Category: corporations

Fighting the Assaults on Net Neutrality and Our Economy

by Harvey Wasserman

originally published by TruthDig

A net neutrality protester near the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 

Let’s all take a moment to savor this great grass-roots U.S. Senate victory in Alabama of Democrat Doug Jones over accused child molester Roy Moore. Let’s also celebrate the victory of the moderate Ralph Northam over the extremist Republican Ed Gillespie to be governor of Virginia, and a possible flip of the Virginia legislature, with the influx of a strong contingent of progressive women.

Breathe deep. Stretch up your arms. Shout for joy.

Okay?

Now let’s use all that great new energy to fend off Donald Trump’s twin assaults on net neutrality and our core economy.

Losing could leave us blind and impoverished. So don’t even think about it.

On net neutrality, the fight is ongoing and long-term.

On Trump’s tax scam, we have at best a few days.

A mass movement already is in place to save the internet.

Thursday’s vile 3-2 FCC vote to end net neutrality has long been expected. Mass demonstrations, community organizing, court challenges, an attempt at a congressional reversal and much more are in motion.

This is new territory, a fight for control of humankind’s central nervous system. The alternative to winning is brain death.

As for the GOP tax scam, the clock is ticking.

The Senate version passed 51-49 on Dec. 1. The House-Senate reconciliation committee wants a new version rubber-stamped next week. Despite the bill’s immense impact, there’s been a complete lack of public hearings orsane scrutiny.

It’s not likely there’ll be enough Republican votes in the House to stop it.

In the Senate, we need just three.

The likeliest is Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the only Republican to vote no last time. Trump has punked him with a stream of personal insults. Corker is not running for re-election. Like all other potential swing votes, he is no doubt being promised the world to vote yes.

Next might be Maine’s Susan Collins. She voted against gutting Obamacare. Her first yes vote on the tax bill reportedly was based on promises from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Medicare and Social Security would be protected. But co-perpetrator and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s life mission has been to destroy both. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, among others, proudly proclaims that this will start the process.

Why anyone would believe anything the GOP leadership says is hard to fathom. Maine’s struggling elder community, among others, has displayed great anger, including heated demonstrations at Collins’ office and her public appearances. She must know that if she votes yes again, she will drown forever in an unforgiving grass-roots tsunami.

Arizona’s Jeff Flake has been yet another target of Trump’s venal abuse. Flake dramatically announced he won’t run for re-election. But then he voted for the tax bill. Why?

Arizona’s John McCain did the same. The “Great Maverick” cast the decisive vote to save Obamacare. He’s been undergoing what must be a hugely expensive course of treatment for brain cancer.

This may be among the last votes McCain casts, and it’s likely a death sentence for millions of Americans who can’t afford the kind of health care he’s been getting. Does he care?

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin hinted at opposing the first draft based on its rough treatment of small business. But apparently his good friend Paul Ryan found Johnson’s price.

Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski voted against destroying Obamacare. But she’s ecstatic about this bill’s death sentence for the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, where her biggest donors want to drill for oil and further heat the planet.

Maybe other Republicans can be turned. Trump’s minions surely have scoured every GOP wish list. And they have no intention of waiting for Doug Jones to take his seat.

But somewhere, somehow, amidst the warm glow of the Alabama turn, we must find a way to stop this bill.

Here are just a few reasons why:

● It enacts one of history’s most blatant thefts of essential resources from working- and middle-class Americans to the rich and super-rich. Trump himself would profit.

● It worsens the kind of wealth gap that fed the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed.

● It guts Obamacare, leaving tens of millions without medical coverage while facing needless disease—and possibly death—for themselves and their children.

● It opens the all-out GOP assault on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, with the impoverishment of millions sure to follow.

● It attacks public education with massive supports for private schools that will profit Trump cronies like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

● It ends teachers’ ability to deduct what they spend on supplies for their students.

● It taxes graduate students’ scholarships, tuition waivers and other essential steps to advanced degrees, slashing what’s left of our professional education system.

● It lets tax-free churches engage in partisan campaigns, allowing mega-rich donors to launder “purchases” of “pious” candidates.

● It slashes support for wind power, solar energy, electric cars and other “Solartopian” advances while funding massive new tax breaks for obsolete, planet-destroying King CONG (coal, oil, nukes and gas).

There’s much, much more.

Trump’s “tax reform” and internet assault are at the cutting edge of a suicidal war being waged by the psychotic rich against the rest of us—and the planet.

We are in Koyaanisqatsi; life out of balance. The center is not holding. Our social and ecological fabric is giving way. Our survival is at stake.

These turning-point elections in Virginia and Alabama give us hope.

Now the gritty substance of the war for our ability to communicate, and for the core of our life support systems, is in a different kind of play.

Like those elections, these are conflicts we cannot afford to lose.

So let’s win. Again.

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman co-wrote THE STRIP & FLIP DISASTER OF AMERICA’S STOLEN ELECTIONS at www.freepress.org, along with Bob’s FITRAKIS FILES.  Harvey’s SOLARTOPIA!OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.solartopia.org.His LIFE & DEATH SPIRAL OF US HISTORY will be out in 2018.

Follow Harvey Wasserman on Twitter @Solartopia

The “Fan-Owned” Green Bay Packers are America’s Team…and Just Played Like It

greenbay solartopia

by Harvey Wasserman

[This article was originally published by The Progressive on January 17, 2017]

All too rare is the sporting event that qualifies as a great work of art. And even rarer is the professional sports team that belongs to the public. The transcendent Green Bay Packers have now entered the Pantheon for both.

By way of disclosure, I am a part owner (two shares) of the Packers, which is part of the point. The team, from the tiniest media market in American sports, is owned by the public. Back in 1922, the team hit hard times due to some bad rainouts. To save the franchise, local business leaders established a nonprofit to take up the slack. Nearly a century later, the franchise and the stadium are still owned by the community. Praise be!!!!!

The Packers have been extremely successful, compiling one of the very best records in all major league sports. And they just won as great a football game as anyone has ever seen or could even invent. But more on that after this anti-commercial message:

American professional sports is now a sinkhole of cynical corruption. Except for the Packers, our football, baseball, basketball, and hockey teams are owned almost exclusively by a bunch of Trumpish billionaires. There’s Donald Sterling, former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, whose racist epithets and public jealousies of Magic Johnson were beyond unbearable. And Dan Snyder, current owner of the football team in our nation’s capital with the blatantly racist anti-indigenous nickname he has vowed to keep forever. And, there’s the management of baseball’s Cleveland Indians, who may or may not be phasing out the most vile, racist logo in all of sports.

Worse is the grinding corporate grayness with which these franchises are manipulated as owners manipulate the fans’ love for their teams by blackmailing billions in tax breaks, stadium subsidies, and outrageous ticket prices to gouge every last cent they can get.

The most recent travesty involves the double-move of the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles—which would be far better off without either of them. In both cases, decades of loyal hometown fan devotion has counted for nothing. Nor have the billions the host communities have poured into those teams, only to be left holding very large municipal stadiums and other financial bags now absurdly empty.

If those teams had been owned by those towns, like the Packers, this would not be happening.

Of course the NFL cartel HATES the Packers. The combine now has on its books an actual law banning further community ownership of any NFL franchise. But the Packers themselves will not be moving to a bigger media market. Nor will they be enriching some yacht-riding, cognac-guzzling fat cat, or the bottom line of some faceless mega-corp.

Several years ago, the Packers management decided to offer shares in the team for public sale. I snapped up two. There are zero benefits beyond bragging rights and a certificate. No discounts for seats. No dividends. No accretion in value for re-sale. No free dinners with the players.

When I asked the main office about deeding one of my shares to a nephew who wants to be a sportscaster, I was told I could not sell or pass on the shares beyond immediate family.

A few years ago, there was a women’s basketball team in Columbus called the Quest. It had a great star named Katie Smith and won the first two championships in its nascent league. But then the team ran out of money. At the second championship game, I begged the owner to sell the franchise to the city. He looked at me like I was a cross between a conspiracy theorist and a Commie terrorist. The league went out of business. Columbus no longer has a professional women’s basketball team. Nice work, former Quest owner.

Given the choice, most NFL owners and network moguls would probably love to see the Packers go out of business, out of Green Bay, and into the control of fact cats. But, as a stockholder, I say all major sports teams should be owned by their host communities.

Which gets me to Sunday’s game. The Packers began the season with four wins and six losses, having suffered a series of major injuries. They seemed to be going nowhere. But transcendent quarterback Aaron Rodgers predicted the Pack would “run the table” and win all six upcoming games and make the playoffs. It seemed like a throwaway line.

But Rodgers is arguably the sport’s greatest quarterback, a terrific passer and an amazing scrambler with a brilliant football mind. He owns the on-field presence of a zen master. He has also been scandal free and signed a petition to recall Wisconsin’s right-wing governor Scott Walker.

The Packers did run the table, then won their seventh straight game, beating the New York Giants in the playoff wild card game.

On Sunday, they faced the powerful Dallas Cowboys (13-3 in the regular season), with a brilliant rookie quarterback from Mississippi State and a dominant rookie running back from Ohio State. Dallas has a whole history of its own. That includes the obnoxious marketing assertion that it is “America’s Team” even though it’s owned by a highly reactionary corporate elite.

The Packers took an early lead only to have the Cowboys come from behind to tie the game in the final quarter. With just minutes to go, the Packers retook the lead with an astounding 56-yard field goal. The Cowboys then tied the game again with another brilliant drive and not-quite-as-long field goal.

With less than a minute left, it seemed like we were headed for overtime. And the Pack has a sorry history of losing big games at the last minute. On the other hand, Rodgers has a history of pitching high, long “Hail Mary” passes that somehow get caught.

Bottom line: With time for just one play to get in field-goal range, Rodgers rolled left and pitched a perfect right-armed strike thirty-six yards down the sidelines to Jared Cook, who made a spectacular catch that will be forever embedded in NFL lore.

The Packers’ kicker, Mason Crosby, then converted another fifty-plus-yard field goal to win the game. Except that the Cowboys called time-out just before he got it off. So he did it a third time!

The Pack now travels to Atlanta, hoping to get to the Super Bowl, to face either the Pittsburgh Steelers or the New England Patriots, who are coached by Bill Belichick, the Darth Vader of American football.

Whether or not they win it all this year, the Green Bay Packers are an exemplar for what a professional sports team can be. All these franchises should be publicly owned, so they can stay in places like Green Bay and St. Louis, San Diego and Columbus. Where we home fans have secure community ownership, and can wholeheartedly embrace fantastic triumphs like this amazing run from the fabled Pack.

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Harvey Wasserman once played many sports, and was captain of his high school tennis team. Like most former athletes, he finds that the older he gets, the better he was.

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