According to my small survey, America’s wildlife loathe the Koch Brothers. And like vulnerable people across the country, they’re awfully happy to have a loud Brooklyn-accented voice demanding real, fundamental change. Run Bernie run!
- Bill McKibben*
March 25, 2016
Presidential candidate welcomes friendly feathered friend as messenger of peace
According to the local "Willamette Week," the bird appeared to be a sparrow but according to Twitter it was basically just an awesome moment:
. . . he fits no one’s stereotype of an enviro. He doesn’t put on a spandex suit and go cross-country skiing; he doesn’t, I’m guessing, meditate to reduce his stress levels. He doesn’t go on and on about the woods and the rivers — he goes on and on about working class Vermonters who can’t afford health care and heating oil. His issue is inequality and unfairness, and it has been from the start. And for those of us who do work mostly on the environment, that’s just the kind of ally we need. Because it’s a constant reminder that this battle is for people, who need renewable energy so they can break the constant cycle of struggling to pay the fuel bill, and because it will be the source of good jobs. And because it will be one of the chief ways we break with the plutocrats, many of them in the fossil fuel industry, who are ruining both our atmosphere and our democracy.
Make no mistake — Bernie Sanders isn’t really running against Hillary Clinton. He’s running against the Koch Brothers, and all that they represent: taken together they’re the richest man on earth. They’ve made their money in oil and gas (they’re the largest leaseholders in the Alberta tar sands, on the far end of the Keystone Pipeline). They spend their money to break unions, to shut out solar power, to further concentrate America’s wealth. They’ll spend at least $900 million on the next election, and my guess is that if Bernie Sanders catches fire they’ll spend far more than that — because he knows he’s got their number. They know, in their heart of hearts, that there’s two of them and hundreds of millions of us, and that’s got to be a little scary.
After lunch, right about the time that Bernie Sanders was actually announcing his run for president, I went for a walk in the woods, and polled three chickadees, two wild turkeys, one vernal pool of chirping wood frogs and a random sample of several tree species. You have to bear in mind that this is in Vermont, so there may be a favorite-son effect, but all of them were overjoyed that Sanders was in the race.
And I think I might speak for at least a few other environmentalists who feel the same way. Here’s why.
Read the entire essay here.First, he’s a stand-up guy. When we told him about the Keystone Pipeline in the summer of 2011, he immediately set to work helping us block it. He strategized, he used his bully pulpit in the Senate to spread the word, and he devoted staff time to pressuring the State Department. Contrast that with, say, Barack Obama who was mostly silent about climate change his whole first term, and managed to make it all the way through the 2012 campaign without discussing it. Or Hillary Clinton, who after initially saying she was “inclined” to approve Keystone has gone entirely mum on the most iconic environmental issue of our time. Who showed up in New York for the People’s Climate March? Bernie Sanders. Who said, straightforwardly in today’s official announcement, “the peril of global climate change, with catastrophic consequences, is the central challenge of our times and our planet.” That would be Bernie Sanders.
Something was amiss in Arizona on Tuesday. As Hillary Clinton claimed victory in the state's Democratic primary, thousands of voters were left out to dry, with shuttered polling places, endless lines, and widespread reports of disenfranchisement.
In Maricopa County, which includes the capital Phoenix, voters waited up to five hours to cast a ballot after the County Elections Office slashed the number of polling sites from 200 in 2012 to just 60 this year. As the state's most populous county, this amounted to more than 20,000 voters for every available polling location.
Notably, many Latino areas were left with either just one or no polling places. Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell defended that decision, saying, "we looked at an area, and factored into that how many early ballots we usually get in that area and how many people normally vote at the polls. We didn’t look at it as legislative districts. We looked at the overall picture of our voters."
In response, Arizona Central columnist Elvia Diaz wrote, "So, it is no coincidence many poor and predominantly Latino areas didn’t get a polling place. Purcell and her staff figured few of them vote anyway. She just decided to discount them. Really."
And despite the sizable turnout, major news networks, including CNN, called the race just minutes after polls closed while many voters would still wait hours before even casting a ballot.
Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, expressed frustration over the early call. "I’m not predicting victory, but I’m not predicting defeat, either," he told CNN. "I mean, we have to wait and see 'til the votes are counted."
The Arizona Democratic Party is also investigating reports that numerous Democratic voters were mistakenly identified as "independent" in the voter database, which would exclude them from the closed primary. Many of the misidentified voters were given provisional ballots, which may not have even been counted.
As the Phoenix New Times reports, "the day was so hectic, that as it became clear Clinton won, Sanders supporter Sheila Ryan said she just couldn’t believe it: 'What about all the provisional ballots? What about all the ballots from [people still in line]? Are those getting counted?'"
What's more, just days before the vote, the state's Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed a law making "felony for anyone but a family member, roommate, caregiver, postal worker or elections official to collect early ballots," the Associated Press reported. The new law made it "nearly impossible for voter-outreach groups to collect and drop off early ballots."
As University of Florida professor Michael McDonald pointed out, Arizona is one of the states that would have required federal approval to alter its voting laws until the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
As Sanders supporter Patti Serrano told the "Phoenix New Times," "I think there’s voter suppression going on, and it is obviously targeting particular Democrats. Many working-class people don’t have the privilege to be able to stand in line for three hours."
There were other issues too. A number of polling places reportedly ran out of ballots while four locations in Tucson received bomb threats forcing at least one to evacuate.
The disenfranchisement did not escape the attention of others, either, including Sanders himself.
Ultimately, Clinton was credited with winning 57.8 percent of the vote to Sanders' 39.8 percent. But more than have 36,000 people signed a White House petition calling on the Obama administration to investigate the voter fraud and suppression in Arizona.
Have a Happy Easter, friends.
Hope you have enough to eat.
Is it Spring Break yet?