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Thanks orl

Here’s another Local Hero, the theme from one of my favorite movies.



Bernie Sanders was just getting comfortable on Stephen Colbert’s couch late last month, settling into a mostly freewheeling interview to promote his new book and tick through his now familiar but still furious grievances against corporate greed, political corruption, and Establishment thinking. Yet when the host asked about his future, the 81-year-old senator got uncharacteristically quiet.

To some of the people closest to him who were watching the broadcast, Sanders’s words suddenly seemed almost strained, but certainly calibrated to make as little news as possible. Would he be running for reelection to the Senate in two years? “Well, I’ve got a little while to make that determination; I’ll make it at the appropriate time,” he said carefully. Colbert looked surprised and asked if he had a deadline to make a decision. “Not really. People in Vermont know me and we have a pretty good relationship. At the appropriate time, we’ll let them know.” The studio fell weirdly silent. Colbert’s rejoinder — “You answered that like a boyfriend asked where this relationship was going” — broke the unexpected solemnity of the moment, and he moved on. But the heaviness lingered for the progressive hero’s longtime friends and advisers both in Washington and in Vermont.

From afar, after all, it would appear that Sanders is “all systems go” for another round in the Senate. And, well, duh: He’s at the peak of his political powers, and anyone can see he’s having a great time running the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he’s quickly transforming into a marquee destination for exposing capitalist overreach. Just this week, he used the threat of a subpoena to arm-twist Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz into appearing to answer for what Sanders called “his illegal anti-union activities.” And despite never reaching the White House himself, Sanders has the president’s ear far more than anyone would have reasonably anticipated. In recent weeks, Joe Biden had Sanders over for a previously unreported dinner, and then called him directly to inform him of his pick for Labor secretary.

So yes, a longtime Sanders friend told me, surprised I was even asking, “he intends to run again.” But even this friend, who’s discussed Sanders’s newfound influence with him at length, stopped for a second when I asked if the senator had revealed those plans outright: “More or less.” The truth is that Sanders has yet to convey anything solid to even his inner circle, a group of aides and allies who don’t doubt his commitment to doing the job, his pride at having reached this level of political influence, or his likely unwillingness to let it go voluntarily — but who are equally aware of his age. None of his close friends or advisers are pushing Sanders to do anything but run again, and they universally say he’s bursting with energy even in private. But none have forgotten his late-2019 heart attack. Sanders, who would be 89 at the end of his next term, won’t discuss his physical well-being with his staff or buddies, and gets frustrated when people ask — just as he has little patience for questions about the direction and leadership of the progressive movement in a post-Sanders era.

Are these legitimate questions? Sanders, for one, doesn’t think so. He is well aware that he doesn’t technically have to decide on reelection for a long time — Vermont’s filing deadline isn’t until August of next year — and he’s made clear to reporters who ask that he considers the entire topic a political distraction. (“Keep wondering,” he told the New York Times last month. “The purpose of elections is to elect people to do work, not to keep talking about elections.”) Nor does he face the sort of pressure to raise money and build momentum that other Democratic senators do ahead of 2024; there’s no chance of losing his seat in bluer-than-the-ocean Vermont. Plus, some around him think, why should he make any announcement about his own plans before Biden formally announces his run for reelection — a race Sanders technically hasn’t ruled out if Biden passes on it? And anyone who expects Sanders to make a definitive announcement soon forgets his famous procrastination and his less-known agonizing about the best way to maximize his political capital. Veterans of his two presidential campaigns sometimes still act traumatized about the behind-the-scenes wrangling over an announcement date, both times.

Yet Sanders’s presidential ambitions are almost certainly behind him, and he’s conceded that he won’t have the votes to pass Medicare for All, his signature proposal, no matter how high he climbs in the Senate. Meanwhile, his actions over the next few years are certain to shape the trajectory of the progressive movement he jump-started with his presidential campaigns — a world with considerable factions and debates about its future that could break further into the open if he were to retire or recede from view.

His recent activities don’t look like the work of a man who’s planning to wind down anytime soon. (Even some of his own closest associates didn’t realize until I pointed it out that he’d formally submitted 2024 reelection papers as early as four years ago, though he likely did so for fundraising purposes, not to declare his plans.) On the contrary, he has spent some recent weekends crisscrossing Vermont, and has surprised even some of his own advisers with his reinvigorated interest in his office’s in-state operations after years of hearing local whispers that he was getting a bit too nationally focused. Those closest to him say that between his committee work and his book tour — and his penchant for getting energy from his young crowds — he is noticeably more upbeat than he has been in years, no matter the persistent questions about the tour’s high ticket prices.

It’s understandable. Back in early 2015, when he was making final decisions about a presidential bid that the entire political world was ready to laugh off, he told aides he was tired of being treated like a back-bencher. By the next summer, his place in the left’s firmament was set. Seven years after that, his direct line to Biden was so well-established that when Ron Klain left his job as chief of staff earlier this year, Sanders had no trouble securing a table-setting meeting with his replacement, Jeff Zients, almost as soon as he settled into the gig.

Still, it’s the Senate work that’s animating him now that he’s running the HELP panel. “This is [Ted] Kennedy’s committee, the committee that he always wanted,” said a colleague. In practice, that’s meant signaling to the heads of certain large corporations that he’s serious about making them sweat. He’s already recently cheered Eli Lilly’s decision to cut its insulin prices and pushed it to go further, and in addition to hammering Schultz, he’s previewed a plan to grill the CEO of Moderna, a company he described to Punchbowl as “the poster child for pharmaceutical corporate greed.” He has promised to make this executive hot seat a recurring show. “I don’t know what Bernie would want to do more in the whole world than have a socialist running the committee that’s about health and labor,” said a giddy senior union ally who’d been skeptical of Sanders’s presidential campaigns but has now started working closely with him.

Nonetheless, it’s not just that he’s having fun. Sanders has publicly refused to close the door on a 2024 presidential campaign in the unlikely event that Biden doesn’t run, and he has been frustrated when some close to him have conceded that he won’t reach the White House, or that they’re ready to move onto new progressive heroes. (One of his 2020 campaign co-chairs, California congressman Ro Khanna, was briefly floated as a Biden challenger, much to the chagrin of some of Sanders’s closest remaining allies.) This can be read as less an admission that he still wants to be president than an acknowledgment that he retains significant political influence as long as it remains a theoretical option.

Sanders appears unwilling to discuss the obvious variable hanging over all this: his age. Those who spend the most time with him have no interest in the simple fact that he’s 81, even as the D.C. gerontocracy has become the topic of more open conversation with California senator Dianne Feinstein’s declining health at 89. Sanders doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all, they point out, repeating that yes, one’s health can turn quickly in one’s 80s, but that different people also age very differently.

All this, of course, probably sounds familiar. An oft-underestimated 80-something finally wielding the kind of power he sought for decades being reticent to confront questions of legacy and succession, uncomfortable discussing the realities of aging in detail, insistent that he’s made his plans clear even as he drags his feet on announcing them? As one top progressive pointed out, “It’s a lot like the conversation Biden is having.”

Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

I would love to see Bernie run for president again and my octogenarian ass would be out working harder for him (in 3 states) than I did in 2015 and 2019. Last week I had a leak in my water heater in my garage and I had to move a lot of stuff around and took the opportunity to trash a lot of stuff, but I couldn’t let go of my boxes of Bernie yard signs. This democracy needs him. And the people want him.


Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

Larry Summers, smdh.


Two things others things that you can count on besides Death,Taxes. The Banksters and the MIC will get their $$$$$$


It will be interesting to see if this is within the spirit of the law. Rationally, I don’t believe so, but in Texas, I think the judge will rule that it is.


This was the best part of Real Time last night.




How true in the good ole USA

Screenshot 2023-03-11 172450.png

Since it a “Tune” night i thought i would add the GQP’s no1 hit song since the New Year at least.

Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

In today’s post at DWT. Howie Klein discusses the challenge the dems have to hold on to the senate with 20 seats in danger to rethugs. Their best hope is that the “crackpot extremist” rethugs continue to attack Medicare and Social Security. And he resurrects this “Granny Off the Cliff” video.

Gallagher doesn’t want to be a crackpot extremist. He wants to come off as a mainstream conservative Republican. But that can be a problem in a House Republican conference dominated by fascists. Because McCarthy is the weakest Speaker in contemporary history, he— and the GOP agenda— are captives of the extreme right right fringe. The radicals have the ability to force the party to take extreme positions that members like Gallagher have to support. And there’s an especially big one coming up: the budget.

There’s more –

Ummm… this poll was taken a few weeks ago, and cuts to Medicaid and Obamacare remain extremely unpopular. No problem in deeply gerrymandered, lo-info congressional districts that elect crackpots like Marjorie Traitor Greene (R+22), Ronny Jackson (R+26), Gym Jordan (R+20) and Jeff Duncan (R+21). But statewide… something like that could even save Joe Manchin in West Virginia, let alone squelch GOP chances to flip Senate seats in Arizona, Nevada, Virginia, Montana, Michigan, Ohio and, of course, Wisconsin.

Medicare survey.jpg



Bernie is all talk and no action. He just can’t get things done. NOT!!


Maybe, just maybe, Washington isn’t a total write-off after all.

If our U.S. Senator Roger Marshall can find common ground with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, maybe there’s hope for this country’s government after all.

The ray of sunshine comes via Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club, the local bastion of everything conservative.

Marshall spoke there Friday and most of it was GOP talking points we’ve all heard before: The southern border’s too open, the federal deficit’s too high, China’s a threat, etc.

But then someone asked a question about prescription drugs — and Marshall’s answer was a bombshell: He’s working on that with Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.

“Believe it or not, Bernie Sanders and I have a growing relationship,” Marshall said. “He’s actually very bright, and he’s very thoughtful.”

Upon hearing that, my first thought was: Cue the Apocalypse in 3, 2, 1 . . .

But then it didn’t happen. What did happen was some surprised gasps and a woman sitting near me remarked, “Oh dear.”

It’s not a total bromance just yet, as Marshall continued: “Often we’ll agree on the same goals, where we disagree, of course, is how to get there. His solution is always more government and my solution is more innovation.”

But the pair have set those differences aside for now to focus on what they do agree on: that mysterious middlemen are needlessly raising the prices you pay for the prescription drugs you need.

“People are concerned about their out-of-pocket costs, and this is where Bernie and I agree: that something called the pharmacy benefit manager is controlling that market and taking a big chunk of that pie out of the equation, and really brings no value to it,” Marshall said.

Pharmacy benefit managers are the companies that decide what drugs your insurance company will cover, called the “formulary,” and how much the insurer will pay for the drugs.

Benefit managers can usually use the bargaining power of volume sales to negotiate discounts or rebates with drug companies.

But the system has come under fire for lack of transparency in how much of those discounts are actually passed through to consumers.

Plus, there’s nothing that prevents big pharmacies from owning their own benefit management companies, a clear and present conflict of interest.

And, benefit managers are often paid a commission based on a percentage of the price of the drugs they put in the formulary, so the complaint there is that they have a reverse incentive to favor more expensive drugs instead of cheaper alternatives.

Hence, the Marshall-Sanders partnership.

“He and I are working together, maybe one of the most liberal people and most conservative people in the Senate, coming together (to) solve this,” Marshall said.

One of the benefits of being what my industry calls a “senior” journalist (read that “old”) is that you remember the way things used to be.

And I remember the days before our politics became so flat-out nasty that it’s a jaw-dropping exception today for a conservative senator and liberal senator to work together on something to benefit the American people.

The Kansas-specific example that comes to mind is the longtime productive friendship and working relationship of Senate legends Republican Bob Dole of Kansas and Democrat George McGovern of South Dakota.

Dole was a conservative’s conservative and McGovern, a champion of liberalism. Both were their party’s nominees for president.

But maybe their most enduring legacy was working together to hammer out food policy — reforming food stamps and school lunches and establishing WIC, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.

Together, they won the World Food Prize in 2008. One of the biggest honors in the movement to end world hunger is called the McGovern-Dole Leadership Award.

The cooperation between Marshall and Sanders hasn’t reached that level yet. And with the current divisive climate in Washington, it may never.

But it is a hopeful start.






I don’t see GOPers voting for Biden because of this move. This has the potential to hurt working families as the unemployment rates will go up. Dems will have some explaining to do in swing districts.


To add..




Somehow I missed this..

News: @AdamSchiff has withdrawn his application to be in the Congressional Progressive Caucus as he tries to bolster his progressive bona fides. The application would be "divisive," per @RepJayapal https://t.co/daSI1hAQ18

— Jennifer Haberkorn (@jenhab) March 8, 2023

Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

Goody, goody for Schiff.


Won’t hurt him for the primary. Khanna, Lee, and Porter will duke it out for the second spot since CA is a ranked choice state.



The Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has a predictably unsparing view of the effects of “unfettered capitalism”: it “destroys anything that gets in its way in the pursuit of profits. It destroys the environment. It destroys our democracy. It discards human beings without a second thought. It will never provide workers with the fulfillment that Americans have a right to expect from their careers. [And it is] propelled by uncontrollable greed and contempt for human decency.”

The two-time presidential candidate makes his case with the usual horrifying numbers about the acceleration of inequality in America: 90% of our wealth is owned by one-tenth of 1% of the population; the wealth of 725 US billionaires increased 70% during the pandemic to more than $5tn; BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street now control assets of $20tn and are major shareholders in 96% of S&P 500 companies.

Sanders recites these statistics with religious fervor, and poses fundamental questions for our time: “Do we believe in the Golden Rule? [or] do we accept … that gold rules – and that lying, cheating, and stealing are OK if you’re powerful enough to get away with it?”

Bernie believes (and I strongly agree) that it’s long past the time when we should be paying at least as much attention to American oligarchs as we do to those surrounding Vladimir Putin. Our homegrown plutocrats “own” our democracy.

“They spend tens of billions … on campaign contributions … to buy politicians who will do their bidding. They spend billions more on lobbying firms to influence governmental decisions” at every level. And “to a significant degree”, the oligarchs “own” the media. That is why our prominent pundits “rarely raise issues that will undermine the privileged positions of their employers” and “there is little public discussion about the power of corporate America and how oligarchs wield that power to benefit their interests at the expense of working families”.

We were reminded this week of how this system works. Joe Biden released a budget with perfectly modest proposals for tax increases, like a 25% minimum tax on the wealthiest Americans and a seven-percentage-point raise in the corporate tax rate to 28%, which would still leave it seven points lower than it was before Donald Trump gutted it with his gigantic tax giveaways.

Instantly, experts owned and operated by the billionaires started spewing their familiar bilge, like these moving words from the Cato Institute: “Higher tax rates on the wages of a narrow segment of the United States’ most productive executives and business leaders will have strong disincentives against their continued work and other negative behavioral effects that translate into a less dynamic, slower growing economy.

“Higher taxes on investment income target the financial rewards to successful entrepreneurs who undertake risks and persevere through failure to build high return businesses that provide welfare enhancing goods and services to people around the world.”

Sanders quotes one of the most prescient Americans of the mid-20th century, from 1944: “As our industrial economy expanded [our] political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.”
The name of that dangerous revolutionary: Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Several decades before that, Theodore Roosevelt similarly bemoaned the “absence of effective state, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting” which “has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power”.

There is something extremely refreshing about an author who assumes it should be obvious that billionaires should not be allowed to exist – and has perfectly reasonable proposals about how they should be eliminated. At the height of the pandemic, Sanders proposed the Make Billionaires Pay Act, which would have imposed a 60% tax on all the wealth gained by 467 billionaires between 18 March 2020 and January 2021.

“But why stop at one year?” he now asks. After all, the 1950s were economic boom times in America – and under a Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, “the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was around 92%. America thrived. Unions were strong. Working-class Americans could afford to support themselves and buy homes on a single income.” And the richest 20% controlled a measly (by current standards) 42.8% of the wealth.
Bernie Sanders: ‘Oligarchs run Russia. But guess what? They run the US as well’

Sanders’ 99.5 Percent Act would only touch the top 0.5% of Americans. “But the families of billionaires in America, who have a combined net worth of over $5tn, would owe up to $3tn in estate taxes.” He would accomplish this with a 45% tax rate on estates worth $3.5m and a 65% rate on those worth more than $1bn.

There is much more here, including a convincing case for Medicare for All and an excoriation of a for-profit healthcare system which spends twice as much per citizen as France or Germany and still manages to leaves tens of millions of Americans un- or underinsured, all while nourishing an obscene pharmaceuticals business in which profits jumped by 90% in 2021.

I first toured the castles of the Loire Valley as a teenager in the company of the family of my uncle, Jerry Kaiser, a 60s radical and a very early opponent of the war in Vietnam. As we absorbed the opulence of one chateau after another, Jerry had only one question: “What took them so long to have a revolution?”

The noble purpose of Bernie Sanders’ powerful new book is to get millions of Americans to ask that question of themselves – right now.