Thursday, July 7, 2011

Odds & Ends: Yellow Warbler Video: Obama Caving on Budget?; Deferred Property Tax Law Changes; Open Season on WY Wolves?; & etc.

Hey, It's Summer, and I've Been Absent! Just can't waste it in front of a computer.

Here are a few of the most recent items that might be of interest. [Edited 7/8-9/11]

In This Edition:

- Short Video of Yellow Warbler Singing in Baker County

- President Obama, if you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, don't ask for my help in 2012

- Cost Of Wars In Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan To Reach $3.7 Trillion

- Changes in Property Tax Deferral Program in Oregon

- Challenges for Wolves


Short Video of Yellow Warbler Singing in Baker County

This male Yellow Warbler made it's home in the brushy riparian habitat that is so common along the Powder River Canyon and other streams and irrigation ditches in Baker County, Oregon. They also inhabit residential areas near running water with trees and shrubs in Baker City. Although they are common breeding summer residents, and are easily found if you know their song or look hard enough, they are not often seen by casual observers.


Rumors abound that President Obama will do what he's famous for in negotiations with the Republican Hard Hearts and corporate sycophants (Oh, that's right, he's a sycophant to Wall Street and corporations too!)--cave in and sell out his supporters and the poor.

Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC ( sent out this alert today, concerning a potential repeat sell out, so I thought it would be worth passing along, including my own message to President Hope & Change.

President Obama, if you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, don't ask for my help in 2012

URGENT: The New York Times reports that President Obama is offering Republicans "substantial spending cuts, including in such social programs as Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security -- programs that had been off the table."

Will you join 100,000 others who have signed this urgent pledge, which we'll deliver to the Obama campaign?

‪"President Obama: If you cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits for me, my family, or families like mine, don't ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I'm going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates ‬who will fight to protect our Democratic legacy." Click to add your name.

The Washington Post reports that "congressional Democrats were alarmed by the president’s proposal." 

Frankly, it's outrageous. 

President Obama is on the verge of doing what George W. Bush couldn't do with a Republican Congress: Put Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits on the chopping block.

We've done the polling in swing states -- by overwhelming margins, voters oppose these cuts. There's no need for a bad "deal." If we fight, voters are on our side.

But if President Obama caves on these core principles, he will be harming all Democrats in 2012 -- and millions of Americans will suffer. It's just wrong.

Tell the president that if he doesn't fight for Americans now, our money and time will be used fighting for others in 2012. Click here.

The 100,000 who already signed gave over $8.4 million and 1.4 million volunteer hours to the president in 2008. The White House is absolutely watching the progress of this pledge -- and we'll deliver it to the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago soon. 

Thanks for being a bold progressive.

-- Adam Green, Stephanie Taylor, Neil Sroka, Michael Snook, and the PCCC team.

P.S. We'll be on MSNBC's Ed Show tonight around 10:40pm EST discussing this.

My comment:

President Obama,

You've allowed no cost of living adjustments for SS recipients for two years running. The thing is, my cost of living for what I need, and the cost of living for other low income seniors--food, gas [& heating oil], property taxes, insurance, and etc., has risen sharply. Congress, and your administration has hurt SS recipients enough. NO MORE! END THE WARS and spend our money to reinvest in America and help the poor you've helped to create.

Quit serving the corporations and Wall Street and start serving the people who elected you. Leave Social Security, Medicare, and medicaid alone!

Christopher Christie


Bernie Sanders' View:

Published on Saturday, July 9, 2011 by The Hill (Washington, DC)
Liberal Senators Warn Obama Over Social Security Cuts in Any Debt Deal
Bernie Sanders promises to filibuster if White House proposes 'piece of crap'

by Erik Wasson

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) warned Friday that President Obama faces turmoil in the Senate and in his reelection campaign if he includes Social Security cuts in any debt-ceiling deal.

Bernie Sanders
The senators said the White House has not communicated effectively to Senate Democrats and they and their rank-and-file colleagues are being frozen out of the process.

“I have talked to some of my colleagues, including some that you might not expect, who say if [White House officials] bring to the Senate a piece of crap that comes down heavy on working families and children and the elderly and they expect me to matter-of-factly vote for it, they'll have another thing coming,” Sanders said. He added that he would filibuster such a deal.

See Article for rest.

Another View About What Obama's Up To:

Is Obama On The Brink Of Cutting Social Security? The Dangerous Game Over the Debt Ceiling.
By Joshua Holland

. . . .
[The] internal struggle between the GOP establishment and its Tea Party-infused base is only one of the divides that would have to be bridged in order to come to a last-minute agreement. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, doesn't have enough votes within his own caucus to move any debt limit deal that would have a chance of passing the Democratically controlled Senate – which is debating its own, more balanced plan – and gain the president's signature. He needs some Democrats. But the Dems, having offered most of what the GOP wants only to see them walk away from the table, refuse to accept any deal with a lot of painful cuts but zero new revenues.

Rep Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, told TPM that "without overwhelming support from our caucus I think it will be a hard deal to pass," and 24 house progressives sent a letter to the White House on Thursday demanding revenue increases and insisting that “no cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security” be included in a debt deal.

If the White House has come to see a deal to raise the debt limit as unlikely, then this leak is about positioning itself politically for the fall-out. The consequences of a default aren't precisely known, but it would certainly be disastrous for the recovery, and this move would allow the Democrats to say that they put everything on the table, including the social safety net programs they cherish most, but the GOP refused to budge if it entailed closing a few loopholes for the wealthy. . . . .


This particular impasse seems like a win-win for Tea Party and other Republican conservatives, given their seeming hatred for funding a government that actually has attempted, through many popular programs, to "promote the general welfare," as envisioned in the Preamble to the Constitution. Perhaps we'll see them change their tune if corporate and business welfare, along with other government services they've taken for granted, cease for them too during a prolonged shutdown. In the longer term, it seems to me that the nightmare that would follow any prolonged shutdown will certainly clarify the issue for most of the electorate and hopefully end the mean-spirited Tea Party conservative nonsense once and for all.

Cost Of Wars In Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan To Reach $3.7 Trillion

Costs of War: 225,000 Lives and up to US$4 Trillion from Watson Institute on Vimeo.

WASHINGTON -- The United States will have spent a total of $3.7 trillion on wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, costing 225,000 lives and creating 7.8 million refugees, by the time the conflicts end, according to a report released on Wednesday by Brown University.
The report, written by more than 20 economists, political scientists, lawyers, anthropologists and humanitarian personnel for Brown's Watson Institute for International Studies, gives staggering estimates for the cost of military action in those three countries. Nearly ten years since U.S. troops first entered Afghanistan, the report estimates the final cost of all three conflicts will be between $3.7 trillion and $4.4 trillion -- far higher than the $1 trillion price tag referenced by President Barack Obama earlier this year. The report estimates the U.S. government has already spent between $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion and will spend at least a trillion more over the next fifty years.

Speaking of Budgets, there was good article in yesterday's Herald on "Property tax deferral changes" (No link! Instead, you get "Saddle up, lil' cowboy (and big sister)" about the Hines Rodeo--very helpful.). The state, in a very un-Christian move, has started charging compound interest on deferred taxes (that's the world we now live in), and made some other changes that were possibly necessary, given the generosity of the previous program. Interestingly, the state website doesn't show the effect on recipients of compound interest, because they only show the old table on the effect of the previous law which allowed simple interest.

Here are some links that talk about the changes, perhaps the most important being that current recipients have only until July 25th of this month to reapply for the program and will have to recertify/apply every two years. Of course, many of the people who need this program probably do not have an internet connection.

2011 changes to the Property Tax Deferral Program

Re-certification form

June 2011 letter to participants and new applicants

Challenges for Wolves

Fish & Wildlife Service Photo (above)

Shot on Sight? Back to the Future.

From Defenders of Wildlife:

Just hours ago, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and new Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced details of Wyoming's wolf management plan that would allow wolves to be shot on sight across most of the state.

Pups at their dens, pregnant females, parents bringing food back to the pups – they could all be killed for any reason across most of the state during most of the year. This is not only unethical, it undermines the continued recovery of the Northern Rockies grey wolf.

Tell the Fish and Wildlife Service that you’re outraged by their capitulation to anti-wolf extremists in Wyoming. Call the Service toll-free at:

1-800-344-WILD (9453)

And deliver this simple message:

“My name is [Your Name] and I’m calling from [Your Town], [Your State] to let Director Dan Ashe know that I’m outraged by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s support for Wyoming’s wolf management plan. This proposal is unscientific and unconscionable and would allow wolves to be shot on sight in most areas of the state outside Yellowstone National Park.”

Please let us know that you called. We’ll be monitoring public response closely and will report out on your calls Friday on the Defenders blog.

If you are unable to get through, please leave a message or try again in the morning.

We knew it would be bad when Congress approved a plan to eliminate Endangered Species Act protections in the Northern Rockies and Greater Yellowstone, but this is just awful.

If approved, Wyoming’s plan would…

Allow wolves to be shot on site throughout most of Wyoming, during most of the year, including any of the Yellowstone wolves that happen to roam beyond the park’s borders; and Sabotage wolf migration from Wyoming to Colorado, Utah and other areas where wolves have historically made their homes.
Director Ashe was just confirmed as the nation’s top wildlife steward, and we need to let him know right now that Wyoming’s wolf plan is unacceptable. There will be a formal comment period on the proposed deal with the state, so it’s important that conservationists like you and me make our voices heard in these vital hours following this awful announcement.

Please call now.

For the Wild Ones,

Rodger Schlickeisen
Defenders of Wildlife

P.S. Defenders of Wildlife isn’t taking this announcement lightly. We will continue to push for sound, science-based management of wolves in Wyoming and elsewhere. Please watch your email tomorrow for details on our rapid response plan and other ways you can help.

Rob Klavins of Oreon Wild notes: "As many of you already know, amongst the many anti-environmental riders that have been attached to the appropriations bill is a measure that would pre-emptively insulate the rule from any legal review or challenge."

[Eliminating legal review or any sort of citizen challenge, of course, is one of the the usual commonplace tyrannies coming from the business captured Congress of our day.--Chris]

Wally Sykes of North East Oregon Ecosystems adds: "I called USFWS at 1-800-344-WILD (9453) and held for at least a half hour
to get through. But it was worth it, the operator said there were 100 more calls waiting and they were deluged.
There is no basis for this Wyoming plan other than political blackmail."

Letters concerning the recent reestablishment of the Teanaway wolf pack in the Central Cascade region of Washington.