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North Dakota amends state constitution to give farms free range to pollute

I'm sorry. I mean, they amended their constitution to protect the freedom and liberty of their enormous toxic factory farms. How Factory Farms Quietly Defeated Food Safety In North Dakota | ThinkProgress
North Dakotans quietly voted through a “Farm Amendment” last Tuesday banning any regulation that “abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.” The full constitutional amendment is exceptionally vague, reading in entirety: The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. No law shall be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices. The Farm Bureau-sponsored amendment, the first of its kind, gives blanket protection to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that dominate the rural state. These facilities have been exposed time and again for abusing livestock, passing off sick cattle as healthy, and, most seriously, polluting water and air quality with massive amounts of animal manure. Drinking water pollution has been a serious problem for communities near these operations, which the US Geological Survey identified as the largest source of nitrogen pollution in the country. These large factory farms already have a tight grip on legislators. Earlier this year, the USDA was pressured into apologizing for its internal Meatless Monday initiative by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who claimed the optional vegetarian day was a full-scale attack on agriculture. The meat industry has also managed to pass “ag gag” laws in five states that make it illegal for whistleblowers to secretly film inside facilities or take a job under false pretenses.

November 12, 2012

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is challenging the incredibly corrupt DCCC for House leadership

Rep. Lee is pretty amazing. She is one of two Reps who voted against the Bush wars. She's a progressive. She doesn't take corporate cash. She has an amazing voting record for progressive causes and human rights. On the other side the DCCC--the clique of conservative pro-business Democrats--is going to run one of their pro-rich people, anti-health care, Democrats-in-name-only candidates. One of the most liberal Reps going up against one of the most conservative Democrats. You can expect this victory to forecast the next two years of Democrats in the House pretty handily. DownWithTyranny!: Barbara Lee Takes On Corporate Whore Joe Crowley For House Leadership
Sunday morning I was bemoaning the miserable state of the House Democratic caucus leadership because progressives seemed to be leaving the field and allowing the worst corporate shills to run away with everything. A Democratic House leadership run by Steny Hoyer, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Steve Israel means that other than on social issues, the two Houses caucuses are essentially equally bad and that corruption has been institutionalized above any kind of principle of any set of values. I was on the phone with the manager of a congressional campaign who told me the DCCC never got involved because-- and this is an exact quote-- "you get blackballed when you don't use their high-priced media people and their pollsters; they all want kickbacks." I hear it a lot, from candidates, staffers and members. The DCCC stinks to high heaven of the kind of corruption one expects from Republicans and the revolving door between DCCC staffers and consulting firms rolling in cash contributed as much to the stupendous failure this year to win back the House as did gerrymandering and Steve Israel's attempt to stock the caucus with conservative Blue Dogs and New Dems who would support his personal career trajectory and that of his corrupt allies. I ended my call with that campaign manager to take a call from a congressional chief of staff telling me I left something important out of my post, namely that Barbara Lee, one of Congress' most outstanding and principled members was running against one of the most corrupt low-lifes in the leadership, sleazy Queens County boss and chairman of the Chamber of Commerce wing of the Democratic Party, the New Dems, Joe Crowley. Barbara and Crowley are running for vice chair of the caucus. [After I wrote this post, I was informed that Jared Polis is also probably running for the same post, Jared one of the only members of both the Progressive Caucus and the New Dems.] Aside from having an iron grip on the donations made by the New Dems PAC, Crowley has his own leadership PAC as well, Jobs, Opportunities & Education PAC (JOE Pac). This cycle it took in over a million dollars, much of it in $10,000 pops from some of the sleaziest corporate entities in America-- Verizon, Altria, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast, Credit Suisse, FedEx, Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Mastercard, Metlife, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, NY Life Insurance, Pfizer, etc-- and passed it out to the Members and Members-elect whose votes he is trying to corral. Although much of his money was wasted on Blue Dogs and New Dems, like Ben Chandler, Val Demings, Sal Pace, Christie Vilsack, Kathy Hochul, Joe Baca, Shelley Adler, Julian Schreibman, Jason Altmire, Leonard Boswell and Brandan Mullan who lost on Tuesday, among those who will be deciding between Crowley and Barbara Lee are plenty who took the cash he collected from K Street lobbyists and salivating corporations with agendas. Let's watch carefully and see who votes against Barbara Lee and for one of the House's most ethically-challenged and corporate oriented Democrats. That will tell us a lot about how Congress is likely to behave for the next two years.