda.

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Extortion Politics: Why Won’t American Business Stop the GOP From Threatening to Blow Up The Economy?

From Robert Reich:

By Robert Reich
Tuesday, April 19, 2011

As the government approaches its borrowing limit of $14.3 trillion, Republicans are seeking political advantage over what conditions should be attached to raising that limit.

This is a scandal — or should be. Raising the debt limit shouldn’t be subject to party politics. Economic extortion should be out of bounds.

It’s bad enough government shutdowns have become an accepted part of political negotiation. But failure to increase the amount the Treasury can borrow would have far graver results.

Not only would the government be unable to issue Social Security or Medicare checks but the United States couldn’t pay interest on its current debt.

We’d go into default. The full faith and credit of the United States would be in jeopardy. Treasury bonds would go into free fall. Interest rates would skyrocket. We, and most of the rest of the world, would fall into financial chaos.

The recovery is still fragile. All this would force us and most of the rest of the world into a deeper recession or worse.

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Obama’s Signature to Remove Wolves from Endangered Species List

From Earth First Newswire:

April 20, 2011

Political analysts expect President Obama to sign the budget reconciliation bill Congress recently passed. When he does, he’ll open the door to wolf hunting again in Montana and Idaho.

Two members of Congress — Sen. John Tester of Montana and Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho — inserted language into the budget bill that would return wolf management to Montana and Idaho state control. Both states held wolf hunts in 2009 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lifted Endangered Species List protection on the species, but were blocked from doing so in 2010 by a ruling by federal judge Donald Molloy.

In addition to allowing wolf hunting seasons once again, the legislative rider would allow people to shoot wolves that threaten livestock or pets.

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The New Corporate World Order

From Truth Dig:

By Robert Scheer
Apr 19, 2011

The debate over Republicans’ insistence on continued tax breaks for the superrich and the corporations they run should come to a screeching halt with the report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal headlined “Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad.” Those tax breaks over the past decade, leaving some corporations such as General Electric to pay no taxes at all, were supposed to lead to job creation, but just the opposite has occurred. As the WSJ put it, the multinational companies “cut their work forces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, new data from the U.S. Commerce Department show.”

General Electric, which was bailed out by taxpayers and which stored so much of its profit abroad that it paid no taxes for the past two years, was forced to tighten up, but while cutting its foreign workforce by 1,000 it cut a far more severe 28,000 in the United States. Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of GE, recently appointed by President Barack Obama as his chief outside economic adviser, admits that this does not involve poorly paid work that Americans don’t want, but instead prime jobs: “We’ve globalized around markets, not cheap labor. The era of globalization around cheap labor is over. Today we go to China, we go to India, because that’s where the customers are.”

There is a bitter irony in that statement given that consumer purchasing power is down in the U.S. thanks to the devastating collapse of a housing bubble GE Capital fed with suspect mortgage financing that provided the company with well over half of its profits before the crash. The loss of well-paying jobs at multinationals like GE to other nations—54 percent of the GE workforce is foreign—exacerbates the plight of U.S. consumers while making the foreign customers even more attractive.

Of course it will be argued that multinational corporations have the right to arrange their business as they see fit in order to maximize profit. But if that is the case, do beleaguered American taxpayers have to foot the bill? When those corporations run into trouble overseas because of financial hustles or hostile locals and need the diplomatic and military might of the U.S. government to protect their interests abroad, it is again the U.S. taxpayer who must pay to maintain this new world order. It is an order, as we see with three current wars and a military budget that rivals Cold War highs, that is contributing mightily to the U.S. government debt. More than half of all discretionary spending, the dollars that the Republicans in Congress now want to take out of needed domestic programs, is accounted for by defense spending. That defense spending to support a massive network of military bases and deployed weapons and troops is key to establishing an order in which the interests of American corporations are attended to. If the companies don’t feel that way, let them operate under the flag of Liberia or the Cayman Islands.

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Franken sponsors immigration rights for same-sex couples

From The Minnesota Independent:

By Andy Birkey

Sen. Al Franken is the sponsor of legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate late last week that would give binational same-sex couples the same rights as married couples for immigration purposes. The Uniting American Families Act is authored by Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont and is sponsored by 18 other Democrats.

Even though same-sex marriage is legal in seven jurisdictions in the United States, couples in which one partner is not a citizen do not have any right under current federal law.

The bill would make immigration laws equal for same-sex couples, including allowing same-sex partners of refugees and asylum seekers to immigrate to the United States. It also provides for the same penalties for same-sex couples who misrepresent their relationships for immigration purposes as current law does for married couples.

The bill makes provisions for same-sex couples to provide documentation of their partnership.

“A core tenet of our immigration policy is preserving family unity. Yet gay and lesbian Americans are still forced to choose between their country and being with those they love,” said Leahy in a statement. “I hear from Vermont couples who face this difficult decision every year. No American should face such a choice. I hope that my colleagues who supported this important civil rights reform will join me in calling for fairness and equality in our immigration laws.”

In addition to Franken and Leahy, the bill is sponsored by Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

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Bradley Manning to be moved from Virginia to Kansas

From The Guardian UK:

WikiLeaks suspect to be moved to Fort Leavenworth after storm of protest at his treatment in Quantico military prison

Ed Pilkington in New York
The Guardian, Wednesday 20 April 2011

The US soldier accused of downloading hundreds of thousands of state secrets and passing them to WikiLeaks is to be moved from the military prison where he has been held for the past 10 months after international protests that he is being held in conditions amounting to torture.

US officials quoted by AP said that Bradley Manning is to be moved from the military brig in Quantico marine base in Virginia to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. He was arrested last year in a US base outside Baghdad where he had been working as an intelligence analyst and has since been charged with passing classified information to an unauthorised party.

The charges relate to the posting by WikiLeaks of a trove of state secrets, including US embassy cables first published by the Guardian in tandem with other newspapers.

In Quantico, Manning has been held in solitary confinement under a “prevention of injury order” which, his lawyer has argued, amounts to an unjustified form of coercion ahead of his court martial. In recent weeks he has been stripped of his clothes at night and left wearing only a smock.

Campaigners who have demanded an end to the mistreatment of Manning in jail are sceptical about the move to Fort Leavenworth. The Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, who has raised the case on Capitol Hill, said “nothing the department of defence has done so far with respect to PFC Manning provides any assurance that his basic human and constitutional rights are being protected. Any move does not change the fact that he has been held under conditions which may constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th amendment of the US constitution.”

In its Twitter feed, WikiLeaks said there was no guarantee of better treatment for Manning in Fort Leavenworth and that access to the prisoner would still be limited to his lawyer and family.

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