Conservationists gathered today in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to send a strong message in support of our public lands, particularly the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
“We can show the gang that’s out there at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge how you really make a public statement in support of something,” said Sean Stevens, executive director of Oregon Wild.
“We’re going to be positive. We’re going to be peaceful and we’re going to talk about how much we love public lands.”
…Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Portland Audubon Society of Porltand, said the armed occupation needs to end and the lands need to be returned to the public owners.
“This country really cares about these places,” Sallinger said. “This illegal armed occupation needs to end. It needs to be prosecuted and these lands need to be returned to the people.”
Here we are with less than three weeks until Americans begin casting their first votes in Iowa and New Hampshire, and the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton campaigns are tied, polling within the margin of error.
Months ago, the consensus of the pundits was that Bernie had entered the presidential race with the hope of nudging Hillary’s campaign platform just a little bit left. That happened, of course – she has switched positions on marriage equality, gun safety, undocumented immigrants, so-called “free trade” treaties, and the Keystone XL pipeline. What few saw at the outset was that significant numbers of Democratic primary voters were not enthusiastic about another Clinton administration, whatever the promises.
Bernie has relentlessly stayed on message, and his message is that income and wealth inequality are destroying our democracy. We have to rein in the “billionaire class,” he says.
“Greed is not good,” Sanders said, countering the famed Wall Street movie character Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas in the 1987 film Wall Street. “In fact, the greed of Wall Street and corporate America is destroying the very fabric of our nation.”
A centerpiece of his plan is a pledge to break up the biggest banks and financial institutions, whose size and complexity threaten the financial system as a whole and the U.S. economy.
Sanders says that if he were elected president one of his first acts would be to tell the Treasury Department to establish a “too-big-to-fail” list of commercial banks plus shadow financial institutions and insurance companies whose failure would pose a “catastrophic risk” to the U.S. economy and move to downsize them to make them safer.
Bernie wants to restore Glass-Steagall protections against risky “shadow” banking activities that were put in place in 1933 to prevent another Great Depression. In 1999 President Bill Clinton signed the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act into law, permitting the partial repeal of Glass–Steagall – which led to the formation of the housing bubble over the next decade until it burst in 2008 at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency. The result was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Glass-Steagall “worked for more than five decades until Wall Street watered it down under President Reagan and killed it under President Clinton,” said Sanders pointedly in his speech.
There is a clear difference between the two candidates on Wall Street regulation: Clinton won’t support the restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act. Bernie also wants to bring back a financial transaction tax like the one that was in effect from 1914 to 1966. A small tax could actually raise big money and discourage the sort of large-volume program trading that causes a “flash crash” in the stock markets.
Some media talking heads are still not willing to entertain the idea of Bernie Sanders as the Dem nominee. This morning on MSNBC, Joe Scarborough was speculating about a “Plan B” featuring Biden or Kerry if Hillary doesn’t win Iowa and New Hampshire. Mika Brzezinski quite reasonably asked, why not Bernie?
A recent poll surprised a lot of insiders by suggesting that Bernie Sanders would do better against Donald Trump than Hillary Clinton would –beating Trump by 13 points.
This was confirmed by an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll.
But this should be no surprise at all. With a lot of angry voters in a populist mood, they would likely opt for the real economic populist rather than the fake one.
It’s About Time: Medicare Finally Reimburses Doctors For Having End of Life Discussions With Patients
Two powerful and provocative posts at DKos have my attention tonight.
The first by Joan McCarter is a short piece entitled RIP ‘death panels,’ and welcome to a bit of sanity in our national health system.
But the idea was reborn this year thanks to efforts by many, including Goodman’s “The Conversation Project,” a group of healthcare providers, clergy, and media who began meeting in 2010. The group brainstormed over how to talk about dying better in this country, and how to help the people we love die better. That and efforts by many others led to real policy this year.
What now? The new Medicare rules will help encourage and normalize end-of-life conversations. Beginning Friday, doctors and other clinicians will be reimbursed for talking with all their patients—not just sick patients—about end-of-life care. Quietly, in one room after another, in 2016, a talk that almost derailed Obamacare in 2009, will become routine.
The new policy reimburses doctors for having end of life discussions. It was good policy in 2009 and 2010 – the manic ravings of conservatives nearly derailed healthcare reform over an imagined lie. It’s finally policy. It’s about damned time.
The second article began as a response to McCarter’s – Death with dignity is something we all deserve.
Being five years removed from having to make a decision to end life support for a family member allows for some clarity that I did not have when I wrote, “I wish she would die.”
After that post, I received the well wishes of many, many members of the Daily Kos family. I also had people seek out my email address, phone number, and home address to contact me and tell me just how horrible a person I was to wish for the death of my beloved mother. [snip]
The sad thing is, just two years later, my vet showed more compassion to me, and to my family when it came time to make the decision to put my Shepherd/Lab mix Duke down. The decision was made in private, he was put to sleep at my home, and the vet took the time to reassure us that we were doing the right thing. She even left us with literature on dealing with the loss of a pet. My dog, Duke, suffered far less in his final hours than my own mother did in hers.
I’ll probably have more to say about this later, but it’s important to realize that the pattern of the health care reform debate has been with us since the minute Barack Obama began running for President. Republicans and conservatives scream and shout things that are flat out lies, completely untrue. The media mindlessly reports those things and the entire public debate is distorted as result. The tragedy is that these Republican lies result in real human suffering.
This brilliant, devastating article published by Rolling Stone, entitled The Dumb and Restless, by Matt Taibbi (of course!), perfectly sums up the Bundy yahoos occupying the Malheur Bird Refuge.
Every time these people open their mouths, it’s comedy.
He goes on to point out:
There’s no doubt that these people are dangerous, but their ridiculousness is a huge part of who they are. [snip]
The Bundy militiamen are an extreme example of a type that’s become common in America. Like the Tea Partiers, they seem to not only believe that they’re the only people in history who’ve ever paid taxes, but that they’re the only people who were ever sad about it. What they call tyranny on the part of the federal government just means putting up with the same irritating bills and regulations and other crap that we all put up with, only the rest of us don’t whine about it in the front seats of our cars while posing in front of tripods.
Again, these people may be dangerous, but their boundless self-pity, their outrageous sense of entitlement and their slapstick incompetence as rebels and terrorists are absolutely ridiculous. Sure, it may not help, but how can we not laugh?
The son of Cliven Bundy, a hodgepodge of right-wing and anti-Islam activists and local Oregon militia members have occupied the visitor center at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon in an apparent bid to provoke a confrontation with federal law enforcement.
No, this is NOT a “peaceful” protest. These guys are heavily armed terrorists seeking violence.
“After the peaceful rally was completed today, a group of outside militants drove to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, where they seized and occupied the refuge headquarters. A collective effort from multiple agencies is currently working on a solution. For the time being please stay away from that area. More information will be provided as it becomes available. Please maintain a peaceful and united front and allow us to work through this situation.”
A Twitter report from Jason Wilson, the Guardian’s reporter on the scene:
I drove out there. It was just them – no law enforcement and no other media. I was not allowed to enter and strongly encouraged to leave.
We’re awaiting further developments.
Oregon militia threatens showdown with US agents at wildlife refuge
A Militia Has Taken Over A Federal Building In Oregon
Bundy, Militia Occupies Wildlife Refuge HQ In Bid for Confrontation with Feds
Armed Militia Seized A Federal Building. The Media Called Them ‘Peaceful.’
WTF Is Happening in the Oregon Militia Standoff, Explained
Armed group’s leader in federal building: ‘We will be here as long as it takes’
Courting Anarchy: LaVoy Finicum, Utah ranchers, and the militia movement
The Armed Oregon Ranchers Who Want Free Land Are Already Getting A 93 Percent Discount
The news media have now coined a new term, “armed protesters,” in order to avoid the obvious conclusion that these guys are terrorists.
Ammon Bundy Holds A Convoluted Press Conference In Oregon
OK, so the leader of a terrorist group engaged in an act of terrorism held a public press conference today in the USA. Does anyone have a problem with that?
Ammon Bundy Says He’s Following Directions From God (Well alright then!). The LDS Church says they don’t think so.
For the militants, the morning press briefings are the oxygen that breathes life into their occupation. This is the occupiers’ chance to repeat their message, knowing the press will listen, hoping there will be some news of when this might end.
…Federal agents have a different media strategy than the militants — they want the press to get lost.
Now entering their third week of occupying the Malheur national wildlife refuge in rural Harney County, leaders of the militia appear to be testing the patience of the local sheriff’s department and the FBI by brazenly commandeering and in some cases destroying public property while escalating their anti-government rhetoric.
Can somebody tell me how the public is being served on our airwaves? I thought there were laws about this sort of thing.
The CEO at CBS, Les Moonvez, had this to say about that television station’s coverage of the 2016 race, at a UBS investment bank seminar:
…we have the superbowl and we have a year of political advertising that looks like it’s shaping up to be pretty phenomenal, you know, we love having all 16 Republican candidates throwing crap at each other, it’s great! The more they spend the better it is for us and uh… GO DONALD! Keep gettin’ out there and, you know, this is fun. Let them spend money on us and we love having them in there and we’re looking forward to a very exciting political year in 2016.
But let’s not let ABC or all the other outlets off the hook for downright bad coverage of the election, and the debates which haven’t included even one question about climate change from the moderators.
The real story of this election season, is how a self described “democratic socialist” has become the favorite of the American public. Bernie Sanders would easily win a contest with Donald Trump if the election were held today, but except for a couple of debates, he doesn’t exist on the public airwaves:
From Media Matters:
So in terms of stand-alone campaign stories this year, it’s been 234 minutes for Trump, compared to 10 minutes for Sanders. And at ABC World News Tonight, it’s been 81 minutes for Trump and less than one minute for Sanders.
NPR reported 20 seconds for Sanders on ABC World News.
Let “the invisible hand of the market” pick your president.
Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, was killed by a policeman in Cleveland last November. He had a toy gun. But even if the gun had been real, and loaded, Rice could not have been accused of a crime because Ohio is an “open carry” state.
Surveillance video showed that Rice was gunned down less than two seconds after the police arrived.
After a 13-month investigation, a grand jury failed to return indictments against either of the two officers involved in the incident. As prosecutor Timothy McGinty declared, “We don’t second-guess police officers.”
What Everyone Should Know About The Police Killing Of Tamir Rice (2002-2014)
How A Prosecutor Managed To Blame A 12-Year-Old For Getting Killed By A Cop
Bernie Sanders wants federal probe of Tamir Rice case: ‘We need to take a hard look’ at police use of force
“All I wanted was someone to be held accountable. But this entire process was a charade,” said Rice’s mother, Samaria Rice, in a statement Monday evening. “I pray and hope that the federal government will investigate this case.”
Competition among billionaires has actually landed a rocket on earth.
Almost 50 years ago, the United States sent men to the moon, landed them there, and brought them safely back to earth, just like president Kennedy envisioned, and less then ten years after he envisioned it.
Today, Billionaires are sending spacecraft into near earth, and landing them, with the hope that someday, we’ll be sending other very wealthy people into space for a sort of amusment park ride, and returning them safely to earth.
I don’t really have anything against Elon Musk, the Virgin guy, or the Amazon guy following their spacey dreams, but I think the government did pretty well in the past, and I’ll bet you it could have even come up with reusable rockets by now.
Do we really need billionaires to create our future, or would a government, elected by the people, as it was in the past, work better to educate our kids without burying them in debt, and build the great innovations that can get us out of the mess the giant corporations have created for us?
Today, we have a handful of un-elected, plutocrat Kings telling our – sort of – elected leaders to ignore us.
Happy Holidays though. It’s actually – sort of – snowing in Utah for a change. You won’t have to worry about having a “White Christmas”, unless the rain melts it.
Over at Washington Monthly, Martin Longman offers a provocative meditation on “the Establishment.”
There’s a growing consensus that our establishment has failed us and isn’t worthy. Self-correction has broken down. Accountability is in short supply.
We can’t abolish the establishment. They are always with us in every society. But they need to –we need them to– get their act together.
Longman provides some interesting historical examples – the 1972 election when the Democratic establishment couldn’t bring itself to support McGovern but tried to salvage the down ticket races, 1944 when Wilkie and FDR explored the idea of creating a new liberal, political party (abandoned because “the need was perceived at the time by the establishment of both parties because events were too fraught to leave the conservatives in charge of something as powerful as one of our two viable political parties”).
The Republican establishment is in shambles. The Democratic establishment is facing a profound challenge from Bernie Sanders (one they can’t dismiss but can’t fully engage). The establishment has too much invested in keeping things working to let them go to hell, but they need to stop being so damned complacent and act now.
In early December, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, began saying that his military approach to ISIS would be “carpet bombing.” He said during a speech in Iowa on Dec. 5 that “we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”
Senator Cruz doubled down on his campaign rhetoric during this week’s CNN Tea-GOP presidential debate.
What makes this scary is the current mood of the Tea-GOP electorate, which is nothing if not utterly irrational and angry. Public Policy Polling found that “30% of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin.”
To be fair, 19 percent of Dems polled also supported an attack on the made-up Arabian nation from the 1992 animated film. We can’t mince words, you have to call this by its proper name: magic carpet bombing. Which is as good a term as any to describe the insane posturing that dominates the current political debate over national security issues.
Poll: 30 percent of Republicans want to bomb country from ‘Aladdin’
Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters support bombing any Arab sounding nation — even the fictional land of Aladdin
People Want To Bomb The Fictional Kingdom In ‘Aladdin,’ But Don’t Panic Yet
This wasn’t one of those flash polls you see on the internet that everybody knows can be rigged, even if it looks exactly like one. These are all real people who have registered with DFA over a decade or so.
I Love DFA, (Democracy For America). It was organized around my favorite candidate for president in 2004, Governor Howard Dean. It was set up by people much younger then I am, but it was a true grass roots movement that made early inroads into utilizing the internet to inform and activate people interested in a true democratic system.
I was most impressed when I got my first E-mail which asked everybody in the organization to vote for which direction they wanted to take in the election. I was excited that I would actually be able participate in deciding something for a change. A sense of responsibility came over me. It felt refreshing.
In fact, Howard Dean came out in October, supporting Hillary Clinton, but DFA hasn’t changed its policy of deciding things – you know – democratically. So I was sort of scared to check out the results today, but was very pleasantly surprised.
Bernie Sanders, who also just received support from a major union, was also impressed with the process at DFA, and said:
“It is no secret that the founder of DFA—my friend and fellow Vermonter former Gov. Howard Dean—has chosen not to support my candidacy. Yet the leadership of DFA allowed a fair and free vote to take place which we won. That’s pretty impressive.”
The original people who organized DFA must be in their 30 and 40’s by now. It would be great to see the old crowd get back together and save the country, just in the nick of time!
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Bernie Sanders has finally made the news. Sign this emergency petition to stop the DNC from crippling his campaign!