From the White House: President Obama just took action to protect one of Alaska’s most powerful economic engines and one of America’s greatest national treasures: Bristol Bay.


Today, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that withdraws these beautiful and pristine waters from all future oil and gas drilling. “These waters are too special and too valuable to auction off to the highest bidder,” the President said.

Press Release: President Obama Protects Alaska’s Bristol Bay From Future Oil and Gas Drilling

This action safeguards one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserves an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.

Bristol Bay is at the heart one of the world’s most valuable fisheries, helping to provide 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and support a $2 billion annual fishing industry. The beautiful and remote area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska, driving $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year. Bristol Bay hosts the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world, and provides important habitat for many species, including the threatened Stellar’s eider, sea otters, seals, walruses, Beluga and Killer whales, and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale.

Today’s decision to withdraw the area from all future oil and gas leasing extends indefinitely a temporary withdrawal that President Obama issued in 2010 and was set to expire in 2017. This action builds on decades of local efforts to protect Bristol Bay from oil and gas development by Alaska Native tribes and organizations, as well as local seafood and tourism businesses that create jobs and strengthen Alaska and the nation’s economy. It also honors the legacy of Alaska residents like Harold ‘Harvey’ Samuelsen, a salmon fisherman who is legendary for his lifelong dedication to Bristol Bay and to creating economic opportunities for Alaska Native and rural communities.

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Posted by: JanF | December 14, 2014

Thank you, Mike and Ted!

Thank you, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Cruz (T-TX), for standing up to the NRA and paving the way for Dr. Vivek Murthy to be our next Surgeon General!!!

What?!!?? That was not your intent when you forced the Senate to remain in session on Saturday? Regardless, Dr. Vivek Murthy will finally get a vote:

[Dr.] Murthy is an impressive medical professional with sterling credentials. He’s an attending physician, an instructor, and a public-health advocate, so when Obama nominated him for the post, no one questioned his qualifications. But Murthy, like so many in his field, also sees a connection between gun violence and public health, which meant Republicans and the NRA decided to destroy his nomination.

Dr. Murthy was nominated by the president on Nov. 14, 2013

Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, Nominee for Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services

Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy is the Co-Founder and President of Doctors for America, a position he has held since 2009. Dr. Murthy is also a Hospitalist Attending Physician and Instructor in Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, a position he has held since 2006. In 2011, Dr. Murthy was appointed to serve as a Member of the Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. Dr. Murthy has been the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of TrialNetworks, formerly known as Epernicus, since 2007. Dr. Murthy co-founded VISIONS Worldwide in 1995, a non-profit organization focused on HIV/AIDS education in India and the United States, where he served as President from 1995 to 2000 and Chairman of the Board from 2000 to 2003. Dr. Murthy received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from Yale School of Management, and an M.D. from Yale School of Medicine.

Dr. Murthy’s nomination was approved by Senate committee but put on hold in February by red state Democrats frightened by the NRA. Yes, the same NRA that spent millions to support those red state Democrats’ opponents in November 2014 (how’d that work for you, soon-to-be-former Senator Mark Pryor?).

But Saturday afternoon, thanks to the “intervention” of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Dr. Murthy cleared the first procedural hurdles to his confirmation by a vote of 52-40. On Monday, Senators will vote on cloture, and because of the 50+1 rule, confirmation.

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On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new regulations to cut ground level ozone (smog) levels in order to improve public health.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy:

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy Explains Proposed Smog Standards To Protect Americans’ Health

Her editorial, published at CNN.com, explains the new regulations:

For 44 years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has defended the American people’s right to breathe clean air by setting national air quality standards for common air pollutants.

Successful public health protection depends on the latest science. Think of it this way: If your doctor wasn’t using the latest medical science, you’d be worried you weren’t getting the best care.

That’s why the Clean Air Act requires EPA to update air quality standards every five years, to ensure standards “protect public health with an adequate margin of safety” based on the latest scientific evidence.

So today, following science and the law, I am proposing to update national ozone pollution standards to clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk — our children, our elderly, and people already suffering from lung diseases like asthma. […]

Ground-level ozone pollution, commonly known as smog, comes from industrial action, motor vehicles, power plants, and other activities. Breathing ozone irritates the nose, throat, and lungs. Thousands of scientific studies (from renowned institutions like Harvard University, the University of North Carolina Medical School, and many others) tell us that cutting air pollution to meet ozone standards lowers the risk of asthma, permanent lung damage, cardiovascular harm, and premature death.

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Posted by: JanF | November 4, 2014

Don’t let a minoritea choose our government

If you harbor any doubt as to how the Republicans prefer to hold onto power in states like Wisconsin, look no further than the comment by Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R):

“… high turnout elections have typically favored Democrats while low turnouts favor the GOP”

Fitzgerald is correct … but he will never be right. It can never be right to want to govern without the consent of those being governed, to wish that democracy fails so that you can ignore the will of the majority of the people.

Republicans all over the United States, like Fitzgerald, are glad when fewer people vote because they know that most people reject their puny vision of America.

I am reminded of what happened as the result of a low-turnout midterm 4 years ago. In February 2011, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) fulfilled his secret promises to his campaign donors and ended collective bargaining for public employees. People protested and the Democratic state senators left the state to deny Sen. Fitzgerald a quorum. Those were heady times for small d democracy as Walker discovered that winning an election with 32% of the registered voters of a state (25% of the voting age population) did not give him a mandate. He won the election but he lacked one very important thing: the Consent of the Governed.

Specifically, this consent, from Thomas Jefferson:

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

It is time to stand up and be counted as one of the governed who does NOT consent to Scott Walker’s governance, one who rejects his minoritea rule.

There is no excuse to not vote today. No excuse to not take our state back from the special interests and elect a governor who cares about Wisconsin and wants to make life better for Wisconsinites. Mary Burke will have one focus: moving Wisconsin Forward.

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Last night in Milwaukee, President Obama spoke at a get out the vote rally for Mary Burke, Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor. He spoke at North Division High School, whose famous graduates include former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and current U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D). The precinct that North Division is in voted 99% for President Obama in the 2012 election so it was a place he knew he would be welcome … and he was, by about 3,400 people!!

(CSPAN video here. The president is introduced at 10:35)

President Obama:
“When you step into that voting booth, you have a choice to make. It boils down to a simple question: Who’s going to fight for you?”

Transcript: Remarks by the President at Burke for Governor Rally

A week from now, this woman will be the governor-elect of Wisconsin if we continue to Get Out The Vote and Get Out And Vote. So far, early voting is well ahead of the low turnout 2010 election which is good news in a state that elected Barack Obama by 12 points in 2008 and 7 points in 2012.

More photos can be found at The Obama Diary.

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Posted by: JanF | October 28, 2014

Listen to *this* Guy!

The problem with the U.S. Senate polls heading into the final week before election day is that when you dig a little deeper, they are essentially saying that most of the races are “too close to call”.

Yet that does not stop the breathless headlines: “Democrats will be crushed by Republican wave” or “Democratic majority doomed”.

I recommend listening to this Guy, Guy Cecil, who says that we can win ALL the close Senate elections if we just get out the vote, even in states where there are more Republicans than Democrats.

How? Well, state by state (from the video):
– CO (mail-in means 2 million more voters than in 2010),
– AR (95,000 more AA voters, 5% bump),
– LA (900,000 new AA voters since Katrina),
– AK (Turnout among native people),
– NC (education is #2 issue which has no anti-Obama component),
– IA (D dominating early vote, non-2010 voters are voting Democratic),
– GA (New AA voters, maximize Atlanta and southern GA),
– KY (Tied, key is turnout in Louisville, high negatives for McConnell),
– SD (Not giving up),
– NH (Shaheen is up and will stay up)
– MN (Franken is a lock)
New voters, re-energized voters, non-2010 voters. Democratic voters.

So who is this Guy and why should we listen to him?

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Posted by: JanF | October 28, 2014

WordPress Helps to GetOutTheVote

From WordPress.com:

Since 2004, WordPress has set out with an ambitious goal in mind — to democratize publishing and put state-of-the-art tools in front of publishers both large and small across the planet. We believe strongly in this vision because when more people have access to powerful tools on the web, that in-turn empowers them to do great things and publish amazing content. We feel the same way when it comes to democratizing, well, democracy — and in just a few weeks, citizens across the United States will have a unique opportunity to flex their political muscle and vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

We’ve teamed up with the good folks from The Pew Charitable Trusts, who, along with Google, and election officials nationwide, have developed the The Voting Information Project (VIP).

This tool provides official election information including “Where is my polling location?” and “What’s on my ballot?”.

 

Voting is our most fundamental responsibility as citizens — without it, our American democracy wouldn’t exist. WordPress.com is a platform that gives everyday people the ability to share their voice and we’re asking you to take advantage of this voice — by exercising your right to vote. We’re asking you for your help to spread the word, encourage participation and get out the vote on November 4th, 2014.

Posted by: JanF | October 24, 2014

Your Vote Counts: Countdown to the Midterms

Are you ready? …


It is time to step away from the polling and get to the polls.

~

Voter Turnout in Four Charts

A recent Pew study finds that non-voters are far more likely to oppose repealing Obamacare and support government “doing more things.” While likely voters were split between Obama and Romney, each with 47 percent of the vote, non-voters supported Obama by a whopping 35 points (59 percent to 24 percent). […]

All of this suggests that more turnout, particularly among low-income voters, would shift our political system to the left. The Median Voter Theorem postulates that democratic systems will produce policy outcomes that align with the preferences of the median voter suggests that turnout gaps as a source of policy bias toward more affluent households. Because non-voters are more economically liberal than voters, the median voter is more conservative than the electorate at large. If more low-income people voted, politicians would become more economically liberal to court the new voters. […]

Politicians respond to voters, not non-voters.

Don’t leave your lives in the hands of those who, quite literally, do not give a darn about your life. Your vote will not only elect people who believe in the value of government but it will put pressure on those politicians who think they can get away with ignoring you. Turn out and tell them NO.

~

The Great Kansas Tea Party Disaster

Extremist Republicans turned their government into a lab experiment of tax cuts and privatization. And now they may be losing control of one of the reddest states in the nation

“Tea Party Disaster” – my new favorite phrase. May the receding tide from the 2010 wave wash away the GOP governors who put their national party above their constituents needs.

~

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The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), snuck around in the early morning hours Saturday to decree that stopping a Texas law which discriminates on racial grounds would be unfair to Republicans in Texas who have worked so hard to disenfranchise those who might vote against them.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote (another) scathing dissent which was also signed by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.

Sadly, three votes to protect the right to vote is as meaningful as zero votes on a court intent upon disenfranchising those who would vote against their preferred political party. It is not enough to be right, we need to win these, especially the obvious ones.

Justice Ginsburg harkens back to the mindnumbing disconnect from reality present in the majority’s Shelby v Holder ruling last year that struck preclearance from the Voting Rights Act. Chief Justice Roberts declared that we are now post-racial and there is no need to consider history, blahblah, pesky facts, blahblah. But, as Justice Ginsburg notes in her dissent “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

An estimated 600,000 citizens in Texas have not paid the 2014 version of the poll tax and will not have the required ids needed to vote this year.

THAT is how Republicans win: by denying the right to vote to those who are likely to vote against them. They can’t win on their ideas and this is the last desperate gasp of a party soon to become a minoritea. That moment will likely be delayed unless we can convince two more justices that the right to vote is a fundamental right under our constitution and that artificial barriers to voting should be stricken.

Really, how can they let this stand? Justice Ginsburg:

The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully dis­criminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitu­tional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hun­dreds of thousands of eligible voters.

Stop hurting America, SCOTUS. Give us back our democracy.

democracy [dih-mok-ruh-see]

noun
1. government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

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The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the largest circulation paper in Wisconsin and the paper of record for the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, penned a scathing editorial calling out the Republican legislature for their attempt to disenfranchise those who would vote for Democrats.

The editorial is in response to the blistering opinion from 7th Circuit Court Judge Richard Posner about that court’s big sloppy kiss to Gov. Scott Walker and his re-election campaign.

From the Journal-Sentinel editorial:

Five appeals court judges gave their colleagues the what-for Friday in a bark-peeling attack rarely seen in the legal genre. Led by Judge Richard A. Posner, himself a convert to the idea that voter ID equals voter suppression (good for him), the judges called the idea of voter fraud by impersonation “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”

Which is precisely what is afoot in Wisconsin.

It has been clear from the day this rancid idea began working its way through the state Legislature that this was all about winning elections and not about the integrity of those elections. Voter ID makes it harder for certain classes of voters to exercise the franchise, including minorities, the elderly and the young. The fact that those categories of voters tend to favor Democrats should tell you all you need to know about the motivations of Republican legislators.

It’s about winning, baby, which is about integrity only in the sense that up is about down or that white is about black.

The editorial goes on to call out Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen who is contemplating an end around the Supreme Court’s ruling that Wisconsin’s voter id law cannot be used in the November 4th election. How, pray tell, does one defy the Supreme Court of the United States of America? Maybe J.B. stand for Jefferson Beauregard and he will rally the other crazee Republicans who wanted to include secession in the Wisconsin GOP platform this past summer to foment rebellion? Or maybe he is simply an idiot.

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