Archive for Vermont

Overnight: Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken


Robert Frost

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


Vermont Passes Progressive Legislation To Raise Minimum Wage to $10.50



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 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.






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


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."


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


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.


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:


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


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!


Those Jokers


Obamacare not

As Bill Maher is known to say, "Oh, those Republicans, they love to kid."

Okay, just the idea that the Congress would waste valuable time and money/resources to try to repeal Obamacare for a 40th time is a hoot. It's futility on meth. But this time there's some memorable quotes about this silliness.  It's almost like high school kids arguing, but more juvenile. I love it.  Let's listen in on a few selected quips as reported by Amanda Terkel.

Democrats railed against their Republican colleagues on the House floor for spending valuable time on the vote.

"I suspect we don't want to call them the Republicans anymore, but I think we ought to call them the Repeal-icans. Or perhaps the Repeal-ican'ts, because they've never been able to repeal anything," said Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).

You go, John!!!

"They have one alternative to Obamacare. It's called NothingCare," added Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) chimed in that the American public has "seen this movie before."

Lovin' it, Lloyd.  You too, Mike. But surely the Senate must have something to say about all of this?

Not surprisingly, the Senate has no plans to take up the latest Obamacare repeal bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tried late Thursday to unanimously pass two other bills aimed at repealing the law, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) objected.

"We will not bring it up," Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson said of Friday's repeal bill. "Republicans can try and force a vote on it if they want to keep tilting at windmills, but it's just be a further waste of everyone's time and energy."

Well, I guess they're not as quippy a group. But when it comes to wrapping things up with a bow, who better to do it than John-Boy.

Boehner recently said that the House GOP would continue pushing legislation to repeal Obamacare -- even though it has no chance of clearing the president's desk.

"The program isn't ready," Boehner told CBS. "This is not ready for prime time. This is not good for the country, and we're going to stay at it."

John Boehner orange man

Now who am I to offer "Boehner the Great" any advice? But I will anyway. My former boss on "Saved By The Bell" once railed at one of the writer/producers who kept raising objections to script jokes without any suggested replacements. The Exec Producer looked him in the eye and told him, "Shut up until you have something positive to add. And then just shut up. And while you're at it, grab me a coffee, two sugars."

Maybe you could do the same thing. Only I like lots of half and half in my coffee.

BTW, your fellow Republicans in Vermont have just forwarded a bill to the governor to have you declared an official resident of their great state. They are the Granite State and they said you're head's as thick as their famed rocks. Think about it, when you're voted out of office, you can make yourself available for a counter top. Orange granite. It's actually quite rare. I'm sure you'll do well.

orange granite


Corrupt Cop Caught In Action


corrupt cops

Ah you gotta love justice when it works.

I'm not anti police. I'm anti bully. And every so often I find that the line between them gets blurred. I wouldn't want to be a cop and I think the job law enforcement does overall is most satisfactory.

But then you get guys like Rod MacIver, a painter and writer from North Ferrisburgh,Vt. He was bullied and he wasn't going to take it. He knew he hadn't run a red light when he was pulled over by police officer Jason Lawton.

Now you have to ask yourself after watching the video below, what was motivating Officer Lawton to just plain lie? Was he under a quota system and needed one more ticket or citation to make his number? Was he just having a bad day and decided to take it out on the innocent Mr. MacIver?

We'll never know for sure, but watch this.

I don't know if I would have had the knowledge to even inquire if the police vehicles in my community had a dash cam. And I'm not so sure that it wouldn't have gone missing had I inquired about it. But MacIver did a good job of defending himself.

Yet here's the surprising thing that I took away from this coverage:

Now MacIver is suing the city of Shelburne for $2,000 in damages stemming from the bogus stop, according to local station WCAX. On Friday, the hearing was postponed after the defendants -- including police representatives -- did not show up.

"...the hearing was postponed AFTER the defendants...did not show up." I'd love to know if there was a bench warrant issued for the defendant's arrest for failure to appear. This wasn't his choice. It was a legal obligation to appear.

But MacIver wasn't satisfied, and took his story public. He set up a website, titled Shelburne Vermont Police Department Traffic Stop, and posted the dash cam video on YouTube.

"I’ve set up this website because I’ve had three contacts with the Shelburne Vermont Police Department and in all three instances, including once in court under oath, the officers of that department have been deliberately deceptive and dishonest," the website says. "Dishonesty seems to be ingrained in the culture there and encouraged, or at least condoned, by the management of that department."

Doesn't this just want to make your blood boil. Caught lying, pants down, this cop flaunts justice once again. I'm going to follow up on this story and I'll keep you posted.