Archive for category National Politics

Say Goodbye to Medicare, Hello to ‘CouponCare’

Trump hat

During the presidential campaign that ended a little over two weeks ago, Donald Trump promised again and again to defend Medicare.

During the primaries Trump said, “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years.”

His campaign even accused Hillary Clinton of “destroying Medicare.”

Now that Election Day is behind us, the unified Tea-GOP regime has revealed new plans to phase out Medicare next year. Speaker Paul Ryan wants to get rid of the defined-benefit program and replace it with defined-contribution coupons for for-profit private insurance that won’t cover health care costs for seniors.

Trump now says he wants to “modernize Medicare,” which of course is code for phasing out the program and replacing it with CouponCare.

Minority leader-elect Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) predicted the push for CouponCare will fail, but didn’t say how Dems can stop it.

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Kendrick Eagle Message to Obama: ‘You said you would have our backs’

Via HuffPo:

In a plea for President Barack Obama to support protestors of the Dakota Access Pipeline, one member of the affected Sioux tribe reminded him about their personal encounters two years ago.

Kendrick Eagle, a member of the Sioux Nation at Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, addresses Obama directly in a video from filmmakers Lori Woodley, Doug McLea and Jonathan Klett uploaded to YouTube this week. Eagle, one of the pipeline protestors from more than 200 other Native American tribes, first met the president when he visited the reservation in 2014.

…“It’s like you cared about me and you cared about my story … it was amazing to hear you say that in front of people, in front of all the tribal leaders in DC,” Eagle said.

“You said, ‘Let’s not make this just a dream,’ and right now it kind of feels like it was a dream, because you said you had our backs, and here we are,” Eagle continued. “Help us stop this pipeline.”

President Obama has apparently decided to ignore the $3.8 billion, 1,134-mile Dakota Access Pipeline (#NoDAPL) until he leaves office. A recent night-time assault by police using water cannons sent 26 people to the hospital and injured hundreds more. The pipeline requires Corps of Engineers approval to cross the Missouri River, which means the President could stop it anytime simply by issuing an executive order.

And Happy Thanksgiving.

More info:
How Washington’s bid to buy time on Standing Rock let anger brew on both sides in pipeline fight

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Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Tea-GOP government

Trump

Actually Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said, “Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government.” But ever since former Speaker John Boehner famously declared that there is no difference between the Tea Party and the Republican Party, I have always used the term Tea-GOP.

What is to be done? Well, trying to work with Trump isn’t an option.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ):

Given everything we know about Donald Trump — and everything we don’t know — I was alarmed by the words of senior leaders from both the progressive and centrist wings of the party regarding their openness to working with Donald Trump on infrastructure.

Under ordinary circumstances, we would welcome a plan to invest in infrastructure — even if that plan came from the other side of the aisle. Especially if it came from the other side of the aisle!

But Donald Trump is not an ordinary politician. He is a con artist. He has refused to give the American people reason to believe that he is not in this to enrich himself. In fact, he has bucked tradition by maintaining his family’s interest in a private corporation.

And, unfortunately, his infrastructure plan is really a privatization scheme, rife with graft and corruption, whose real purpose is to enrich the Trump family and his supporters. He is not reaching out. He is reaching his hand into America’s pockets, just as he has his whole career. And we must not let him do it.

Democrats, progressives, and independents have to fight Trump using every means available.

Trump is tremendously unpopular, and he will rapidly lose support. Did Trump voters know that they were voting for more tax cuts for the rich and corporations and Medicare phase-out? No, they were lied to. Oh, and Trump’s first “job creation” idea is a federal government hiring freeze.

Anyone who yelled “Drain the swamp!” at a Trump rally cannot be encouraged to learn that Trump has already established the most corrupt administration in our lifetimes, and he still has two months to go to Inauguration Day.

In the quite reasonable assumption that Trump, imitating former President George W. Bush, racks up vacation days while outsourcing policy to Speaker Ryan and an assortment of extremists appointed to key posts like the National Security Advisor and Attorney General, he is on track to inherit Bush’s title as Worst President Ever.

According to some economic indicators, economic stagnation may have already tipped over into recession. If our new Tea-GOP government is able to enact tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for everybody else, this recession could be worse than the last one.

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Worst Campaign Strategy Ever

Podesta leaves stage
Election night, 2:05 am: John Podesta walks offstage after telling Hillary supporters to go home

The Podesta e-mails confirm what many suspected. The Hillary campaign encouraged the media to promote Trump, thinking he would be easy to beat and that running against a Tea-GOP extremist would make the Dems’ own right-wing candidate seem more acceptable.

How the Hillary Clinton campaign deliberately “elevated” Donald Trump with its “pied piper” strategy

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The Trump Trainwreck

Trump trainwreck on 538
FiveThirtyEight.com election night blog tells the story – what a trainwreck!

Going into Tuesday’s election, the FiveThirtyEight model actually gave Trump a higher probability of victory than the rest. HuffPo declared Hillary’s chance to win at 98.2 percent!

By midnight Utah time, 2 am in New York, Hillary’s celebratory fireworks show was cancelled and MSNBC reported Lady Gaga and Cher were in tears backstage at the Javits Center.

“Let me be very clear. In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate, will not gain the House and will not be successful in dozens of governor’s races unless we run a campaign which generates excitement and momentum and which produces a huge voter turnout.

With all due respect, and I do not mean to insult anyone here, that will not happen with politics as usual. The same old, same old will not be successful.

The people of our country understand that — given the collapse of the American middle class and the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing — we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.

We need a political movement which is prepared to take on the billionaire class and create a government which represents all Americans, and not just corporate America and wealthy campaign donors.

In other words, we need a movement which takes on the economic and political establishment, not one which is part of it.”

— Bernie Sanders August 28, 2015

The Clinton Collapse graph

I get a strange feeling when I look around during my morning commute on FrontRunner and think that most of the people I am looking at, fellow Utahns, willingly chose Donald Trump to be their President. But let’s face facts, it wasn’t a Trump surge that decided this election, it was the Clinton Collapse. Yes, some states implemented voter suppression. But Hillary’s enthusiasm gap lost votes just about everywhere. The media got their predictions wrong because they were almost all in the bag for Hillary.

More info:
Poll: Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump 56% to 44%
61 percent of Mormon voters supported Trump
Robert Reich: What Donald Trump’s Election Really Means
The election was a repudiation of the American power structure.
DNC Staffer Screams At Donna Brazile For Helping Elect Donald Trump
Donna Brazile: I’m sorry only that I got caught cheating with debate questions
Interim DNC chair won’t apologize for helping Clinton, recycles discredited claims that Russians altered emails.

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Glenn Greenwald Sums Up What Happened

Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept deserve credit for upholding progressive values throughout the election. Unlike many so-called “progressive” sites, they never went all-in for Hillary and maintained the highest journalistic standards of truth-telling.

Greenwald deserves the last word on the Dem debacle that unfolded last night…

Put simply, Democrats knowingly chose to nominate a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable, scandal-plagued candidate, who — for very good reason — was widely perceived to be a protector and beneficiary of all the worst components of status quo elite corruption. It’s astonishing that those of us who tried frantically to warn Democrats that nominating Hillary Clinton was a huge and scary gamble — that all empirical evidence showed that she could lose to anyone and Bernie Sanders would be a much stronger candidate, especially in this climate — are now the ones being blamed: by the very same people who insisted on ignoring all that data and nominating her anyway.

The whole piece is worth reading: Democrats, Trump, and the Ongoing, Dangerous Refusal to Learn the Lesson of Brexit

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Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Jason Chaffetz business card

Thing 1: Chairman Chaffetz’ Statement on Hillary Clinton’s Use of Personal E-mail at The State Department

“Violations of the Federal Records Act within federal agencies is something we take very seriously. …The House Oversight Committee will work with Mr. Gowdy and the Select Committee on Benghazi to further explore Hillary Clinton’s use of personal emails while at the State Department.”

Thing 2: Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s Business Card Lists His Gmail Address

A business card obtained by ABC News shows that Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, lists his Gmail address on his official House card.

Rep. Chaffetz is already threatening years of investigations during the Hillary administration. But it looks like he tripped over his own feet back in March 2015.

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Our ‘Justice’ System at Work

Where were these guys at Malheur NWR?
Where were these guys at Malheur NWR? (Photo: Rob Wilson Photography)

On the same day the Bundy Gang terrorists were acquitted after being charged with minor offenses, the peaceful, unarmed North Dakota protesters were violently attacked with MRAPs, helicopters and hundreds of heavily-armed cops.

If anyone cares, the land rightfully belongs to Native Americans. How can they get arrested for “trespassing” on their own land?

The protesters, many of whom are Native Americans who have been demonstrating against the four-state pipeline for months, said in a statement Sunday that the land is theirs by an 1851 treaty and they won’t leave until the pipeline is stopped.

We don’t have to imagine what might have happened if the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge had been occupied by Native Americans. We can see it in action.

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Who is Peter G. Peterson?

Peter G. Peterson

Nancy Altman on HuffPo:

The presidential debates should be an opportunity to focus on the most important issues of the day. Unfortunately, the producers of the second debate failed miserably at this goal, because of their selection of which questions to ask.

Prior to the debate, the producers agreed to consider the top thirty questions voted on by the public at Open Debates. The question with the third largest number of votes, posed by Ellen Pleasant from North Carolina in the video below, was “Do you support expanding, and not cutting, Social Security’s modest benefits?”

That straightforward question was voted third, out of more than 12,000 questions on which to vote. Over 45,000 Americans voted for Ellen’s question. With poll after poll showing that retirement insecurity is a top financial concern of most Americans and with the reality that Social Security is likely to be even more important in the future, the voting is no surprise.

But the moderators did not ask it – or any of the other questions in the top thirty…

Why not ask such an obvious question? David Dayen explains: Debate Moderators Under the Spell of Deficit-Obsessed Billionaire Pete Peterson.

Who is Peter G. Peterson? He is a former Nixon cabinet official and private equity billionaire who has been demanding cuts to programs he’s too rich to rely upon since the early 1980s. Peterson was the inspiration behind President Obama’s failed Catfood Commission and many phony “grassroots” groups calling for austerity budgets, and ending Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

If you watch cable TV, you have seen the scary Peter G. Peterson ads warning us of impending economic collapse unless the Washington politicians come up with more tax cuts for the rich and benefits cuts for the 99 Percent.

Everybody in America totally rejects Peterson’s austerity plans. Everybody, that is, except the 1 Percenters and their bipartisan representatives in the nation’s capital. Even if Peterson remains unsuccessful in his quest to destroy our social safety net, his relentless propaganda helps stifle the debate about EXPANDING Social Security and other programs – which is what we ought to do.

A government of the people, by the people, and for the people is the opposite of what Peterson and his political allies such as Hillary Clinton want to achieve.

Did anyone notice in the last debate when Hillary pledged she would “not add a penny to the Debt?” That was Peter G. Peterson talking.

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Hillary’s Wall Street Speeches: Politicians ‘need both a public and a private position’

Via Salon:

Hillary Clinton promised in a debate with Bernie Sanders last February to “look into” releasing the transcripts of her paid speeches to Wall Street. She never released the transcripts, but thanks to WikiLeaks we know that the Hillary campaign did an assessment of them to review the most damaging quotes.

Hillary’s speech excerpts are revealed in a Jan. 25, 2016 email from Tony Carrk, the research director of the Clinton campaign, to John Podesta, the campaign chairman, and other top campaign officials. Some examples cited by Salon:

Politicians “need both a public and a private position”

In an April 2013 speech to the National Multi-Housing Council, Clinton maintained that politicians “need both a public and a private position.”

“If everybody’s watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least,” she said,

“Politics is like sausage being made,” Clinton added. “It is unsavory, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be.”

In other words, Hillary reserves the right to have two positions on every issue – but which one is the lie? BTW the “sausage” analogy was originally made by John Godfrey Saxe, but is often attributed to Otto von Bismarck. It is a political cliché.

Dreams of “open trade” world

In a May 2013 speech to the Brazilian bank Banco Itau, Clinton articulated her neoliberal, hyper-capitalist vision of the world.

“My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders,” she said….

“Far removed” from the middle class

In a February 2014 speech to the bank Goldman Sachs and financial management company BlackRock, Clinton admitted, “I’m kind of far removed” from the struggles of the middle class, “because the life I’ve lived and the economic, you know, fortunes that my husband and I now enjoy.” She added, “But I haven’t forgotten it.”

Clinton also said, “I do think there is a growing sense of anxiety and even anger in the country over the feeling that the game is rigged,” but she stressed, “I am not taking a position on any policy.”

The Intercept highlighted another quote, in which Hillary suggests the big banks ought to write their own regulations.

Touching on her view of developing financial regulations, Clinton declared to a crowd of Goldman Sachs bankers that in order to “figure out what works,” the “people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.”

Last but not least, we now know that Hillary told an audience at Morgan Stanley that she supported the Catfood Commission plan for tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for everyone else.

We ought to remember that the content of Hillary’s Wall Street speeches, as bad as it is, doesn’t outweigh the fact that she was paid $22 million. The speeches were primarily an excuse for the TBTF banks to financially reward the Clintons for their support over the years.

More info:
Salon: In paid speeches, Hillary Clinton said she “represented” and “had great relations” with Wall Street
The Intercept: Excerpts of Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speeches to Goldman Sachs Finally Leaked
Official Transcript Clock: http://iwilllookintoit.com/

Previously on One Utah:
The $675,000 Question (February 4, 2016)

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Allan Lichtenstein: ‘The rich get richer, the rest get poorer’

Wealth and Income Share of the Top 1%, 1913-2012

Wealth and income share of the top 1 percent

Via Truthout:

At one of the many high-dollar fundraisers Hillary Clinton held during the month of August, a personal-check donation of $100,000 would get an attendee a photo with Hillary, according to a recent New York Times article. Rubbing shoulders with the likes of Paul McCartney at a waterfront Hampton’s estate fund-raiser, Hillary “joined in a sing-a-long finale to ‘Hey Jude’.”

…Since the late-1970s, the top one percent of families have been steadily accumulating a larger share of the nation’s wealth (total assets people own net of their debts), recessions notwithstanding. In 2012 (the most recent available data), the top one percent of families (1.6 million families, each with at least $4 million in assets in 2012) held about 42 percent of all the wealth. Although still below the 1928 peak of 51 percent, the growth has been spectacular, almost doubling in close to 40 years.

“We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Louis Brandeis

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Jill Stein: Pardon Edward Snowden, Now

Jill Stein advocates an immediate presidential pardon of Edward Snowden, American hero.

Pardon Edward Snowden, now

Snowden’s whistleblowing was among the most important in US history. It showed us that the relationship between the people of the United States and the government has gone off track and needs a major course correction.

The fourth amendment of the constitution provides that a court must find probable cause that an individual has committed a crime before issuing a warrant, and forbids systematic spying on the American people. The requirement of individualized suspicion should prohibit this type of dragnet surveillance. Spying on whole populations is not necessary, and is actually counterproductive.

If elected president I will immediately pardon Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou for their important work in exposing the massive, systematic violation of our constitutional rights. I would invite them to the White House to publicly acknowledge their heroism, and create a role for them in the Stein-Baraka Green party administration to help us create a modern framework that protects personal privacy while still conducting effective investigations where warranted.

The American people have a right to privacy. My hope is that Obama uses his power to pardon Snowden now. The debate he began must be continued so we find a resolution that protects the freedom of press, association, religion and speech as well as the privacy of people in the United States and around the world.

More info:
The Guardian: Edward Snowden makes ‘moral’ case for presidential pardon
ACLU: PardonSnowden.org

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