Government

Thumbnail image for Toxic Contaminant Releases in Barrio Logan Confirmed – Another Reason to Support the Community Plan

Toxic Contaminant Releases in Barrio Logan Confirmed – Another Reason to Support the Community Plan

by Doug Porter 04.23.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The release of a statewide list of census tracts most impacted by pollution by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CEPA) will add to the controversy surrounding two ballot measures presented to San Diego voters in the upcoming election.

A story in today’s Los Angeles Times, along with a scalable map, provides a dramatic assessment of impacts by types of contaminants within neighborhoods throughout the state. The CEPA report gives advocates for the Barrio Logan Community Plan hard evidence supporting their contentions concerning health problems caused by the current mix of industrial and residential uses.

Opponents of the Community Plan have dismissed health claims about industrial pollution as the cause of asthma and other health problems, blaming nearby freeways for contaminants. The CEPA study clearly indicates a serious problem with the release of toxic contaminants– as opposed to diesel particulates– into the air specific to the Barrio Logan area.

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Thumbnail image for California State Assembly Bill AB 1513 Will Take Away Tenants’ Rights

California State Assembly Bill AB 1513 Will Take Away Tenants’ Rights

by Source 04.23.2014 Activism

By Michelle Luellen/ALC

Just as we start to think that maybe foreclosure crisis is beginning to improve in California, the California State Assembly threatens to pass AB 1513. If passed, AB 1513 would create a legal loophole for extra- judicial eviction. Property owners would no longer have to take people to court to have tenants removed from their houses.

Under changes to law proposed by AB 1513, a property owner who claims that the house was empty of residents at the time they came to own it, can remove all residents who are not specifically named on a lease simply by declaring them to be “Unlawful Occupants,” claiming that they do not have permission to be there.

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Thumbnail image for Happy Earth Day! I’ll Take Some Carbon Emissions with a Side of Hate

Happy Earth Day! I’ll Take Some Carbon Emissions with a Side of Hate

by Doug Porter 04.22.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

I remember Earth Day back in 1970. It was a bi-partisan affair – Democrats AND Republicans. It even included hippies AND radicals (a big divide back in those days), although lefties were a little suspicious that this national event focusing on the environment was a plot to sap the the energy of the anti-war movement.

Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson (D) and California Congressman Pete McCloskey (R) were the public face of the movement which was focused on a day of national teach-ins. The idea was to make environmental protections part of the national consciousness. It worked.

The events around the country on Aprill 22, 1970 spurred the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

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Thumbnail image for Are The Skeptics Right That Global Warming Is An Alarmist Charade?

Are The Skeptics Right That Global Warming Is An Alarmist Charade?

by John Lawrence 04.22.2014 Editor's Picks

By Frank Thomas / Edited by John Lawrence

The slower rate of rise in global surface mean temperature since 1998 has been the last straw for Britain’s respected, eccentric, environmental scientist, James Lovelock. He now has made a complete reversal from being a ‘radical alarmist’ on climate change to being a ‘radical non-alarmist’.

In 2008, Lovelock said climate warming had already become irreversible, “Catastrophe is unstoppable and everything we are trying to do about it is wrong.We won’t invent the necessary technologies in time and ‘80%’ of the world’s population would be wiped out by 2100. People have been foretelling Armageddon since time began, but this is the real thing. Enjoy life while you can because if you are lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.” 

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Thumbnail image for Your Tax Dollars Fund Creationism In Schools

Your Tax Dollars Fund Creationism In Schools

by Source 04.22.2014 Education

Americans in 14 states have spent $1 billion on voucher programs that fund anti-science education.

Alex Kane / Alternet

American tax dollars are funding the teaching of creationism in schools. An in-depth report by Politico’s Stephanie Simon reveals that taxpayers in 14 states are spending $1 billion to fund tuition for private schools, including hundreds of institutions that teach that God created the Earth and that biology and geology are full of lies.

While taxpayers don’t directly fund private schools, they do fund voucher programs that allow parents to spend public money on private schools that have virulently anti-science curricula. Voucher programs have long been a favored cause for the Christian right. And the Christian right is now having an impact on what kids are learning.

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Thumbnail image for The Banana Republic of San Diego: Quest for a New Football Stadium and Lower Wages

The Banana Republic of San Diego: Quest for a New Football Stadium and Lower Wages

by Doug Porter 04.21.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Another week has passed and UT-San Diego has published yet another article telling us what to expect in the coming months as our local plutocrats hammer out plans for a new gladiator arena, er, football stadium.

Past failures to achieve a consensus were brushed aside by Chargers special counsel Mark Fabian in this weeks fish wrap, attributed to “the kind of political instability that is more typical of a banana republic than of a major American city”. I’m sure former Mayor Jerry Sanders (2005-2012) is thrilled by that characterization.

This week we learn of a Joint Powers Authority (Think SANDAG, or the Airport Commission), with a “working scernario” envisioning a county-wide 2016 ballot measure tapping local treasuries for the expected “taxpayer contribution common in the construction costs of every new National Football League stadium in recent years.”

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Thumbnail image for Who Owns America? Not You

Who Owns America? Not You

by Jim Miller 04.21.2014 Columns

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” –Louis Brandeis

By Jim Miller

In the wake of the McCutcheon decision, there was a brief flurry of outrage about the growing power of moneyed interests in our politics, but it predictably ebbed. One might reasonably argue that this is because the American public has become immune to such bad news.

Indeed, a cursory survey of the media over the last couple of weeks alone is enough to give any concerned citizen a depressing snapshot of where we are now with regard to wealth versus commonwealth.

The New York Times reports that “Corporate Profits Grow and Wages Slide” noting that, “Corporate profits are at their highest level in at least 85 years. Employee compensation is at the lowest level in 65 years.”

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Thumbnail image for Historic Win for Labor and A New Direction in the University of California System

Historic Win for Labor and A New Direction in the University of California System

by Source 04.20.2014 Activism

By Daniel Gutiérrez

La Jolla, California — On Tuesday, April 15th, UAW Local 2865, representing graduate student-workers across the University of California system, reached a tentative agreement with UC management regarding the procurement of all-gendered bathrooms and lactation stations. UC management succumbed to the necessities demanded by UAW Local 2865, acknowledging that both all-gendered bathrooms and lactation stations are a labor right to graduate student-workers. The historic achievement was reached after the union went on strike for two days early this month, in which nearly two dozen students were arrested and many others intimidated.

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Thumbnail image for DA Bonnie Dumanis’ Re-Election Campaign Gets Petty

DA Bonnie Dumanis’ Re-Election Campaign Gets Petty

by Doug Porter 04.18.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Things must be going poorly for incumbent District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in her re-election campaign. While she hasn’t been accused of involvement in the unfolding campaign finance scandal stemming from a foreign donor’s quest to turn our downtown waterfront into another Miami, a whiff of ‘something’s not right here’ remains in the air.

Her re-election effort is facing a stiff challenge from a well-funded opponent who’s managed to nail down endorsements from a large majority of law enforcement-related groups and nearly two dozen former assistant DAs. And her latest gaffe won’t help matters much.

Yesterday, challenger Bob Brewer announced the endorsement of Father Joe Carroll, whose high profile blessing of Kevin Faulconer was well received by voters during the recent mayoral contest. It should have been a blip on the radar of the campaign. Now it’s not.

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Thumbnail image for Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

by Doug Porter 04.17.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

While lots of local politicos are willing to give at least lip service towards increasing the minimum wage or creating affordable housing, the abject lack of interest in rectifying a government sponsored system of exploitation in the local taxi industry is staggering.

The medallion based system of licensing currently in place in San Diego, wherein drivers pay for the privilege of leasing a vehicle that may or may not be roadworthy, insures consumers of two things: scarcity of service and higher fares. This form of regulation might have made sense 80 years ago in New York city when it was started, but today a privileged few and the politicians they fund are the only beneficiaries.

Of all things revealed in a 2013 San Diego State University/Center for Policy Initiatives study–the unsafe working conditions, the dangerous vehicles, the exploitation of drivers–it would appear that Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s response will be limited to the vehicles themselves and, perhaps, record keeping issues.

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Thumbnail image for Supreme Court to Consider Lies in Political Ads

Supreme Court to Consider Lies in Political Ads

by Doug Porter 04.16.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Not even George Orwell could have predicted this; an anti-abortion group is challenging Ohio’s law making it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about political candidates.

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the case involves billboard ads funded by the Susan B. Anthony List accusing an Ohio congressman of voting for taxpayer-funded abortions based on his support of the Affordable Care Act. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Concerns about any Supreme Court ruling in this case stem from a ruling (made on the same day the court upheld most sections of Obamacare) overturning the conviction of Xavier Alvarez for violating the 2006 Stolen Valor Act making it a crime for a person to falsely claim, orally or in writing, “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” The 6-3 decision asserted  the act was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

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Thumbnail image for Happy Tax Day! The Rich and Poor Are Now Equally Free to Purchase Political Influence with Their Income Tax Refunds

Happy Tax Day! The Rich and Poor Are Now Equally Free to Purchase Political Influence with Their Income Tax Refunds

by Doug Porter 04.15.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

It seems appropriate on tax day, given the annual media binge of gratuitous coverage of Tea Party protests at Post Offices and editorial cartoons demonizing the Internal Revenue Service, to survey the political landscape and make some comments about where we find ourselves in 2014.

The vast majority of stories you’ll see repeated by tax protesters on the evening news today are simply bullshit–not that any of these so-called “reporters” will actually fact check them. If some guy carrying a sign about the Muslim socialist in the White House screams ignorant slogans about the gubment, it must be news. Because “everybody knows” all these things they say must be true.

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Thumbnail image for Build Us a Stadium or We’ll Shoot This Puppy – Here Comes the Chargers ‘Deal’

Build Us a Stadium or We’ll Shoot This Puppy – Here Comes the Chargers ‘Deal’

by Doug Porter 04.14.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

He doesn’t speak for anyone, UT-San Diego sports columnist Kevin Acee says, and he won’t be heard by anyone. Thus, his page-one-worthy column about the likely scenario for a new football stadium ended up on page D-4 in Sunday’s paper.

The story was actually posted on Friday afternoon online, and its significance becomes apparent when you realize that nearly 150 people had posted comments before the dead tree edition hit the streets.

The Chargers stadium scenario story is supposed to be nothing more than informed speculation, of course. Except that (I’d bet) it’s not. Call it a trial balloon, floated in the wake of a ‘preliminary’ meeting between team representatives and the mayor’s minions last Wednesday.

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Thumbnail image for “Taxifornia” Dreaming: Who Really Pays in California?

“Taxifornia” Dreaming: Who Really Pays in California?

by Jim Miller 04.14.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

Tomorrow is tax day, and we are likely to hear the usual histrionics from the pity the millionaire crowd about how the draconian taxes on the affluent and businesses in “Taxifornia” are killing growth and jobs and driving folks out of the state. There is only one problem with this—it’s not true. Indeed, far from the socialist hamlet that the anti-tax zealots like to portray us as, California’s tax system is still more regressive than progressive.

This is documented in the California Budget Project’s (CBP) Annual report “Who Pays Taxes in California?” that shows that, “Contrary to the oft-repeated claim that high-income Californians pay an unfair amount of taxes, it is actually California’s low-income households who pay the largest share of their incomes in state and local taxes.”

Consequently, the CBP argues that “Given widening income inequality over the last generation, and the ongoing economic challenges facing Californians in the aftermath of the Great Recession, policymakers could take specific steps to reduce the regressive nature of California’s system of state and local taxes and to promote economic security for low-income families.”

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Thumbnail image for The Drug War Fuels Mass Deportation of Nonviolent Migrants

The Drug War Fuels Mass Deportation of Nonviolent Migrants

by Source 04.13.2014 Government

250,000 people have been deported for drug offenses in the last 6 years.

By Daniel Robelo / AlterNet

The drug war has increasingly become a war against migrant communities. It fuels racial profiling, border militarization, violence against immigrants, intrusive government surveillance and, especially, widespread detentions and deportations. 

Media and politicians have tried to convince us that everyone who gets deported is a violent criminal, a terrorist or a drug kingpin. But a newly released, first-of-its-kind report shatters that notion, showing instead that the majority (some two-thirds) of those deported last year were guilty of minor, nonviolent offenses – including thousands deported for nothing more than possessing small quantities of drugs, typically marijuana.

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Thumbnail image for OSHA Wins Case Against SeaWorld Involving Death of Orca Trainer

OSHA Wins Case Against SeaWorld Involving Death of Orca Trainer

by Source 04.12.2014 Activism

From OH&S / Apr 11, 2014 Re-posted from OBRag

OSHA has won the appellate case involving its enforcement case against SeaWorld of Florida LLC following the death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau on Feb. 24, 2010. A 2-1 decision issued April 11 by a panel of three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that SeaWorld “recognized its precautions were inadequate to prevent serious bodily harm or even death to its trainers and that the residual hazard was preventable.”

“The remedy imposed for SeaWorld’s violations does not change the essential nature of its business,” the majority opinion written by Judge Judith W. Rogers states. “There will still be human interactions and performances with killer whales; the remedy will simply require that they continue with increased safety measures.”

This is a high-profile case that was argued Nov. 12, 2013, at the Georgetown University Law Center, with SeaWorld’s legal team including Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

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Thumbnail image for Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

by Doug Porter 04.11.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Higher ups in the San Diego Police Department may have been more concerned about negative publicity than getting at the facts about accusations alleging sexual misconduct as far back as 1997 by former police officer Anthony Arevalos from according to federal court transcripts obtained by 10News.

A confidential meeting between former chief William Lansdowne and Executive Chief David Ramirez, according to attorney Joe Dicks in publicly released transcripts of oral arguments that reference still-sealed depositions, was held “to try and figure out not if it really happened, not if there are any witnesses left, only to take documentation that is going to come around and bite them in the bottom.”

I looked around the local media this morning. Aside from a mention the VOSD Morning Report, the local media seems to treating this as a non-story.

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Thumbnail image for Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

by Doug Porter 04.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s been on quite a tear lately, putting forth a smiling face at press conferences in various neighborhoods around the city. Yesterday cameras rolled as the mayor and local politicos including Councilman Todd Gloria posed and preened over a gateway renovation project on 25th Street in Golden Hill.

Hizzoner says he’s making good on campaign promises to direct more monies (50% of revenue growth, as I recollect) toward street and infrastructure repair. He proudly announced yesterday that $22 million of the anticipated $35 million growth in next year’s inflow would be dedicated to that cause.  

It played real well on TV. Sadly, the truth of the situation is that revenue growth, which will likely come from an improving economy, can’t even begin to address the $1 billion hole San Diego faces when it comes to the basic the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed locally.

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Thumbnail image for #NotABugSplat — Art At Its Most Powerful

#NotABugSplat — Art At Its Most Powerful

by Source 04.10.2014 Activism

By pajoly/ DailyKos

The image above is not a Photoshopped jpeg. It is an image massively blown up and staked into the ground to shame the American military drone pilots — and now indeed all of us — as their death from above ply the skies above Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. It is an art project named #NotABugSplat, co-opting in graphic relief the slang drone operators callously and cavalierly give their victims.

Let that sink in. Bug Splat. Our society is fond of creating colorful euphemisms that are byproducts of truly shitty and shameful public policy. “Collateral damage” is one we all know; it’s clinically distant and sounds so much nicer in print and at a press briefing than “innocent dead bystanders.” (“Medical tourism” is another cheery one that seems almost bucolic instead of being actually a pathetic and desperate consequence of our pay-to-play healthcare regime.)

But, nothing so grossly illustrates our abandonment of any pretense of moral high ground like labeling exploded human beings as bug splats.

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Thumbnail image for Legalization is a Human Rights Issue: Latin America Steps Up Resolve to End the Drug Wars

Legalization is a Human Rights Issue: Latin America Steps Up Resolve to End the Drug Wars

by Source 04.10.2014 Activism

By Wendy Call/ Yes!
Seattle’s South Park neighborhood has seen its share of drug-related crime and violence. Many of its residents are recent immigrants from Mexico; some came north fleeing the drug cartel violence that has ravaged their home communities. So the South Park Community Center was a poignant venue for Mexican poet, writer, and activist Javier Sicilia to speak about his campaign to end the drug war in his home country. He began the evening with a moment of silence for all the lives lost – somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 – since the Mexican government stepped up the war against drug cartels in 2006. Then, his commanding voice heavy with grief, Sicilia read a poem:

All absence is cruel
and nonetheless, remains like a space that comes from the dead,
from the bleached roots of the past.
Where might we turn?

Sicilia wrote this poem, “The Survivor,” in 2009. Two years later, he became a survivor of heartbreaking absence himself, when his 24-year-old son was murdered, with six of his friends, by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. With the cruel loss of his son, Sicilia did not know where to turn. He wrote a final poem dedicated to his son, Juan Francisco, and then renounced writing poetry.

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Thumbnail image for Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

by Doug Porter 04.09.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

So the word on the street, courtesy of columnist Logan Jenkins, is that former mayor Bob Filner is writing a book and looking for an editor. The UT-San Diego columnist has offered to “anonymously ghostwrite. Gratis.”    

I’m sure there any number of San Diego journos who’d love the opportunity. I remember reading lots of self-righteous tweets and barely concealed contempt in coverage by too many of this town’s “reporters.” After all, writing anything else might have excluded them from the crafty beer klatches and opportunities to genuflect before local luminaries so necessary to generate “coverage.”

I can only hope Filner’s period of confinement and reflection has re-enforced the (obvious) notion that “none-of-the-above” would be the only right choice to make when it comes to local scribes.

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Thumbnail image for Politicians Who Oppose Marijuana Legalization Are On the Wrong Side of History

Politicians Who Oppose Marijuana Legalization Are On the Wrong Side of History

by Source 04.09.2014 Government

A majority of Americans support marijuana legalization.

By Tony Newman via AlterNet

A majority of Americans support marijuana legalization – yet not one sitting governor or U.S. Senator supports it, according to a New York Times piece.  

Marijuana prohibition is a disastrous failure. 43 years after President Nixon launched the “war on drugs,” the U.S. arrests 650,000 people a year for marijuana possession – yet marijuana and other illegal drugs are as available as ever. Thanks to the drug war, the U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet nearly 25 percent of its prisoners.

Colorado and Washington made history in 2012 becoming the first states – and the first two political jurisdictions anywhere in the world – to legally regulate the production and distribution of marijuana, and many states are looking to follow soon. National polls showing majority support for marijuana legalization have been confirmed in states across the country – and not just in states you’d expect but even in Florida, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio and Texas.

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Thumbnail image for Cheap Corn Permeates Every Facet of the American Diet

Cheap Corn Permeates Every Facet of the American Diet

by John Lawrence 04.09.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

Corn is the staple of the US agricultural system and food supply. It’s in everything we eat unbeknownst to many Americans.

Corn feeds steers that become steak and fast food hamburgers. Corn feeds chickens and pigs - even catfish, salmon and tilapia. Milk, cheese and yogurt that once came from cows that grazed on grass now come from Holsteins that spend their time tethered to milking machines while munching on corn.

Processed foods contain even more corn than so-called “natural” foods. Take chicken nuggets, for example. Not only the chicken itself but the corn starch that holds it together, the corn flour in the batter, the corn oil in which its fried, the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di- and triglycerides, the golden coloring, the citric acid that keeps it fresh – all these ingredients come from corn.

Any soft drink in the supermarket including Coke and Pepsi contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) so you can wash down your corn with some more corn. A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain corn.

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Thumbnail image for Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

by Doug Porter 04.08.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Three Republican members of the San Diego City Council joined two of their Democratic colleagues to appoint Point Loma resident Ed Harris yesterday to serve out the remaining eight months of newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s term.

Harris, who heads the city’s lifeguard union, received support from council members Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman, Sherri Lightner and David Alvarez. Democrats will now have a 6-3 majority, theoretically giving them enough votes to override any vetoes from San Diego’s Republican mayor.

The appointed councilman was sworn in immediately following the vote. Harris is prohibited by the city charter from running for election to the seat, so he must step down when his term ends in early December.

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Thumbnail image for McCutcheon, the Majority, and the Challenge of Our Time

McCutcheon, the Majority, and the Challenge of Our Time

by Source 04.08.2014 Courts, Justice

The McCutcheon ruling points us to the defining struggle of today’s generation.

Richard Eskow / AlterNet

The Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling will be remembered as a decisive battle in a determined and wealthy minority’s war against the popular will. It is not the first such battle, nor will it be the last. And the people will continue to lose — unless and until the rules of engagement are changed.

One compelling way to look at this ruling is by contrasting its immediate and long-term effects with the American people’s aspirations for their government. They are at cross purposes. Even before this ruling, 64 percent of those polled believed that our country’s economic rules unfairly favor the rich. This ruling will rig the game even further.

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