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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

PRICELE$$ – the movie

From the Fourth of July to the halls of Congress, PRICELE$$ is a filmmaker’s personal journey across America to answer a burning question: why are some of our government’s most basic policies, like food and energy, so out-of-date, and can anything be done about it? Sharing the suspicion of fellow-citizens, including a class of young civics students, that campaign money is involved, the filmmakers set out on a spellbinding—at times hilarious—ride from rural America to the halls of Congress to learn more, because democracy is a precious resource, PRICELE$$ even!

PRICELE$$ airs on November 4 in Austin, TX @ 9:30 pm on KLRU-Q.  The award-winning documentary is a FUN and compelling film about the need for a new way to elect lawmakers without the help of billionaires, lobbyists and SuperPACs.  A winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Washington DC Independent Film Festival PRICELE$$ has received big thumbs up from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are fed up with the money chase and the entanglements. 

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Check out the trailer above and watch the full film on Sunday, November 4th before election day.  And check out the reviews from elected officials below.  If you live in other parts of the country, contact your local PBS station to see if they intend to air it in the near future.

The USA is the greatest nation in world history, but it is not as good as it could be.  This film tells us how we can be all we should besimply, but not simplistically.

-Former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo (D)

I would urge every single Member of Congress (or their fine staff!) to watch this movie. It’s high time that our leaders bring an end to the corrupting and stifling influence of special interest money on our democracy.  This just isn’t about right and left.  It’s really about right and wrong.

-Former Senator Alan Simpson (R)

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We were right when we said the Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case was going to have a negative impact on the political system in this country. The ruling has paved the way to make mid-term election campaigns the only growing industry in this economic crisis. The ruling has turned candidates’ focus from the policy to their pockets.

One of the issues that has fallen victim to the mid-term elections is the legislation to address climate change and regulate the energy industry. It was one of Obama’s main objectives on the campaign to cut emissions and provide incentives to renewable energy.  But as election approached, Congress backed out of its commitment to this issue.

A European-based organization, Climate Action Network (CANE) released a report that shows European energy companies are paying contributions to Tea Party Candidates and other Congressional candidates who have denied climate-change is even occuring and have been outspoken against regulating the energy industry.

Remember Oklahoma’s Senator James Inhofe? He thinks Environmentalists are out there to scare people and proclaims that “Global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” and because of this “special” remark, he qualified to be one of the recipients of campaign funds from Europe’s biggest emitters. Inhofe is not the only one, many others in Congress have made some similar funny comments that got them some money. Montana’s Roy Blunt is another skeptic. made a blunt comment discrediting science on climate change, “There isn’t any real science to say we are altering the climate path of the earth.” this is more ridiculous than Montana’s law which makes it illegal to “have a sheep in the cab of your truck without a chaperone” but despite that, Blunts comments has put him as one of the top ten recipients from two of these companies.

Those companies, Such as BP(who is responsible for the US worst Environmental disaster), BASF (which spent $50,500 to block cap-and-trade), and others generally have two objectives: one is to stall and block climate change/energy reform legislation in the United States, second is to use that as an excuse to tell the European countries not to introduce such legislation. The companies who are funding those climate-skeptic candidates are based in countries  such as Germany, France, UK, and Belgium (so much for those candidates’ being anti-socialist).

In a time when the president has gone all the way to teaming up with Mythbusters to encourage American kids about math and science, our representatives are doing their best at discrediting them.  Climate Change is one issue that should cross partisan lines. I think every human being can agree that we need continue our existence on this planet and maintain it for the next generations. Al Gore says that in order for clean-energy advocates to achieve climate-friendly and renewable energy legislation, they need to get into the lobbying business just as the dirty energy lobbyist.

I disagree.

I think we need to reform the relationship between lobbyist and Congress. We shouldn’t need to write serious checks in order to get things done in this country.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Today, the US House Administration Committee voted the Fair Elections Now Act out of committee.  San Antonio Representative Charlie Gonzalez cast a decisive vote in favor of the bill, putting a bill that would give optional public financing to all Congressional candidates for further than it has ever gone before.

Tell Charlie Gonzalez how you feel– thank him for his vote and leadership by calling his office at (202) 225-3236 (DC) or (210) 472-6195 (San Antonio).

Unfortunately, in the Senate, Republicans continued to filibuster the DISCLOSE Act.  They did this a few months ago, too. At the time Public Citizen’s Craig Holman had this to say about it, and we think it’s still apt.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsCSjRslmm4]

Texas Senators Cornyn and Hutchison voted in favor of corporate special interests who want to hide how they’re pulling the strings in Washington, and I think you should tell them so.

And because no punchbowl for Fair Elections would be complete without some corporate tool laying a dookie in it, enter Texas Rep. Joe Barton, who you may remember apologized to BP, feeling the oil-spilling giant had been mistreated by Congress.  Well, he’s still apologizing to corporations, now saying that his committee should hold hearings on Fair Elections Now, which he’s already made up his mind on (hint:  he ain’t fer it.) This is nothing more than a massive delay tactic, just like the time he made a rule that all amendments to Waxman-Markey be read aloud in committee, so the committee hired a speed-reader.

In any case, we still have a lot to be happy about.  There is some possibility we could get a full vote on Fair Elections Now before the end of the year in the House– if your member of Congress hasn’t publicly stated they will support it, they need to hear from you!  And if they have stated their support, call them anyway and thank them for standing up to special interests.

By the by, I’ll be at the National Coffee Party Convention in Louisville the next few days, where I’ll be presenting on a couple of panels about these very issues.  If you want to participate virtually, you can!  From Coffee Party’s email:

The big news today is that we are LIVE STREAMING the convention from Louisville starting at 8:30 AM ET tomorrow (Friday). Convention participants, both in person and via webcast can interact via Twitter (#CoffeeParty), Facebook, on our convention website, main website and on our newly created Ustream channel.

CLICK HERE for today’s press release about added speaker John Avlon, and HERE for Monday’s release about Lt. Dan Choi and Fair Elections Now.

We are especially excited about livestreaming the Mock Constitutional Convention on Saturday from 10:30am-4:30pm co-chaired by Lawrence Lessig and Mark McKinnon.

To read about the speakers, CLICK HERE. To review the schedule of events, CLICK HERE. To read about the break-out sessions, CLICK HERE.

You can still REGISTER online. You can also register in person at the registration desk when you arrive at the Galt House.

We are currently raising funds for the following purposes: $5,000 for Audio/Visual expenses, including production and live-streaming costs that are allowing us to document as many workshops and panel discussions as we can, which will become on-line educational tools available to the public.

It would be tremendously helpful if you could donate for this. $5, $10, $20, any amount would help.

DONATE

The convention and the web cast will wrap up Sunday night with a viewing party of MTV Networks’ television world premiere of “9500 Liberty.” This is the film that Eric Byler and I co-directed that documents how the extremists dominated the debate over immigration in Prince William County, VA in 2007 & 2008 and how the silent majority organized and restored balance to the government. On Sunday, the film will be broadcast to 100 milion homes across America.

This video explains how the lessons of 9500 Liberty inspired the creation of the Coffee Party. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8sQUYarTig

See you in Louisville, or, we’ll see you online! And, thank you so much for being part of the Coffee Party community.

Good night, good luck, and see you around the coffee pot.

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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By Kirsten Bokenkamp

During his campaign, President Obama said “change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” As individuals, we need to internalize this, and act on it. This is the last blog in the Green-up Your Life! series, a series dedicated to the many ways we, as individuals, can reduce climate change.

Unfortunately, the environmentally-friendly changes to our daily lives is just the first step to securing a livable planet for future generations.  In addition, we must demand that our government adopt laws to protect our planet.  While the science behind climate change is well established, our leaders will not act until we make them.  The importance of government action to combat climate change was made clear in a recent Washington Post op-ed by Mike Tidwell titled To really save the planet, stop going green.  In the op-ed, Tidwell argues that “going green” is tricking many people into actually thinking that there is major change happening, when in reality, only a very small percentage of people buy compact florescent light bulbs and fuel efficient cars, have a compost pile, and eat vegetarian diets, etc.  “Going green”, in effect, is creating a false impression of change, which is actually hindering the real process of change.  If we care, we should adopt a “green” lifestyle and incorporate the above activities into our lives – but doing all of these individual things does not dismiss us from taking political action to demand large-scale change.

What does this mean for us?  It means learning the details about climate change legislation, and calling/writing/visiting our state and federal representatives to demand that they take action.  Not sure what to ask for?  Here are a few things to get you started:

•    A bill that achieves emissions cuts of at least 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80-95% by 2050 (right now, the Waxman-Markey Bill cuts emissions by only 4% of 1990 levels.  Unfortunately, the Waxman-Markey Bill deceptively uses 2005 levels, and thus the 17% reduction in emissions seems to be near the scientific requirements.  But, as Congress well understands, the rest of the international community and climate scientists use 1990 levels as their base.  Thus, the 17% emissions cut at 2005 levels turns out to be only 4% of 1990 levels, a number far from minimum 25% necessary to save our planet.)
•    Stopping the construction of new coal plants.
•    Increasing funding for renewable energy and creating green jobs

We all have the tools and knowledge necessary to create change on a personal and political level.  The next steps are advocacy, action, and maintenance. We are facing a huge crisis, and taking only small and popular steps are not enough. Obama said it himself – we are the change that we have been waiting for.  So let’s do it!

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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Once again it’s time for the Texas Progressive Alliance to bring you the highlights from the blogs.

Xanthippas at Three Wise Men airs out some thoughts on the escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and some painful lessons learned blogging about the war in Iraq.

Bay Area Houston claims The Race for Houston Mayor is Now About Race.

Texas is the first state to conduct testing of citizens to determine if their health symptoms are caused from exposure to drilling toxins. But TXsharon is not sure this is such a great idea. Find out why on Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS.

BossKitty at TruthHugger sees a political disconnect between incarceration and rehabilitation within America’s “big business prison system”. Follow through and accountability are casualties of creative budgeting in the criminal justice system with furlough programs, commutations and pardons BACKLASH. Maurice Clemmons was but a single example of a mentally unstable felon. Where was his follow up? Where was his parole officer? Where was the mental health infrastructure that could have defused this violent explosion?

Neil at Texas Liberal asked who are the Democrats running for Houston municipal offices in the runoff election, and who among the Democrats is someone a liberal can support. The post also features pictures and paintings of scenes of gambling as any election is little more than a spin of the wheel.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme sees tea parties and general batsh*t craziness in Nueces County with Club for Growth guy leading the Republican Party.

Teddy at Left of College Station covers the political maneuvering in local Republican primaries, and writes about Obama’s War: Choosing Escalation and Occupation. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

nytexan at Bluebloggin clearly states “I’m Sick of War.” As I listen to Obama’s speech to increase troops in Afghanistan, all I can think of is, the US has been in some kind of war my entire life. Just so you know, I was born between the Korean War and the Vietnam War. We are a war nation. No way to get around it.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson posts about a conversation over Thanksgiving weekend with two Houston Republicans, or Why Bill White can win.

This was Dickens on the Strand weekend in Galveston and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs took a break from politics and spent the weekend on the island. Here are a few photos from the festival.

Charles of Off the Kuff spent much of the week engaged in an email debate on the Texas Tribune with conservative blogger David Benzion over the merits of Bill White as Mayor of Houston and potentially Governor of Texas.

liberaltexan reports on Political Maneuvering Begins in Republican Primaries. It seems that the race for Texas State Senate District Five is gettting compicated. Check it out at TexasKaos.

The Texas Cloverleaf offered it’s prediction on whether Bill White would run for Governor. 1-0! Yes!

WhosPlayin thinks the Texas Railroad Commission is on a ‘power trip’, intervening in the placement of power lines bringing renewable energy to Texas population centers – ostensibly because the lines might cross over abandoned oil and gas wells, or land that might be used for oil and gas wells in the future. *** Citizen Sarah says, an excellent read!!

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Join us next Thursday, December 10th to help stop Texas from becoming the nation’s radioactive waste dump!

Please Come:

Texas Compact Commission Stakeholder Meeting
Thursday, December 10th at 9am
Texas Capitol, Extension Auditorium, E1.004

You are invited to attend the press conference as well, held by the SEED Coalition, Public Citizen, and Sierra Club, on stopping Texas from becoming the nation’s radioactive waste dump, the inadequacies of the west Texas dump site and the corruption surrounding the permitting process.

Thursday, Dec. 10th at 12:30 pm – Texas Capitol, Speaker’s Committee Room, 2W.6.

* Show your presence and that the public interest matters.

* Tell the Compact Commission not to allow import of radioactive waste into Texas from the rest of the country!

All of the State TCEQ scientists who worked on the permit for the West Texas dump site, owned by Waste Control Specialists (WCS), determined the site to be inadequate because of the possible radioactive contamination of our aquifers and groundwater. Corruption and politics led to the permitting of the site anyways, ignoring the entire TCEQ technical team’s recommendation against issuing the permit. 3 TCEQ employees quit over the decision.

Now the Compact Commission is putting rules in place, to let nuclear power waste from across the country into Texas, making this site the nation’s radioactive waste dumping ground. The Texas Compact Commission, appointed by Governor Perry, and responsible for managing so-called “low-level” radioactive waste generated within its boundaries, is developing rules for importation of radioactive waste from outside the compact (TX and Vermont), AGAINST the original intent of the law, which was for only the 3 states of the compact to be able to dump there.

The Commission is taking comments from stakeholders on the development of the import rule. We want to let them know that the generators of nuclear waste and the dump company that is profiting from taking the waste are not the only stakeholders in this process. Please come help make the voices of the public, Texas taxpayers, and water drinkers heard LOUD and CLEAR.

Learn more at:

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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At 10 a.m. EDT today, a grave test for our democracy began. Whether you’re taking to the streets or hanging our printed poster in your window, help us show the media, the Supreme Court and Congress that citizens across the U.S. won’t stand for more corporate influence in politics. Send your photos, videos, blog posts and stories to [email protected]

rollforwebYour pledges to protest have been inspiring, and we are anticipating a lot of rabble-rousing today. But our work is only just beginning. Some time before the end of the year, we expect the Supreme Court to make its decision. We hope that the justices will rule on the side of the public interest.

But if the justices decide to open the floodgates to corporate money in politics, we ask you to please be prepared for bigger and bolder action.

Beginning today, we are asking you to help us collect pledges to protest any decision that increases corporate influence in our elections. If you’re taking to the streets, please download and print our printable Pledge to Protest. If you aren’t in the streets, you can still protest by warning your network of friends, family and colleagues and asking them to pledge to protest any decision by the court that gives corporations more advantage over citizens.

Please send us photos, video and stories to [email protected] so we can share your outrage.

Stay tuned to hear about the protests happening across the country today and the impact you had.

Thank you for all you do!

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UPDATE: Bill Richardson was cleared of any wrongdoing in this fund raising scandal  and we wanted to briefly comment on it and also resurrect this post, which to this day remains one of our most read blogs ever.

As I commented in response to some of your reader’s comments below, the point was never to drag Gov. Richardson through the mud.  Indeed, considering his eventual vindication, it re-emphasizes the point that if we had a system of public financing, no politician would ever face erroneous charges such as this.

Money muddies the water, both for the good public servant and the bad politician , and anyone we force to raise private campaign cash we are asking them to prostitute their opinions on the altar of political expediency.  And we get the system we deserve because of it.

Original Post: Jan 5, 2009

I’ve heard it said that churches are supposed to make bad men good and good men better.  Our campaign finance system seems to do the opposite: make good men bad and bad men worse (ie, Governors Richardson and Blagojevich, respectively).  As far back as Socrates, outside observers have noticed the corruptive influence of money on public policy.  Our public servants worshiping at the altar of campaign donations is sure path to hell for most of us.  But the fact that we force them to do so by not providing a public financing system begs the question: Are we getting what we deserve?

As Richardson withdraws his name for consideration of being Commerce Secretary, more and more details are coming out about his ethical problems.  Did he take campaign donations that changed his votes?  Possibly, or at least there’s enough of an ethical cloud there that no one can know for sure.

And that’s the problem with how we finance our campaigns.  No one can ever be truly sure that their Legislators, Representatives, Senators, Mayors, Governors, or Presidents are taking a position because of the merits of the proposals themselves, or because someone with deep pockets convinced them that’s how they should vote.  The same can be said of incoming Senatorial appointee Roland Burris.  It’s surely not his fault that Blagojevich is a slimeball, but the public just can’t be certain that he was appointed based on his merits alone and not because Blagojevich had some ulterior motive.

The only way to remove all doubt is by supporting public financing.  We can only hope during this next Congress that we see some real leadership on this issue so that We the People can know that we are, indeed, still the ones in charge of our government and not the other way around.

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