Academy Awards

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Academy Awards

This Sunday is the Academy Awards
Which will be seen by the hordes

But a film that wasn’t nominated
Shows how we’ve been dominated
By those who’ve ruled, plundered and oppressed
Highjacking those for democracy who have pressed

Those of the wrong gender, ethnicity and race
Have never had in this nation an authentic democratic place

The film also shows how rights for corporations & big money
Are as legit as the Easter Bunny (apologies to the EB)
This entire system of oppression, dollarocracy and corporatocracy
Is documented in the short film, “Legalize Democracy”

 

Cleveland Heights declares corporations are not people

By Robert Nozar, Northeast Ohio Media Group 
on January 24, 2014
http://www.cleveland.com/cleveland-heights/index.ssf/2014/01/cleveland_heights_declares_cor.html

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Red lapel pins were the jewelry choice of the night as about half of 40 residents in attendance at a special public hearing Thursday in Cleveland Heights City Hall wore buttons proclaiming “Amend It Now.”

The meeting was a requirement of the vote last November in which more than 75 percent of Cleveland Heights voters gave their OK to an initiative that asks elected representatives in Washington and eventually Columbus to push for a constitutional amendment that overturns a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling saying that corporations have the same rights as human beings and the use of money in political campaigns constitutes free speech.

Those attending sans buttons wore their figurative emotions on their sleeves Together the group took turns taking jabs at corporations — mostly banks, pharmaceutical companies and others whose corporate policies are perceived to hurt poorer people and enhance the lifestyles of the wealthy. The council chambers were full despite slippery roads brought on by a persistent snowstorm that lasted the entire afternoon and into the evening.

Even members of Cleveland Heights City Council did not escape unscathed. Cummings Road resident Garry Kanter took to task Councilman Jason Stein because nearly half the money he raised in his most recent campaign ($5,500 of $11,373) came from two sources, both of which are in Beachwood and related to a corporation called Safeguard.

Mayor Dennis Wilcox eventually cut off Kanter, one of only two residents who exceeded the five-minute speaking time limit, and Stein made no comments in response. There were about 20 residents who spoke.

Greg Coleridge, who has been a leader of the effort that eventually got the issue on the November 2013 ballot, told council the rights granted by the nation’s founders –specifically free speech, but other rights too — were intended only “for us, human beings,” not corporations

David Berenson, a resident of Silsby Road, said discussion such as the one held Wednesday night should take place more than once a year.

“There is way too much corporate influence,” Berenson said. “It’s insane to consider corporations people.

He reserved much of his attack for the gun industry and said there are “way too many guns” available, particularly in inner cities and for poorer people.

Berenson said the strength of health care insurers, because of their political contributions, makes them comfortable denying claims “even though they should be” covered.

“Concern for profits is ruining people’s lives,” Berenson said.

Only one speaker took a somewhat contrary stance.

Dick Secor, of Rumson Road, cautioned against any attempt to make all corporations “evil.” He also said he has a personal concern about amending the U.S. Constitution.

“I do not want to do away with corporations, unions and the like, but I want my small contributions to political campaigns to count for something. I want my voice to get across to the people.”

He closed by saying money should not be equated to free speech.

Some expressed high hopes that a constitutional amendment, if eventually passed, would cause limits for corporations in addition to what they could spend on political campaigns. Some of those expectations are not necessarily apparent in the issue that was passed by voters.

Carla Rautenberg, of Berkshire Road, said it will make it possible for local communities to limit the number of chain stores and the types of stores that come into a community.
“It will give us the right to override zoning laws,” Rautenberg said. “We’ll be able to limit money spent of campaigns and limit election seasons. We can revoke corporate charters by initiative.

“Constitutional rights are for people. Democracy is not something we have, it is something we do.”

“We The People” Day Forum Attracts Standing Room Only Crowd

by trudy hutchinson
http://lakewoodobserver.com/read/2014/02/18/we-the-people-day-forum-attracts-standing-room-only-crowd

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A standing-room-only crowd of more than 60 people filled Mahall’s Twenty Lanes on February 1 to celebrate “We The People” Day in Lakewood and to question prominent elected officials about money in politics. The public forum was sponsored by the Lakewood Move To Amend Committee and featured Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, State Representative Nickie Antonio and At-Large Lakewood City Council Member Tom Bullock.

In her prepared remarks, Congresswoman Kaptur reflected on the shift of power from a democracy that serves the people to a plutocracy where those with the most money have the most influence. Congresswoman Kaptur described “a critical moment” for the United States when the American people are beginning to lose faith in public institutions because of the way politics is being conducted. She urged people to “take back our democracy.” She said, “you are about saving this republic…I think it is that important!” Kaptur called on Ohioans to be smarter and more patriotic than other sections of the country by demanding campaign finance reform.

State Representative Nickie Antonio, who serves House District 13, called the discussion of money in politics, “thoughtful and troubling.” She said that it is difficult to find democracy in the face of gerrymandered districts, anonymous money and voter suppression.

The panel of speakers was introduced by Greg Coleridge of the American Friends Service Committee who detailed the gradual encroachment into the democratic process by non-human entities who have gained never-intended personal liberties guaranteed to people by the US Constitution. Coleridge outlined the nationwide Move To Amend campaign that seeks a constitutional amendment that declares that:
A) Only human beings, not corporations, are legal persons with constitutional rights
B) Money is not equivalent to speech and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting political speech.

The Lakewood Move To Amend campaign is a citizen initiative that calls on Lakewood City Council to pass an ordinance that supports the constitutional amendment. Lakewood City Council Member Tom Bullock observed that, “one of the most democratic (small “d”) things that we can do is to initiate a petition to propose a law.” Bullock told the group that he supports the Move to Amend campaign and its goal to reform the current campaign finance system that converts financial advantage into political influence.

Lakewood resident Jane Hall attended “We The People” Day and said that, although she did not feel there was enough time for questions from the audience, she was inspired by the speakers’ remarks and thought their ideas could result in, “making the democracy do what it is intended to do.”

Maureen Dostal said that she learned things at the forum, especially about how the current system does not reward the best and the brightest and how money in politics is hurting our democracy. Dostal compared the goal of the constitutional amendment to other social movements and observed that all such movements had seemed like a lofty goal. She urged people not to be apathetic.
Newly appointed City Council Member Sam O’Leary described the forum as an informative community conversation that gave citizens a comprehensive look at the issue.

All of these individuals agreed with Sam O’Leary that, “This is not a partisan issue. It affects all people in a profound way.”
After the program, the group adjourned to enjoy a skyscraper cake, baked by the Root Cafe, that was frosted with the message “Let’s Cut Corporations Down To Size.”

A follow-up meeting for the Lakewood Move To Amend petition campaign will be held on Feburary 22 at 10:30 am at Panera in Lakewood.

Inequality for All film showing

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From Gongwer News Service, www.gongwer-oh.com, February 12, 2014.

Income Inequality: Policy Matters Ohio, Common Cause Ohio, ProgressOhio, American Friends Service Committee and Ohio AFL-CIO called on Ohioans Wednesday to take action to address income inequality in the country.

The groups hosted a screening and panel discussion on the documentary Inequality For All, which was made in partnership with various groups and labor organizations. It features former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who argues that urgent action is needed to address this issue.
Kalitha Williams, of Policy Matters Ohio, stressed that “now is the time for Ohio’s policy and advocacy community to have this discussion.”

She added that the growing income gap requires individuals to “get involved and take new action.”

“The growing inequality documented in this film is not only harmful to our economy but lethal to what remains of our democracy,” Greg Coleridge, of American Friends Service Committee, said in a release. “Fewer people gaining greater wealth translates into more massive political contributions, which drowns out the political voices of the majority of people.”

Oil Profits due to Oily Political Investments

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Oil Profits due to Oily Political Investments

The big 5 oil corporations…
-Earned $93 billion in profits in 2013
-Paid their CEOs $95.8 million in compensation in 2012 (2013 figures weren’t available)
-Received $2.4 billion in tax breaks in 2013
-Want $14.4 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years
-Spent $45 million on lobbying in 2013 (every $1 spent on lobbying helped the companies protect $53 of their tax breaks — a pretty nice rate of return)

Source http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2014/02/10/83879/with-only-93-billion-in-profits-the-big-five-oil-companies-demand-to-keep-tax-breaks/

Call this Exhibit # 231,047 on how corporations pollute our politics due to never-intended constitutional rights — and why we need to abolish corporate personhood and money as speech ala the Move to Amend constitutional amendment

Coalition Condemns Congressional Decisions on Food Stamps & Unemployment Insurance

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, February 9, 2014

Contacts: Harriet Applegate, 216-534-4640 / Greg Coleridge, 216-255-2184

COALITION CONDEMNS CONGRESSIONAL DECISIONS ON FOOD STAMPS AND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
Labor-Community Group Calls for Restoration of Food Stamp Cuts and Extension of Unemployment Insurance

[Cleveland, OH] The No Cuts Coalition, a Greater Cleveland group composed of labor and community organizations and individuals, condemned Congressional action to cut $8.6 billion from the federal Food Stamp program and Congressional inaction to extend federal unemployment insurance. It calls for restoration of the latest food stamp cuts (and $5 billion cut to the program last November) as well as the passage of the extension of unemployment insurance benefits.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as Food Stamps, is part of the larger Farm Bill passed by Congress last week and signed by President Obama on Friday. Congress failed to extend unemployment insurance in late December and has been unable several times since to provide basic assistance to people who’ve lost their jobs.

SNAP meets the basic food and nutritional needs of an ever-growing number of people who are unemployed (officially and unofficially) and underemployed, now augmented by those individuals and their families who have recently lost their unemployment insurance. The food stamp program also serves seniors, children and disabled citizens.

The new food stamp cuts will harm 850,000 American households, about 1.7 million people who will lose an average of $90 per month. The average monthly household income of the 47 million people enrolled in the food assistance program is $744. The $8.6 billion cuts to the hungry represent more than 50% of the massive farm bill’s entire savings of $17 billion over the next decade.

While the farm bill ended the $5 billion annual subsidies to farmers who currently receive cash payments whether they grow crops or not, agricultural corporations will continue to receive billions in subsidies.

Agribusiness – multi-national corporations like Archer Daniels Midland – insurance companies and corporate farmers will be major beneficiaries of expanded crop insurance subsidies. Eighteen insurance companies are currently paid $1.4 billion annually by the government to sell insurance policies to farmers. Calculations by Vincent Smith, Professor of Agricultural Economics at Montana State University found that between 2005 and 2009 for every dollar in crop insurance that went to farmers, $1.44 went to insurance corporations.

“It is only a slight exaggeration to say that this legislative grotesquerie gives to the rich and takes from the poor,” the Washington Post editorial board stated in an editorial this week, which had called on the president to veto the farm bill. The editorial referenced the stark inequity in stabilizing corporate welfare for agricultural interests while decreasing benefits for the hungry.

Agribusiness and crop insurance interests spent $95.3 million lobbying Congress and various federal agencies in 2013 – more than $261,000 per day! The ten top targeted members by agricultural corporations in the House (nine Republicans and one Democrat) received an average of $225,000 in political contributions during 2013, according to Open Secrets, which tracks donations. It’s a safe bet that food stamp recipients contributed nothing to key elected officials during the same period.

Meanwhile, 1.7 million people have had their unemployment support cut off since the program expired on December 28. This affects about 2.3 million children. Congress has failed three times to extend the program, the latest this past week as Republicans again claimed the program adds to the deficit and deters recipients from finding work. Alternatives to pay for the program that would not raise the deficit have been offered to no avail. As to the myth of unemployment benefits deterring recipients from working, there are currently three unemployed people for every job opening!

“While the farm bill could certainly have been worse for food stamp recipients, it could have been much better,” said Harriet Applegate of the No Cuts Coalition. “While most Republicans wanted to slash food stamps by $40 billion over $10 years and hand out even more billions to corporate interests, too many Democrats too easily accepted the onerous provisions of the final bill described above. It is time to stop taking from the poor and giving to the rich. With more than a million people losing their unemployment insurance, there is increased demand for Food Stamps, not to mention increased pressure on food pantries and other social service providers.”

“This vote demonstrates yet again the disproportionate influence of corporate interests over human interests among our federal elected officials,” said Greg Coleridge of the No Cuts Coalition. “It also demonstrates the essential need to educate and organize to create a grassroots voice and force to counter the massive power of money and corporations to shape our laws and influence our lawmakers.”

The No Cuts Coalition is planning a “March March” in Cleveland to demand a restoration of cuts to food stamps and extending unemployment insurance. Its purpose is to create an ongoing independent, bottom-up voice to respond and resist to the growing inequality resulting from cuts to essential safety net programs.

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Banking on Never-Ending Power and Rights

By Greg Coleridge

“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”        – Henry Ford

Banking and other financial corporations (hereafter referred to simply as banking corporations) are unlike any other subset of corporate entities. Their uniqueness has to do with their one-of-a-kind “product” — money.

The fact that individuals (poor to rich), businesses (small to big) and governments (local to national) all require money to function means banking corporations occupy prominent places in our national economic and democratic spaces. Given the increasing omnipotence of money in determining who gets elected, what political voices get heard, when laws get passed, where programs get funded and how regulations are enacted and implemented, understanding the role of banking corporations in the creation and circulation of our nation’s money and in their lock-down control of our “monetary system” is essential to (re)gain political and economic self-governance.

The political influence of banking corporations has increased over the last several decades as the economy has shifted from producing real goods and services to creating, packaging, buying and/or selling ever more diverse, complex, risky and outlandish loans, insurances and other financial “products.” Money from banks that formerly were loaned to companies that produced needed consumer products remain heavily invested in options, futures and other financial “instruments” (i.e. money invested in money) that yield greater profits, despite such products and instruments being responsible for the 2008 financial implosion.

This “financialization” of our economy increases profits and wealth of the finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE) sector and makes our nation more economically dependent on that sector to drive economic growth. Increased profits, wealth and economic dependency have also increased their political power and influence — guaranteeing further profits, wealth and dependency. A vicious cycle increasing both the financial and political power of banking corporations rages on with no end in sight.

Rest of article at http://poclad.org/BWA/2014/BWA_2014_Feb.html