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HerbChestnut's Journal
HerbChestnut's Journal
December 1, 2015

Ipsos/Reuters Poll w/ Filters Cleared: Bernie 34%, Hillary 32%, O'M 6%


Has basically the same number of responses as the other poll recently posted. Let's not overreact to polls...
November 30, 2015

AP: Clinton Opened State Department Office to Dozens of Corporate Donors, Dem Fundraisers


WASHINGTON (AP) — As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton opened her office to dozens of influential Democratic party fundraisers, former Clinton administration and campaign loyalists, and corporate donors to her family's global charity, according to State Department calendars obtained by The Associated Press.

The woman who would become a 2016 presidential candidate met or spoke by phone with nearly 100 corporate executives, Clinton charity donors and political supporters during her four years at the State Department between 2009 and 2013, records show. Many of those meetings and calls, formally scheduled by her aides, involved heads of companies and organizations that were pursuing business or private interests with the Obama administration at the time, including with the State Department while Clinton was in charge.

In addition, at least 60 of those who met with Clinton have donated or pledged program commitments to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. A dozen have been among Hillary Clinton's most reliable political fundraisers, bundling more than $100,000 in donations during her failed 2008 presidential campaign or providing larger amounts to Clinton-allied super political action committees this time. And at least six entities represented in the meetings paid former President Bill Clinton lucrative fees for speeches.

The AP found no evidence of legal or ethical conflicts in Clinton's meetings, in its examination of 1,294 pages from the calendars. Her sit-downs with business leaders were not unique among recent secretaries of state, who sometimes called on corporate executives to aid in international affairs, according to archived documents.

But the difference with Clinton's meetings was that she was a 2008 presidential contender who was widely expected to try again in 2016. Her availability to luminaries from politics, business and charity shows the extent to which her office became a sounding board for their interests. And her ties with so many familiar faces from those intersecting worlds were complicated by their lucrative financial largess and political support over the years — even during her State Department tenure — for her campaigns and her husband's, and for her family's foundation.

This epitomizes Clinton and her campaign. Does she do things that are illegal? No. Are they shady? Absolutely. To her credit, she met with some influential people striving to better educational opportunities for kids around the world, which is great. But then she turns around and talks to folks from Pepsi Co. and others about international trade deals. And of course, all of these people are major donors to either her campaign or the Clinton Foundation. This includes heads of unions, at least one of which endorsed her candidacy in July.

I bolded the opening sentences of the last two paragraphs in the excerpt because they highlight what's wrong with this situation. It is an absolute conflict of interest to be dealing with so many influential and powerful people, and having them donate to your charitable organization, while gearing up a Presidential campaign. This is why Hillary Clinton comes off as untrustworthy.
November 30, 2015

How a small dose of depression-era Democratic Socialism is paying off today


This is from a University website, so I don't think they'll mind if I copy and paste the whole thing here. Enjoy.

UMaine tests Norway spruce to see if it makes the cut for construction

November 30, 2015 Advanced Materials for Infrastructure and Energy, Alumni, Economic Development, Signature and Emerging Areas

University of Maine scientists are testing wood from some of the 3 billion trees the Civilian Conservation Corps planted during the Great Depression.

Staff and students at the UMaine Advanced Structures and Composites Center are evaluating strength values (including bending and tension) of about 1,200 pieces of lumber milled from Norway spruce that grew in Maine, Vermont, three regions of New York and Wisconsin.

Seedlings of Norway spruce — a species not native to the U.S. — were planted in the 1930s and 1940s during President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s CCC program that put unemployed men to work and promoted conservation.

Stephen Shaler, director of the School of Forest Resources and associate director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, is the project’s principal investigator.

He and colleagues are testing Norway spruce to determine if it meets industry standards and thus can be included in the Spruce-Pine-Fir South grouping of wood species for construction-grade dimensional lumber.

Preliminary results, he says, look promising.

Norway spruce adapted to various soil conditions and grew relatively quickly and well in the cold Northeast climate, says Russell Edgar, wood composites manager at the UMaine Composites Center.

And its inclusion in the SPF South grouping would mean that some of those 3 billion trees could enter the North American lumber economy for the first time in history.

Edgar says it’s great to see renewed focus on wood products from the state being tested at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center that could have a positive effect locally and nationally.

“We’re very excited to do this type of work and assist industry in the state, region, country and beyond. It’s right in our wheelhouse,” says Edgar.

Jeff Easterling, president of Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA), says the potential to introduce Norway spruce into the lumber market represents what’s close to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It’s a big deal. This is the first new U.S. species to be tested in over 80 years. There’s not a lot of new species available for construction material, so historically … it’s very significant on a lot of fronts,” he says.

“The excitement level they (UMaine researchers) have for this project has been incredible … It just leads to a lot of good relationships with our organization and the industry itself.”

While Norway spruce has long been approved and is used regularly for construction in Europe, it needs to be tested here because of differences in U.S and European climate and soil.

UMaine’s ISO 17025 accredited testing laboratory is a valuable resource to NELMA and the industry, says Easterling.

Easterling and Edgar say it’s prime time to harvest Norway spruce that were seedlings in the ’30s and ’40s. Those trees are now 80–100 feet in height and their diameter at breast height ranges from about 16 to 26 inches.

It’s gratifying that efforts undertaken in the Depression-era could prove to be a boost for today’s economy, says Easterling.

“We’re reaping benefits of what they (CCC) did,” he says. “It opens up a broader wood basket for mills in the Northeast.” There’s a significant volume of this material that will immediately be available as a wood resource once the strength values are approved.”

Edgar says landowners with merchantable-sized Norway spruce trees could sell their large Norway spruce trees to mills.

Jethro Poulin, sales manager at Milan Lumber Company in New Hampshire, says procuring more lumber translates into added hours for workers, increased lumber production and potentially more jobs.

Alan Orcutt, mill manager at J.D. Irving’s Dixfield Sawmill in Maine, agrees.

And extra lumber volume could enhance East Coast mill operations’ ability to compete, says Orcutt, a UMaine graduate who majored in history.

The project also benefits students.

Benjamin Farber, a UMaine undergraduate from Danbury, Connecticut, says being a research assistant on the project has been one of his best academic experiences.

“I’m learning a lot about the mechanical properties of wood — this is basically my entire field put into this one trial and I’m able to learn step-by-step what’s going on and why it is important to my field,” says the forest operations, bioproducts and bioenergy major who’s concentrating in wood science.

“Not only that, but it is helping me get a head start for what I want to do at graduate school here at UMaine.”

In addition to training the next generation of wood scientists, Shaler says the project is positive for a number of stakeholders — UMaine, landowners, the lumber industry, the economy and state and federal government.

“The university is really important in its support of the forest products industry in the sense that we combine with industry, we combine with the federal government, we combine with the state government to be able to answer some of those questions that aren’t proprietary for a single mill or single company … they’re more industrywide,” he says.

The forest industry is one of many that works with UMaine, says Habib Dagher, director of the UMaine Composites Center.

“In addition to the exciting Norway spruce testing project, the Advanced Structures and Composites Center is currently working on nearly 200 research and development programs with companies across Maine, the U.S. and the world,” says Dagher.

“Our students interact with these companies and get paid to work on cutting-edge products and concepts.”
November 24, 2015

Hillary Supporters' strategy becomes clear

Over these last couple of weeks the tone from some of the Hillary camp has changed. Sure, they've always been a bit condescending and superior, but lately they've employed new tactics to distract from the real issues.

1. Distort Bernie's positions, which includes telling half truths. An example is the current healthcare debate. Bernie wants to install a universal healthcare system based on Medicare, but all you hear from the Hillary camp is, "Bernie wants to raise taxes on the middle class!!" Well, I suppose this is true, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Bernie's healthcare legislation would impose a 2.2% tax on people earning <$250,000, and the tax would scale from there in a progressive fashion. However, the tax increase would be more than offset by eliminating private insurance payments and end up *saving* tax payers money overall. Funny how that last bit never seems to get mentioned.

2. Claim Bernie won't be able to get anything passed in Congress and that he's being dishonest to the American people. This one is just sad because it's a self fulfilling prophecy and partially explains why we don't have a more progressive government. If you aren't willing to vote for the candidate that wants a progressive agenda, how do you ever expect to get one passed through Congress? It's not that complicated.

3. Cite poll after poll after poll claiming Bernie can't win and his supporters are just wasting their time. First of all, it's never a waste of time to support a candidate you sincerely believe in. I know enthusiasm is something lacking from the Clinton campaign, but some people believe that we can make this country a better place. Electing Bernie is a big step toward achieving that goal. Secondly, it would be foolish to give up 2 months out from the first votes being cast. The race is tighter than anybody thought it would be, and there's still a long ways to go.

4. Ignore facts at the convenience of their own beliefs. It's called cognitive dissonance, and boy is it ripe these days. Never mind the fact that Clinton's agenda and tone these last few weeks has echoed Republicans (Invoking 9/11 during the debate, campaigning against Universal Healthcare because it "raises taxes on the middle class&quot , but they pretend that Bernie doesn't offer any concrete policy proposals and that even if he did he doesn't offer a way to pay for them. Look, we're all adults here. We can all do our own research. The fact is, Bernie has offered detailed policy plans on a number of issues and ways to pay for them. I posted a handful on this very board about a month ago, all of which came directly from his website. If you were really concerned about what Bernie is proposing and how he intends to pay for it then you'd be out there looking up the information. It is readily available.

5. Turn anything Bernie related into something negative. There was a post yesterday about Bernie eating lunch, and a Hillary supporter came in just to post something derogatory. Seriously.

November 19, 2015

UnitedHealth Group may pull out of the Affordable Care Act Exchanges


This is just another reason why we need to do away with the private health insurance industry. Simply put, it's an industry that doesn't work for consumers, period.

A universal healthcare system is the way forward, and the sooner we adopt one the sooner we can get our poor and sick the care they deserve.
November 19, 2015

A Vote for Hillary is a vote against...

Universal Healthcare - Hillary has come out against, and is actively attacking, the universal healthcare plan proposed by Bernie and has not provided one of her own. Instead, she wants to "enhance" the Affordable Care Act, whatever that means. It's also worth noting here that Clinton has received significant sums of money from the pharmaceutical industry during this campaign.

Free Public College Tuition - Hillary opposes free public college tuition for everybody, justifying her position by saying that the middle class shouldn't pay to send Donald Trump's kids to college. With that logic we should stop funding libraries and high schools too.

Campaign Finance/Wall Street Reform - I lumped to two together because they're directly correlated. Hillary has said that she'll act 'tough' on Wall Street, but history proves otherwise. By now it's common knowledge that Wall Street firms have been the largest donor to her campaigns dating back to her Senate campaign in 2000, which was notably *before* the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent rebuilding process. She also doesn't support reinstating Glass-Steagall, and though she has said she wants something more comprehensive as a replacement she has yet to offer any concrete details. This seems suspicious given her relationship with Wall Street in the past.

A more Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy - I know that Bernie is no dove, but Hillary seems much more hawkish on foreign policy that either him or Obama. I can see her getting us involved in even more international conflict that we are already, and given her past voting history (I'm referring to the IWR of course), I question her judgement and foresight of consequences related to her foreign policy decisions.

These are just some of the reasons I can't support Hillary. Notice they're all *issues*. She honestly seems like a decent person, and she certainly is smart, but I feel like our country needs things like universal healthcare and campaign finance reform in order for ordinary people to live a decent life and have a voice. What say you?

November 17, 2015

Bernie's remarks on Paris and ISIS tonight were inspiring.

I hope folks take the time to watch a recording of his speech in Cleveland once the videos come up on youtube.

EDIT: Added video
November 16, 2015

O'Malley's attacking everybody.


Speaking with reporters, O’Malley said Clinton made a “gaffe” in a “very, very distasteful way, trying to pump out a smokescreen for her coziness with the big banks of Wall Street by invoking the tragedy of 9/11 and those attacks — and especially so fresh after so many were murdered in Paris.”

And it wasn’t just Clinton whom O’Malley targeted. “I don’t believe we need to scrap capitalism and replace it with socialism, as Sen. Sanders thinks,” he said of Sanders.

I highlighted the attack on Sanders because I find it disingenuous. This comes straight out of the Republican playbook almost word for word. O'Malley seems like a great candidate, and he is a strong #2 for me, but this kind of talk really makes it difficult to support him in any way.

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