Sepp Blatter was reelected today to a fifth term as president of FIFA

Reuters is reporting,

Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA for a fifth term on Friday after the only other candidate conceded defeat after a first round of voting in an election overshadowed by allegations of corruption in world soccer.

Blatter’s victory came despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal being investigated by U.S., Swiss and other law enforcement agencies that plunged the world soccer body into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.

Neither Blatter nor Jordanian challenger Prince Ali bin Al Hussein got the necessary two thirds of the vote in the first round, with Blatter on 133 and Prince Ali on 73. Prince Ali later conceded.

In a victory speech, Blatter declared: “Let’s go FIFA, let’s go FIFA,” to a standing ovation.

/snip/

While Asian, African and Latin American states had been expected to rally around Blatter, Europe, which accounts for all but three of the countries that have ever made it to a World Cup’s final match, had been keen for him to step aside.

On a visit to Berlin, British Prime Minister David Cameron told Blatter to go “the sooner the better”. Chancellor Angela Merkel said the dirty side of soccer must be cleaned up.

I do not see anything encouraging about this development, although I cannot say I am surprised. FIFA corruption is wide, deep and no secret. I believe Blatter’s reelection confirms that, even though he was not indicted by the federal grand jury that indicted 14 others earlier this week.

For more information on the federal indictment go here to read my article, Memo to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch: More Indictments Like FIFA Please.

Speaking of corruption, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R), who was selected to replace Bob Livingston (R) who withdrew his name from consideration after being selected to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House for corruption problems, was indicted this week for structuring multiple cash transactions in amounts less than $10,000 in order to evade the IRS requirement that cash transactions exceeding $10,000 must be reported to the IRS

Why did he do that? According to the indictment he was paying off someone to keep quiet about something he did during the 60s when he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach.

And what might that have been? Reports this afternoon on MSNBC say that two unnamed government sources say it had to do sex.

And Hastert was picked to be Speaker of the House because he was ‘squeeky clean.’

I can’t figure out whether to throw up or pop some corn and watch the news.

Former Speaker Dennis Hastert Indicted for Violating Federal Banking Laws

Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday for violating federal banking laws and lying to investigators.

According to the indictment former Speaker Hastert was involved in a scheme to pay an unknown person $3.5 million to rectify a recent impropriety and was trying to game federal banking laws by withdrawing around $950,000 from his various accounts in small enough increments so as to avoid notifying authorities.

When confronted by federal agents about the suspicious withdrawals Hastert allegedly lied to the FBI and said the withdrawn cash was for his own use. The indictment does not identify the individual Hastert paid off or what transgression Hastert committed to warrant the clandestine payments.

After leaving public service in 2007, Hastert became a lobbyist to cash in on his connections and institutional knowledge of Congress. In the wake of the indictment Hastert has resigned from his position at the lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro.

When serving Congress Hastert had a reputation for corruption perhaps most notably in the instance where he secured a congressional earmark to improve the value of land he owned. Given that the nature of the crime he is accused of committing involves well documented financial transactions it would appear that Hastert is going to have a tough time escaping all the charges brought by prosecutors.

New York Times Pushes False Notion Both Sides of Patriot Act Debate Are Wrong

Screen shot 2015-05-29 at 10.41.34 AM

An analysis published in the New York Times falsely equates arguments for and against extending provisions of the PATRIOT Act, making it seem as if those against extension are just as wrong as those pushing to preserve government spying powers.

“There is little evidence in the history of the expiring Patriot Act powers to bolster the arguments that either supporters or opponents are making,” according to a description of the analysis written by Charlie Savage.

With the headline, “Reality Checks in Debate Over Surveillance Laws,” it appropriately calls out Republican senators like Tom Cotton, who have claimed a lapse in “this critical tool would lead to attacks.” Savage notes that studies and testimony have both shown that in the program’s existence zero terrorist attacks have been thwarted.

However, in the next paragraphs, Savage casts opponents of extending the provisions as individuals who are comparably wrong:

At the same time, proponents of ending the program say it poses risks to Americans’ private lives, by permitting the government to know who has been calling psychiatrists or political groups, for example. But despite the discovery of technical violations of the rules several years ago, no evidence has emerged that the program has been misused for political or personal gain. As a result, the privacy-minded critics have had to couch their warnings in hypothetical terms.

“Even if we stipulate for purposes of this discussion that no one within the N.S.A. is currently abusing this program for nefarious political purposes,” Senator Rand Paul, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, said in a filibuster-style floor speech last week, “can we say we are certain that will always be the case? Who is to say what might happen one year from now, two years from now, five years, 10 years or 15 years from now?”

While Savage may consider this to be equal to fear mongering about what will happen if spying powers are curtailed, “privacy-minded” opponents of the PATRIOT Act are not relying on the same hyperbole.

The only example Savage cites is very restrained and calculated. It is based on a concern that history could repeat itself because the country once experienced what it was like to have a domestic security state turned against citizens decades ago when J. Edgar Hoover was FBI director. And, in the example, Paul is making no claims about abuse for personal or political gain that cannot be backed up.

On the contrary, none of the supporters of the Patriot Act spying powers are as measured in their arguments. Not even officials from President Barack Obama’s administration are as level-headed in their rhetoric.

Administration officials have had a reporter from the Times print anonymous statements from them, one which suggests critics are playing “national security Russian roulette.” The administration maintains opponents are being “grossly irresponsible” because they want to have a debate and reform spying powers in a manner that much of the country actually supports.

Furthermore, it is inaccurate—and, at best, misleading—to write in any analysis that there is “no evidence” that “the program has been misused for political or personal gain.” (more…)

Over Easy: Friday Free For All!

Why do I read the news before my Valium?
Why do I read the news before my Valium?
Greetings!

Here’s a few current events to stimulate discussion. Let’s see what people are thinking about!

Here’s the first US government admission of what we already pretty much knew: Fuku Melted fuel most likely went through the floor. There are some scary simulations in the link, along with admissions that the simulations are probably conservative. Not a mention of in in the MSM.

You’ve all been reading about the Duggar scandal and seeing it on TV. As of the date of this post Fox News has spent less than 2 minutes of airtime on it per Salon. Duggar has strong links to too many GOP presidential candidates, I guess.

And if you missed it because you watch Fox: Duggar sued in 2007 to stop DHS from investigating this. His father campaigned on on Death to Child Molesters.

The Intelligent Design folks are busy educating the media and and trashing a Slate writer for suggesting that Intelligent Design and creationism are the same thing. Notice the site name with this story: http://www.evolutionnews.org

On a related note, remember the Santorum Amendment? If Frothy Mixture gets the GOP nod, he’ll probably want you to forget it.

Calif Needs Desalinization. No Question. But the spread of desal plants will create situations like this. Deal with it, water bills are GOING to go up.

A “giant” squid was nearly caught off Auckland. However, it isn’t a giant squid or a colossal squid. Experts just aren’t sure what species it is. Lot of big stuff down deep that we hardly ever see.

NASA will build a robot squid to look for life in the suspected oceans on the outer planets moons.

The ballot initiative for Marijuana for Ohio has been certified and is now collecting signatures. It’s basically full legalization with restrictions. The Ohio GOP (which runs the state) is solidly against it, but the citizens are slightly for it. We’ll see.

Five years for painting a funny picture of the Chinese president. I can only imagine the jealousy of our politicians who must put up with editorial cartoonists.

Boxturtle (Happy Friday to all!)

Boston Bombing News: Friends & Acquaintances

It was announced today that a sentencing hearing has been scheduled in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now convicted on thirty charges in relation to the 2013 bombing of the Boston marathon and the events which followed. This hearing is to take place on Wednesday 24th June. The sentencing hearings in the cases of four of Tsarnaev’s former friends and acquaintances are also scheduled to take place during the upcoming month.

Dias Kadyrbayev: (Sentencing Tuesday 2nd June.)

Kadyrbayev, detained whilst awaiting trial since April 2013, faces charges in relation to obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the bombing of the Boston marathon. It is alleged that he made false statements to the FBI and also concealed evidence. He changed his plea to one of guilty in August 2014, having entered into a plea deal with the government in exchange for a lighter sentence, and notably, following the July 2013 conviction of Azamat Tazhayakov, a former friend of both Kadyrbayev and Tsarnaev, on almost identical charges.

Azamat Tazhayakov: (Sentencing Friday 5th June.)

Tazhayakov’s circumstances are much akin to those of his former friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, with the exception of having been convicted at trial in July 2013, on charges almost identical to those to which his former friend has now entered a guilty plea and which resulted from similar alleged actions. During his trial, Tazhayakov’s defense attempted to prove that it was Kadyrbayev, and not their client, who was responsible for removing a back pack containing, amongst other items, firework casings from which the explosive powder had been removed, from Tsarnaev’s dorm room.

Robel Phillipos: (Sentencing also Friday 5th June.)

Phillipos, a friend of Tsarnaev and acquaintance of both Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov has been held on “house arrest” since April 2013 and was convicted in October 2014 on two counts of lying to FBI investigators. His defense attorneys claimed that their client was high on marijuana during his initial contact with the FBI and also succeeded in discrediting the testimony of at least one FBI agent in court. Nevertheless, the jury in this case convicted Phillipos.

All three of these young men were in their late teens in the Spring of 2013. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov became friends with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev during the time all three were college students at UMass Dartmouth. Robel Phillipos had known Tsarnaev since their school days. None are alleged to have had any knowledge of the bombings prior to the event.

Another thing that these three former friends have in common, in addition to knowing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is that all three expressed disbelief that their mutual friend could have been responsible for the bombings. With this borne in mind I would suggest that it is likely that all three sought to protect a friend they believed had been wrongfully accused and that the greatest “crime” they may be guilty of is perhaps exercising poor judgement in their encounters with the FBI? Should anyone believe otherwise I would ask: Is over 24 months incarceration not penalty enough, for a non-violent crime, given the circumstances of both youth and no prior criminal record?

Khairullozhon Matanov: (Sentencing Thursday 18th June.)

Matanov is an admitted acquaintance of both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It has been documented that when he recognized the Tsarnaev brothers as the suspects identified in surveillance footage released by the FBI he contacted the police and told law enforcement that he knew both suspects and volunteered contact information for both Tamerlan and Dzhokhar. Matanov was later interviewed by the FBI and was then kept under surveillance by the FBI for a period of over twelve months. During this time the FBI made contact with him on numerous occasions. He was arrested on 30th May 2013 and charged with obstructing the FBI’s investigation into the bombing of the marathon by way of destroying evidence.

In reality, Matanov’s only “crime” seems to have been in deleting files from his computer in order to minimize perception of the depth of his relationship with the Tsarnaev brothers. An understandable, even if unwise reaction, perhaps, in the event of someone with whom he was acquainted being identified as suspects in a serious crime? Again, as in the cases of Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, I would ask if Matanov is actually guilty of any “crime”, or is he simply guilty of poor judgement? He has now been held in solitary confinement for nearly eleven months.

On 24th March, Matanov changed his plea to guilty, despite having protested his innocence during the months prior. During this hearing, Judge Young was able to elicit statements from Matanov which indicated that his reason for changing his plea was not that he now believed himself to be guilty as charged, but rather that he believed that a jury at trial, in the city of Boston, would find him guilty regardless.

Matanov, in addition to Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and Phillipos, initially stated that he did not believe that the Tsarnaev brothers could have been responsible for the bombing.

Konstantin Morozov, Magomed Dolakov & Viskhan Vakhabov:

None of these three known acquaintances of Tamerlan Tsarnaev are facing criminal charges.

Morozov was detained on immigration charges some months ago and is now believed to be facing deportation. (If he has not already been deported.) It is said that his “immigration issues” arose after he declined the “opportunity” to become an informant for the FBI.

Dolakov, whose identity was until recently concealed, has now been identified as the “third man” who visited the gym with Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the days prior to the bombings. It was admitted in court during the Tsarnaev trial that neither Tsarnaev’s defense, who had planned to use Dolakov’s statements to the FBI, nor the prosecution, had any knowledge of this individual’s whereabouts at that time. As the FBI have kept such a close eye on so many of the Tsarnaev brothers’ associates, is this not at least a little curious?

Vakhabov refused to testify in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, (citing the Fifth), and was claimed by prosecution attorney William Weinreb to have made “inconsistent” statements to the FBI regarding his acknowledged contact with the elder Tsarnaev, three days after the bombings. If “inconsistent” statements to the FBI in the cases of others who were known to one or more of the Tsarnaev brothers led to criminal charges being filed, one might wonder why not so in this case?

More to ponder.

Team Clinton Worried Sanders Will Make Hillary ‘Look Like A Corporatist’

With the official entry of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont into the 2016 presidential race comes an atypical challenger for Hillary Clinton. Unlike traditional presidential aspirants, Sanders opened his campaign by sharpening his rhetoric rather than trying to dull it down. While this may mean Clinton will not have to worry about being outflanked by Sanders for the so-called (and largely illusory) “center,” it certainly means that Clinton’s alignment with Wall Street and Corporate America is going to prove problematic in the Democratic primary given her record.

This is something, reportedly, that Team Clinton is well aware of. It would not be at all surprising that Hillary Clinton and her supporters fear a contest of ideas – the neoliberal ideology she and her husband are closely associated with is very unpopular both with the general public and most members of the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Hillary Clinton knows this all too well and has been trying to distance herself from her own recent past including her husband’s presidency. Unfortunately for her, the shift looks too opportunistic and does little to neutralize the clear contrasts a Senator Sanders candidacy draws.

Insiders familiar with the Clinton campaign’s thinking described it as “frightened” of Sanders — not that he would win the nomination, but that he could damage her with the activist base by challenging her on core progressive positions in debates and make her look like a centrist or corporatist. The source described the campaign as “pleased,” at least, that O’Malley and Sanders will split the anti-Clinton vote. A Clinton spokesman declined to comment.

At his kickoff rally in Burlington, Vermont, on Tuesday, where thousands turned out to support him, Sanders vowed to “break up the largest financial institutions in the country” and provided the kinds of specifics Clinton has yet to color in. Sanders called for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (Clinton has said she supports raising the minimum wage but has yet to say by how much.) Sanders also supports a single-payer health insurance system, expanding Social Security benefits, free tuition at public universities and universal pre-kindergarten.

Hillary Clinton is not only not illuminating her 2016 campaign platform, she is avoiding the press as best she can. Part of that is due to a few ongoing scandals concerning deleted emails and the corruption at the Clinton Foundation, but another aspect is surely due to worries over exactly what her positions should be. Crafting a poll-driven message is difficult in a country with such volatile politics, especially given that Clinton is going to be raising money from the very millionaires and billionaires her party’s base wants taxed and regulated.

Those donors, of course, will want something in return should Clinton become president. So maybe the real issue is not whether Sanders will make Hillary Clinton look like a corporatist, but whether she will govern like one if elected.

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Persons Threatening Suicide Have Right to Not Be ‘Shot on Sight’ By Police

dirksen

A federal appeals court affirmed that a person threatening to commit suicide has a constitutional right to not be “shot on sight” if that person is not putting anyone else in “imminent danger” or resisting arrest for a “serious crime.”

Jerome Weinmann threatened to kill himself in his garage on November 12, 2007. His wife, Susan, called 911 and told the dispatcher that McClone had “access to a long gun.” An officer from the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin was dispatched to respond to her call.

Only a few minutes after arriving at the home, Deputy Patrick McClone decided it was necessary to force his way into the garage. He could not see Jerome through the two windows he chose to use. Without using other windows and before attempting to talk to Jerome, he kicked in a door to the garage because he thought he heard noises that suggested Jerome was in the act of committing suicide.

McClone fired his weapon and shot Jerome four times in his face, thumb and torso. These injuries, according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, “required extensive medical treatment including partial amputation of his thumb and a total replacement of his jaw’s left temporomandibular joint.”

Jerome had a .12 gauge shotgun in his lap but maintains that he never pointed it at the officer. McClone asserts the weapon was pointed at him and he was in danger, which gave him the right to shoot Jerome. He appealed a ruling by a federal district court that refused to dismiss an “excessive force” claim filed by Jerome against him.

In order to convince the court to dismiss the lawsuit, McClone had to show that the facts according to Jerome did not demonstrate that his rights were somehow violated.

McClone argued this was an “inherently dangerous encounter” because he had entered an “enclosed garage with a single entrance.” If the Seventh Circuit accepted this argument, the court claimed it would be “saying that officers are entitled, when responding to a suicide call, to use deadly force any time they forcibly enter a single-entrance room.”

“We are aware of no ruling that permits this sort of shoot-on-sight response to this class of encounters,” the appeals court declared [PDF].

The appeals court also stated, “McClone did not look through the other windows into the garage to see what Jerome was doing, nor did he try to talk to him. Instead, within three minutes of arriving at the scene, McClone opened fire. Either viewed as so plainly excessive that no analogous case is needed, or viewed in light of existing authority, this was an excessive use of force.” (more…)

Memo to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch: More Indictments Like FIFA Please

[Skip the first minute which is a pitch to renew the Patriot Act]

Our new Attorney General of the United States, Loretta Lynch, made a big announcement today and I am not talking about another agreement with a criminal bank that agrees to pay a pithy multi-millio-dollar fine without admitting it did anything wrong.

At a press conference this morning, Lynch announced the unsealing of a new 47-count indictment charging 14  world soccer figures, including officials of FIFA, with racketeering, bribery, money laundering and fraud. Four of those accused, including two sports marketing companies, have already pleaded guilty and are likely to be cooperating. From the Washington Post,

Among the “alleged schemes,” said the Justice Department, were kickbacks to FIFA officials by executives and companies involved in soccer marketing and “bribes and kickbacks in connection” with “the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.” FIFA is the French abbreviation for the international Federation of Football Associations, the global governing body of soccer.

Swiss prosecutors, in a related announcement, said they had opened criminal proceedings against unidentified individuals on suspicion of mismanagement and money laundering related to the awarding of rights to host the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The separate Swiss probe includes “electronic data and documents” seized at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich, the Swiss prosecutor’s office said. Swiss police said they will question at least 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010 that named Russia and Qatar as host nations for the next two tournaments.

/snip/

Those charged, the Justice Department said, “include U.S. and South American sports marketing executives who are alleged to have systematically paid and agreed to pay well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to obtain lucrative media and marketing rights to international soccer tournaments.”

“Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner — the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, the continental confederation under FIFA headquartered in the United States — are among the soccer officials charged with racketeering and bribery offenses,” the Justice Department said.

The indictment was unsealed after Swiss police arrested six members of FIFA’s governing body. The New York Times captured the moment.

 

The lobby of the Baur au Lac, a 171-year-old five-star hotel here in downtown Zurich, was serene in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Bundles of newspapers were tossed on the front doorstep. A cleaner wearing a black uniform buffed the marble floors. The concierge fielded a call from a guest asking whether a local pharmacy could deliver medicine.

Then, when its Swiss clocks struck 6, more than a dozen law enforcement officers in street clothes entered without a fuss through a revolving door at the front of the hotel. They headed straight to the front desk, where they presented government documents and demanded the room numbers of some of the most high-profile officials in soccer, who were staying at the hotel ahead of the annual meeting of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body.

Suddenly, the venerable Baur au Lac, a way station for musicians, artists and royalty, and, the hotel says, the place where the Nobel Peace Prize was born, was transformed into something akin to a crime scene. The concierge was instructed to call one executive’s room, and one of the most significant takedowns in international sports history was under way.

“Sir,” the concierge said in English, “I’m just calling you to say that we’re going to need you to come to your door and open it for us or we’re going to have to kick it in.”

/snip/

While the arrests went seamlessly, chaos ensued at the Baur au Lac’s front desk. Just minutes after news of the operation broke, the phone began to ring incessantly. At the same time, the officers began returning to the front desk to ask for access to other parts of the hotel.

“Sir, we don’t have any information — please call later,” the concierge said to a caller before slamming the phone down.

/snip/

After all the arrests were complete, a hulking man in a suit arrived at the front desk. He asked if anyone knew the whereabouts of one of the FIFA executives.

“His wife doesn’t know what to do or where he is,” the man said.

By 9 a.m., the hotel, which had hosted a wedding the night before, was blanketed by private security guards. Outside, reporters gathered and set up cameras for live television shots. Inside, the wives and girlfriends of the men who had been arrested sat together in an ornate lounge off the main foyer. The women crowded around a computer and watched an Internet stream of Walter de Gregorio, FIFA’s chief spokesman, as he addressed a news conference at the governing body’s headquarters just a few miles down the road.

As de Gregorio spoke about how, in his opinion, this was actually “a good day” for FIFA — because ridding the organization of corruption is a priority — the women leaned closer. One of them began to cry.

And now for my contribution. The basis for federal jurisdiction is the defendants allegedly conducted meetings in the United States, used US banks to wire money around, used the US postal service to communicate with each other as well as email and used phones to discuss their dirty business.

They obviously did not see this coming.

Conspicuously left out of the indictment is Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA. His freedom may be short-lived, however, as he has been the subject of much speculation that he ran the pay-to-play scheme.

With defendants expected to fall like dominoes for cooperation agreements to testify against others, both known and unknown to the grand jury, he may find that he has something to cry about.

Oh, and one more thing. His recent announcement that he would not revisit the decisions to award the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. may end up being, how can I say this diplomatically, ah yes, revisited.

Oh, and another question: Are the NFL owners, NBA owners and NCAA reaching for the Rolaids and calling their lawyers?

Will the NSA and or FBI be listening?

Seven officials arrested today:

1. Rafael Esquivel

2. Nicolas Leoz

3. Jeffrey Webb

4. Jack Warner

5. Eduardo Li

6. Eugenio Figueredo

7. Jose Maria Marin

FYI: John Oliver roasted Sepp Blatter on his HBO comedy show Last Week Tonight. Here’s most of it:

 

 

 

Mary Landrieu Bows To The Inevitable, Becomes DC Lobbyist

LANDPRESS
Former US Senator Mary Landrieu, who spent a long and undistinguished political career shilling for the energy industry, has joined DC lobbying firm Van Ness Feldman and will focus on serving the firm’s energy clients. Though Landrieu is banned from lobbying her former colleagues in Congress until 2017, she is free to lobby the executive branch and tell her paymasters the best way to work the Senate for maximum profit.

Though politicians becoming lobbyists has become commonplace, Landrieu’s move to Van Ness is particularly odious given her conduct in the Senate – something Landrieu actually celebrated in a press release announcing her sell-out move saying “I am proud to join Van Ness Feldman. I have always respected the firm and worked closely with them during my 18 years in the Senate.”

In exchange for then-Senator Landrieu “working closely” with them, Van Ness gave Landrieu a good deal of money:

In the 2014 election cycle, Van Ness gave more money to Landrieu in both total donations ($14,350) and from its PAC ($7,500) than to any other member of Congress; the former senator, who lost her seat in a December runoff, collected about 17 percent of the $129,800 the firm’s PAC and employees gave out…

In 2013, the firm also represented TransCanada Corp, the company in charge of building the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline if it gets final approval. Landrieu supported the construction of the pipeline while in the Senate, and even brought her Republican opponent’s (then-Rep. Bill Cassidy) bill to the Senate floor in what was viewed as a last ditch effort to potentially prevent her defeat (though the proposed route doesn’t run through Louisiana).

But to be fair, Landrieu shilled for numerous donors in the energy industry while serving in public office including Exxon Mobil, NextEra Energy, Chevron Corp and ConocoPhillips. Landrieu was an equal opportunity miscreant, she took money from the high and higher alike.

Then again, might there be a larger point worth pondering when one looks at the crooked trajectory of Mary Landrieu? Perhaps this is an opportune time to consider whether or not having career politicians necessitates a corrupt revolving door between industry and government. After all, what marketable skills does former Senator Landrieu have besides selling out the public interest?

Image via US Senate under public domain.

Over Easy: Bernie Sanders Launches Presidential Campaign in Burlington

On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) kicked off his 2016 bid for US President with a speech in his home town of Burlington, Vermont, noting that “enough is enough” and heralding the event as the beginning of a “political revolution.”

Vox has a transcript of the speech. His beginning remarks include:

Today, here in our small state — a state that has led the nation in so many ways — I am proud to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America.

Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.

Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that; “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.”

Brothers and sisters: Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old — same old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas.

Senator Sanders highlighted the following issues:

-Income and Wealth Inequality

In America we now have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone is wider than at any time since the 1920s.

-Economics and the Disappearance of the Middle Class

But it is not just income and wealth inequality. It is the tragic reality that for the last 40 years the great middle class of our country —once the envy of the world — has been disappearing.

-Citizens United

American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and elections. It is not about the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. According to media reports the Koch brothers alone, one family, will spend more money in this election cycle than either the Democratic or Republican parties. This is not democracy.

-Climate Change

The debate is over. The scientific community has spoken in a virtually unanimous voice. Climate change is real. It is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems in the United States and around the world.

-Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

If we are truly serious about reversing the decline of the middle class we need a major federal jobs program which puts millions of Americans back to work at decent paying jobs.

-Raising Wages

Let us be honest and acknowledge that millions of Americans are now working for totally inadequate wages. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised.

Senator Sanders also spoke on the following issues:

-Addressing Wealth and Income Inequality


-Reforming Wall Street

-Campaign Finance Reform

-Health Care for All

-College for All

-Protecting Our Most Vulnerable

In addition, he has a campaign website (“not paid for by billionaires”): https://berniesanders.com. For folks who happen to be at the website, but on the wrong page- or for folks who have gone looking for the hidden page at the website- there is a “404 Page Not Found” redirect. To see the message, go to https://berniesanders.com/wtf.

Bernie Sanders Has the Most Glorious 404 Error Page Ever

Read Bernie Sanders Full Text Presidential Campaign Speech
(more…)