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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tricounty DFA Update: Meeting Report, Murphy Letter, more
Hello Everyone!

In this update for June 16, 2010:

1. Meeting Report
2. Letter To Representative Murphy
3. PCCC Petition Top NY Dems
4. Must Read: "progressive policy is also good politics"

1. Meeting Report

Our June meeting was dominated by a discussion, which went right up to the Cafe's closing time, of the increasingly corporatist drift of what might be called the D.C. Democratic Party, and particularly some recent votes or stances by Rep. Scott Murphy. We decided unanimously to send a letter to Murphy about our concerns, and it is below.
On a personal note-- my apologies for any delay in getting this out-- the hard drive on my computer began to fail the day after the meeting, which hung everything up and I am still catching up.

2. Letter To Representative Murphy

Here is the letter to Rep, Murphy, which I think explains itself.

Representative Scott Murphy
120 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Rep. Murphy;

We are writing to you on behalf of our group, Democracy For The Greater Glens Falls Area. We were pleased to meet with you last August and our monthlyJune meeting was given over to the issues we would raise again in another such meeting.

The first issue that concerned us was your signing the letter challenging the FCC’s revised position on Net Neutrality. This is an issue we feel strongly about, from experience. The entire rise of the progressive movement and the Democratic Party since the Dean campaign started in early 2003 would have impossible without an open, free Internet.

We were greatly relieved when FCC Chairman Genachowski reclassified broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. This was appropriate, and no further action is needed, including action by Congress. Because the Internet was created by the federal government and not private interests, and restricted commercially before being opened up, it was first legally clear, and then implicit, that the Internet belonged to the American people. Unfortunately, there are those who would seek to obscure this.

A digital land rush by large broadband providers would not be in the national interest. If Net Neutrality is lost the companies will have the right and power to restrict access to any information they want. Exactly that is being done in China, and in some cases U.S. internet companies are doing it for the Chinese. The dictators in Beijing know full well the control of information is essential to their control. That is why there is no more important issue for the future of democracy than Net Neutrality.

Further, the changes demanded by the large broadband providers would gravely damage our economy. It is true intellectual property theft is a problem online, but to destroy the basic structure of the Internet to deal with a few cheats is like burning a house down to get rid of some ants. We need to remember what happened to Napster. It's nonsense to claim that enforcement of intellectual property rights isn't done or can't be done.

Again, we need look at what is happening in China. That country is the biggest source of intellectual property theft in the world. They are basically adopting a non net-neutral approach, but they are not using it to police intellectual property theft, they are using it to crush free speech, block democracy and protect official corruption.

Once a conglomerate has the right to filter or control what goes over their lines, then they inherently would have the right to filter out content from competing media companies. There are parallels from the past– for instance the vertical integration of movie studios that once owned their own theaters, and would not show pictures from competing studios–which resulted in a situation where some communities did not have access to other studio’s films. Another example would be the pre-anti-trust era, where some railroads entered into exclusivity contracts with shippers so that the communities they served were denied access to competitors. A situation like that could easily arise again were Net Neutrality to be destroyed.

Accordingly, we would strongly urge you to remove your name from that letter and support an open Internet.

We were also concerned by reports of your vote against HR 4213, the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act, which would have extended unemployment and COBRA coverage, among other things. The economy is showing scant signs of recovery, pump-priming measures are still urgently needed, and unemployed Americans must be protected from devastating cutbacks.

PAYGO rules must be applied in a way that does not fetter the ability of government to respond to a crisis. Further, those rules must not be interpreted in such a way that large areas of federal spending– for instance waste in defense spending– is treated as sacrosanct and beyond consideration while essential human services are targets for cuts. It was deeply wrong for conservatives to game the PAYGO rules in order to kill programs they could not defeat otherwise.

Funding these programs by cracking down on tax breaks given to ultra wealthy hedge fund managers was entirely appropriate. Tax breaks for the super rich gamblers who helped wreck our economy are not more important than the unemployed.

Finally, we were also surprised at your vote against the measure introduced by Speaker Pelosi to eliminate tax breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas. Although we recognize this measure had little chance of passing the Senate, its purpose was valid in an election year–to force Republicans to shed their fake populist claims and show who they really stand for: big business and the wealthy. Democrats must show working Americans who really cares for them.

We believe that promises our party has made to the American people over the last several election cycles are not conditional or contingent, but are binding covenants. Democrats have repeatedly stated, in the words of Bill Clinton, that our party is for average people “who work hard and play by the rules.” The growing perception that we are more responsive to Wall Street than Main Street is a threat to Democrats at every level. There is no future to a bait-and-switch party.

Many of your votes, for instance to make good on Democrat's long overdue promise to abolish Don't Ask Don't Tell, demonstrate your willingness to consider progressive measures. We would urge you to broaden that perspective to include structural economic reforms needed to prevent future crashes (breaking up banks “too big to fail” ) and the growing inequality of American society. As it was often said of President Franklin Roosevelt, the highest praise given him was that he was “a traitor to his class.”

We hope you agree Democrats must honor their party’s covenant with the American people, and that the support of rank and file Democrats for their candidates depend on this, and that they are right to simply walk away in the Fall if that covenant is ignored.

3. PCCC Petition Top NY Dems

Echoing the concern in our last meeting, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has a warning and petition out tonight for New Yorkers: efforts are being made, lead by NY Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman, to wreck the reforms required to rein in Wall Street excesses, prevent another devastating crash and make American fairer.

The excuse given, and it is a dilly when you phrase it correctly, is that Wall Street's gambling mentality, the severe overconcentration of wealth, and a blind eye to gross corruption and indifference to the needs of society are acceptable because they generated tax revenue for New York State. Similar arguments were once made for other immoral economic activities, like slavery.

The answer is to rein in Wall Street and then not hurt the New York economy by fairly taxing the people who ripped off our economy. The top 1% of Americans now has about a quarter of the wealth of the nation, probably an all time high.

For more on the Ackerman initiative and NY Dems:
To sign the PCCC's petition and learn more:

4. Must Read "progressive policy is also good politics"

If anyone argues with you that political expediency requires bad policy, the answer is that progressive policy is good politics, it's also the way to win. Dick passes along this terrific piece by Peter Daou, who used to work for HIllary Clinton: "Last Chance Mr. President, Go Big and Go Left."

Thanks everyone! See you all soon,


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