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Reposted from Money and Public Purpose by Ana Thema

On Valentine's Day, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the President, authored by himself and signed by 15 other Senators, all Democrats. The letter was a response to the rumors that the President intends to include his Chained CPI proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the budget he will soon send to Congress. It summarized:

“Mr. President: These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America.

We look forward to working with you in support of the needs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor – and all working Americans.”

The letter also stated a number of the usual talking points made in arguments against cuts to Social Security. In addition, it also contained praise for the President for his actions in improving the economy, creating jobs, and reducing the deficit, and it mentioned some specifics, including reduction of the Federal deficit to less that half of the $1.4 Trillion deficit he began with. The letter also asserted the need to do much more, especially in the areas of the economy, reducing unemployment and wealth and income inequality, and reducing the deficit “. . . in a fair way.”
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Reposted from Of Means and Ends by Ana Thema

Crossposted on Of Means and Ends

The question of if and how to be involved in elections tends to cause a lot of handwringing and debate on the left. Many people are understandably discouraged about the possibility for change through electoral means, especially in a post-Citizens United landscape. The process feels impure to some, and it's easy to throw up one's hands at the two-party system.

I think most realize, however, that completely ceding the field is unwise. After working in several election cycles to educate and help elect progressive candidates based on their issue positions, I am convinced that our voices must be inserted at all levels of the process. Politics is about relationships, and forming them early, and proving yourself committed and useful, can pay dividends in the long run. But it's only one piece of the puzzle.

Bill Fletcher Jr. takes on an aspect of this debate in a piece for The Progressive focused on the possibility of a Bernie Sanders presidential candidacy:

If a run makes sense, and I think Sanders might be the candidate who would turn his campaign into something lasting, the question is how to do it. I believe that Sanders needs to make a strategic decision to run within the Democratic primary system for the nomination. Despite the discontent with the electoral system among so many people in the United States of America, it is not likely that an independent candidacy at this moment can win. Should the Republican Party fracture, which is a real possibility over the next few years, all bets would be off. But as long as the Republicans stand firm as a hard, rightwing party, it is unlikely that at the national level an independent candidacy can win.
Fletcher focuses on finding the most effective way to organize within the existing system. He dismisses the idea of an independent run to "show the colors" as a waste of time and resources. This gets at the key core issue: what is the goal of a progressive elective initiative, and what is the best way to get there. Fletcher posits that Sanders should only run to win. I would be pleasantly surprised if Sanders were ever able to pull something like that off, but even if the goal were to pull the debate significantly to the left, working within the Democratic primary system would clearly be the most high-profile way to do that. It's obviously difficult to make the case that it's worth running a campaign that isn't likely to win, as Fletcher points out. But I have seen how a losing primary campaign, at least on the congressional level, can reverberate down the road and help pull a district to the left.

Fletcher's emphasis on the context for a run is what I see as the most important lesson from his piece:

On the other hand, if the candidate has a real mass base, is building a broad progressive front around a clear, transformational program, and sees the candidacy as one step in a multitiered process, then it might be worth going for it.
Without a long-term organizing plan, electing candidates will only get progressives so far. Hopefully that lesson has sunk in almost six years after President Obama was first elected. Many left-of-center activists were hesitant to put pressure on Obama early in his presidency, and balked at any pointed criticism. Months, and even years, of precious organizing time were lost. While many positive developments have come forth from the Obama administration, we've also seen disturbing trends from record-setting deportations to a huge uptick in deadly drone strikes. It's become almost cliche in organizing circles  to cite Obama's mandate to "make me do it," but it's abundantly clear that outside pressure must always be present.

This is an important lesson to keep in mind as income inequality permeates the Democrats' election rhetoric. They're well aware of which way the political winds are blowing, but there's no guarantee that they will fight as hard as necessary to make real changes that benefit working people around the country. Progressives will need to be ready to hold their feet to the fire and can't sit back and wait for the change to happen purely through electoral means.

Reposted from mettle fatigue by Ana Thema
Revision is continual: send corrections, additions, mergers, "ceased activity", etc. HERE.
If you use this directory, RECing and republishing will help more kosaks find and use it too.

      GROUPS capability was launched in 2011 to rev up local and specialized DK publishing and collective political activism, nationally and beyond. But the GROUPS link (at the top of each page below Daily and Kos) only searches by 4 laborious methods (Most Recent means "most recently created"); so, Where the Kogs Are links all DK local-focus/geographic groups, publish-only and meet-up groups alike (see event notices across the US at Connect! Unite! Act! under navajo's aegis Community-Building Director of Daily Kos).


     US states, non-voting-delegate territories/possessions/districts, and regions are in one alphabetical order, their groups listed under each by name (e.g., "Motor City Kossacks" is listed as such under Michigan, not as Detroit). If there's no group near you, get to know neighboring groups and make friends. In fact, do that regardless.

     REGION-named groups ▬Appalachia ■ Asian/Pacific ■ Caribbean ■ Four Corners ■ Koscadia ■ New England ■ Pacific Northwest ■ Southern ■  Southwestern▬ are only cross-listed with states/locales they cover if their profiles give those details or if the details are kosmailed to mettle fatigue. CANADA, INDIA, MEXICO, and other non-U.S. places with kog groups actually there, are listed last. General/national groups are listed first. As yet, Kossacks on Mars is not an actual geo-group. Words "kossack", "Dailykos", etc., are generally omitted as redundant.

      The diary list (posting history) and members access links are information-rich for how recently/often/actively the group publishes, on what concerns, and who the administrators, editors and contributors are. (Where profile or contact is the link, group formation was in-process at last contact with mettle fatigue.) Groups that have no admins can't add or promote members, and if also no editors they can't publish; in effect, those groups have ceased activity but remaining members may still be contactable for forming a new group.

     A local-looking name doesn't obligate a group to add members, publish, arrange meet-ups, or answer messages (real life may intervene). A kosmail-to-group —asking to join it, requesting diary republication, etc.— goes only to admins and eds without putting a New Message alert at the MESSAGES line in anyone's WELCOME BACK box; so, they may not see it timely. Try kosmailing to specific admins or eds (check how recently their profiles show comments or diaries). If that gets no response, and if the group hasn't published in some time (to see pub'g dates, click on "list" at Diaries (list) below the group name at any of its pages), consider contacting active members about starting a new group in the area, and coordinating with&via navajo i.e., get organized together rather than fragment or collide yourselves apart.

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Reposted from Leslie Salzillo by Ana Thema
Imagine how great this country would be, if every lawmaker had just half of the courage, integrity, and intelligence of Senator Bernie Sanders. I've grown to vey much love this independent lawmaker from Vermont. He has no problem taking on and exposing the most corrupt individuals and organizations positioned in America today. In this video from June 2011, Sanders takes on the infamous and all too powerful Koch Brothers.
Here is the video:

If you haven't seen this yet, here is a link to the full one hour version of:  Robert Greenwald's Koch Brothers Exposed. 

Also, here is a list of Koch Brothers products we can avoid buying. It's something we can do.


ADI-Pure ®
Antron ®
Brawny brand paper towels and other products;
Chemical products including: •Sure Sol ® products
Comforel® fiberfill
CoolMax ®
Cordura ® fabric
DBE ® dibasic esters
Delica ®
Demak’Up ®
Dixie® Brand cups plates, and other products;
European brands: •Colhogar ®
Georgia-Pacific lumber and paper products;
Inversoft ®
Kitten Soft ®
Koch Agricultural – Operates cattle ranches
Koch Fertilizers
Lotus ®
Man-made fabrics and fibers including: •LYCRA ®
Mardi Gras brand paper goods;
Matador Ranch – Hunting ranch.
Moltonel ®
Northern brand toilet paper;
Nouvelle ®
Oxyclear ™
Performa ®
Polarguard ®
Polyclear ®
Polyshield ®
Soft-n-Gentle® brand toilet paper;
SolarMax ®
Somerelle ® Bedding
Sparkle brand paper goods;
Sparkle brand paper napkins;
Stainmaster® carpet and fabric care products;
Supplex ® Fabric
Tactesse ® Carpet Fibers
Tenderly ®
Thermolite ®
Tutto ®
Vanity Fair brand paper napkins;
Zee brand paper goods

More products listed via Wikipedia: Koch Industries

Koch Petitions:

Daily Kos Petition: It's been recently reported the Koch Bros are no longer interested in buying the LA Times. If that is true, it would partly be due to this petition. Since Koch Brothers have not publicly confirmed their disinterest, (and who would believe them?) I think signing and sharing this petition is still a good thing. Here is the link: Stop the Koch brothers from purchasing the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets

A New Petition has been started by Kossack Camarosc35: Air Citizen Koch to further expose Koch corruption. For more info as to what motivated the new petition:

Thank you, Senator Sanders. You give people hope, by showing us there are lawmakers who truly do care about the citizens, don't play party BS, and aren't afraid to stand up to the most dangerous and powerful in this country. You do us proud.

Special thanks to Shockwave w/Daily Kos for sharing the video. This diary has been republished and updated with the product list and petitions, to keep the control and greed of the Koch Brothers - fresh in the minds of the public.

Reposted from Robert Naiman by Ana Thema

On Wednesday, Congress voted to repeal the cut to military pensions for those already in service that was included in the Murray-Ryan budget deal.

This was principally due to mobilization by veterans' groups that pushed both Democrats and Republicans. But Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders played a key role, and for Democrats who want to do something real to oppose cuts in domestic spending, it's important to understand what Sanders did. People who want to be serious in opposing domestic cuts may want to use this tactic in the future, since it's one of the few tactics that anyone has come up recently with that has given Democrats any kind of leverage to reverse cuts to domestic spending.


Use the war budget to help veterans and their families

99%1873 votes
0%18 votes

| 1891 votes | Vote | Results

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Reposted from Brainwrap by Ana Thema
Cross-posted at ACA Signups
OK, the anti-ACA talking point of "How many enrollees have actually PAID???" has been one of the most commonly-made attacks on the exchanges since the first decent numbers started rolling in at the end of November. It seemed awfully silly back then, since at the time, the actual coverage start date was still weeks away. Most people I know don't pay their utility or credit card bills until just before they're due, so it seems disingenuous to assume that a health insurance policy (which could be up to $1,000+ per month for some families) would be any different.

Here's what I said about the issue on January 2nd, right after the first wave of policies kicked into effect:

Looks like I was correct: Out of over 2.1 million enrollees as of 12/31, about half (1.05 million) appear to have paid their January premium as of the end of the year. Presumably the other half are taking care of that this week. If most of them have their billing issues squared away 8 days from now, this talking point should really be dropped. If a significant number still haven't paid by then (and assuming that this is a higher ratio than the healthcare industry typically saw prior to the ACA), then it might have some substance, but again, this is all speculative until after the payment deadline is reached.
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Reposted from Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees by Ana Thema

Today, Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and fifteen other senators delivered a letter to President Barack Obama urging him not to include cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in his FY2015 budget. As you probably remember, Obama included cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits via chained CPI for the former and increased means-testing for the latter in his FY2014 budget, a reprise of the offer he made to Republicans during the "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Obama also expressed willingness to cut the programs in the July 2011 debt ceiling negotiations--and even back in 2009.

The 15 Democrats who co-signed the letter are the following:

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Kirsten Gillibrand
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Edward Markey (D-MA)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Brian Schaz (D-HI)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Barbara Mikluski (D-MD) all co-sponsored the Harkin-Sanders resolution against chained CPI last year but are not co-signers on this letter.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear President Obama:

We would like to thank you for all of the work you have done to improve the economy, create jobs, and reduce the deficit.

We have made significant progress since the Great Recession. Our economy has now created over 8 million jobs and had 47 consecutive months of job growth. Today, while the long-term unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since October of 2008. The $1.4 trillion federal deficit that you inherited has been cut by more than half—the largest reduction in the deficit in more than 50 years.

As you have acknowledged, much more work needs to be done and we are committed to working with you to build on this progress. We need to get more Americans back to work, create the millions of jobs that the American people need, increase the wages of American workers, protect the retirement benefits that our constituents have earned, and reduce the deficit in a fair way. The severe level of income and wealth inequality in America that you have been focusing on is an issue that must be addressed effectively. While those on the top have more than recovered from the worst recession since the Great Depression, tens of millions of Americans continue to lose ground economically.

Today, retirement insecurity is as high as it has ever been. Only one in five workers in the private sector has a defined benefit pension plan; half of Americans have less than $10,000 in savings; and two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security for a majority of their income.

Given this reality, we respectfully urge you not to propose cutting Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits in your Fiscal Year 2015 budget.

In good times and bad, Social Security has succeeded in keeping millions of senior citizens, widows, orphans, and persons with disabilities out of extreme poverty. Before Social Security was developed, about half of our seniors lived in poverty; today senior poverty is down to 9.1 percent. Without Social Security, one-third of senior citizens would have virtually no earnings at all.

Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit. Social Security has a surplus of more than $2.7 trillion and can pay every single benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 19 years.

We are also opposed to shifting the cost of healthcare onto senior citizens, the poor, and the disabled by cutting Medicare and Medicaid benefits. As you know, half of all Medicare recipients make less than $22,000 per year, and typical senior citizens already pay more than 17 percent of their fixed incomes on healthcare.

Further, Medicaid is a vital lifeline for some 72 million Americans. Two-thirds of all Medicaid spending supports senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Cutting Medicaid would jeopardize the quality of health care, long-term services, and nursing home care for tens of millions of Americans. There are significant cost issues in America’s health care system that must be effectively addressed, but these challenges will not be remedied by benefit cuts to vulnerable Americans.

Mr. President: These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits—cuts which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America.

We look forward to working with you in support of the needs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor—and all working Americans.

During today's daily briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked whether chained CPI will be in the president's budget again. His response was this:
"What I can tell you is the president has demonstrated in the past and continues — and will continue to demonstrate his commitment to achieving additional deficit reduction that addresses our medium- and long-term challenges through a balanced approach," he said.
That sounds like a yes to me.
Reposted from Stephen Wolf by Ana Thema

Following up on my recent first quarter race ratings for the US Senate and House are the ratings for the 36 gubernatorial contests taking place in 2014. Each rating represents the probability that either party will win the November election and uses the following scale:
Safe - That party has over a 95 percent percent chance of winning. The other party has no realistic options for victory under present or expected circumstances.
Likely - That party has over an 80 percent chance of winning and is the heavy favorite. However it is possible that the situation might change and the other party has a potential path to victory.
Lean - That party has over a 60 percent chance of winning and is a narrow, but clear favorite. This race will be competitive and it is quite plausible that the other party could win with changing circumstances.
Tossup - Both parties have less than a 60 percent chance of winning and the heavily contested race could easily go either way even if one party might be favored from week to week.

With that system in mind, let's take a look at the playing field mapped out and in chart form.

 photo RaceRatings-Governors2014_zpscf987fa9.png

 photo RaceRatings-Governors2014Chartb_zpsd7ee6074.png
(click for an interactive map with more detailed info)

Following the disastrous 2010 elections Republicans built up a commanding lead in governors offices, particularly considering how many people are represented by each party. Currently there are 21 controlled by Democrats and 29 by Republicans with their party governing 56 percent of the (2010 census) population of the 50 states. Of the 36 states with 2014 gubernatorial elections, 14 are held by Democrats while 22 are held by Republicans. Aggregating all the races not up for election with those rated Lean or stronger for either party yields 22 for Democrats, 25 for Republicans, and 3 Tossups.

At present I expect 4 states to change hands with Republicans gaining Arkansas while Democrats gain Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania and while that number is low it would represent a net gain of nearly 10 percent of the 50-state population for Democrats which would result in their governors representing the majority of Americans. Republicans would also lose their legislative trifecta in both Florida and Pennsylvania and Democrats would likely gain it in Maine, while Republicans already effectively have total legislative control in Arkansas with just a simple majority required to override vetoes. Control of state legislatures could also change, but is more difficult to predict nationwide.

Since there are just 36 races I'll detail them individually below the fold.

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Reposted from Genealogy and Family History Community by Ana Thema

Last weekend, on a snowy New England afternoon, my wife and I had lunch in Cambridge with an old friend of mine…and his new fiancée. The engagement came as something of a surprise: I hadn’t known he was seeing anyone seriously. Over lunch they told us their story. A year ago, on New Year’s Eve, they each declined various invitations in favor of a quiet party in someone’s apartment. The host was my friend’s college friend; her sister went to school with his now-fiancée. They met and hit it off…

The story gave me reason to think again on how many little decisions can affect each person’s life in a huge way. A few years ago I was stuck in a job I hated in a city I wanted to leave. If I’d been able to leave there when I’d wanted to, I would almost certainly not be with my wife today. Our future children will owe their existence in large part to that delay. My family, and I’m sure yours, is full of such tales. My grandfather’s then-unheard-of divorce that paved the way for him to marry my grandmother. My great-grandfather’s job offer that led my grandmother’s family to move into a building right across the street from my grandfather.

Each of us exists only because billions of little things happened that led each of our ancestors to have the child who continued the chain at that precise time. Take away any link at all from our long, long lines of direct ancestors and – poof! – we’re gone. Studying my family’s history these past couple of years has given me a lot of insight into these private “but-for” moments, but also into certain well-known historical events without which I’d probably never have existed.

Of course, there were things like an Gorta Mór, which spurred massive-scale emigration from Ireland to the United States in the years after 1846, and England’s persecution of Puritans and Separatists, which led some of my ancestors to sail to Massachusetts in the seventeenth century. Here, though, I’m going to talk about some famous events that – arguably – had a more direct impact on my coming into being. I won’t pretend that these were all good events, just that without them I’d likely never have been born.

(This was pretty long, so I split it in two. This post covers events up to the American Revolution, the next one will cover more recent events.)

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Reposted from Genealogy and Family History Community by Ana Thema

Lately we've had a lot of great research tips from mayim and others. All I had in reserve was more stories about long-gone people, and I had no time to do anything else, so this week we'll make do with that. I picked this one in honor of lovely Dedham, Massachusetts, where my wife dragged me last night to get her 5 Guys burger fix.

Back in November I mentioned The Burgess Genealogy: Memorial of the Family of Thomas and Dorothy Burgess, Who Were Settled at Sandwich, in the Plymouth Colony, in 1637, by Rev. Ebenezer Burgess.

As the title suggests, that book (published in 1865) traces the descendants of my ancestors Thomas and Dorothy Burgess. I expressed my consternation that Rev. Burgess “killed off” one of my direct ancestors prematurely:

According to his book Martha Burgess died at almost fifteen in February 1718. According to the Ashford, Connecticut town records, she married George Cheadle in 1721 and had several children, including my 5x-great-grandfather John Cheadle, a very early English settler of Pomfret, Vermont.
Here I’m going to take a closer look at Rev. Ebenezer Burgess, who in addition to writing the definitive Burgess family genealogy was the pastor of the First (Allin) Congregational Church of Dedham for its first forty years. His life, his town, and his book all contain things that piqued my curiosity, and on occasion my anger.
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Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:36 PM PST

ACA Signups: Major Vermont Update!

by Brainwrap

Reposted from Brainwrap by Ana Thema

The Vermont numbers have been alternately impressive and confusing at the same time.  The wording of a prior article from 12/12 made it sound like the 45,000 (at the time) people were split between private enrollments and Medicaid expansion, but also made reference to 29,200 people being enrolled "directly via their employer". At the time, I wasn't sure what to do with that number, so I ignored it.

However, the more recent article again references the same 29,200 people; after comparing the 2 articles, it seems pretty clear to me that these would fall under the category of "direct" or "off-exchange" enrollees (although they also might fit under "small business exchange enrollments", which is a category I haven't even added yet). Add this to the 22,800 private exchange enrollments and you have 52K total.

In any event, these people are being counted by the Vermont Government towards their own state goal of 65,000 (the CBO has Vermont down as only 57,000), so they should definitely be counted towards the "7 million" CBO projection as well.

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Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 01:36 PM PST

Our New England Quandary

by CastleMan63

Reposted from CastleMan63 by Ana Thema

My family is considering a move to northern New England - the area around Hanover, New Hampshire, to be exact. There are all the usual issues to think about - housing prices and schools prominent among them - but it would be really helpful if we had a better understanding of the merits of living on one side of the Connecticut River or the other.

I'm writing to ask for some advice and thoughts . . .


Which state is the better choice for an active family with young children that likes the outdoors, bicycling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, and hiking, enjoys the arts, and are readers?

23%7 votes
76%23 votes

| 30 votes | Vote | Results

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