If You Don’t Vote, You’re a Loser

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/if_you_dont_vote_youre_a_loser_20121016/

By Peter Z. Scheer
Posted on Oct 16, 2012

There is no single issue more frustrating to the cause of progress than the relative struggle the left has organizing voters and getting them to the polls. Republicans and conservatives, perhaps driven by a sense of duty, tend to turn out with ease. The American left, on the other hand, must overcome poverty, intentionally obstructive voting laws and a persistent apathy, often failing to take advantage of natural majorities to effect change. This electoral season, there is a new obstacle. Many on the left now view the system itself as so corrupt and distasteful, the process of voting has become uncool.

I was struck recently by the comments of a 17-year-old girl recorded by Thomas Hedges, who was reporting on the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests: “Voting, punching a ballot every four years? That’s a sham after all of this. It’s a farce. By participating in it, it feels like you’re giving in,” she said.

Some of Obama’s policies, particularly with regard to the economy, the war in Afghanistan and the environment, have given cause for this cynicism. But this girl isn’t just saying politics are corrupt. This ineligible teenager seems to argue that the political process has become so septic, such a “farce,” that participation in it feels like collaboration with the corporate forces that have polluted it. Voting, then, isn’t a civic responsibility or a path toward progress, but a sin against social justice. Although that line of thinking has certainly been provoked, it’s a perversion of reason that threatens to hand the country to Mitt Romney or, hell, Barack Obama, if he’s not your lesser devil.

And it is Obama who has become the left’s obsession in this election. Instead of uniting disaffected Republicans, liberal Democrats and ex-Green Party idealists, as he did in 2008, the president now seems to have united the far right and the far left in joint contempt.

On the right, we can recognize by polling the same bloc of white men who never really fell for Obama and again resist him. Add to that the elderly voters who watch “Mad Men” and walk away with all the wrong kind of nostalgia for afternoon cocktails and docile women and racial minorities. But on the left, there is an intensity to the anger. Obama is a fixation and people speak about him the way they speak about conspiracies. The president has been transformed by his fallen allies. He is spoken of not as a man whose accomplishments and failures can be debated, but the figurehead of a national conspiracy to destroy American democracy. Voting for such a person, or his less preferable enemy, “feels like you’re giving in.” This has festered beyond disaffection, disappointment and disapproval. It’s hatred now. And it’s not going to help anyone.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/if_you_dont_vote_youre_a_loser_20121016/

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Koch Social Media Policy May Be Unlawful; Employers Still Have Broad Leeway to Limit Employee Speech

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/12150-koch-social-media-policy-may-be-unlawful-employers-still-have-broad-leeway-to-limit-employee-speech

By Brendan Fischer
Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Koch Industries policy limiting employee speech on social media may be unlawful in light of recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, but employers still have broad leeway to impose their political views on workers and punish those who disagree.

On October 14, Mike Elk at In These Times reported on how Koch Industries sent a mailer to 45,000 employees of its Georgia-Pacific subsidiary urging them to vote for Mitt Romney and other Republicans, warning that if they don’t, they “may suffer the consequences.” At the same time, the Kochs were limiting employees’ speech through a social media policy that threatened Georgia Pacific workers with disciplinary action or termination if their Facebook posts or tweets “reflect negatively” on the company’s reputation or are “disparaging.” The policy applies even to social media usage outside of working hours, and Elk reports that the policy has deterred some employees from speaking freely in their online posts.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Kochs and other employers can now make partisan political communications directly to their employees. As a private employer the Kochs can even limit their employees’ speech, since the First Amendment only protects against government infringement on free speech and expression. Employers are also afforded wide latitude to fire workers for their political activities.

Despite this, on September 7, 2012 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a ruling that will likely deem the Kochs’ social media policy unlawful.

Social Media Policy Likely Unlawful

“Currently, the legal protections for [the workplace speech of] private sector employees are slim, to say the least,” said Paul Secunda, an associate professor at Marquette Law School who specializes in labor and employment law.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/12150-koch-social-media-policy-may-be-unlawful-employers-still-have-broad-leeway-to-limit-employee-speech

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How Propagandists for the 1% Are Manipulating Christian Teachings to Rob the Middle Class

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/how-propagandists-1-are-manipulating-christian-teachings-rob-middle-class

The neoliberal utopianism that caused the financial crisis has been repackaged for the 2012 election.

By Michael Meurer
October 17, 2012

 In the endless swirl of headlines about the current global financial crisis, the dominant narrative, which is also driving the 2012 US presidential election, is that crippling amounts of public debt run up by profligate government spending have brought us to the brink of financial ruin and must be offset by deep cuts in social services and “entitlements.”

It is a false narrative that masks the largest ongoing financial swindle in human history, a swindle being carried out at public expense by a small class of elite financial speculators. This speculative class has been unleashed over the past three decades by a Utopian neoliberal political project now embodied in its most virulent form in the Republican presidential ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Let’s start with the depth and size of the underlying financial crisis, which is almost in the realm of hyper-reality. In 1997, for example, the total value of annual financial transactions worldwide was an already-staggering 15 times greater than global GDP. Today, it is 70 times greater . (1) In 1995, the six largest US banks controlled assets worth 17 percent of annual GDP. Today, the figure is 64 percent . (2) Again in 1995, the global total of outstanding derivative debt obligations was $17.7 trillion. By 2010, at nearly $470 trillion , outstanding derivatives were 741 percent of global GDP . (3)

This wholesale financialization of the US-led global economy has burdened the public sector with the task of propping up unregulated speculative debt in the private sector that is 7.4 times our annual productive capacity. Add US deficit spending for three wars since 9/11, and major cuts in the top tax rates, and the burden becomes unsustainable. The difference is being made up in the guise of austerity, as everything we own is liquidated, from personal and retirement savings, to homes and public-sector assets that have been built up over generations.

In the US, the inexorable logic of this process is embedded in the numbers that comprise the national debt. By most estimates, the national debt is at least $15 trillion .(4) Here is one way to understand where the money went.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/election-2012/how-propagandists-1-are-manipulating-christian-teachings-rob-middle-class

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