Court to eliminate all restrictions on campaign spending

by Senator Bernie Sanders

As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process. The results of that decision are clear.  In the coming months and years the Koch brothers and other extraordinarily wealthy families will spend billions of dollars to elect right-wing candidates to the Senate, the House, governors’ mansions and the presidency of the United States.  These billionaires already own much of our economy. That, apparently, is not enough.  Now, they want to own the United States government as well.

Four years ago, the Supreme Court passed Citizens United.  A few weeks ago, they passed the equally horrendous McCutcheon campaign finance decision which gives even more political power to the rich. Now, many Republicans want to push this Supreme Court to go even further.  In the name of “free speech,” they want the Court to eliminate all restrictions on campaign spending -- a position that Justice Thomas supported in McCutcheon -- and a view supported by the Chairman of the Republican National Committee.  Not surprisingly, as it will give them the opportunity to buy politicians at will, this has always been the position of the Koch brothers.

The Koch brothers are the second wealthiest family in America, making most of their money in the fossil fuel industry.  According to Forbes Magazine, they saw their wealth increase last year from $68 billion to $80 billion.  In other words, under the “anti-business”, “socialist” and “oppressive” Obama administration, their wealth went up by $12 billion in one year.

In their 2012 campaigns, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each spent a little more than $1 billion.  For the Koch brothers, spending more than Obama and Romney combined  in an election would be a drop in the bucket.  They would hardly miss the few billion spent.

Given the reality that the Koch brothers are now the most important and powerful players in American politics, it is important to know what they want and what their agenda is.

Interestingly and not widely known, David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980.  He believed that Ronald Reagan was much too liberal.  Despite Mr. Koch putting a substantial sum of money into the campaign, his ticket only received one percent of the vote.  Most Americans thought the Libertarian Party’s platform of 1980 was extremist and way out of touch with what the American people wanted and needed.

Fast-forward 34 years and the most significant reality of modern politics is how successful David Koch and like-minded billionaires have been in moving the Republican Party to the extreme right.  Amazingly, much of what was considered “extremist” and “kooky” in 1980 has become part of today’s mainstream Republican thinking.   

Let me give you just a few examples:

In 1980, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate David Koch ran on a platform that called for abolishing the minimum wage.  34 years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people.

Today, not only does virtually every Republican in Congress oppose raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, many of them, including Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John McCain, are on record for abolishing the concept of the federal minimum wage.

In 1980, the platform of David Koch’s Libertarian Party favored “the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”  34 years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people.

Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party, as seen in the recently passed Ryan budget, is to end Medicare as we know it, cut Medicaid by more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade, and repeal the Affordable Care Act.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million people -- 1 in 8 Americans -- would lose health insurance or fail to obtain insurance by 2024. Most of them would be people with low or moderate incomes.”

In 1980, the platform of David Koch’s Libertarian Party called for “the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.”  34 years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people.

Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party is that “entitlement reform” is absolutely necessary.  For some, this means major cuts in Social Security.  For others who believe Social Security is unconstitutional or a Ponzi scheme this means the privatization of Social Security or abolishing this program completely for those who are under 60 years of age.

In 1980, David Koch’s Libertarian Party platform stated “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes … We support the eventual repeal of all taxation … As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”  34 years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of one percent of the American people.

Today, 75 Republicans in the House have co-sponsored a bill that Paul Ryan has said “would eliminate taxes on wages, corporations, self-employment, capital gains, and gift and death taxes in favor of a personal-consumption tax.”

Here is what every American should be deeply concerned about.  The Koch brothers, through the expenditure of billions of dollars and the creation and support of dozens of extreme right organizations, have taken fringe extremist ideas and made them mainstream within the Republican Party.  And now with Citizens United (which is allowing them to pour unlimited sums of money into the political process) their power is greater than ever.

And let’s be very clear.  Their goal is not only to defund Obamacare, cut Social Security, oppose an increase in the minimum wage or cut federal funding for education.  Their world view and eventual goal is much greater than all of that.  They want to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.  Every piece of legislation!

The truth is that the agenda of the Koch brothers is to move this country from a democratic society with a strong middle class to an oligarchic form of society in which the economic and political life of the nation are controlled by a handful of billionaire families.

Our great nation must not be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, we must fight back.

Sincerely,
Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders

Want More Customers? Expose Your Green Side

We've allowed big corporate agri factories, and others, dictate what we eat, drink and basically how we should live our lives. They've accomplished that end through massive 24/7 TV ad campaigns, spending billions junking up America.

And it's worked. As a result we rank dead last in health care, we have the highest rate of cancer, heart disease, obesity and abuse more alcohol, prescription and illicit drugs. Nearly 49 million Americans live in poverty and struggle to put food on the table, but yet we throw away 165 billion dollars worth of food every year!

Consumers are Starting to Get It
Inspite of the corporate and political propaganda machine protecting and promoting the antiquated toxic fossil fuel based economy -- consumers are starting to get it.

They want to know what's in their food, their water, even the building materials going into their house. Going Green is now dominating businesses. Growth rates of "green" segments are outpacing conventional segments in every industry.

Green is Big and Getting Bigger
The green industry—businesses that focus on protecting the environment, reducing pollution, and conserving natural resources—shows few signs of slowing down. There are tremendous opportunities with the color green, or in the "common sense" field.


 Tourism is the largest business sector in the world economy, and Ecotourism is growing at three times the rate of the tourism sector itself, and demanding more knowledgeable workers committed to sustainability.

However, if businesses do not move to take advantage of the growing market potential they will be left behind -- Let your customers and clients know that you support a Green, or a common sense environment.  We invite you to check out our advertising and marketing plans to see how you can benefit by exposing your 'green side.'

Click here.  http://alternatives-magazine.com/advertise.html

New Documentary “Ingredients” Looks at the Local Food Movement

The American food system is nearing a state of crisis. Ingredients is a documentary that is sweeping the US. It explores the failings of the industrial food model, and how the local food movement is gaining momentum as a far better alternative. The film presents a refreshing look at food from the standpoint of sustainability, safety, flavor, nutrition, culture, and community.

By shifting to locally grown foods, you improve your health and lower your risk of illness, while benefitting the environment and your local economy

As a culture, Americans have lost their primal connection to their food and to the earth. Consuming local foods helps reestablish this connection

America’s addiction to cheap foods is taking a heavy toll on their health, as well as wasting resources and adversely impacting the planet

“Cheap food” is actually quite expensive when you factor in hidden costs such as subsidies, health care, fossil fuel usage, and environmental cleanup. Read complete article.

Empowering Your Health: Beyond Monsanto, Rockefeller and the AMA


When your doctor tells you your prescription is approved by the American Medical Association (AMA), it's intended to give you confidence. But what it really means is that the drug or procedure is endorsed and funded by the same corporations that endorse and fund Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and other products that are harmful to your health and is directly related to causing some forms of cancer. 

In fact, the AMA is in part financed by Pfizer, which owns Monsanto, the company that manufactured controversial and proven-to-be-dangerous products such as the insecticide DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and recombinant bovine somatotropin (a.k.a. bovine growth hormone) and is now the largest manufacturer of genetically modified seeds and the herbicide glyphosate, which GMO's require. 

This is only one of the insidious connections between the AMA and corporations that cause, and prosper from, your ill health. By Kimberly Carter Gamble with Erin Breech

Bike Saturdays Chain of Events Calendar

The season is just about here and the event calendar is starting to take shape.  We're still waiting confirmation for many events, but here's a couple to get you started. If you're promoting a bike event, fitness related or supporting activity, list it the Chain of Events calendar.


MAY 3
BIKE SATURDAYS Kick Off Ride
Cleanup, Greenup Downtown Kalispell
10:00 - 2:00 pm
See calendar for details and contact info

MAY 17
BIKE SATURDAYS with the Flathead Valley Trust
Bike and Bird in the lower valley 10 miles
9:00 am - 12:00 noon
See calendar for details and contact info

JUNE 24
Begin every Tuesday night concerts in the park
Depot Park, Kalispell
A BIKE SATURDAYS ride will proceed the concert
Everyone welcome. Information booth
See calendar for details and contact info