Saturday, February 26, 2011

Union Busting Is Just The Tip of The Iceberg in Wisconsin

As Wisconsin public employee unions struggle for the life of their union in Wisconsin, this is only one  element of a much broader plan by radical right wing Republicans to turn the state over to corporations, including Koch brother interests, with disastrous consequences for the middle class. Think Progress enumerates the top ten disastrous policies overlooked amid the union crisis in the nightmare union-busting bill Governor Walker has tried to ram through the Wisconsin legislature.

Governor Wanker's Hero, Ronnie RayGun, All For Union Rights — In POLAND!

"Conservatives may be shocked to learn that their idol Reagan was once a union boss himself. Reagan was the only president in American history to have belonged to a union, the AFL-CIO affiliated Screen Actors Guild. And he even served six terms as president of the organized labor group. Additionally, Reagan was a staunch advocate for the collective bargaining rights of one of the world’s most famous and most influential trade unions, Poland’s Solidarity movement."

100,000 Plus Rally for Unions in Madison, Thousands More Natiowide — Where IS The MSM?

Shame on MSNBC/NBC/CNN/CBS/ABC and the rest of these corporate media conglomerates. If not for the blogs, Tweeter, and other FREE non-corporate social media the news blackout would have been virtually complete. The corporate media's non-coverage of the pro-union protests has been shameful. With Fox cornering the lies and propaganda pro-Republican coverage, its allies in the so-called "liberal media" employ the non-coverage strategy to get around charges of bias. The bias is more of a benign corporate elitism exemplified by simply ignoring thorny anti-corporate stories. The network suits are chummy with enemies of the people, Rupert and Roger. Enemies of the people = enemies of the union = news blackout.

Memo to Rachel: Add an empty video file labeled "Wisconsin Pro-Union Protests, 100K+, 2-26-11" to your "Brokaw shelf", why dontcha.

Memo to David Gregory: Let me guess — Nothing but softballs tossed at Gov. Walker, while buying into his "budget crisis" narrative; that MTP had to be pressured by progressive blogs into booking AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, the only Sunday show to invite a union leader, is DISGRACEFUL. Surprise us by asking tough questions, AND THE ALL-IMPORTANT FOLLOW-UP. Not holding out breath.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops came out in support of the Wisconsin union — Hear, hear:
“You and our brother bishops in Wisconsin are offering a timely reminder of what the Church teaches on the rights and duties of workers, including the right to form and belong to unions and other associations, and the obligation to address difficult problems with respect for the rights and needs of all. As you insist, ‘hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.’”
“Catholic teaching and your statement remind us these are not just political conflicts or economic choices; they are moral choices with enormous human dimensions. The debates over worker representation and collective bargaining are not simply matters of ideology or power, but involve principles of justice, participation and how workers can have a voice in the workplace and economy.”
Memo to Chris: This is your bailiwick; how about giving the Church a platform when they're on the side of social justice for workers. Their moral authority holds sway with millions of Americans, and the Catholic Church can be as helpful here as they were standing up to South American dictators.

For photos and more coverage of nationwide rally, check out MoveOn site.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dropkick Murphys Releases Union Battle Song For Wisconsin Protesters: "Take 'Em Down"

Hat-tip to Jim Treacher over at our favorite wingnut rag, the Daily 'Puker', for this:

Thanks for the lyrics (below), Treach. Gee, I didn't figure you to be so sensitive about such innocuous lyrics: "take 'em down" and "gotta stand your ground, don't believe their lies, he'll take his toll, don't you sell your soul, we gotta organize, take the bastards down, smash 'em to the ground, take the bastards down" ... YEAH!
 Don't you get the language of metaphor? Did you really think Sarah Palin literally meant to accuse her critics of killing Christian children and baking their blood into matzoh bread in some weird ritual when she whined they manufactured a "blood libel" against her? Typically for wingnuts, she simply didn't know what the hell she was talking about.

Pretty good lyrics, though. Treach goes into a whole riff about MSNBC going on "red alert" and Paul Krugman's keyboard melting if the Tea Party put out a song about "taking the bastards down"... Hmm ... maybe from sheer incredulity, if someone over there was creative enough to write a tune like Dropkick Murphys's, on the fly. Instead, the best they can do is Ted Nugent fondling his guns and THIS. Yeow... Like fingernails on Beck's blackboard!

Speaking of "blood" our bud Treach was apparently horrified by this statement from MA Congressman Michael Capuano at a union rally: “Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary”. I didn’t see a problem with that. Considering (a) the history of state violence against workers in Wisconsin alone (not to speak of the thousands who gave their lives fighting for workers' rights in America), re: "Revisiting the Bay View Massacre: Where a Wisconsin Governor Ordered the National Guard to Open Fire on Protesting Union Members" —
"Guardsmen had positioned themselves on the hill above the entrance to the plant as the crowd moved through the Kinnickinnic Valley. Major George P. Traeumur, the commander, called the governor, who had set up a temporary headquarters in a Milwaukee hotel. He gave the order to fire. According to the Milwaukee Daily Journal's report of the shooting, an officer told the troops: "When you are ordered to shoot, pick out a man and shoot to kill." The marchers were warned to stop their advance. When they did not, the troops fired. When the shooting was over, at least seven people were dead, including one young boy."
As Gov. Walker has also called out the National Guard for a possible repeat performance, the Congressman was simply trying to steel the protesters on what to expect from the extremist in the State House who admits he "thought about" inserting "troublemakers" into the peaceful protests. But in deference to the "new civility" and sensitivities of folks like Treach, Congressman Capuano immediately apologized:
"I strongly believe in standing up for worker rights and my passion for preserving those rights may have gotten the best of me yesterday in an unscripted speech.... I wish I had used different language to express my passion and I regret my choice of words."
It's ironic that the Tea Party and other extremists on the right incessantly use bellicose gun language and signs declaring their government — whose scariest symbol to them is our black President — "tyrannical," using terms like "2nd Amendment remedies" and misquoting Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." The right's reaction to all this violent language: *crickets*. No, they dig around for any false equivalence they can find in the wingnut echo chamber. And now, barely weeks after the attempted assassination of a Democratic Congresswoman and the multiple massacre of innocents, this:

Keep digging, Treach.

PS - Enjoy your vacation and best wishes on a continuing recovery from your terrible knee injury. I mean it. (Despite your TMI updates and grisly pics.)

PPS - BTW, "Obamacare" is a pejorative for the same reason that Medicare would be if it were called "LBJCare" by its detractors. Don't insult our intelligence with disingenuous questions. Whatever happened to the "new civility" in the chamber that actually has rules of decorum against such things, hmm? Rep. Wasserman Schultz simply reminded the GOP of those rules since they constantly violate them, e.g., yelling "you lie!" at our President.

It's puzzling that you would show little empathy for the 50 million uninsured Americans who might be in a similar predicament without your access to adequate, (let alone) quality health care. Been there, done that. And it's no joke.

This one's for Treach from all those "60s liberals" in Madison the Governor spoke of (so contemptuously) who would like to "take you down"... PEACE, bro.

The 1:00 AM Republican Wisconsin Assembly Vote Was a "Sneak Attack"

It wasn't ONLY the bill stripping unions of collective bargaining rights — something that LIAR Governor Walker NEVER campaigned on — but the way the vote was carried out. In a democracy, the minority has a constitutionally protected right to be heard. That's the only thing they can do: Express and record their opposition within the rules. These Democratic state legislators were elected by the people of Wisconsin to represent their interests in state government. One outraged Democrat said that "a million and a half" Wisconsinites could not be heard when, in the early morning hour, the Republican leader abruptly cut off debate and called for a voice vote. It was the legislative equivalent of an ambush, in which only 13 of the 38 Assembly Democrats managed to vote. This was an outrageous, dictatorial, heavy-handed maneuver that fundamentally disrespected the minority's right to participate in the democratic process.
Republicans in Wisconsin's state assembly passed Governor Scott Walker's budget bill, including controversial anti-union provisions, before sleep-deprived Democrats knew what hit them. At 1 a.m. this morning, after three grueling days of debate and filibusters by the minority Democrats, Republican speaker pro tempore Bill Kramer called a voice vote. Within seconds, the ayes had it, 51 to 17. Only 13 of the Assembly's 38 Democrats managed to vote. Democrats said they were pressing the electronic "No" button on their desks as hard as they could and started booing and chanting, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" once the digital vote system on the wall announced the tally. In a video replay, one unidentified Democratic legislator "could be seen throwing his papers and a beverage of some kind into the air in the heat of passion."
If you want to help, stand with the workers and people of Wisconsin and please answer the call by for nationwide solidarity with Wisconsin rallies in all 50 states, this Saturday. Estimates are that more than one million people will participate. Find out more here.


Now it heads to the Senate and the Wisconsin 14 are hanging tough in the face of layoff notices that went out to teachers. Watch the Republicans walk out as Democrats jeer them with a chorus of "SHAME, SHAME!"


Shep Smith Forgot to Take His Meds?

Those Fox "Vitamin" pills his brethren take every day before heading out to do god's work in the R&R bunker. Or maybe he wasn't taking any calls with "advice" from the boss. Here's Shep grappling with telling the truth in the network of lies:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Psy-Ops Conspiracy: Did They Get to President Obama, Too?

Sometimes the conspiracy view of history can be useful in explaining the erratic warmongering behavior exhibited by politicos and Pentagon VIPs. If they look a little brainwashed, out of it, if they make belligerent ├╝ber-hawk statements, they may have been snared in a secret military psy-ops operation. Like the one Rolling Stone reports, in which U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan ordered a secret psychological operations (psy-ops) to "play with people's heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave."

In this case the "enemy" includes "senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts." The objective, increase support for the increasingly unpopular Afghanistan war through "information operations."

Yikes. Admiral Mullen is top Pentagon honcho. He was subjected to secret psy-ops conditioning on orders from a three-star general?!? Whatever happened to the "chain of command"? Is it any coincidence that Admiral Mullen is the most progressive, and dovish, CJCS since John Shalikashvili under Bill Clinton?

Remember John McCain's "bomb-bomb-bomb bomb bomb Iran"? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who needs "positive reinforcement" to increase the war budget, ya think? Or Traitor (Homeland Security) Joe Lieberman? Yet, seeing John McCain's downright insane behavior whenever a military issue comes up — DADT, Egypt (Israel is doomed, let's go to DEFCON 5) — the claim these guys might've been CandidateManchurianized seems to be credible. The military loves its redundancy.

Overstimulating McCain's and Lieberman's bellicosity synapses is not a good use of taxpayer's money. It really isn't. Just look at these guys. Their judgment can't be trusted. McCain is reinventing himself as the Senate's most conservative member — and the second coming of Curtis LeMay. Joe Lieberman (thank you!) has wisely decided to retire, announcing it in a rambling statement in which he compared himself to the dovish JFK. Was he under the influence of competing synaptic overload?

But here's the concern. If they targeted guys from Mullen to Al Franken (Al has been a solid pro-Pentagon war budgets vote) and Carl Levin, a powerful senate chairman of key committees, what's to say these rogue operators haven't selected both President Obama and Vice President Biden for the same subliminal warmaking seduction. The President has been downright hawkish and enthusiastic about prosecuting the Af-Pak wars. And so has Biden, despite his pre-election rep as a military policy contrarian. All that vanished once he became the President's trusted right-hand man.

Call it a tin-foil hat theory, but it might even explain this (see below). Or the new progressive Obama 2012 slogan: Cut the President a Break. He was Brainwashed By The Pentagon.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Postcript: When Will America WAKE UP?

The prof makes the case as clearly and cogently as I've heard. How come it seems nobody's listening?

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Punked By Reporter Posing As David Koch; Political, Legal Fallout — TBD

A reporter for the Buffalo, NY online publication, recorded a 20-minute phone conversation with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker by posing as David Koch, one of the billionaire Koch brothers. Much of the funding for Governor Walker's campaign was provided by the Koch brothers. They have bankrolled the anti-union counter-demonstrations in Madison through a Tea Party front group, Americans for Prosperity. Governor Walker's office has confirmed this is Walker's voice in the conversation (below). The David Koch impersonator is set off in "/".

Aside from the entertainment value of reporter Ian Murphy's pitch-perfect voice as an arrogant billionaire robber baron, assuming the taped conversation is accurate, there is a sense that Governor Walker may be in serious legal trouble regarding some of the statements he made. Listen carefully. You will hear a governor exposed in what he thought was a private conversation with his billionaire money man, their mutual ties and the extent to which he is a creature of the "vested interest" rather than the public interest laid bare.

The Governor is a radical right wing "true believer." Walker refers to one "reasonable" Democrat among those 14 on the lam, but when "Koch" says "I'll have to give that man a call" Walker quickly discourages him. "Well, actually, in his case I wouldn’t call him, and I’ll tell you why. he’s pretty reasonable but he’s not one of us ... hmm" because the Democrat is a "pragmatist" who is "just trying to get something done ... But he’s not an ally, he went into the private sector, made real money and, uh, became a little more open-minded." "David Koch" replies, "HA." (In this exchange, it's reasonable to infer the Governor did not want his conversation with "David Koch" to be disclosed, hence "he's not one of us" or, not to be trusted.

Walker was eager to assert his toughness and right wing bona fides to "David Koch." He said he would "not compromise." No matter what. It's quite revealing too, that a governor in the midst of a major crisis should devote 20 minutes of his busy schedule to an out-of-state billionaire. Of course, the Koch brothers happen to be Walker's major financial contributors with a "vested interest" in Wisconsin. Walker dismissed the polls, notably one commissioned by the AFL-CIO which shows erosion of public support for him. He notes he is "getting the message out" and cites a range of mostly Fox, mostly right wing media outlets: Hannity, "Greta", Mark Levin. Rather than addressing the reality of the situation, Walker devolves into a Baghdad Bob version of events: The protesters are "outsiders" who are losing public support; actually, the opposite is true. The latest polls in Wisconsin show the public is opposed to eliminating collective bargaining by a 2:1 margin.

A fascinating glimpse at the coordinated strategy of the Republican governors to assault public employee unions (rather than fix their budget issues with negotiation and compromise) emerges in Walker's ideological conviction that "this is our moment" and Wisconsin is "Ground Zero" for breaking the unions. "David Koch" adds helpfully, "you're the first domino." Actually, credit where credit is due: Ed Schultz of MSNBC, whose onsite reporting of this crisis in his primetime "Ed Show" is the best and most incisive, was the first to come up with the "Ground Zero" line. He was referring to the unions taking a stand and pushing back; not to Walker's inference that the Republican right wing governors and the Koch brothers are going to run the table and kill the labor movement in America. I'm placing my money on Big Eddie's prediction. Here's Walker:
"I talk to Kasich everyday. John's got to stand firm in Ohio. I think we can do the same thing with Rick Scott in Florida. I think Snyder, if he got a little more support probably could do that in Michigan. If you start going down the list, a lot of us new governors go elected to do something big ("David Koch" interjects, "You're the first domino") ... "Yep. This is our moment."
Deluding himself, or simply trying to tell "David Koch" what the billionaire brothers want to hear, Walker said "originally the guys got freaked out by all the bodies here," dismissing the 70,000 protesters (the biggest Wisconsin demonstrations since the Vietnam War) with "I remind the lawmakers there's five and a half million people in this state." After, he said, the "message" has to get out to the swing districts why "this was a good thing for the state." In this conversation, Walker not only confirmed his intention to break the union, but revealed some of the tactics he would use to do it: Setting his AG loose on the union, fishing for any illegality; squeezing the 14 Democrats who fled the state with a rule "which we just loved" to stop direct payroll deposits by locking the checks in the legislators' desks; "crank up" the pressure with layoff notices ready and "at-risk" notices mailed out to 5,000 to 6,000 workers next week.

Walker declared he would "not budge" and was ready to use state public employees as pawns: "We’ll wait it out. if they want to sacrifice thousands of workers who will be laid off, sooner or later there will be pressure on these senators to come back." The unions had already made every single financial concession demanded by the Governor to balance the budget — on their backs. But Walker admitted it's not about the budget — it's about breaking the public employee unions. He reassured his patron "David Koch" that he would try "four five different angles" to achieve this goal.

These revelations are more than a passing embarassment to Scott Walker. They're politically damaging and possibly Ethics Code and law violations. At the very least they warrant a full and thorough investigation. There are three aspects of this conversation that are particularly troubling:

(1) In what may be a clear violation of the State Ethics Code, Governor Walker said he was considering an "interesting idea" floated by his chief of staff to, in effect, lure the 14 Wisconsin Democrats hiding out in Illinois, on false pretenses:
"Putting out an appeal to the Democrat Leader, that I would be willing to sit down and talk to him, the Assembly Democrat Leader, plus the other two Republican leaders. talk, not negotiate. and listen to what they have to say if they will in turn. I’ll only do it if all 14 of them come back and sit down in the state assembly. They can recess it to come back and talk to me but they’ll have to be back there. The reason for that is, legally, we believe, once they’ve gone into session, they don’t physically have to be there. if they’re actually in session for that day and they take a recess, 19 senate republicans could then go into action and they’d have a quorum because they started out that way."
There's only one problem for such a scheme to succeed: It assumes the 14 Democrats would willingly sign on to having their leaders talk with the Governor in the knowledge that even if the Senate is in recess, the Republicans "could then go into action" and pass the bill, with or without them. That is patently ridiculous. So the assumption is that there would be deception involved: assurances from the Governor and Senate Republican leaders that no attempts to reach quorum would be made — hence, the recess — and that the "talk" with the Governor signalled a softening of his position that could lead to a compromise solution.

The segment ends rather bizarrely, in a hilarious kind of way:

Walker quickly reassures "David Koch" there's no wavering of his resolve: "If you heard I was going to talk to them (reassuring “David Koch” he’s not caving) that would be the only reason why we would; only do it if they came back to the capital with all 14 of them."

Walker (getting cocky): "My sense is,  hell, I’ll talk. If they want to yell at me for an hour, you know, I'm used to that. I can deal with that. But I’m not negotiating

"David Koch": "Bring ... put a baseball bat. that’s what I’d do.

Walker: (laughs) I’ve got one in my office; you’ll be happy with that. I’ve got a slugger  with my name on it.

"Koch": (HAHAHA) "Beautiful."
(2) In another side-splitting but leading exchange with Walker, "David Koch" says: "We sent (right wing provocateur) Andrew Breitbart down there." (Walker: "Yeah, good stuff.") "Koch": "Yeah. He's our man, you know." Which prompted Walker to boast, "I’ve been going after Obama because he stuck, he’s backed off now, but he stuck his nose in here and I said, last time I checked this guy’s got a much bigger deficit than we did. Maybe he should worry about that and not stick his nose in Wisconsin's business.”  "Koch": (HAHAHA). Later, "David Koch" says, "Right, right we'll back you anyway we can. But, uh ... what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh ... plantin' some troublemakers. (Pregnant pause.)
Walker: You know the (sigh) the only problem, 'cause we thought about that ... My only gut reaction to that would be the, the lawmakers I've talked to just completely had it with them ... the guys we got left are largely from out-of-state ... My only fear would be if there was a ruckus caused ... is that that would scare the public into thinking that maybe the Governor's got to settle to avoid all these problems. Whereas I've said, hey, we can handle this, let 'em protest, this is Madison, full of 60s liberals, it's not going to affect us. Let 'em protest all they want; that's my gut reaction, if they're constant, they're quiet, nothing happens. Because sooner or later the media stops finding it interesting."
It's unclear what Governor Walker meant when he said "'cause we thought about that." Did he mean he was thinking of "plantin' some troublemakers," as "David Koch" suggested be done; or was he thinking of how to handle troublemakers? In either case, Walker never made clear to "David Koch" that such activity was unacceptable, possibly illegal, and as Governor he would not countenance or tolerate troublemakers from out-of-state who were planted amid the Wisconsin union crowds to disrupt peaceful protests. Instead, he seemed to very awkwardky and indirectly discourage "David Koch" by saying his "fear" was that if there was "a ruckus caused" it would "scare the public into thinking that maybe the Governor's got to settle to avoid all these problems."

In other words: A "ruckus" caused by troublemakers is only to be discouraged because it may be counterproductive. Not because it might be illegal or unethical or downright wrong. Interesting.

(3) The conversation ends with a bang rather than a whimper. Scott Walker has his Reagan moment of misplaced hubris, in which he tried to inherit Reagan's mantle by comparing his stance to the Gipper's firing of Air Traffic Controllers in 1981— a sentiment shared with his cabinet, as he held a picture of Reagan. Said Walker: “It was kind of the last hurrah before we dropped the bomb.” Walker continued preening to his benefactor: 'I said, for those who thought I was being melodramatic, you now know, it was purely putting it in the right context.” (Melodramatic is a little generous.) "David Koch": "HAHAHA. Well, I’ll tell you what Scott. Once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time."

Walker: "All right, that would be outstanding. Thanks for all the support and helping us move the cause forward, and we appreciate it, we’re doing the just and right thing for the ... and it’s all about gettin’ our freedom back." And here is where "David Koch" gets in a little parting reminder about the Koch brothers' "vested interest" in Wisconsin:
"David Koch": "Absolutely. And you know, we have a little bit of “vested interest” as well. HAHA."

Walker: "Well that’s just it. The bottom line is we're going to get ... We're moving here ‘cause it’s the right thing to do."
The impersonation of "David Koch" by Ian Murphy is side-splitting hilarious. The faux "David Koch" drops a lot of "beautifuls" and "goddamned rights!" Referring to Walker's claim the union was putting up guys from out of state, "David Koch" said: "Well, they’re probably puttin’ hobos in suits. That's what we do sometimes." Walker: "Yeah." Reacting to possible layoffs, "David Koch" says: "Beautiful, beautiful. gotta crush that union!" Walker replies with a boast: "If they think I'm caving they've been asleep for the last eight years ... Because we don't budge." Referring to several media types, "David Koch" has a little fun: "Goddamned right! We sent Andrew Breitbart down there ... (Walker: "Yeah, good stuff!") He's our man, you know." When Walker said the media reception (Fox, Hannity, Greta, Levin) was "phenomenal," "David Koch" scoffed, "Not the liberal bastards on MSNBC!" But, as for Morning Joe: "Oh Joe’s a good guy; he’s one of us." Poor Mika Brzezinski, she gets no respect:

"But you gotta love that Mika Brzezinski. She’s a piece of ass!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Radical Right Wing Republican Assault Not Just Confined to Unions As They Wage War on Women

Have you seen this MoveOn ad? It encapsulates the sustained Republican assault on women, slashing basic essential services for pregnant women, preschool kids, Headstart. It's a generational assault not only on women but on our future as a nation and the future of our children. Did you know that for every dollar invested on a child's Headstart program, society gets back nearly nine dollars in return?

The stakes are high and this is the GO/TeaP/Oligarch's endgame. If you are, or know any woman who (a) is pro-choice but too 'busy' to vote because of the simplistic and wrong belief there's 'no real difference between the parties;' (b) believes in a woman's essential and LEGAL right to make the choice without government interference, regardless of one's individual stand on abortion; or (c) votes Democratic but wanted to 'send a message' or give Republicans 'their turn' as encouraged, e.g. by MSNBC libertarian dingbat Dylan Ratigan — PASS THE WORD: This is about our futures, it's about the hard-fought gains achieved by women, unions, all of us. Fundamentally, it's about what kind of nation we are prepared to accept; what nation we will become. It's time to push back in a serious way, to get involved in politics, in a serious way, and not allow the extremist, reactionary and destructive right wing to occupy the space left by your apathy.

FIGHT BACK. MoveOn compiled this PARTIAL list of the "Top Ten Shocking Attacks From The GOP's War on Women." It's mindblowing. If this doesn't get you off the block ...

1) Republicans not only want to reduce women's access to abortion care, they're actually trying to redefine rape. After a major backlash, they promised to stop. But they haven't yet. Shocker.

2) A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to "accuser." But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain "victims."

3) In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that could make it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care. (Yep, for real.)

4) Republicans want to cut nearly a billion dollars of food and other aid to low-income pregnant women, mothers, babies, and kids.

5) In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

6) Maryland Republicans ended all county money for a low-income kids' preschool program. Why? No need, they said. Women should really be home with the kids, not out working.

7) And at the federal level, Republicans want to cut that same program, Head Start, by $1 billion. That means over 200,000 kids could lose their spots in preschool.

8) Two-thirds of the elderly poor are women, and Republicans are taking aim at them too. A spending bill would cut funding for employment services, meals, and housing for senior citizens.

9) Congress just voted for a Republican amendment to cut all federal funding from Planned Parenthood health centers, one of the most trusted providers of basic health care and family planning in our country.

10) And if that wasn't enough, Republicans are pushing to eliminate all funds for the only federal family planning program. (For humans. But Republican Dan Burton has a bill to provide contraception for wild horses. You can't make this stuff up).

This video from the Lawrence O'Donnell show needs no introduction. Just watch:

I'll See Your Wingnut "Eyewitness" Rumor And Raise You The Highest Law Enforcement Authority

Despite out-of-state efforts by right wing provocateurs (two peas in a pod) Andrew Breitbart and Mark Williams — disgraced former Tea Party leader who was forced to resign after making offensive racist remarks — to incite violence and pose as SEIU workers and teachers to discredit the union and protesters in Wisconsin, their crude agit-prop antics did not, and will not, take. The usual wingnut propaganda sites geared up the violence-inciting rumor mill; por ejemplo, a self-serving uncorroborated "eyewitness" report of a "female reporter" being "bitch-slapped" and a "senior senator being spat on" made the wingnut blog rounds. Yeah, right:

From "Sykes" to "A savvy insider writes" to "an out of state colleague" to "a friend of mine told me" to "one senator told me" to "one of the freshman (Republican) members" — Republican, eh ... boy, that narrows it down — it's like War And Peace, trying to keep track of all these anonymous sources ... hard to tell if they're second-, third-, fourth- or fifth-person accounts claiming assault and vandalism. But hey, this on-the-scene "eyewitness" reporter says he's known Governor Walker for 15 years but Walker "is different now" having "met" with inanimate concepts instead of with the union reps. It's hard to imagine Walker being any less of an asshole "now" than he was in the past (although Rachel's report puts this notion to the test). But this dude's 15-year acquaintance (?) with Walker says a lot about the Governor — and not in a good way.

Now this is what I call first-rate gumshoe reporting, TRMS-style. Watch and learn, wingnuts ... if you're capable:

Those who practice REAL journalism do not report rumors. It's pretty pathetic when even the Daily Caller's sister publication, National Enquirer, has higher journalistic standards. Typically, when an assault occurs — which is what these incidents, as described, are — the press will not run with alleged "eyewitness" accounts unless they can be independently verified by at least three sources. If not, then they will issue a disclaimer. Even the principals' accounts shouldn't be taken at face value without corroboration. Add to that the suspicious nature of these alleged incidents, i.e., the first sounds suspiciously similar in the particulars (a female reporter assaulted by a mob) to the REAL sexual assault reported against a female CBS correspondent in Cairo. Strike one; not credible. The second alleged incident, of a "senior senator being spat on," again, is almost a carbon copy of the nature of the spitting incident against a black Congressman at a Tea Party rally in D.C. a few summers ago. It should be noted that Andrew Breitbart took an inordinate interest in that event and tried to provide bogus video "evidence" that it did not occur.

Bottom line is, in the sick, bizarro world of Rightwingville, the wingnuts have a habit of regurgitating the same old canards and wild accusations to discredit the Left. They just dress 'em up a bit. Give 'em a new coat of paint to make them appear to be new. But no one who is hip to their games falls for that crap. It's amazing. Once these wingnuts start lying, they can't stop. It's like a sick compulsion. It happens all the fucking time. As far as any incidents or provocations, Wisconsin law enforcement should probably keep an eye on out-of-state provocateurs like Breitbart and Williams. Next time they come to town, the cops should put a tail on them. They'll probably end up in the slammer.

And so, despite the wingnuts' crude provocations, Wisconsin's ultimate law enforcement authority has issued an unusual THANK YOU letter PRAISING THE PROTESTERS' CONDUCT following Saturday's 70,000-strong anti-Walker demonstration. Here it is:

THIS is the REALITY the wingnuts don't want you to know about.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What's Really at Stake in Wisconsin And The Myth of "Right-to-Work"

Saturday, the crowds in Madison, Wisconsin swelled to 70,000, the vast majority of them pro-union anti-Walker demonstrators. As the right wing is pushing its new line of attack, that the protests have been orchestrated by President Obama and the DNC — not true, unfortunately, which is too bad: The President should be taking a visible, leading role educating the American people on the importance of unions and the role unions have played in their lives; particularly in Wisconsin. Here’s a primer from Rachel Maddow:

And that’s not all. Wisconsin is the home of one the greatest Progressives (with a Capital “P”) in American history: “Fighting” Bob LaFollette. As the Wisconsin Historical Society recounts, LaFollette began his illustrious career as a reformer when he was offered a bribe to fix a court case against several former state officials:
La Follette refused the bribe, angrily denouncing the use of money to shut out the voice of the people. For nearly ten years, La Follette traveled around the state speaking out against the influence of crooked politicians and the powerful lumber barons and railroad interests that dominated his own party. Elected governor in 1900, La Follette pledged to institute his own form of political reform.

La Follette successfully pushed the legislature to pass measures instituting direct primary elections, which gave voters the right to choose their own candidates for office. He supported measures that doubled the taxes on the railroads, broke up monopolies, preserved the state's forests, protected workers' rights, defended small farmers, and regulated lobbying to end patronage politics. La Follette worked closely with professors from the University of Wisconsin to help the state become "a laboratory of democracy." By the time he joined the U.S. Senate in 1906, La Follette had become a national figure.

In Washington, La Follette pushed for the same kind of reforms he had promoted in Wisconsin. He often spoke at length on the corruption of government and the abuse of industrial workers. Arguing that the entire nation's economy was dominated by fewer than one hundred corporate leaders, La Follette supported the growth of unions as a check on the power of large corporations. In 1909, La Follette and his wife, Belle, founded "La Follette's Weekly Magazine," a journal that campaigned for woman suffrage, racial equality, and other progressive causes.

Though La Follette supported Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 presidential election, he adamantly opposed U.S. entry into World War I, believing that disputes should be solved peacefully. Although he was accused of being unpatriotic, La Follette believed that American's involvement in the war would end democratic reforms at home. Though critics declared that his opposition to the war was political suicide, La Follette was re-elected to the Senate in 1922. In 1924, he ran for president on the Progressive ticket and received almost 5 million votes, losing to Republican Calvin Coolidge. La Follette died the following year.
Robert LaFollette attained legendary status in the annals of American politics. He blazed a trail traversed by Teddy Roosevelt and later, Teddy’s cousin Franklin. Just reading LaFollette’s record of accomplishments and, more importantly, the principles he stood for, one cannot help but stand in awe of this leader who did so much to bring us to where we are today — only to see a movement of know-nothings fueled and manipulated by today’s robber barons trying to undo 100 years of progress in American history.

On Whose Side Would "Fighting" Bob LaFollette Be In This Fight?

In reality, President Obama weighed in four days after the protests had begun. The local grassroots flavor of the protests was never in doubt. These employee union members — teachers with support from students, nurses, firefighters — are protesting a venal. transparent power grab by the Governor to take away their collective bargaining rights.

They just want to retain the right they’ve fought for so hard to attain — not as a unilateral union privilege, but as the right for workers’ representatives — the union — to have a place at the table to negotiate working conditions, benefits and wages that are acceptable to all parties involved. People have given their lives in this country for the right to collectively bargain, and Wisconsin has led the way in this great 80-year historical tradition.

Wisconsin is worth fighting for.
Ultimately, this is a fight to turn the rest of America into those 22 so-called “right-to-work” states, an ironic and Orwellian name for states that bar public employees from the right to collectively bargain and  unions from organizing. I decided to check some key quality of life stats for these 22 states — the Republicans’ Nirvana — to see how they stacked up against union rights states. I settled on two broad ratings of state-by-state comparisons in education and health care. See for yourselves. The Education ratings and Health Index by state are calculated based on 21 different factors.

Here’s the reality: Of these 22 “right-to-work” states, in educational excellence/well educated population:

Only seven states cracked the top 20 (of 50 states); and of these only one, Virginia at number seven, was among the elite TOP TEN BEST EDUCATED STATES. At the same time, 10 of these 22 states were among the 20 WORST EDUCATED STATES, INCLUDING THE TWO WORST OF THE WORST: (Surprise!!!?) Arizona (Jan Brewer, Governor, anti-immigrant profiling law, attempted assassination of a Democratic Congresswoman); Number 50 — and Mississippi (Haley Barbour, Governor, racist comments, license plate issue honoring Confederate war criminal); Number 49.

Secondly, of these 22 “right-to-work” states, in health care delivery, accessibility and outcomes:

Only seven states (AGAIN!) cracked the top 20 (of 50 states); and of these only four, Virginia and Utah at number seven, Iowa (6) and Nebraska (9) were among the elite TOP TEN HEALTHIEST STATES. At the same time, 14 of these 22 states were among the 20 UNHEALTHIEST STATES, INCLUDING NINE OF THE TEN WORST HEALTH CARE STATES: Louisiana, 50 and Mississippi, 49 — in Rightwingville that's the kind of Dickensian healthcare record that turns Governor Haley Barbour into a presidential contender for the GO/TeaP. No surprises in the WORST of the WORST, in no particular order; they're ALL really BAD at providing health care: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas.

Note: Iowa and Kansas ranked well in both categories because they're considered swing states and Iowa went Blue for Obama, while the President's current HHR Secretary, charged with administering the healthcare law, was a former Kansas governor. Utah's health index seems anomalous. As for the rest, they're true to form. These states have serious quality of life problems for their working and middle class populations. The ultimate irony is that President Obama has been trying his best to elevate these states to the higher level of the others, while the oligarchs have been furiously campaigning to bring us all down ... with the help of a compliant (euphemistically) "low-information" population. Just throw a couple of buzzwords their way, like "socialism" and "big government," and they're yours for life.

Final verdict: This is a typical race to the bottom — the Ghettoization of America for the benefit of a very small, very powerful, very rich oligarchy, among whom the billionaire Koch brothers are maneuvering to be oligarchs-in-chief in the high councils of their shadow government.

P.S. Notice which state finished NO. 1 as the HEALTHIEST and MOST EDUCATED? Vermont! It is a gem of a state, absolutely GORGEOUS, like watercolor on canvas. And who, pray tell, is Vermont's ONLY Senator? DRUUUUUM ROLL, PLEASE: BERNIE SANDERS, INDEPENDENT SOCIALIST, OF VERMONT! This is what I'd call CELESTIAL SYNCHRONICITY.

The Wisconsin 14: State Democrats On The Lam Are In GREAT Company — Abraham Lincoln

That's right: "Honest Abe."

The Democratic Wisconsin state senators who fled Madison to the friendly confines of the great (still Blue) state of Illinois in order to deny Republicans the quorum necessary to pass their union-busting bill, are on the right side of history — considering the company they keep: America's greatest president, Abraham Lincoln.

Back in 1840, when Lincoln was an Illinois state legislator, the state bank was in financial crisis, having dispensed more paper money than it held gold and silver in reserve. The Democrats seized their opportunity to destroy the bank, much as today's radical right wing — fascist, please will someone in media con cojones, other than Thom Hartmann and Noam Chomsky, attach the correct historical analogy to this coalition of extremist Republicans controlling the party and the right wing plutocrats bankrolling the assault on unions — has launched a multi-state coordinated assault on America's public employee unions. Lincoln skipped out on the Illinois legislature by jumping, or as some joked referring to his long legs, stepping out of a window to deny the legislature the necessary quorum to kill the bank.

Young Abe Lincoln, Hiding Out From the Illinois Legislature in Undisclosed Location, 1840.
Lincoln was brought back, but his losing effort did not go unnoticed. And for the Teabaggers, who don't know but a true thing or two about their history, this one falls under our "Tea Party Remedial Education" series (because we believe in redemption): When the Constitution was being debated, some legislators from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania absconded to prevent its passage. Some were found in a tavern and dragged back to cast a vote. It's been done at least four times in Wisconsin alone, not to speak of the U.S. Senate.

It looks like Illinois is back playing a role in fighting this assault on the unions. Two of Illinois finest political leaders have come out four square in support of the unions: President Obama and our great Senator Dick Durbin. As former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said: "No one should take away collective bargaining rights; those are rights that built our middle class, and they should be sacrosanct." As Governor Rendell noted, Walker never campaigned on destroying collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin. Polls show the people of Wisconsin are against it. And — surprise surprise: WALKER IS A GODDAMNED LIAR!

Good on the Wisconsin Democrats for preventing a vote on the bill that Governor Walker rammed through without due consideration or consultation with the unions, slowing this process down until the people of Wisconsin have had more time to consider it. The union has already agreed to the financial concessions on salary, health care and pensions the Governor thinks necessary (although they are not, it's a false crisis) to balance the budget. It's about retaining their workers' right to collectively bargain over working conditions, a whole host of issues including classroom sizes, overtime, vacation, hiring and firing. Basic worker rights that have historically been jointly negotiated — hence collective bargaining. Andy Stern explains this fascist (let's call it for what it is) power grab.