Archive for category National Politics

NPS Centennial = Corporate Takeover?

Arches NP Milky Way
Milky Way viewed from Arches National Park

“The national park idea, the best idea we ever had, was inevitable as soon as Americans learned to confront the wild continent not with fear and cupidity but with delight, wonder, and awe.”

–Wallace Stegner

2016 is the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service (NPS). But because of chronic neglect and under-funding from Congress, the NPS is set to adopt a very bad idea for our national parks: Corporate sponsorships sold to the highest bidder that run the risk of plastering our most treasured sites of America’s natural heritage with corporate branding and logos. Park employees would be directly engaged in soliciting funds from corporations.

This policy change came as a consequence of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which compels the NPS to increase private funding through “donor recognition.”

The NPS annual budget of $3 billion isn’t enough to catch up on an estimated $11.49 billion in deferred maintenance costs in our national parks. As National Park Foundation president and CEO Will Shafroth told the Washington Post, “The parks don’t have enough money to accomplish their goals.” Private and corporate donations are needed to fill the gaps.

The new rules, that will take effect by the end of the year, would “swing open the gates of the 411 national parks, monuments and conservation areas to an unprecedented level of corporate donations.”

The comment period has already closed on the order from NPS Director Jarvis that would allow parks to start selling “naming rights,” which would allow the highest corporate bidder to place their name or logo – like a Nike Swoosh or a Starbucks logo – directly on select spaces and areas of our national parks like park buildings, benches, auditoriums, and visitor centers.

Tell Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to pull the plan to commercialize our national parks. And let’s tell our congressional delegation to fund the parks in the federal budget. Some Utah national parks are now charging a $30 entrance fee.

More info:
Yosemite, sponsored by Starbucks? National Parks to start selling some naming rights
Donor Naming Rights in U.S. National Parks – Is Brouhaha Justified?
No, the U.S. National Parks Will Not Be Sponsored by Viagra

NPS centennial patch

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The Super-delegates Will Decide

Not Me Us

This year’s Democratic Party convention in Philadelphia July 25–28 will be the first in which super-delegates will make the decision on a presidential nominee. The questions that will be asked: (1) Are super-delegates supposed to choose the most electable candidate? or (2) Were super-delegates given the job of making sure the establishment-chosen candidate wins over an insurgent?

What is a super-delegate? From Wikipedia:

[A] “superdelegate” is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention who is seated automatically and chooses for whom they want to vote. These Democratic Party superdelegates include distinguished party leaders, and elected officials, including all Democratic members of the House and Senate and sitting Democratic governors. … Because they are free to support anyone they want, superdelegates could potentially swing the results to nominate a presidential candidate who did not receive the majority of votes during the primaries.

Why does the Democratic Party have super-delegates?

The super-delegate story begins with the traumatic 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, which resulted in the nomination of then Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey (President Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election that year after being challenged by popular anti-Vietnam War candidate Rep. Eugene McCarthy). There was widespread dissatisfaction among the voters because Humphrey did not compete in any primary elections. Humphrey lost the general election to Richard M. Nixon.

A commission headed by South Dakota Senator George McGovern and Minnesota Representative Donald M. Fraser met in 1969 and 1970 to make the Democratic Party’s nominating convention less subject to control by party leaders and more responsive to the votes cast in primary elections. The rules implemented by the McGovern-Fraser Commission shifted the balance of power to primary elections and caucuses, mandating that all delegates be chosen via mechanisms open to all party members. The number of state primaries increased from 17 in 1968 to 35 in 1980.

Despite a huge increase in the level of primary participation, McGovern’s 1972 presidential run resulted in a landslide defeat for the party. The same thing happened in President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 race against Ronald Reagan. Party leaders established another commission in an attempt to balance the wishes of rank-and-file Democrats with the collective wisdom of party leaders and to thereby avoid the nomination of insurgent candidates. Following a series of meetings held from August 1981 to February 1982, the Hunt Commission issued a report which recommended the set aside of un-elected and un-pledged delegate slots for Democratic members of Congress and for state party chairs and vice chairs.

The problem for the 2016 election

Neither Dem candidate is likely at this point to finish the primary campaign with a majority of pledged delegates. Un-pledged super-delegates make up about 15% of the overall convention votes, and these delegates will choose the party’s nominee in July.

According to former Vermont Governor, DNC Chair and now lobbyist/super-delegate Howard Dean, “Super delegates don’t ‘represent people.’ I’m not elected by anyone. I’ll do what I think is right for the country.” (86% of voters in this year’s Vermont primary election chose Bernie Sanders, but Dean remains committed to voting for Hillary Clinton at the convention).

Of course, the assumption has always been that Democratic insurgent candidates like Bernie would be less electable in the general election. In 2016 it looks like this isn’t a good year for establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton. A lot of people thought we were doomed to a Bush-Clinton contest, but Donald Trump won so much support among Tea-GOP voters that he’s their presumptive nominee. And it looks like Bernie is the more electable Democratic candidate.

Hillary Clinton Now Loses to Trump in Polls. Bernie Sanders Beats Trump by 10.8 Points. (Hillary’s poll numbers have gone down, however she is within the margin of error against Trump — and the Democrats can expect a built-in advantage in the Electoral College, the so-called “Blue Wall”).

It’s up to the super-delegates to decide. Win with Bernie (and nudge the party to the center) or risk losing with Hillary (confirming that right-wing Dems cause progressives to abandon the party).

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Will 2016 Election Turn Into an Unpopularity Contest?

Both parties’ presidential front-runners are growing increasingly unpopular, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds, with Hillary Clinton showing an especially steep decline over the past month.

Among voters in both parties, 56% hold a negative view of Clinton and 32% hold a positive view. That 24-point gap is almost twice as wide as in a Journal/NBC poll last month, when 51% viewed her negatively and 38% positively, a 13-point gap. In other words, the more Americans get to see of Clinton the more they don’t want her.

Net negative ratings Trump & Hillary

Compared to frontrunners in previous presidential primary races, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s unfavorable ratings (57 percent and 52 percent respectively) are the highest in CBS News/New York Times Polls going back to 1984, when CBS began asking this question.

If the two major parties nominated Clinton and Trump, the electorate would be divided three ways:

1. American voters who would refuse to vote for Trump.
2. American voters who would refuse to vote for Clinton.
3. American voters who would refuse to vote for either one of them!

And we could forget about the actual issues in the 2016 election, because the media would cover all the mud slinging and nothing else.

By contrast, Bernie Sanders has the highest favorability of any candidate. Bernie averages a +5.3 compared to Hillary’s -24.

More info:
Democrats March Toward Cliff
Unpopularity dogs Trump, Clinton, Cruz: Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton viewed unfavorably by majority – CBS/NYT poll
Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump: General Election Match-Up Polls & Favorability Ratings

UPDATE:
Any Chance Trump and Hillary Can Still Get Popular, Despite Their Negatives?

9 Comments

Spike Lee’s Wake Up Call for Brooklyn

Only video can capture the excitement of the Bernie Sanders campaign in New York. If he loses, it will only be because people were denied their right to vote in the Democratic primary. Like Bernie himself, Spike Lee grew up in Brooklyn. Can you tell?

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Electability- Hillary vs Bernie for New Yorkers

Posted on YouTube by Afnan Thakur.

We try to help New Yorkers decide which of the two candidates can actually win the Presidential election.

Note: This is not any campaign’s official ad. Source for the numbers are from RealClearPolitics and other polling agencies. And the scale for Hillary’s unfavorable polling goes from 39-54%

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‘The cause is right, and the time is NOW!’

The Cause is Right, the Time is Now

We had our grand opening and canvass launch in Brooklyn this weekend and over 1000 people showed up. It was amazing!

Posted by Northeast for Bernie on Thursday, March 31, 2016

Nina Turner is just awesome. If Bernie can win in New York, he can go all the way!

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‘Hard work, and I don’t got a lot of money to show for it’

The 2016 election is different. Donald Trump is running as a Tea-GOP populist, and he has a lot of support from large numbers of Americans that elite politicians do their best to ignore in favor of the rich.

Via The Guardian:

Over the past 35 years the working class has been devalued, the result of an economic version of the Hunger Games. It has pitted everyone against each other, regardless of where they started…

…In Ohatchee, Alabama, Larry, taking a day off work to take his son fishing, is gracious but frustrated: “I have worked in foundries all my life, since I was 15. Hard work, and I don’t got a lot of money to show for it.”

The frustration isn’t just misplaced nostalgia – the economic statistics show the same thing.

Over the past 35 years, except for the very wealthy, incomes have stagnated, with more people looking for fewer jobs. Jobs for those who work with their hands, manufacturing employment, has been the hardest hit, falling from 18m in the late 1980s to 12m now.

The economic devaluation has been made more painful by the fraying of the social safety net, and more visceral by the vast increase at the top.

Earlier this month MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough (who I often disagree with) offered this simple explanation for Trump’s groundswell of support:

“The problem with the Republican Party over the past 30 years is they haven’t — and I’ll say, we haven’t — developed a message that appeals to the working class Americans economically in a way that Donald Trump’s does,” the former Republican lawmaker explained. “We talk about cutting capital gains taxes that the 10,000 people that in the crowd cheering for Donald Trump, they are never going to get a capital gains cut because it doesn’t apply.”

“We talk about getting rid of the death tax,” he continued. “The death tax is not going to impact the 10,000 people in the crowd for Donald Trump. We talk about how great free trade deals are. Those free trade deals never trickle down to those 10,000 people in Donald Trump’s rallies.”

“You sound like Bernie Sanders,” NBC’s Chuck Todd pointed out.

“But herein lies the problem with the Republican Party,” Scarborough complained. “It never trickles down! Those people in Trump’s crowds, those are all the ones that lost the jobs when they get moved to Mexico and elsewhere. The Republican donor class are the ones that got rich off of it because their capital moved overseas and they made higher profits.”

There it is. Bernie Sanders is leading a “political revolution” from the left. Trump is leading another revolution in the Tea-GOP.

More info:
Mocked and forgotten: who will speak for the American white working class?
Joe Scarborough gives up the game: After 30 years, the GOP base realized ‘it never trickles down’

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Toddler Threat Bigger Than ISIS

Tiny Terror t-shirt

Snopes.com confirms: Toddlers killed more Americans than terrorists in 2015.

There were 58 total toddler-involved shootings in 2015, including 21 fatal shootings. In comparison, 19 Americans were killed in instances of suspected, reported, or potential Islamic terrorism in 2015. If you count an American victim of the Paris attacks, that number rose to 20.

In addition, there were 45 school shootings in the USA during 2015.

Not counted in the statistics is the tragic death of Veronica Rutledge, shot in the head by her 2-year-old son in Wal-Mart just after Christmas 2014. He found the handgun in her brand-new gun purse, a gift from her husband.

The most recent story involved a 4-year-old who picked up a gun in the rear seat of a car and shot his mom in the back while she was driving. Fortunately both of them survived. The mom has been described as “a fierce gun advocate and Ted Cruz supporter.”

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Poll-Defying Pattern Predicts Sanders Victory

Poll-defying wins

Via Jonathan Greenberg on HuffPo:

[T]he Michigan upset is not, as America’s foremost poll analyst Nate Silver claimed, a freak event not witnessed since the New Hampshire primary of 1984, but part of a new pattern of poll-defying results that will, if they continue, carry Bernie Sanders into the White House.

…[H]ow accurate are all the other recent polls showing Clinton victories on the March 15th Super Tuesday sequel? If Bernie surpasses the polls in these states by as much as he just did in Michigan, he stands to score historic upsets in the important delegate-rich states of Ohio and even North Carolina.

If Sanders does nearly as well as the 41 percent average poll-to-reality discrepancy of the four state pattern described above, Bernie may even win Illinois and Florida next week. Should that happen, it will be Bernie, not Hillary, who will have become “inevitable.”

The reason cable TV talking heads are hitting us over the head with pro-Hillary polls is that her campaign has bet heavily on supposed “inevitability” and “electability.” Her actual record and policy positions are unappealing to progressives. Even mainstream Democrats are repulsed by her neocon hawk foreign policy, which Hillary now tries to avoid talking about. When cornered, she’ll fake it by parroting Bernie Sanders proposals in her stump speeches.

There has been an attempt by the media, and even the allegedly progressive website DailyKos, to declare Hillary the “presumptive nominee.” If they can narrow the choice down to Hillary or Trump, then the “lesser evil” narrative kicks in and Dem-leaning voters will be told to fall in line and abandon their idealism.

Why are the polls wrong? Cenk Uygur has remarked that when registered voters are surveyed, Bernie usually comes out ahead. But then pollsters apply a “likely voter” screen to the results, which produces a predicted win for Hillary. When the “unlikely voters” turn out to vote, the polls don’t match the election returns. That may be a too-simple explanation, but it’s as good as any.

All Bernie has to do is rack up at least 54 percent of the remaining pledged delegates. He needs a string of solid wins to do that, but it can be done.

More info:
Poll-Defying Pattern Predicts Sanders Victory
Here’s what has to happen for Bernie Sanders to win

12 Comments

“Progressive Hillary”? No, Just A Copyright Violation


Cenk Uygur’s real-world commentary

Online Hillary Clinton supporters keep telling us, in effect: “It’s all good, Bernie Sanders has done his job. He has moved Hillary to the left and now he can exit the race with his head held high.” Bullshit. “Progressive Hillary” is an illusion. She is stealing Bernie’s anti-Wall Street applause lines from his stump speeches, while taking money from billionaires in closed-door meetings. The Hillary campaign has made no commitment to progressive principles.

Bernie is authentic. He doesn’t have to pretend to change who he is to be likeable. He will make a great President!

More info:
‘Those are our words’: Bernie Sanders jokes that he’s ‘looking into the copyright issues’ as Hillary Clinton smacks Wall Street in her Nevada victory speech
Clinton blasts Wall Street, but still draws millions in contributions
NRA Lobbyist Will Co-Host Hillary Clinton Fundraiser
“We have to bring them to heel”: Watch a decade of Hillary Clinton’s shameful hypocrisy on racism
Clinton backtracks on moratorium on fossil fuel extraction on public land
The New York Times Accurately Portrays Hillary Clinton as an Unrepentant Warmonger

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Faux News Blames The Victims – Again

Via Media Matters.

In an open letter to the Yelp CEO last week, a 25-year-old woman who identified herself as Talia Jane explained that she could not afford groceries and rent on her minimum wage pay at Yelp’s Eat24 food delivery network in San Francisco. Most of her co-workers were living with their parents, and one guy was apparently homeless. The whole thing is worth reading.

I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I’m lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I’m having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can’t afford to buy groceries. Bread is a luxury to me, even though you’ve got a whole fridge full of it on the 8th floor. But we’re not allowed to take any of that home because it’s for at-work eating. Of which I do a lot. Because 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent. Isn’t that ironic? Your employee for your food delivery app that you spent $300 million to buy can’t afford to buy food. That’s gotta be a little ironic, right?

…I got paid yesterday ($733.24, bi-weekly) but I have to save as much of that as possible to pay my rent ($1245) for my apartment that’s 30 miles away from work because it was the cheapest place I could find that had access to the train, which costs me $5.65 one way to get to work. That’s $11.30 a day, by the way. I make $8.15 an hour after taxes. I also have to pay my gas and electric bill. Last month it was $120. According to the infograph on PG&E’s website, that cost was because I used my heater. I’ve since stopped using my heater. Have you ever slept fully clothed under several blankets just so you don’t get a cold and have to miss work? Have you ever drank a liter of water before going to bed so you could fall asleep without waking up a few hours later with stomach pains because the last time you ate was at work? I woke up today with stomach pains. I made myself a bowl of rice.

Look, I’ll make you a deal. You don’t have to pay my phone bill. I’ll just disconnect my phone. And I’ll disconnect my home internet, too, even though it’s the only way I can do work for my freelance gig that I haven’t been able to do since I moved here because I’m constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep as soon as I’m not at work…

Let’s make sure I have the facts in order, here. When this young woman took a new job she was under the impression that she wouldn’t have to get a second job to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and utilities. We now live in a low-wage economy where entry-level employees are expected to work overtime and weekends without proper compensation. And by the way, Talia Jane’s letter concludes with an update that says she was fired the same day she wrote to the CEO.

Instead of expressing sympathy, most people commenting on the letter criticized Talia Jane for whining and feeling “entitled.” Faux News Channel just piled on, basically claiming that employees have no right to expect any kind of living wage – especially not in San Francisco. Faux News host Sandra Smith is a wealthy former hedge-funder. Stefanie Williams is just clueless.

The MM story got picked up by Raw Story, and here is a choice comment:

Wow … a 29 year old who still lives at home with her parents and works as a bartender lecturing a 25 year old college graduate who is living on her own about entitlements and bootstraps and personal responsibility…

More info:

Talia Jane: Yelp employee speaks after being ‘fired for posting open letter about living wage to CEO’

Two hours after the letter was posted online, she was fired. The company said her termination was not related to the letter, however Ms Jane claimed that she was told by Yelp’s HR department that her letter violated company terms of conduct.

Business Insider: Competent, hardworking millennials are getting shafted by older employees who feel they deserve bigger salaries

Bashing millennials and shaming those who claim to be struggling financially has grown in popularity, seemingly in response to public attention on income inequality.

UPDATE:
Tell Me More About How Much You Hate Millennials, You Old Fart

I have a shiny degree with my name on it, lots of knowledge about things I’m passionate about, and a whole lot of debt.

…When some people see things like Talia Jane’s piece about Yelp, they basically orgasm with self-righteousness. It gives them an excuse to hate on millennials and talk about what hard workers they are and how lazy everyone else is.

4 Comments

Why We Must Have a Revolution This Year

Not personal its business

Today we learned of the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, which immediately prompted Tea-GOPers to threaten what amounts to a shutdown of the SCOTUS. President Obama responded by announcing his intent to nominate a new justice anyway.

Tonight there was another Tea-GOP debate, in which Donald Trump absolutely reamed John Ellis (Jeb!) Bush and Marco Roboto on the subject of George W. Bush’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq fiasco/war of aggression. If anybody’s interested, Iraq is one of several issues where Trump has positioned himself to the left of Hillary Clinton. So-called “free trade” is another. He is winning the race for the Tea-GOP presidential nomination.

Enough about the politicians! Last Wednesday something happened that’s more significant.

The past few years have been very good for United Technologies. The contractor does billions of dollars a year in business with the federal government. CEO Gregory Hayes pulled down nearly $10 million in 2014, and over $20 million the year before. On Thursday, the company reported $7.6 billion in profits, up from $6.2 billion the year before, and $5.7 billion the year before that. In October, United Technologies even expanded its stock buyback program to $12 billion. Spending the company’s money to purchase its own stock elevates the value of its share prices. United Technologies was so flush with cash that it could burn money to boost returns for its investors.

Surely this largesse would trickle down to its rank-and-file employees, right?

Not exactly.

On Wednesday, Carrier, the air conditioner manufacturing wing of United Technologies, told workers at its Indianapolis plant that it would be outsourcing their jobs to Monterrey, Mexico.

“Throughout the transition, we must remain committed to manufacturing the same high-quality products,” an executive can be heard insisting in a video of the announcement.

“Yeah, fuck you!” a member of the crowd responds.

“Please quiet down,” the official says. “This was an extremely difficult decision.”

“Was it?!”

“I want to be clear. This is strictly a business decision,” the corporate spokesman says on the video.

The only thing Americans can do is vote in unprecedented strength and elect Bernie Sanders to the presidency. It might be our last chance to save ourselves.

More info:
Watch Corporate America Turn A Room Full Of Workers Into Bernie Sanders And Donald Trump Supporters

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