Archive for category Barack Obama

Thomas Frank Warns Us Not To Trust The Less Trustworthy Candidate

Obama 2008

I’m not sure we actually have to be reminded never to trust a Clinton, however recently some have praised Hillary Clinton’s economic policy speech as if it mattered. I suspect her REAL economic views can be found in the Goldman Sachs speech transcripts that we’ll never see.

What matters are the polls showing she is the less trustworthy of the two major-party candidates. Which is amazing, considering that she is running against the guy who invented “Trump University.”

Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian, reiterates the fact that Hillary hasn’t changed.

As leading Republicans desert the sinking ship of Trump’s GOP, America’s two-party system itself has temporarily become a one-party system. And within that one party, the political process bears a striking resemblance to dynastic succession. Party office-holders selected Clinton as their candidate long ago, apparently determined to elevate her despite every possible objection, every potential legal problem. The Democratic National Committee helped out, too, as WikiLeaks tells us. So did President Barack Obama, that former paladin for openness, who in the past several years did nearly everything in his power to suppress challenges to Clinton and thus ensure she would continue his legacy of tepid, bank-friendly neoliberalism.

My leftist friends persuaded themselves that this stuff didn’t really matter, that Clinton’s many concessions to Sanders’ supporters were permanent concessions. But with the convention over and the struggle with Sanders behind her, headlines show Clinton triangulating to the right, scooping up the dollars and the endorsements, and the elites shaken loose in the great Republican wreck.

She is reaching out to the foreign policy establishment and the neocons. She is reaching out to Republican office-holders. She is reaching out to Silicon Valley. And, of course, she is reaching out to Wall Street

Don’t expect Hillary to follow through on her progressive promises if elected. She is the status quo candidate.

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Is President Obama Going to Do This?

Bears Ears
Bears Ears buttes, Elk Ridge, San Juan County Utah

The Bears Ears National Monument proposal has been on the table since last year. There is some speculation that President Obama is readying a proclamation, despite a dire warning from Senator Orrin Hatch that it could result in an armed confrontation similar to the one at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

The monument proposal stands on its own considerable merits. Adequate protection of the area, particularly the archaeological sites of Cedar Mesa, is long overdue. A recent poll found 71 percent of Utahns support the Bears Ears monument. Additionally, Utah politicians could stand to benefit from a well-timed reminder that we the people own our public lands, not the corporations.

Rep. Chris Stewart recently tacked an amendment onto the Interior Appropriations Bill, seeking to prohibit new national monuments in Utah.

Meanwhile, the Utah Test and Training Range Act land grab has been quietly incorporated in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act.

The Utah land grab agenda also includes Rep. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz’ Public Lands Initiative (PLI), nicknamed the “Plundered Lands Initiative” by conservation groups. The representatives are still threatening to introduce this corporate-friendly development bill in Congress.

Gov. Gary Herbert is still proceeding with a threatened lawsuit aimed at seizing 30 million acres of our Utah public lands, a doomed gesture that may cost us $14 million.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM) is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Despite the controversial 1996 proclamation by the Clinton administration, the GSENM is thriving today. Let’s hope President Obama is willing to counter the anti-public-lands Utah politicians with a resoundingly popular monument proclamation this summer.

More info:
U-Turn Utah (Center for Western Priorities)
Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition
Friends of Cedar Mesa
New York Times editorial: Monuments for Future Generations

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The Roast Wasn’t Funny To Me

bad night

I took a copy of this years White House correspondents dinner video over to my 95 year old mom’s house because I thought we might get a laugh out of it, and I like to cheer her up.

None of this years remaining candidates showed up except for Bernie Sanders. I can imagine why Donald Trump didn’t attend, because president Obama really handed it to him – for about five minutes – the last time he was there, and he wasn’t even running for president then, but you have to wonder why Hillary, Cruz and Kasich didn’t want to be at the premiere event of the season.

In a year when it looks like things are shaping up to only give the American voters a chance to vote for two candidates that, frankly, most Americans hate, all the jokes fell a bit flat to me.

I’m sure I was in a bad mood, but my mom and I really wanted Bernie to win, and were proud that Utah had stood up so strong for him. I couldn’t understand why Obama kept bringing up the word, democracy, with all of the voter suppression going on.

I get sort of emotional when I’m around mom, but I couldn’t help but tear up.

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What’s really at stake here

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There is a saying from Benjamin Franklin that tends to get quoted a lot by just about everyone. “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.” While many people on the right relate this to gun rights, there is no other subject where Franklin’s saying is more true and that is cyber security. John Mcafee recently said that the biggest issue the United States faces is cyberterrorism and cyber crime. If you have ever seen The Net, a really good movie by the way, you could see the damage that could be done when someone has control of the internet and they did so because they had a monopoly on security software. This movie was shrugged off as preposterous and unrealistic yet reality is much more terrifying than the movie portrayed. In the case of Apple, the FBI wants a back door key to all encryption and I say that Apple should refuse to comply even if they are held in contempt of court. Nothing and I mean nothing is worth making a back door key because not only does this mean that that the government can spy on you, but it also means that this key can end up in the wrong hands, meaning that someone with that key has access to every Apple device and if they forced Linux to do that which the NSA tried to do, then that means anyone can have access to everything. We are talking traffic lights, nuclear plants, military installations, data collection centers, nuclear missile silos, you name it. This is terrifying and it shows that Mcafee was right. Even if you make the argument that the government can have an unbreakable encryption key that doesn’t have a back door, then that simply means that the populace is at risk. Banks, airlines, corporations, doctors offices, weapons contractors. All once secure are now vulnerable. Apple cannot allow this because we face unimaginable horrors if they cave in, especially in an age where everyone is connected all the time. Yeah this would make it easier to go after criminals, but it would make it easier for criminals to go after us.

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Is Apple Going To Make Utah’s Spy Center Useless?

Oh well...

Oh well…

If all the other corporations that produce phones which provide a detailed log of the owner’s account numbers, passwords and all manner of other private information are not providing a firewall from the FBI, and Apple is, you’d have to be pretty dumb not to choose an iPhone if you had something to hide from the government.

It’s a scary new place we live in today. We don’t want somebody who wishes to harm America to plan things behind our back, but it’s just as likely they’d get hold of the secret code the FBI plans to use to unlock the whole, wide world. Besides, they can still find a way to do things behind our back.

I don’t have an iPhone, but I hope this battle results in safer world for me and my data. I don’t worry much about terrorists, environmental or otherwise anyway, but the big government snooping infrastructure, put in place during the George W. Bush administration creeps me out. I would have just as soon known my water was safe, and I’m sure Flint Michigan feels the same. And besides, James Comey reminds me of John Ashcroft.

We probably can’t have the money back that we and the rest of the nation spent on this giant Bluffdale, public works peepshow, but we can sure save the water it takes to cool it. It looks like we’re going to need it.

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SCOTUS Storm

I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to get a handle on the bizarre politics of the SCOTUS appointment. On the one hand, it’s nothing more than our current status quo. The weirdness of our current status quo is the asymmetry between Republicans and other Americans. Republicans have been furiously angry for years – they can’t get any angrier But other Americans are oddly disengaged. If that status quo breaks, if Democrats and independents get engaged, it could turn against Republicans very quickly and decisively.

The death of Antonin Scalia certainly came as a surprise – I believe he was thought to be in as good a health as a 79 year old man could be. I’m sending condolences and best wishes to his family and loved ones.

Scalia’s body hadn’t even hit the floor before Republicans were playing politics. Lindsey Graham suggested President Obama should name a moderate Orrin Hatch type, proving once again that the Senate’s biggest closet case is divorced from reality. Mitch McConnell was peddling a theory that we should wait a year so the next president can appoint someone. The Republican presidential candidates got in on the act during their Saturday night debate cum mud-wrestling event. The odious Ted Cruz has promised to filibuster any Obama nominee.

The President offered a short, gracious statement and promised to fulfill his Constitutional duty and nominate a candidate to the Supreme Court. Read the rest of this entry »

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Climate Agreement Reached in Paris

Paris climate change agreement

An historic, literally world-changing agreement was reached today in Paris. Almost two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned.

Following years of abortive talks and failed summits, President Obama said world leaders had finally “met the moment” by coming together and agreeing to a deal that represents “the best chance we have to save the one planet we’ve got.”

Historic Climate Change Agreement Adopted In Paris

Some advocates, however, lamented that the deal falls short. They pointed to a lack of a specific timescale for phasing out fossil fuels, for example, as well as weak language on monitoring and verifying countries’ greenhouse gas emission reductions.

“This agreement won’t save the planet, not even close,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, a climate advocacy group, told The Huffington Post in an email. “But it’s possible that it saves the chance of saving the planet — if movements push even harder from here on out.”

Indicative of the state of American politics in the age of Faux News Channel, the only Tea-GOPer in Paris for the climate talks was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California “Governator.”

Where was the Tea-GOP? Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz held a last-ditch climate denial hearing in the Senate last week.

Ted Cruz Challenged Science At His Climate Change Hearing. Science Won.

All of the Tea-GOP presidential contenders, with the exceptions of Chris Christie and Lindsay Graham, either deny the conclusions of climate science or have been avoiding the issue.

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Edward Snowden Shows Up In Park City, Utah

edward snowden
Well, only virtually, but it is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever heard. The obvious weight of the event makes the audience eerily silent through the first part. In fact I wasn’t even aware there was an audience until Snowden gets applause for the first of many statements that are undeniably illumining of our times, in ways you haven’t thought of before.

He’s had a lot of time to think about what he did, by breaking the law with the knowlege his life would be changing, forever. Personally, I think the guy is brilliant, obviously brave, and very hard to refute, even considering the stunning scope of his actions.

He points out that fewer of our leaders have been calling for his head since his revelations first came out, and that’s not really an exaggeration. There’s still one man, James Woolsey, who very recently called for him to be hung and even blames him for the terrorist attack in France.

In a presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was not much more forgiving then Woolsey. Bernie Sanders said he should pay a price for what he did, but also acknowledged that his actions have had positive effects. Surprisingly, Snowden agrees with Sanders and has even said he would stand trial, and be willing to go to prison, providing he gets a fair and transparent trial. Humorously, he has documents that state the only thing our government has guaranteed, is that he won’t be tortured.

Interviewer Doug Fabrizio, tests him pretty hard on his insistence that handing the top secret NSA documents to the media for careful release to the public was a safe way to go, and, indeed, top officials testifying have admitted that nobody has been put in danger. Pretty amazing.

Be sure to carfully listen to the whole show. The points Snowden makes at the end are compelling and irrefutable.

Radio West, 11-07-2015

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A persuasive argument on refugees


For quite a while, I have been pretty against the idea of immigration and I do have my left wing reasons. After all, there is poverty, crime, the environment, employment and a whole lot of issues that we need to take into consideration, but this doesn’t change the fact that they are human beings who live human lives and have human needs just like us. Of course This issue is not black and white. We put ourselves in danger by letting these people in, but we put these refugees in even greater danger by not letting them in. There is no easy answer and it boils down to this question. Is the life of an American worth more than the life of a foreigner? The answer is no it isn’t. As someone who is a Youtuber and frequently goes online, I understand that friendship, brotherhood and understanding is not restricted to the soil we are born on. I have befriended an Australian, I debate politics with a Norwegian, I play video games with a Brazilian, I made Youtube videos for a German and I fell in love with a Canadian. Just like the person in this video, these are people who I would lend my couch to and I would risk my very life to protect these people.

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Budget Deal Might Stop Tea-GOP Wrecking Crew

Just before midnight on Monday, congressional leaders and the White House tentatively agreed on a major budget deal. The plan is to end debt limit standoffs through March 2017, and keep the federal government in operation with some sequestration relief. So-called “entitlement reform,” meaning cuts to Medicare and Social Security, was kept within limits.

Presumably, Speaker John Boehner will send this budget bill to the House floor before turning over the gavel to Rep. Paul Ryan.

The good news is, it looks like the U.S. government and economy will survive in the near term. We’ll avoid a looming default on our National Debt, and there will not be a government shutdown on December 11.

The bad news is the Shutdown Caucus, a key block of Tea-GOP members of Congress, still wants to bring about a government shutdown and/or default any way they can. Because of gerrymandering, they are likely to survive the next election. And nobody except Bernie Sanders is talking about taxing the rich anymore.

More info:
Final Major Budget Deal Of The Obama-Boehner Era Forces GOP To Release Social Security Hostages
Dean Baker: Paul Ryan Wants to Shut Down the Government, Permanently

UPDATES:
Paul Ryan On Budget Deliberations: ‘I Think The Process Stinks’
A Whole Lot Of Face-Saving Theater
How John Boehner Saved Paul Ryan From Becoming Boehner 2.0

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‘Called upon to fight, they fled’

Andrew Bacevich: On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail)

First came Fallujah, then Mosul, and later Ramadi in Iraq. Now, there is Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan. In all four places, the same story has played out: in cities that newspaper reporters like to call “strategically important,” security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. military at great expense simply folded, abandoning their posts (and much of their U.S.-supplied weaponry) without even mounting serious resistance. Called upon to fight, they fled. In each case, the defending forces gave way before substantially outnumbered attackers, making the outcomes all the more ignominious.

“Vietnamization,” the U.S policy that ended in abject failure with the fall of Saigon in 1975, proved that training, weapons, and equipment can never make up for a deficit of will. Also, a weak state with dubious legitimacy can’t be propped up for very long by military force. Jump to the conclusion:

What are the policy implications of giving up the illusion that the Pentagon knows how to build foreign armies? The largest is this: subletting war no longer figures as a plausible alternative to waging it directly. So where U.S. interests require that fighting be done, like it or not, we’re going to have to do that fighting ourselves. By extension, in circumstances where U.S. forces are demonstrably incapable of winning or where Americans balk at any further expenditure of American blood — today in the Greater Middle East both of these conditions apply — then perhaps we shouldn’t be there.

Bacevich doesn’t address the fiasco of the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, armed and trained by the U.S., who promptly surrendered and turned over all their equipment to al-Qaeda. The Pentagon recently announced the end of that misbegotten military aid effort (which was probably undertaken solely to make Senator John McCain happy, as if).

More info:
Taliban Withdraw From Kunduz After Days of Fighting
Not Again! US Trained Syrian “Moderates” Surrender To Jihadists – Hand Over Heavy Weapons

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President Obama’s Labor Day Speech

Watched this on TV live yesterday. I know President Obama has been a disappointment for Americans who work for a living. He definitely never walked a picket line as President, like he promised in 2007. But he sure gave a great speech on the one day a year when Dems come out to defend labor unions.

More info:
Obama Thinks You Should Have The Right To Take A Sick Day
Labor Unions: The Folks Who Gave You the Weekend

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