Brendan Fischer's News Articles

America's Inefficient and Ineffective Approach to Border Security

Last week, the Senate refused to approve the DREAM Act, a bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for children brought into the country illegally if they attend college or serve in the military. Opponents stated that no immigration reform will happen without first "securing" the 1,951 mile U.S. border with Mexico. America's current approach to border security is wasteful and ineffective, and "securing the border" will never be achieved until we redefine our approach to, and definition of, border security. With many in Washington expressing concern about fiscal responsibility, reining in the billions wasted annually on current border security policies should really be a priority. But America's xenophobic preoccupation with an "invasion" by brown-skinned "illegals" may keep us pursuing an expensive and unreasonable approach to border security.

Honduras' PR Coup

Part one of a two-part article. (Go to part two).

Wikileaks recently published documents suggesting that PR spin helped determine the final outcome of the June 2009 Honduran coup. At the same time that a July 2009 diplomatic cable from the U.S. Ambassador in Honduras to top government officials confirmed that the Honduran president's removal was illegal, professional lobbyists and political communicators were beginning a PR blitz, eventually managing to manipulate America into believing the coup was a constitutional act.

Will Cutting Taxes for the Rich Really Create Jobs?

The White House and many Congressional Democrats recently caved to Republicans in a deal extending all of the Bush tax cuts for two years in exchange for a 13-month extension of unemployment benefits. The deal reverses stated opposition by many Democrats to an extension of tax cuts for the top income bracket, with 25 percent of the savings from the deal going to benefit the richest one percent of Americans. While Democrats who supported the bill claimed to do so begrudgingly, the plan has many avid supporters who justify its lopsided benefits by insisting that tax cuts for the rich and for businesses create jobs and benefit the economy. This is a big myth.

Whopper, Indeed: Republicans More Responsible for Green Outsourcing

As part of our “Whoppers of the 2010 Election Cycle” article, we noted how Republicans ran misleading ads accusing their Democratic opponents of creating jobs in China by supporting the stimulus package. Not only did these ads completely twist the facts, but it was disingenuous for Republicans candidates to accuse Democrats of sending jobs to China when GOP members opposed the “Buy American” provisions that would have prevented this offshoring. Here, we discuss how the GOP’s sustained opposition to meaningful climate and energy legislation played a larger role in sending green jobs overseas than a vote for the stimulus.

Supreme Court Considers Corporate Right to Mandatory Arbitration

The U.S. Supreme Court may continue its march towards permitting greater corporate "rights" in the case AT&T Mobility vs. Concepcion, scheduled for oral argument on Tuesday. If the Court sides with the telecom giant, it will greatly weaken rules regarding an individual's right to join class-action lawsuits, one of the most powerful legal tools available to citizens and consumers.

Class actions allow everyday Americans to join together and bring a single lawsuit in cases of widespread violations of individual rights. These suits are particularly useful when individual damages are relatively small, making it difficult or cost-prohibitive to bring an individual suit. A class action lawsuit allows wronged persons to band together, thereby making their claims more effective and efficient. Such aggregated lawsuits aim at deterring corporate misconduct regarding misleading consumer practices, unfair hiring practices, product defects, toxic pollution, civil rights violations, and other abuses. Class action suits have been highlighted in popular culture in films like Michael Clayton, (which dealt with a corporation’s violent reaction to a class action lawsuit filed by persons sickened by health effects from its lethal pesticides) or Erin Brockovich, involving a class-action suit against the world's largest utility company for contaminating the water supply with cancer-causing chemicals.

Voter Intimidation in Wisconsin

The progressive advocacy group One Wisconsin Now has uncovered a plan by the Wisconsin Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity, and local Tea Party groups to engage in what One Wisconsin Now is calling a “voter suppression” scheme. The GOP and Tea Party groups have denied the existence of such a plan, instead claiming that their efforts are aimed at preventing alleged "voter fraud."

The voter-suppression charge arises from right-wing groups training “election observers” to challenge people they somehow suspect of voting fraudulently in Wisconsin’s elections. Americans for Prosperity is paying for a series of mailings targeted at communities of color, to assemble a list of “ineligible” voters that Tea Party election observers will challenge at the polls. Such challenges are not only intimidating and intrusive, but contribute to long lines at polling stations, further discouraging voters.

The Illicit Action Network

The Center for Media and Democracy continues its series exposing the right-wing political operatives, billionaires, and corporate executives behind the American Action Network (AAN), the group running grossly misleading ads attacking Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. This week, we highlight AAN board member and CREEP-er, Fred Malek.

Can We Really Call the AFSCME the "Big Dog?"

A variety of media outlets are reporting that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal, Employees (AFSCME) is spending $87.5 million on election activities in 2010, making it the “big dog” in spending for the campaign season. The Center for Media and Democracy is a nonpartisan organization, and encourages voters to be skeptical about campaign messages from outside groups regardless of whether they are supporting Democrats or Republicans. However, we feel it necessary to point out that AFSCME’s spending does not equalize the playing field.

First, although AFSCME may be the single biggest spender, the “big dog” title is a little disingenuous, as the corporate-funded interest groups supposedly outspent by the union are numerous and coordinated. Karl Rove’s organization, American Crossroads, is spending $65 million, and it shares office space and harmonizes its activities with American Action Network, which is spending $25 million.

James Bopp's Committee for Half-Truths in Politics

It is well-known that the U.S. Supreme Court's democracy-corrupting Citizens United decision is largely responsible for the hundreds of millions of corporate dollars flooding this season's election cycle. But many do not know that one man is particularly responsible for Citizens United and other challenges to fair election rules, and that his ironically-named "Committee for Truth in Politics" is one of the many groups fronting corporate dollars while pretending to be just like ordinary folk.

This first post-Citizens United campaign season has, unfortunately, vindicated fears about the Court decision's impact. As expected, at least hundreds of millions of corporate dollars have been spent in the past months trying to buy our votes, with most of this money being funneled through outside special interest groups with innocent-sounding names like "American Action Network" or "American Crossroads." Outside special interest group spending is five times greater in 2010 than in the last midterm election, and as expected, most of these funds are helping Republicans who generally oppose regulating their corporate benefactors.

A Lot of Corporate Money, and Very Little Honesty

The latest demonstration of the impact that Citizens United is having on this election season is a $50 million corporate-funded ad blitz to support Republican House congressional candidates. While some Republican leaders are finally acknowledging the role of anonymous corporate money in buying influence, the ads funded by those dollars remain misleading.

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