Saturday, February 27, 2010

Baker Birds and a Few Interesting Articles

In this Issue:

- Hardy Spring Bird Arrivals and Harassment of Bald Eagles

- PolluterHarmony- #1 matchmaking site for polluters, industry lobbyists, & politicians!
(Must see humorous video)

- Glenn Greenwald on Health Care Plan without Public Option

- Krugman on the"Health Care Summit" and the Republican Plan

- Supreme Court Decision on Corporate Campaign Spending

Hardy Spring Bird Arrivals and Harassment of Bald Eagles

The mild winter may be responsible for people witnessing birds arriving back to Baker County earlier than usual this year.

Take all this with several grains of salt, as it is certainly not a scientifically designed study ( we are talking anecdotal), but....

Last year I saw my first Red-winged Blackbirds on February 20th, in 2007 I saw them on February 9th, in 2006 I saw them on February 2nd, this year I have seen large flocks (60 or more) around the valley since January 11th.
Red-winged Blackbird

I saw my first Mountain Blue Bird in 2006 on March 19th, in 2008 I first saw them on March 5th, but this year I saw them on February 14, and three more on February 23rd up on Houghton Creek Road.
Mountain Bluebird

The Say's Phoebe is a hardy flycatcher fist recorded in Oregon back in 1838 by John James Audubon. In "The Birds of Oregon" (Jewett and Gabrielson, 1940) it is described as ". . . a hardy species that starts its northward movement almost as soon as do the Robins and Bluebirds." They report it being recorded as early as February 28th in Wallowa County. The birds can be seen perched on fences and telephone wires in hot open country, often near old dilapidated abandoned buildings where they like to build nests. I saw my first Say's Phoebe in 2006 on February 25th, but this year I saw one on February 14.

Robins are appearing now in hordes along the Burnt River between Bridgeport and Unity Reservoir--at least a thousand were there on the 18th.
American Robin

Also saw my first winter Ferruginous Hawk on February 1, in Baker Valley (never identified one here in winter previously, although they probably were here). They are the largest of our Buteos, a bird of the sagebrush country and grassy plains of the West, preying on ground squirrels and other small rodents. They are truly an American buteo, with much of their summer breeding, year-round, and winter ranges right here in the western U.S. I rarely see them except down to the west of Huntington in Baker County, and their population seems to be on a downward trend.

Ferruginous Hawk

The differences in dates could be due to happenstance, but I do get out and about quite a bit. At a minimum, it is likely due to the mild winter, but others have interpreted the earlier arrivals and northward push in the range of many species as being related to climate change/global warming. I personally don't have enough data for Baker County to conclude that is the case, but it is tempting.

Bald Eagles on Eagle Creek
Bald Eagles Roosting on Eagle Creek, February 15th.

On February 15th, I counted 33 Bald Eagles in Richland roosting at the confluence of Eagle Creek and the Powder River (16 in one tree). Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, some yahoo beer drinking ranch hands started shooting with a rifle in that general direction from the Powder River bridge (into what is now an Idaho Power "preserve") at the west end of the reservoir, and the eagles were flying off their roosts at 4:35 PM after hearing the gunfire. Friends who live in Richland told me that on Thursday, they saw only 6 on the roosts at that time until 5 PM when they left. ODFW informed me this week that both Golden Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks were found shot to death beneath those same trees in 2009.
Baker County Bald Eagle

PolluterHarmony- #1 matchmaking site for polluters, industry lobbyists, & politicians!
(From a Friend In Union County)


Glenn Greenwald on Reconciliation, Democrats Dumping the Public Option, and Obama's Sidelining of Kucinich and other Health Care Progressives:

Glenn Greenwald: Dems Hiding Behind Filibuster to Justify Political Inaction on Public Option

AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond first to Senator Lindsey Graham?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, the idea that reconciliation is some sort of unique or exotic instrument in the Senate is just so blatantly false, and it’s not really hard to see why that’s so. Reconciliation is nothing more than a longstanding Senate rule that allows for certain measures to pass with fifty-one votes and can bypass the filibuster.

The Republicans have used reconciliation repeatedly when they were in the majority. In fact, Judd Gregg, in 2005, went to the floor of the Senate and gave a vigorous speech attacking Democrats for the suggestion that there was something inappropriate about it. He said it was just a standard rule of the Senate, it’s nothing more than majority rule.
Many healthcare provisions in the past have been enacted through reconciliation, including COBRA and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

So the idea that there’s something anti-democratic about passing a bill with the support of fifty-one elected senators is extraordinarily Orwellian, and the case of the Republicans’ criticism is incredibly hypocritical.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But the argument that obviously the healthcare legislation is such a huge piece of legislation and involves such a fundamental change in the way that the government provides services to the people, what about that argument that reconciliation should not be used?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think there have been other examples in the past. As I said, COBRA was an extraordinarily significant change to the way in which we provide healthcare coverage, requiring employers to allow continuing coverage after employees leave or are fired. Certainly, the Children’s Health Insurance Program drastically expanded healthcare coverage in the United States. There have been enormous tax cuts for the wealthy under the Bush administration that didn’t have sixty votes, but had fifty votes, and were done through reconciliation, an extraordinary transfer of wealth in this country.
So there’s no magnitude test or any other size requirement, invented now by the Republicans, and by some Democrats, to justify avoiding reconciliation in order to bring real reform.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about President Obama and the public option.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, to me, the way in which the Democrats have conducted themselves concerning the public option is really quite amazing, not because of what they’ve done, but because of how blatant they’re being about it.
The public option, of course, all along was already a compromise from what most progressives wanted, who wanted single payer and were told by most Democratic politicians for a long time that single payer was the optimal course. The public option was already a means of doing nothing other than at least providing some competition to the private health insurance industry. And all year long, Democratic senators and the White House pretended that they were in favor of the public option. They kept insisting, “We’re behind the public option. We want the public option,” even though there was all sorts of evidence that the White House was secretly negotiating with the health insurance industry to make sure that it would be excluded from the final bill.
AMY GOODMAN: What kind of evidence?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, they’re the fact that senators ended up saying that in private meetings with the White House, it was made clear to them that the public option was not something that was a priority for the White House and that they would end up happy to see it gone. Health insurance lobbyists were coming in and out of the White House. And the reason they didn’t end up vigorously opposing healthcare reform was because there would be no competition for the private health insurance industry in the form of the public option. And, of course, the final bill didn’t have a public option, and the White House did nothing to support it.

But what’s most incredible was that the excuse that they gave to progressives was that the reason that we couldn’t have a public option was because there were fifty Democratic senators, or fifty-one Democratic senators, who supported it, but there weren’t sixty, and because of the filibuster rule, sadly, the public option just couldn’t get into the bill, and there was just nothing the White House could do, as much as the President wanted that to happen.

Well, now you have a situation where everybody is talking about doing healthcare reform through reconciliation, where only fifty votes, not sixty votes, are required. And what does the President do? He immediately, when he finally unveils his first bill, excludes the public option from the bill, even as he says we’re going to use a process that will only require fifty votes. And you even saw Senator Jay Rockefeller, who spent the year pretending to be so devoted to the public option that he said he will not relent in ensuring that it gets passed, that there is no healthcare reform without a public option, now that it can actually pass and become a reality, he turns around and says, “I’m not inclined to vote for it in reconciliation.”

This is what Democrats do. They use the filibuster rule as an excuse to their supporters to justify their inaction. They’ve been doing this for years. And now that the sham is exposed, because they’re really going to pass healthcare reform with fifty votes, they just turn around and so blatantly say, “Well, actually, we’ve been telling you all year we have fifty votes for a public option. Even now that we only need fifty votes, we’re still not going to do it.” It’s really quite extraordinary.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m going to ask you about single payer, but first we’re going to break. Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and blogger at We’ll be back with him in a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest is Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and blogger for
As we talk about the healthcare debate and other issues, I want to read you a quote from Quentin Young, the national coordinator of the National Health—Physicians for a National Health Program. He was talking about the fact that PNHP was not invited to this bipartisan healthcare summit. He said in this quote, “Similarly, requests from Reps. Dennis Kucinich [of Ohio,] Anthony Weiner of New York and Peter Welch of Vermont that single-payer advocates be included in the meeting have apparently gone unanswered.”

There is a lot of hoopla over this being bipartisan. That isn’t to be confused with representing different options.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, first of all, one of the things that’s most amazing is that single payer and the public option both poll infinitely better than the healthcare bill itself, than the Senate healthcare bill that the President is advocating. And despite that, what you see all the time when they talk about bipartisanship is shifting the terms of the debate onto, essentially, the right-wing playing field to accommodate Republican views, which basically means there should be no healthcare reform, and excluding views that are to the left of anything that is essentially a conservative idea.
And so, Anthony Weiner and Dennis Kucinich have both been the leading—two of the leading participants in the healthcare debate from the very start, but because they want to move the healthcare debate into the area that’s actually popular, which is providing either single payer or at least a robust public option, they’re excluded from the start. And this is the Democratic White House excluding anything to the left of conservative ideas in defining what the scope of the debate is. And, of course, that’s something that happens in issue after issue.

See the whole video segment:

See also:
Healthcare Summit Ends in Deadlock; Single-Payer Advocates Excluded (<-for Text)


Krugman on the"Health Care Summit" and the Republican Plan

". . . . What really struck me about the meeting, however, was the inability of Republicans to explain how they propose dealing with the issue that, rightly, is at the emotional center of much health care debate: the plight of Americans who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. In other advanced countries, everyone gets essential care whatever their medical history. But in America, a bout of cancer, an inherited genetic disorder, or even, in some states, having been a victim of domestic violence can make you uninsurable, and thus make adequate health care unaffordable.

One of the great virtues of the Democratic plan is that it would finally put an end to this unacceptable case of American exceptionalism. But what’s the Republican answer? Mr. Alexander was strangely inarticulate on the matter, saying only that “House Republicans have some ideas about how my friend in Tullahoma can continue to afford insurance for his wife who has had breast cancer.” He offered no clue about what those ideas might be.

In reality, House Republicans don’t have anything to offer to Americans with troubled medical histories. On the contrary, their big idea — allowing unrestricted competition across state lines — would lead to a race to the bottom. The states with the weakest regulations — for example, those that allow insurance companies to deny coverage to victims of domestic violence — would set the standards for the nation as a whole. The result would be to afflict the afflicted, to make the lives of Americans with pre-existing conditions even harder.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House G.O.P. plan. That analysis is discreetly worded, with the budget office declaring somewhat obscurely that while the number of uninsured Americans wouldn’t change much, “the pool of people without health insurance would end up being less healthy, on average, than under current law.” But here’s the translation: While some people would gain insurance, the people losing insurance would be those who need it most. Under the Republican plan, the American health care system would become even more brutal than it is now.

So what did we learn from the summit? What I took away was the arrogance that the success of things like the death-panel smear has obviously engendered in Republican politicians. At this point they obviously believe that they can blandly make utterly misleading assertions, saying things that can be easily refuted, and pay no price. And they may well be right
Supreme Court Decision on Corporate Campaign Spending-
New Poll

If the Congress and State Legislatures weren't so corroded by the corruption of corporate money, a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll indicates that public opposition to the Supreme Court Decision on corporate campaign spending is so great that a responsive democratic government would have a good chance of passing a constitutional amendment to overturn it. Unfortunately, the Congress, and increasingly, the State Legislatures, three-fourths of whom would have to approve a constitutional amendment if it got through Congress, are owned lock, stock, and barrel by corporate interests. The fact that a particular issue is strongly supported or opposed by their constituents rarely seems to phase them any more. Witness the demise of the very popular single payer/Medicare for all and Public Option proposals for health care reform and the continued ineffective action to significantly reduce mass immigration.

Poll: Large majority opposes Supreme Court's decision on campaign financing

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Americans of both parties overwhelmingly oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, and most favor new limits on such spending, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court's Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent "strongly" opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.

The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).

The results suggest a strong reservoir of bipartisan support on the issue for President Obama and congressional Democrats, who are in the midst of crafting legislation aimed at limiting the impact of the high court's decision.
" (See link above for rest of article)
Udall, Dodd Propose Constitutional Amendment to Reverse Ruling on Corporate Electioneering
from Democracy Now! 2/25/10:

In other news from Washington, Democratic Senators Tom Udall of New Mexico and Chris Dodd of Connecticut have introduced a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to elect and defeat candidates. In a five-to-four decision last month, the Court overturned century-old restrictions on corporations, unions and other interest groups from using their vast treasuries to advocate for a specific candidate. The Udall-Dodd measure would allow for government regulation of campaign fundraising and spending at the federal and state level.