Monthly Archives: February 2011

Hidden Class War

 

Wisconsin Is Making the Battle Lines Clear in America’s Hidden Class War

Polls suggest the public is siding with the unions locally and nationally. A survey last week showed 53% against cutting benefits and pay for government workers and 61% opposed to removing collective bargaining. Even conservative polls suggest a majority in Wisconsin is opposed to Walker’s attempt to eliminate collective bargaining.

Coming so soon after Republican electoral victories at federal and state level, Walker might have anticipated an easier ride for his agenda than this. After all, membership of unions is at an all-time low and public support for them does not fare much better. Moreover, support for unions ordinarily falls when unemployment rises. But these are no ordinary times. For if organised labour has fallen out of favour, the illusion that you can make it on your own is not far behind. A Pew survey in 2008 – before the banking system imploded – showed that fewer Americans than at any time in 50 years thought they were moving forward in life. The number of those who don’t believe you can get ahead by working hard has doubled in 10 years. Half the country thinks its best days are behind it. While many may question the role of the unions, few believe firing 12,000 government workers, as Walker has pledged to do, is the answer.

Walker’s case is as predictable as it is weak. Government workers, he claims, have higher pay and better benefits than others in a bloated state that must slim down if it is to keep running. This is hardly true. Accounting for age and education, US local government employees earn 4% less than their private sector counterparts. Yes, the shortfall in pensions is real. But if the political will existed, calamity could be avoided with a fairly modest increase in the budget allocation. Union members do generally enjoy better benefits. That’s the whole point of being in a union: to improve your living standards through collective action. And that is precisely why Republicans like Walker want to crush them.

His agenda has nothing to do with redressing a fiscal imbalance and everything to do with exploiting the crisis to deliver a killer blow to organised labour. If fixing the budget deficit were really Walker’s priority, he would not have waved through $140m in tax breaks for multinationals or refused to take federal funds for transport or broadband development. Like 10 other states, he might even have raised taxes progressively.

While tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pro union protesters across the country marched this weekend in defense of average Americans, where were the American Taliban tea nuts. A few were counter protesting. They were not protesting in front of multi-national banks and corporations that caused the United sates to lose three trillion dollars in wealth. What were right-wing conservatives pundits doing? They were not posting or speaking about Americans the lack of economic justice for people who put in a forty plus hour week to provide the essential services many Americans take for granted, no, they were bust greatly exaggerating some minor clashes between pro union and anti-union dip sticks. Gov. Hosni Hosni Mubarak Walker and his comrades highlight the glaring hypocrisies of alleged conservative populist. Republicans are claiming unions should not have rights while trying to portray themselves as populist voices of the people. Their agenda is also at odds with their bizarre populist claims. They are working to make sure all power is in the hands of corporations, Americas new ruling class, the new plutocracy. Conservatives would like the public to think they and they alone understand the Constitution and have recently taken to having to cite specific passages of the Constitution that justifies any legislation that is proposed. Where is it in that document that says the people shall be powerless and corporations have all the power. If Walker and the Rights thinks elections are about stealing power from the people and giving even more power to the technocrats and the elite there is a bright side. Once again The U.S.A. has been provided yet another insight in the corrupt and anti-republic nature of the conservative movement.

David Weigel also reports on the Right’s ( mostly echoes of Michlle Counter Top Inspector Malkin) coverage of the few repoted clashes between pro-union and anti-union nutbars. Where Are the Thugs?

I just spent four days in Madison and the state Capitol, reporting, and saw absolutely no violence. There were no arrests on Saturday, when 80,000 liberals rallied and a smaller number of Tea Partiers counter-protested. There were no arrests last night when hundreds of angry protesters watched the GOP-led Assembly pass the budget repair act. There are no arrests, so far, in Madison. And Malkin cites actual violence in only two cities where protests have taken place.

I’m old enough to remember the days of, oh, six months ago, when Tea Party activists claimed that anyone saying racist things or committing violence at their rallies were infiltrators.

Violence is wrong and anyone on any side who’s temperament is such they can’t keep their hands to themselves should get some anger control therapy. That said, heated verbal exchanges are inevitable. They hardly count as incidents of thuggery. Did Malkin go to high school in the U.S.? If she did she would know better.

More on The Uprising in Wisconsin

 

12 Things You Need to Know About the Uprising in Wisconsin. Just a few excerpts,

1. Wisconsin’s public workers  have already “made sacrifices to help balance the budget, through 16 unpaid furlough days and no pay increases the past two years,”….

This isn’t just about public employees. What even a majority of the protesters don’t know is that Walker’s law would also place all of the state’s Medicaid funding in the hands of the governor.

( Legislators would be out of the loop. Walker would be the grand potentate of all Medicaid related programs related to the poor and children. Paul Krugman also noted in his recent column, “What’s that about? The state of Wisconsin owns a number of plants supplying heating, cooling, and electricity to state-run facilities (like the University of Wisconsin). The language in the budget bill would, in effect, let the governor privatize any or all of these facilities at whim. Not only that, he could sell them, without taking bids, to anyone he chooses.” Walker fits the well known cycle of conservative government rule in action. When they are out of power, government is too big and has too much power. As soon as they are in charge, government becomes larger, more draconian, less democratic and more corrupt.)

…8. Public sector workers have, on average, more experience and higher levels of education than their counterparts in the private sector (they are twice as likely to have a college degree).

9. When you adjust for those factors, they make, on average, 4 percent less than their private-sector counterparts.

12. Many public employees are not eligible for Social Security — those pensions, and whatever they can put away on their own, is all that they’ll have in their golden years.

Wisconsin’s Future, in noting Walker’s campaign promise to create jobs, yes he just took office, but he seems determined to kill jobs in Wisconsin, not create them, Wisconsin Recovery- the 250,000 job solution(pdf)

One problem is arising already though. While Governor-elect Walker says Wisconsin is “Open for Business,” — there seem to be exceptions. High speed rail is not welcome here. Even though the federal government has already given Wisconsin the money, Walker says No! Even though the Talgo corporation is starting to build the train in central city Milwaukee where jobs are badly needed and is now being wooed to Illinois, Walker says No! Even though leaders from across the state say this would bring Wisconsin into the world of 21st century transportation, Walker says No! Even though mass transit is an evironmentally friendly job creater, Walker says No! We may need a way to measure less than zero job numbers on our job-o-meter.

This is in addition to Walker’s assault on bargaining rights. His union busting antics may also create more unemployment, expand Wisconsin’s budget gap by $137 million and cost Wisconsin businesses $100 million.

The Scott Walker Dog

The Transport Workers Union has completed a 5 minute video that summarizes the events in Wisconsin with interviews of workers, speeches and music.

Walker seems oblivious to what the people in Wisconsin want, but should he start paying attention to what is going on outside his little echo chamber, Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all

* Among those who make less than $24,000 annually, 74 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 14 percent who favor it.

* Among those who make $24,000 to $59,000, 63 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 33 percent who favor it.

* Among those who make $60,000 to $89,000, 53 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 41 percent who favor it.

* Among those who make $90,000 and up, 50 percent favor the proposal, versus 47 percent who oppose it.

Only the last, highest-income category favors the proposal; working and low-to-middle class folks all oppose it.

In conservative blog post after blog post and in memes by the conservative media is this claim: workers have no right to bargain, have free speech or freedom to associate and organize. With some reasonable limits ( many police unions may not strike for example) the courts have recognized workers rights. At no time have I read or heard a conservative pundit or major blog, much less the multitude of ignorant right-wing commentors see the absurdity and irony of claiming workers have none of the aforementioned rights, but businesses and corporations do. Businesses can organize – do a Google search for business organizations, exercise their free speech, spend billions on advocacy in the media, start nefarious groups to funnel huge sums of money to corporate interests and politicians who will advocate their positions, but ordinary citizens organize? What an outrage. What FDR said, When FDR Came to Wisconsin to Fight the Kochs and Walkers of 1934

…Men everywhere throughout Europe — your ancestors and mine — had suffered from the imperfect and often unjust Governments of their home land, and they were driven by deep desire to find not alone security, but also enlarged opportunity for themselves and their children. It is true that the new population flowing into our new lands was a mixed population, differing often in language, in external customs and in habits of thought. But in one thing they were alike. They shared a deep purpose to rid themselves forever of the jealousies, the prejudices, the intrigues and the violence, whether internal or external, that disturbed their lives on the other side of the ocean.

Yes, they sought a life that was less fettered by the exploitations of selfish men, set up under Governments that were not free. They sought a wider opportunity for the average man.

Having achieved that initial adventure of migrating to new homes, they moved forward to the further adventure of establishing forms of government and methods of operating these forms of government that might assure them the things they sought. They believed that men, out of their intelligence and their self-discipline, could create and use forms of government that would not enslave the human spirit, but free it and nourish it throughout the generations. They did not fear government, because they knew that government in the new world was their own.

I do not need to tell you that here in Wisconsin they built a State destined for extraordinary achievements. They set up institutions to enforce law and order, to care for the unfortunate, to promote the arts of industry and agriculture. They built a university and school system as enlightened as any that the world affords. They set up against all selfish private interests the organized authority of the people themselves through the State. They transformed utilities into public servants instead of private means of exploitation.

People know also that the average man in Wisconsin waged a long and bitter fight for his rights. Here, and in the Nation as a whole, in the Nation at large… man has been fighting… against those forces which disregard human cooperation and human rights in seeking that kind of individual profit which is gained at the expense of his fellows…

In the great national movement that culminated over a year ago [1933], people joined with enthusiasm. They lent hand and voice to the common cause, irrespective of many older political traditions. They saw the dawn of a new day. They were on the march; they were coming back into the possession of their own home land.

As the humble instruments of their vision and their power, those of us who were chosen to serve them in 1932 turned to the great task. In one year and five months, the people of the United States have received at least a partial answer to their demands for action; and neither the demand nor the action has reached the end of the road. But, my friends, action may be delayed by two types of individuals. Let me cite examples: First, there is the man whose objectives are wholly right and wholly progressive but who declines to cooperate or even to discuss methods of arriving at the objectives because he insists on his own methods and nobody else’s.

The other type to which I refer is the kind of individual who demands some message to the people of the United States that will restore what he calls “confidence.” When I hear this I cannot help but remember the pleas that were made by government and certain types of so-called “big business” all through the years 1930, 1931 and 1932, that the only thing lacking in the United States was confidence.

Before I left on my trip… I received two letters from important men, both of them pleading that I say something to restore confidence. To both of them I wrote identical answers: “What would you like to have me say?” From one of them I have received no reply at all in six weeks. I take it that he is still wondering how to answer. The other man wrote me frankly that in his judgment the way to restore confidence was for me to tell the people of the United States that all supervision by all forms of Government, Federal and State, over all forms of human activity called business should be forthwith abolished.

Now, my friends, in other words, that man was frank enough to imply that he would repeal all laws, State or national, which regulate business — that a utility could henceforth charge any rate, unreasonable or otherwise; that the railroads could go back to rebates and other secret agreements; that the processors of food stuffs could disregard all rules of health and of good faith; that the unregulated wild-cat banking of a century ago could be restored; that fraudulent securities and watered stock could be palmed off on the public; that stock manipulation which caused panics and enriched insiders could go unchecked. In fact, my friends, if we were to listen to him and his type, the old law of the tooth and the claw would reign in our Nation once more.

The people of the United States will not restore that ancient order. There is no lack of confidence on the part of those business men, farmers and workers who clearly read the signs of the times. Sound economic improvement comes from the improved conditions of the whole population and not a small fraction thereof.

Those who would measure confidence in this country in the future must look first to the average citizen…

That’s where I’m looking. And from what I can tell, the people are hurting, but their struggle to extend and deepen American freedom, equality, and democracy continues.

Big Government conservatism, After Leading Bush Admin Charge To Kill FOIA, Issa Issues First Subpoena On Obama FOIA. Instead of simply asking Homeland Security staffers to testify, Isaa uses the heavy hand of his committee chairmanship to issue subpoenas. Issa is to freedom of information and good judgment what Dick Cheney is to gun safety,

– Issa Helped Karl Rove And Bush Allies Hide Government E-Mails In RNC Accounts: In 2008, the House Oversight Committee investigated the fact that an estimated 5 million e-mails from Bush administration servers vanished from the president’s office. Although it was widely believed that White House adviser Karl Rove had used Republican National Committee e-mail accounts, in violation of the Presidential Records Act, to hide official communications, Issa used his position on the committee to try to squash the inquiry.

…Ironically, since Congress exempted itself from FOIA law, Issa has been less than forthcoming about record requests into his own office. At the behest of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, several lobbyists have provided letters regarding a request by Issa to entertain proposals from corporations seeking his help in eliminating regulations. Issa has not voluntarily released all of the other letters he received from lobbyists. Also, Issa has so far ignored a request by a group called the IssaFiles to respond to serious ethical questions raised by a New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza. The ten questions relate to a suspected arson at a factory insured by Issa earlier in his career.

Issa is for using big government to hide FOIA requests from citizens of the U.S. Issa is for big government to use as a gudgeon to attack his political opponents. Issa is for big government to hide the secrets of his ideological comrades. Issa is for using big government tax payer funds to finance his McCarthy-like egg hunts. Creating jobs not high his list. Protecting Medicare not high on his list. Protecting an open democracy not on his list or his bosses’ John Boehner(R-OH).

Union thug according to Republicans

Another union thug. She probably could kick Wienie Walker’s ass.

Organized Labor and Conservative Credibility

 

Video: CWA union thug strikes young female FreedomWorks activist. If M’s Hale was assaulted that is obviously a bad thing. I have watched this video twice. There does seem to have been some kind of confrontation – the supposed CWA worker perhaps shoving someone or using his sign to push away the camera, which is very close to his face. While the pushing or shoving, if it did occur is poor behavior, the police would call it aggravated assault at best. The law does recognize the concept of personal space. If someone gets too close to you in a way meant to maliciously cause distress and fear of further attack is considered justification for responding. M’s Hale is actually not to be seen. Except that might be a shot of her shoes as the camera points down. The Right has a couple of problems with this video and future videos which do not display a clear and unedited version of events. These are issues of their own making. One, we recently had a tea bag activist call for posing as union members to cause trouble –  Tea Party plan to impersonate union protesters: “Even if it becomes known that we are plants the quotes & pictures will linger as defacto truth.” We actually do not know if the person depicted in the video is an actual CWA member of what his political affiliations are. Another credibility problem the Right has is its recent history of editing video to make themselves look good and people, and organizations they hate look bad,  See Andrew Breutbart, Big Hollywood, Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe - ACORN Sting Tape EDITED: Rachel Maddow Dissects Edit-Bay Trickery (VIDEO). Just a month ago, having learned nothing from their previous video hoax we had the James O’Keefe inspired Lila Rose try to pull an ACORN-like con-game on Planned Parenthood, A Refresher Course On Andrew Breitbart’s Dishonest Tactics -Planned Parenthood Actually Reported The “Potential Sex Trafficking” To Law Enforcement Officials. If this M’S Hale was shoved or hurt that is unfortunate. Besides the credibility the Right and their sugar-daddy organizations have when it comes to exposing alleged wrong doing by the subjects of their never-ending hate campaigns, there is the immediate issue of lack of other reports in the Wisconsin press and why hasn’t Hale in fact filed a police report. A quick search of broadcast affiliates and newspapers in Wisconsin showed no reports of assault or an account of the confrontation. The only place you’ll find the video – besides YouTube – is on right-wing Republican web sites. Yes, the Right can claim the big bad librul press is hiding this breaking story, but that would mean an admission that no public report was filed – perhaps from lack of evidence? And a lost opportunity for the Right to portray middle-class workers and unions as “thugs”. Considering the tens of thousands of protesters on the public workers side, this one incident – if it occurred as the Right claims, is nowhere near having the moral weight to indict the vast majority of workers, their families and friends.

Hale even admits the video was edited or framed in a certain way to serve her purposes,

I was not asking for this. There was no confrontation between the thug and myself prior to this. He had not asked me to put the camera away. I was not as close as the video implies (it was cropped from a vertical iPhone video so it would fit on youtube). I was simply filming a protest, as I have done for the past two years. Amazingly enough, none of those crazy right wing extremists ever hit me.

U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano ‘bloody’ comment becomes flashpoint in union flap. This was definitely not a proud moment in Democratic history. To Rep. Capuano’s credit he did apologize. A lost art on the Right,

“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,” he said in a statement. “I wish I had used different language to express my passion and I regret my choice of words.”

Rep. Edward Markey(D) was at the same rally as Capuano,

U.S. Rep. Edward Markey also took on the Tea Party protesters, telling the News Service prior to his public remarks Wednesday that they bordered on “economic illiteracy.”

Where were they when George Bush was squandering the surplus? Where were they when George Bush was fighting two wars without paying for it? Where were they when George Bush turned the keys to our economy over to Wall Street? Where were they then?” he said. “The blame that goes down to school teachers for being responsible for what happens just shows you how completely and totally ignorant of the actual operations of the economy over the last 10 years they are.”

The tea smokers would never lose the taint of living in a bubble for eight or nine years, suddenly waking up, indignant at how the nations’ finances have been run. If we did not have Bush’s debt plus the three trillion dollars from invading Iraq we’d be in much better shape.

Before we move on one more note on the Civil Discourse wars, Conservative Indiana Official Jeffrey Cox On Wisconsin Protestors: ‘Use Live Ammunition’.

Wisconsin Governor Hosni Mubarak Walker, like most far Right cons have convinced themselves they are the gurus of economics. Actually that is an understatement. They truly believe whatever they say about economics is the last word even if they contradict themselves. While the nation and working class Americans economic problems can all be traced back to them and conservative Democrats. Walker keeps claiming he is just getting Wisconsin’s’ fiscal house in order. There is no connection between union busting and a better economy,

“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.

The Republican Deficit Hysteria Will Not Solve Our Economic Problems or Why Budget Cuts Don’t Bring Prosperity

Similarly, there is no evidence that the government is gobbling up too many workers and keeping them from the private sector. When John Boehner, the speaker of the House, said last week that federal payrolls had grown by 200,000 people since Mr. Obama took office, he was simply wrong. The federal government has added only 58,000 workers, largely in national security, since January 2009. State and local governments have cut 405,000 jobs over the same span.

The fundamental problem after a financial crisis is that businesses and households stop spending money, and they remain skittish for years afterward. Consider that new-vehicle sales, which peaked at 17 million in 2005, recovered to only 12 million last year. Single-family home sales, which peaked at 7.5 million in 2005, continued falling last year, to 4.6 million. No wonder so many businesses are uncertain about the future.

Without the government spending of the last two years — including tax cuts — the economy would be in vastly worse shape. Likewise, if the federal government begins laying off tens of thousands of workers now, the economy will clearly suffer.

Leonhardt is likely correct about some tax cuts. Republicans went too far in insisting on keeping the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250k. All we hear now from those same Republicans is  we ( the middle-class and poor) have to start making sacrifices. It was not asking for much of a sacrifice for someone who was making $395k a year to somehow get by on $5k less. Yes, the wealthy should pay more, not because they are all mean and greedy, but because they are the ones who benefit most from the basic infrastructure that makes their wealth possible.

AssRocket at Powerline sends out his deepest, and as usual, weird compassion to the poor beleaguered Koch brothers who have to suffer the mean things libruls say about them, Wanker of the Day: Assrocket.

Bargaining Rights Not Connected to Budget Problems

The rabid right-wing Republican NewsBusters screws up yet again, but does bring up an accuracy issue worth taking a look at, Wisconsin State Senator Smacks Down Chris Matthews: ‘You’re Completely Uninformed’

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews tried Monday to push the liberal media meme that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker exempted police and firefighters from his budget repair plan because their unions endorsed him in last November’s election.

Chris Matthews a liberal. Only a group of bloggers who make Nixon look like FDR would think Matthews is a liberal. The same Chris Matthews who praised Bush 43’s leadership, “What’s the importance of the president’s amazing display of leadership tonight?” and “We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical…” In News Buster’s world anyone who is not genuflecting 24/7 for the far Right agenda qualifies as a liberal. If there is a liberal meme that Walker is letting police and firefighters have their collective bargaining rights as a quid pro quo for their political endorsement, I’m not aware of it. Since Matthews is not a liberal, as far as I know he does not even qualify as a party of one. Is he and anyone repeating the quid pro quo meme mistaken? Yes they are, NewsBusters. This is the important thing to remember. Not all the police and firefighter unions and their various divisions endorsed Walker. Walker did give almost all of them a waiver on his demand to end all collective bargaining rights for public employee unions. This waiver is one of a few very relevant flaws in the argument Wisconsin Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker. If bargaining rights are somehow connected to balancing the state budget, than the same standard should apply to all public employees. Bargaining rights have nothing to do with balancing the budget. It’s like discussing the monthly budget with your spouse and suddenly claiming if they would stop talking for the next year the checking account will be magically balanced. Talking is just that. Maybe Walker is afraid he will not be able to resist those sweet talk’n labor leaders in the future.

The current stand-off in Wisconsin has created some friction between unions because of the police and firefighter exceptions, Law enforcement union members ‘at each other’s throats’ over budget plan

The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 900 state troopers, inspectors, police communication operators, Motor Vehicle Department field agents and other state police, includes some members who have been exempted from Walker’s plan, said WLEA President Tracy Fuller on Sunday.

“Our union is being torn apart about this,” said Fuller, who is a State Patrol inspector from Madison. “We’ve got members at each other’s throats.”

Walker exempted the State Patrol and its inspectors from the bill, but UW and Capitol police, among others in the WLEA, would lose their collective bargaining rights if the budget repair bill passes.

“I want to tell our members not to turn and destroy each other when we have to do battle against the governor’s budget proposal,” Fuller said. “Let’s not kill each other over this thing.”

Fuller said he regretted that the Wisconsin Trooper’s Association, which is an organization made up of many WLEA members, endorsed Gov. Scott Walker – WLEA itself did not endorse anyone, he said.

Fuller, who said the State Patrol did not ask for the exemption, said the WLEA is meeting Tuesday to decide whether it can survive. WLEA members had been affiliated with AFSCME Council 24 before breaking off on their own in 2005. State troopers and inspectors make up about half the membership, Fuller said.

The lead for this story is unfortunate. The WLEA (Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association) recently posted this take on Walker’s radical change to state policy and public employees,

To – WLEA Members
From – WLEA Executive Board (Message 1)

On Friday, February 11, Governor Walker announced his plan to radically reshape Wisconsin’s public employee laws. The proposed bill, which the Governor refers to as a Budget Repair bill, goes far beyond that. One could argue that the doctor diagnosed a sprained knee, and the Governor’s solution is to amputate both legs. After all, if you get chop the knees off, you won’t have to worry about spraining them again. Of course, the treatment seems a little radical as a solution.

Statutes describe what is supposed to happen when a state employee union contract isn’t approved. 111.91(1) … If the legislature does not adopt without change that portion of the tentative agreement introduced by the joint committee on employment relations, the tentative agreement shall be returned to the parties for renegotiation.

Governor Elect Walker got his way in December when the legislature failed to approve the tentative agreements. The proper procedure would have been to reopen negotiations. However, no negotiations happened with any unions. Governor Walker was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the budget repair bill was introduced by saying, “I don’t have anything to negotiate,” Walker said. “We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years. People have ignored that for years, and it’s about time somebody stood up and told the truth. The truth is: We don’t have money to offer. We don’t have finances to offer. This is what we have to offer.”http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/115911379.html

As employees, we all know that there is more to negotiations than just economics. Under current law, wages, hours of work and other conditions of employment are subjects of negotiation. The Budget Repair Bill won’t just require state employees to pay more for insurance. It would abolish all bargaining other than wages, and those wages would be capped at the consumer price index.

The new administration never attempted to start discussions with the WLEA Bargaining Team or any other bargaining unit. They just dropped the bomb on all of the public employee unions.

This bill carves out an exemption for “public safety workers”, but if we are honest, those exemptions will be limited. Once the draconian changes are implemented on the rest of the public employees, it’s only a matter of time until they catch the public safety workers too.

This bill has some provisions that make no sense, unless the basic intent is to bust unions. One provision makes it illegal for public employers to collect dues for labor organizations. The employer can take deductions for the United Way, or other organizations, but they are prohibited from collecting union dues.

How does that repair the budget?

Another provision requires the WERC to conduct a representation election by December 1st each year, to determine if the employees still want the union to represent them. The WERC has to bill the union for the cost of the election. Currently, if a group petitions the WERC to do an election, the WERC covers the cost. Right now, the members have the right to request an election if the majority of the members want to change or eliminate representation. Why create unnecessarily processes?

Does that help repair the budget? ( all emphasis mine)

Walker and the right are framing this as a budget crisis issue. Nothing Walker is proposing has much to do with balancing the budget and a lot to do with union busting. The WLEA notes that it is inevitable that once bargaining rights for teachers, capitol police, state workers such as accountants and other workers goes down, public safety worker rights are the next target. Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker certainly knows how to back up his arguments with statements from solid budget experts. So he takes to Twitter. He Tweets that a budget expert backs him up, Burning Down Wisconsin: The Hidden Budget Bill Item Even Worse Than Union Busting

Tweeting throughout the day, the link was one of only four links Gov. Walker provided to information or opinion defending his bill.

It just happens that Tina Korbe, the author of that Heritage piece, graduated with a BA in journalism from the University of Arkansas… in 2010.

More? As late as 2006, Korbe was a “Top 8 finalist” in the Arkansas Jr. Miss pageant. The year before, she was a semi-finalist in the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Pageant. No worries though, she already was Miss Teen Diamond Lakes 2005.

So, to put that in perspective, when the governor of the entire state of Wisconsin finds time to defend a bill that could severely impact the financial well-being of hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin workers, not to mention instituting the most sweeping changes to the balance of the state’s labor relations in 50 years, who does he point to? An 22-year-old (at best) who grew up in Arkansas and graduated with an undergraduate degree in journalism less than a year ago.

Are conservatives seriously still pointing to anything from The heritage Foundation for expertise on anything. Every time they bring up Heritage they bring up two outstanding issues on which The Heritage would rather forget. They proposed a health care reform overhaul that closely resembled the Affordable Care Act and which had an individual mandate. They also thought lying the nation into a three trillion-dollar debacle was a great idea. So great they fired one of their own for criticizing their position. Who is to blame for Wisconsin’s budget problems. Some of it is the general state of the economy. Revenues are down. Walker and his crony Republican bedfellows also share some much of the blame because they are acting like state-size examples of the George W. Bush administration. They are determined to ram through their agenda regardless of what the numbers say,

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Outlines Major Causes Of Wisconsin’s Budget Shortfall, Which “Include Two Big Obligations” Unrelated To Unions That Total Almost $260M. In a February 1 article, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted causes of the state’s budget shortfall and reported that Walker’s tax policies accounted for “more than half” of an anticipated $203 million decline in tax revenues…

Walker and his benefactors the Koch brothers are also using the nationwide belt-tightening to engage in some class warfare. They’re hoping to open up a rift between union and non-union workers. According to right-wing math, unions much like Reagan’s mythical welfare queen, are living high off the hog while everyone else struggles, The Betrayal of Public Workers

Even if state and local government employees are not responsible for the budgetary problems that emerged out of the recession, are they nevertheless receiving bloated wage and benefits packages that are holding back the recovery? Since the recession began, there has been a steady stream of media stories making such claims. One widely cited 2009 Forbes cover article reported, “State and local government workers get paid an average of $25.30 an hour, which is 33 percent higher than the private sector’s $19…. Throw in pensions and other benefits and the gap widens to 42 percent.”

What figures such as these fail to reflect is that state and local government workers are older and substantially better educated than private-sector workers. Forbes is therefore comparing apples and oranges. As John Schmitt of the Center for Economic Policy Research recently showed, when state and local government employees are matched against private sector workers of the same age and educational levels, the public workers earn, on average, about 4 percent less than their private counterparts. Moreover, the results of Schmitt’s apples-to-apples comparison are fully consistent with numerous studies examining this same question over the past twenty years. One has to suspect that the pundits who have overlooked these basic findings have chosen not to look.

Most American do not belong to unions, but unions have a ripple effect across the economy. Rather than being resentful or envious of unions, American from every profession might want to ponder how much of their compensation, benefits and working conditions can be traced back battles fought and won by unions.

Wisconsin is a Reminder. Conservatives Are to Blame for Nation’s Financial Woes, Not Unions

The Tea Bagger Conservative Yo-Yo Trick

Wisconsin Governor Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker’s lies have been so blatant even the Rupert Murdock rag the WSJ had to report the truth, Biggest protests yet as pro-Walker side, larger union crowd meet peacefully

The protesters descended on Madison as Walker, through a spokesman, rejected an overture from a Democratic state senator who said public employee unions had agreed to make financial sacrifices contained in the bill in return for the right to bargain collectively.

[  ]…Walker’s office reacted in response to Erpenbach, who said he had been informed that state and local public employee unions had agreed to the financial aspects of the measure.

Erpenbach’s statement was backed by a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, who confirmed the agreement, and by Marty Beil, the head of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, an affiliate of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Erpenbach said the offer was “a legitimate and serious offer on the table from local, state and school public employees that balances Gov. Walker’s budget.”

“It would appear that Gov. Walker’s only target is the destruction of collective bargaining rights and not solving the state’s budget,” Erpenbach said.

Walker’s mission is to destroy collective bargaining. His stance and that of Wisconsin’s conservative legislators is not about balancing the budget. Collective bargaining is a fundamental right. It is labor using its first amendment rights to address grievances.

Tom Rynders, a Vietnam veteran in town to support Walker, was talking to a Journal Sentinel reporter when a union protester yelled at him, “This is about losing our rights as citizens.” Replied Rynders, “I have rights, too.”

What rights does Mr. Rynders think he is losing. The right to take away the fundamental rights of others. Unions are willing to make concessions on the dollars end of the debate. Better to take home a few dollars less in hard economic times than none at all. Unions are not monoliths who are always opposed to adjusting to the reality of economics. What Rynder and Walker want is 100% of what they want even if that means they are using big gov’mint to ride over the rights of average working people. Where is the consistency when Walker and his supporters are not protesting that those bargaining rights, which have been left in place for the state police and firefighters. The Right seems to think basic rights are like fairy dust to be sprinkled where and when they want them. Hosni Mubarak is out of a job now, maybe Walker and his supporters should give him a call and start their own country. One ruled with an iron fist and a minimum amount of rights. More confirmation Walker is waging a war on unions and teachers in particulr, Day 5 Brings 70,000-Plus to Madison to Protect Workers’ Rights

Also Walker rejected an offer from the unions to accept economic concessions if the near total ban on collective bargaining was removed from the so-called “budget repair” bill.   State Sen. Jon Erpenbach told reporters

It would appear that Gov. Walker’s only target is the destruction of collective bargaining rights and not solving the state’s budget.

This is the guy the tea smokers see as their newest patron saint, Scott Walker Padded Salary Increases for Cronies During Budgetary Distress: 24% Salary Increase for Aide with 2 Public Pensions

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin who is spearheading the GOP effort to crush collective bargaining, lavished relatively large salary increases on his staff when he was chief executive of the Milwaukee County Board. Walker surreptitiously did this in 2008 – without the approval of the county board itself and at a time that the county was facing a fiscal deficit, and Walker was about to lay off a large number of union workers. In addition, 700 county positions had already been left vacant due to budgetary pressures.

According to a 2008 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (MJS) article,which exposed Walker’s illicit personal staff raises, one aide was to achieve a 26% increase – solely initiated and approved by Walker – even though the staffer, Tom Nardelli, was to receive tax-payer funded pensions that would exceed $35,700 a year. A member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors called Nardelli’s salary increase “obscene,” according the MJS.

Walker, like many of the mid-term gubernatorial candidates ( Rick Scott in Florida – who has already lost 42,000 jobs for Florida))  promised jobs. Voters in Wisconsin should have read the fine print,

The Department of Health Services last month signed a new contract with Deloitte Consulting for more maintenance and enhancement of the information system for SeniorCare and other income maintenance programs.

According to the public inspection copy of Deloitte’s technical proposal, the new, eight-year contract (known as CARES) increases the hourly billing rate from $92 to $104 and increases the fixed facilities rate from $1,320,000 to $2,040,000 a year. When multiplied by the 300,000 billable hours that DHS estimates will be available, this contract’s total annual cost is tens of millions of dollars.

DHS could scale back this contract by hiring information technology professionals and doing much of this work in-house for less money. That’s what the Department of Workforce Development did several years ago when they took over maintenance of the portions of the CARES system which deal with the W-2 and Child Care programs.

Why is DHS preparing to spend over $30 million a year on one information system when times are so tough? It won’t create jobs for Wisconsin residents since most of Deloitte’s workforce is subcontracted from India.

Ezra Klein runs the numbers. Only right-wing conservative math could make Walker’s agenda make sense, Mohamed Hosni Mubarak Walker is to blame for Wisconsin’s budget, not unions

Let’s be clear: Whatever fiscal problems Wisconsin is — or is not — facing at the moment, they’re not caused by labor unions. That’s also true for New Jersey, for Ohio and for the other states. There was no sharp rise in collective bargaining in 2006 and 2007, no major reforms of the country’s labor laws, no dramatic change in how unions organize. And yet, state budgets collapsed. Revenues plummeted. Taxes had to go up, and spending had to go down, all across the country.

Blame the banks. Blame global capital flows. Blame lax regulation of Wall Street. Blame home buyers, or home sellers. But don’t blame the unions. Not for this recession.

Of course, the fact that public-employee pensions didn’t cause a meltdown at Lehman Brothers doesn’t mean they’re not stressing state budgets, and that the pensions they’ve been promised don’t exceed what state budgets seem able to bear. But the buildup of global capital that overheated the American housing sector and got packaged into seemingly riskless financial products that then brought down Wall Street, paralyzing the economy, throwing millions out of work, and destroying the revenues from state income and sales taxes even as state residents needed more social services? The answer to that is not to end collective bargaining for (some) public employees. A plus B plus C does not equal what Gov. Scott Walker is attempting in Wisconsin.

* The budget report is working with two-time periods simultaneously: 2010-2011, and then 2011-13. The $130 million deficit now projected for 2011 isn’t the fault of the tax breaks passed during Walker’s special session, though his special session created about $120 million in deficit spending between 2011 and 2013 — and perhaps more than that, if his policies are extended. That is to say, the deficit spending he created in his special session is about equal to the deficit Wisconsin faces this year, but it’s not technically correct to say that Walker created 2011’s deficit. Rather, he added $120 million to the 2011-2013 deficits, and perhaps more in the years after that.

And to get even more specific: Walker giveaways on entering office,

* $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.

* $48 million for private health savings accounts — a perennial Republican favorite.

* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.

In essence, public workers are being asked to pick up the tab for this agenda.

If tax cuts and deregulation were the secret ingredient to creating jobs, where are they. Taxes are lower than ever. The Zero-Sum Game: States Cannot Stimulate Their Economies by Cutting Taxes

Though Arizona is facing a large deficit for fiscal year 2011 (equivalent to 25 percent of the budget) and is considering huge budget cuts, in January the state House approved a proposal to cut both the corporate and individual income tax rates as well as the business property tax. Similarly, governors in Delaware, Florida, South Carolina, and Rhode Island have proposed corporate income tax cuts as stimulus.

Such proposals are highly unlikely to work. When a state cuts a general tax such as the corporate or individual income tax, the impact on the state economy depends on what the business or the individual does with the money freed up by the tax cut.

* If a tax cut to a corporation increases its profits, it may distribute those profits as dividends to shareholders who live throughout the country; those funds will not necessarily create additional in-state demand.
* A corporation will not necessarily use the funds provided by the tax cut to make additional investments in the state in the short term. If there isn’t additional demand for a business’s good or service, the firm might keep the funds in reserve until demand picks up at a later time — by which time it would not need any government inducement to expand.
* If a tax cut goes to a higher-income person, that person might save most of those extra dollars — invest them in the stock market, for example — so the tax cut would create little or no additional demand within the state.

Moreover, broad-based tax cuts in these circumstances can inflict damage on public investments seen by many economists as key avenues for both short- and long-term economic development — including education, infrastructure, and other public investments. For example, Timothy Bartik, a widely respected economist at the W.E.Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, has proposed eight policies that would be especially cost-effective in promoting Michigan’s economic development. Six of them would institute or expand public spending for job training, apprenticeships, or general education. Bartik specifically cites Michigan’s budget gap as a threat to the state’s economic progress. Rather than advocating tax cuts, he recommends broadening of the state’s major tax bases and increasing the progressivity of its income tax, so that the government will be able to fund these programs

[  ]…# Many businesses wouldn’t benefit from the credit because they have no taxable profits due to the recession. Businesses that have experienced losses over the past couple of years in the recession are unlikely to have any state tax liability next year or for the next few years, because those losses can be carried forward to eliminate or reduce taxes once the company again becomes profitable. A company in that situation would not get any immediate benefit from a job-creation tax credit (unless it is refundable). While the company may be able to carry the credit forward to a future year, an unusable credit would not be much of an incentive to hire new employees now, when a stimulus is needed.
# Even for profitable firms, the value of the credit is less than it appears because state taxes are deductible for federal tax purposes. Thus, a company that pays less state tax will pay more federal tax. The state loses the total amount of the revenue, but the value of the credit is shared between the firm and the federal government. This makes a modest-sized credit even less likely to call forth additional job creation. It also increases the likelihood that most of the state revenue loss would subsidize jobs that would have been created anyway.

Conservative policies drove record deficits

As with the anti-Affordable care Act protests, the anti-worker tea baggers in Wisconsin are not acting purely out of some grassroots populist impulse, Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions

What’s more, the plan to kill the unions is right out of the Koch Brothers play book.

Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado;

Via Mother Jones

If you are reluctant to believe that this is a coordinated attack, consider this-

This afternoon, Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill.  The governor’s response was “nothing doing.” He wants the whole kit and kaboodle – the end of the collective bargaining rights of the public unions.

Whether it is Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida or Arizona Across the it is minimum wage to middle-class Americans who have suffered the most from Wall St, the crony capitalism promoted by much of the Washington D.C. and front line Koch puppets such as Walker. Walker has a job, promoting the power of strongly centralized authoritarian state government apparently. While American workers have lost their jobs, their savings, often times their homes and dreams of a better future. While many of them are or have paid back the funds, those workers bailed out negligent bankers. The institutions that caused them so much suffering. Many of these corporations are reaping huge profits and handing out big bonuses, using tax loopholes, offshore tax shelters and are working behind the scenes to shift blame to unions, the working poor and the middle-class. Maybe because of the whole Fox News phenomenon, fake news and manufactured outrage, some of those working poor and middle-class are fighting to help corporations and politicians like Walker, make working class Americans even more powerless.

It’s Spreading – Labor in Ohio Protests Union Buster Bill

Just got a report from some of our folks on the ground in Columbus, Ohio, that more than 5,000 people—firefighters, teachers, small business leaders, community members and other public-service workers—filled the Statehouse again today to show their opposition to Senate Bill 5 that eliminates collective bargaining rights for all state workers, including faculty and staff at Ohio state colleges and universities.

Spring Beach wallpaper – Propaganda Watch

Spring Beach wallpaper

 

Someone needs to think of a way to harness all the hot air and spin propagated by conservatives.

The Republican playbook is filled with goodies like class warfare, social-Darwinism, doublespeak, the Southern Strategy, portraying everyone to the left of Mussolini as a raving Marxist. One of their favorites is the double-decker lie layered with false accusations against their opponents all the while portraying themselves as the beleaguered victims. The last works especially well when if the facts be known and the debate had to stay on the facts, Republicans know they would lose. Wisconsin Conservative Gov. Walker Played Accounting Tricks To Show Budget Shortfall To Undercut Worker Rights

Wisconsin’s new Republican governor has framed his assault on public worker’s collective bargaining rights as a needed measure of fiscal austerity during tough times.

The reality is radically different. Unlike true austerity measures — service rollbacks, furloughs, and other temporary measures that cause pain but save money — rolling back worker’s bargaining rights by itself saves almost nothing on its own. But Walker’s doing it anyhow, to knock down a barrier and allow him to cut state employee benefits immediately.

[   ]…You can read the fiscal bureaus report here (PDF). It holds that “more than half” of the new shortfall comes from three of Walker’s initiatives:

* $25 million for an economic development fund for job creation, which still holds $73 million because of anemic job growth.

* $48 million for private health savings accounts — a perennial Republican favorite.

* $67 million for a tax incentive plan that benefits employers, but at levels too low to spur hiring.

Walker, and right-wing blogs and pundits have followed with the accusation that state workers and Wisconsin’s Democratic legislators are being ‘undemocratic” for not bowing to Walkers’ demands, which are based on the lie the state budget faces imminent shortfalls and through some magic, doing away with bargaining rights will save big bucks. You cannot have a debate, informed by the spirit of democracy if one side is determined to fabricate a false narrative. It is like someone holding a gun to your head while signing a contract and then telling everyone you signed it of your own free will. It is not all Walker’s fault – he is exploiting both ignorance and fear. The public, if it is vested in having a functioning democracy has to be informed. Here is where the left versus right slight of hand serves the ground work of Republicans for the last fifty years. Liberal, progressive and left of center are all dirty words thanks to the rabid Right’s noise machine. Walker says he is just following the conservative agenda. The conservative agenda is all sweet cream and angel wings. A large segment of the public listens to what conservatives say instead of what they actually do. If more people would pay attention to the details and piece them together with the big picture they’d see they lean liberal or progressive, Most Americans Are Closeted Big Government Spenders

In the same Pew poll, 62 percent of Americans want to increase education spending. Only 11 percent want to cut education spending. Combined with those who want to leave education spending as-is, 87 percent support it. This massive disparity plays out all across the board. 71 percent of Americans want to increase or to continue health care spending at the same levels. Only 24 percent want to cut it. Only 26 percent want to cut spending on environmental protection. I can go on and on. Only 12 percent want to cut Social Security. Only 21 percent want to cut infrastructure. Only 23 percent want to cut scientific research. Only 28 percent want to cut unemployment benefits.

Most of us embrace government spending, but we’re afraid to admit it.

According to another study by Cornell’s Suzanne Mettler, many Americans don’t even realize they’re relying upon government services. 53 percent of those who said they’re not using a government program borrowed a student loan from the government. 44 percent are on Social Security. 39 percent are on Medicare (reinforcing the imperative: “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”). 27 percent are on Medicaid. 28 percent are on Disability. 41 percent are receiving veteran’s benefits. Again, these are people who also insist they’re absolutely not “living off the public tit,” to quote Senator Chuck Grassley. But they are.

Yet New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is cutting everything that he can’t reasonably chew. And he’s applauded for it by the GOP and their media shills. Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan is cutting education spending by $470 per student at the K-12 level, and university budgets by 15 percent.

Meanwhile, the House Republicans want to cut a long list of crucial government programs. Paul Krugman detailed the extent of the Republican budget cuts including, among other items, $899 million cut from renewable energy spending, $1.1 billion cut from the science budget (remember: only 23 percent of Americans want to cut science programs) and $648 million cut from the nuclear nonproliferation budget — that’s more than half-a-billion dollars cut from a program tasked with keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Seriously, Republicans? They also want to cut $1.2 billion from FEMA, $489 million from Homeland Security and $900 million from the Centers for Disease Control. Absolutely staggering. And dovetailing with what I wrote last week about the Republican War Against Women, the Republicans want to cut $1 billion from WIC: a program that provides food for pregnant women.

Walker has all the benefit of a public in denial. Remember the tea slackers who carries signs saying keep your hands on my Medicare. In the message wars massive ignorance is the WMD of politics and Republicans have not only mastered the art of sustained delusions, they blissfully swim in them. Maybe the public sector employees of Wisconsin will manage to get some kind of compromise, but they’re at the bottom of the hill pushing against a massive amount of ignorance and the Right’s long-standing class warfare tactics.

There is no class warfare according to Republicans. That would be despite the daily evidence of taking more and more rights away from working class Americans as Republicans work to enhance the power of the plutocracy, Republican Amendment Would Strip Funds For Obama ‘Czars,’ Plus Elizabeth Warren

House Republicans are ramping up efforts to hamstring the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. One key amendment to the GOP’s 2011 budget plan seeks to strip federal salaries from President Barack Obama’s so-called “czars,” effectively removing them from their offices — as well as Elizabeth Warren, the consumer watchdog tasked with setting up the CFPB — while another would prevent the bureau from hiring any staff at all.

Warren and the CFPB are tasked with protecting consumers, and indirectly mom and pop investors. According to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) this is a form of oppression. Where did Tom get his dictionary. letting business run wild and destroying the lives of millions of Americans is a form of oppression. Trying some modest financial reform to see that it does not happen again is more power to the people. The whole obsession with czars thing is another fax out of the spin machine – Bush had more czars than Obama and the Right didn’t say a word in complaint. Some czars are executive branch administrators who were approved by the Senate, while other are specialized consultants.

Betty McCollum Gets Death Threats Over NASCAR Proposal

A Democratic Congresswoman has received death threats after questioning the wisdom of the U.S. Army sponsoring a NASCAR Sprint Cup team to the tune of $7 million a year.

The picture on the fax she received is despicable. That said I wonder if spending $7 million dollars on sponsoring a NASCAR is that big a deal. According to this article President Obama restored the Army National Guard’s adverting budget – for recruiting – to $95 million. And the 2006 budget for the combined military recruitment and advertising budget was $1.4 billion. If the Army is getting some reasonable recruitment benefits from that $7 million than maybe it is a good investment. Though the fax says cutting that funding is Marxist. The government owning the car might approach being far left or far right. As it is the only issue here – other than the threats – is whether tax payers are getting enough recruits from the NASCAR endorsement to justify those kinds of funds being spent. This is not even close to a public policy issue that warrants loud voices much less death threats and racist pictures. The military is not a bad career and considering the state of the economy it’s still a good way to make a wage and get some money for college.

Contrast and compare Wisconsin and other public employees – who are all thugs according to the Right, to these fine folks, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan CEO, Gets $17 Million Pay Day

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has granted Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon stock and options worth $17 million, just a month after one of Wall Street’s largest banks posted a big jump in quarterly earnings.

Dimon’s bonus follows huge compensation boosts earlier this month for the heads of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc., as many big banks _and their stocks – have rebounded from the financial crisis.

[   ]…Last month, Goldman Sachs more than tripled the salary of CEO Lloyd Blankfein to $2 million, not including stock awards, and also granted raises to four other top executives. Citigroup Inc. gave its top executive, Vikram Pandit, a salary raise to $1.75 million, from just $1 the previous year.

Bank of America Corp., however, has said it won’t give its top executive a raise for 2011 and won’t hand out cash bonuses to top management. CEO Brian Moynihan’s salary will remain $950,000 for 2011, though he could get up to $9.05 million in stock awards if the nation’s largest bank by assets hits certain performance targets.

(*note JP Moragn received $25 billion in TARP funds)

At no point in his lifetime will Dimon produce any goods, services or intellectual property worth $17 million. he’ll never cut your grass, empty your bed pan, invent a new vaccine, build an Empire State Building or write a ground breaking program. he pushes paper and money around. Skills that any reasonably intelligent person can be trained to do. Why are Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Brian Moynihan or hundreds of other Wall St thieves making the money they do. Mostly luck and circumstances. yet in many polls business ‘leaders” such as these enjoy a better public image than unions. Unions are thieves stealing from the public and these somewhat lazy semi-intelligent sleazebags are heroes. If anyone thinks Jamie Dimon – who exemplifies the elitist mentality of Wall St and conservatives – is a bright guy, Jamie Dimon’s `Biggest Disaster’ Is Waiting: Simon Johnson

Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., has harsh words for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are “the biggest disasters of all time,” Dimon told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission last fall, according to his just-released interview.

Along with others, Dimon greatly exaggerates the role Fannie and Freddie played in the financial crisis, a theme my MIT colleague, Daron Acemoglu, has written about with great clarity.

Too many bankers assert some version of the refrain: Fannie Mae made me do it. As the FCIC’s report makes clear, it was the private sector that led us into the financial crisis by making massive subprime bets and then using complex derivatives deals to magnify the downside risks.

We have the usual choices. Dimon is lying or is dumb enough to believe what he says. In either case, he and his like-minded comrades are taking America for a ride. Private banks made a lot of bad loans, and they bet those loans would continue to increase in value (derivatives trading). Fannie and Freddie are not in the direct to homeowner lending business. Fannie and Freddie do not review loan applications or run credit checks on people – private banks are responsible for doing their due diligence. Unknowingly Fannie and Freddie bought many of the bad loans banks made ( I would agree they could have run a tighter ship and bear some responsibility). That gave those banks more capital to make more loans. A practice usually praised among the banking establishment and Wall St. Now Wall St hustlers and Republicans are trying to pin the blame for the actions of private banks on Fannie and Freddie – the Freddie Made Us Do It school of deflecting responsibility. Very good pdf presentation by Daron Acemoglu of MIT on income inequality, the financial crisis and the elements which contributed to it.

* Lack of regulation of financial practices, something won by the
financial industry by lobbying and cultivating close political contacts,
potentially much more important than government policies distorting
the housing market, including the induced behavior of Fannie and
Freddie (Johnson and Kwak, “13 Bankers”).
* In fact, the constant during this era, particularly when the bottom
was falling out of US income distribution, has been efforts by the
financial industry to push for deregulation, not increase or even rely
on the role of Fannie and Freddie.

Vintage City Skyline wallpaper

Vintage City Skyline wallpaper

Glenn Beck’s Latest Ominous Conspiracy – Positive George Bush State Department Was in League With Muslim Radicals and Communists

Glenn Beck broadened his ever-expanding theory about Egypt again on Monday, and in doing so, introduced some ideas that are extremely hard to accept:

* The co-founder of an anti-extremism think tank funded by the British government — who has testified before Congress — may be lying about renouncing radical Islam.

* You shouldn’t do Google searches, because Google is “pretty deeply in bed with the government,” as evidenced by the fact that a former State Department employee who’s now a Google executive helped found a nonprofit group that supports grassroots activists around the world.

* MTV is “involved with this,” because it sponsors that nonprofit group, the Alliance for Youth Movements, or Movements.org. Beck also listed “CBS, MSNBC, Facebook, YouTube, National Geographic, Columbia University Law School.”

* Perhaps most unbelievable: The State Department under the Bush administration was “in bed” with the “radical Islamists, communists, and socialists” who are working together against Israel and capitalism, and to overthrow stability. Why? Because the State Department under Bush helped start the Alliance for Youth Movements.

This latest half baked conspiracy is a continuation of his and Pete King(R-NY) assertion the world is going to be taken over by a communist-Muslim caliphate front.

Republican Budgets, Paul Ryan(WI) and The Big Lie

Thus, while in 2021 Obama proposes to spend $5.697 trillion, the Committee would still be spending $3.729 trillion, for a difference of almost $2 trillion. Add up the difference for every year, over 10 years, and it amounts to nearly $8.7 trillion, which the committee calls “new spending.”

In other words, the Committee assumed the president needs to freeze all spending, without adjustments for inflation or population growth, for 10 years. Moreover, it makes this assumption for all spending, even mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which need to be changed by law.

Whatever bit of optimism or stretching you find in the administration’s budget, nothing comes within an order of magnitude of this kind of dishonesty.

Ryan’s reputation as an honest policy wonk is a curious thing. It must owe itself to the total dearth of elected Republicans who can even halfway plausibly bullshit their way through some numbers.

Let me say something positive on Ryan’s behave. He is usually a much better liar. The longer he drinks that Republican deficit peacock kool-air the bigger and bolder the lies. As young Republican tell the bigger lies, the greater their political success. Who is Ryan to have the integrity to start the next generation of wingers wining debates on the merits when the Big Lie works so well.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner: If Jobs Are Lost As A Result Of GOP Spending Cuts ‘So Be It’. From a guy who makes over two-hundred thousand a year. More on John The Champion of The Middle-Class here, Republicans Cut Jobs, Keep Oil Company Tax Breaks, Don’t Cut Military!

TRIGGER WARNING: The Lara Logan Case on the Net

Now for the topic of this post, disgusting as it is: The comments wherever the sexual assault is discussed, especially on non-moderated comment threads. The majority of those comments are the vilest of the vile. Here is an example for those who wish to wade in the filth themselves. I advocate a Hazmat suit and excellent mental health as prudent precautions.

The loathsome comments are of two major types: The first type describes Muslims or Arabs as animals and so on. The second type, the one I’m going to analyze here, consists of victim blaming. It is Logan’s fault if she gets assaulted, in short.

There is a third type, too, which is about the desire of the commentator to join in with the gang rape of various too uppity women in the public eye or a wish that some other female celebrity had been assaulted instead.

Egypt has a terrible track record on rape according to this report from 2008, Egypt: Are attitudes to rape beginning to change?

“We want to change traditions, but it is not easy,” Rania Hamid, manager of the family counselling unit at the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), said. “These traditions are not 20 years old, they’re ancient. You have to change them bit by bit.”

The statistics

Hend is one of 20,000 women or girls raped every year, according to Egypt’s Interior Ministry, a figure which implies that an average of about 55 women are raped every day. However, owing to the fear of social disgrace, victims are reluctant to report cases, and experts say the number may be much higher.

“If the Ministry of the Interior gets 20,000 then you should multiply it by 10,” said Engy Ghozlan of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights (ECWR) anti-harassment campaign.

“It’s hard to tell [exactly how many women are raped] because there aren’t a lot of statistics. Most people won’t come out and say it happened because culturally it is not accepted.”

Rape statistics are notoriously problematic, partly because there is no precise, universally agreed definition of the crime of rape. In Egypt, for example, spousal rape is not illegal. “The law prohibits non-spousal rape and punishment ranges from three years to life imprisonment; however, spousal rape is not illegal,” says a US State Department country report for Egypt dated March 2006.

So we here in the USA must be so much more advanced? Some, but not enough to claim any bragging rights. As usual in many of the Right’s framing of the horrible attack on Logan, they fail to mention it was other Muslims who rescued her.  Rape and Sexual Assault in America,

Breakdown by Gender and Age
Women

1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8% completed rape; 2.8% attempted rape).1

17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape.1

9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003.2

While about 80% of all victims are white, minorities are somewhat more likely to be attacked.

Lifetime rate of rape /attempted rape for women by race:1

* All women: 17.6%
* White women: 17.7%
* Black women: 18.8%
* Asian Pacific Islander women: 6.8%
* American Indian/Alaskan women: 34.1%
* Mixed race women: 24.4%

Men

About 3% of American men — or 1 in 33 — have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime.1

* In 2003, 1 in every ten rape victims were male.2
* 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.1

Children

15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.3

* 29% are age 12-17.
* 44% are under age 18.3
* 80% are under age 30.3
* 12-34 are the highest risk years.
* Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault.

7% of girls in grades 5-8 and 12% of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.4

* 3% of boys grades 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused.

In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.5

* Of these, 75% were girls.
* Nearly 30% of child victims were between the age of 4 and 7.

93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.6

* 34.2% of attackers were family members.
* 58.7% were acquaintances.
* Only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim.  ( citation numbers are from the Department of Justice and other federal agencies.)

Someone is sexually assaulted in the U.S. every 2 minutes. This is what Republican blogger Debbie Schlussel had to say,

Hey, sounds like the threats I get from American Muslims on a regular basis. Now you know what it’s like, Lara.

Uhhh…

I just love it when the people of the profession of “the public’s right to know” suddenly want “privacy.” Tell it to your next interview subject, Lara.

And from the same link, the Republican theblogprof,

As the saying goes – you mess with the bull, you get the horns.

 

Newt Gingrich’s financial empire shows his fundraising prowess

Dallas businesswoman Dawn Rizos received the unexpected invitation by fax: Come to a “private dinner” with Newt Gingrich in Washington, where you will be named an “entrepreneur of the year.”

The catch: Rizos had to pay a $5,000 membership fee to Gingrich’s group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, to get the award.

Gingrich, a former House speaker, media pundit and possible Republican presidential candidate, knows how to bring in money – lots of money.

But his hard-sell tactics can sometimes go awry. It turned out that Rizos owns an upscale nude-dancing club. When Gingrich’s group found out, it canceled the 2009 award and returned the money.

“We were very keen to do this; it seemed like a fun hand-shaker-type thing,” said Michael Precker, a spokesman for Rizos’s club, the Lodge. “I guess it shows how you raise money in Washington.”

That brief interaction offers a telling glimpse into the workings of Newt Inc., a financial empire that could prove crucial in a bid for the White House.

What is the WaPO afraid of saying here. Sending out these letters promising awards in exchange for money, all under the guise of being a charitable organization is darn close to, if not outright mail fraud.