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December 2012
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Archive for December 4, 2012

Tell Latham To Sign Discharge Petition To Avoid Fiscal Cliff

Rep. Tom Latham was presented with a golden opportunity today to put partisan politics aside for the good of the middle class families he represents and to help avoid pushing our economy off the ‘fiscal cliff’.  Reportedly, the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House filed a ‘discharge petition’ that would force a vote on legislation passed earlier this year in the U.S. Senate – and that GOP House leadership has ignored — to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 a year while preserving them for 98% of Americans and 97% of small businesses.  The petition requires at least 218 signatures to bring the bill forward, making bipartisan support essential.

In response, Progress Iowa called on Rep. Latham to immediately sign the petition and send a message that when it comes what’s best for Iowa, he is not beholden to selfish special interests or his/her irresponsible party bosses — a message that it is not worth holding middle class families tax relief hostage a minute longer to protect tax breaks for the richest 2%.

“While the recent election results clearly have not sunk in yet for Congressman Latham, he would be wise to examine recent polling,” said Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa. “Latham may not realize it yet, but he and his party will be held responsible in if Congress fails to act and allows taxes to go up on every Iowa family at the beginning of next year.  A typical middle-class family of four would see its taxes rise by $2,200; that means less money to buy groceries or fill a prescription. That means a tougher choice between paying the rent and paying tuition.  Fortunately for Latham, he can help avoid all this by joining this responsible effort to prioritize middle class families over millionaires.  Time is running out.  Latham can show he is a true independent voice for Iowa by signing the petition and sending the middle class tax bill that his constituents and Iowa small businesses want to the President’s desk now.”

Click here to contact Tom Latham

Editor’s note:  While we’re on the subject of Tom Latham, remember when he publicly ridiculed bike lanes? Apparently assuming that bicyclists don’t also own and drive cars, he said that every biker is “one less person paying into the transportation trust fund.”

Action Needed: FCC Consolidation Proposal

Dear Prometheus allies,

Friday’s FCC vote to expand community radio was a great holiday gift, but now the FCC is trying to leave something much worse in our stockings: more media consolidation.

The FCC wants to gut the 30-year-old “cross-ownership” rule, designed to prevent one media company from controlling too much of the news in any city. With the rule gone, one company will be allowed to own a daily newspaper, two TV stations and up to eight radio stations in your town. (That one company could be your Internet provider, too.)

Our only hope is that FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel will oppose the rules. If they do, we believe that FCC Chairman Genachowski will back down.

Prometheus is joining with Free Press and the Center for Media Justice in a national call-in day of action today, Tuesday, Dec 4.

Please join us by calling these Commissioners and asking them to stand up for a democratic, diverse media system! Your call should take less than a minute.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn – (202) 418-2100
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel – (202) 418-2400

Tell the staff person your name, where you’re calling from, and your organization or station if you have one. You can borrow from the text below, and it’s especially helpful if you can make your comments local, personal and concrete.

Be sure to end your call by asking the Commissioner to stand up for media justice and vote no on the media ownership proposal. And don’t forget to thank the staffer!

Some “talking points” you can use in your call:
We can’t afford more media consolidation: Relaxing cross-ownership will put too much media power in the hands of too few people and will mean less local news in our cities and towns.
This rule change will hurt media diversity: The number of TV and radio stations owned by women and people of color will go down as small stations get bought by larger companies
The FCC should involve the public in the process: When the Bush FCC first tried to push through the same bad rules they held seven public hearings. Chairman Genachowski hasn’t even revealed his whole proposal.
Thank for your help in saving our media!

Electromagnetically yours,
The Prometheus Radio Project

More press and information about the FCC proposal:
Statement from Free Press
Change for the Worse infographic: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Media-Monopolization Policies vs. Former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s Failed Consolidation Proposals
Huffington Post op-ed: Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?
New America Media op-ed: FCC Abandons Media Diversity

Winners and Losers in the Historic Elections of 2012

“White supremacy and male supremacy were the real losers in this election.”

by Ralph Scharnau

Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American President, won a second sweeping national victory on November 6.  Obama’s winning electoral college vote far exceeded what many had predicted, and he also won a majority of the popular vote.  None were more surprised by this outcome than Republicans.  The billionaires who thought they could buy the election turned out to be big losers as organized people defeated organized money.

The elections revealed a number of historic results and reflected the nation’s changing demographic patterns.  Many voters rejected Mitt Romney and the other Republican candidates as too male, too pale, and too stale.

Despite a weak economic recovery and continuing high unemployment, Obama built a rising American electorate coalition of women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, the young, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and bisexual) people, and unionized workers in Midwestern battleground states.  Hispanics chose Obama by 71%.  If Republicans continue to lose Hispanics at this rate, states like Arizona and Texas could be considered swing states in the presidential contest by 2016 or 2020.  The unhinged intensity of extreme right wing anti-Obama rhetoric alienated moderate voters who supported the president’s re-election by a 16-point margin.

Democrats picked up a few seats in the House, and slightly increased their majority in the Senate.  Vermont’s progressive Independent Senator, Bernie Sanders, easily won re-election. Republicans continue to control the House and hold a majority of state governorships.

Women comprised 53% of the total national vote and went for Obama by 11 points.  Women account for one-third of the newly elected members of Congress where there will be more females than ever before.  For the first time ever, women and minorities will be the majority of House Democrats.

The election proved to be a very good night for Democratic women.  Four states elected their first female U.S. Senators:  Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), the first openly lesbian senator, and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), the first Asian-American woman and first Buddhist.  Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) will become the first disabled woman in the House and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), the first Hindu.  Senator Claire McCaskill (Mo.) won re-election along with U.S. Representatives Kirstin Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.).  Meanwhile, New Hampshire will have an all-female congressional delegation, a national first.

Other Democrats also fared well.  Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Virginia’s Tim Kaine, and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy won hard fought Senate races.  House Democratic newcomers include Anne McLane Kuster (N.H.), Alan Grayson (Fla.), and Mark Pocan (Wis.), a gay man.  Arizona elected Kyrsten Sineman, the first openly bisexual member of Congress.  The number of LGBT lawmakers on Capitol Hill now stands at seven, the most ever.  Over two-thirds of the states now have at least one “out” state legislator.

Despite the media attention on Libya in the last month of the campaign, only 5% in national exit polls put foreign policy as the most important issue.  And Obama won that group by about 20 points.

Both parties are poised and well-rehearsed for the coming battle over jobs, the economy, immigration reform, the role of government, taxes, spending (including defense), Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, climate change, and the fate of the debt ceiling, which will likely be reached early in 2013.

In a sense, white supremacy and male supremacy were the real losers in this election. The 2012 elections may mark a new beginning for those who continue to struggle for equality and opportunity.  As a nation, we have become multihued and multicultural. Regardless of whatever else happens in his second term, Obama will be remembered as the president who gave us a more hopeful, just, and democratic vision for the United States.

Ralph Scharnau teaches U. S. history at Northeast Iowa Community College, Peosta.  He holds a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University.  His publications include articles on labor history in Iowa and Dubuque.  Scharnau, a peace and justice activist, writes monthly op-ed columns for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald.