Monday, March 19, 2018

Roland Martin Slams Carson For Proposed Change To HUD’s Mission Statement

   Roland Martin Slams Carson For Proposed Change To HUD’s Mission Statement

Secretary Ben Carson proposed a major change to the mission statement of HUD. The change would remove anti-discrimination language from the organization's mission statement.  See what Roland Martin had to say about the proposed change Carson floated in a memo to staff.

If you have not read it, check out Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s book, "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?"

Also, pick up Dorothy F. Cotton's book, "If Your Back's Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement"     

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Palestine to Black Lives Matter

                  Palestine to Black Lives Matter

In Democracy Now!’s special broadcast of the final 2016 U.S. presidential debate, they asked Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza what the major-party candidates should have addressed in their exchange: “I want to see more conversation about what it is going to take to preserve the quality of life of black people in this country, who are being systematically murdered, incarcerated, and otherwise marginalized and disenfranchised.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The first woman presidential candidate

By Margaret Carlson
Monday, 24 Oct 2016

When a woman scores points in a debate, Donald Trump calls her “nasty.” When women hear a woman make solid points, they call her someone they will vote for.

In the final debate on Oct. 19, Trump failed at the critical task of bringing women home. Hillary Clinton had me at hello, even though I am one of the voters suffering from a serious enthusiasm gap.

Like many women, I want the first woman presidential candidate to be perfect. But watching Trump, her imperfections have all but disappeared. Women have to stop buying into the notion that a woman has to be twice as good as a man to get half as much credit.

In one exchange, she spoke for every woman who is overlooked. Her recitation of what she's accomplished — for example, fighting discrimination while he has been sued for it — exemplified the double standard.

She capped her list of contrasts with “On the day I was in the Situation Room monitoring the raid that brought Osama bin Laden to justice, he was hosting ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”

Trump was oddly OK with that, nodding and arching an eyebrow with pride, as if he actually believes hosting a reality show is equivalent to a career in public service.

 There have been many such moments in this campaign, but this one should finally make Republicans drown in shame for letting Trump take over their party. It wasn’t even a hostile takeover.

From the birther movement on they saw his power to energize the base and let him waltz in. Their craven acquiescence will not only lose them the White House but possibly their majorities in Congress, too.

There aren’t enough angry white men to make up for the gender chasm Trump’s behavior has opened. But rather than narrow the gap, almost every word out of his mouth seemed designed to widen it.

And that was before male bravado wouldn’t allow him to walk back his refusal to commit to respecting the election results if they didn’t turn out in his favor. Despite almost universal condemnation, he repeated the whopper on Thursday with a lame joke that he’d accept the results “if I win.”

In fairness, Trump held himself together for about 20 minutes of the debate, like a child given a warning kick under the table to behave at dinner. He made an inaccurate but nonetheless troublesome point about late-term abortions that Clinton did not have a good answer for.

But he went downhill quickly. When Clinton said something he disagreed with and he couldn’t reclaim the floor by loudly butting in (35 times), he leaned into the mike and said “Wrong” (five times) and “Give me a break” (twice).

Clinton would have had a harder time responding to a question about the Clinton Foundation’s “pay to play” if Trump hadn’t broken in to take back the floor that she was quietly happy to cede. A small interjection proved Clinton’s point that anytime he loses he says the game was rigged.

To her charge that he slammed the Emmy awards when he didn’t win one, he retorted “Should have gotten it.”

The U.S. Television Academy, which administers the awards, said in a tweet: "Rest assured, the #Emmys are not rigged."

Those are just the tics of behavior that so drive women to distraction that they don’t even focus on the substance, such as Trump’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade and his resistance to any pushback against untrammeled gun rights.

 He’s also nuke-happy. When Clinton said he’d been “very cavalier, even casual” with statements like “if we have them why don’t we use them,” he just called her “a liar.”

He had no rebuttal for body-shaming Miss Universe or calling her an eating machine.

He didn't even try to respond to the women who accused him of sexual assault who came out en masse after the airing of a tape in which he can be heard bragging about sexual assault: In a nutshell, his accusers are making it up and, anyway, those women don’t meet his standards for the kind of women he would be tempted to grope and, oh, Clinton got them to lie.

That’s when focus groups jerked their dials as low as they could go. When Trump declared, “Nobody has more respect for women than me,” Chris Wallace, the moderator, had to quell the laughter in the hall.

Trump volunteered that he was so sure he hadn’t done anything wrong that “I didn’t even apologize to my wife, who’s sitting right here, because I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know any of these — I didn’t see these women.”

Never mind that his wife recently broke her silence to give an interview in which she said he’d apologized. In Trumpland, being a real man means never having to say you’re sorry.

Even his responses that weren’t gender-related would set your typical suburban mom’s teeth on edge. Consider the twisted logic of Trump’s assertion that he has a soft spot for Vladimir Putin because the Russian president has said he likes him.

 When she said Putin likes him because he wants a puppet, he snarled “You’re the puppet."

The all-out effort to repel women culminated when, as Clinton talked about her plan to ensure the solvency of Social Security, he muttered “Such a nasty woman,” He couldn’t resist the T-shirt ready insult because she said “My Social Security payroll contribution will go up, as will Donald’s, assuming he can’t figure out how to get out of it.”

Granted, if the forum in Las Vegas had been a primary debate, Trump would have won it with the Archie Bunker billionaire vote and those women now wearing “Talk Dirty to Me” T-shirts at his rallies. He doesn’t need more of them, nor does the party he’s slapped his brand on.

Thursday morning he said Clinton had been given the debate questions, a ridiculous charge but also an excuse for why she’d done better. She didn’t cheat, but she did win. Trump no doubt thinks he’d be less of a man if he admitted it.

Margaret Carlson is a former White House correspondent for Time, and was Time's first woman columnist. She appeared on CNN's "Capital Gang" for 15 years. Carlson has won two National Headliner Awards as well as the Belva Ann Lockwood alumni award from George Washington University Law School.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Civil Rights Leader Condemns Trump’s Call To Return Stop & Frisk

Civil Rights Leader Condemns Trump’s Call To Return Stop & Frisk

Trump's response to healing the racial divide in America is to offer the Black community more "law and order."

Written By NewsOne Now

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump met face-to-face on Monday night for their first presidential debate at Hofstra University.

The two candidates touched on a number of issues and spent a considerable amount of time addressing racial tensions around the nation. During their exchange, Clinton and Trump addressed race, policing, and stop and frisk practices, on which both candidates offered their opposing views.

Roland Martin and his panel of guests discussed the candidates’ responses during Tuesday’s edition of NewsOne Now. Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of the Color of Change and one of the many individuals who worked on the campaign to end stop and frisk in New York City, said, “Not only did it not work, but it created tensions between communities and law enforcement where people didn’t trust law enforcement.”

Robinson added, “People were treated like enemy combatants in their own neighborhoods.”

Instead of using stop and frisk policies in cities around the country to end crime in the Black community, Robinson suggested that, “If you want to actually deploy stop and frisk, let’s stop and frisk Donald Trump for his taxes. Let’s stop and frisk Donald Trump for his foundation records and the money that he’s used in inappropriate ways.”

Trump’s response on how to heal the racial divide was to offer the African-American community more “law and order.” NewsOne Now panelist Lauren Victoria Burke, Political Analyst and Writer for NBCBLK, said Trump’s response essentially “brands Black people to crime.”

“Every time he [Donald Trump] brings African-Americans up, it’s about something negative and it’s usually something criminal, in fact, it’s almost always something criminal,” said Burke.

Spencer Overton, President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, explained Trump did not offer an answer to heal the racial divide and believes a major part of the issue deals with the vilification of Black communities. He said Trump’s views make African-Americans look as if they are not human beings.

Overton also agreed with Robinson’s assertion that stop and frisk policies “make communities less safe” and explained if African-American communities aren’t working with police because of a lack of trust, then everyone is unsafe.

Later during his remarks about Trump’s responses to racial issues, Overton said, “law and order applies to police” just as well as it can be applied to the communities in which law enforcement officers serve.

Watch Roland Martin and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the video clip above.

Civil Rights Leader Condemns Trump’s Call To Return Stop & Frisk: Roland Martin and NewsOne Now discuss Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s remarks regarding race, policing, and healing the racial divide.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Leaked Colin Powell Emails

             Leaked Colin Powell Emails Rip 'Racist' Trump as 'National Disgrace

 Former Secretary of State and retired four-star Gen. Colin Powell, who served under three Republican presidents, called Donald Trump "a national disgrace" and an "international pariah" in a personal email, BuzzFeed News reported.

According to the outlet, the June 17 email to Emily Miller, a journalist who was once Powell's aide, took steely aim at the GOP nominee, saying he "is in the process of destroying himself, no need for Dems to attack him" – and at Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, whom Powell wrote "is calibrating his position again."

BuzzFeed reported the website — which has reported but unconfirmed ties to Russian intelligence services — obtained Powell's emails. BuzzFeed reported it has seen the posts.

According to the outlet, in an Aug. 21 email, Powell blasted Trump for embarking on a "racist" movement insinuating President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

"Yup, the whole birther movement was racist," Powell wrote, according to BuzzFeed. "That's what the 99 percent believe. When Trump couldn't keep that up, he said he also wanted to see if the certificate noted that he was a Muslim.

"As I have said before, 'What if he was?' Muslims are born as Americans everyday."

Powell also derided former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who advises Trump, saying the sex scandal-plagued executive would hurt Trump's chances among women voters.

"And Ailes as an advisor won't heal women, don't you think?'" Powell wrote, per BuzzFeed.

According to BuzzFeed News, the other emails included:

One from May with the subject line "racism," Powell wrote: "Or as I said before the 2012 election, 'There is a level of intolerance in parts of the Republican Party.'"

A December 2015 email to CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria, that observed: "You guys are playing his game, you are his oxygen. He outraged us again today with his comments on Paris no-go for police districts. I will watch and pick the timing, not respond to the latest outrage."

An email to an unnamed recipient about not wanting to give Trump media attention: "To go on and call him an idiot just emboldens him."

A July 21, 2015, email responding to Trump's giving out South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham's phone number which called the move a "celebrification of society," and adding "Trump has no sense of shame."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Trump’s Tall Tax Tales

By Jim Hightower

An old saying asserts that falsehoods come in three escalating levels: Lies, damn lies, and statistics. But now there’s an even higher category of lies: a Donald Trump speech.

Take his recent address on specific economic policies he’d push to benefit hard-hit working families, including an almost-hilarious discourse on the rank unfairness of the estate tax.

“No family will have to pay the death tax,” he solemnly pledged, adding that “American workers have paid taxes their whole lives, and they should not be taxed again at death.”

But workers aren’t taxed at death. The first $5.4 million of any deceased person’s estate is already exempt from this tax, meaning 99.8 percent of Americans pay absolutely zero. And the tiny percentage of families who do pay estate taxes are multimillionaires — not workers.

Of course, Trump knows this. He’s shamefully trying to deceive real workers into thinking he stands for them, when in fact it’s his own wealth he’s protecting.

In the same speech, he offered a new childcare tax break to help working families by allowing parents to fully deduct childcare costs from their taxes. With a tender personal touch, Trump said his daughter Ivanka urged him to provide this helping hand to hard working parents because “she feels so strongly about this.”

Another deception — 70 percent of American households don’t have enough yearly income to warrant itemizing deductions. So the Americans most in need of childcare help get nothing from Trump’s melodramatic posturing.

Once again, his generous tax benefits would only flow uphill to wealthy families like his, giving the richest Americans a government subsidy for purchasing platinum-level care for their kids.

As an early 20th century labor leader noted, “Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.”

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson is a New York Times op-ed contributor, MSNBC political analyst, and a professor in the Sociology Department at Georgetown University He has been named by Ebony as one of the most influential black Americans and is the author of 17 books. His upcoming book,The Black Presidency, is a provocative look—sharply critical at times, affirming at others—into the legacy and meaning of America's first black presidency.

     Status of Black Males in American Society

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson eloquently articulates the on going issue of stereotypes and stigmas of black male identity
From Wikipedia:
Michael Eric Dyson (born October 23, 1958) Described by Michael A. Fletcher as "a Princeton Ph.D. and a child of the streets who takes pains never to separate the two", Dyson has authored or edited 18 books dealing with subjects such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marvin Gaye, Nas's debut album Illmatic, Bill Cosby, Tupac Shakur and Hurricane Katrina.

Dyson was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Addie Mae Leonard, who was from Alabama. He was adopted by his stepfather, Everett Dyson. He attended Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on an academic scholarship but left and completed his education at Northwestern High School. He became an ordained Baptist minister at 19 years of age. Having worked in factories in Detroit to support his family, he entered Knoxville College as a freshman at age 21. Dyson received his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Carson–Newman College in 1985. He obtained his master's and Ph.D in religion, from Princeton University. Dyson serves on the board of directors of the Common Ground Foundation, a project dedicated to empowering urban youth in the United States. Dyson and his third wife, writer and ordained minister Marcia L. Dyson, are regular guests and speakers at the Aspen Institute Conferences and Ideas Festival. Together, they lecture on many American college campuses.

Dyson has taught at Chicago Theological Seminary, Brown University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Columbia University, DePaul University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since 2007, he has been a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. His 1994 book Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X became a New York Times notable book of the year. In his 2006 book Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster, Dyson analyzes the political and social events in the wake of the catastrophe against the backdrop of an overall "failure in race and class relations".

In 2010, Dyson edited Born to Use Mics: Reading Nas's Illmatic, with contributions based on the album’s tracks by, among others, Kevin Coval, Kyra D. Gaunt ("Professor G"), dream hampton, Marc Lamont Hill, Adam Mansbach, and Mark Anthony Neal. Dyson's own essay in this anthology, "'One Love,' Two Brothers, Three Verses", argues that the current US penal system disfavors young black males more than any other segment of the population. Dyson hosted a radio show, which aired on Radio One, from January 2006 to February 2007. He was also a commentator on National Public Radio and CNN, and is a regular guest on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Beginning July 2011 Michael Eric Dyson became a political analyst for MSNBC. In May 2013, Dr. Dyson's credibility was questioned by the conservative website The Washington Free Beacon when he said that Attorney General Eric Holder, who was under criticism for the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press telephone records in an investigation of security leaks, "shouldn’t give up his office. What he should understand is that he is the chief law giver of the United States so to speak. He’s the Moses of our time and at least for this administration."

     Michael Eric Dyson spells it out for white people: Police won't 'kill your child'

    Racist Right-Wing Media Obliterated by Michael Eric Dyson

    Dr. Michael Eric Dyson: Obama isn't Moses, he is Pharaoh

Michael Eric Dyson on the Black Presidency

Michael Eric Dyson on the Black Presidency

Thursday, April 14, 2016

NATO Destroyed Libya To Prevent Gold-Backed Dinar

  Muammar Gaddafi Warned The World About ISIS Invasion Of Europe In 2011

        NATO Destroyed Libya To Prevent Gold-Backed Dinar

While France led the proponents of the UN Security Council Resolution that would create a no-fly zone in Libya, it claimed that its primary concern was the protection of Libyan civilians (considering the current state of affairs alone, one must rethink the authenticity of this concern). As many “conspiracy theorists” will claim, one of the real reasons to go to Libya was Gaddafi’s planned gold dinar.

One of the 3,000 Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department on New Year’s Eve (where real news is sent to die quietly) has revealed evidence that NATO’s plot to overthrow Gaddafi was fueled by first their desire to quash the gold-backed African currency, and second the Libyan oil reserves.

The email in question was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by her unofficial adviser Sydney Blumenthal titled “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold”.

The email identifies French President Nicholas Sarkozy as leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered “Francophone Africa.”

Most astounding is the lengthy section delineating the huge threat that Gaddafi’s gold and silver reserves, estimated at “143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver,” posed to the French franc (CFA) circulating as a prime African currency.
And here is the section of the email proving that NATO had ulterior motives for destroying Libya (UPDATE: The link has since been killed, but here is the web cache):

This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:

a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

b. Increase French influence in North Africa,

c. Improve his internal political situation in France,

d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,

e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa)

Ergo as soon as French intel discovered Gaddafi’s dinar plans, they decided to spearhead the campaign against him- having accumulated enough good reasons to take over.

Sadly, Gaddafi had earlier warned Europe (in a “prophetic” phone conversations with Blair) that his fall would prompt the rise of Islamic extremism in the West. A warning that would go unheeded; what’s a few lives in France and Libya, if the larger goal lines the pockets of politicians and the elite so much better after all?

Sources: Free Thought Project, NY Post, FOIA, Daily Telegraph

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Economists and Analysts Support Bernie’s Plan to Break Up the Big Banks

       Economists and Analysts Support Bernie’s Plan to Break Up the Big Banks

Bernie Sanders’ plan includes instating a law similar to the 1930s Glass-Steagall bill, separating commercial and investment banking. Doing this would break up the “too big to fail” financial institutions into smaller parts. Sanders also plans on pursing bringing criminal charges against banking executives that had a role in the 2008 financial crisis.

Now 170 economists and other financial professionals have officially endorsed the plan. Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and CEPR’s Dean Baker are just two of the highly respected individuals that have pledged their support.

“In our view, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ plan for comprehensive financial reform is critical for avoiding another “too-big-to-fail” financial crisis. The Senator is correct that the biggest banks must be broken up and that a new 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, separating investment from commercial banking, must be enacted. Wall Street’s largest banks are now far bigger than they were before the crisis, and they still have every incentive to take excessive risks.
No major Wall Street executive has been indicted for the fraudulent behavior that led up to the 2008 crash, and fines imposed on the banks have been only a fraction of the banks’ potential gains. In addition, the banks and their lobbyists have succeeded in watering down the Dodd-Frank reform legislation, and the financial institutions that pose the greatest risk to our economy have still not devised sufficient “living wills” for winding down their operations in the event of another crisis.
Secretary Hillary Clinton’s more modest proposals do not go far enough. They call for a bit more oversight and a few new charges on shadow banking activity, but they leave intact the titanic financial conglomerates that practice most shadow banking. As a result, her plan does not adequately reduce the serious risks our financial system poses to the American economy and to individual Americans. Given the size and political power of Wall Street, her proposals would only invite more dilution and finagle.
The only way to contain Wall Street’s excesses is with reforms sufficiently bold and public they can’t be watered down. That’s why we support Senator Sanders’s plans for busting up the biggest banks and resurrecting a modernized version of Glass-Steagall.
Following on the heels of the Nation magazine’s endorsement (only their third ever) and new polls showing Sanders within striking distance of his rivals in Iowa and New Hampshire, it’s clear that not only the average people but also our academia are seeing the logic and necessity in Sanders’ proposals. This election will shape the future of our nation for decades to come; it is absolutely critical that we do not allow dark money and entrenched political establishments to preserve the plutocratic status quo. The fate of the middle class depends on it.”

These are the names of the intellectuals who place the betterment of our nation over the ravenous greed of hypercapitalism and the demands of American oligarchy:

1. Robert Reich, University of California Berkeley
2. Robert Hockett, Cornell University
3. James K. Galbraith, University of Texas
4. Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research
5. Christine Desan, Harvard Law School
6. Jeff Connaughton, Former Chief of Staff, Senator Ted Kaufman
7. William Darity Jr., Duke University
8. Eileen Appelbaum, Center for Economic and Policy Research
9. Brad Miller, Former U.S. Congressman and Senior Fellow, Roosevelt
10. William K. Black, University of Missouri-Kansas City
11. Lawrence Rufrano, Research, Federal Reserve Board, 2005-2015
12. Darrick Hamilton, New School for Social Research
13. Peter Eaton, University of Missouri-Kansas City
14. Eric Hake, Catawba College
15. Geoff Schneider, Bucknell University
16. Dell Champlin, Oregon State University
17. Antoine Godin, Kingston University, London, UK
18. John P. Watkins, Westminster College
19. Mayo C. Toruño, California State University, San Bernardino
20. Charles K. Wilber, Fellow, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace
Studies, University of Notre Dame
21. Fadhel Kaboub, Denison University
22. Flavia Dantas, Cortland State University
23. Mitchell Green, Binzgar Institute
24. Bruce Collier, Education Management Information Systems
25. Winston H. Griffith, Bucknell University
26. Zdravka Todorova, Wright State University
27. David Barkin, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco
28. Rick Wicks, Göteborg, Sverige (Sweden) & Anchorage, Alaska
29. Philip Arestis, University of Cambridge
30. Amitava Krishna Dutt, University of Notre Dame
31. John F. Henry, Levy Economics Institute
32. James G. Devine, Loyola Marymount University
33. John Davis, Marquette University
34. Gary Mongiovi, St. John’s University
35. Eric Tymoigne, Lewis & Clark College
36. Trevor Roycroft, Ohio University
37. James Sturgeon, University of Missouri-Kansas City
38. Spencer J. Pack, Connecticut College
39. Thomas Kemp, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
40. Ronnie Phillips, Colorado State University
41. John Dennis Chasse, SUNY at Brockport
42. Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Bard College
43. Silvio Guaita, Institution, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
44. Glen Atkinson, University of Nevada, Reno
45. William Van Lear, Belmont Abbey College
46. James M. Cypher, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas
47. Philip Pilkington, Political Economy Research Group, Kingston University
48. Eric Hoyt, PhD candidate, UMass-Amherst
49. Jon D. Wisman, American University
50. James K. Boyce, University of Massachusetts Amherst
51. Hendrik Van den Berg, Professor Emeritus, Universities of Nebraska
52. Thomas E. Lambert, Northern Kentucky University
53. Michael Nuwer, SUNY Potsdam
54. Nikka Lemons, The University of Texas-Arlington
55. Scott T. Fullwiler, Wartburg College
56. Charles M A. Clark, St. John’s University
57. John T. Harvey, Texas Christian University
58. Daphne Greenwood, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
59. Gerald Epstein, University of Massachusetts Amherst
60. Mohammad Moeini-Feizabadi, PhD candidate, University of Massachusetts
61. Rebecca Todd Peters, Elon University
62. Andres F. Cantillo, University of Missouri-Kansas City
63. Michael Meeropol, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Western New England
64. Robert H. Scott III, Monmouth University
65. Timothy A Wunder, Department of Economics University of TexasArlington
66. Mariano Torras, Adelphi University
67. Gennaro Zezza, Levy Economics Institute
68. Wolfram Elsner, University of Bremen
69. Larry Allen, Lamar University
70. John Miller, Wheaton College
71. Chris Tilly, UCLA
72. Sean Flaherty, Franklin and Marshall College
73. Clifford Poirot, Shawnee State University
74. Anita Dancs, Western New England University
75. Calvin Mudzingiri, University of the Free State
76. Roger Even Bove, West Chester University
77. Andrea Armeni, Transform Finance
78. Anwar Shaikh, New School for Social Research
79. Steven Pressman, Colorado State University
80. Frank Pasquale, University of Maryland, Carey School of Law
81. John Weeks, SOAS, University of London
82. Matías Vernengo, Bucknell University
83. Thomas Masterson, Levy Economics Institute
84. Antonio Callari, Franklin and Marshall College
85. Avraham Baranes, Rollins College
86. Janet Spitz, the College of Saint Rose
87. Nancy Folbre, University of Massachusetts Amherst
88. Jennifer Taub, Vermont Law School
89. Irene van Staveren, Erasmus University
90. Yavuz Yaşar, University of Denver
91. Scott McConnell, Eastern Oregon University
92. Don Goldstein, Allegheny College
93. J. Pérez Oya, Retired UN secretariat (Spain)
94. Elaine McCrate, University of Vermont
95. Thomas E. Weisskopf, University of Michigan
96. Jeffrey Zink, Morningside College
97. Scott Jeffrey, Monmouth University
98. Lourdes Benería, Cornell University
99. Frank Thompson, University of Michigan
100. Baban Hasnat, The College at Brockport, State University of New York
101. Ilene Grabel, University of Denver
102. Tara Natarajan, Saint Michael’s College
103. Leanne Ussher, Queens College, City University of New York
104. Kathleen McAfee, San Francisco State University
105. Victoria Chick, University College London
106. Steve Keen, Kingston University
107. Heidi Mandanis Schooner, The Catholic University of America
108. Louis-Philippe Rochon, Laurentian University
109. Jamee K. Moudud, Professor of Economics, Sarah Lawrence College
110. Timothy A. Canova, Shepard Broad College of Law, Nova Southeastern
111. Karol Gil Vasquez, Nichols College
112. Mark Haggerty, University of Maine
113. Luis Brunstein University of California, Riverside
114. Cathleen Whiting, Willamette University
115. William Waller, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
116. Kade Finnoff, University of Massachuettes-Boston
117. Maarten de Kadt, Independent Economist
118. Timothy Koechlin, Vassar College
119. Ceren Soylu, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
120. Dorene Isenberg, University of Redlands
121. Barbara Hopkins, Wright State University
122. Matthew Rice, University of Missouri-Kansas City
123. David Gold, The New School for Social Research
124. Cyrus Bina, University of Minnesota
125. Mark Paul, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
126. Xuan Pham, Rockhurst University
127. Erik Dean, Portland Community College
128. Arthur E. Wilmarth, Jr., George Washington University Law School
129. Rohan Grey, President, Modern Money Network
130. Tamar Diana Wilson, University of Missouri—St. Louis
131. Radhika Balakrishanan, Rutgers University
132. Alla Semenova, SUNY Potsdam
133. Yeva Nersisyan, Franklin and Marshall College
134. Linwood Tauheed, University of Missouri-Kansas City
135. Michael Perelman, California State University, Chico
136. Janet T. Knoedler, Bucknell University
137. David Laibman, Brooklyn College and Graduate School, City University of
New York
138. Ann Pettifor, Director, Policy Research in Macroeconomics, London
139. Steve Schifferes, City University London
140. Al Campbell, University of Utah
141. Faith Stevelman, New York Law School
142. Kathleen C. Engel, Suffolk University Law School
143. Jack Wendland, University of Missouri-Kansas City
144. Ruxandra Pavelchievici, University of Nice Sophia Antipolis
145. Zoe Sherman, Merrimack College
146. Donald St. Clair, CFP, Financial Planning Assoc. of Northern California
147. Carolyn McClanahan, CFP, Life Planning Partners, Inc.
148. Thomas Ferguson, Senior Fellow, Roosevelt Institute
149. Saule T. Omarova, Cornell University
150. Josh Ryan-Collins, City University, London
151. June Zaccone, Hofstra University
152. Alex Binder, Franklin & Marshall College
153. Albena Azmanova, University of Kent, Brussels School of International
154. Hans G. Ehrbar, University of Utah
155. Devin T. Rafferty, St. Peter’s University
156. Reynold F. Nesiba, Augustana University
157. David Zalewski, Providence College
158. Claudia Chaufan, University of California-San Francisco
159. L. Randall Wray, Levy Economics Institute and Bard College
160. Richard B. Wagner, JD, CFP, WorthLiving LLC
161. Joseph Persky, University of Illinois-Chicago
162. Julie Matthaei, Wellesley College
163. Peter Spiegler, University of Massachuetts-Amherst
164. James Ronald Stanfield, Colorado State University
165. William D. Pitney, CFP, Director of Advocacy, FPA of Silicon Valley
166. Ora R. Citron, CFP, Oak Tree Wealth Management
167. Susan Webber, Former Associate at Goldman, Sachs & Co.
168. Richard D. Wolff, Democracy at Work and New School for Social Research
169. Mu-JeongKho, University College London
170. Kevin Furey, Chemeketa Community College

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Power of the People


    “When the people of America use their power to see that this government operates in this manner then this country will be on the path leading to true greatness.”

  by Michael Payne
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist.

Donald Trump wants to neutralize the power that the Establishment holds over Washington by making dramatic changes to this government. He believes he can make America “Great again.” Bernie Sanders wants to implement universal health care, free tuition at public colleges, address inequality in America, and remove Corporate America’s money, power and influence from this government.

While the tone of their messages is distinctly different, Sanders and Trump are both traveling down similar paths to bring long overdue changes to this government. They both know that the embedded political Establishment that governs both the Republican and Democratic parties stands in the way of facilitating this process.

But, no matter what Sanders and Trump want to do, no matter how many of these revolutionary initiatives they want to put into effect, the members of that Establishment will fight them tooth and nail and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to carry out their agenda. No incoming president, no matter how powerful he or she claims to be, can overcome this massive embedded power alone.

While Trump seems to think that he can force the powers that currently control Washington to bend to his dictates, Sanders clearly acknowledges that he would not be able to further his agenda unless he has the vast majority Americans strongly supporting him at every turn. Sanders is on the right track with his grasp of political reality while Trump is fooling himself.

So we can expect that Washington will remain in a state of gridlock and obstruction until the people use their immense power to force Congress to govern this nation as the Founders intended. Yes, I said “force”, which should be interpreted as the use of “people power.” Nothing will change for the better in America until that power is unleashed; the good news is that it appears that this process is gathering momentum.

Now, we can talk all we want to about using this power to enact change but how would this actually work in practice? Do we think that the American people will somehow organize themselves to take action on important issues before Congress and demand change? That’s simply not going to happen.

But there is a way by which it can happen. In the White House, there is a presidential tool referred to as the “Bully Pulpit”, a term originated by President Theodore Roosevelt, who called it a “terrific platform” by which to motivate Americans to strongly support what he wanted done. The Bully Pulpit was also used successfully by Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Ronald Reagan.

In recent times, President Obama, a very eloquent speaker, has acted as if he didn’t even know the Bully Pulpit existed. He could have used it time and again to rally the American people to support critically important legislation that was being obstructed by the Republicans. He could have lit that fire and energized the people to shake the foundations of Congress and force through needed changes. He did nothing of the kind, he failed to use that presidential pulpit to effectively connect with the people; and, as a result, it has adversely affected this country and society.

These primary contests are a study in contrasts. We have Trump stirring up the people’s anger and frustration, trying to take the Republican Party in a direction which it doesn’t want to go; the GOP hierarchy seems to be powerless to stop Trump’s momentum and his intent to move the GOP away from its rigid conservatism; to take it more to the center of the political spectrum.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton wants to move the Democratic Party further to the right of center and become the champion of the Establishment. Rubio and Cruz are the Republican equivalents of Clinton. Rubio represents the cornerstone of the Establishment and Cruz is little more than a zealous war hawk; both are cut out of the same hubristic, militaristic cloth as Hillary. Neither Cruz, Rubio, Kasich nor Clinton has either the inclination or the capability to ignite that fire within this society but Sanders and Trump, quite obviously, do.

Trump’s mantra is to make America “Great again” and other politicians and Americans continue to insist that this is the greatest nation in the world. The reality is that America can never achieve true greatness until it completely transforms its government into one that backs away from its objective of dominating and controlling the world and, instead, makes the needs and interests of the people its #1 priority.

To escalate this process here is what Sanders, together with the Democratic Party, must do. A strong, continuing message must be sent to the American electorate that it’s time for them to rise up, stop sitting on the sidelines and become directly involved in electing the next president. Americans need to stop listening and watching the many mind-conditioning political commercials and think for themselves. They need to think deeply about the issues and assess the individual candidates’ positions on them.

They need to watch the debates of both parties; listen closely to what the participants say; tune out the bluster and boring repetition and see which candidate seems to have the best grasp of this country’s many pressing problems; see which candidate offers up substantive solutions. Get a feel for that candidate who seems to have a vision for the future and the direction into which this country should head.

And most important of all, to keep this movement’s momentum going, the American people must go to the polls in massive, record-setting numbers, exercise the power that they possess, and begin to lay the groundwork needed to change this broken, corrupted political system. No Super Pac, the Koch brothers or the Wall Street bankers can withstand the power of the people when it is fully unleashed.

I must say that I totally agree with Trump’s rallying call to make America “Great Again.” Unfortunately, he never gives us the details on how he would achieve that objective; so in the absence of his specific plan here is mine:

Keep America very safe and secure by maintaining a strong military, but not by engaging in endless war; stop interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, make this country’s major priorities: the improvement of our education system, the creation of millions of new jobs by restoring our manufacturing sector, building our workforce, rebuilding our infrastructure, and developing solar power.

Reverse the Citizens United case, remove corporations and their lobbyists from any involvement in governmental affairs; restructure the corporate tax code, end corporate tax evasion involving overseas tax havens and tax inversions. If corporations want to continue doing business in this country they must be loyal to this country and its people. Over a period of time identify those members of Congress who continue to refuse to do what is right for this country and its people and send them home packing; prosecute and send Wall Street white collar criminals to prison.

When the people of America use their power to see that this government operates in this manner then this country will be on the path leading to true greatness.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Bernie Sanders on Native American Rights

Bernie Sanders Delivers Passionate Speech on Native American Rights

Bernie Sanders continues his commitment to fighting for Native American’s rights by dedicating the majority of his rally speech in Arizona to talking about the serious issues they face in today’s society.

This week Sanders and his wife, Jane, met with several Native American and latino leaders in Arizona. Jane Sanders visited Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s notorious Tent City jail this week, which she found “very disturbing” and “inhumane”. The Tent City jail is known to have meat removed from prisoner’s meals and utilizes chain gangs.

    “Today in America, one in four Native Americans are living in poverty, and the high school graduation rate is 67 percent, the lowest of any racial demographic group. The second leading cause of death for Native Americans between 15 and 24 is suicide. And that speaks to incredible despair.
One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime. Most of the offenders are non-Native. Most of the programs dedicated to the tribal nations are underfunded. That has led to inadequate housing, inadequate health care, inadequate education, and insufficient law enforcement.
Today, Native Americans have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of uninsured than the population at large, and even those who have health coverage have difficulty accessing the healthcare that they need.”

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bernie Sanders

The struggle to create a nation and world of economic and social justice and environmental sanity is not an easy one. The struggle to try and create a more peaceful world will be extremely difficult. But this I know. Despair is not an option if we care about our kids and grandchildren. Giving up is not an option if we want to prevent irreparable harm to our planet.

We must stand up and fight back. We must launch a political revolution which engages millions of Americans from all walks of life in the struggle for real change. This country belongs to all of us, not just the billionaire class. And that’s what this campaign is all about.

       Bernie Sanders: The Vox conversation

From Wikipedia
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is the junior United States Senator from Vermont and a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Sanders is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history. A self-described democratic socialist,  he favors policies similar to those of social democratic parties in Europe, particularly those of Scandinavia.  He caucuses with the Democratic Party and has been the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee since January 2015.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Sanders attended Brooklyn College before transferring to and graduating from the University of Chicago, where he was a member of the Young People's Socialist League, and active in the Civil Rights Movement as a student protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. In 1963, he participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Sanders settled in Vermont in 1968, and ran unsuccessfully for Governor and U.S. Senator in the early to mid-1970s as a member of the Liberty Union Party. As an independent supported by the Vermont Progressive Party, Sanders was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont's most populous city, in 1981. He was reelected to three more two-year mayoral terms before being elected to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district in the United States House of Representatives in 1990. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to succeed the retiring Republican-turned-independent Jim Jeffords in the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected by a large margin, capturing almost 71% of the popular vote.

Since his election to the Senate, Sanders has emerged as a leading progressive voice on issues like income inequality,  universal healthcare, parental leave, climate change,  LGBT rights, and campaign finance reform.  He rose to national prominence on the heels of his 2010 filibuster  of the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy. Sanders is also outspoken on civil liberties, and has been particularly critical of mass surveillance policies such as the Patriot Act, along with racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

          Bernie Sanders Portland Rally with Crowd of 20,000

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dr. Cornel West Speaks in Arizona

Cornel Ronald West (born June 2, 1953) is an American philosopher, academic, activist, author, public intellectual, and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America. The son of a Baptist minister, West received his undergraduate education at Harvard University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1973, and received a Ph.D at Princeton University in 1980, becoming the first African American to graduate from Princeton with a Ph.D in philosophy. He taught at Harvard in 2001 before leaving the school after a highly publicized dispute with then-president Lawrence Summers. He was The Class of 1943 Professor of African American Studies at Princeton before leaving the school in 2011 to become Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He has also spent time teaching at the University of Paris. From Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

How 13 Complaints Against McDonald's Could Help Millions Unionize

How 13 Complaints Against McDonald's Could Help Millions Unionize
DAVID MOBERG 0SC ON JANUARY 06, 2015  NationofChange

The law is catching up with Ronald McDonald. On Friday, the National Labor Relations Board issued 13 complaintsinvolving 78 charges by workers that McDonald’s USA, LLC, and many of its franchisees broke the law by interfering with collective efforts to organize and improve working conditions.

The complaints will now go to trial before administrative law judges , who could, for the first time, find McDonald’s guilty of violating workers’ right to organize. Until now, McDonald’s has shielded itself from liability by claiming that it’s not an actual employer. Franchisors argue that although they provide the brand name, products, techniques and other operational necessities, they leave franchisees the discretion to operate as sole employer, responsible for all labor costs, risks and obligations.

What’s so significant about the NLRB’s complaints is that the board defines McDonald’s as a joint employer with its franchisees—and thus sharing responsibility.

That marks a huge victory for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU ), which for two years has funded and helped organize a campaign by fast-food and other retail workers to win $15 an hour and the right to unionize—a movement often known as the Fight for 15, though it has different names in different cities. SEIU helped workers file 291 charges that McDonald’s and franchisees retaliated against workers for participating in Fight for 15 strikes and protests. On Friday the board announced it had found merit in 86 charges that McDonald’s had discriminated against workers engaged in collective action by disciplining them, reducing their hours, discharging them unfairly, threatening them, placing them under surveillance and interrogating them. NLRB investigators resolved a few of the case this fall, filed complaints about 78 of the meritorious charges, and are still looking into 71 more.

It was long unclear whether the SEIU’s investment in Fight for 15 would allow it to formally unionize the sector, whose division into thousands of franchises made organizing a Herculean task. As the New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse  wrote in July, when the NLRB general counsel first indicated that it was moving in the direction of declaring McDonald’s a joint employer, the definition “open[s] the door for the SEIU to try to unionize not just three or five McDonald’s at a time, but dozens and perhaps hundreds.”

In total, the joint employer definition could ease the way to unionization for more than 8 million workers in the franchise workforce.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Corporate Rip-Off

    Seven Candidates for Corporate Rip-Off of the Year

There are so many acts of corporate treachery that take money from the American people. We need to work together to stem corporate power.
Published: November 24, 2014             | Authors: Paul Buchheit | NationofChange | Op-Ed

There are so many to choose from. Every one of these selections is an act of corporate treachery that takes billions of dollars from the American people.

1. Selling Medication For Up To 100 Times More Than It’s Worth

Pharmaceutical companies reap billions of dollars in subsidies for research and development, but they’ve successfullylobbied Congress to keep Medicare from bargaining for lower drug prices. An extreme example is Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of the drug Sovaldi, which charges about $10 a pill to its customers in Egypt, then comes home to charge $1,000 a pill to its American customers. Other outrageous examples are noted by Ralph Nader.

As a further insult, Americans are cheated when corporations pay off generic drug manufacturers to delay entry of their products into the market, thereby forcing consumers to pay the highest prices for medicine.

2. Paying Their Employees With Our Tax Money

Walmart made $19 billion in U.S. profits last year, and the four Walton siblings together made about $29 billion from their personal investments. That’s about $33,000 per U.S. employee in profits and family stock gains. Yet they pay their 1.4 million American employees so little that the average Walmart worker depends on about $4,000 per year in taxpayer assistance, for food stamps and other safety net programs.

3. Giving Money to Executives Rather Than Investing in the Future

Corporations are spending trillions of dollars on stock buybacks, which use potential research and development money topump up the prices of executive stock options. Apple alone is spending $90 billion to repurchase its own stock through 2015. Walmart doesn’t provide a living wage for its workers, but its company management spent $7.6 billion, or about $5,000 per U.S. employee, on stock buybacks, in order to further boost the value of their stock holdings.

The buyback surge is dramatic. In 1981, major corporations were spending less than 3 percent of their combined net income on buybacks, but by 2008-9 they were spending 75 percent of their profits on this greed-driven process.

4. Making Money on Dirty Air and Water

Charles Koch once said, “I want my legacy to be…a better way of life for…all Americans.”

Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into rivers and streams than General Electric and International Paper combined. One of Koch’s products is petcoke, which Rolling Stone notes is “denser, dirtier and cheaper than coal.” Too toxic to burn in U.S. coal plants, it’s sold instead to countries with weaker environmental regulations, like Mexico and China. But storage facilities are needed. So the besieged city of Detroit became the dumping ground for a three-story pile ofpetroleum coke covering an entire city block near the Detroit River. The mound of toxic matter spewed thick black “fugitive dust” over the homes of nearby residents. The ugliness was later repeated in Chicago.

5. Making the Highest Profit Margin in the Corporate World — And Demanding a Tax Cut

The trading volume on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) reached $1 quadrillion in notional value last year. That’s a thousand trillion dollars, about ten times greater than the world economy.

With the collection of transfer fees, contract fees, brokerage fees, Globex fees, clearing fees, and surcharges, the company achieved a profit margin (54%) higher than any of the top 100 companies in the nation from 2008 to 2010, and in the past three years it’s risen to nearly 60%.

Despite being the most profitable big firm, CME complained that its taxes were too high, and they demanded and received an $85 million tax break from the State of Illinois.

6. Skipping Out on the Country that Made Their Business Possible

Walgreens (which later backed down), Burger King, and Medtronic are the biggest names in the so-called inversions that allow companies to desert the country that made them successful. They don’t want to pay for decades of publicly funded research in technology and medicine; a legal system that protects patents and intellectual property; infrastructure, including roads and seaports and airports to ship their products; unprecedented amounts of local and national security, and a nationwide energy grid to power factories.

7. Group Ripoff: $74 Billion in Profits…and a Tax Refund

It seems incomprehensible that Boeing, Ford, Chevron, Citigroup, Verizon, JP Morgan, and General Motors, with a combined income last year of $74 billion, would pay no taxes, and in fact receive a combined refund of nearly $2 billion. The data comes from a new study called Fleecing Uncle Sam, which goes on to note that the unpaid taxes of almost $26 billion could pay for Pre-K education for every 4-year old in America.

Is there an answer to all this? Only if we victims work together toward the singular goal of stemming corporate power, especially in the financial industry. To do this, as Les Leopold says, “we will need something like an Occupy 2.0.”

Otherwise the ripoffs will continue.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Bigger Threat to US Health than Ebola

Our home-grown medical catastrophe—the erosion of antibiotic effectiveness—are putting us at great risk. Yet doctors and hospitals aren't to blame, factory farms are.

Published: November 12, 2014 | Authors: Anna Meyer Nicole McCann | OtherWords | Op-Ed

Despite all the panic, Americans don’t face any great risk from Ebola right now. But we do need to worry about a home-grown medical catastrophe of our own that we’re failing to address: the erosion of antibiotic effectiveness.

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat a broad array of infections that can otherwise prove fatal. While the drugs are being grossly overused, diminishing their power to heal, hospitals aren’t to blame — factory farms are.

Most U.S. livestock are being raised today in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO). At these factory farms, antibiotics get routinely doled out to stave off the diseases that might otherwise quickly spread due to overcrowded, unnatural, and unsanitary living conditions.

This overuse is rendering these lifesaving drugs less effective by accelerating the evolution of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

Now that they’ve infiltrated our food system, those bacteria are endangering human health and are taking a bite out of the national economy. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause prolonged infections in thousands of Americans each year, resulting in $20 billion in annual health care costs and over $35 billion in lost economic productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Nearly a quarter of these infections originate from food-borne pathogens.

It’s not like no one warned us this might happen. In 1945, Alexander Fleming — the biologist who won a Nobel Prize for discovering penicillin — cautioned that misusing antibiotics would spur the development of superbugs.

As U.S. agriculture became increasingly industrialized, its leaders ignored Fleming’s warning.

Agribusiness now uses antibiotics with abandon. Livestock and poultry consume an astounding 80 percent of the 29 million pounds of antibiotics used each year in the United States. Entire herds receive daily doses to stave off disease and promote growth — two things that would happen naturally if animals had better living conditions and weren’t crammed into factory farms.

Antibiotics abuse reflects the truly awful conditions farm animals endure today.

The extreme crowding of livestock increases animal stress, produces vast concentrations of manure, and makes good hygiene virtually impossible — all of which invite pathogens to multiply.

Throw in vast quantities of antibiotics, and it’s no surprise that factory farms are hotspots for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Moreover, since manure from factory farms is often used to fertilize fruits and vegetables, these bacteria can be delivered straight to the mouths of consumers.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become so prevalent that even animals raised without antibiotics may still be carriers. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control, along with many medical organizations, are calling for an end to the “non-therapeutic” use of antibiotics.

Many European nations have seen antibiotic-resistant bacteria decline since implementing such bans. The United States should follow their lead before we wind up facing an epidemic.

As a consumer, you can do your part by choosing to buy certified organic dairy products and meats, as the farmers who sell them don’t use non-therapeutic antibiotics. Everyone has the power to put stores, brands, and lawmakers on notice that we need to save antibiotics for treating illnesses.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Buyer Beware -- Fracking

  Buyer Beware: Latest Documentary from the Tickells Promotes Natural Gas

     Pump Official Trailer 1 (2014) - Documentary

The documentary was funded by Fuel Freedom Foundation and serves as a piece of propaganda for the foundation’s true reason for getting us off foreign oil. Read on to find out more.

Published: October 1, 2014 | Authors: Lauren Steiner | AlterNet | News Analysis

Last weekend, “Pump,” the new film by Josh and Rebecca Tickell, directors of “Fuel” and “The Big Fix” premiered in New York and Los Angeles the same weekend as the largest climate rally in history. As four hundred thousand people marched to tell world leaders we have to get off fossil fuels or face human extinction, this film promoted the use of alternative transportation fuels including ethanol, methanol from natural gas and compressed natural gas (CNG), the latter two obtained through a noxious and greenhouse gas producing process known as fracking.

Funded by the Fuel Freedom Foundation, the film, while purporting to advocate for freedom of choice and low prices to benefit the American consumer, really serves as a piece of propaganda for the foundation’s true reason for getting us off foreign oil. From what I can deduce that is to enhance the security of Israel and/or to financially enrich the foundation’s co-founders.

In July of 2012, a film was posted on YouTube. Titled “Methanol Fuel, the Business Opportunity of the Future,” it was a presentation by Eyal Aronoff, co founder of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, to the 2012 Methanol Policy Forum.

In it, Aronoff recommends we convert our natural gas supply into methanol fuel. “So ladies and gentlemen, the profit margins are gigantic. If this was a company, its profit margins would be twice as big as Walmart… Within 10-15 years this will become a trillion dollar industry!” He acknowledges there are competing interests before he ends with the challenge at hand: “How we find ways to work together with the government agencies with industry with the auto companies and with the consumers to create awareness and to create this transition to happen.”

One way to sell it to the public is to find two willing filmmakers to make a powerful documentary. Couch it as a film about breaking the monopoly of Big Oil, freedom of choice and low price at the pump. But whatever you do, don’t tell the audience that the trillion dollar business opportunity of the future is based on the continued production of natural gas through fracking.

While the natural gas industry wants you to believe that natural gas is clean burning and does not contribute to climate change, the methane produced during the process of fracking is 84 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20 year time frame, which is exactly the time frame it is being promoted as a transition or bridge fuel to renewables.

I was eager to see this film, because I had seen both of the Tickells’ previous films, and believed them to be passionate environmentalists. “The Big Fix” (2011) documents BP’s decision to use Corexit to disperse the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, how many people got sick from it, and how the company and the government tried to cover it up. Rebecca Tickell herself had health consequences from her exposure, as did the child they ultimately conceived.

“Fuel” (2008) began in Josh’s home state of Louisiana, a state dominated by Big Oil to the detriment of the environment and the health of the residents, including Josh’s mother who had nine miscarriages. In the film Josh states, “I grew up hating oil companies, and that hatred is what fueled me.” Josh, who got his degree in sustainable living, discovers he could power his van with used vegetable oil, and he takes this Veggie Van across the US proselytizing for biofuels.

In “Fuel,” Tickell doesn’t advocate anything that is not sustainable or will harm the environment. In 2008 during the course of making the film, when two Science Magazine articles expose the fact that growing corn and soy based biofuels actually increases greenhouse gas emissions, Josh re-edited his film. “Was my entire life’s purpose, everything I had worked so hard for hurting the environment?” he asks in the film.

He discussed how much energy it takes to produce corn-based ethanol and soy based biodiesel. Both are monocrops, which use an incredible amount of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which run off into rivers and streams and actually caused a huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. They are produced by large agribusinesses with government subsidies. He shows how we dump our excess cheap corn on the world markets causing family farmers worldwide to go out of business.

Eight years later in “Pump,” when the Tickells recommend corn-based ethanol as way to get us off oil, none of these facts or consequences are mentioned. In fact, he dispatches the controversy of food versus fuel as propaganda advanced by Big Oil. Prior to the screening, Rebecca Tickell told me it was a campaign of the Grocery lobby.

So why did the Tickells change their tune about ethanol? And why are they recommending two alternative fuels that most commonly come from fracked natural gas? I followed the money to find out.

The sting

Last I’d heard of the Tickells, they had moved to Ojai and were making a movie about what fracking might do to the water in their town. In February of this year, the filmmakers were caught up in the latest sting operation by the notorious James O’Keefe, whose sting on ACORN was responsible for bringing that group down. This time O’Keefe set his sites against liberal documentarians.

The Tickells sat down with a plant pretending to work for someone with Middle East oil interests who wanted to make a film against fracking. The intent was to turn US audiences against fracking because it is moving the US away from dependence on Middle East oil. While secret recordings showed the Tickells to be interested in taking the money, before things could go any further, the scam was exposed by Josh Fox, director of the anti-fracking Gasland films, who was also approached by O’Keefe.

I asked Josh by email whether the idea for “Pump “ came from them or the foundation. He replied: “It was our idea to make PUMP as a kind of finale to our previous films FUEL and The Big Fix. We wanted to make a film that focused solely on how to break the oil monopoly and empower everyday people to walk out of the theater to do just that. We were honored to have the opportunity to work with the Fuel Freedom Foundation and it was a unique experience for us to find our common viewpoints and make a non-partisan film that would appeal to everyone.” When I asked Rebecca Tickell how much input the foundation had into the script and the experts interviewed, she replied, “There was a tremendous amount of collaboration.”

Rebecca told me they went to the Fuel Freedom Foundation for funding and began working with them in 2012. It should be noted that at the foundation’s November 2012 launch, the co-founders outlined their four point agenda for 2013. The first point was to: “Generate public support through media and communications, including a full-length documentary film illustrating the potential of alternative fuels.”

So one has to wonder who had the final cut, as they say in the business. As Tickell says at the end of “Fuel,” Dig beneath the headlines. Fact check, and do your own research. Don’t confuse the news with corporate and government PR.” So I took his advice when trying to figure out why the message changed. I looked into the funders. I wasn’t going to confuse the truth with foundation funded PR.

The funders

“Pump” was primarily funded by the California based Fuel Freedom Foundation,  founded by Joseph Hollander and Eyal Aronoff. Their mission statement says: Fuel Freedom Foundation is working to reduce the cost of driving your existing car or truck by opening the market to cheaper fuel choices at the pump. Our goal is to reduce the cost of transportation fuels in the US by $300 billion annually within ten years. In personal terms it means $2 a gallon at the pump, adding $2,500 per year to the pockets of the average American family. In national terms it means accelerated economic growth, greater energy security, reduced air pollution, lower greenhouse gas emissions and improved health. Fuel Freedom provides a big break for Americans without increasing government spending.”

Sounds good. All gain no pain. But when you delve further, you see that they are really advancing any fuel they think will get us off Middle East oil, including dirty coal and natural gas. Their website features articles like “Myth: Coal is the worst fossil fuel for the economy and the environment.” And “Myth: Biofuels are the cause of deforestation in emerging economies such as Indonesia and Brazil.”

I have no way of knowing whether Mr. Aronoff or Mr. Hollander has invested in methanol companies, because the filmmakers and the publicist would not answer this question, which I posed to them in two emails. But we do know that John Hofmeister, a board member of the Fuel Freedom Foundation, who is featured as one of the main experts in “Pump” and always identified as the former President of Shell Oil, still has current oil and gas interests.

It is a fair question since billionaires like the Koch Brothers have set up think tanks and astroturf groups and fund the climate denial junk science and legislation that advances their business interests. However, it is fairly evident from reading their bios that these two former software entrepreneurs also have ideological reasons for wanting us off Middle East oil.

    Pump Movie CLIP - Energy Sources (2014) - Documentary 

The Israel Connection

Joseph “Yossie” Hollander and Eyal Aronoff both have connections to organizations that support Israel. Hollander is on the board of the Weitzman Foundation of Science and is the founder and chairman of Our Energy Policy Foundation,  “which is dedicated to creating an open dialogue and agreement on the U.S. energy policy.”

Further examination of that second foundation shows a list of contributors who run the gamut of all the dirty energy sources including oil, coal, nuclear and natural gas as well as representatives from such organizations as ALEC and the American Jewish Committee, one of the most hawkish of the major Jewish organizations in America.

Eyal Aronoff, an Israeli-American, “traces his commitment to breaking America’s oil addiction to his Israeli roots. As a young boy, he lost his father in the 1967 Six Day War. Then, on Sept. 11, 2001, Aronoff’s stepbrother and his new wife were both killed in the World Trade Center attack. In the wake of 9/11, Aronoff began to turn his attention to answering the question of how to free the U.S. economy from its dependence on imported oil, which he believes would, in turn, help ensure America’s geopolitical security.” This bio conveniently leaves out that he served in the Israeli Defense Forces, a fact I found in an old Quest software bio of him.

In a Power Point presentation that Aronoff made in 2008 called “Oil: A Story About Addiction,” this slide speaks to how getting off Middle East oil helps Israel. “Oil and the Jihad Ideology” states 1.) Two-thirds of oil reserves are in the hands of Islamic countries. 2.) Petrodollar based countries have no need for employment taxation to finance their activities, have no need to invest in education and well being of the population, use the economic success of oil to propagate radical ideology throughout the globe, and 3.) to avert civil unrest the governments found far away enemies to blame for the daily hardship…Israel and the US. There are no better examples than Saudi Arabia and Iran.”

Also, listed in “Pump’s” credits as funders are Beverly Hills Israeli billionaire Haim Saban and his wife. Saban has repeatedly said, “I’m a one issue guy, and that issue is Israel.” In 2006, energy independence was one of the topics discussed at a “closed session” at Saban’s think tank, the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.

There are other foundations and think tanks founded and funded by wealthy Jewish Americans that link energy independence with national security, including the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, founded by oil and gas billionaire Robert Belfer.

The Council for a Secure America’s website, makes the connection between US energy independence to Israel. “Since 2006, the United States has decreased imports as a percentage of U.S. oil consumption from 60 percent to less than 45 percent, thus reducing the leverage that oil producing countries in the Middle East have on U.S. foreign policy and strengthening our ally Israel.” And it is elaborated on in this article.

Pump: the “problem”

The film “Pump” does not examine either of these ideas: the “trillion dollar business of the decade” or security for Israel. So how did the Tickells go about priming the pump, no pun intended, for the acceptance of these ideas? Through a great story.

George Marshall, founder of the Climate Information Network, says that people are motivated to act by stories not data. And every good story needs a villain. In “Pump,” the entire first half of the film tells us stories of how Big Oil is responsible for the destruction of mass transit, Prohibition, all wars, the killing of methanol as a viable fuel, the killing of the renewable energy standards, the financial collapse of 2008 and the bankruptcy of Detroit. It also states that the booming economy of Brazil is due to their getting off petroleum and onto sugar cane based ethanol. As an activist fighting fracking, no one hates Big Oil more than me. But these accusations are reductionist at best and mendacious at worst.

In making Big Oil the bad guy, the film advances an oft repeated theory that in order to ensure Americans’ reliance on oil, Standard Oil, Mack Truck, Phillips Petroleum and Firestone Tires conspired to destroy the excellent public trolley system in LA and across the country and replace it with oil consuming motor buses. According to Guy Spahn, “Clearly, GM waged a war on electric traction. It was indeed an all out assault, but by no means the single reason for the failure of rapid transit.”

The filmmakers correctly attribute the OPEC oil embargo to the 1973 Arab Israeli war and the animosity of the Arab oil producing countries for Israel. Amy Meyers Jaffe, Executive Director of Energy and Sustainability at the University of California, discusses the devastating effects the oil embargo had on our economy in the 70s. Images of people stuck on long gas lines during the period of gas rationing are shown. In one masterful use of imagery, Tickell shows a photo of a man standing at the gas line with a gun. The message is that if we lose access to fuel, anarchy will ensue. The question is posed: “How can we solve the problem where OPEC controls the destiny of the average American?” Our entire destiny? Really?

It should be noted that Myers Jaffe’s research focuses on “oil and natural gas geopolitics, strategic energy policy, corporate investment strategies in the energy sector, and energy economics.” Last year at a Union of Concerned Scientists forum on fracking at UCLA , I heard her make a case for the benefits of fracking while minimizing its risks. Her book Natural Gas and Geopolitics: From 1970 to 2040 advocates for the global development of natural gas as a solution to our energy and geopolitical problems.

In addressing how we attempted to solve the problem of reliance on OPEC oil, the film lists the other countries where we get oil and the military bases we installed to protect it. One of the film’s experts says “If we can get away from sending our soldiers to die for oil, you can’t put a price on that.” The filmmakers want you to believe the simplistic solution to stopping wars is getting off of foreign oil. There is no mention of the other causes of war: other geopolitical interests, the military industrial complex or terrorism.

There is one scene which shows the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota where they frack for tight oil. The first of only two comments on the negative effects of fracking comes in this one line that says people are “concerned about the effects on water and air. But as the debate continues, fracking is growing at a record pace.”

There is no real “debate” about the effects of fracking on water and air. Study after study has shown that fracking pollutes both the groundwater and the air, causes earthquakes, increases climate change, causes the industrialization of suburban and rural landscapes and uses too much water in states like California and Texas that are plagued by chronic droughts. Describing these “concerns” as a “debate” is like saying there is a debate over whether climate change exists or whether it is caused by human behavior.

The film states that we have gone from being the ninth largest producer of oil in the world to the second. Since this film was completed, we have become the first, surpassing Saudi Arabia. This comes directly as a result of Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy where we are drilling in many US states, in public lands, offshore and in the Arctic. As every climate scientist will tell you, we need to keep 80% of fossil fuels in the ground in order to prevent a two-degree Celsius increase in temperature to avoid the most serious effects of global warming.

The film says we went from drilling 5000 wells a year in 2000 to 25,000 now, but wells produce the most oil when new. The question is then asked, “Where is the benefit to American drivers of increased fracking?” The former Shell oil executive says, “If we rely on our own production of crude, we will die trying.” This is actually the argument we fractivists have been making, which is that there is not enough oil in the ground to meet our energy needs. But the way we will “die trying” is from the poisoning of our water and air and climate change not from running out of oil. While the film makes this negative comment specifically about oil fracking, the same comments can be applied to natural gas fracking.

The film fast-forwards to 2008. “When oil hit $120 a barrel, there were food riots. When it hit $147, everything hit the roof. Sixty days later the stock market fell 770 points in a single day.” Economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin calls the financial collapse “an aftershock.” To lead the audience to believe that the financial collapse of 2008 was a result of increased oil prices as opposed to the result of the financial deregulation at the end of the Clinton administration and the monetary policies of Alan Greenspan, which led to a housing bubble and bust, is really appalling.

They continue by saying the price of oil going up led to the recession, which led to unemployment, which led to people wanting smaller cars, which led to the GM bankruptcy, completely ignoring the competition from foreign cars and the terrible mismanagement of the auto companies. Then they demonstrate the power of imagery by showing the beautiful homes that used to exist in Detroit contrasted with pictures of the dilapidated housing today. “The industry that built Detroit,” says one of their experts, “is the same one that destroyed it.”

While their expert concedes, “Detroit went bust for a number of reasons,” there is no discussion about how the decline of the rust belt states track the decline in the labor movement and our free trade policies as auto factories moved south to non-union states and there was increased competition from foreign cars. Nor is their any mention that Detroit’s bankruptcy was due in large part to a corrupt local government and predatory Wall Street banks.

That would have been inconvenient to their simplistic narrative, which sums up the evils of oil in one sweeping sentence: “War, environmental crises, climate change, political instability, weakened nation, profits robbed, all due to oil addiction. Until there is a will, there will be no way. The people who control the resource control us. They have us just where they want us,” says the narrator conspiratorially. I was surprised they didn’t have a shot of Monopoly Man twirling his moustache with evil music in the background.

Pump: the “solution”

In the second half of the film, the Tickells offer a solution, which happens to be a free market, libertarian one. “The way to break up a monopoly is with competition. We need choices including a car that doesn’t use oil at all.” The film talks about electric cars, but says batteries are too expensive now; most electricity comes from coal, natural gas and wind; and it will take three decades to switch to electric cars. They ask “What about the 1.3 trillion internal combustion engines that are on the road now?”

Now comes the next falsehood in the film. “Brazil is booming because of choice at the pump.” The film states that Brazil’s decision to replace oil with ethanol from sugarcane in the ‘70s led “their economy to grow by trillions. Millions of people who were starving are now fed. Their debt is completely paid off. And they are completely and totally independent of oil.” Then they say, “As far as food versus fuel, nothing is being displaced to make ethanol.” Tell that to the tens of thousands of indigenous peoples whose land was stolen to grow sugar cane. They went from being able to produce their own food and sustain their own way of life to being wage slaves on what was once their own land.

The film states this “took 40 million Brazilians into the middle class.” The growth of the Brazilian economy comes from many factors. What is probably more causative to the rise of the middle class in Brazil were the Plano Real reforms introduced in 1994. Also, the film makes no mention that in Brazil, inequality is worsening. And the farming of both sugarcane and soybeans has led to the wholesale destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and the exacerbation of climate change.

The film says alcohol was the first fuel that Henry Ford used in the automobile. But then John D. Rockefeller saw that as a threat and ensured that Prohibition was passed, prohibiting the sale of all alcohol. Pretty big whopper! There is no mention that the American temperance movement, dating back to the 1830s and 40s, was responsible for Prohibition and that the anti-Saloon League was the most powerful single issue lobby group of the day. Rockefeller was just one of many disparate groups including the Democrats and the Republicans, the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP that worked to pass Prohibition.

While alcohol can come from many sources, ethanol from corn is what is used in this country making up 10% of all fuel. “The only thing standing in its way is Big Oil,” says the film. Addressing the common argument that ethanol drives up food prices, the narrator says, conspiratorially, “That’s exactly what some people want you to believe. The same industry that fought it 100 years ago is fighting it today.” At this point in the film, the oil industry has been so demonized that the audience will believe anything.

To dispel the belief that growing land to produce corn based ethanol takes land away from growing food, they show that ethanol is a natural by-product of distilling cattle feed from corn. So it is being made anyway. They don’t show that that is only one source of the ethanol. In another Aronoff video on YouTube, he says 40% of our corn grown is grown for ethanol. There is no examination in “Pump” of whether we should be feeding cattle corn, which is unnatural to their diet, whether we should even be using land to raise cattle instead of raising grain, a more energy efficient use of land, or whether over the entire lifecycle of ethanol, it uses more energy than it creates, all ideas they gave credence to in their film “Fuel.” But in this film, they have funders to please.

The next fuel they tout is methanol, which they show to be cleaner burning and less explosive. They state that when California was instituting air quality rules in the ‘70s, Ford and Volkswagen experimented with methanol cars. But then in 1981, thanks to the lobbying of – guess who, the EPA implemented amendments to the Clean Air Act, which led to a reformulation of gas to make it cleaner, so they didn’t have to use methanol. In comes our ubiquitous narrator driving home the main theme of the movie: “Oil companies won and methanol lost.”

In fact, the EPA forced these amendments on car companies because of the newly invented three-way catalyst. This was an improvement to the catalytic converter, because it reduced more pollutants. So methanol was no longer needed to meet the California clean air standards.

Then we come to the point in the film where they say that methanol can be made from natural gas. At this point, the filmmakers cannot ignore the vast public outcry that has been directed against the process of fracking for natural gas. So they set it up this way. There is such a glut of natural gas that gas companies are flaring it into the air. So if it is being produced anyway, we might as well use it for fuel. “Clearly industry can improve its practices. But love it or hate it, natural gas is here to stay.”

The reason the gas industry is flaring is that there are not enough pipelines to get it to market. And the high cost of pipelines and low price of natural gas makes it uneconomical to build them. But Obama and his Energy Secretary, whose research at MIT was funded by the natural gas industry, are trying their hardest to build more pipelines, refineries to liquefy natural gas (LNG) and export terminals to ship both LNG and coal overseas. If you’ve read anything about all the leaks and explosions over the past few years since the shale oil and gas boom began, you know that pipeline expansion does not bode well for human health or the environment.

Furthermore, if LNG export terminals are approved, this country will see an explosion of fracking even worse than what we’ve seen already. And with it more groundwater and air pollution, more earthquakes, billions more gallons of water wasted and increased climate change. And ironically, if they do succeed with their plan to export LNG and lift the 40 year oil export ban, both of which Obama and his industry captured Energy Secretary are trying to do, the cost of both fuels will go up, because the price is set on the world market. We will send most of it to China where they will pay more. So we will frack up the country and not even end up with low prices, energy independence or that trillion-dollar methanol industry Eyal Aronoff is touting.

The filmmakers respond

While Rebecca Tickell insists that the film does not promote fracking, to say that the “industry can improve its practices” is to imply that fracking can be done safely and cleanly. Further, to proclaim “natural gas is here to stay” implies resignation to this state of affairs, hardly motivating if you really want your audience to hate and fight fracking. No filmmakers can seriously call themselves environmentalists if they produce a film that advocates for anything less than the banning of this horrific practice.

Rebecca wrote: “The movie does not “advocate fracking,” but instead it actually shows with onscreen graphics and clear math – that we can create all of the natural gas and methanol we would need to replace America’s liquid energy needs – sustainably – with sewage, trash, animal waste, landfill gas and CO2 pulled from the atmosphere. Also natural gas (CH4) or “methane” created from sewage and landfills is by far the cheapest form of CH4 that can be produced, and CO2 from the atmosphere for free.”

However, according to Jack Eidt, Wilder Utopia Publisher and Board Director of the LA Biodiesel Coop, “The concept of scaling up production of methanol to rival fossil fuels would require a massive transition. The most economical feedstock for methanol is the fossil fuel natural gas, and the most common source is from fracking. While it is true that sewage, animal waste, and landfill gas exist as decent feedstocks, we are a long way from making that transition on a large scale. Anaerobic digesters are illegal in many places, and their significant future potential would require political and economic factors to be overcome.

Landfill gas is already being collected and put into use local to those landfills. The burning of trash will never be a sustainable and clean way of producing energy, and though pyrolysis (gasification, plasma arc) of certain biomass may have some limited applications, it is dirty and dangerous when used for waste like tires, medical wastes, plastics, etc.

Also, turning waste streams into fuel will have the unenviable consequence of requiring our waste streams to compound at a time when the zero waste movement is making gains. To wait to scale up waste streams to compete with fossil fuels would take way longer than improving the battery technology for EVs as well as redesigning cars with fiber composites and scaling up wind and solar, which are already happening.”

While the Tickells might not have intended to make a film advocating fracking, the funders and the experts of the film have been touting it in articles and in public appearances. When I asked what she thought of that, Rebecca said, “anything not in the movie we cannot vouch for.”

She said that when they showed the shots of fracking in the Bakken Shale, they intentionally used eerie music and a clip where John Hofmeister said, “It’s a dirty fuel.” Well, he said that because they frack for oil in the Bakken Shale, not natural gas. And oil is the villain in this film.

Furthermore, while she told me “nowhere do we promote natural gas in the film,” she must have forgotten the scene in the film that includes a man extolling the virtues of natural gas. “It’s cleaner. It’s abundant right here in America. It’s AMERICAN!” That scene is actually in the trailer, which they are using extensively to promote the film, which is slated to be released in 20 cities nationwide.

Last week, Sean Hannity touted the film on Fox News. When he asked John Hofmeister whether fracking poisons our water, “What does the EPA say, John?” —surely a set-up question—Hofmeister replied, “EPA head Gina McCarthy has said there is not a single documented case of polluted water from hydrofracking,” which is a total lie. Three EPA investigations into contaminated groundwater were halted by the Obama administration after proof was uncovered.

Hofmeister then goes on to say fracking is not without risks, but that with regulation, it can be done right. In fact, due to the Halliburton loophole, fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and several other federal regulations. Also, regulators are totally captured by industry in every state. The Center for Biological Diversity just reported that the industry is ignoring the disclosure laws mandated by SB 4, last year’s weak fracking regulatory bill in California, and the state agency is doing nothing about it.

When I shared Hofmeister’s comments with Rebecca, she said that she and Josh “didn’t share all the same viewpoints as the people in the film.” So then I asked her if she could see how the film could be used to promote the use of natural gas, she said she “could definitely see that…but this movie is not going to make people drill more.”

She said it was good that people like Hannity were promoting the film, because “you don’t have people from that side talking about how you have to get off oil…We have to start a conversation with someone other than the Green choir.” Well, actually the right has been talking about energy independence for years.

What she seemed to miss was that Sean Hannity was talking only about getting off foreign oil not oil in general. The title of the segment was: “New documentary seeks to end US dependence on foreign oil.” And the graphic behind Hannity said “Drill Baby Drill.”

In another video interview, Gal Luft, another Fuel Freedom Foundation board member and expert featured in “Pump,” says that oil companies are becoming natural gas companies. “John Hofmeister, former president of Shell, told me that Shell last year became a de facto natural gas company.  So if you — half of your portfolio is natural gas, you — it is in your interest to shift some of the effort to creating demand for natural gas, you make more money on your natural gas even if it means less money on your oil, whereas a country like Saudi Arabia cannot afford to accept a deal like this.”

When I asked Rebecca how she felt about the fact that the very oil monopoly she vilified in all three of her films was moving into natural gas, something her film promoted, she said it was “very scary.”

Chapter Three of Luft’s book “Petropoly: The Collapse of America’s Energy Pardigm” is called “Hope and Change: America’s Natural Gas.” A promo for the book on Amazon reads “On the bright side, a revolution in extraction technologies has opened the door to unconventional natural gas.”

As Josh Tickell said to the Daily Beast writer, “There was a moment at the end of the meeting when we looked at each other and knew in our gut we should get up and leave, but we made the wrong choice. I didn’t look into my gut, and I regret that.” I wonder if someday he might feel the same way about whom he had to get into bed with to make this film.

What is most alarming about “Pump,” which I hope will not last long in theaters, is what Tickell said at the screening I attended. He wants to “put it into the iPad, laptop, Note and Twitter feed of every student…What would it be like,” he asked, “if the best parts of this movie were taught in every school?” My answer: it would be just as horrific as if the Koch Brothers climate change denial junk science was taught in every school. It could set back the movement to get us off fossil fuels and onto renewables. And I have no doubt the Fuel Freedom Foundation is planning to fund this endeavor as well.

The film’s and my conclusion

To advance their agenda, the FFF needs cars converted to run on biofuels and legislation to advance the Open Fuel standard. The rest of the film shows that many cars on the road are already flex fuel vehicles but many owners don’t know it. They show how one can install a kit or hack the car’s computer to convert any car to flex fuel. The film talks about how we need to increase the infrastructure of flex fuel gas stations and pass the Open Fuel Standard.

“Pump” closes by restating its theme: freedom of choice. “Americans have been hearing about energy independence since 1974. But nothing has been done. It’s time to give Americans choice. We cannot rely on government. We cannot rely on corporations. Americans have to rely on themselves.” Bashing government and corporations! This is an argument that both Tea Partiers and Occupiers can love. They go on to say “It is as American as American can be. Everybody has a chance for a better future. And a better future begins at the pump

There is nothing inherently objectionable about freedom of choice. But when it is used as a buzzword to cover up agendas like those of the Fuel Freedom Foundation and the libertarian Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners, let the buyer beware. It is unrealistic to expect that people exercising free choice will solve the problem of climate change. Individuals and corporations pursuing their free market interests have gotten us into the mess we are in today.

It will require massive government action to solve the climate crisis. The Tickells understood this when they made “Fuel.” In that film, one of Tickell’s experts says, “It’s going to take everyone. It’s going to take every corporate entity. It’s going to take every government power to create the world that we have to create in order to survive.”

The danger of this is that “Pump” is really persuasive as a piece of propaganda. A lot of liberal friends who are against fracking did not make the connection after seeing this film. If people are just sucked into the story of the big bad oil companies thwarting Americans’ freedom of choice, they are going to walk away from this movie not thinking about the hard choices they and all of us have to make to get off fossil fuels. Instead they will think about how they can reconfigure their cars to get cheaper gas and feel smug about it because they are sticking it to Big Oil.

At the end of my investigation, I have come to believe that the Tickells are well-intentioned people who were hamstrung by their funders. As Rebecca said to the Daily Beast writer about the fake anti-fracking film, “As documentary filmmakers, the biggest challenge we have is raising money for films. When that call came along, we were really grateful to have funding for this film that we thought was very important.”

If the Tickells really wanted to make a movie about how to get off oil and power the world, including transportation fuel, with alternative sources, they could have made a movie about Mark Jacobson, the Stanford professor who has developed a plan to power our economy on 100% renewable sources, mostly solar, wind and water, by 2030. Rebecca told me she never heard of him or his website. Maybe that can be the subject of their next film. Any billionaires out there who support renewables? Tom Steyer, are you game?