Archive for category National Politics

Income Inequality is the Highest in American History


‘America Is NOT Broke’: Michael Moore Speaks in Madison, WI — March 5, 2011

“Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.”
— Michael Moore

According to economists Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson, the Gini coefficient in this country is now the highest it has ever been. “We went from one of the most egalitarian places in the world to one of the least,” Williamson told the Washington Post. “What happened?”

In his chronicle of the young United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville famously said that “nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of condition among the people.”

The Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality in which 0 is perfect equality and 100 would mean perfect inequality, or one person owning all the wealth. A recent study by the financial services corporation Allianz found that the U.S. had the most extreme wealth inequality in the world, with a score of 80.56 – the highest concentration of overall wealth in the hands of the proportionately fewest people.

Related:
Exclusive: Charles Koch and his company launch ‘end the divide’ ad campaign
The Kochs’ Biggest Joke—Billionaires Pretend to Care About Inequality in Latest Ad Blitz

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Happy Birthday USA!


5 Principles of True Patriotism

Happy 4th of July! Robert Reich reminds us that democracy isn’t just a spectator sport.

Bonus:
Will Someone Teach The Tea Party How To Spell?

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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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‘We Do Not Accept Those Choices!’

What Is Going On? // For Bernie Sanders from Meg is a Weirdo on Vimeo.

The corporate media have made no secret of their plan to declare Hillary Clinton the Democratic nominee on June 7th as soon as the polls close in New Jersey (while Californians are still voting). This is wrong. The nomination remains UNDECIDED until the super-delegates vote on July 25th!

Mark that on your calendar. July 25th. And plan to March for Bernie at Liberty Park on Sunday, July 24th.

More info:
Sanders Explains Why He Keeps Going and May Just Win California on Tuesday

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Rumblings In The Establishment

kristol unease

I’m a lifelong democrat because, although I cared about having enough to survive without asking anybody for money, I never really cared about being rich and used to hear all the time, that the democratic party was the “party of the people”. I have been lucky enough, as a privileged, 64 year old white man, to say I have never asked anybody for money so far. In fact, I’ve only asked for a raise on my job about twice. My mother insists on giving us kids a monetary gift now and then which I keep telling her not to. I have more then enough to get by, unless something pretty bad happens.

I just don’t see Hillary Clinton as leading anything close to a party of the people. There are actual, establishment television news shows – including shows on MSDNC :) – that are seriously questioning Hillary’s ability to be the president. Chuck Todd even said she probably wouldn’t be able to be appointed as attorney general with the questions being raised about her – “damn” – E-mails.

A serious comedy program compiles a couple clips from the corporate media here:

I don’t think the MSM is allowed to tell us what is happening behind the scenes and even the “Redacted Tonight” clip didn’t touch on it. For that we have to rely on another internet source that corporate advertisers would never finance. Even the title of this article by respected, but largely unknown, journalist, Robert Parry, doesn’t get to it, although the article does:

Waiting for California and the FBI

Two Washington insiders – Democratic pollster and political adviser Douglas E. Schoen and famed Watergate investigative reporter Carl Bernstein – have described panicky meetings of top Democrats worried over Clinton’s troubled campaign, with Schoen also describing private talks about possible last-minute alternatives.

I’ve heard similar tales of hushed discussions – with the fill-in options including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry or Sen. Sanders – but I still believe these fretful leaders are frozen by indecision and don’t have the nerve to pull Hillary Clinton’s hands off the steering wheel even to avoid disaster.

Joe Biden? John Kerry?

Well anyway, I didn’t want to leave the rumbling problems in the republican party out here. Everybody knows they’re at least as bad as the democrat ones. Republicans are good little soldiers and are lining up behind a pathological liar for their candidate because the brat seems to have told them he will cooperate.

Bill Kristol, editor of his dad-founded “Weekly Standard”, who has never really been on-the-rails, but is always asked to comment on the TV anyway for some reason, is seriously flummoxed by the Trump thing. He has recently announced his solution to the 2016 problem:

Bill Kristol Thinks a Nobody Named David French Can Take Down Donald Trump

Over the holiday weekend, the Weekly Standard chief confidently tweeted: “There will be an independent candidate—an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.

Well, at least David French is friends with Jonah Goldberg, – yes that Jonah Goldberg – who even gets to be a regular pundit on NPR for some reason. When asked about Kristols pick on NPR, he laughed. He likes his friend, but can’t really see him as leader of the free world right now. Besides, French isn’t sure he wants the job and nobody has any idea who he is. But that’s our Bill; always wrong and omnipresent.

Do you think all the people who have been filling up stadiums all over the country for that other guy, will be happy to have the democrats pop up with Kerry or Biden?

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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

12 Comments

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).

9 Comments

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?

11 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%

1 Comment

‘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!

6 Comments

‘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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