Tag Archives: Brave New Films

Wall Street Attacks Your Garbage Collector

The wealthy right wing have always liked to pick on the working class. And now Wall Street wants to blame Main Street for the financial crisis our country is in. Big bankers taking home large bonuses are blaming the childcare workers and parking-meter collectors in this country, saying that their jobs are the reason we’re in a recession.

If you stop to actually look at the people and jobs Wall Street is attacking, you realize that we need to stop the lies. Public-service workers make little money and do the hard jobs necessary to keep our country running.

In 2009, public service worker Joe Wisniowski made $40,000 as an Airport Equipment Operator for an Ohio airport. Meanwhile Wall Street raked in $20.3 BILLION in bonuses during the same year.

As Robert Bonds, a parking meter collections assistant in Detroit, puts it: “What is this teaching my son? You can work hard, go to college to get your degree, and it’s all out of your hands; your success is based on somebody sitting in an office somewhere on Wall Street… that’s not what I want him to believe.”

Public-service workers are coming under attack like never before. Wall Street has the money, the power and the media mouthpiece to spread lies about those who serve our country in necessary jobs. We can’t let Wall Street destroy the backbone of America. Join with us to defend public service workers.

Meg Whitman: California is NOT for Sale

Meg Whitman truly believes that California is for sale. She has spent a record-breaking $140 million of her own money in an attempt to buy the state. But California isn’t just some eBay item Whitman can bid on.

Whitman has run 80,000 TV ads to promote her conservative version of a future for California. That one video above is fighting against the, at least, $60 million Whitman has spent buying up airtime and producing commercials for herself.

What else has Whitman spent her money on in this race? Here are some recent calculations. On staff and spouse travel, lodging and meals: $2,643,529. Fundraising events: $1,028,538. On campaign consultants: $11,085,653. On print ads: $4,247,724. On polling and survey research: $1,254,627.

In all of this tossing of money around like life is a game of Monopoly, Whitman’s true goal is an attempt to buy democracy. She’s acting on a belief that if she throws enough of her own wealth out to woe voters, she can buy their votes. As if California is up for auction and the deciding factor of who wins is who bids enough.

California is not for sale. Please share this blog and the above video with other Californians who cannot be bought.  

Carly Fiorina: Runs to the Tea Party, Away From the Truth

Carly Fiorina doesn’t want all Californians to know how much she has courted and aligned herself with the Tea Party.

Even before this video was released, the Fiorina Campaign was already on the defensive attack, trying to take the public’s attention away from her Tea Party/Palin support. They are distorting the truth, hiding from the facts and hoping people forgot about her pursuit of the Tea Party.

Everyone in America has at this point seen and heard what the Tea Party is about. Our video uses carefully date-labeled footage of a Tea Party rally we had video for that occurred in March. We also use clearly date-labeled footage of an April Tea Party rally Fiorina spoke at, as well as a clip of her saying that she believes the Tea Party is “making a huge difference in the political dialogue in this country.”

The fact of the matter is that Fiorina has sought to align herself with the Tea Party. She believes in what they stand for and what role they’ve played in the political dialogue. We believe she should denounce them.

Why won’t Carly Fiorina denounce the Tea Party? Why is she actively trying to align herself with their style and messaging? Why is she trying to deceive the voters of California by changing the topic?

California doesn’t need our own Tea-Party-loving, Sarah-Palin-endorsed Republican. But as long as Fiorina is trying to buy this election, we’ll continue to tell voters the truth about who she is.

WellPoint Still Doesn’t Get It

If you want to understand why Americans are so outraged by obscene executive compensation levels in a time of severe economic malaise, consider not just the 51% bump awarded to WellPoint CEO Angela Braly for her performance at a time when the insurance behemoth prepared to raise rates on policyholders in California by as much as 39%.  Consider, as well, the pro forma excuses offered by her company flacks.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Braly’s total compensation shot up from $8.7 million to $13.1 million last year.  At least three other executives there did just as well, with raises of up to 75 percent.  Meanwhile, 800,000 individual policyholders in California are learning of this good news for WellPoint executives a month before their own insurance rates are set to spike by double digits – an unprecedented rate increase initiated on Angela Braly’s watch.

WellPoint, of course, is merely doing what it must to pursue the gold standard of excellence in its service to shareholders and customers, according to company spokesman Jon Mills:

“WellPoint wants to attract and retain top talent.  In order to be the best, to be innovative, to continue delivering the best service, we do have to retain the best quality.”  He added: “We are in no way trying to inflate the salaries and compensation figures but trying to maintain a high level of talent at the organization.”

It’s all just a big misunderstanding, see.  The problem is that all of us amateur, casual observers, with our pious concerns about “fairness” and “right and wrong,” just don’t understand the entirely rational and ultimately equitable dynamics of the free market system for labor compensation.  Companies have to find and keep talented leaders, and if it takes $6.2 million in restricted stock, a $1.1 million salary increase, a $1.5 million performance bonus, $4 million in stock options and $292,036 in “other expenses” (including over $150,000 in “security-related improvements” to protect Angela Braly from us, the angry, overcharged, underinsured hordes) to retain a CEO who had the wisdom to force hundreds of thousands of Californians off the company’s rolls or into bankruptcy-threatening situations in order to buoy WellPoint stock prices (which rose by close to 40% last year), then that’s just how the free market works, which is nobody’s fault, really, when you think about it.

Except the reality is, there is no misunderstanding.  Ordinary Americans understand exactly how the free market works.  In fact, it’s precisely this understanding that infuriates everyone from your longtime local union activist to your freshly-minted Tea Party revolutionary.  It’s the Jon Millses of the world that don’t get it.  Their explanations illuminate nothing, except insofar as they confirm exactly what everyone suspects: that there are in fact two economic realities in America today – one that Angela Braly occupies along with Wall Street CEOs, corporate lobbyists and corrupt politicians, and the other that the rest of us experience.

In the former, forcing hundreds of thousands of everyday people to spend thousands more on their premiums to pay for the mess you’ve made of the healthcare system, then pointing to the increased revenue as proof of your leadership and profit-making abilities, is called “taking responsibility” and is rewarded with a $4.4 million raise.  It’s market meritocracy at work.

In the latter, it really doesn’t matter how hard you work or how great of a job you do — if the executives at the helm steer your company over rocky shoals, you stand a good chance of losing your wage increases, your benefits, or your job altogether.  If you’re not “top talent,” you simply don’t need to be “attracted and retained.”  The world doesn’t work that way for you.  Or to take another example, if the executives at your insurance carrier decide they didn’t make enough money last fiscal quarter, you better cough up thousands of dollars more this year or lose your coverage.  Never mind that you had exactly nothing to do with WellPoint’s problems with rising medical costs, or its shareholder’s demands for 40% increases in their stock values.  It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done or what you haven’t done; you don’t control your destiny, the “market” does.  That’s just basic economics.  We don’t need a WellPoint spokesman to explain that; everyone knows it already.  With the economy in turmoil, we’re all getting our noses rubbed in it every single day.

What’s incredible is that even after witnessing the public’s reactions to the taxpayer-financed AIG bonuses, the auto company CEOs flying on private jets to DC to beg Congress for bailouts, and Goldman Sachs’ record profits a year after benefiting from $62 billion in publicly-financed AIG pass-throughs, corporate executives like Braly and their PR handlers still can’t comprehend the outrage.  But then, that points to something else we already know: that from a mansion on a hill, the riot below can sound like a distant and dull roar, or like nothing at all.

Taking Action, Saving Homes, Starting the Recovery

“No homes for sale!”

“No homes for sale!”

“No homes for sale!”

It took me about 7 seconds to say that chant three times. Six seconds later another family in America entered the foreclosure process.

ACORN members know what that does to a family and to a community. So today, 300 ACORN members took over the Mitchell Courthouse in Baltimore, Maryland singing and chanting as they overwhelmed the 20 or so sheriff’s deputies assigned to “protect” auctioneers from selling off foreclosed properties.

50 miles away in Washington, DC, another 120 took over two buildings on the same block where foreclosure auctions were being held.

In Baltimore, Donna Hanks, a foreclosure victim who lost her home a year ago – a home that still sits vacant in the bank’s hands today – led the action and later talked to film crews about the turmoil she is going through. “I’ve moved six times in the last year – and I have a steady, union job. Families that are losing their jobs are even worse off than I am. That’s why I came out today to help working people keep their homes.”

In Washington, ACORN members snuck into one auction disguised as prospective buyers and then joined in the protest as marchers appeared outside the building. One of the building owners, angered that his property was being used to facilitate foreclosures, kicked the auctioneer out and ACORN members proceeded to follow him around refusing to let him sell homes out from under families.

13 seconds goes by pretty fast. We’re talking four families every minute. It is no wonder that ACORN members are stiffening their spines, gritting their teeth, and fighting back in the face of the economic maelstrom engulfing the country. With Treasury Secretary Geithner announcing today the prospect of a $50 billion package of aid that addresses the crisis, we are heartened, but know that we need to take action now to keep hard-hit families in their homes and to keep pressure on our elected leaders to do the right thing.


Because it is one family every 13 seconds.

Today’s actions are the continuation of actions that ACORN members have been taking for weeks to keep families in their homes, including a coordinated Day of Action on January 15th, when members in over 25 cities blocked foreclosure actions.

As part of the campaign, ACORN members are in DC today for our annual Legislative and Political Conference talking with their Congressional representatives about the need for immediate action to get Americans back to work and save the homes of working families.

Next week we ratchet up the pressure. On February 19th, ACORN is launching the Home Defenders, a program that links members of local communities with families who have taken the courageous step of refusing to cooperate with the foreclosure process. It responds to the desperate calls for help made by one family every 13 seconds.

It echoes the sentiments of leaders like Toledo, Ohio-area Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur who recently said, “stay in your homes. If the American people, anybody out there is being foreclosed, don’t leave[.]”

The Home Defenders program is modeled on an ACORN action taken a week ago in Oakland, CA that saved the home of a West Oakland couple on the day of their eviction.

And we are partnering with the folks at Brave New Films in their launch of a new web-based resource for foreclosure victims and those in danger of foreclosure. Called Fighting For Our Homes, this is a way for people to have their own voice and tell their own stories about the foreclosure crisis – stories that show how real people and real neighborhoods are being affected.

If you want to join in the fight to get America back to work and end the foreclosure crisis in this country, you can join the Home Defenders, and sign this petition to President Obama asking for quick action. And visit Fighting For Our Homes to see foreclosure victims speaking for themselves.

Together we can get America back on her feet again.

This Brave Nation

Brave New Foundation (disclaimer: my employer)just launched episode 2 of This Brave Nation, a documentary series born out of a collaboration between BNF and The Nation magazine.  In this episode, two legendary Californians, Dolores Huerta and Bonnie Raitt, are featured in conversation with one another.  (Episode 1 also features two Californians: Van Jones and Carl Pope.  Really serves to remind you just how outsized a role our state has played in building the progressive movement in the U.S.)

Here’s the trailer with Bonnie Raitt.  You can view the entire 30-minute episode at http://bravenation.com/bonnie_…

Future episodes will include Anthony Romero and Ava Lowery, Majora Carter and Pete Seeger, and Tom Hayden and Naomi Klein. At a moment when progressives are healing the wounds of a divisive presidential primary, this series reminds us of the solidarity of our movement.

A Dream Deferred

Brave New Foundation (disclaimer: my employer) just released this new video featuring students who grew up in the U.S., worked their way through high school and earned the merits to attend college, but now face legal and financial barriers to enrolling due solely to their immigration status.  The DREAM Act, which died in Congress in 2006 along with immigration reform as a whole, would have removed the federal provision that prevents states from allowing undocumented students who grew up here in America to qualify for in-state tuition, and would have provided a path to legal status for these future doctors, teachers, scientists and engineers.  The California DREAM Act, vetoed last year by the Governor, would have allowed undocumented students who grew up here in California to be treated like any other student when they applied for financial aid for college.

These bills aimed to rationalize our nation’s hamstrung immigration policies and to help bolster an eroding pool of skilled and educated workers in America.  Their demise spelled a huge missed opportunity for California and for the country.

Big thanks to Senator Cedillo for taking a stand on this critical issue, and for a career of fighting for more humane and sensible immigration policies.  Let’s hope to see the DREAM Act reintroduced in Sacramento and in Washington in the near future.

Learn more at A Dream Deferred.

Senator Boxer joins Brave New Films & Young Turks live election coverage

Writing from Brave New Films:

We just had an exciting last-minute addition to our Brave New Films/The Young Turks Super Tuesday live online video election coverage: Senator Boxer will join us at 6:30pm PT as a call-in guest.


That completes an outstanding guest list of progressive thinkers and doers for tonight.  You’re guaranteed better election coverage with us than on cable or network news, so turn off your TV and check in online — starting in just a few minutes. (List over the flip)

3:00 Senator Sherrod Brown

3:20 Senator Ted Kennedy

4:10 Anna Burger, SEIU

4:30 Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

4:40 Dolores Huerta

4:50 Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood

5:10 Melody Barnes, CAP Action Fund

5:50 Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake

6:00 Howard Dean, DNC

6:30 Senator Barbara Boxer

6:40 Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org

7:00 Alexandra Acker, Young Democrats

7:10 Joe Conason, Salon.com

7:20 Trailer Premiere, This Brave Nation

7:30 Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation

8:30 Todd Beeton, MyDD

8:40 Keith Boykin and Malia Lazu

9:00 Joan McCarter, Daily KOS

9:30 Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post

July 3, 2007 Blog Roundup

Lots of posts in the California blogs in the last 24 hours, almost all of them on Bush commuting Scooter Libby’s sentence (it’s good to be the king — or his friend). Actual California stuff I found below the fold. As always, if I missed something, post it in comments.

Incidentally, I noticed that for some reason the links sometimes appear as plain text in the RSS feed. They do seem to show up as hyperlinks in the emailed roundup. I’ll see what I can do about that. Until then, just click through for hyperlinking.

Not Working Californians
or California Progress Report

Working Californians

California Progress Report