Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

The Reverend Al Sharpton on the killing of two Brooklyn New York policemen

I am outraged at the killing of 2 police officers in Brooklyn. That is why we stress non violence as the only way to fight for justice. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. We all at NAN express our prayers and condolences to the families of the 2 NYC officers.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

GLENN BECK: "THE MOST DISTURBING PERSONALITY ON CABLE TELEVISION"




Was that written by some liberal out to shut down Beck's anti-Semitic and inane conspiratorial rantings? 

Uh-huh.

That was written by Peter Wehner  in an article in Commentary and who served in the Reagan and George HW Bush administrations and became deputy director of speechwriting for President George W. Bush in 2001.

Wehner joins other GOP pundits in his condemnation of Beck's lunatic antics that pass as serious political thought on his FAUX NOOZ program.  We're wondering when more conservatives catch on to the fact that Beck is harmful to conservatives, as Wehner says here:

 

"...what ought to worry conservatives in particular is that Beck not only has the unusual capacity to discredit virtually every cause he takes up; he also confirms the worst caricatures of the right. What was true before is doubly true today. It looks to me like it’s only a matter of time — and I suspect not much time — until he blows apart professionally. If and when that happens, one can only hope that conservatism as a movement will have created enough distance from Beck to mitigate the damage."

Joe Scarborough of "Morning Joe" also recognizes that Beck is a nincompoop and a disaster waiting to happen for the conservative movement.  Here is what Scarborough has to say about Beck:

"I've been telling conservatives for about two years, this guy is bad for the movement," Scarborough said. "This guy is losing it before our eyes. He's bad for the conservative movement. He's bad for the Republican Party. He's bad for Fox News...even guys over at Fox News have to start thinking, this can't last. He's out of control...He throws bombs out all the time," he said. "It's the conspiracy theories that are the most dangerous because that gets people acting out."

Scarborough has previously said that Beck is delivering a "vile message" to the country.

David Frum:  GOP SURRENDERS TO BECK'S MOB RULE [h/t (O)CT(O)PUS]:

"Glenn Beck is not the first to make a pleasant living for himself by reckless defamation. We have seen his kind before in American journalism and American politics, and the good news is that their careers never last long. But the bad news is that while their careers do last, such people do terrible damage.



We conservatives are submitting our movement to some of the most unscrupulous people in American life. This submission disgraces conservatism, discredits Republicans, and damages the country. It’s beyond time for conservatives who know better to join us at NewMajority in emancipating ourselves from leadership by the most stupid, the most cynical, and the most truthless."



*********************************************************



We're wondering when conservatives will wake up and admit they've been played for fools by this self-identified "rodeo clown" and "recovering dirtbag" and renounce his destructive blatherings once and for all.

Some of us think Beck should stay where he is and be identified as the voice of today's GOP--for all rational people to see.  And don't forget that Rep. Michele Bachmann herself suggested we could all learn something from watching Glenn Beck. 
 
Yes, Michele.  We certainly could

Friday, February 25, 2011

TEA PARTY APPROVES OF MARK WILLIAMS' THUGGERY PLAN TO INFILTRATE SEIU PROTESTS

When you can't win on the merits of your argument, the Tea Party agrees with Mark Williams' plan to deceive Americans and act like thugs by infiltrating the SEIU protests and posing as angry, disruptive goons, IOW, acting like a GOPer who can't win arguments with reasoning and facts.

How many of these lying, cheating Breitbart types are welcome in the Tea Party?  And, more important, why are they?

BTW, I forgot to mention:  Stephen Colbert is a genius:


US REP. PAUL BROUN'S (R-GA) CONSTITUENT ASKS "WHO'S GOING TO SHOOT OBAMA?"

Just a few days ago, the deputy attorney general of Indiana [who was subsequently fired] suggested using "live ammunition" on the peaceful protesters demonstrating in Wisconsin.

We all know about the failed candidate for senator, Sharron Angle, who suggested "Second Amendment remedies" if she didn't get elected.

And last month in Tucson, Arizona, we all saw the results of unfettered gun access in the hands of a lunatic.

Now we read that a Republican voter at a meeting with his US representative, Paul Broun, felt perfectly comfortable in suggesting the assassination of the president of the United States. The reaction in the hall was laughter, as well as an entirely inappropriate answer by the US Rep.  Instead of condemning the constituent's suggestion of committing treason against the United States of America, Broun weakly mouthed something about frustration with the president.

Here's the report by Blake Aued from Athens On-Line, Athens Banner Herald:


Question to Broun: Who’s going to shoot President Obama?



By Blake Aued - Athens Banner-Herald
Published February 23rd, 2011




At Rep. Paul Broun’s town hall meeting on Tuesday, the Athens congressman asked who had driven the farthest to be there and let the winner ask the first question.



We couldn’t hear the question in the back of the packed Oglethorpe County Commission chamber, but whatever it was, it got a big laugh. According to an outraged commenter on the article, the question was, when is someone going to shoot Obama?

Update: Broun’s press secretary, Jessica Morris, confirmed that the question was indeed, who is going to shoot Obama? “Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on,” she said.


Here was Broun’s response:


The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president. We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.


He then segued into Republicans’ budget proposal."


Nice demonstration of cowardice, Rep. Broun.  I wonder how he would have felt if someone in a heavily Democratic district in Georgia asked their US representative when someone was going to shoot Broun?  And I wonder if Broun's family would think that was a humorous statement?

Apparently, in Tea Party GOP world, they believe in tactics used by Communist countries, if you don't like what your leader is doing, shoot him!  These are the same people who constantly accuse liberals of being unAmerican and hating America!

What, may I ask, is more America-hating than suggesting treason against the United States and openly wondering when our duly elected president will be shot? And worse, to have a US Representative treat that question as though it were an ordinary inquiry?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MORE INFO ON WISCONSIN GOVERNOR'S UNION BUSTING

In trying to keep up with all the fast-breaking news around Wisconsin and its union-busting governor, I've been reading the blogs and the Wisconsin newspapers.  Here's a post from the dailykos (go to it to get to the links) on what newspapers around the country are saying about Walker and the unions:

"Much of the early writing was how Democrats and unions were going to get steamrolled. it was inevitable and yet another loss for Democrats. It doesn't look quite like that today.




AP/Houston Chronicle:Wis. Dems not deterred by recall threat, pay issue


National Journal: Bait and Switch? Walker's budget plans don't fix what he says is the crisis.


WQOW/ABC: Phoney call reveals Governor Walker's strategy


Andrew Sullivan: The Pwning Of Scott Walker


Fox News: Indiana Republicans Won't Revive Anti-Union Bill


LA Times: No repeat of Wisconsin labor fight in Pennsylvania, Corbett says


TPMDC: Florida Governor Rick Scott Gives Thumbs Up To Public Worker Organizing


Columbus Dispatch: [Ohio] Senate Republicans say they will not eliminate collective bargaining


WaPo: Unions plan Sat. protests in every state capital


Yahoo: Could Wisconsin controversy boost teachers’ unions?

 
Ezra Klein: How long can Scott Walker hold out?


NY Times/The Caucus: The Caucus: Republican Governors Split on Collective Bargaining


While both sides inevitably will say "we are winning", that Ian Murphy phoney phone call was evening news stuff, carried in prime time across the country.

And for those who still want to pretend that union-busting is the same as budget balancing, there's this, posted on Minnesota Public Radio:




"As a state economist and policy analyst, I was surprised that no one asked me about this proposal. I analyzed it for its economic impact. If public employee salaries are cut (through increased withholdings as proposed) by enough to fill the $137 million budget gap, the resulting drop in consumer spending will lead to: 1) a loss of over 1,200 nongovernment jobs; 2) a loss of about $100 million in business sales statewide; 3) a loss of nearly $35 million in personal incomes of nongovernment employee households; 4) ironically, a loss of nearly $10 million in state tax revenues." -- Robert Russell, economist and analyst, Madison.

Take a tip from the headlines: Walker isn't guaranteed a win, and Republican insistence that they have the upper hand is simply part of the GOP playbook: never admit weakness in public, even when you are losing ground."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WISCONSIN GOP GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER, A MAN OF THE BILLIONAIRES!

Reposted from The Swash Zone and the fabulous rockync:

UPDATE: (O)CT(O)PUS HAS ADDED MORE INFO ON THE GOP'S PLANS TO BUST UNIONS--GO TO THE END OF THE SWASH ZONE LINK AND READ THE SHOCKING REPORT.

GOVERNOR WALKER YOU’VE BEEN KOCH’D!



I am writing fast and furious to beat our dear Octopus to this story and thus keep him contained!


It has been reported and confirmed by his own staff that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was pranked by a caller pretending to be David Koch, one of the roachy duo who own Koch Industries, Inc, long believed to be pulling various GOP strings in order to further their own interests.


Walker fell for it, hook line and sinker and the ensuing conversation is full of priceless gems such as:


On the call, Walker talks about speaking with Democratic Sen. Tim Cullen, one of the Democrats hiding in Illinois to stop the bill, and telling Cullen he would not budge. After Walker said he would be willing to meet with Democratic leaders, the caller said he would bring "a baseball bat." Walker laughed and responded that he had "a slugger with my name on it."


HERE is a link to this breaking story.


And a h/t to BUFFALO BEAST who brought us this diabolical outing!


Fellow Zoners - please feel free to edit and add to this post as the story develops.


UPDATE! In the few minutes between the time I posted this and now, the Buffalo Beast has been removed from the 'net. Hopefully this is only because they were overwhelmed with visitors and not for more sinister reasons.

More on Gov. Walker's billionaire backers, the Koch brothers:

From the Madison, Wisconsin, Cap Times:

"The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.



Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied with Walker's push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tea Party rally Saturday in support of Walker's plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website."


And this:
 
"Assembly Democrats tried but failed Wednesday to prevent Gov. Scott Walker from selling state-owned power plants without bids amid growing concerns by Democrats that the owners of a multi-billion dollar oil-and-gas company are driving the governor's legislative agenda.



That suspicion grew Wednesday after Walker was secretly recorded revealing his strategy for pushing through his anti-union budget repair bill during a 20-minute phone conversation with a blogger who purported to be David Koch, executive vice president of the Wichita, Kan.-based Koch Industries.


The defeated amendment, which would have required that the sale be approved by the Public Service Commission, is among dozens likely to be shot down by the Assembly's Republican majority.


The $43 billion Koch Industries, which Koch owns with his brother, Charles, includes numerous energy-related enterprises, including a natural gas pipeline, refineries and a company that supplies coal to Wisconsin power plants.


At a news conference Wednesday, Walker denied any connection between the sale of the state's 32 power plants and the Kochs' support."

"USE LIVE AMMUNITION." GOP DEPUTY ATTY. GEN. IN INDIANA ON WISCONSIN PROTESTORS

To those who don't believe there are extremists in the GOP that would kill their fellow Americans for exercising their Constitutionally guaranteed rights, consider this:

Indiana Official On Wisconsin Protestors: ‘Use Live Ammunition’


"Jeffrey Cox is a deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana, and he has some strong views about the protests in Wisconsin. In response to a Mother Jones tweet this weekend reporting that riot police might be used to clear protestors from the capitol building in Madison, Cox tweeted back: “Use live ammunition."


Cox remained steadfast in his position that the protestors should be killed when confronted on Twitter by Mother Jones’ Adam Weinstein, writing that 'against thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor? You’re damn right I advocate deadly force.' (There have been no reports that the protestors have physically threatened any elected officials)."
 


Why would any rational, law-abiding citizen, let alone a deputy attorney general, suggest this deadly force as a reaction to peaceful protesters exercising their rights?  Why would Cox suggest that Wisconsin kill Americans for that?  Is he channeling Ghdafi?   Where did this guy, who was elected by the people of Indiana, get the idea that murder is the appropriate reaction to peaceful assembly?  Who is this nutjob?  And why did he think that the GOP would be the political party that would welcome his insanity?

When the TPs ran their protest rallies, we saw the threatening signs, we saw the people who came locked and loaded, we saw how they promised Second Amendment remedies if they didn't get their way.

Now we see one of their own touting murder as a way to answer legal protests.



"Mother Jones contacted the Office of the Indiana Attorney General, and a spokesman told the magazine that Cox’s statements were “inflammatory” and that there would be “an immediate review” Cox’s online statements. 'We do not condone any comments that would threaten or imply violence or intimidation toward anyone,' he added."

h/t ThinkProgress


As someone posted in the comments on the ThinkProgress page:  "...notice how NOBODY on MSM is mentioning this? If it were a Democrat making these kinds of threats, Faux News and CNN would be all over it."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wisconsin Protests: The Five States that Ban Collective Bargaining for Teachers Rank Near the Bottom for Education Quality

Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal.

Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:


South Carolina -50th = 844


North Carolina -49th = 865


Georgia -48th = 854


Texas -47th = 893


Virginia -44th = 896


Wisconsin, ranked 2nd = 1073,  has collective bargaining for teachers.








For an analysis on the above, go to this LINK.

In the international community, "...in 1970, Finland passed legislation that required all teachers above the kindergarten level to hold a master's degree. According to assessments by internationally recognized and well-regarded entities (PISA and OECD), Finland's students have the highest math and science literacy.


h/t DemocraticUnderground
 
 
 
****************************************************
 
 
 
 
Source: Boston Globe



"The Massachusetts Teachers Association and other labor organizations are planning simultaneous rallies today in support of Wisconsin educators and other public employees who face the loss of collective bargaining rights under a proposal made by Republican Governor Scott Walker.


The events will be held at 4 p.m. at the State House and Springfield City Hall. Also attending will be members of the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU, Jobs with Justice, and other pro-labor groups.


MTA President Paul Toner said in a statement that Walker's proposal would "destroy collaborative partnerships that have been established between labor and management to help students succeed and strengthen communities. It’s not about pay and benefits — it’s about fairness and justice."


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, has pushed the state's labor unions to collaborate with a cash-strapped state and its municipalities, but he has also made a point of stating that government leaders have to negotiate with unions and not dictate to them."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Governor Walker, " IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY!"

Howard Schweber, Associate Professor of Political Science and Law, University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains that IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY! 

But first, read how he describes himself:


"I am not what you would call a real "progressive" in the modern sense of the word. I actually have significant concerns about the role of public sector unions when they become too large -- they can begin to act like monopoly players in the labor market and to exert an unwholesome amount of political influence. "






"IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. It has NEVER been about the money: from the very beginning union leaders said they are willing to accept the contribution requirements. And it's worth pointing out that public sector employees have had four years of no raises (including one raise that was retroactively clawed back for some of us) and pay cuts in the form of unpaid furlough days. As a matter of fact, by promising to end furloughs, Governor Walker goes a good ways to mitigate the impact of the increased contribution requirements in the short term.


IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. If I say it loudly enough, will anyone hear it? It's about preserving collective bargaining and a governor who negotiates before he makes radical decisions and huge, transformative bills getting a public hearing before they are voted on. It's about "democracy," and it's not really a coincidence that every petty tyrant you have ever heard of from Latin America to the Middle East started by crushing the trade unions.


IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. Every speaker, every sign, every chant in the crowd is about collective bargaining. You might not think that "meet us at the bargaining table" would make an effective chant, but you would be surprised. Walker introduced his bill and right away said that he would not negotiate -- with anyone, about anything -- and that if the public sector workers tried to have a work action he would call in the National Guard. That was before any protests! This Governor went to Defcon 4 and started warming up his nukes before anyone had even indicated a hostile intent. How bad is it? Even the Chair of the Madison Chamber of Commerce is starting to sound a little queasy.




IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. If it were, what would public unions exempted from the bill be doing in the street? Police and firefighters have been out in force to support the protesters -- these are public employees, but they are exempt from the provisions of Walker's Bill. They are also core Republican constituencies. Some of these Republican legislators may have to run for re-election against the opposition of local chambers of commerce, police forces, and firefighters. In other words, the GOP is losing the Reagan Democrats and betting, instead, on the Tea Party.


And it's not just public unions. I saw an awful lot of Machinists and Pipefitters and Electricians and Teamsters -- again, not exactly traditional Democratic constituencies. One of the guys in the Teamster jackets was a burly, grizzled man with close-cropped grey hair, neon blue eyes, and hands like shovels. His comment to me was, "If this was our protest, it wouldn't be so peaceful."

Governor Walker, are you really looking to go to war with the Teamsters? With what? On Saturday I asked four different state troopers (to whom all our thanks is due for their exemplary professionalism) what they thought, and to a man each one gave me the same tight little smile and said "We can't comment on that," and all the other troopers nodded soberly. Then I asked my follow up question: "Well, how are the protesters behaving?" And to a man, each one broke into a warm grin and said "They're great!" And all the others nodded enthusiastically. Governor Walker, as the saying goes, are you sure you hold the army?


The much-vaunted counter-protest on Saturday was tiny, weakly organized, and you had to be standing right next to the crowd to be able to hear it. And unsurprisingly, perhaps, most of the pro-Walker people still did not seem to understand that IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. Lots of wonderful myths floating around -- "the average teacher in Milwaukee makes $100,000!" (the actual figure is $56,500, the rest is obtained by valuing benefits at more than 100% of salary. Try that with your own salary.) I won't even tell you the idiotic ideas people have about how much college professors make: if the Tea Party could arrange for me to earn as much as they think I do, I would join the Tea Party.


The signs were a wonderful mixture of poetry and silliness. "Give you tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free... and we'll take care of them! We're nurses." A sign that read "I love my Public Defender" and another being carried by a member of the Wisconsin States' Attorney Association. I liked the one that read,"I blame Favre" ....well, around here, who doesn't? "Never poke a badger." And everywhere, everywhere, "This is a peaceful protest." Inside, the rotunda was packed solid with people, many of whom have been there for days. "This is what democracy smells like," as a friend of mine put it.


How does this end? I truly don't know. Republican legislators insist that there is massive support for their position outside the Capitol, and thus far party discipline has been absolute. (I can't remember the last time I wanted to see some reliable polling data so badly.) If I had to bet, I would bet that the bill will be passed in its present form, and collective bargaining rights will be lost for a while.


But that's when the really interesting part begins. Does Walker have any political capital left at all among Republican legislators after needlessly and pointlessly subjecting them to this? And what will the next election cycle look like? We have a long history of political division in this state: we elected Joe McCarthy and Bob LaFollette. But we have no history of governors seizing power and publicly declaring themselves answerable to no one. And Walker is trying to raise the threat level: a few days ago he was saying the bill was necessary to prevent 6,000 layoffs. Now that number has climbed to "11,000." Governor Walker, did you really just threaten to fire 11,000 people unless your bill gets passed? Is that how you think politics works in Wisconsin?


IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. It's about the politics, about the representation and about the duty that public officials have to treat their constituents who are taxpayers with a minimal degree of respect. People get angry when politicians think they are monarchs. What this bodes for GOP candidates going forward depends on how angry ordinary Wisconsinites are, including a lot of traditional Republican voters. How angry are the teachers and the nurses and the police officers and the firefighters? How angry are our Teamsters and our Machinists, our janitors and security guards, our food service workers, and -- oh, yes -- our incredibly underpaid graduate instructors and the bone-poor teachers at our community colleges?


The protests are going to be a lot quieter for a bit: weather is back to "normal" here in Wisconsin, which means driving sleet and frigid temperatures. But I don't think people have stopped paying attention. As I said at the outset, I'm not really a true-blue Progressive, but like a great number of other people I am angry, angrier now than I was a week ago. And IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"The outlawing of independent unions is the clearest and most consistent marker of despotism around the world."

h/t Green Eagle

Saturday, February 19, 2011

ON WISCONSIN! ON WISCONSIN! WE'RE WITH YOU ALL THE WAY!



FROM THINK PROGRESS:

"Koch Industries Slashed WI Jobs, Helped Elect Scott Walker, Now Orchestrating Pro-Walker Protest


Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a growing backlash over his attempt to cut pay and eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in his state. Although Walker is claiming his power grab is an attempt to close a budget gap, the budget “crisis” was engineered by Walker as soon as he got into office. As Brian Beutler reported, half of the budget shortfall comes from Walker’s own tax cuts for businesses and other business giveaways enacted in January.

A number of the big business interests standing with Walker are beneficiaries of his administration’s tax giveaways. But the greatest ally to Walker is the dirty energy company Koch Industries. In response to the growing protests in Madison, Koch fronts are busing in Tea Party protesters to support Walker and his union-busting campaign. Last night, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reported on the involvement of Club for Growth and the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity in the pro-Walker protest scheduled tomorrow. Watch it:





"Koch Industries is a major player in Wisconsin: Koch owns a coal company subsidiary with facilities in Green Bay, Manitowoc, Ashland and Sheboygan; six timber plants throughout the state; and a large network of pipelines in Wisconsin. While Koch controls much of the infrastructure in the state, they have laid off workers to boost profits. At a time when Koch Industries owners David and Charles Koch awarded themselves an extra $11 billion of income from the company, Koch slashed jobs at their Green Bay plant.







Officials at Georgia-Pacific said the company is laying off 158 workers at its Day Street plant because out-of-date equipment at the facility is being replaced with newer, more-efficient equipment. The company said much of the new, papermaking equipment will be automated. [...] Malach tells FOX 11 that the layoffs are not because of a drop in demand. In fact, Malach said demand is high for the bath tissue and napkins manufactured at the plant.






Koch Industries was one of the biggest contributors to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, funneling $43,000 over the course of last year. In return, Koch front groups are closely guiding the Walker agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded group, advised Walker and the GOP legislature on its anti-labor legislation and its first corporate tax cuts.






According to the EPA, Koch businesses are huge polluters, emitting thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants. As soon as he got into office Walker started cutting environmental regulations and appointed a Republican known for her disregard for environmental regulations to lead the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, Walker has stated his opposition to clean energy jobs policies that might draw workers away from Koch-owned interests.






Moreover, other organizers for the pro-Walker protest are from groups associated with corporate and Koch interests. American Majority, a Virginia-based front group founded by organizers funded by millionaire investor Howie Rich, is on the ground contacting Wisconsin Tea Parties to support Walker in Madison. Austin James, an American Majority official who was caught teaching Tea Party members to spam Amazon.com profiles of liberal books with negative comments, is the contact for the Facebook page organizing the pro-Walker protest. Eric O’Keefe, a longtime conservative operative who helps lead American Majority, attends Koch strategy meetings.






Update: Koch's Americans for Prosperity group has launched a new website and petition called www.standwithwalker.com. The new site attacks all collective bargaining, not just for public sector unions. Koch's front group also declares: "In fact, every state should adopt Governor Scott Walker's common sense reforms."

Friday, February 18, 2011

WISCONSIN: Governor Walker's Plan to Break the Unions

FROM POLITICUSUSA:

"Rachel Maddow began with a fact, “Wisconsin is on track to have a budget surplus this year. I am not kidding. I’m quoting their own version of the congressional budget office, the state’s own nonpartisan assess the state’s finances agency. That agency said the month that the new Republican governor of Wisconsin was sworn in, last month, that the state was on track to have a $120 million budget surplus this year. So then why exactly does Wisconsin look like this right now? Why is there a revolt in the American Midwest tonight?”



She pointed out that the media is telling the wrong story, “The main headline that you are seeing right now about this remarkable thing — look at these images — this remarkable thing that’s going on in the American Midwest, the headlines you are seeing about this are mostly wrong, because what’s going on right now in the American Midwest is about Republicans versus Democrats. It is about politics. It is about who wins the next election and the elections after that. That’s what’s going on right now in Wisconsin. This is about the survival of the Democratic Party. There are parts of the story that actually don’t make any sense unless you understand that.”


Maddow stated what Wisconsin is really about, “What’s happening in Wisconsin right now is not about a budget. This is about elections. This is about the Republican Party going after the institutions that make it possible for Democrats to win elections in America.”


She touched on the post-Citizens United power of big money in campaigns, “Organization, committees, pacs, political parties that can make big-impact political moves, that can keep up or even outspend the organizations on the other side. You know, there’s a reason that all those oil billionaires that Karl Rove has on speed dial, there is a reason those oil billionaires don’t just make their own individual I’m an oil billionaire campaign contributions. They pool all of their money in Karl Rove’s American Crossroads organization, so then Karl Rove can make multimillion-dollar impact moves in election years.”


Maddow broke down the numbers to show why Republicans unions matter to the Democratic cash supply, “In 2008, the groups that spent the most money on elections that year were the Chamber of Commerce, the giant right-wing pac Freedoms Watch, the National Rifle Association, and, hey, wait, what are all those weird little initials? Oh, yes. Service Employees International Union. And the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the public employees union. In 2010, post Citizens United, 7 of the 10 top spending groups were all right wing. Chamber of commerce, both the Karl Rove groups, Americans for Job Security. All of these right-wing groups. The only non-conservative groups that cracked the top ten were the public employees union, the SEIU, and the teachers union. That’s it. Unions are the only competition republicans have in electoral politics. Post Citizens United, conservatives look at this and they smell blood. I mean, compare this to ’08. They have knocked the unions down to sixth and seventh place. Without unions, essentially all of the big money and politics would be right-wing money. All of it. That is not hyperbole. All of it. Unions are the only players. They are the only fish of any size on the liberal side. This decides who wins elections and who loses them.”


She continued, “And if Republicans can use public policy to destroy their only competition for big political money, if they can use public policy to destroy the only major institutions that help Democratic causes at election time, then Republicans can run the table. Beyond just the money, though, a move like this also destroys the get out the vote and organizational capacity of union, which makes a huge difference on Election Day. If you were a Republican politician and you had the chance to dismantle an organization like that, an organization that was helping the other side, wouldn’t you do it? What’s happening in Wisconsin right now is about republicans vest democrats. It is about elections.”



After describing the real reason why the right destroyed ACORN, she said, “Unions are not democratic organizations, but unions’ work is beneficial to the Democratic Party. They are the only institution of any size on the liberal side of the equation. Corporate America, all of corporate America, is on the Republican side. The only institutions of any size with any heft at all on the liberal side are the unions. So of course they, too, must be destroyed. This is an existential fight for the Democratic Party. This is about whether or not the Democratic Party exists. This is why republicans want to do this so bad. If you break the public sector unions in Wisconsin, then you can break them anywhere. And if you break them everywhere, then it is bake sales versus billionaires for not only this next election but for every election here on out. Republicans run the table. Bake sales on one side, billionaires on the other. That’s it.”


Maddow explained how Wisconsin is a fight for the survival of the Democratic Party, “This is an existential fight for the democratic party. Democrats who don’t get that are being willfully ignorant. This is an existential fight for the Democratic Party, and that’s why Democrats in Wisconsin are doing what they are doing right now in Wisconsin. That’s why Wisconsin looks the way it does right now.


She concluded, “What is happening in Wisconsin right now is not about the budget. It is not about teacher tenure. It is not about whether or not librarians have too good a dental plan. That is not what this is about. This is about Republicans versus Democrats and whether or not the Democratic Party will continue to compete with the Republican Party. Whether or not the Democratic Party will continue to exist in any meaningful sense.”


The real motive behind the events in Wisconsin can be explained with one statistic. There are 7.9 million public sector union members compared to 7.4 million private sector union members. Public sector union membership grew to 37.4% in 2009, while at the same time private sector union membership declined from 7.8% to 7.2%.


If Republicans can break the public sector labor movement, it will virtually wipe out the labor movement in the United States. For years, the public sector has been the lifeblood of the union movement, and as Rachel Maddow discussed the labor movement is the only big player that the Democrats have in the race for campaign cash.


Media members on both the left and the right have been in some cases unconsciously using the right wing narrative to frame their reporting on this story. By limiting their reporting to what their eyes only see. They are restricting their reporting one dimension of what is happening in Wisconsin. (It is no coincidence that this dimension favors the conservative storyline).The more important elements exist below the surface. Wisconsin is both a battle for the survival of the labor movement in the United States, and the future relevancy of the Democratic Party in elections at all levels across this great land.


What is happening in Wisconsin matters to every single Democrat/liberal/progressive in America, because it isn’t only about the rights of workers in one state, but also the future of the left’s ability to collectively act. Wisconsin isn’t just about collective bargaining. Just as importantly, it is about the destruction of the left’s only large scale grassroots and fund raising movement. What’s at stake is nothing less than the future relevancy of the Democratic Party Both the labor movement and the Democratic Party’s futures rest on how these events in the former heartland of progressivism play out.



This is a conservative assault on freedom. It is the right wing dream of oppressive authoritarian big government at it’s worst. Under the disguise of recessionary budgeting, liberty is at stake. Republicans want to send the American worker back to the 19th Century. It is up to those of us in 21st Century to make sure that the American people know what’s really going on."





WISCONSIN: Gov. Walker's Union-Smashing Tactics Both Cruel and Dumb

UPDATE BELOW

FROM THE CAP TIMES, Madison, Wisconsin:





"First he sent a letter to state workers, then he sent one to all of Wisconsin’s teachers.



The message to both groups from Gov. Scott Walker was the same: Hey, I’m just doing what needs to be done to get our state out of this economic mess we’re in and I’m sure you can understand.


No, they can’t.


The letter to the teachers, for instance, outlined the state’s budget problems -- $137 million in the hole this fiscal year, $3.6 billion short for the next biennium, which begins on July 1.


The governor then 'reasons' that’s why teachers need to start paying half of their pension contributions -- about 5.8 percent of their paycheck -- and double their 6 percent share of health insurance premiums to 12 percent, also from their paychecks.


That’s all aimed at cutting the state’s costs by about $300 million over the next two years, a start at whittling down the state’s projected shortfall.


That, at least, makes a little sense, but what comes next doesn’t and is why so many of Wisconsin’s public employees are convinced that it isn’t about budget problems at all, but everything to do with starting a process to do away with unions in Wisconsin, the primary goal of the big business lobby that bankrolled this governor’s election.


After outlining why these givebacks from the employees need to occur, the governor then proceeds to 'explain' that this is why the unions will be prohibited from bargaining anything other than wages and that any wage increase will be capped at in increase in the Consumer Price Index.


Then, he adds, 'Collective bargaining units will have to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers will be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units will not be required to pay dues.'



What, pray tell, has any of that got to do with fixing Wisconsin’s budget mess?


The answer, of course, is nothing. But it has everything to do with smashing the unions that over decades of tears and sweat have achieved at least a modicum of dignity for America’s working people -- unionized or not. Walker would trash a proud American labor history and not gain one cent for the taxpayers he purportedly is representing. Instead, he would signal to the corporate interests of the state that, hey, if government can do away with these pesky unions, so can you.


What zealots like Walker forget is that poor working people contribute very little to the economy. Workers who have to scrape to pay their household debts have no money to spend at the local restaurant, at the bowling alleys or the movies. They can’t afford vacations in northern Wisconsin or send kids to dancing lessons and sports camps.



The small business people who provide these services wind up getting hurt themselves. Waitresses and kitchen helpers lose jobs. Businesses that rely on discretionary expenditures close down.


Workers who make meager wages pay few income taxes. When they don’t have money to spend, they also pay little in sales taxes. It’s a never-ending cycle that truly becomes a race to the bottom.


This has never been the Wisconsin way, through good times or bad. Yes, like workers are being asked today, they have historically made concessions to help get through the bad times. Most public workers would agree to do that now.


But taking away their rights to stand up for themselves by strangling their one lifeline to a better world not only for them but for countless others is not only cruel, but outright dumb."


UPDATE:

h/t TO COMMENTER BB IDAHO FOR THIS LINK:


A new poll shows Wisconsinites – by a 2 to 1 margin – say Governor Scott Walker’s attacks on worker rights have gone too far.


From the poll:


Building a Stronger Wisconsin contracted with The Shop Consulting, Inc. to conduct a statewide poll regarding Governor Scott Walker’s proposed cuts to public employee benefits and collective bargaining rights. The poll consisted of a 600 response survey and was conducted on the evening of Wednesday, February 16th.


By a 2 to 1 margin, voters across that state are either strongly opposed to Walker’s proposal or think that it goes too far.


“There is no way to look at the results of this poll and not be convinced that voters from all walks of life, all ages and all across Wisconsin think Governor Walker has gone too far in both how much he expects public employees to contribute for their benefits and especially in proposing to eliminate their collective bargaining rights,” explained Randy Nash, Executive Director, Building a Stronger Wisconsin.


The results show that while there is some support for increasing public employee contributions to pay for health care and retirement, those who oppose the proposal totally and those who think it has gone too far outnumber the supporters of the proposal almost 2-1.

When it comes to removing the ability to collectively bargain those opposing this change are even more solidly opposed with 65% opposing this portion of the proposal to only 31.9 percent supporting. Nearly 75% of those surveyed had no public employees in their household.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

WISCONSIN: The People vs. Tea Party Thuggery



The newly elected Tea Party governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, learned this week what real grass-roots activism is and not fake, paid-for-by-Koch Brothers-Tea Party activism:

From lil bird:

"Wisconsin is in the middle of a massive popular uprising. Last Friday, our newly elected Tea-Party governor, Scott Walker, introduced a "budget repair bill" clearly aimed not at fixing our budget at all, but at eliminating public sector unions in Wisconsin.



This is a naked power grab designed to make the current right-wing control of our state government permanent. It's telling that the only unions exempted from the sweeping provisions are firefighters, police and state troopers - all of which endorsed Walker in the elections. In true dictator style, Governor Walker has threatened to call in the National Guard to suppress resistance if necessary.


This is an unprecedented assault on worker's rights, and the working people of Wisconsin are fighting back. I'm furious about what is happening, but also incredibly inspired by the passion and grit of the people all around me.


The protests began on Monday with a crowd of 1,000 people, which swelled to 13,000 yesterday and as many as 30,000 today [Feb. 16]. So many local teachers called in sick that school was canceled. Even public unions exempted from the changes, such as the firefighters, showed up in force.



People are angry, and rightly so. This bill is being rammed through the legislature at top speed; it was only announced on Friday and the governor wants a vote on it by tomorrow.



In their determination to pass a bill that they know the vast majority of the Wisconsin public is against, the Republican leadership has repeatedly abused their powers to limit public input to the voices they want to hear. The only public hearing, scheduled for Tuesday morning, was announced late Monday by posting a piece of paper in the Capitol building. Seriously, a piece of paper. No notice was given through the website nor any other modern method of communication. Oddly, however, by the time that paper was hung in the Capitol, the right-wing Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth had reportedly already reserved buses to bring their members to the state capitol to testify.


Right-wingers were also given VIP treatment at the hearing itself. "Reserved" signs were used to hold open about 30 seats in the small, packed room until the public testimony was about to start, at which point a crowd of right-wing activists waltzed in to testify in favor of the bill. When grilled about this breach of procedure, the Republican leadership claimed that they were just trying to "accommodate" people's schedules. However, those of us who had already waited nearly three hours in line and in the hearing to testify against the bill weren't given any such "accommodations".



Despite repeated assurances that the hearings would be kept open until everyone had a chance to testify, last night the Republicans decided that they'd heard enough from the public, even though hundreds of people were still signed up to speak. This triggered mass pushback, as people jammed the halls chanting loudly and demanding to be heard.


When the Republicans announced that they were cutting short the public hearing, the Democrats, severely in the minority, tried valiantly to convince them to allow the hearings to continue until everyone had their say. But at about 2:30am last night, the Republicans walked out and went home, leaving only the Democrats to continue hearing testimony by themselves. About 1,000 people camped out inside the Capitol building overnight, many waiting to get the chance to speak."



MORE HERE


From the Wisconsin Cap Times:


Walker gins up ‘crisis’ to reward cronies



"Wisconsin is managing in a weak economy. The difference is that Wisconsin is managing better -- or at least it had been managing better until Walker took over. Despite shortfalls in revenue following the economic downturn that hit its peak with the Bush-era stock market collapse, the state has balanced budgets, maintained basic services and high-quality schools, and kept employment and business development steadier than the rest of the country. It has managed so well, in fact, that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently released a memo detailing how the state will end the 2009-2011 budget biennium with a budget surplus.



In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.


To the extent that there is an imbalance -- Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit -- it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes -- or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues -- the “crisis” would not exist.


The Fiscal Bureau memo -- which readers can access at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb/Misc/2011_01_31Vos&Darling.pdf -- makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.

The facts are not debatable.


Because of the painful choices made by the previous Legislature, Wisconsin is in better shape fiscally than most states.


Wisconsin has lower unemployment than most states.


Wisconsin has better prospects for maintaining great schools, great public services and a great quality of life than most states, even in turbulent economic times.


Unfortunately, Walker has a political agenda that relies on the fantasy that Wisconsin is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy."

GO HERE TO READ JOSH MARSHALL OF TALKING POINTS MEMO'S REPORT.

Monday, February 14, 2011

HELP PULL THE PLUG ON GLENN BECK

h/t (O)CT(O)PUS

After the shooting rampage in Tucson that left six people dead and thirteen injured, including Congresswoman Giffords, Fox News President Roger Ailes appealed for civility:  “I told all of our guys, shut up, tone it down, make your argument intellectually. You don’t have to do it with bombast.

Weeks after Tucson, nothing has changed.  If anything, Fox News has turned up the volume on partisan hate speech.  Fevered hysteria and conspiratorial fear mongering on national television are not harmless.

How quickly we forget the lessons of history. The bogeymen of 1930s anti-Semitism that morphed into the bogeymen of 1950s McCarthyism has morphed again into the mainstreaming of Glenn Beck Militia Theater. The message is clear: Glenn Beck wants to extort your silence, and anyone who refuses to capitulate will be targeted and stalked:



Glenn Beck, Self-Appointed "Progressive Hunter"

The poisoned atmosphere unleashed by Glenn Beck and Fox News means any citizen - Democrat, Centrist, or Republican - can be slandered in public and targeted for persecution.  Beck pitches his messages at unhinged misfits who are most likely to act on impulse, and events have shown that violent rhetoric leads to violent acts. There is no plausible deniability that can remove this blood from Beck’s hands:




Murders, shooting sprees, domestic terrorism, private citizens hiding in fear, infamous intimidations and provocations broadcast on national television - all linked to Glenn Beck - enough is enough!  When toxic television threatens public safety, it concerns everyone.  Even prominent Republicans are becoming alarmed:

Former Bush speechwriter David Frum:

Former Bush speechwriter Peter Wehner: 

National correspondent for The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg:

It is time to pull the plug on Glenn Beck and serve notice to Fox News that partisan hate speech has no place in a free society. The strongest message you can send is to vote your pocketbook. Write letters to Fox News advertisers; tell them you will no longer patronize their products and services; and keep boycotting sponsors of Fox News until these outrageous partisan witch-hunts have stopped. Removing Glenn Beck from the airwaves will save lives.

Resources:
Visit the Drop Fox Website Here
Visit the Stop Beck Website Here


Endorsements:
Captain Fogg, Sheria, BJ, Octopus, Squatlo, Sue, Nance, TnLib, TomCat, Truth 101, Maleeper, Green Eagle, Kay, Shaw Kenawe, RockyNC.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ANN COULTER HATES THOMAS JEFFERSON

This country has a limitless supply of conservative women pundits and politicians who are desperate for attention and will say anything stupid or controversial so that they will get it.

Sarah Palin engages in this competition for attention through her inability to understand complex ideas and situations but tweeting on them, nonetheless; Michele Bachmann through her own ignorance of almost everything; Michelle Malkin through her self-absorbed cheerleading goofiness; and, finally, the doyenne of conservative loonies, Ann Coulter, who advocates the jailing of journalists [to the resounding applause of the freedom loving folks at the CPAC convention].

It is interesting that these patriots would listen to, applaud, and encourage the idea of throwing journalists in prison.  This is, of course, the favorite method of communist and fascist countries for keeping information away from the people and controlling them.  Jailed journalists can't tell people what their leaders are doing.  

And did I mention this is a dictator's dream? 

Apparently Coulter and her fellow conservatives share that dream.  Don't like what journalsts write?  Throw them in the clink!   

Ann Coulter advocates the exact opposite of what Thomas Jefferson said:


"If it were left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

Coulter and her conservative fans prefer what dictators prefer and reject Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson's sentiments.

Too bad, Annie, but you've been eclipsed by bigger lunkheads.   

You're still controversial, for sure; but Palin and Bachmann outdo your collywobbling rants by magnitudes.

Plus, you're boring. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

CHARLES DARWIN, 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882



Evolution Made Us All from Ben Hillman on Vimeo.


h/t Pharyngula

And here is a chart showing those countries with the lowest and highest numbers of people who accept Evolution as a fact:

h/t Green Eagle

Thank you Turkey! Otherwise the good ole USofA would be the bottom feeder.

For a technologically advanced country, how can the USA be so backward? We and radical Islamists share the ignorant ideology that Evolution is only a "theory." (Actually, one of our presidents, RWR, shared that belief as well. Oh, Dog!) And several Tea Party candidates proudly raised their hands in the last presidential campaign when asked how many DID NOT accept Evolution as fact.


That alone should disqualify any man or woman from holding public office. We should have some basic requirements for the leader of the free world, not the least of which should be intelligence.

Evolution is a fact. Period.

Anyone saying otherwise should not be considered fit to hold important political office.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Phyllis Wheatley -- 1753 – December 5, 1784

February is Black History month.  

Phyllis Wheatley was America's first African-American poet.  A bronze sculpture, by Meredith Bergmann, celebrating Ms. Wheatley is on the mall on Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Mass.





Boston Women's Memorial: Phillis Wheatley
Commonwealth Avenue and Fairfield Street, Boston, MA



bronze and granite, 2003
bronze: 59” x 50” x 32”


Wheatley, a slave in colonial Boston, was our first published African-American poet. Her pose is derived from the only extant image of her. She represents youth and Imagination.

On Being Brought from Africa to America



'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negro's, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.


I read this poem as supremely sarcastic in the poet's intent.  "Twas mercy brought me from my "Pagan land..."  Really?  Mercy took her away from her "Pagan" land?  And taught her "benighted soul?"  Benighted by the white masters?   The most heartbreaking lines are the last 3:  "Their colour is a diabolic die."/Remember, Christians, Negro's,  black as Cain,/May be refine'd, and join th' angelic train."