Archive for Vermont

RIP Senator Jim Jeffords, of Vermont, who passed away this week

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Gannett News Service phote

And he passed on AS an Independent … The GOP let Jeffords wave buh-bye. The party left him.

Thom Hartmann had some interesting things to reveal! (And a Vermonter, sigh, but Bernie covers all ills.)

Jeffords had always been a Rhino (surprisingly thick on the ground up here in New England); in fact our wise and politically active Gramma Bea … if one has thoughts that our souls return, or somehow meet again after death … I can count on her giving him all kinds of hell in the proverbial 'meeting again' phase.

Photo, the AP.

Photo, the AP.

It's hard to imagine a more principled New Englander member of Congress than Jeffords. He was a dying breed: men and women who serve their country well and can see both sides.

From The Washington Post.

James M. Jeffords, the maverick Vermont politician who in 2001 gave Democrats a short-lived majority in the U.S. Senate when he left the Republican Party and declared himself an independent, died Aug. 18 at a retirement residence in Washington. He was 80.


from left, former U.S. Sen. Robert Stafford, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, sit behind Calvin Coolidge impersonator Jim Cooke.

from left, former U.S. Sen. Robert Stafford, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Sen. James Jeffords, R-Vt., U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders, sit behind Calvin Coolidge impersonator Jim Cooke.

Diane Derby, a former aide, confirmed his death but said she did not know the immediate cause. Mr. Jeffords declined to seek reelection to the Senate in 2006, citing his wife’s and his own declining health, and was succeeded by Bernie Sanders, his state’s longtime representative-at-large, who also is an independent.

A former Vermont state senator and attorney general, Mr. Jeffords served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before winning election to the Senate in 1988. He established himself as a moderate-to-liberal Republican, a reflection of his state’s political tendencies, and frequently voted with Democrats on matters such as health care, taxes, abortion, gay rights, gun control and the environment.

He was but 80 years old to have touched the number of people Jeffords did.

U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., waves to members of the Legislature at the Statehouse in Montpelier in this Jan. 5, 2006, with his wife, Elizabeth “Liz” Daley Jeffords. (Photo- TOBY TALBOT:AP )

U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., waves to members of the Legislature at the Statehouse in Montpelier in this Jan. 5, 2006, with his wife, Elizabeth “Liz” Daley Jeffords. (Photo- TOBY TALBOT:AP )

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Underground Corrupted Water in 3 Vermont Counties, Protests Commence

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apricot-tree

Vermont is not as pristine as advertised, and when I heard about the protests and lengthy, seemingly endless lists of contaminated water in their home, business or schools. My high school, in North Clarendon, was included in the listings, as well as ski areas, stores that we've shopped at forever, nearby farms and farm families, plus nearby Mill River Union High School.

We happen to live within 4-7 miles of two of the sites that are spitting and spilling contaminatesfrom deeply buried gas storage. One is the town we border, North Clarendon, where my sister and her family live and the smallish high school I attended there are drowning in serious contaminated ground H2O water trouble.

Now we have a pretty good reputation for running a pristine state (excepting the protest-driven closing of the hideously dangerous closing of the nearby Yankee Nuclear Plant.

Time for another peck of protests to make some noise. This is a spot on display of Industrial Greed (guess these circumstances define it), and what piss poor regulation can achieve over time.

The Cleanup Fund began in 1941, and was quickly neglected with all the men and a few dedicated women shipping across the Pond after World War II got serious. Great decade for the Military Industrial Complex Generals.

Scanning the 42(!) page PDF from the state's Petroleum Clean-up Fund, I was aghast at the number of resolved situations.

And the hundreds of homes, business buildings, schools, restaurants, hospitals, shops and hair salons and gas stations. The link is above, it's a peeper popper.

petrol2
Image from the Vermont Petroleum Cleanup Fund.

For each site, a number of actual Vermonters exposed to contamination can vary. The actual users for public water supplies can be as low as 25 people per system to as high as many thousands of users. For sites with affected private water supplies, the number of contaminated wells depends on the specific conditions of the site. On average there are approximately three contaminated wells discovered per site, with an average of 3 users per household. However, one of the 161 sites listed above involved contamination to over 80 wells affecting approximately 240 users, and a site discovered in 2002 involves contamination to over 30 wells, including a public water supply, affecting hundreds of users.

Vermont has been trying to walk in the (pale) green footsteps of New Hampshire and New York to ban the additive M-T-B-E from the state's gasoline - for nine years - nine trips around the sun, and even MTBE is an additive to keep gas from leaking. Ironic much?

Surface water impact scan affect both public health and the environment. High concentrations of petroleum in a stream can cause detrimental affects to biota, and lead to an increased exposure to stream users.

Lastly, sites with indoor air impacts can lead to the greatest risk to public health. Petroleum
vapors entering a home can be at levels that are explosive. More often petroleum vapors reach
levels that pose a serious health risk. Of the 141 sites with indoor air impacts, the number of
exposed individuals varied from site to site. An average site involves three homes affected with
approximately three persons per home.

For a state that barely hits 500,00+/- population wise, and about 20% are second homes for Flatlanders.
wtf

 

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Overnight: Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken

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Robert Frost

One of my favorite Robert Frost poems with pictures from New England.

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Vermont Passes Progressive Legislation To Raise Minimum Wage to $10.50

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Image GaryVarvel.com

Image GaryVarvel.com

Written by guest contributor, "hardybear" of the wonderful Free Range Talk site:

Governor Peter Shumlin clearly hopes for another Vermont Progressive win this season, and on Saturday the Statehouse gave him a shot at it … a bill approving a minimum wage hike to a minimum of $10.50 over the next four years was passed in part of a flurry of pre-break activity in Montpelier.

As reported over at Think Progress, a handful of states have reached higher than the ten dollar bill mark. Vermont just took the game up a notch, to a state minimum wage high of $10.50.

The Green Mountain state is the seventh to enact a minimum wage hike this year and the fourth to crack the $10 mark. Delaware and West Virginia lawmakers raised their wages above $8 an hour. Minnesota raised the minimum wage for most large companies to $9.50. And Hawaii, Maryland, and Connecticut each established $10.10 minimum wages.

vermont-minimum-wage

 

Vermont progressives and average Dems alike had been calling for a livable wage for years, fully championed by Senator Bernie Sanders {given} and it was already guaranteed that 10.10 would fly - yet when Yankee stubborn -- there is shameful, blinders-on-redneck Tea Party here too, make no mistake -- raised its Step All Over Me Don't Tread On Me hissing head and the GOP threatened to gum up the works. If a four year step-up period wasn't included the pinch-purses were out. Dems retaliated by raising the ante to 10.50.

$10.50 it shall be.

Suck it Republicans who have Randian wet dreams that trickle down and the market's adjustment of wages are in any way humane, sane or economically sound. State by state, you are being proven horribly wrong. The Boston Globe quoted a local who summed her up.

Any time we can put money in the hands of Vermonters who need it most, it’s a win,’’ said Representative Tom Stevens, a Waterbury Democrat.

 

Image, thecomincsnews.com

Image, thecomincsnews.com

 

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Are the Green Mountain Progressives Going to Pull Off Single Payer?

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Approved copy

Written by guest contributor, "hardybear" of the wonderful Free Range Talk site:

We elected Bernie and gave the country Ben and Jerry, don't put anything universal past us mule-headed liberal mountain people.

Steve Kornacki highlighted one of the best (and thanks to TeaMania) only positive stories around on single payer prospects in the country on Up over at MSNBC , pulling in Vox's stellar Sarah Kliff, and Vermont State Legislature Rep. Chris Pearson to discuss. Find the full Vox piece here.

 Image courtesy Vox

Image courtesy Vox

Not since we were enjoying the pitched battles and healthcare wars on The Hill leading up to victory in 2010(!) was this Green Mountain gal so excited to see coverage of the Right's expected reaction to real Progressive progress.

It's no sure bet -  Vermont is in full possession of their allotted portion of Tea Party crazy. Yet, when pre-butted by Rep. Pearson of the state's Progressive Party ... listen up and  see if you don't feel some of that vintage, vindicating Hopey Changey Feeling wash over you.  The president might not have spiked the ACA ball to our collective liberal satisfaction quite yet, but here's some interim excitement to re-fire the engines for November.

Peter Shumlin isn't a Howard Dean by personality, but he has been the sleeper gubernatorial hit of the decade up here. He was a leader smart enough to see that a 700% rise in heroin use in the state in two years had an impact on our morale and small but over-worked state hospitals. ER visits now include tragic front row seats to what poverty, addiction and the GOP has brought us to. Not that there's any pressure, as both he and Kliff note.

If Vermont gets single-payer health care right, which I believe we will, other states will follow," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin predicted in a recent interview. "If we screw it up, it will set back this effort for a long time. So I know we have a tremendous amount of responsibility, not only to Vermonters.

fearKeep your ears perked about VT Act 48. AKA Green Mountain Care. It's an uphill climb, half the nations that attempt to pioneer this human right fail, repeatedly.

However, in 1777 -- when still a Nation because we declined the invite in '76 -- Vermont abolished slavery. In 2000 we were the state first to acknowledge civil unions, then the 4th to celebrate gay marriage. Two years ago we were Numero Uno to ban fracking and watch this week's news on mandatory GMO food labeling.

And don't underestimate our ability to overcompensate for our size and the patience-drain it takes to abide next to those Live Free or Die maniacs and the buzzards they draw in New Hampshire. So It Is On.  May this be a super sharp contrast to ex-centerfold/ex-Senator Scott Brown and his ubiquitous GD truck.

Kliff chose a doozie of a higher self quote when interviewing the local progressive peeps.

I was the first person I ever heard in politics who was a serious candidate, who said the words ‘single payer,’ and was not using them in an attack ad," recalls Deb Richter, president of Vermont for Single Payer. "It was amazing."

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Calling Robin Hood -- Nefarious Sheriff of Nottingham Has Just Returned

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Robin Hood

As a boy growing up outside Boston, I had a wild imagination and a lot of heroes. There was cowboy favorite Roy Rogers, future space adventurer, Buck Rogers, but most fun was the legendary outlaw, archer Robin Hood. He and his men (plus Maid Marion) were a band of outlaws who found ways to disrupt the mad rantings and oppressive actions of the evil and despotic Sheriff of Notttingham. Let's face it. Without a really awful foe, there's just not a great hero or heroes. And the meanest of the mean was the Sheriff raiding Sherwood Forest.

Paul RyanPAUL RYAN AKA SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM

With the good king Richard away fighting religious wars on behalf of  his people, the royal brother and evil, calculating Prince John took the reins of England and trampled justice wherever he found it. His pleasure was in sticking it to the masses and stripping them of all of their earthly possessions. And his did it with his man, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The results were catastrophic for all but the rich. That select few thrived while the Sheriff demonstrated villainy at the highest level. This guy stopped at nothing as he represented the top 1% of the richest royals out there.

So much for folklore. Whether there really was a Robin Hood or a Sheriff of Nottingham is debatable. The same could be said for Superman, Mighty Mouse, even Underdog.

Mighty Mouse vs Underdog

To get a taste of what's going on in real life, we have to look at the real Sheriff of Nottingham who comes to us straight out of the the Sherwood forest of Wisconsin . The kings of the rich, the Koch Brothers, have deigned him with the powers of the purse-strings. The Sheriff is merely a puppet and he's doing their bidding. With the new Ryan budget, the GOP kings have unleashed the Sheriff on the US masses.

To provide more riches and power for the super rich, they want to destroy every and all of the people's programs of survival. They wish to cut Medicare, education funding and loans, Social Security, women's rights, Food assistance, and Health Care. In return the rich get tax relief and the poor get worse living conditions. It must sound fair if you're a royal, but most of us aren't.

There is a Robin Hood who is trying to once again split an arrow down the middle to show up the mad and unconscionable Sheriff Paul Ryan. He's Bernie Sanders. And if you want to see his proclamation of war against the evil doers and their merry band of morons, check this out:

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2016's True Dream Presidential Ticket For The Dems - No Hillary

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Sanders Warren

There is a potential Democratic ticket that's being floated around that has Hillary Clinton nervous. Not because she doesn't think that she can win the general election if she gets the nomination, she fears the primary battle. A really hard fought primary battle.

If you flip back to 2006, Hillary was, as she is now, considered to be a shoo-in for the nomination. It was a done deal. Her inaugural dinner menu was already being planned.  And we all know how that turned out for her. The bruising primary battles with Barack Obama showed she had backbone and strength. She was a good candidate. Obama was better, plain and simple.

Now we're approaching 8 years from her prior "inevitability." And whispers in the wind are that there's someone who might run who could conceivably capture the Democratic nomination. And coupled with his name is a running mate. Someone who's most compatible and would give the Democrats a dream ticket without the Clinton baggage.

The "potential candidate" is not a Democrat. He is an Independent. And his name is Senator Bernie Sanders (I - Vermont).

Take a moment to digest this. TIME MAGAZINE has:

Sanders, who is the longest-serving Independent in congressional history, would have to officially register as a Democrat before he could run in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. But he says he hasn't yet made up his mind for sure if he’ll run, and he has time yet. One thing he is sure of: He’d make a better President than Hillary Clinton.

You  may ask who or why? Anyone in the political circles, Republican or Democrat, knows that Bernie is a man who speaks his mind and is filled with common sense more that a a need to fall in line with political dogma from either party. He's got America on his mind -- something the two major parties seem to clash over time after time -- and with disastrous results. Bernie just calls it as he sees it. And he sees it with compassion and practicality.

Sanders caucuses with the Democrats so his pick wouldn't be a far-fetched bit of chicanery. His reason for running he puts this way:

Clinton, he says, “is a very, very intelligent person, no question about it. But, I don’t know what her political future is, whether she’s going to run. I don’t know what she’s going to say. But, if you talk about the need for a political revolution in America, it’s fair to say that Secretary Clinton probably will not be one of the more active people.”

Senator Sanders knows what he's talking about. Clinton is a really well-rounded pick, but she's very willing to make compromise at the expense of Democratic policy. She's worldly, bright, articulate and an insider's insider. Is that what we want though? No one is more beholden to big money than the Clintons -- on either party's radar.

Here's the kicker to the Sander's potential for running. It paves the way for Senator Elizabeth Warren to run as Veep. If Hillary runs, the Dems won't put up an all-female ticket. Sad but true. And nobody, and I mean nobody comes close to standing up for consumers and against Wall Street's onerous practices than EW. In second place would be Bernie S. Together America wins.

Time will tell, but there's more and more chatter. Despite it being an all-New England ticket, it's most formidable. It's early and with Hillary playing games as she did in 2006 hemming and hawing about her running, she may be tricking herself once again. This time there's a potential juggernaut ready to take her on. If she announces she's running and Bernie still steps to the plate, look for one of the most amazing presidential primaries in the last hundred years.

Unlike the Republicans who have nobody running who can win the general election, the Democrats could have two major players, each qualified and each good for America. And if Democrats go with the fresher face of Bernie Sanders, he's less controversial, he's brilliant and he's got Elizabeth Warren at his side to groom for the Presidency after Bernie's 8 years.

Don't say I didn't warn ya!

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