Monday, December 15, 2008

Block appointments to the CPUC

Governor Schwarzenegger's stealth reappointment of Commissioners Rachelle Chong and Michael Peevey to the Public Utilities Commission (see article below) is a real slap in the face to all Californians. Chong and Peevey have been advocates of exactly the type of deregulation that has caused so many of our current woes and has cost the ratepayers and consumers of California so much in dollars and in lost protections that were once available through the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) regulations.

These two are basically nothing more then lobbyists for industry, posing as watchdogs. The proverbial wolves in sheep's clothing.

What you can do:

Contact Nettie Sablehouse if you want to be put on the record as opposed to the appointments. She is the Rules Comm staffer responsible for appointments.

Contact Darrell Steinberg's office directly, 916. 651.1529 , as he is the key to blocking these appointments, and tell him "no to industry, yes to ratepayers"!

Contact your own State Senator:

In Humboldt County: write and/or call Pat Wiggins
707/445-6508 or 916/445-3375 and CC:
and ask her to pressure the members of the rules committee to block these appointments.

If enough people object, the Senate might possibly listen to us, the citizens of California, rather then the industry lobbyists who are oh so happy to have two of their own on the CPUC.


No Change, No Hope for consumers — Governor reappoints deregulation fanatics to CPUC

by California Political Desk, California Chronicle
December 1st, 2008
San Francisco — TURN today said Governor Schwarzenegger's stealth reappointment of Commissioners Rachelle Chong and Michael Peevey to the Public Utilities Commission was a step backward for California and a blow to consumers. TURN, California's statewide utility consumer advocacy organization, said that change is desperately needed at the CPUC, and without it consumers have little hope. The previous terms of Commissioners Peevey and Chong have been marked by higher utility bills, reckless deregulation similar to that seen in the banking industry and excessive ratepayer costs for overpriced utility projects such as "smart" meters. "There is widespread agreement throughout the United States that change is needed to fix our country's economic problems," said TURN executive director Mark Toney. "California can and should be at the forefront of that change. To do so we need to move away from reckless deregulation toward responsible regulation in the public interest. But Commissioners Chong and Peevey have done everything in their power to take our state in the opposite direction." Both Commissioners have a track record of siding with corporate interests over consumer interests. President Peevey has played a pivotal role in energy policies that are costing California consumers billions while providing no discernable benefits, and is actively attempting to undermine the clear legislative prohibition on more electric deregulation. Commissioner Chong's decisions have lead to substantially higher rates for essential phone service at a time when Californians can least afford it, and are allowing AT&T to suck more and more money out of our state into their corporate coffers in San Antonio. Toney said consumer groups had hoped to see some fresh faces on the CPUC in 2009. "The Governor should appoint Commissioners who put affordability, accountability and sustainability first, rather than taking us back toward the dark days of deregulation," he said.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Photos from the campaign trial

Election coverage from Ohio:

Total-state approach aided Obama
Strategy to campaign in every county in Ohio turned some parts blue

Thursday, November 6, 2008 3:21 AM
By Joe Hallett, Jonathan Riskind and Mark Niquette

In a historic election that reaffirmed Ohio's status as the nation's bellwether, Sen. Barack Obama powered his way to a four-point victory in the state by campaigning in all 88 counties.

Obama won Ohio with 51 percent of the vote, becoming the first Democrat in 44 years to capture more than 50 percent. Lyndon B. Johnson garnered 63 percent in his 1964 landslide against Republican Barry Goldwater.

Ohio once again mirrored the nation: Unofficial results show Obama won nationally 52-46, and in Ohio 51-47. The state has picked the presidential winner in 25 of the last 27 elections since the turn of the 20th century.

From the start, the Obama campaign's goal in Ohio was to exceed Democratic nominee John Kerry's performance in 2004 -- and it did so in a big way. Obama won 22 counties, six more than Kerry, and he topped Kerry's vote differential in 75 counties.

With an army of volunteers and paid staffers across the state, the Obama campaign brought down Republican percentages in GOP stronghold counties and raised Democratic percentages in counties where Kerry had done well four years ago.

"They gnawed at the edges and did a little better than Kerry, even in Republican counties," said Barry Bennett, chief of staff for GOP Rep. Jean Schmidt of Loveland. "They increased their margins just a little bit. You do that 88 times, and it adds up."

Some highlights:

• Obama won the big-six urban counties with substantially more votes than Kerry, including 51,200 more in Franklin County, 18,500 more in Cuyahoga County and 18,300 more in Lucas County.

• Obama became the first Democrat in 44 years to win Hamilton County, Ohio's third largest, using a big turnout in Cincinnati to beat Kerry's vote take in the county by 43,800 votes.

• In the fast-growing and reliably Republican "collar counties" around Cincinnati -- Butler, Clermont and Warren -- Obama cut deeply into the margins McCain needed to match President Bush's 2004 performance. Compared with Kerry four years ago, Obama got 19,860 more votes in Butler County, 6,900 more in Clermont County and 4,600 more in Warren County.

• Even in GOP strongholds such as Hancock County, which has supported the Republican nominee in the last 12 presidential elections, Obama won 6,200 more votes than Kerry, cutting into McCain's margin of victory there.

Rather than model his campaign on Kerry's, which focused mainly on maximizing the Democratic vote in Ohio's big-six urban counties, Obama followed the blueprint from the 2006 campaign of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who competed in every county.

"Focusing on a handful of large urban counties is not enough," said Doug Kelly, executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party. "We believed in the model of competing everywhere."

Strickland turned the Ohio map from red to blue: Two years after President Bush won 72 counties, Strickland also won 72 counties.

"It wasn't hard to sell the Obama folks on how to put this together because it's the way they were organized in Iowa and other early states," said Aaron Pickrell, Obama's Ohio campaign manager.

Pickrell also had managed Strickland's campaign, so he hit the ground running June 8 when Obama appointed him. Flush with campaign cash, Pickrell commanded more than 300 paid campaign staffers working out of 89 field offices -- an operation that dwarfed McCain's, which relied heavily on volunteers.

Aided by Bush's unpopularity, overwhelming voter sentiment that the country is headed in the wrong direction and heightened economic anxiety caused by the Wall Street meltdown, the Obama campaign saw an opportunity to pluck off undecided voters.

It turned three northwestern Ohio counties -- Wood, Ottawa and Sandusky -- that were red in 2004 to blue on Tuesday by arguing that Obama was the better choice for jobs, said John Hagner, voter-targeting director for the state Democratic Party.

"We had persuadable voters in the northwest who were willing to give us a chance because the economy in a lot of the one-factory towns up there had gotten worse," Hagner said.

Jon Seaton, McCain's regional campaign manager for Ohio and Pennsylvania, said the campaign's ground operation worked well and "I think we got as many votes as there were to get for John McCain." Although McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, secured the vote of the GOP base, the campaign suffered from the sour political climate, Seaton said.

"When you have an election like this with independents and moderates voting the other way, the base is never enough," Seaton said. "Given the realities of the environment, Sen. Obama was able to move independent votes."

Seaton said that frequent visits by McCain and Palin to the Mahoning Valley, a bastion for conservative Democrats, paid off. Although Obama won Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana and Jefferson counties, he received fewer votes than Kerry in all of them.

Compared with Kerry, Obama also underperformed in many of the state's 29 Appalachian counties. Asked whether Obama's race was a factor, Pickrell said: "I don't have any evidence of it being an issue at all, but I don't have an explanation for why we didn't perform a little bit stronger there."
"I think we got as many votes as there were to get for John McCain."

Jon Seaton
McCain's regional campaign director in Ohio and Pennsylvania


Barack Obama uses Ohio win to help gain victory
by Elizabeth Auster and Mark Naymik / Plain Dealer reporters

Tuesday November 04, 2008, 11:39 PM

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama became the first black American in history to win the U.S. presidency Tuesday, riding a powerful wave of economic anxiety that gave Democrats control of both Congress and the White House for the first time in 14 years.

Ohio, which gave President Bush his margin of victory in 2004 and which Arizona Sen. John McCain had considered vital to his own success, once again played a crucial role in a presidential election, handing its 20 electoral votes to Obama much earlier in the night than many had expected.

Obama was declared the winner in Ohio by multiple networks before 9:45 p.m. Little more than an hour later, the networks and the Associated Press declared him the winner of the election.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, clearly elated when Ohio went for Obama, took the lectern early at the Democratic election party at a downtown Columbus hotel where the crowd was cheering thunderously and hailed Obama's victory as a historic milestone.

"We have come together as a people and we have broken through a barrier and that barrier is race," he said. "For the first time we have an African-American as president. And we are a stronger country and a more unified people because of what has happened in Ohio and across the country tonight."

The Buckeye State, long regarded as a bellwether in presidential elections, had voted with the winner in 25 of 27 presidential elections before Tuesday, a record matched only by Missouri.

Obama also racked up important wins in Florida, Virginia and Iowa, which also went to Bush in 2004, while holding Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and other closely watched states that Democrat John Kerry won in 2004.

Shortly after 11 p.m., thousands of Obama supporters gathered in Chicago's Grant Park broke out in cheers as they waited to hear from Obama. McCain, who had hoped for a last-minute comeback despite weeks of polls showing him behind, conceded in a call to Obama.

Longtime Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett seemed resigned to an Obama victory and attributed Obama's success partly to the recent meltdown of the global financial system.

"The No. 1 issue in Ohio for some time has been the economy and once the financial meltdown hit, we dropped nine points in 10 days," Bennett said Tuesday night. "We had a headwind against us."

Bennett praised Democrats in Ohio for mounting "the most effective ground game I've ever seen the Democrats put on," and also blamed his own party for straying from its message of fiscal conservatism.

"Republicans need to take a real hard lesson from this defeat. We had an opportunity to put this country on a path of fiscal conservatism and we failed," he said. "The American people realize that."

Exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks showed the economy was the dominant issue on voters' minds in Ohio and the rest of the nation. Six in 10 voters in Ohio, and the rest of the country, picked the economy as the top issue, while only one in 10 cited any other single issue as most important.

Obama did best in Ohio among blacks, younger voters and the least and most educated voters, the exit polls showed. McCain did best in Ohio among wealthy voters and older voters. Obama, however, won key swing groups of Ohio voters -- independents, moderates and women -- and he won all age groups except those 65 and older.

Both candidates this year courted Ohio voters relentlessly. No Republican has won the presidency without Ohio, and the state's voters have sided with the loser only twice in the last century, when Thomas Dewey beat Democrat Franklin Roosevelt in Ohio in 1944, and when Richard Nixon topped John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Democratic presidential candidates need to pile up votes in Cuyahoga County and other urban counties to counter the less populous but more numerous suburban and rural counties, which traditionally have heavily favored Republicans.

In Cuyahoga County, Obama had a 3-to-1 lead after absentee ballots were tallied. Though that margin was unlikely to hold, Obama appeared on track to beat the goal of racking up a 220,000-vote advantage there. In 2004, Kerry defeated Bush by 226,000 votes in the county, though it wasn't enough to beat back Bush's gains in rural Ohio.

Obama clinched his victory in Ohio on the strength of the urban counties around Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Youngstown. It was unclear exactly how Obama performed in rural parts of Ohio, but he appeared to outperform Kerry in some parts, based on absentee ballot counts, said Obama's Ohio campaign manager, Aaron Pickrell.

"We had the candidate and the message and a true ground game," he said. "We had people in counties that never saw a field organizer before. It shows that if Democrats can communicate, they can cut into Republican margins."

Obama's victory as the nation's 44th president, combined with significant gains for Democrats in the House and Senate, ushers in a new era of Democratic Party rule in Washington for the first time since the beginning of Bill Clinton's presidency.

Significant policy changes are likely on everything from the war in Iraq, which Obama has promised to end, to the ailing national economy, which Obama wants to pump up with middle-class tax cuts and new government spending on public works projects.

Obama could face pressure from fellow Democrats to move quickly, while he still can claim momentum from his victory, on some of his more ambitious and controversial initiatives, such as health-care reform and tax code changes. He has proposed various tax cuts for low- and middle-income families coupled with tax hikes on income and capital gains for families earning over $250,000 a year.

Labor unions also would be likely to press for quick action on a top labor priority -- passing legislation that would allow unions to be recognized in work places when they get a majority of workers to sign cards, without secret-ballot elections. The bill has previously passed the House but has been blocked in the Senate.

Obama's victory caps a stunningly rapid career climb for a 47-year-old first-term U.S. senator who was unknown to most Americans before the summer of 2004, when he delivered an eloquent keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston appealing to the nation to move past bitter partisan politics.

Combining his gift for soaring oratory with a message that focused relentlessly on the unpopularity of the Bush administration, Obama -- the son of a white woman from Kansas and a black father from Kenya, drew record crowds throughout the primary and general-election campaign. He energized not only black Americans, but also hordes of young people, who flocked to his rallies and embraced his call for change.

Cuyahoga County polls closed on time Tuesday, allowing early votes to be tallied shortly after 7:30 p.m. Unlike other recent general elections, there were no lawsuits in Cuyahoga County filed to keep polls open. Some precincts did remain open past the cutoff, but only because people were still in line to vote.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner predicted before the election that Ohio would see an 80 percent turnout. Early turnout figures suggest that estimate could be reached.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Help Obama win from home

If you can not make it out to Ohio, Nevada or any of the other battleground states, consider this option, as a way to help those of us who are out here, from your own home.

photo © DMoodyPhoto 2008


From: Nicole Holland
Subject: Have you heard about Neighbor to Neighbor?

I just learned about Neighbor to Neighbor, an exciting new tool that allows us to print off lists of voters in key battleground states, to contact about this campaign and this movement.

I know sometimes the political process seems impossible, superficial, and gridlocked. But we're changing that. We're building a campaign of the people, by the people, and for the people.

So please take a moment to learn more about how you can help with our new Neighbor to Neighbor tool, here's the link to our training page:

Thanks for getting involved - we can't do this without you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ohio rally

Photos © DMoodyPhoto 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

© DMoodyPhoto 2008 ~ Obama in Columbus OH.

From: Rosa Goldensohn

Dear friends and family,

I'm working on the Obama campaign in Ohio and we need your help getting out the vote. The race is completely tied here. In 2004 George Bush won Ohio – and therefore the White House – by 118,601 votes. That's only 9 votes per precinct. With the help of an unprecedented number of volunteers on Election Day, we can and will win this thing.

Please check out this video to see what we’re doing and why

It will take thousands of people to get out the vote for Barack Obama on Election Day. The most important days to come to Ohio are Friday, October 31st – Tuesday, November 4th. Come for one day, one week—we only have 15 days left! We will put you to work turning out votes for Barack Obama in Ohio. We need thousands of lawyers for election protection, too.

No Republican has ever won the country without winning Ohio. We are the tip of the spear. And we don't yet have the manpower we need.

Click here to see how you can help

or just email me directly:

Let's win. We can do it together, and it will take you and everyone you can get.


Rosa Goldensohn
Director of Out-of-State Volunteers
Ohio Campaign for Change

Monday, October 20, 2008

Full Story by Kennedy and Palast

Block the Vote
Will the GOP's campaign to deter new voters and discard Democratic ballots determine the next president?


Posted Oct 30, 2008 11:10 AM

• Video: Behind the Story With Kennedy Jr. and Palast:

These days, the old west rail hub of Las Vegas, New Mexico, is little more than a dusty economic dead zone amid a boneyard of bare mesas. In national elections, the town overwhelmingly votes Democratic: More than 80 percent of all residents are Hispanic, and one in four lives below the poverty line. On February 5th, the day of the Super Tuesday caucus, a school-bus driver named Paul Maez arrived at his local polling station to cast his ballot. To his surprise, Maez found that his name had vanished from the list of registered voters, thanks to a statewide effort to deter fraudulent voting. For Maez, the shock was especially acute: He is the supervisor of elections in Las Vegas.

Maez was not alone in being denied his right to vote. On Super Tuesday, one in nine Democrats who tried to cast ballots in New Mexico found their names missing from the registration lists. The numbers were even higher in precincts like Las Vegas, where nearly 20 percent of the county's voters were absent from the rolls. With their status in limbo, the voters were forced to cast "provisional" ballots, which can be reviewed and discarded by election officials without explanation. On Super Tuesday, more than half of all provisional ballots cast were thrown out statewide.

This November, what happened to Maez will happen to hundreds of thousands of voters across the country. In state after state, Republican operatives — the party's elite commandos of bare-knuckle politics — are wielding new federal legislation to systematically disenfranchise Democrats. If this year's race is as close as the past two elections, the GOP's nationwide campaign could be large enough to determine the presidency in November. "I don't think the Democrats get it," says John Boyd, a voting-rights attorney in Albuquerque who has taken on the Republican Party for impeding access to the ballot. "All these new rules and games are turning voting into an obstacle course that could flip the vote to the GOP in half a dozen states.

Suppressing the vote has long been a cornerstone of the GOP's electoral strategy. Shortly before the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Paul Weyrich — a principal architect of today's Republican Party — scolded evangelicals who believed in democracy. "Many of our Christians have what I call the 'goo goo' syndrome — good government," said Weyrich, who co-founded Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell. "They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."

Today, Weyrich's vision has become a national reality. Since 2003, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, at least 2.7 million new voters have had their applications to register rejected. In addition, at least 1.6 million votes were never counted in the 2004 election — and the commission's own data suggests that the real number could be twice as high. To purge registration rolls and discard ballots, partisan election officials used a wide range of pretexts, from "unreadability" to changes in a voter's signature. And this year, thanks to new provisions of the Help America Vote Act, the number of discounted votes could surge even higher.

Passed in 2002, HAVA was hailed by leaders in both parties as a reform designed to avoid a repeat of the 2000 debacle in Florida that threw the presidential election to the U.S. Supreme Court. The measure set standards for voting systems, created an independent commission to oversee elections, and ordered states to provide provisional ballots to voters whose eligibility is challenged at the polls.

But from the start, HAVA was corrupted by the involvement of Republican superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, who worked to cram the bill with favors for his clients. (Both Abramoff and a primary author of HAVA, former Rep. Bob Ney, were imprisoned for their role in the conspiracy.) In practice, many of the "reforms" created by HAVA have actually made it harder for citizens to cast a ballot and have their vote counted. In case after case, Republican election officials at the local and state level have used the rules to give GOP candidates an edge on Election Day by creating new barriers to registration, purging legitimate names from voter rolls, challenging voters at the polls and discarding valid ballots.

To justify this battery of new voting impediments, Republicans cite an alleged upsurge in voting fraud. Indeed, the U.S.-attorney scandal that resulted in the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales began when the White House fired federal prosecutors who resisted political pressure to drum up nonexistent cases of voting fraud against Democrats. "They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments that would scare these alleged hordes of illegal voters away," says David Iglesias, a U.S. attorney for New Mexico who was fired in December 2006. "We took over 100 complaints and investigated for almost two years — but I didn't find one prosecutable case of voter fraud in the entire state of New Mexico."

There's a reason Iglesias couldn't find any evidence of fraud: Individual voters almost never try to cast illegal ballots. The Bush administration's main point person on "ballot protection" has been Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department attorney who has advised states on how to use HAVA to erect more barriers to voting. Appointed to the Federal Election Commission by Bush, von Spakovsky has suggested that voter rolls may be stuffed with 5 million illegal aliens. In fact, studies have repeatedly shown that voter fraud is extremely rare. According to a recent analysis by Lorraine Minnite, an expert on voting crime at Barnard College, federal courts found only 24 voters guilty of fraud from 2002 to 2005, out of hundreds of millions of votes cast. "The claim of widespread voter fraud," Minnite says, "is itself a fraud."

Allegations of voter fraud are only the latest rationale the GOP has used to disenfranchise voters — especially blacks, Hispanics and others who traditionally support Democrats. "The Republicans have a long history of erecting barriers to discourage Americans from voting," says Donna Brazile, chair of the Voting Rights Institute for the Democratic National Committee. "Now they're trying to spook Americans with the ghost of voter fraud. It's very effective — but it's ironic that the only way they maintain power is by using fear to deprive Americans of their constitutional right to vote." The recently enacted barriers thrown up to deter voters include:

1. Obstructing Voter-Registration Drives
Since 2004, the Bush administration and more than a dozen states have taken steps to impede voter registration. Among the worst offenders is Florida, where the Republican-dominated legislature created hefty fines — up to $5,000 per violation — for groups that fail to meet deadlines for turning in voter-application forms. Facing potentially huge penalties for trivial administrative errors, the League of Women Voters abandoned its voter-registration drives in Florida. A court order eventually forced the legislature to reduce the maximum penalty to $1,000. But even so, said former League president Dianne Wheatley-Giliotti, the reduced fines "create an unfair tax on democracy." The state has also failed to uphold a federal law requiring that low-income voters be offered an opportunity to register when they apply for food stamps or other public assistance. As a result, the annual number of such registrations has plummeted from more than 120,000 in the Clinton years to barely 10,000 today.

2. Demanding "Perfect Matches"
Under the Help America Vote Act, some states now reject first-time registrants whose data does not correspond to information in other government databases. Spurred by HAVA, almost every state must now attempt to make some kind of match — and four states, including the swing states of Iowa and Florida, require what is known as a "perfect match." Under this rigid framework, new registrants can lose the right to vote if the information on their voter-registration forms — Social Security number, street address and precisely spelled name, right down to a hyphen — fails to exactly match data listed in other government records.
There are many legitimate reasons, of course, why a voter's information might vary. Indeed, a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that as many as 20 percent of discrepancies between voter records and driver's licenses in New York City are simply typing mistakes made by government clerks when they transcribe data. But under the new rules, those mistakes are costing citizens the right to vote. In California, a Republican secretary of state blocked 43 percent of all new voters in Los Angeles from registering in early 2006 — many because of the state's failure to produce a tight match. In Florida, GOP officials created "match" rules that rejected more than 15,000 new registrants in 2006 and 2007 — nearly three-fourths of them Hispanic and black voters. Given the big registration drives this year, the number could be five times higher by November.

3. Purging Legitimate Voters From the Rolls
The Help America Vote Act doesn't just disenfranchise new registrants; it also targets veteran voters. In the past, bipartisan county election boards maintained voter records. But HAVA requires that records be centralized, computerized and maintained by secretaries of state — partisan officials — who are empowered to purge the rolls of any voter they deem ineligible. Ironically, the new rules imitate the centralized system in Florida — the same corrupt operation that inspired passage of HAVA in the first place. Prior to the 2000 election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and her predecessor, both Republicans, tried to purge 57,000 voters, most of them African-Americans, because their names resembled those of persons convicted of a crime. The state eventually acknowledged that the purges were improper — two years after the election.
Rather than end Florida-style purges, however, HAVA has nationalized them. Maez, the elections supervisor in New Mexico, says he was the victim of faulty list management by a private contractor hired by the state. Hector Balderas, the state auditor, was also purged from the voter list. The nation's youngest elected Hispanic official, Balderas hails from Mora County, one of the poorest in the state, which had the highest rate of voters forced to cast provisional ballots. "As a strategic consideration," he notes, "there are those that benefit from chaos" at the ballot box.
All told, states reported scrubbing at least 10 million voters from their rolls on questionable grounds between 2004 and 2006. Colorado holds the record: Donetta Davidson, the Republican secretary of state, and her GOP successor oversaw the elimination of nearly one of every six of their state's voters. Bush has since appointed Davidson to the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency created by HAVA, which provides guidance to the states on "list maintenance" methods.

4. Requiring Unnecessary Voter ID's
Even if voters run the gauntlet of the new registration laws, they can still be blocked at the polling station. In an incident last May, an election official in Indiana denied ballots to 10 nuns seeking to vote in the Democratic primary because their driver's licenses or passports had expired. Even though Indiana has never recorded a single case of voter-ID fraud, it is one of two dozen states that have enacted stringent new voter-ID statutes.
On its face, the requirement to show a government-issued ID doesn't seem unreasonable. "I want to cash a check to pay for my groceries, I've got to show a little bit of ID," Karl Rove told the Republican National Lawyers Association in 2006. But many Americans lack easy access to official identification. According to a recent study for the Election Law Journal, young people, senior citizens and minorities — groups that traditionally vote Democratic — often have no driver's licenses or state ID cards. According to the study, one in 10 likely white voters do not possess the necessary identification. For African-Americans, the number lacking such ID is twice as high.

5. Rejecting "Spoiled" Ballots
Even intrepid voters who manage to cast a ballot may still find their vote discounted. In 2004, election officials discarded at least 1 million votes nationwide after classifying them as "spoiled" because blank spaces, stray marks or tears made them indecipherable to voting machines. The losses hit hardest among minorities in low-income precincts, who are often forced to vote on antiquated machines. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, in its investigation of the 2000 returns from Florida, found that African-Americans were nearly 10 times more likely than whites to have their ballots rejected, a ratio that holds nationwide.

Proponents of HAVA claimed the law would correct the spoilage problem by promoting computerized balloting. Yet touch-screen systems have proved highly unreliable — especially in minority and low-income precincts. A statistical analysis of New Mexico ballots by a voting-rights group called VotersUnite found that Hispanics who voted by computer in 2004 were nearly five times more likely to have their votes unrecorded than those who used paper ballots. In a close election, such small discrepancies can make a big difference: In 2004, the number of spoiled ballots in New Mexico — 19,000 — was three times George Bush's margin of victory.

6. Challenging "Provisional" Ballots
In 2004, an estimated 3 million voters who showed up at the polls were refused regular ballots because their registration was challenged on a technicality. Instead, these voters were handed "provisional" ballots, a fail-safe measure mandated by HAVA to enable officials to review disputed votes. But for many officials, resolving disputes means tossing ballots in the trash. In 2004, a third of all provisional ballots — as many as 1 million votes — were simply thrown away at the discretion of election officials.
Many voters are given provisional ballots under an insidious tactic known as "vote caging," which uses targeted mailings to disenfranchise black voters whose addresses have changed. In 2004, despite a federal consent order forbidding Republicans from engaging in the practice, the GOP sent out tens of thousands of letters to "confirm" the addresses of voters in minority precincts. If a letter was returned for any reason — because the voter was away at school or serving in the military — the GOP challenged the voter for giving a false address. One caging operation was exposed when an RNC official mistakenly sent the list to a parody site called — instead of to the official campaign site
In the century following the Civil War, millions of black Americans in the Deep South lost their constitutional right to vote, thanks to literacy tests, poll taxes and other Jim Crow restrictions imposed by white officials. Add up all the modern-day barriers to voting erected since the 2004 election — the new registrations thrown out, the existing registrations scrubbed, the spoiled ballots, the provisional ballots that were never counted — and what you have is millions of voters, more than enough to swing the presidential election, quietly being detached from the electorate by subterfuge.

"Jim Crow was laid to rest, but his cousins were not," says Donna Brazile. "We got rid of poll taxes and literacy tests but now have a second generation of schemes to deny our citizens their franchise." Come November, the most crucial demographic may prove to be Americans who have been denied the right to vote. If Democrats are to win the 2008 election, they must not simply beat John McCain at the polls — they must beat him by a margin that exceeds the level of GOP vote tampering.

Contributing editor Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is one of the nation's leading voting-rights advocates. His article "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" [RS 1002] sparked widespread scrutiny of vote tampering. Greg Palast, who broke the story on Florida's illegal voter purges in the 2000 election, is the author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." For more information, visit No Voter Left Behind: and Steal Back Your Vote.:l

Related Stories:

Video: Kennedy Jr. and Palast Go Behind the Story:
Was the 2004 Election Stolen? By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.:
Make-Believe Maverick: The Real John McCain:
[From Issue 1064 — October 30, 2008]



(ask your media sources why they won't cover this story along side the Acorn story)

Friday, October 17, 2008

California Ballot recommendations

I'm in Ohio until the election, but I did want to pass on these California ballot recommendations by Bill Magavern, whose judgment I found to be excellent for past elections:


Bill Magavern's Recommendations for November California Ballot

These are strictly my personal opinions, for whatever they're worth. Feel free
to forward them or post to web, but please do not add the names of any other
individual or organization by way of identification or affiliation. And get
ready for some change we can believe in. -- Bill

Proposition 1A --Yes
Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act.
If you’re wondering what happened to Prop 1, the Legislature replaced it with
1A, which is still a high-speed rail bond, but with significant improvements in
both fiscal accountability and environmental safeguards. This bond measure calls
for borrowing almost $10 billion, which is no easy sell, but creating a clean
and fast rail line linking most of the state’s population is a goal worth that
kind of investment. We need clean transportation alternatives to freeways and
airplanes, and if we don’t pass 1A it will be a long time before we have another

Proposition 2 -- Yes
Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute.
The Humane Society has a simple proposal: farm animals should have enough room
to actually turn around. Decreasing the density of confined animals will also
decrease pollution and help family farmers. The additional cost will be less
than one penny per egg.

Proposition 3 -- Yes
Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Initiative Statute.
Public borrowing for private institutions should have to pass a high threshold
of worthiness, and I think children’s hospitals meet that standard.

Proposition 4 -- No
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s
Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Sure, it would be great if minors discussed all important life decisions with
their parents, but having government require it is not going to make it happen.
A more likely result of passing this measure would be an increase in dangerous
amateur abortions.

Proposition 5 -- Yes
Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Initiative Statute.
Treatment and rehab programs for nonviolent offenders are more effective than
the lock-‘em up policy that the state has relied on in recent decades. These
programs will cost money, but will save higher amounts over time.

Proposition 6 -- No
Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative
Does anybody really think that our prison populations are too small, or that
sentences are too short? This measure would throw a lot of money into the
prison-industrial complex without accountability for how the money is spent.
State money that now goes to schools and healthcare would be shifted to building
jails and funding other local responsibilities.

Proposition 7 -- No
Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute.
A billionaire had a good idea – ramp up renewable energy standards. But he got
really bad advice, then his team refused to listen to experts who suggested
changes in the proposal, or to recognize that the Legislature and Governor are
already moving toward the nation’s highest and best clean-power requirement. So the ballot language
would actually obstruct development of the small-scale solar and wind projects
we need. Just about all the state’s newspaper editorial boards and major
environmental groups are opposed.

Proposition 8 -- No
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional
Why is it that the proponents of this constitutional amendment are so worried
that their marriages will be threatened if gay people are allowed to keep the
right to marry?

Proposition 9 -- No
Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. Initiative Constitutional
Amendment and Statute.
This measure’s billionaire sponsor, Henry Nicholas, is under indictment for
fraud, drugs and prostitution, but he poses as a champion of victims’ rights.
Victims already have a bill of rights under the state Constitution, and Prop 9
would duplicate existing laws and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars
a year.

Proposition 10 -- No
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds. Initiative Statute.
Another billionaire trying to make energy policy through the ballot, but this
one – Swift Boat campaign funder T. Boone Pickens – knows exactly what he’s
doing: trying to enrich his natural gas business. Like Prop 7, Prop 10 also has
drawn opposition from just about all the state’s newspaper editorial boards and
every environmental group that has weighed in, along with taxpayer and consumer
groups. Natural gas vehicles are relatively clean, but shouldn’t be subsidized
by long-term state borrowing and shouldn’t be favored over cleaner alternatives
like battery electric vehicles.

Proposition 11 -- Yes
Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
CA needs to take redistricting away from the legislators, who have a conflict of
interest, and give it to an independent commission, as this measure would do. I
don’t buy many of the arguments of supporters – redistricting reform will not
make the Legislature more centrist or less partisan, which are over-rated virtues anyway. But it will make legislators
more responsive to their constituents, and will yield districts that are drawn
for their communities of interest and geographical compactness instead of the
self-interest of the politicians. Prop 11 isn’t perfect: it doesn’t cover
Congress, and the system of choosing the commissioners is overly complicated.
But it’s a lot better than the status quo, and is probably our best shot at
reform for a while, which is why the League of Women Voters and Common Cause

Proposition 12 -- Yes
Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008.
This system of financing veterans’ home purchases has worked before, at no
direct cost to taxpayers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Are you confident now?

When Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs and the current Treasury Secretary for the Bush administration went on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, September 21st to sell America on the need for a 750 billion dollar "bailout" for the financial industry (the freest of all free market institutions), he explained that it was absolutely essential, in order to instill confidence in the market and that if congress did not approve these funds so that the tax payers could relieve these investment bankers from their "illiquid" assets (that means assets no one else will buy), this crisis threatens to inflict serious damage on the economy, and that would hurt not just Wall St., but Main St. also. He ensured us this, and only this government solution would stabilize the economy.
When Mr. Stephanopoulos asked "what will you do if this does not work?", Mr. Paulson's response was "it's got to work!". Of course that's not an answer, but it does tell you that they 1) don't have a clue, and 2) they have no plan B.
When Congress failed to pass the first bill, the market lost over 700 points, which some argued was evidence of the need for this government solution to a free market problem. Well congress passed the bail out, and it looks like the market is going to crash anyway.
If you've had enough of trickle down solutions, here are some more rational voices:

on what's really happening....

Doomsday warnings of credit collapse are lies

Ari J. Officer,Lawrence H. Officer

Sunday, October 5, 2008

There's only one reason that Congress passed the financial bailout measure this past week: Wall Street and politicians kept warning of an impending credit collapse that could be solved only by rescuing some irresponsible investment banks and by purchasing securities that have become "bad paper."

Don't believe the lies!

Pouring money into the investment banks at all - and especially by buying up their bad paper - is not a good way to maintain liquidity and credit. Fed and Treasury money should be used more directly to avert any potential financial collapse.

If the Fed needs to inject liquidity into the market, there is a conventional way to do that: providing funds for the money market by making loans or buying good (emphasize "good") securities of commercial banks and similar financial institutions. To begin by providing $700 billion to risk-taking financial institutions is an indirect, inefficient and inequitable solution to any impending "credit crunch."

Perhaps the most confusing thing for us on Main Street is the supposed link between the mortgage-backed credit securities and the regular credit that affects our everyday lives and American businesses. What's the direct connection?

There is none! We repeat: There is no direct connection between the credit represented by mortgage-backed securities and the other credit markets that affect our everyday lives. The normal credit extended by banks to businesses and households in good credit standing has nothing to do with these "credit derivatives" - the bad securities that Congress has authorized the Treasury to purchase.

It is true that some large institutions lost a considerable amount of money. However, it is a fact that they lost that money on mortgage-backed securities. Most of these instruments represented pure gambles against homeowners' defaulting on their mortgages. As far as the public should be concerned, one can just as well think of these financial institutions as having lost the money betting on mortgage defaults in Las Vegas. Today, however, having suffered such massive losses, these banks are unwilling to extend normal loans to businesses and households.

Or so the banks claim!

The mortgage credit crisis has put some investment banks at a huge loss over the derivative investments, and has made them less willing to make conventional loans because of it. That overly risk-taking institutions lost money on "credit derivatives" is irrelevant; again, there is no direct connection between the credit of mortgage-backed securities and other credit markets.

The so-called rescue plan does not address liquidity directly. Instead, it seeks mainly to bail out some irresponsible financial institutions. The rationale for the bailout measure is that, if the government buys up these sour securities, the banks will no longer be operating at an enormous loss and will once again be willing to make loans. But not all the banks are failing, and the Fed has better ways to inject liquidity into the market so that banks will still give sufficient loans to individuals and institutions in good credit standing.

Saving a few financial institutions - at American taxpayers' expense - will not necessarily help the credit situation. There is no guarantee that the rescued institutions will even participate in the loans customarily made to people and businesses.

The only thing the Fed will be sure of accomplishing is buying up crummy paper!

Ari J. Officer, son of Lawrence H. Officer, has completed his master of science degree in financial mathematics at Stanford University. Lawrence H. Officer is professor of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Contact us at

and on what we should be doing for our economy...


Bottom-up economic theory

Robert B. Reich

Sunday, October 5, 2008
Robert B. Reich, UC professor of public policy, former se...

The Mother of All Bailouts may be necessary to unfreeze our capital markets, but it won't unfreeze the American economy.

Bailout or no bailout, we're heading into deep recession. One of the first initiatives that Congress and the next administration will need to take will be an economic stimulus package. But not even this will remedy the underlying problem: The earnings of most Americans haven't kept up with the cost of living. That means there's not enough purchasing power to keep the economy going.

Adjusted for inflation, the incomes of nongovernment workers are lower today than in 2000. They're barely higher than they were in the mid-1970s. The income of a man in his 30s is now 12 percent below that of a man his age three decades ago.

Per-person productivity has grown considerably over the past three decades and has continued to rise even in the lackluster recovery of this decade.

But most Americans haven't reaped the benefits of these productivity gains. The benefits have gone largely to the top.

The top 1 percent of American earners now take home about 20 percent of total national income. In 1980, the top 1 percent took home just 8 percent. Inequality on this scale is bad for many reasons, but it is also bad for the economy.

The wealthy devote a smaller percentage of their earnings to buying things than the rest of us because, after all, they're rich and already have most of what they want. Instead of buying, the very wealthy are more likely to invest their earnings wherever around the world they can get the highest return.

The last time the top 1 percent took home 20 percent of total income was 1928. After that, the economy caved in.

The underlying earnings problem has been masked for years as middle- and lower-income Americans found means to live beyond their paychecks. The first coping mechanism was to send more women into paid work. The percentage of American working mothers with school-age children has almost doubled since 1970, to more than 70 percent. But there's a limit to how many mothers can maintain paying jobs.

So Americans turned to a second coping mechanism - working more hours. Americans have became veritable workaholics, putting in 350 more hours a year than the average European, more even than the notoriously industrious Japanese.

But there's also a limit to how many hours Americans can work. So we turned to a third way of coping. We began to borrow. With housing prices rising briskly through the 1990s and even faster this decade, we turned our homes into piggy banks.

But now, with the bursting of the housing bubble, we're reaching the end of our ability to borrow, just as lenders have reached the end of their capacity to lend.

That means there's not enough purchasing power in the economy to buy all the goods and services it's producing. We're finally reaping the whirlwind of widening inequality and ever more concentrated wealth.

The only way to keep the economy going over the long run is to increase the real earnings of middle- and lower-middle-class Americans.

The answer isn't to protect jobs through trade protection. That would only drive up the prices of everything purchased from abroad. Most routine jobs are being automated anyway.

Nor is it to give tax breaks to the very wealthy and to giant corporations in the hope they will trickle down to everyone else. We've tried that and it hasn't worked. Nothing trickled down.

The long-term answer is for America to invest in the productivity of our working people - enabling families to afford health insurance and have access to good schools and higher education, while also rebuilding our infrastructure and investing in the clean-energy technologies of the future. We must also adopt progressive taxes at the federal, state and local levels.

Call it bottom-up economics.

It would be a sad irony if the Wall Street bailout robs us of the resources we need to invest in average Americans and rebuild America from the bottom up.

Robert B. Reich is a UC Berkeley professor of public policy, former U.S. secretary of labor and author, most recently of "Supercapitalism," now available in paperback. E-mail us at

This article appeared on page G - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oct 1st Deadline is next Wed.

If you are still with AT&T as of next Wednesday Oct 1st, you too will be agreeing to their new contract:

AT&T's new contract with you

We are a country of laws.
Every person gets his or her day in court.

That may have once been the case, but if you have traditional phone service in Humboldt County, you are about to give up these most basic rights of an American citizen.

As of October 1st, all customers of AT&T will be obligated to the terms of their new 13 clause contract, which, among other things, prohibits you from any legal recourse in a court of law, including small claims court, and which prohibits you from participating in any class action lawsuits against AT&T. And this is retroactive, so it applies to claims for violations that may have occurred prior to this agreement.

There has been no coverage of this yet, by any local media, but there was a story done by a Bay Area television station, which includes comments from an attorney with TURN, the consumer watchdog group. There is also information available on UCAN's website, the Utility Consumer Action Network.

One other clause in the contract, which has not been brought up in even this limited coverage, is that you are agreeing to let "unauthorized third parties" (such as the Federal Government) monitor your communications (clause 10 d).

My take on this is that having been given criminal immunity by the Congress for their role in the illegal wiretapping by the Federal Government, AT&T is using this new contract to give themselves immunity from civil liability, which would have been the only recourse left to citizens whose constitutional rights were violated by these wire taps. This is in addition to avoiding any other legal actions from their day to day business practices.

It should be no surprise that a major corporation wants such protection. What is surprising is that the California Public Utilities Commission is allowing this. Apparently their justification is that there is competition in "most" local markets for local land line phone service. Of course that is not the case in Humboldt County, where our only other options are cell phones, if you happen to get service in your area, or voice over IP, if you happen to get high speed internet service, from someone other than AT&T, such as Suddenlink Cable or a wireless internet provider such as 101 Netlink (these services will not work during a power outage).

You can contact our State Senator and Assembly Member and you should file a complaint with the CPUC*, to ask for some relief, but unless you cancel your service with AT&T by October 1st, you will have agreed to these terms.

This is one more example of what deregulation has brought us.


Sign the petition to stop the AT&T service agreement

From: TURN The Utility Reform Network

Fight back against AT&T's new service agreement:
A Get Out of Jail Free Card for AT&T

AT&T's new 18-page residential service agreement is long and confusing, says TURN. Among the items buried in the fine print: No Class-Action Lawsuits Allowed, and Government Wiretapping's OK. The agreement would force customers to give up their legal rights to receive phone service from California's dominant provider.


* in addition to clicking on the CPUC link, you can file a complaint through snail mail, phone or fax. (you can also file a complaint with the FCC):

U.S. mail to:
California Public Utilities Commission
Consumer Affairs Branch
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102-3298

Call us toll-free, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at 1-800-649-7570

Fax us at 1-415-703-1158

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

urgent email

From: Henry
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:32 PM
Subject: Money Transfer

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safegu

One more bad idea from the Bush administration

Now, according to the Bush administration, it turns out:
Who would have guessed it?


Not everyone agrees:

Allan Meltzer on the bailout

Allan H. Meltzer, Carnegie Mellon University professor of political economy and the author of several books on monetary policy and economic history, including his multi-volume A History of the Federal Reserve, was interviewed yesterday on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer and agian today on the News Hour along with Paul Krugman, who also has misgivings. In the interview Meltzer discusses the Fed's recent decision to bailout the failing insurance giant AIG, and "what the tumultuous week on Wall Street means for the country's financial health." Download the archived video at the News Hour website.

Mr. Meltzer says, at best, the government could make loans, which would have to be paid back with interest by these financial institutions, and that dividends and bonus can not be paid until the loans are paid back.

Mr. Meltzer be one of the few free market advocates who is not currently hiding under a rock.

No Bailout! Make One Call.

No Bailout! Make One Call.


Call the US Capitol. Ask to speak to your Congressman or Senator - and tell them...


Forward this email on to your friends.

George Bush is demanding a blank check.

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is demanding a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street.

And Democrats in Congress must deliver both by Friday, September 26, they say – or else.

To which Democrats should respond: No, no, no!

We gave Bush a blank check after September 11. We gave him another blank check for the war in Iraq. We’re not going to give him another one now, for Wall Street.

Let Democrats tell the President: No Blank Check and no Bailout. Unless….Unless there’s some real relief included for working Americans…And unless there are some tough new rules for Wall Street.

For starters:

* No CEO of a company we bail out should be able to make more than the President of the United States.

* No golden parachutes for executives of Lehman Brothers, Freddie, Fannie, Merrill-Lynch, or AIG.

* Homeowners about to lose their homes should get their mortgages bought down to a level they can afford.

* There must be new limits on how much interest banks can charge on credit cards.

* And a percentage of bail-out funds should go to states and cities for new construction projects and new jobs.

And that’s just for starters.

If Congress is going to bail anybody out, they must bail out all Americans – not just the crooks on Wall Street.

Forward this email to your friends!

Bill Press

The Bill Press Show airs live weekday mornings, from 6-9 AM ET. Visit us online at

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Blank Check for Wall St. ~ Sign the petition

Is this what Bush meant my an"ownership society"?
Who would have thought that it would be the Republicans who brought socialism to America? Of course they are only offering to "socialize" the risk, the profits will still be privatized. What rock have all of the libertarians and free market advocates crawled under?
These are the freest, of free market institutions, which now asking for a government handout. I don't ever want to hear about "trusting the market"again, and don't even think about putting my social security in these folks hands.


No blank check for Wall Street.

Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail
out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?

Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.

This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.

I just signed a petition calling on key members of Congress to impose a few sensible conditions to this bailout in order to protect the American people -- I hope you will too.

Click here to take action.


Richard Salzman


What Wall Street Should Do To Get Its Blank Check

By Robert Reich - September 21, 2008, 1:48PM

The frame has been set, the die cast. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, presumably representing the Bush administration but indirectly representing Wall Street, and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke, want a blank check from Congress for $700 billion or possibly a trillion dollars or more to take bad debt off Wall Street's balance sheets. Never before in the history of American capitalism has so much been asked of so many for (at least in the first instance) so few.

Put yourself in the shoes of a member of Congress, including our two presidential candidates. The Treasury Secretary and Fed Chair have told you this is necessary to save the economy. If you don't agree, you risk a meltdown of the entire global financial system. Your own constituents' savings could go down with it. An election is six weeks away. Besides, in the last two days of trading, since rumors spread that the Treasury and the Fed were planning something of this sort, stock prices revived.

Now - quick -- what do you do? You have no choice but to say yes.

But you might also set some conditions on Wall Street.

The public doesn't like a blank check. They think this whole bailout idea is nuts. They see fat cats on Wall Street who have raked in zillions for years, now extorting in effect $2,000 to $5,000 from every American family to make up for their own nonfeasance, malfeasance, greed, and just plain stupidity. Wall Street's request for a blank check comes at the same time most of the public is worried about their jobs and declining wages, and having enough money to pay for gas and food and health insurance, meet their car payments and mortgage payments, and save for their retirement and childrens' college education. And so the public is asking: Why should Wall Street get bailed out by me when I'm getting screwed?

So if you are a member of Congress, you just might be in a position to demand from Wall Street certain conditions in return for the blank check.

My five nominees:

1. The government (i.e. taxpayers) gets an equity stake in every Wall Street financial company proportional to the amount of bad debt that company shoves onto the public. So when and if Wall Street shares rise, taxpayers are rewarded for accepting so much risk.

2. Wall Street executives and directors of Wall Street firms relinquish their current stock options and this year's other forms of compensation, and agree to future compensation linked to a rolling five-year average of firm profitability. Why should taxpayers feather their already amply-feathered nests?

3. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers. Why should taxpayers finance Wall Street's outsized political power - especially when that power is being exercised to get favorable terms from taxpayers?

4. Wall Street firms agree to comply with new regulations over disclosure, capital requirements, conflicts of interest, and market manipulation. The regulations will emerge in ninety days from a bi-partisan working group, to be convened immediately. After all, inadequate regulation and lack of oversight got us into this mess.

5. Wall Street agrees to give bankruptcy judges the authority to modify the terms of primary mortgages, so homeowners have a fighting chance to keep their homes. Why should distressed homeowners lose their homes when Wall Streeters receive taxpayer money that helps them keep their fancy ones?

Wall Streeters may not like these conditions. Well, you should tell them that the public doesn't like the idea of bailing out Wall Street. So if Wall Street doesn't accept these conditions, it doesn't get the blank check.

Charges dropped in St. Paul

Charges dropped, but the damage was done and the freedom of the press was stifled.

St. Paul dropping all misdemeanor charges for journalists arrested during RNC
Charges will be dropped against journalists who were arrested and charged with misdemeanors for unlawful assembly during the Republican National Convention, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said today.
Many reporters, photographers and bloggers were among the 818 people arrested during the Sept. 1-4 convention. Many were trapped on a bridge with protesters on the Thursday night, just before Sen. John McCain made his acceptance speech. Police had warned the large group to dissipate, then closed in from both sides of the bridge and made mass arrests.
The mayor's ruling applies only to journalists getting misdemeanors, but he said that, with the proliferation of alternatative media covering the convention, the definition of journalist will be broadly applied as they try to ascertain identities and credentials. City officials said they're not sure how many people this will affect. - Joe Kimball
Here's the mayor's announcemen

Mayor Coleman Announces Policy Not to Pursue Certain Misdemeanor Charges Against Journalists
SAINT PAUL - Mayor Chris Coleman announced today that the city will decline to prosecute misdemeanor charges for presence at an unlawful assembly for journalists arrested during the Republican National Convention. He made the announcement after consultation with the city attorney’s office, which recommended the city not pursue misdemeanor prosecution of these individuals.
“This decision reflects the values we have in Saint Paul to protect and promote our First Amendment rights to freedom of the press,” Mayor Coleman said. “A journalist plays a special role in our democracy and that role is just too important to ignore. At the scene, the police did their duty in protecting public safety. In this decision, we are serving the public’s interest to maintain the integrity of our democracy, system of justice and freedom of the press.”
The decision will only affect people identified as journalists who face the misdemeanor charge. Recognizing the growing media profession in print, broadcast and the Internet, the city attorney’s office will use a broad definition and verification to identify journalists who were caught up in mass arrests during the convention. It is not known how many cases this decision will affect.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Help to free the press

From: "Josh Silver," ;

Dear Richard,

We've delivered your message and St. Paul has heard us loud and clear. Keep the momentum going.

Tell Your Friends

On Friday, we delivered your letter to St. Paul authorities, telling them that we won't stand for the intimidation and harassment of journalists.

With many of the arrested journalists at our side we delivered more than 60,000 letters (collected in less than 48 hours) demanding that St. Paul authorities drop charges against all journalists arrested during last week’s Republican National Convention.

The charges have not been dropped yet, but we are going to keep the pressure on until they are. If you have not already, please send this email to your friends and ask them to help join our call.

In the meantime, here are videos of the event filmed by the citizen journalists at

Watch the press conference at City Hall:

Watch the delivery of your letter to City Attorney John Choi:

Watch Local TV Coverage of Our Event:

"From the pre-convention raids to the ongoing harassment and arrests of journalists, these have been dark days for press freedom in the United States," said Nancy Doyle Brown of the Twin Cities Media Alliance, before she helped to deliver the Free Press letters.

"Tragically, there are stories that the world needed to hear this week that will never be told," Brown said. "They won't be told because reporters working on them were sitting in the back of squad cars, were stripped of their cameras, or were face down on the pavement with their hands cuffed behind their backs."

Many journalists still face charges. Free Press will not rest until these charges are dropped. You can help by sending more letters to St. Paul:

Tell a Friend to Take Action:

Friday's rally sent a powerful message in support of journalists and free speech and against press intimidation. You played a vital role in making this happen.

Thank you,

Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press

P.S. A generous Free Press supporter has offered a $300,000 matching grant. Help us meet this ambitious goal! Your gift today will help Free Press continue to do our work.

Take action on this important campaign at:

Tell your friends about this campaign at:

Note: Free Press is a national nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Free Press does not endorse or oppose any candidate for public office.


Free Press is a national, nonpartisan organization working to reform the media. Learn more at

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Freedom of the press no longer

This weeks episode of NOW on PBS (KEET ch 13) has a poignant interview with Amy Goodman, about St Paul Police's denying freedom of the press by arresting credentialed journalist and committing "preemptive arrests" against would be protesters.

This was the most striking 10 minutes of television of the entire week, if not my entire life.

The weeks schedule is at the bottom of this email.


Amy Goodman on her Convention Arrest

David Brancaccio talks to award-winning radio and television host Amy Goodman. Goodman was arrested while questioning police about the detention of two of her show's producers during their coverage of street demonstrations at the Republican National Convention. Goodman has called the police presence "overly aggressive." Her arrest was caught on tape and circulated around the Internet.

Goodman shares her experience with NOW and talks about freedom of the press, the role of the police, and what happens when the two intersect.

These Related Links:

I-Witness Video: Protests in St. Paul:

Los Angeles Times: Amy Goodman's Arrest:

YouTube: Footage of Goodman's Arrest:

Democracy NOW:

Now's schedule for this week's show on KEET in Humboldt is below.

Find the schedule for your area here:

Now on PBS
A report on the Republican National Convention

Saturday, September 6, 9:00 PM

Sunday, September 7, 2:00 AM

Sunday, September 7, 4:30 AM

Sunday, September 7, 4:30 AM

Sunday, September 7, 3:30 PM

Sunday, September 7, 3:30 PM

Sunday, September 7, 5:00 PM

Sunday, September 7, 9:00 PM

Monday, September 8, 1:00 AM


Friday, September 5, 2008

More arrests at RNC

"The tactic of blocking people on the bridge could very well have prevented a lot of activity later tonight. Clearly there were a number of people with no intention of being law-abiding tonight."
-- Sheriff in St. Paul


Police Arrest 200 in March on GOP Convention, Including Journalists
Friday 05 September 2008
by: Ryan J. Foley and Martiga Lohn, The Associated Press

Over 600 people were arrested over the past week in St. Paul during protests at the Republican Convention, including at least two dozen reporters. (Photo: Carlos Gonzalez / Star Tribune)
St. Paul, Minnesota - Police surrounded and arrested about 200 protesters Thursday night after a lengthy series of marches and sit-ins timed to coincide with Sen. John McCain's acceptance of the Republican Party's nomination for president.

Caught up in the clash were several reporters assigned to cover the event, including Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press. Officers ordered them to sit on the pavement on a bridge over Interstate 94 and to keep their hands over their heads as they were led away two at a time.

The arrests came three days after AP photographer Matt Rourke, also on assignment covering the protests, was arrested. He was released without being charged Monday after being held for several hours. Forliti and Krawczynski, who were among at least 19 members of the media detained, were issued citations for unlawful assembly and released.

Also see below:
"If You Are on This Bridge You Are Under Arrest" •

Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said the St. Paul police department and its police chief decided that members of the media would be issued citations and released.

Fletcher said he expected most of the charges would be for unlawful assembly.

"Whoever got arrested was whoever didn't disperse and was still on the bridge," Fletcher said. "The tactic of blocking people on the bridge could very well have prevented a lot of activity later tonight. Clearly there were a number of people with no intention of being law-abiding tonight."

The confrontation resulted in at least 200 arrests, Fletcher said. Protesters had gone ahead with a planned march near the state Capitol even though their permit had expired.

The protest began at 4 p.m. with a rally on the Capitol Mall. When marchers tried an hour later to march from the Capitol to the Xcel Energy Center, where McCain accepted his party's nomination for president, they were stopped by lines of police in gas masks and riot gear.

Police told them their permit to march expired at 5 p.m.

Marchers tried to cross two different bridges leading from the Capitol to the Republican National Convention site but were blocked by the officers backed by snow plows and other vehicles.

A cat-and-mouse game followed as protesters moved around the Capitol area, splintered, and then organized into a marching force again. The size of the crowd varied from a high of about 1,000 down to a hundred and back to around 500.

About three hours into the standoff, about 300 protesters sat down on a major thoroughfare and police closed the four-lane boulevard. Officers then set off smoke bombs and fired seven percussion grenades, causing protesters to scatter.

Some of the scattering protesters entered a residential area north of the Capitol. Later, at least three smoke bombs were discharged in the area of apartments and houses.

About two hours into the standoff, police began arresting people and police were still processing people more than three hours later.

"The important thing is even though we didn't have a permit to march, people have decided they want to keep protesting despite all these riot police," said Meredith Aby, a member of the Anti-War Committee.

Even as protesters were being arrested, the mood was much more relaxed than earlier in the week. It even turned festive at times.

More than 600 people have been arrested in the past week, most on Monday, when violence broke out at the end of another anti-war march.


Associated Press writers Amy Forliti and Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.


"If You Are on This Bridge You Are Under Arrest"
Friday 05 September 2008


by: Paul Demko, The Minnesota Independent

I was going to call it a night. After nearly three hours of observing the cat-and-mouse game between protesters and police the scene was starting to get tiresome. (Best protester chant of the night: "You're hot, you're cute, now take off you're riot suit.")

I planned to meet a friend for a drink at the Great Waters Brewing Company in downtown St. Paul. But this notion was foiled by the fact that dozens of cops in riot gear were blocking the bridge at Rice Street and John Ireland Boulevard. "There's an explosive device that the bomb squad is investigating," we were told. Other routes into downtown were also being blocked by police officers. There seemed to be no route out of the chaos.

So I headed north towards University Avenue, where the protesters appeared to be gravitating. A cloud of smoke could be scene near the Greyhound bus station. I broke into a jog through the Sears parking lot with a crowd of folks to see what was happening. Cops on bicycles were swarming all around. Soon the smoke was accompanied by percussive grenades.

As I approached the west end of the Sears building, deafening blasts began echoing all around me. A cop on a megaphone barked an order: "This is the police department. Your main method of leaving is southbound."

I retreated in a crowd towards the Marion Street bridge over I-94. Police officers in riot gear, wielding cans of mace, followed closely behind. "You're gonna get sprayed if you don't move," they stated repeatedly through their gas masks. Then more percussive grenades and smoke bombs, this time in the direction we were being directed by the cops to travel. So I turned and headed east, only to be confronted by more deafening blasts.

Eventually I ended up at the edge of the Marion Street bridge. The person directly in front of me approached an officer, explaining that he was trying to get to work. The cop's response: "Move your feet. You should have left a long time ago."

As we walked across the bridge, an officer addressed the crowd through a megaphone. "Sit down and put your hands on your head," he said. "If you are on this bridge, you are under arrest." Each end of the span was now surrounded by dozens of cops in riot gear. There were roughly (and this a highly arbitrary estimate) 400 people on the bridge.

After about fifteen minutes, the officers began searching and handcuffing everyone on the bridge. "Hands on your head," they repeatedly barked, cans of mace at the ready. A gentleman a few feet away from me - who I believe was a journalist - informed the officers that he was carrying a gun as they began to arrest him. They pulled him away from the crowd and a team of cops searched him and presumably removed the weapon.

Not long afterwards I was restrained in plasticuffs, thoroughly searched and seated on a sidewalk with other people who were being detained. My status as a journalist meant that I did not spend much time in cuffs. They segregated reporters and legal observers from the rest of the detainees. Our handcuffs were removed and we were seated on a grass median. Metro Transit buses were waiting to transport the not-so-fortunate others, presumably to the Ramsey County Jail.

Eventually I was placed in a van with eight others. We were driven across the Sears parking lot, given a citation for unlawful assembly and released. I got to keep my pair of plasticuffs as a souvenir. But the cops still have two of my pens.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

" the Constitution of the United States?"

Some of you may remember when Bobby Kennedy famously told the sheriff in Fresno that in America, you can't arrest someone just because you believe they may violate the law:

Robert Kennedy's first trip to see Chavez in Delano, California, began with a public hearing on the standoff between striking grape pickers and law enforcement, and it got his blood up. During the questioning of a sheriff who admitted to arresting strikers who looked "ready to violate the law," Kennedy shot back, "May I suggest that during the luncheon period of time that the sheriff and the district attorney read the Constitution of the United States?"

Apparently that is no longer the case:

"Any rational person planning to protest the GOP Convention would, in light of this Government spying and these police raids, think twice -- at least -- about whether to do so. That is the point of the raids -- to announce to citizens that they best stay in their homes and be good, quiet, meek, compliant people unless they want their homes to be invaded, their property seized, and have rifles pointed at them, too. The fact that this behavior is producing so little outcry only ensures, for obvious reasons, that it will continue in the future. We love our Surveillance State for keeping us safe and maintaining nice, quiet order."
From Glen Greenwald, attorney

To voice your disapproval: call the Ramsey County Sheriff's office at 651.487.5149 and the St. Paul Mayor's office at 651.266.8510.

Star Tribune columnist on arrests

Indiscriminate arrests leave behind a bad odor

By NICK COLEMAN, Star Tribune
September 3, 2008

Benjamin Franklin said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."

Well, today is Day Four of the GOP Convention. And for some Minnesotans, there is an unpleasant odor in the air - especially in the view of those swept up in Monday's arrests in St. Paul through no fault of their own.

"I didn't think it was possible in the USA that police would just 'round up the usual suspects' and pick out the guilty ones later," said Steve Wells, a Minneapolis attorney. "I'm outraged."

Wells' 17-year-old-son Daniel was arrested Monday while trying to get to the Labor Day concert on Harriet Island. He was released from jail about 4 a.m., and made it to the first day of school at Southwest High. Another 17-year-old from Eden Prairie, also arrested while trying to get to the concert, had his photo flashed around the world, identifying him as one of the anarchists attempting to disrupt the convention. But in the picture, he is wearing all white with a red cap; the actual anarchists are in black.

A Minnesota Nice myth has popped up that none of the 300 arrested are from here. Message: Don't worry about them. They're outsiders who deserved it.

Many did. They wanted to provoke police to show the strong-arm tactics they believe rule the nation. The cops behaved professionally, and with restraint, for most of the day. But in some cases, journalists, onlookers and everyone else was fair game. Even one Republican got arrested.

Sam Welna, 22, is a faithful Republican who has a degree in political science from the U of M and has worked for Republican state Sen. David Hann. He was arrested Monday on a bike path along Shepard Road while watching the protests and attempting, unsuccessfully, to obey what he said were contradictory police orders. He was still in jail at 8 p.m. last night, waiting to be released after pleading not guilty to unlawful assembly.

"We support the efforts of police to prevent personal injury and property damage," his parents, Mark and Cathy, wrote to me. "We are however appalled at the actions that have resulted in our son's loss of freedom for three days."

Welna "was caught up in what we call a 'sweep,' " says attorney Phil Villaume, who helped train protest observers how to avoid arrest. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the police should use more discretion before they make these wholesale kinds of arrests. They seem to have been trying to be intimidating."

The Welnas think the cops may have thought Sam was from out of town because he was wearing a University of Kansas T-shirt. Then again, they point out, "most attending the Republican convention this week are from out of town."

Watch out, Republican delegates.

Meanwhile, in the strangely surreal city that resembles St. Paul but has lost much of that town's fabled charm, the GOP's pistol-packin' mama, Sarah Palin, rocked the house last night at the Xcel Energy Center. Tonight, it is John McCain's turn. Then, our ripening guests will leave -- delegates, protesters, out-of-town cops, media.

Maybe that will clear the air. • 612-673-4400


St. Paul Star Tribune on police response

Officials defend response as "measured"; critics say police were "spoiling for a fight."

By RANDY FURST and ANTHONY LONETREE, Star Tribune staff writers
Last update: September 3, 2008 - 11:29 PM

As the city of St. Paul heads into one last day of convention hoopla -- and one final day of protests -- state civil liberties leaders have accused St. Paul police of making many improper arrests and in some cases, provoking more problems.

"I think some of the police on the street have been very aggressive physically," said Charles Samuelson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota. "The phrase is 'spoiling for a fight.'"

But Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner did not think police were overzealous. "I see a pattern of trying to respond in a measured way," she said.

The dispute over how police handled the protests will likely be played out in Ramsey County District Court over many months. Of 71 felony cases brought by the police this week to the county attorney's office, 27 cases, or 38 percent, have been dismissed outright.

With about 300 local arrests so far, St. Paul has already doubled the 154 arrests in Denver during the Democratic National Convention.

"Nobody was charged with felony riot," said Sonny Jackson, a Denver police spokesman. Demonstration crowds were also considerably smaller in Denver.

Many arrests involved individuals or small groups, but there also were two instances Monday where groups of 40 to 80 people were arrested. It was likely during those incidents that bystanders may have gotten caught in the middle. Some of those were journalists and students.

'Look at the footage'

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman defended police officers in a Wednesday interview.

"We have for a year watched people who made very clear that they were coming to the city of St. Paul to commit criminal activity," Coleman said.

"What I have said from the beginning is that if you come to pick up a sign to exercise your constitutional rights, you'd be welcome, and we saw that. We had 10,000 people who successfully and peacefully marched on Monday."

Coleman said he watched police "in the face of taunts and swearing and spitting, stood there, very, very reserved ... They didn't react to that."

Said St. Paul police commander Doug Holtz: "We're telling the citizens of St. Paul: 'You look at the footage, you look at the actions of these criminals, and you tell me as a citizen that these actions were lawful and that the police didn't act appropriately.'"

Asked about concerns that people might take away the wrong image of St. Paul, St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington acknowledged that numerous residents have told him "this is a different side of St. Paul than they would have liked to have seen."

Five St. Paul City Council members issued a statement Wednesday: "We urge everyone to keep in mind that most of us have only heard fragments of stories about the events of the past few days. Sometimes these fragments, taken out of their context, make it seem that law enforcement has overstepped or overreacted. We regret that some peaceful demonstrators got caught in the middle of criminal actions and law enforcement trying to stop this activity."

Lawsuit possible

Shamako Noble, president of the Hip Hop Congress in San Jose and a member of the group that organized the peaceful Poor People's March on Tuesday that included about 2,000 people, noted that hundreds of officers in riot gear lined the streets as they marched.

He said their demeanor, with tear-gas guns at the ready, seemed to escalate the situation rather than calm it. He noted that marshals from his own group successfully policed their march, getting protesters who shouted at police to keep moving.

While not approving lawlessness, Teresa Nelson, ACLU's counsel, said there was a "good possibility" her group will file a civil rights lawsuit for wrongful arrests "similar to what happened in New York" in 2004, where people were swept up and arrested without proper cause. New York has paid out $2 million in damages. She decried the arrest of what she said were at least eight journalists "swept up" by police while they covered street confrontations.

Another test?

The reaction of police may be tested again today when the Anti-War Committee, a local group, will march to the Xcel Energy Center where U.S. Sen. John McCain will speak tonight, accepting the Republican nomination. The committee, which has a history of civil disobedience, may be planning more of the same.

By far the most dramatic arrests involve eight people connected with the anarchist RNC Welcoming Committee, seven of whom were arrested in raids before the convention began and are now charged with conspiracy to riot.

A litany of accusations from undercover police and informants is detailed in an 18-page search warrant. The group allegedly planned to build bleach and gasoline bombs, disable vehicles, lob feces and urine at police, and blockade streets, bridges and freeways to keep delegates from the convention, among other things.

Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild, one of the attorneys representing the eight in the initial phase, called it, "overcharging what at most was an expressed intention to block traffic. My concern is they are going to convict people for their political beliefs."

Randy Furst • 612-673-7382 Anthony Lonetree • 651-298-1545