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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

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  • Sunday, July 03, 2011

    The U.S. Chamber Does NOT Speak For Me

    The other night I saw part of a program (a friend I am staying with had it on so I don't know the channel or name of the show) exposing the US Chamber of Commerce's campaign to basically strip Americans of the right to seek redress when a corporation is negligent or even criminal in their behavior. The US Chamber of Commerce (which, I should note, gets a lot of its funding from foreign countries!) is at the forefront of so-called "Tort Reform" which is a term that refers to laws that basically prevent regular Americans from suing big corporations who are negligent, commit fraud, or even outright break the law. The method of taking away our right to redress when a corporation messes up is generally "binding arbitration" which forces us to submit to arbitration, with no appeal, using an arbiter who is chosen by the corporation we are seeking redress from. We have no choice in the matter. This has created a legal system that is basically Kafkaesque and unfair. Corporations wind up with more rights than regular American citizens. And the US Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Party have been at the forefront of this move to restrict our rights.

    One of the top cases that was highlighted was the woman who worked for Halliburton in Iraq who was gang raped and illegally imprisoned by Halliburton then was unable to seek legal redress because of this binding arbitration crap. And the US Chamber of Commerce testified before Congress in favor of this.

    Senator Al Franken was one of the main champions of the women who have been gang raped on Halliburton's watch:

    The US Chamber of Commerce has also been at the forefront of weakening clean water laws, clean air laws, worker safety laws and even food safety laws. Essentially the US Chamber has been in favor of poisoning Americans so big corporations and their CEOs can make more money. They also have been one of the main funding sources for global warming denial and the anti-science campaigns of the Republican Party. The head of the US Chamber is number 5 on Rolling Stone's list of top global warming deniers. (Not surprisingly, number one is Fake News Exec Rupert Murdoch and number 2 are the Billionaire Koch Brothers).

    There is an organization called "The US Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me" that I want to recommend to you. Here is what they are all about:

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is controlled by Big Polluters, poisons politics with its dirty money, and opposes every single effort to curb climate pollution.

    “The U.S. Chamber Doesn’t Speak For Me” campaign is designed to expose the Chamber’s dirty business in Washington D.C., and discredit their efforts to delay the kind of bold action we need to create a clean energy economy and a safe climate future.

    Here are a couple of videos from this campaign that you might want to watch and pass on to others:

    More GRITtv

    More GRITtv

    One thing that was highlighted in the documentary I saw was the fact that the US Chamber spends a great deal of its money trying to elect compliant judges who will support big business over average Americans. This leads to one of my pet issues: the fact that so many people ignore the very local, down ballot races like judges, school board, port authority, etc. THESE ARE CRITICAL RACES! These are the races that directly affect all of us day to day, yet we mostly ignore them.

    The ONLY way we can fight the US Chamber of Commerce in any real way is if we get our asses involved in these local races. Otherwise THEIR money will dominate every single time. One national organization that does this is Progressive Majority. They have successfully elected underdog, progressive candidates against US Chamber backed shills in several states and we really need to back them as much as we can. But I also recommend getting involved with your local Democratic Clubs, your local Democracy for America groups, your local union groups, etc. These organizations are the best bet for finding out about and backing local candidates for judge, school board, etc. TAKE THE TIME to connect with your local political groups and help out the good local candidates. It is where YOU can have the biggest impact. One example I can give is a friend of my wife's who ran for judge. The local corrupt political machine was backing his opponent and his opponent had all the money. Our friend had only grassroots support. His opponent was a Scalia-loving lawyer who had written the amicus brief AGAINST marriage equality in New York state. Without hard work by a whole slew of grassroots folks, our friend could never have won. Yet we DID work hard and we DID win over the big money, corrupt machine candidate.


    But only if we all work hard LOCALLY to get it done. We of course have to fight the US Chamber of Commerce on the national level, but the court decisions that let them do their thing often are made on the local level and that is why they pour so much of their money into these local races.

    Support Progressive Majority.

    Join (or start!) your local Democracy for America group.

    Join your local union.

    And spend some time learning about and helping local candidates win against US Chamber of Commerce money.



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