Archive for category National Politics

‘We have to give America something worth voting for’

Hillary speech

Today Hillary Clinton delivered her “official launch speech” at a campaign kick off rally in Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island in New York City.

The 40-minute speech was loaded with dozens of campaign commitments for progressives and middle-class Americans. Some were meaningless, such as a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court on Citizens United. Other promises were more practical, such as a long-overdue federal law to guarantee paid sick leave. Hillary criticized Wall Street again and again, and even promised to re-engineer the financial sector so that it contributes more to the “real” economy of Main Street.

The bottom line: Hillary declared, “We… have to give America something worth voting for” in 2016.

But… she never mentioned the TPP or fast-track. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio did not attend the rally because he is still waiting for Hillary to speak out on this issue.

More Info:
Hillary Clinton campaign rally speech transcript

UPDATE:
Hillary has now appeared to side with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on the TPP so-called “trade” deal:

At a rally in Iowa, Clinton said that if the president can’t come to terms with Pelosi, there should be no deal. “Here’s what I think should happen now,” Clinton said. “The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, starting with Nancy Pelosi, who have expressed their concerns about the impact that a weak agreement would have on our workers, to make sure we get the best, strongest deal possible and if we don’t get it, there should be no deal.”

So Hillary is sort of against the TPP, but also in favor of it if it can be made more worker-friendly?

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Faux News: Paying people for the hours that they actually work ‘undercuts work ethic’

Dilbert unpaid overtime

Via Media Matters:

Throughout the day on June 10, Fox News and Fox Business personalities derided an expected proposal from the Labor Department that would expand guaranteed overtime pay to millions of American workers who currently work uncompensated hours.

…Under current federal guidelines, salaried employees are only guaranteed overtime pay if they earn up to $23,660 per year. Raising the threshold to $52,000 would expand overtime protections to at least 6.1 million additional American workers, and bring the policy roughly in line with federal standards last witnessed in 1975, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

On the Faux News Channel, commentators worry that paying people for the hours that they actually work “undercuts work ethic.” Seriously?

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The Myth of the Global Warming ‘Pause’

global warming graph
(Credit: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information)

Turns out that Faux News Channel was wrong about climate change. There wasn’t any ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus’ in global warming. Surprised? Also wrong– presidential candidate Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz, who said this just over three months ago:

“The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that – that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.”

It turns out that using the global mean surface temperature as the primary yardstick for climate change masked the actual trend. Also temperature fluctuations due to natural variation led to some speculation about “missing heat” that actually wasn’t missing at all, it was in the oceans.

Maybe NOW we can cancel all the “debates” about whether climate change is happening, and start talking about how to adapt to it. Prevention is no longer an option, but possibly we can mitigate warming or limit the duration.

More info:

Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”

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Tea-GOP Versus Social Security and Medicare

Social Security

As R.J. Eskow points out on HuffPo, the Tea-GOP is dedicated to tearing down Social Security and Medicare on behalf of the 1 Percent. Seemingly obvious ideas such as eliminating the cap on payroll taxes are viewed as a threat by some wealthy people, so they’re not on the policy agenda.

Few political advisors would suggest running on a platform of open hostility toward the elderly. Most families include an older person, after all, and everyone who lives long enough will become older themselves someday.

Seniors vote in greater numbers, too.

That may be why the GOP isn’t openly presenting itself as the “anti-elderly party.” But how else are we to interpret its deeds and actions? Its leading presidential candidates are pushing cuts to Social Security, while its congressional budgets would end Medicare as we know it.

Most older Americans would lose out under these proposals. But billionaires would make out very well indeed.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker became the latest Republican to jump on the anti-Social Security bandwagon this week, and he did so in a somewhat tactless way — by suggesting that benefits cuts should be applied to anybody born later than… Scott Walker.

“We’ll talk about reform,” Walker said, “but only for those — I was born on November 2, 1967 — for anybody older than me, we’re not touching social security.”

(“Reform,” in case you haven’t noticed, is a euphemism some people are fond of using when discussing Social Security or Medicare. It means “cuts.”)

…Then there’s Medicare. The Republican House has repeatedly approved budgets which would cut Medicare’s budget and replace it with a voucher system for purchasing private insurance. That would impose severe financial hardship on the average enrollee.

These attacks on Social Security and Medicare come at a time when Americans are facing a retirement crisis. A new report from the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO), conducted at the request of Sen. Bernie Sanders, found that “about half of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings,” and that “many older households without retirement savings have few other resources, such as a defined benefit (DB) plan or non-retirement savings, to draw on in retirement.”

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Ken Ivory Accused of Fraud in Public Land Grab Scheme

Via Think Progress

The Campaign for Accountability (CfA) is requesting that the attorneys general of Utah, Arizona and Montana investigate Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory (R) for “solicit[ing] funds from local officials, falsely claiming the federal government can be forced to transfer public lands to the states.”

The complaints cite Ivory’s use of his role as president and founder of the American Lands Council (ALC), a Utah-based organization, to “enrich” his personal wealth and make “false or fraudulent representations to obtain money.”

Utah remains the only Western state to have enacted a law to steal our public lands, which would be utterly unconstitutional. Utah’s HB 148, signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert in 2012, violates the U.S. Constitution, the Utah Constitution, and the Utah Enabling Act.

Anne Weismann, executive director of the CfA:

“Ken Ivory has relied on his position and authority as a Utah state legislator to persuade unsuspecting local officials that if they contribute taxpayer dollars to his charity, they can help their states acquire federal land and increase revenues… He might as well be trying to sell them the Brooklyn Bridge.”

Ken Ivory and his wife pocket most of the money contributed to the ALC.

According to the AP, representatives for the Utah and Montana attorneys general offices are reviewing the fraud accusations.

More info:
SLT: Environmentalists claim Ken Ivory is scamming local officials

UPDATE:
Rep. Ivory says he’s being bullied by the Campaign for Accountability.

“These types of organizations have just destroyed Western public lands through this kind of litigation and bullying tactics,” he said. “They’re so afraid of the success that the transfer of public lands movement is having that they’re stooping to these kinds of bullying tactics because they can’t tolerate basic political debate.”

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Add This to the “No One Could Have Predicted” File

ISIS map

It’s a meme made famous by Bush administration officials who failed to do their jobs. Over and over again, following each Bush catastrophe from the 9/11 attacks to Hurricane Katrina to the 2008 collapse of the financial sector (causing a near depression), they told us, “no one could have predicted” what would happen.

Now we learn, via a newly declassified document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), that in 2012 intelligence analysts predicted the rise of ISIS and the founding of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This would be a direct consequence of the intervention of U.S. allies and the U.S. itself in the Syrian civil war, according to the report.

Just like the 9/11 attacks, we saw it coming and did nothing to prevent it. At the very least, top government officials underestimated the ISIS threat to the region and to our own national security.

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‘It’s almost like war is a business’

AT-4 anti-tank rocket

DSWRIGHT on FDL: US Sending Weapons To Iraq To Use Against Weapons US Previously Sent To Iraq

It’s almost like war is a business. The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the United States would be sending 2,000 AT-4 anti-tank rockets to Iraq. While the Department of Defense emphasized that the rockets were being sent to help combat suicide car bombs, there is another target anti-tank rockets might be needed for in Iraq these days – US tanks and other vehicles in the hands of ISIS.

As a point of information, ISIS forces captured more than 100 armored vehicles, (including M1A1 Abrams tanks, artillery, and large quantities of ammunition) when Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fled the provincial capital of Ramadi last weekend.

More info:
ISIS Captures Hundreds of US Vehicles and Tanks in Ramadi from Iraqis

1 Comment

People Who Believed the Media About Ebola Were The Least Informed

Ebola hysteria
Remember this?

Media Matters for America asks a great question: Where’s The Media’s Ebola Mea Culpa?

Before the 2014 elections, broadcast and cable news aired more than 975 segments raising the alarm about the (extremely unlikely) danger of an Ebola epidemic in America. The story was quickly dropped after Election Day. One survey found that the people who were paying the most attention to the Ebola story were the ones least informed about it.

Eric Boehlert:

I’d suggest the news media’s collective malfeasance ranks not far behind the run-up to the Iraq War in terms of a fundamental failure to inform the public about a life-and-death issue. Thankfully, Ebola did not plunder the U.S. Treasury and cost thousands of American lives like the Iraq War did. But Ebola did require leveled-headed journalism, which was often missing.

Faux News Channel led the way, but most other media followed them with nonstop unfounded hysteria timed right before an election. When do we get an apology?

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Gov. Herbert Not Buying ‘Jade Helm 15′ Conspiracy Theory

Jade Helm map
“Jade Helm 15″ exercise map

The office of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) told TPM on Thursday that he’s not buying into the conspiracy theory that the military is plotting a massive multi-state takeover in the western U.S.

The governor’s spokesman, Marty Carpenter, sent an email to TPM about the upcoming seven-state military training exercise known as “Jade Helm 15,” saying the state has “been assured this will be a standard training exercise.”

Conspiracy theorists have sounded the alarm about the exercise, which is slated to take place from July 15 to Sept. 15 in Utah and six other western states. The conspiracy theory this week led Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to order the State Guard to monitor “Jade Helm 15″ to confirm that the operation is not in fact a military takeover.

According to speculation, in the “Jade Helm” Special Operations Forces exercise Utah represents Syria– which is why it’s labeled as hostile on the map. Texas is possibly a stand-in for Iran, and southern California may be Palestine.

More info:
What The Nation’s Governors Are Saying About The Texas Takeover

UPDATE:

Defense Secretary: No, The Pentagon Is Not Planning A Texas Takeover

Defense Sec. Ash Carter on Thursday disputed the idea from conspiracy theorists that the military exercise known as “Jade Helm 15″ was an attempt by the Pentagon to take over Texas.

18 Comments

NSA Bulk Data Collection Illegal, U.S. Appeals Court Says

Stop spying on Americans

NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) – A U.S. spying program that collects data about millions of Americans’ phone calls is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday…

Thank you to Russ Tice, Edward Snowden, James Risen, and the ACLU. They are American heroes.

It should not have taken so long to reverse the ugly policies of the Bush administration. We are finally making some progress. Congress ought to allow Section 215 of the so-called USA PATRIOT Act to expire next month.

UPDATES:
Newly-confirmed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch not a fan of the Constitution. Apparently.

Utah Senator Mike Lee says he agrees with the court decision. Lee is co-sponsoring Senator Patrick Leahy’s “USA Freedom Act” that would tighten the rules for domestic surveillance.


Obama And Clinton Endorse USA Freedom Act After Court Ruling

In the aftermath of yesterday’s court ruling and the looming June 1st deadline to reauthorize the section of the PATRIOT Act the court ruled illegal, the Democratic Party establishment appears to have shifted somewhat on domestic spying.

6 Comments

The Tea-GOP Needs A Clown Bus

Clown bus

Before the Iowa caucuses, the Tea-GOP might produce as many as 21 presidential candidates. There are five announced candidates now, including Rafael (“Ted”) Cruz, Randal (“Rand”) Paul, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, and Ben Carson. Mike Huckabee is set to announce tomorrow, and James (“Rick”) Perry is expected to enter the race on June 1. Nine more are formally exploring a candidacy, and there are at least five possible fringe candidates.

Governor Perry would be the first presidential candidate in U.S. history to run while under indictment. Carly Fiorina’s candidacy has a “boss from Hell” problem – see CarlyFiorina.org

More info:
Republican clown car gets a little more crowded as Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina enter the race
GOP clown car runs into ditch
CarlyFiorina.org is literally just 30,000 sad faces — one for every laid off HP employee

19 Comments

Reps. Stewart and Bishop Promote Public Land Grab

It’s unconstitutional and enjoys essentially zero public support, but the Koch brothers want it– therefore our so-called representatives are calling for national legislation to seize and sell America’s public lands.

More info:
Reps. Stewart and Bishop Launch New Federal Land Action Group
GOP House Leaders Create ‘Action Group’ To Seize And Sell America’s Public Lands

UPDATE:
Editorial: Public-lands deal fades as posturing rises

Bishop and Stewart are seeking leverage. In trying to negotiate with the environmental groups who want more wilderness and other protections under the Public Lands Initiative, they are playing the state-takeover card. Those environmental groups would be more inclined to take less if they thought state ownership was looming. It’s a wild card, in that it’s not clear such a land transfer bill would ever make it through Congress.

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