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Monday, February 28, 2011

Chicago Rally For Wisconsin Update

Feb 28th, 2011
by F. Grey Parker
ClICK HERE to view our coverage from the rally on Saturday

Photo copyright © 2011Nicole Zimmerer
The relative broadcast media blackout of coverage for the largest nationwide pro-labor rally in America in a generation is but the beginning of the marginalization of it's importance. 

What print/interweb coverage has been disseminated over the last 48 hours is alarming for different reasons.

Prior to this weekend's rally outside the State of Illinois Building, we contacted the city and inquired about access to the building's upper floors. We were told the building would not be open for reasons of security and liability. Our interest in access was to make as accurate an assessment of crowd size as possible with an aerial view. In the last 48 hours, numbers have been reported as low as "several hundred" by the Chicago Tribune going up to "850 to 900" as reported in the LA Times.

As is always the case with political demonstrations, there is some argument over attendance. Several angry Walker supporters have e-mailed us to complain about our numbers. Allow me to explain our estimate of "several thousand." The width of the crowd both in front and in back was between 70 to 80 persons. The length of the crowd on either side was between 60 and 70 persons. The crowd was dense enough to make movement throughout it quite difficult. I counted these numbers myself repeatedly from 12:15 pm to 12:45 pm. Let us for moment suppose that my lowest figures were double the actual size; that would still give us a crowd of over 2000.

Of course, this may be the first you've heard of any of this. That "liberal media bias" sure is hard to find lately.

Gov. Walker - How To Lose The Voters In 1 Easy Step

Feb 28th, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker's assault on the right of labor to collectively bargain, an intention he never discussed during his campaign, has altered the political landscape of Wisconsin dramatically and in very short time. There aren't any immediate "do overs" in politics but, if there were, he would be sent packing today. Wisconsin law requires that no elected official may be formally recalled until one full year after inauguration. 

Perhaps the Governor should keep his bags by the door.

From Public Policy Polling:
"If voters in the state could do it over today they'd support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Scott Walker by a a 52-45 margin."

"It's actually Republicans, more so than Democrats or independents, whose shifting away from Walker would allow Barrett to win a rematch if there was one today. Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for Barrett last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again. That's an instance of Republican union voters who might have voted for the GOP based on social issues or something else last fall trending back toward Democrats because they're putting pocketbook concerns back at the forefront and see their party as at odds with them on those because of what's happened in the last month."

Full poll results are forthcoming...

Quotes Of The Day - Same As It Ever Was Edition

Feb 28th, 2011

"America's corporate and political elites now form a regime of their own and they're privatizing democracy. All the benefits - the tax cuts, policies and rewards flow in one direction: up." -- Bill Moyers

"Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." -- Benito Mussolini

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Feb 27th, 2011

"I hope to stand firm enough to not go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause." -- Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicago Rallies For Union Rights

Feb 26th, 2011

by F. Grey Parker with Nicole Zimmerer

Chicago - Despite the snow, cold and bitter winds, thousands turned out in downtown Chicago today to show solidarity for Wisconsin's beleaguered public sector unions and, more broadly, for the principles of organized labor nationwide.

photo © copyright 2011 Nicole Zimmerer
We talked to citizens, union and non-union alike, some from as far away as W. Virginia and Oregon. They ranged in age from those too young to labor to those long out of the workforce.Their message was clear: collective bargaining is a right and not a privilege.

One attendee, Joe Nowak, said, "I'm retired. I come from three generations of union. We were a coal family. What these guys in Wisconsin are doing reminds me of the stories my dad used to tell me from before I was born." Another rally participant, a young woman who would only identify herself as Carolyn said, "if everyone had fought harder for unions 30 years ago we might not have to be here."

It was more difficult to get a large number of those in attendance to go on the record than we had expected. Often we were asked "who are you with?" Clearly, the fear of provocateurs and plants from right wing organizations was on the minds of the demonstrators.

Sen. Durbin Speaks To The Crowd
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) spoke to the crowd early and affirmed his support. He discussed the expanding scope of the attack on labor rights and the departure from Wisconsin by that state's 14 Democratic State Senators to buy time for compromise and draw attention. He quipped, "to our friends who have joined us today from Indiana, your senators are welcome here too." There was tremendous applause.

Only days ago, Indiana shelved the first of what are likely to be numerous attempts to model legislation after the Wisconsin bill. We met with Sen. Durbin after his speech to discuss the event and asked him about the "sanctuary" remark.

"This is not about one state or another state. This about the future of the rights of workers nationwide. If we don't stand with them today who will stand with us tomorrow?" 

He went on to reiterate that it is not a local issue but "has implications all across America and in Washington D.C."

The full photo galleries of our coverage will be available soon.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

A Reminder...

Feb 26th, 2011

Today is the day to turn out and show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin! Find out WHERE TO GO.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Quote Of The Day 3 - Wisconsin Solidarity Edition 2/26

Feb 26th, 2011

Today is the day to turn out and show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin! Find out WHERE TO GO.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

"Legislation has been and is still directed towards the protection of wealth, rather than towards the far more important interests of labor on which everything of value to mankind depends." -- Leland Stanford

Class War?

Feb 26th, 2011

Today is the day to turn out and show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin! Find out WHERE TO GO.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Quote Of The Day 2 - Wisconsin Solidarity Edition 2/26

Feb 26th, 2011

Today is the day to turn out and show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin! Find out WHERE TO GO.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

"The labor unions are group efforts in the direction of democracy. Like the political efforts in the same direction, they become many times stultified and lead up blind alleys. But the effort creates power. While the economic gains are themselves important and are measures of strength, the significance of the labor union is its assertion of the manhood of labor." -- Helen Marot

Unfair Comparisons?

Feb 26th, 2011

Today is the day to turn out and show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin! Find out WHERE TO GO.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Quote Of The Day - Wisconsin Solidarity Edition 2/26

Feb 26th, 2011

Today is the day to turn out and show solidarity with the workers of Wisconsin! Find out WHERE TO GO.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

"With all their faults, trade-unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in man, than any other association of men." -- Clarence Darrow

Friday, February 25, 2011

The RGA And Gov. Scott Walker

Feb 25th, 2011

This just in from Huff Post Hill:
"RGA WON'T ENDORSE WALKER'S BUDGET -  A strong indicator of just how politically radioactive Scott Walker's anti-collective bargaining proposal has become Republican Governors Association Chair Rick Perry is refusing to throw his organization's weight behind it. 

At a Politico-hosted panel this morning alongside DGA Chair Martin O'Malley, the Texas governor -- a guy who has had no problem supporting creationism, anti-sodomy laws and his state's possible secession from the union -- sidestepped the issue. "The key for us, we've got 50 laboratories of innovation out there. Frankly, for me to tell Martin how to run his state or for him to tell me how to run my state is a bit over the line," he said."

Plutocracy Graphed

Feb 25th, 2011

We have to raise the highest marginal tax rate and limit incentives for off-shoring and outsourcing. Period.

This IS About Rights

Feb 25th, 2011

Join the fight tomorrow! Click HERE to find the solidarity rally nearest to you.
Sign the petition to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

High Noon

Feb 25th, 2011

Tomorrow at noon, we will see just how many Americans can make time to show solidarity with the anti-Walker forces in Wisconsin.

Across the nation, in front of every state house and in most major cities, actions are being held to push back against the war on labor. Will you be there?

Here is a website to help find the rally nearest you.

It is time to make a choice between the future and the past. The following video lays it out flat; this is nothing less than the end game of Reaganomics and the battle by the wealthy to turn our nation into a banana republic populated by wage-slaves.

Quote Of The Day

Feb 25th, 2011

"We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few; but we can't have both." -- Louis Brandeis

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"We Are Wisconsin"

Feb 24th, 2011

This is a beautiful portrait of solidarity from citizens of Wisconsin produced by Finn Ryan and David Nevala. © 2011 Finn Ryan and David Nevala. Please sign the petition endorsing the recall of Gov. Scott Walker.

We Are Wisconsin from Finn Ryan on Vimeo.

The Big Lie Evolves

Feb 24th, 2011

by Stephanie Baselice

Once upon a time, people sought to educate themselves with news. For founding father Thomas Jefferson, an educated public was seen as key to a functional democratic society. Yet education can be a slippery concept in today's media. Corporate interests and billionaires invest heavily in selling us their vision for our future, and we buy this vision at the expense of that very future. They utilize Orwell's “newspeak”--simplifying the language and message so severely that no argument is possible, and defining the very arguments against them in their own terms, such as the Orwellian juxtaposition of “Freedom=Slavery”. This is very simple; once you understand it you will begin to see it used everywhere. They vigorously and repeatedly associate any person or idea working against their interests with persons or ideas the audience hates and fears. The idea is that you repeat a VERY big lie loudly and often enough that listeners will believe it must be true. This strategy is attributed to Adolf Hitler - it is popularly known as The Big Lie. Once you have done this you just insert your preferred truth, and voila! Propaganda success.

Quote Of The Day

Feb 24th, 2011

"Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either." -- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Climate Of Hate

Feb 23rd, 2011

The dramatic rise in racially motivated hate activity according to The Southern Poverty Law Center:

"Hate groups topped 1,000 for the first time since the Southern Poverty Law Center began counting such groups in the 1980s. Anti-immigrant vigilante groups, despite having some of the political wind taken out of their sails by the adoption of hard-line anti-immigration laws around the country, continued to rise slowly. But by far the most dramatic growth came in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement — conspiracy-minded organizations that see the federal government as their primary enemy — which gained more than 300 new groups, a jump of over 60%."

Wisconsin By The Numbers, cont...

Feb 23rd, 2011

A comparison of Wisconsin pay averages between the private and public sectors by worker education level. From Outside The Beltway.

Quote Of The Day

Feb 23rd, 2011

"I know it will give great offense to the clergy, 
but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them" -- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Offensive FOX Comment - Wisconsin Addition

Feb 22nd, 2011

As I always do, I thank the diligent (perhaps masochistic) folks over at Fox News Comments for shining a light on what the Murdoch Moderators seem to think is unworthy of removal. Has the American right descended so far that some of them think our government should "disappear" pro union activists? Yup.

Against Their Own Interests

Feb 22nd, 2011

The Republicans have really done an amazing job of convincing Americans to root for their own destruction.

Quote Of The Day

Feb 22nd, 2011 

The Aim of an argument ... should not be victory, but progress. Joseph Joubert

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quote Of The Day - Solidarity Edition

Feb 21st, 2011

"A liberal education is at the heart of a civil society, and at the heart of a liberal education is the act of teaching." -- A. Bartlett Giamatti

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Land Of Labor... And Cheese...

Feb 20th, 2011

Sign the petition to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The Republican Solution

Feb 20th, 2011

Sign the petition to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming...

Humor Is Prescribed

Feb. 20th, 2011

Sign the petition to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Quote Of The Day

Feb 20th, 2011

"Everybody now seems to be talking about democracy. I don't understand this. As I think of it, democracy isn't like a Sunday suit to be brought out and worn only for parades. It's the kind of a life a decent man leads, it's something to live for and to die for." -- Dalton Trumbo

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quote Of The Day 2 - Solidarity Edition

Feb 19th, 2011

"Our labor unions are not narrow, self-seeking groups. They have raised wages, shortened hours and provided supplemental benefits. Through collective bargaining and grievance procedures, they have brought justice and democracy to the shop floor." -- JOHN F. KENNEDY

Indiana's Shame - Rep. Pence Now Leads The War On Women

Feb 19th, 2011


Indiana's Rep. Mike Pence (R-Dist 6) managed to successfully endanger the health of women nationwide yesterday. The Republican dominated House of Representatives passed his amendment to fully defund taxpayer support of Planned Parenthood by a vote of 240-185

10 Democrats joined their backwards colleagues. They are listed below along with their contact information.

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America was blunt in her response. "To be clear, the amendment to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding does nothing to reduce the deficit and it does nothing to improve the economy. In fact, health professionals will actually lose their jobs as a result, and, most egregiously, it takes health care away from American women who cannot afford to pay for it on their own."

Chris Christie, Dr. Strangelove And Tax Cuts

Feb 19th, 2011

An item in today's Wall Street Journal reminded me of the scene in "Dr. Strangelove" when the Soviet ambassador refuses a non-Cuban cigar and says he won't take the products of "imperialist stooges." A general then responds "Oh... only commie stooges, eh?"

From the WSJ:
"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a slew of tax-cutting proposals that had been championed by Democrats as job-creation legislation and were passed with bipartisan support in the state Legislature.

The Republican governor said he agreed with some of the legislation but didn't want to authorize "piecemeal" programs and promises outside of the annual state budget, which he is scheduled to propose on Tuesday.

"We cannot continue to do this type of irresponsibility in terms of budgeting," Mr. Christie said Friday."

It would seem that the only tax cuts Gov. Christie supports are those from Republican stooges.

Quote Of The Day -- Solidarity Edition

Feb 19th, 2011

"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as 'right-to-work.' It provides no 'rights' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining... We demand this fraud be stopped." --  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beckwatch - Planned Parenthood Edition

Feb 18th, 2011

As house Republicans voted today in committee to defund Planned Parenthood, an action which was unconstitutional by the way, I wondered if The Beckinator would have any Beckian craziness to add to the discussion. Yup. His show was a doozy.
While watching, why not make a donation to PP for their good works?

All Beckwatch videos from Media Matters.
Here's Beck comparing Planned Parenthood to Jihadists engaging in the "slave trade." He also wonders aloud about what it would be like if there were "window wombs" so that we might see the unborn.

The Wisconsin Plot Thickens

Feb 18th, 2011

Raw video of Wisconsin firefighter's (who are exempted from Gov. Walker's union busting proposals) marching into the capital to show solidarity with those under attack.

Billy Bragg - And A Whole Bunch Of Petitions

Feb 18th, 2011

As event's continue to unfold in Wisconsin, Ohio and now Tennessee, we are bearing witness to the opening salvos of the most dangerous and well funded campaign against organized labor in 80 years. Here's a little breather from Billy Bragg that stays on point. Please investigate the links below the video while you listen and get involved.

Sign The AFL-CIO petition to Stop Attacks On Working Families
Sign the petition to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Join the fight against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Twitter
Share your thoughts on recalling Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Join the BLUEGREEN alliance between environmental action and labor.

Gov. Walker's Very Bad Math

Feb 18th, 2011

Wisconsin has a budget surplus though the middle of 2011 totaling $56,362,800. SOURCE LINK BELOW

As we reported yesterday, the new Wisconsin state tax cuts that went into effect are 150% larger than the projected deficit. We also deflated the meme that the public sector pays more when the opposite is true. Another interesting fact has come to our attention.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin's equivalent of the CBO, shows very different numbers than Gov. Scott Walker has been publicly proclaiming. He has been repeatedly asserting that the state is "broke now."

Colbert On Justice Thomas

Feb 18th, 2011

In honor of the impending all time SCOTUS record of not asking a single question from the bench for 5 years, Stephen Colbert roasts him good. Video via Common Cause.

The People's House

Feb 18th, 2011

A scene from inside the Wisconsin State Capital yesterday via Twitpic

Quote Of The Day

Feb 18th, 2011

"When money is controlled by a few it gives that few an undue power and control over labor and the resources of the country. Labor will have its best return when the laborer can control its disposal." --Leland Stanford

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Ten HUT! What is the square root of..."

Feb17th, 2011

Perhaps the teachers of Wisconsin should go ahead and just call Gov. Walker's bluff. The governor has said that if they don't just roll over and let him break their union, he will replace them in the classroom... with members of the National Guard. I honor the service of our Guard. I respect them. But I don't want them teaching our children. That is why we have teachers. So that they may teach.

Well, it was bound to happen that Rush was going to chime in on this one:
He says in the following clip that guard members "would be just as good" as teachers. He also makes fun of children being provided a decent meal. Next time you hear Mr. Limbaugh use the word "values," remember this.

Wisconsin Protest Inside The Capital

Feb 17th, 2011

Hat tip Rachel Maddow. This is from not long ago today. WOW.

The Great Climate Change Distraction, part 3

Feb 17th, 2011

First, I stipulated that the debate over climate change was actually a tool that benefits polluters. The next day, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) lent vulgar credence to my thesis. Today, I argue with humor.
Copyright © Joel Pett 2011 

The Public Sector And Paul Ryan

Feb 17th, 2011

This morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) made a couple of incredibly snide remarks in an attempt to back up Gov. Scott Walker and his proposal to break the current state employee contract by rolling back wages. They need to do this to fill a deficit caused primarily by brand new corporate tax breaks. First, he compared the peaceful assembly of those workers to the upheaval in Egypt. (Hat tip to Beck?). Then, he pushed forward one the biggest single lies the right wing has in their arsenal. He advanced the meme that there is a wild disparity between private and public sector compensation in favor of the public worker.
It is not true. He is smart. Which means he is either uninformed... or he is lying.

From the Economic Policy Institute:

Hey, Conservatives! FOXNews Thinks You Are Stupid.

Feb 9th, 2011
By Stephanie Baselice

I have been trying for years now to find a respectful way to reach conservatives, many of whom can be numbered among my own family. Respect for each other is important. This is especially hard these days, since the so called “conservative” Tea Party movement has become a uniting umbrella for right wing tribalism. This tribalism is rooted in a narrative that pits those who gained from civil rights and the other social changes of the past century against those who suddenly found their privilege undermined by a new morality. This narrative took the place of the galvanizing Freedom-Loving Capitalist vs. Red Menace narrative of the cold war, and has been over-fed by billionaire and corporate interests to all but eliminate any actual political discourse between conservatives and anyone else. So, respectfully, WAKE UP PEOPLE! Fox News is not conservative, and it does indeed think its audience is stupid. So let's not all be stupid. Conservatives and Progressives are not natural enemies. That conflict is trumped up for ratings and votes. Progressives must remember there is a very important place in democratic society for conservative thought. True conservatives slow the pace of change. They question the value of progressive ideas; bring up concerns about the cost of actions under consideration.

Wisconsin By The Numbers

Feb 17th, 2011

Gov. Scott Walker
As the controversy over Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's plans to balance the state budget on the backs of his workers heats up, the likes of Glenn Beck and Michelle Malkin are attempting to demonize his government's employees for not rolling over and taking what amounts to a 7% wage cut. 

It's just another part of the current Republican war on the rights of labor. Here is a little perspective.

From the NY Times:
"Mr. Walker said he had no other options, since he is facing a deficit of $137 million in the current state budget"

"At least eight new or expanded state tax cuts and tax credits will go into effect at the beginning of 2011. These tax changes add up to an estimated $210 million cut in state taxes over the 2011-13 biennium. After adding in other tax reductions with different effective dates, we calculate that tax changes contribute more than $320 million to the structural deficit for the coming biennial budget."

Uh huh. Looks like more Reaganomic upward redistribution to me.

Quote Of The Day

Feb 17th, 2011

"The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home." -- James Madison

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Losing The Future, cont...

Feb 16th, 2011

But Wait!There's more. Yup, more tasty Reaganomic Fallout goodness...
Via CNN:

Fighting The Fighter

Feb 16th, 2011

F-35 Publicity Still
Having railed long and hard for the total abandonment of the F-35 Fighter program, it was pleasing to read today that there is finally some momentum in congress against the project. 

Elise Foley reports for HuffPo:
"More than half of the House Republicans voted on Wednesday to earmark $450 million in funds for a duplicative fighter-jet engines that the Department of Defense has repeatedly said it does not need. But a bipartisan coalition, including just over half of GOP freshmen, voted against the F-35 engines, approving an amendment to strip an expenditure long bemoaned as pure pork, but defended by members of Congress from the states who would benefit from the project." EMPHASIS OURS

Well, it's a start. The real goal for both the budget conscious and the military brass should be to mothball the program completely. No endeavor in the last 20 years has better embodied President Eisenhower's perennially unheeded warnings about "the military-industrial complex." The total cost for the the targeted fleet of 2500 planes is now at a whopping $382 Billion dollars

The F-35 is a radar evading plane designed to battle an enemy that not only does not currently exist, but one that can't possibly be created by any potential adversary for decades. No other country in the world has an air-force at this time that can match our existing F-22 Raptor fleet. In fact, to suggest that our air supremacy is at risk in any form at all, including from a potential future Chinese threat, is as patently false an assertion as can be made.

The project is also a boondoggle. In developing the program, which is beset by cost overruns and spiraling charges of mismanagement by Lockheed Martin as well as other vendors, our country has engaged in an arms race without an opponent. Indeed, the so-called "second engine program" which congress took aim at today was only conceived in an attempt to grapple with the failure to meet targets for the first engine. Another pressing concern is that the F-35 is just not particularly well designed.

Alas, we have far to go before cutting this and so any other weapons systems which are at the very root of our nation's fiscal crisis. 

Speaker Boehner IS Bad At His Job

Feb 16th, 2011

Maddow is absolutely right.