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Senator-elect Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interviewed by a Reuters reporter at Sanders' office in Burlington, Vermont November 28, 2006. Sanders, a 16-year veteran of the House of Representatives who swept 65 percent of the vote in Vermont running as an inde
The media are more interested in what nasty stuff this guy has
to say about Hillary Clinton than the state of the nation.
The traditional media coverage of Bernie Sanders's first official campaign speech points to what we can count on for as long as the senator is in the race. Everybody, Sanders included, knows his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination is a long-shot. And his self-identification as a socialist makes him a perfect target for marginalization even though that socialism is actually social democratic and not the least bit radical by European standards.

His proposed agenda is really not much more than what might be expected—80 years down the road—in an upgrade and modernization of the New Deal. Why this isn't worth serious attention from what are supposed to be society's watchdogs in an age when the right and its enablers are eagerly doing what they can to dismantle or defund New Deal programs says a lot about how concentrated ownership continues to undermine democracy.

Big media apparently won't stick with mere marginalization, however. They are determined to give us stuff like this grotesque piece by Jim Tankersley—Sorry, Bernie Sanders. Deodorant isn’t starving America’s children is what we've got in store.

That most television coverage—including MSNBC—couldn't bear to hang around for Sanders's speech Tuesday demonstrates once again one of the reasons it's so hard to have a real political discussion. Simon Malloy at Salon focuses on The media’s sickening Sanders double standard: How the socialist brings out their true colors:

The Bernie 2016 boomlet is clearly a bit puzzling to reporters, who don’t seem to know what to do with Sanders beyond treating him as a foil to Hillary, and so they default to doing nothing, even as every utterance of GOP candidates who are polling below 2 percent merits its own headline. There are clear double standards at play, and one of them pertains to how reporters cover a candidate who is unreservedly liberal versus how they cover “proudly conservative” Republicans. This dynamic is sometimes subtle, and it emerged during an interview Sanders gave with CNBC’s John Harwood.

Income inequality and the distribution of wealth are two topics Sanders hammers away at constantly, and during the interview with Harwood he brought up the fact that the top marginal tax rate for income during the 1950s was somewhere around 90 percent. Sanders’ comment took Harwood aback. “When you think about something like 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” he asked. “No,” Bernie shot back. Sanders’ endorsement of the Eisenhower-era tax structure also raised eyebrows at The New York Times, which observed that Sanders “doesn’t flinch over returning to the 90 percent personal income tax rates of the 1950s for top earners.” In these reactions you can easily spy an undercurrent of incredulity that a politician would enthusiastically advocate for rich people to pay more—much, much more—in taxes.

Whatever else can be said on the subject, long-shot though he be, Sanders is a serious candidate with serious proposals and, if the polls are right, several million supporters. He deserves to have those proposals given a fair hearing. Fair doesn't mean uncritical. Whether the candidate is Sanders, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio or Martin O'Malley, what's most needed in our age of ubiquitous overt and covert propaganda, is a deep look into what they really believe, how they have really behaved in office and what they would probably do or try to do if they managed to win the presidency, however likely or unlikely that may be.

Any realistic candidate full well knows that such coverage hasn't fit well with the agenda of the big media for decades. Sanders has already shown himself adept in interviews at overriding horse-race questions and ones that demand he trash other candidates. Instead he posits questions of his own and answers them. But that kind of response can ultimately reduce the number of interviews he gets.

Making their case to the voters means finding and exploiting the means to overcome that agenda. For Sanders, who is dependent on small donors to fund his campaign, that task will, of course, be far more difficult than for those with coffers brimful of corporate cash.

But we should not interpret difficult as impossible.

Let's have some more cakewalks, 'kay?
Robert D. Kaplan recently wrote a piece (behind a paywall) saying it's time to bring imperialism back to the Middle East, although the editors at Foreign Policy changed the original headline to tone it down a bit. Juan Cole at The Nation writes—What’s Wrong With Robert Kaplan’s Nostalgia for Empire. Excerpts:
Journalist Robert D. Kaplan thinks that what is wrong with the Middle East is a lack of imperialism, and he urges that it be brought back. It is how, he says, most of the world has been ruled by “default.” This argument is so ahistorical and wrong-headed that it takes the breath away. [...]
The idea that the European armies that marched into the region offered order is laughable. They provoked revolt after revolt. They are dates local nationalists still take pride in. There was 1918–20 in Egypt, which forced the British out in 1922. There was 1920 in Iraq, which made London give up any idea of trying to run that country directly, as it did India. There was 1936–39 in Palestine and Syria. The French had to relinquish Syria and Lebanon, having, ironically enough, been weakened by being themselves colonized by Germany. [...]

The Middle East is not facing state collapse because of the lack of empire. European empires themselves drew lines in the desert and instituted policies favoring minorities and dividing and ruling, which continue to haunt the region. A long-term drought has driven millions of farmers from their land in this region, a drought exacerbated by the extra heat in the atmosphere caused by climate change. Water shortages in Raqqa in Syria or Taiz in Yemen are severe, and underpin some of the social turmoil.

The collapse of the socialist state after the fall of the Soviet Union and its deterioration into a rule of oligarchs under the impact of neoliberal (market fundamentalist) policies pushed by the West further destabilized these societies. The youth bulge, with hundreds of thousands of new workers trying to enter the work force annually, has presented challenges to these governments that they were unable to overcome. In any case, world regions do witness a great deal of turmoil in modern history. There was a time when Southeast Asia was in flames. It didn’t get back on track from the 1980s forward via Western neocolonialism. Indeed, the US Vietnam War had contributed to the destabilization of Laos and Cambodia. [...]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2004The sham handover:

The idiot establishment media is playing along with Bush (as usual) and pretending that the "handover" date has significance beyond the shuffling of a few legal documents.

Fact is, nothing much will change. The decidedly non-liberal Wall Street Journal makes this clear as day:

Haider al-Abadi runs Iraq's Ministry of Communications, but he no longer calls the shots there. Instead, the authority to license Iraq's television stations, sanction newspapers and regulate cellphone companies was recently transferred to a commission whose members were selected by Washington. The commissioners' five-year terms stretch far beyond the planned 18-month tenure of the interim Iraqi government that will assume sovereignty on June 30.

The transfer surprised Mr. Abadi, a British-trained engineer who spent nearly two decades in exile before returning to Iraq last year. He found out the commission had been formally signed into law only when a reporter asked him for comment about it. "No one from the U.S. even found time to call and tell me themselves," he says.

As Washington prepares to hand over power, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer and other officials are quietly building institutions that will give the U.S. powerful levers for influencing nearly every important decision the interim government will make.

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Bernie Sanders announcement
In a speech peppered with introductory "brothers and sisters," Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday made official his entry into the primary battle for the Democratic presidential nomination framed by the perfectly gorgeous sunny setting on Lake Champlain in Burlington, Vermont.

Although he was born and raised in Brooklyn, Burlington is where he has lived and worked for more than 40 years. The fact that Waterfront Park where he announced his campaign no longer qualifies as a rundown industrial eyesore is in great part thanks to Sanders's efforts during his four terms in the 1980s as Burlington's mayor. He knows what it means to be an underdog. He lost the first time he ran for office. But when he ran the last time for mayor, in 1987, he defeated a candidate endorsed by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Long self-identified as a democratic socialist, which is what Europeans would call social democratic, Sanders's speech contained no surprises for those who have followed his career as mayor, Congressman and senator over the past 33 years.

There was no formal introduction Tuesday, just some brief remarks from a handful of avid supporters, including fellow Vermonter Bill McKibben, the author and environmental activist who co-founded and until recently was chief of McKibben said of the people who have followed Sanders's standing up for rank-and-file Americans:

"They know [Bernie] always means what he says, and he always stands for what he believes."
Both Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's ice cream fame were on hand. Greenfield said:
"For those of us who have been sitting on the sidelines, finally a candidate worth voting for."
You can read Sanders's speech below the fold.
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Bernie Sanders
You can watch it Live now.

Why Bernie matters: A 2016 primary run by Bernie Sanders would be good for Democrats, progressives and the nation.

2:14 PM PT: Fellow Vermonter Bill McKibben is speaking. "They know [Bernie] always means what he says and he always stands for what he believes."

2:27 PM PT: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (the tasty ice cream barons and progressive employers) now up. "The system's not broken, it's fixed!"

"For those of us who have been sitting on the sidelines, finally a candidate worth voting for."

2:33 PM PT: Bernie now up! "This is an emotional day for me, not just for what I am going to be announcing. But to see so many people here. [...] Thank you very much."

2:38 PM PT: "Government belongs to all the people and not to a handful of billionaires. ...  Now is not the time for thinking small."

2:41 PM PT: "This campaign is about the needs of the American people and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. ... These are serious times, we need serious debate."

2:45 PM PT: Median family income is almost $5,000 less than it was in 1998.

2:48 PM PT: "As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision on Citizens United, the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are being undermined. What the Supreme Court essentially said was that it was not good enough for the billionaire class to own much of our economy. They could now own the U.S. government as well. And that is precisely what they are trying to do."

3:02 PM PT: "At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, at a time when senior poverty is increasing, at a time when millions of kids are living in dire poverty, my Republican colleagues, as part of their recently-passed budget, are trying to make a terrible situation even worse. If you can believe it, and it is the truth, the Republican budget throws 27 million Americans off health insurance, makes drastic cuts in Medicare, throws millions of low-income Americans, including pregnant women off of nutrition programs, and makes it harder for working-class families to afford college or put their kids in the Head Start program. And then, to add insult to injury, they provide huge tax breaks for the very wealthiest families in this country while they raise taxes on working families."

3:05 PM PT: " president, I will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans."

3:09 PM PT: "...for too many of our fellow Americans, the dream of progress and opportunity is being denied by the grind of an economy that funnels virtually all the wealth and all of the income to the top.

And to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say just look where we are standing today. As some of you will remember, this beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful people-oriented public space it is today. We took that fight to the courts, to the legislature and to the people. And we won.

The lesson to be learned, and it is a profound political lesson, is that when people stand together, when people are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished."

  • Today's comic by Jen Sorensen is Pro-life, Boko Haram style:
    Cartoon by Jen Sorensen --  Pro-life, Boko Haram style
  • The future of the Democratic Party requires talking about climate change:
    Mainstream Democrats of all ideological shades—center-left pro–free trade moderates and lefty economic populists alike—care about climate change and weaning the world off fossil fuels. A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found climate change was cited the third most often by Democrats as their top issue. Polls consistently show that majorities of American voters support climate action, and cost-benefit analyses tell us that reducing carbon pollution can save more money than it costs. As Chris Van Hollen demonstrates, you can be a pragmatist and a forthright progressive on climate change at the same time.
  • Some photos of sea creatures soaked in oil that will break your heart.
  • This year's graduates have lived in a country at war for more than half their lives:
    Using somewhat subjective definitions of "at war"—Korea counts but Kosovo doesn't in our analysis, for example—we endeavored to figure out how much of each person's life has been spent with America at war. We used whole years for both the age and the war, so the brief Gulf War is given a full year, and World War II includes 1941. These are estimates.

    But the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan in (late) 2001 means that anyone born in the past 13 years has never known an America that isn't at war. Anyone born after 1984 has likely seen America at war for at least half of his or her life. And that's a lot of Americans. [...]

    But that state of war, we are told (I am too young to know better) feels different than America during World War II or, particularly for the college-aged, Vietnam. Moreso than those wars, war today is distant, fought on our behalf.

  • Australian lawmakers ponder dumping "tampon tax":
    After nearly 100,000 people signed a petition demanding to “remove the unfair tampon tax,” some Australian officials are considering a policy change to exempt sanitary products from the country’s 10 percent “Goods and Services” tax (GST).

    In a statement released on Tuesday, Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey said that he may ask state and territory governments to remove the “tampon tax,” after the Treasury calculates exactly how much it will cost to lift the GST on women’s sanitary pads and tampons. Other health-related products — like condoms, sunscreen, and nicotine patches — are already exempt from the 10 percent tax.

  • Notes from the weird war between KFC and Chick-fil-A.
    These are dark days for KFC's once-dominant chicken empire. After five years of crumbling sales, the extra crispy mega-chain, which in 2012 lost its throne as America's top chicken seller to Chick-fil-A, now makes less money than eateries half its size, like Applebee's and Panera Bread.
  • Oracle founder and billionaire Larry Ellison backing Marco Rubio:
    Ellison will hold a June 9 fundraiser for the Republican senator at his Woodside, California, estate that will feature a $2,700-per-person VIP reception and photo op with the candidate and a dinner for supporters who have raised more than $27,000 for Rubio's presidential campaign. It's not an official endorsement, but having the world's fifth-richest person in his corner would be a coup for Rubio, particularly as his fellow Floridian Jeb Bush gobbles up donations from the Sunshine State's wealthiest Republicans at a record pace. Ellison, 70, is worth an estimated $54 billion. (His income in 2013, when he was still Oracle's CEO, broke down to about $38,000 per hour.)
  • Bernie Sanders makes his presidential run official today. If you are in Burlington, Vermont, you can catch his speech live at the Waterfront Park. If not, you can follow it at Vermont Public Radio or see it here:
  • On today's encore Kagro in the Morning show, it's our 5/28/14 episode. Greg & Joan on Kinsley, Greenwald. Handicapping the handicappers. Diminished Iran threat. Boggs plays dumb. McConnell health care word salad. Bonkersghazi. Latest NYC overspending craze.

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Foes of fast-track trade legislation, Santa Fe.
Fighting it to the end.
Thanks to 14 Democrats joining all-but-five Senate Republicans in approving fast-track trade legislation last week, it's now up to the House, which is where most close observers have figured the bigger fight would always be. Representatives could take up the issue as early as next week.

The vote is uncertain. The vast majority of House Democrats are opposed. But speculation about how many Democrats will join the majority of Republicans is now putting that number as high as 25. It was as low as 10 three weeks ago and has been steadily creeping upward, no doubt in part due to the jaw-boning and arm-twisting coming from the White House, which has been pushing fast-tracking for the past two years.

On the other side of the aisle, there are perhaps as many as 45 Republicans in opposition to fast-tracking, most of them in the tea party-ish House Freedom Caucus. But, the exact number is fluid. Add the 176 or so Democrats said still to be in opposition to the estimated 45 or so Republicans also said to be opposed, and at 220 total there's barely enough to defeat the legislation. Less than a handful needs to be moved into the "aye" camp, assuming those estimates of who's in favor and who's not are accurate. The GOP leadership thinks they can squeak by. Victoria Guida reports:

[Republican House Ways and Means Chairman Paul] Ryan and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) are increasingly confident that they can limit the conservative defections to those who have already declared their opposition, House Republican aides said.

“I don’t think they’re saying they’ve got [enough support to pass the bill], but they’ve opened a path to get it,” one of the aides said. “I don’t think there are all that many undecided. It’s a question of people whose minds might be able to be changed.”

Ryan, who has been leading the charge in favor of giving Obama fast-track authority, has been working to keep outside conservative groups like Club for Growth and The Heritage Foundation from lobbying against the bill. But the Republican opposition has succeeded in throwing its passage into doubt.

Fast-tracking, known formally as Trade Promotion Authority, would give the president negotiating authority over the Trans-Pacific Partnership among 12 Pacific Rim nations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union, and any other trade agreements that come up in the next three to six years. Congress could review any trade agreement negotiated under TPA, but could not filibuster or amend it in any way. That's a complaint of opponents, some of whom say this confers too much authority on the executive branch and others who argue that it doesn't allow a proper assessment of provisions enforcing fair labor and environmental standards, something that has tainted earlier trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement signed more than two decades ago.

The only safe prediction that can be made right now about the outcome is that the vote likely will be exceedingly close.

Please join us in signing and sending a petition to House members asking them to reject fast-track legislation.

Flag-draped caskets en route to Dover, Delaware.
Flag-draped caskets on their way back from Iraq to the United States.
Ray McGovern writes—Remember This on Memorial Day: They Didn't Fall, They Were Pushed. "Of all the world’s holidays commemorating wars, Memorial Day should be one of sober reflection on war’s horrible costs, surely not a moment to glorify warfare or lust for more wars":
 How best to show respect for the U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and for their families on Memorial Day? Simple: Avoid euphemisms like “the fallen” and expose the lies about what a great idea it was to start those wars and then to “surge” tens of thousands of more troops into those fools’ errands.

First, let’s be clear on at least this much: the 4,500 U.S. troops killed in Iraq—so far—and the 2,350 killed in Afghanistan—so far—did not “fall.” They were wasted on no-win battlefields by politicians and generals—cheered on by neocon pundits and mainstream “journalists”— almost none of whom gave a rat’s patootie about the real-life-and-death troops. They were throwaway soldiers.

And, as for the “successful surges,” they were just P.R. devices to buy some “decent intervals” for the architects of these wars and their boosters to get space between themselves and the disastrous endings while pretending that those defeats were really “victories squandered” – all at the “acceptable” price of about 1,000 dead U.S. soldiers each and many times that in dead Iraqis and Afghans.

Memorial Day should be a time for honesty about what enabled the killing and maiming of so many U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the senior military brass simply took full advantage of a poverty draft that gives upper-class sons and daughters the equivalent of exemptions, vaccinating them against the disease of war.

What drives me up the wall is the oft-heard, dismissive comment about troop casualties from well-heeled Americans: “Well, they volunteered, didn’t they?” Under the universal draft in effect during Vietnam, far fewer were immune from service, even though the well-connected could still game the system to avoid serving. Vice Presidents Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, for example, each managed to pile up five exemptions. This means, of course, that they brought zero military experience to the job; and this, in turn, may explain a whole lot—particularly given their bosses’ own lack of military experience. [...]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005FBI: Newsweek was right:

Turns out Newsweek was wrong about its source, right about the story.

The American Civil Liberties Union released the memo and a series of other FBI documents it obtained from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Personally, he has nothing against the United States. The guards in the detention facility do not treat him well. Their behavior is bad. About five months ago, the guards beat the detainees. They flushed a Koran in the toilet," the FBI agent wrote.

"The guards dance around when the detainees are trying to pray. The guards still do these things," the FBI agent wrote.

Darn it. Now who can the wingers blame for setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq?

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Americans in past year killed by...
Marijuana overdose: 0
Snake bite: 1
Ebola: 2
Shark attack: 3
Roller coaster: 5
Police: 1,040

On today's "encore performance" Kagro in the Morning show, it's our 5/27/14 show. Greg Dworkin joined us to discuss the #YesAllWomen global phenomenon, open carry blowback in TX, the VA issue narrative vs. reality & how Burr stepped in it. Even as the tide turns on marriage equality, we're reminded that some think they can turn it on a dime, because "tradition." And the oldest House Member ever looks to win his primary. Dark money at work in AR-SEN. Twitter's buzzing about corporate social media. Boston's "fusion center" tracked Occupy while missing the marathon bombing. Boing Boing notes  Baquet spiked the biggest pre-Snowden NSA story. The prescience of Justice Brandeis.

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The All-Nations Native American Veterans Memorial in Jefferson, Oregon
The All-Nations Native American Veterans Memorial in Jefferson, Oregon
[This is an edited and updated reprise of an essay first written for Memorial Day in 2010.]

My stepfather's brother died with other marines on the beach at Guadalcanal during World War II.

My best high school friend was killed in the early days of the Vietnam War.

These men are being honored today at Memorial Day ceremonies along with nearly a million of their soldier, sailor, marine, coast guard and air force compatriots who gave their lives in military service. No distinction will be made between the hundreds of thousands who died fighting in wars most Americans would consider righteous and the hundreds of thousands who were killed in the furtherance of bad causes or died in vain because their criminal or reckless leaders sent them into harm's way for greed, stupidity or empire. Those who fought in gray uniforms in a war of secession are given the same reverence, the same moments of silence, the same commemoration of sacrifice as those who wore blue into battle.

It doesn’t matter whether they were white soldiers from the First Tennessee Infantry Regiment who fell in the land-grabbing war with Mexico in 1847, or black soldiers of the 93rd Infantry Division fighting Germans in the war to end all wars, or Japanese-Americans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team slugging their way through Italy while their relatives lived incarcerated in camps back home.

It doesn’t matter whether their name was Hernández or Hansen or Hashimoto. Nor whether they caught enemy shrapnel or a bullet from friendly fire. Nor whether they were drafted or volunteered. Nor whether they died fighting for liberty more than 200 years ago at Bunker Hill or crushing it more than 100 years ago in the boondocks of the Philippines. On Memorial Day all American warriors who lost their lives are honored because they did lose their lives.  

With one exception.

My great-great-great-great-great uncle was killed by U.S. soldiers during the Second Seminole War. Other distant relatives were killed during the Third Seminole War. Killed for trying to hold onto freedom, land, the right to self-determination.

Whether they killed warriors and women on the banks of the Pease River in Texas, the Washita River in Kansas, Sand Creek in Colorado, or Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota; whether they fought Shawnee in Indiana, Asakiwaki in Wisconsin, Lakota and Cheyenne in Montana, Chiricahua and Mescalero in Arizona, Nez Perce in Idaho or Modocs in California, the men in blue who were killed in the Indian Wars are among those who will be honored today.

photo of Indian Memorial at Little Big Horn
'Spirit Warriors' honors American Indians who fought at Little Big Horn
~Photo Courtesy of Elly Bookman~
But the thousands of warriors they killed — the ancestors of us "original" Americans — aren’t counted for the ultimately futile but unhesitating sacrifice they made for the freedom of their people. On Memorial Day, they are invisible. Monuments to the Rebel dead can be found in practically every town of the Confederacy. Memorials to Indian resistance are next to non-existent.  

Attempts have been made to correct this. In 2002, the 1909 memorial on the Denver Capitol grounds that honored the 22 soldiers killed as they and their compatriots massacred the southern Arapaho and Cheyenne at Sand Creek got a new plaque to replace the original one which labeled that slaughter a Civil War victory for the Union. Twenty-four years ago, after viciously racist verbal attacks from foes of the move, the Custer Battlefield National Monument was renamed Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Now, intermixed with the 249 white marble 7th Cavalry gravestones are a double handful of red granite gravestones placed at the site since 1999 for fallen Indian warriors. "Peace through Unity" designed the innovative Indian memorial at the site (in photo).

In the courtyard of the Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art in Phoenix, Arizona, there is the American Indian Veterans National Memorial with figures sculpted by the late Chiricahua Apache sculptor Allan Houser and Michael Naranjo of the Santa Clara Pueblo. In Jefferson, Oregon, there is the All Nations Native American Veterans Memorial, a statue originally on the Flathead reservation in Montana. It is the only Indian veterans memorial not on a reservation or at a museum.

In 1994, the Native American Veterans' Memorial Establishment Act was passed. It okayed a memorial, but it could only be constructed inside the National Museum of the American Indian instead of on the Washington Mall with the other war memorials. Out of sight, out of mind. Invisible, the way the PTB and society in general likes to keep Indians, except as stereotypes.

In 2013, Sen. Brian Schatz introduced a bill to amend the 1994 act. It altered the law to permit the National Native American Veterans' Memorial to be built outdoors, though still on the property of the Museum. And it made both the Museum and the National Congress of American Indians responsible for raising the money for the monument instead of making it the sole responsibility of NCAI. But so far there's not even a hint of when that D.C. Memorial will break ground.

Whenever that is, it will only honor those Natives who fought for the U.S.—there are about 200,000 such veterans—not those who fought to keep the right to live as they had before the invasion.

The fact is scores of sites throughout America could display memorial statues commemorating events with succinct plaques: From this site in 17-- or 18--, the Anishinaabe (or Comanche, or Alibamu) were removed to reservations in ------- after 50 (or 120, or 350) of their number were killed in a surprise attack by the U.S. soldiers, some of whom cut off breasts or scrotums for use as trophies and tobacco pouches. Their lands were turned over to settlers, miners and railroad builders and the city/town of ------ was built on their burial grounds.

One of about a dozen Indian headstones at Little Big Horn
One of about a dozen red granite headstones of
Lakota and  Cheyenne who died at Little Big Horn
in 1876. These have been added since 1999.
Today, when the nation's war dead are remembered, when we are supposed to put aside political and ethnic divisions for a few moments of introspection, many of our politicians still won’t take a break from the lies—past and current lies—for which too many men and women went prematurely into the ground. Today, we will hear plenty from many politicians about liberty, freedom and sacrifice associated with American wars, but nothing about the plunder, rapine and imperial machinations associated with some of those wars, the Mexican War, the Philippines War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, and, of course, the Indian Wars.

Let me be crystal clear. I'm for moving ahead, for transcendence, Indians and non-Indians alike. We live in the 21st Century, and people alive now bear no responsibility and should carry no guilt for what was done more than a century or two ago.

But today is Memorial Day, memory day, and, just as we do not forget the soldiers who froze at Valley Forge or took bullets at Fort Wagner or were blown up at Khe Sanh, there is no excuse for the nation to retreat into convenient amnesia and forget the deaths of those who resisted the theft and genocide led by leaders masquerading as divinely inspired messengers of freedom in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Until the nation remembers all its dead warriors, you’ll pardon me if my Memorial Day reverence is tempered with rage.


E.J. Dionne Jr. at The Washington Post writes The right’s political correctness:

Accommodating right-wing primary voters poses real risks to the party in next year’s elections. Its candidates’ messages on immigration and gay marriage could hurt the GOP with, respectively, Latinos and the young.

But the greater loss is that none of the leading Republicans is willing to offer a more fundamental challenge to the party’s rightward lurch over the past decade. L. Brent Bozell III, a prominent activist on the right, could thus legitimately claim to The Post: “The conservative agenda is what is winning the field.” [...]

With occasional exceptions, they have been far more interested in proving their faithfulness to today’s hard-line right than in declaring, as conservatives in so many other democracies have been willing to do, that sprawling market economies need a rather large dose of government.

Trevor Timm at The Guardian writes McConnell can't save the NSA's surveillance program:
Senators were forced to work overtime well into Memorial Day weekend thanks to a manufactured controversy by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has known for years that the parts of the Patriot Act that allow the NSA to collect the phone records of millions of innocent people (known as Section 215) are set to expire on 1 June 2015, but decided to gin up an “emergency” and wait until the very last moment to try to extend them. He managed in the process to block the USA Freedom Act, a modest surveillance reform bill targeting the NSA that has overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, but he also failed by a large number of votes to extend the Patriot Act’s surveillance provisions for even one day.

So while Republicans managed to kill a bill that is supposed to stop the NSA’s bulk collection program, their ineptitude put the law underpinning it one step closer to extinction.

There are more pundit excerpts below the fold.
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U.S. Army Sgt. William Reese watches flames rise into the night sky after setting canal vegetation ablaze in Tahwilla, Iraq, July 30, 2008. Extremists have been using the canal's thick vegetation to plant bombs under the cover of darkness. The soldiers are assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment.U.S. Army photo by Spc. David J. Marshall.
Most wars are started or joined because of lies. The Mexican-American War of 1848, the Spanish-American-Cuban War of 1898 and the Vietnam War are all good examples. Lately, thanks to Judith Miller's whiny piece seeking to whitewash her own role in conveying the lies that got us into Iraq War, Jeb Bush's flubbing and flipping what should have been a simple answer about whether he would have done as his brother did in Iraq, Hillary Clinton's Senate vote in 2002 on the authorization to use military force against Iraq and the current situation with ISIL, discussion of the entry into that aggression has gotten some new life.

Therefore, for Memorial Day, it's appropriate to reprise a 7-year-old Daily Kos post about the compilation of 935 Iraq War lies that was produced by the Center for Public Integrity. Here's what the study of the lies concluded:

"The cumulative effect of these false statements — amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts — was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable din for several critical months in the run-up to war," the study concluded.

"Some journalists—indeed, even some entire news organizations—have since acknowledged that their coverage during those prewar months was far too deferential and uncritical. These mea culpas notwithstanding, much of the wall-to-wall media coverage provided additional, 'independent' validation of the Bush administration's false statements about Iraq," it said.

Here's the post—Lies, Damned Lies, a Searchable Database of Lies originally published here on January 22, 2008:
 For the past six years, activists, progressive bloggers and a handful of traditional media pundits have accused Mister Bush, Richard Bruce Cheney and others in the cronyfest running the executive branch of lying us into Iraq. The relentless response - everybody from Condoleeza Rice to Bill Kristol to the least-read right-wing pundithug - has been to say we're the liars, and traitors as well, for daring suggest such a thing at a time when the nation faces the most dire threat since Adolf Hitler gave the go-ahead to heavy-water experiments, blah, blah, blah.

Eventually—without apologies, of course—there were a few admissions delivered in the passive-aggressive tense popularized decades ago by Richard Nixon: "mistakes were made."

Now, thanks to the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, everybody can check out those lies for themselves at The War Card: Orchestrated Deception on the Path to War.

Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith at CPI write:

President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war.

It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to Al Qaeda. ...

In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003. Not surprisingly, the officials with the most opportunities to make speeches, grant media interviews, and otherwise frame the public debate also made the most false statements, according to this first-ever analysis of the entire body of prewar rhetoric.

Those 935 lies, by the way, do not include "indirect false statements" such as that Iraq had possession of "dangerous weapons."

No single lie is going to surprise anybody who has been following the fabrications of the Cheney-Bush administration. But CPI has done a real service to place nearly 1000 of these in one easy-to-access location.

Mister Bush told the most lies: 259. Colin Powell clocked in second with 244 lies.

As for the administration response, the Boston Globe reports:

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel did not comment on the merits of the study Tuesday night but reiterated the administration's position that the world community viewed Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein, as a threat.

"The actions taken in 2003 were based on the collective judgment of intelligence agencies around the world," Stanzel said.

Uh-huh. Time to start a new database.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006A Choice Predicament:

Via The Carpetbagger Report:

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the House easily passed bi-partisan legislation that would remove restrictions on embryonic stem cell research. The companion measure in the Senate had a filibuster-proof majority, Bill Frist endorsed the bill and vowed to bring it to the floor, and polls showed overwhelming support from the public. Newsweek's Jonathan Alter wrote at the time, "Unless there's another war, stem cells will become one of the defining issues of the 2006 campaign." It seemed we were finally on the brink of a breakthrough for science, medical research, and public health. And then ... nothing.
I guess there's two ways Republicans can play this: They can go ahead and get the bill to the White House, putting the President in one hell of a bind and creating at least the appearance of independence. Or they can kick it down the road to appease their fundamentalist masters and take a chance on being tarred and feathered with the issue come November.

It's often said the Democrats don't stand for anything. But here the GOP has a choice of life versus ideology, loyalty to Mr. 29% Vs We the People. We'll see exactly who and what the Republicans stand for on this issue alone.

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Shell exec says 'prize' in Arctic is huge cache of oil--that no climate scientist thinks we can safely burn. Hideous

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 “An Economic Agenda for America: A Conversation with Bernie Sanders” event in DC.
The senator speaks at “An Economic Agenda for America: A Conversation with Bernie Sanders”
 event in D.C. in February this year..
We're all used to Sen. Bernie Sanders telling the truth whether people—including top-level Democrats—like it or not.

He's done it again. Here's Ali Elkin:

“In terms of campaign coverage, there is more coverage about the political gossip of the campaign, about raising money, about polling, about somebody saying something dumb, or some kid works for a campaign and sends out something stupid on Facebook, right?” the Vermont senator said in an appearance Sunday on CNN's Reliable Sources, a program about media. “We can expect that to be a major story. But what your job is, what the media's job is, is to say, 'Look, these are the major issues facing the country.' We're a democracy. People have different points of view. Let's argue it.” [...]

“I think that instead of coming up with the next news of the moment, 'Breaking news! There was an automobile accident and a cat got run over,' here's breaking news: For 40 years the American middle class has been disappearing and the rich have been getting richer. Why?” Sanders said.

Sanders knows the answer to that question. He's expressed it many times.  

But will the media spread his answer? Or stick to the polls and the horserace?

Here's a synopsis of Sanders's economic recovery proposal. Nothing radical here. Nothing socialist, just a commonsense social democratic program. Sanders himself has pointed out that the list is incomplete. Personally, I'd like to see a federal infrastructure bank and a state bank in the 49 states that don't have one the way North Dakota does. I'd like to see an emphasis on government encouragement of alternatives to corporate structure, worker cooperatives and a much bigger proportion of municipally owned utilities instead of the 15 percent now existing. But there's plenty worthwhile in Sanders's approach:

• Invest in our crumbling infrastructure with a major program to create jobs by rebuilding roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools.

• Transform energy systems away from fossil fuels to create jobs while beginning to reverse global warming and make the planet habitable for future generations.

• Develop new economic models to support workers in the United States instead of giving tax breaks to corporations which ship jobs to low-wage countries overseas.

• Make it easier for workers to join unions and bargain for higher wages and benefits.

• Raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour so no one who works 40 hours a week will live in poverty.

• Provide equal pay for women workers who now make 78 percent of what male counterparts make.

• Reform trade policies that have shuttered more than 60,000 factories and cost more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs.

• Make college affordable and provide affordable child care to restore America’s competitive edge compared to other nations.

• Break up big banks. The six largest banks now have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product, over $9.8 trillion. They underwrite more than half the mortgages in the country and issue more than two-thirds of all credit cards.

• Join the rest of the industrialized world with a Medicare-for-all health care system that provides better care at less cost.

• Expand Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs.

• Reform the tax code based on wage earners’ ability to pay and eliminate loopholes that let profitable corporations stash profits overseas and pay no U.S. federal income taxes.

A pipedream? It doesn't have to be.
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