Let's Name the Bankers and Make Them Famous

John McCain said during the campaign that he would stop wasteful spending in government by naming names and making people famous. Well, that's a pretty good idea. So, we've adopted it (call us bipartisan). Except we're going to apply it to the bankers who took our money.

Last week we led a protest at the Treasury Department to demand that they get our $13 billion back from Goldman Sachs for the AIG backdoor bailout (read about the reason for the protest here).

On the same day, a Congressional report came out saying basically that we were exactly right. The Congressional watchdogs said that not only should Goldman not have gotten paid a hundred percent of their bets by the American taxpayer but that doing so " undermin[ed] the basic tenets of capitalism" and had a "poisonous effect on the marketplace."

People came from all over the country to this protest. Someone took a 24 hour bus ride from Minnesota to join us at the protest. Others flew in from Wisconsin and Illinois. Someone also took a train from Minnesota (maybe Al Franken is energizing the state to get them so active). People drove in from Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, etc. Somebody even came in from Switzerland.

Sam Seder, RJ Eskow, Michael Shure and I all spoke at the event. We had great media coverage, fromMSNBC to Voice of America to Russia Today to the conservative website Townhall. Strong progressive organizations like Campaign for America's Future, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America all chipped in.

We had a great time and delivered a message. We also delivered a petition with over 5,000 signatures on it. Now, that petition is up to 6,000 signatures. You can add your own name to it here.

But it's time to take it to the next step. The DC protest was just the beginning. Now, we've started a wiki protest. We want your contributions, ideas and actions in getting the money back. People have already started to put up the names and pictures of all the people who work at Goldman Sachs on the website. We also have many of the addresses for their offices. But we need more info. Please help us build this wiki protest by going to this link and taking part.

In its first year, Wikipedia was actually run by experts in different fields. The scholars put up a grand total of 12 articles that year. When they opened it up to everyone to contribute, they had the world's largest encyclopedia by the end of the next year. We hope we can do the same here with our wiki protest. I am sure that all of you will come up with better ideas and more effective actions than we could on our own. This way we just might get our money back.

We just have one cardinal rule - nothing physical under any circumstances. We want to ask these people to give our money back but in a very civil and polite way. Anything else is unacceptable. Please go to their offices but don't go to their homes. No yelling, no crazy confrontations, just politely ask them to return the money.

Remember, they're real people, too. They're not some evil comic book character. They're simply acting on normal human instincts. There was great money to be made by duping our government and they took advantage. In fact, they were pretty smart to do it. It's not personal. We just want the money back and that's it.

One of my high school friends works at Goldman. He's a good guy but I put his name on the list. Why? It's not because I don't like him. It's because he made a smart bet with AIG, not with me or you. We had no business paying off that bet. That's not capitalism; that's not fair. As soon as we reverse that, then there is no further issue with Goldman. I don't dislike them; I just don't want to pay their bets with our money.

Lastly, remember what Tim Geithner said at the time and continues to say to this day. He said that if we hadn't paid Goldman and the other banks for the side bets they made with AIG that the whole world economy would have collapsed. Well, luckily we're not on the edge of disaster anymore. Goldman made $25 million a day - every day - last quarter. And that was the bare minimum. They made more than $100 million 60% of those days. They're not on the brink of extinction anymore. In fact, they're making record profits. That's a perfect time for them to return the American taxpayers' money.

This has to be an issue conservatives and liberals can agree on. So, everyone please join our wiki protestand let's figure out how to get that money back to its rightful owners - the American taxpayers.

Join Wiki Protest Here

Sign Goldman Petition Here

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Reform vs. Enforcement- Game on!

From the Restore Fairness blog.

Since they began their epic journey at the beginning of the year from Miami to DC to fight for a path for citizenship for undocumented youth, the Trail of Dreams students have continuously inspired us with their unwavering courage and determination. After they delivered their demands for the DREAM Act to President Obama, they walked from Scottsdale to Phoenix last week for the National Day of Action to protest Arizona’s new draconian, anti-immigrant law that authorizes local police with immigration powers. On the way back home, they made a pit-stop in Maricopa County where they met with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for his “reign of terror” against immigrants in Arizona. In their letter requesting a meeting with the Sheriff, the Dreamers wrote-

We would like to discuss the enforcement measures in your county…We also come to show support for the proud immigrants of the Phoenix area, many of whom live in constant fear of harassment by members of your Sheriff’s Department. We want to share our stories so that you understand what it’s like for the millions of immigrants in this country who are unable to fully participate in society due to our broken immigration system.

Three of the the five students are undocumented and Sheriff Arpaio has made no bones about arresting undocumented people in the past, but the students were determined to confront him with their personal stories and ask him to become their ally in the fight for immigration reform. Sheriff Arpaio recently told reporters during a press conference that “Instead of taking them [the undocumented] to ICE, take ‘em to me. I have plenty of room in the tents.” While a complete change of heart for Arpaio might be a little far-fetched, his 45-minute meeting with the Dreamers was reasonably friendly, down to a hug between Sheriff Joe and Gaby Pacheco, one of the students. When asked why she would want to hug a man who has criminalized and persecuted so many immigrants, Gaby said-

I hugged him because I wanted him to feel the pain that our community has been feeling. But also to tell him that as a human being I don’t fear him. I told him with tears coming down that in his heart he has good, and that he has the ability to come back, you know. He was astray and doing these horrible things to our community, but he has the power in his heart to come back and fight with us against these unjust laws.

Probably aware that being too hostile to the students would lead to a massive media frenzy, the Maricopa C0unty Sheriff told the students (with the press present at the meeting) that while he is compassionate towards the plight of undocumented immigrants, he had to continue to do justice to his job of enforcing the immigration laws as they appear in the law books. The student activists told the Sheriff that they had been brought to the United States as children, had contributed to society and the country, and would not know what to do if deported back to the countries in which they were born. After sharing his own stories about living in Venezuela and Colombia during his time with Drug Enforcement, Sheriff Arpaio told the students that their demand for immigration reform would have to begin at a federal level. He left them with the  words, “You keep fighting the fight, make sure you get to D.C. and talk to the politicians.”

Taking Sheriff Arpaio’s cue, activists in New York City have been fasting to push Congress for immigration reform. On Tuesday, ten undocumented students began a hunger strike on the sidewalk outside Sen. Charles Schumer’s midtown Manhattan office to urge him to pass the DREAM Act. When asked how long they intended to continue, the group’s spokesperson, Gabriel Martinez who recently graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said they would stick it out on their blankets outside Schumer’s office “as long as we can hold.” In addition to the students, 40 activists, including New York politicians and clergy, met at Battery Park to initiate a 3-day fast for comprehensive immigration reform yesterday. Most of these fasters intend to spend the remainder of the strike at the Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. In New York itself, in the past three weeks, 109 activists have been arrested for blocking traffic in front of the government immigration agencies in downtown Manhattan.

These are the latest in a long series of protests, rallies, marches and boycotts that have been taking place across the country. Spurred on by Arizona’s controversial, anti-immigrant law, immigration advocates and activists have been expressing their frustration over the inaction of the Obama administration and Congress over the issue of immigration reform. Meanwhile, Gov. Brewer, who is responsible for signing off on Arizona’s new law, SB1070, was scheduled to meet with President Obama today. Gov. Brewer requested the meeting to speak to the President about her frustration with the lack of federal action in securing the border. Recently, the same Governor told CNN that she was unconcerned about the possibility of the Department of Justice putting up a legal challenge to the new law. “We’ll meet you in court. I have a pretty good record of winning in court,” she said.

Let’s hope the White house stands its ground. Stay tuned!

Photo courtesy of twitter.com/izofice

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

Despite scorching heat, tens of thousands march for justice against SB1070

From the Restore Fairness blog.

 

On Saturday, May 29th, while the hot Arizona sun seared with temperatures in the high 90s, Phoenix saw the largest demonstration against SB1070 since Gov. Brewer signed the controversial bill into law on April 23rd. Ten of thousands of protesters marched down a five mile stretch in central Phoenix, wearing white shirts, waving American flags, chanting, singing, beating drums and carrying umbrellas to shield them from the unrelenting sun.

The diverse crowd of marchers who had flown in from states as far as Rhode Island and Louisiana, as well as Wisconsin, Texas, Illinois, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego, made do with whatever sleeping arrangements they could find. Justin Akers Chacon, for example, a college professor from San Diego who, with 100 other people, reached Phoenix on Friday night, slept on sleeping bags provided by the organizers at a warehouse in downtown Phoenix. “There is a seriousness and confidence that we’re all here for the right reasons,” he said.

Just before 10am on Saturday morning, the marchers set off from Steele Indian School Park, with the first group of protesters reaching the Capitol at 12. 30pm. Along the way, organizers handed out bottles of water while people chanted and held up signs that read “We are not criminals, we are humans,”"Si Se Puede,”"Heroes against racism,”"We are all Arizona,”"Legalization or no re-election,” and the ubiquitous “Do I look Illegal.”While a number of people took breaks along the way to get some shelter from the heat, there were no arrests or untoward encounters with the police. Although police declined to give an official estimate of the size of the march, organizer’s estimates ranged from 50,000 to a 100,000 people.

A Los Angeles Times article covering the May 29th National Day of Action mentions the diversity of the crowd of protesters that included families and people of all ages. 68 year old Dennis DuVall, a retired bus driver, drove 100 miles from Prescott, Arizona to be there and show his support. He said-

It’s my civic duty. It shows commitment. People are willing to come out and walk five miles in 100 degrees. It’s important.

The Baez family, including Juan and Guadalupe Baez, their six children between age 2 and 18, and Guadalupe’s mother had driven down from San Diego the previous night. They all wore T-shirts that said-

We are hard workers, not criminals! We believe in USA justice. Arizona’s SB 1070 is not justice.

At the rally, Rev. Warren Stewart of the First Institutional Baptist Church in Phoenix called upon President Obama saying, “”God put you in the White House. You are a person of color. Stand with us.” Echoing the basic asks that Alto Arizona had listed before the National Day of Action, most of the speeches at the rally were directed at President Obama, demanding that he reassert the Federal Government’s control over immigration law by revoking all partnerships between local law enforcement and ICE, and put an immediate end to Arizona’s law, SB1070, which effectively makes it a crime to be undocumented, and, by allowing police to question anyone who looks “reasonably suspicious” of being undocumented, effectively mandates racial profiling.

While the thousands of opponents of the harsh new law marched down Phoenix’s avenues in the height of the day’s heat, those in favor of the law waited till the sun had gone down to hold a smaller rally at a stadium in the suburbs. Predictably, this crowd was mostly middle-aged and white, holding signs saying “Illegals out of America,” while speakers repeatedly insisted that there was nothing racist about their rhetoric. This rally had been organized by Tea Party groups from St. Louis and Dallas who aimed to support the state against boycotts protesting the law by states like San Francisco and Seattle.

As it stands, the law is slated to come into effect on July 29th, unless it is overturned in the courts before that. At the moment, the state is expecting a possible litigation from the United States Justice Department, which, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, is considering challenging the law on the grounds that it has “pre-empted” Federal powers, and violated Federal civil rights statutes. In preparation for this, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has made it very clear that she does not want Arizona attorney general, Terry Goddard (who is a Democrat that has expressed his opposition to SB1070) to be defending the state in the event of the lawsuit from the Justice Department. She has made her decision to remove the attorney general from this case, and said that the legislature has given her the power to use outside counsel “because of its lack of confidence in the Attorney General’s willingness to vigorously defend” the law. Terry Goddard, who is a possible challenger in Gov. Brewer’s bid for re-election, told the New York Times that he was “definitely defending the state” in any legal challenges to the law.

We can only hope that the commitment and determination of all the students, workers, families and activists who showed up to protest the draconian SB1070, pays off, and that by channeling all our frustration and anger at the inhumanity of this law, the events on May 29th are translated into direct action against the implementation of such a harsh measure.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

"The People Speak": A Much-Needed Lesson in Hope and Change for a Nation's People

How to pare down a 752-page book into a 2-hour cable television event must have been a challenge for the producers of The People Speak, but those behind The People Speak succeed beautifully in presenting a tableau of Zinn's revolutionary piece of nonfiction.

Celebrity personalities come together and read lyrics, prose, and literature that, for the most part, is ignored by the American population especially the nation's leaders.

Each of the readings come from The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, a book that has sold over 2 million copies.

The special television event lays out concisely how what freedom and democracy people of this nation enjoy is enjoyed because people in history had the courage and moral fortitude to struggle, to be troublemakers and act out because they believed they should stand for a world that ought to be and not simply a world rife with injustice and inequality.

Harris Yulin reads a Columbus Sun Editorial, "The Class That Suffers," which holds an extreme amount of poignancy and relevance when you consider the current growing economic injustice in America. [Text to be posted if I can find it on the Internet.]

The reading that Rosario Dawson gives of the "Women's Declaration of Independence" and the exchange that occurs between Christina Kirk and Josh Brolin who portray a court scene between Susan B. Anthony and Judge Hunt remind us of how far women have come in this nation yet compel us to not forget that women's reproductive rights regularly become bargaining chips in legislative reform battles in this nation.


[JOSH BROLIN as JUDGE HUNT]: The sentence of the Court is that you pay a fine of one hundred dollars and the costs of the prosecution.



[CHRISTINA KIRK as SUSAN B. ANTHONY]: May it please your honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock in trade I possess is a debt of $10,000, incurred by publishing my paper "The Revolution" the sole object of which was to educate all women to do precisely as I have done, rebel against your man-made, unjust, unconstitutional forms of law, which tax, fine, imprison and hang women, while denying them the right of representation in the government; and I will work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, "Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God."

Viggo Mortensen brought an anti-war perspective of an International Workers of the World (IWW) member to life:

[VIGGO MORTENSEN as IWW MEMBER] If you were a bum without a blanket; if you had left your wife and kids when you went west for a job, and had never located them since; if your job had never kept you long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if you slept in a lousy, sour bunkhouse, and ate food just as rotten as they could give you and get by with it; if deputy sheriffs shot your cooking cans full of holes and spilled your grub on the ground; if your wages were lowered on you when the bosses thought they had you down; if every person who represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to it, how in the hell do you expect a man to be patriotic? This war is a business man's war and we don't see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs which we now enjoy.

Each element of The People Speak is a reminder of (or for some Americans, an introduction to) how government has only ever been moved to act by the actions of organized citizens. Pure sentiments or feelings or public opinion has rarely translated into any kind of meaningful change.

Out of all that is read, perhaps, the people's reading that may hold the most significance in these times is Langston Hughes' "Ballad of Roosevelt" written in November of 1934. Read the words of this poem or view Danny Glover reading them:

"Ballad of Roosevelt"

Striking and rebellion all over this country is what eventually forced Roosevelt to pass the New Deal, which so many Democrats now celebrate. Plug in Obama for Roosevelt and you will start to wonder how many households are telling their loved ones they are tired of waitin' on Obama.

You will wonder how much longer people will ask, "What's the matter?" before they get organized and act to fight injustice, claim dignity, and further emancipate humanity.

Some of the celebrity personalities who supported Obama's election lent their support to the creation of The People Speak. For example, Bruce Springsteen sang, "This Land is Your Land" during the special, a song that was sung at Obama's Inaugural Celebration earlier this year by musicians like Pete Seeger.

Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, John Legend, Bob Dylan, and others involved no doubt voiced support for Obama at some point in the last couple of years (which leads one to wonder if any of them asked the president to watch this special event Sunday night).

There's a level of discord occurring when actors and musicians read the words of heroes in the people's history of America after they have voted for a president to bring the American people change, something past presidents historically have fought to prevent from happening for the people when president.

Viewing The People Speak, one might realize the arguments and differences we have over who will be a good or bad leader, the different conceptions of what one can and cannot do as a leader in government, and the different ideas on how the people can benefit from and share in the power these leaders may enjoy in government upon being elected to office prevent us from the real organizing that has led to real action and real social movements for better laws, policies and programs in America.

One realizes the people of this country do not need the leader of this nation to be on their side to rule. The president does not need the consent of the governed to defend this nation's ruling class' interests at the expense of lower classes.

And, the president will take little note of public opinion as he works to control public unrest in times of economic strife and civic arousal.

The people have no interest in being a part of the decision-making process that leads to more brutalizing and maiming of civilians in Afghanistan, that sends tens of thousands more troops to countries in the Middle East to kill and be killed physically or psychologically, that defends the right of health insurance companies to sell a flawed product to consumers, that will bail out banks before bailing out people facing home foreclosure crises, economic rape from credit card companies, or joblessness on an obscene scale, that fights meaningful action to halt global warming and restore and protect Mother Earth in the face of corporate domination and exploitation, etc.

The People Speak shows the people have an interest in food, shelter, health, education, a job with a decent income, family, community, and all other things are things people have been duped into believing they want or need in the consumer society we live in or the empire we live under.

Hopefully, the wider audience that saw Zinn for the first time takes note and begins to confront themselves and their role in this country. It is us who hold the answers and power to our future. Whatever future we get has always been up to us, and that's how it always will be.

See video of Zinn's appearance on Bill Moyers (w/ transcript)

There's more...

"The People Speak": A Much-Needed Lesson in Hope and Change for a Nation's People

How to pare down a 752-page book into a 2-hour cable television event must have been a challenge for the producers of The People Speak, but those behind The People Speak succeed beautifully in presenting a tableau of Zinn's revolutionary piece of nonfiction.

Celebrity personalities come together and read lyrics, prose, and literature that, for the most part, is ignored by the American population especially the nation's leaders.

Each of the readings come from The People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, a book that has sold over 2 million copies.

The special television event lays out concisely how what freedom and democracy people of this nation enjoy is enjoyed because people in history had the courage and moral fortitude to struggle, to be troublemakers and act out because they believed they should stand for a world that ought to be and not simply a world rife with injustice and inequality.

Harris Yulin reads a Columbus Sun Editorial, "The Class That Suffers," which holds an extreme amount of poignancy and relevance when you consider the current growing economic injustice in America. [Text to be posted if I can find it on the Internet.]

The reading that Rosario Dawson gives of the "Women's Declaration of Independence" and the exchange that occurs between Christina Kirk and Josh Brolin who portray a court scene between Susan B. Anthony and Judge Hunt remind us of how far women have come in this nation yet compel us to not forget that women's reproductive rights regularly become bargaining chips in legislative reform battles in this nation.


[JOSH BROLIN as JUDGE HUNT]: The sentence of the Court is that you pay a fine of one hundred dollars and the costs of the prosecution.



[CHRISTINA KIRK as SUSAN B. ANTHONY]: May it please your honor, I will never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty. All the stock in trade I possess is a debt of $10,000, incurred by publishing my paper "The Revolution" the sole object of which was to educate all women to do precisely as I have done, rebel against your man-made, unjust, unconstitutional forms of law, which tax, fine, imprison and hang women, while denying them the right of representation in the government; and I will work on with might and main to pay every dollar of that honest debt, but not a penny shall go to this unjust claim. And I shall earnestly and persistently continue to urge all women to the practical recognition of the old revolutionary maxim, "Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God."

Viggo Mortensen brought an anti-war perspective of an International Workers of the World (IWW) member to life:

[VIGGO MORTENSEN as IWW MEMBER] If you were a bum without a blanket; if you had left your wife and kids when you went west for a job, and had never located them since; if your job had never kept you long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if you slept in a lousy, sour bunkhouse, and ate food just as rotten as they could give you and get by with it; if deputy sheriffs shot your cooking cans full of holes and spilled your grub on the ground; if your wages were lowered on you when the bosses thought they had you down; if every person who represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to it, how in the hell do you expect a man to be patriotic? This war is a business man's war and we don't see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs which we now enjoy.

Each element of The People Speak is a reminder of (or for some Americans, an introduction to) how government has only ever been moved to act by the actions of organized citizens. Pure sentiments or feelings or public opinion has rarely translated into any kind of meaningful change.

Out of all that is read, perhaps, the people's reading that may hold the most significance in these times is Langston Hughes' "Ballad of Roosevelt" written in November of 1934. Read the words of this poem or view Danny Glover reading them:

"Ballad of Roosevelt"

Striking and rebellion all over this country is what eventually forced Roosevelt to pass the New Deal, which so many Democrats now celebrate. Plug in Obama for Roosevelt and you will start to wonder how many households are telling their loved ones they are tired of waitin' on Obama.

You will wonder how much longer people will ask, "What's the matter?" before they get organized and act to fight injustice, claim dignity, and further emancipate humanity.

Some of the celebrity personalities who supported Obama's election lent their support to the creation of The People Speak. For example, Bruce Springsteen sang, "This Land is Your Land" during the special, a song that was sung at Obama's Inaugural Celebration earlier this year by musicians like Pete Seeger.

Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Danny Glover, John Legend, Bob Dylan, and others involved no doubt voiced support for Obama at some point in the last couple of years (which leads one to wonder if any of them asked the president to watch this special event Sunday night).

There's a level of discord occurring when actors and musicians read the words of heroes in the people's history of America after they have voted for a president to bring the American people change, something past presidents historically have fought to prevent from happening for the people when president.

Viewing The People Speak, one might realize the arguments and differences we have over who will be a good or bad leader, the different conceptions of what one can and cannot do as a leader in government, and the different ideas on how the people can benefit from and share in the power these leaders may enjoy in government upon being elected to office prevent us from the real organizing that has led to real action and real social movements for better laws, policies and programs in America.

One realizes the people of this country do not need the leader of this nation to be on their side to rule. The president does not need the consent of the governed to defend this nation's ruling class' interests at the expense of lower classes.

And, the president will take little note of public opinion as he works to control public unrest in times of economic strife and civic arousal.

The people have no interest in being a part of the decision-making process that leads to more brutalizing and maiming of civilians in Afghanistan, that sends tens of thousands more troops to countries in the Middle East to kill and be killed physically or psychologically, that defends the right of health insurance companies to sell a flawed product to consumers, that will bail out banks before bailing out people facing home foreclosure crises, economic rape from credit card companies, or joblessness on an obscene scale, that fights meaningful action to halt global warming and restore and protect Mother Earth in the face of corporate domination and exploitation, etc.

The People Speak shows the people have an interest in food, shelter, health, education, a job with a decent income, family, community, and all other things are things people have been duped into believing they want or need in the consumer society we live in or the empire we live under.

Hopefully, the wider audience that saw Zinn for the first time takes note and begins to confront themselves and their role in this country. It is us who hold the answers and power to our future. Whatever future we get has always been up to us, and that's how it always will be.

See video of Zinn's appearance on Bill Moyers (w/ transcript)

There's more...

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