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Democratic Ezine March 17,2011

March 17, 2011
ON THE RECORD:

“If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin.” — Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R), admitting what’s really driving the controversy in his state. 3.11.11

“Give-a-handgun-to-a-schizophrenic-bill.” — Iowa State Rep. Jeff Kaufmann (R), describing a bill called “Alaska Carry,” which would allow state residents to carry weapons in public without a sheriff’s permission and without any training or a background check. 3.11.11

“The world is too populated and there are too many defective people … I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.” — New Hampshire Rep. Martin Harty (R) telling one of his constituents what he would like to do with the mentally challenged and other “defective” people. 3.11.11

“I don’t know where the guy was born, I don’t care,” — New Hampshire State Rep. David Bates (R), a supporter of the state’s controversial ‘birther’ bill, about where President Barack Obama was born.3.11.11

Interviewer: What are the specific requirements in the bill?
Mae Beavers: That they have to have the long form birth certificate.
Interviewer: What is the long form birth certificate?
Mae Beavers: Now, you’re asking me to get into a lot of things that I haven’t really looked into yet. — Tennessee state Sen. Mae Beavers (R), discussing her bill which would require presidential candidates to present a long-form birth certificate in order to qualify for the ballot in the Volunteer State.

“Governor Scott Walker and Charlie Sheen are the only ones who think they are winning.” — Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson on MSNBC 3.12.10

“What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty.”You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” — Rep Michele Bachmann (R-MN), failing to note that the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord took place in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire. 3.12.11

“They literally think you can just balance it, you know, by cutting waste, fraud and abuse, foreign aid and NPR, and it doesn’t work like that.” — House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) 3.10.11

“Just 400 Americans — 400 — have more wealth than half of all Americans combined.” — Michael Moore making an observation that was confirmed by PolitiFact 3.05.11

“Every night we see a crazed leader hunkered down, besieged in his own capital, defying reality while obstinately holding onto power and attacking his own people. And its hard to figure out if we’re watching Libya or Wisconsin. “ — Daily Dose of Durst 3.11.11

Mitch, I heard your friends over at FOX News told you that you don’t look like a President. But I wouldn’t worry about it — they say the same thing about me every single day. … And Mitch is experienced. Before he was governor Mitch was a pharmaceutical executive and he was George W. Bush’s budget director. I don’t have a joke here. I just want to point it out.” — President Obama, making a joke about fellow speaker and potential presidential opponent Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R). 3.13.11

“It looks like to me if shooting these immigrating feral hogs works – maybe we have found a [solution] to our illegal immigration problem,” — Rep. Virgil Peck (R- Tyro) Kansas House Appropriations Committee, equating feral hogs to illegal immigrants. 3.14.11

“The guy’s [Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)] a stone brain.” — Author Stephen King 3.15.11

“I’ve said it often and I believe it – the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets.” — Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) 3.15.11

“That was a radical statement and did great damage.” — Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) on John F. Kennedy saying “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” 3.15.11

“They know NPR plays a vital role in providing quality news programming — from rural radio stations to in-depth coverage of foreign affairs. If the Republicans had their way, we’d only be left with the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin to dominate the airwaves.” — DCCC Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.) on the GOP’s push to take away federal funding from NPR. 3/16/11 http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/150029-democrats-fundraising-off-gops-npr-defunding-effort

“I wouldn’t let that guy [Newt Gingrich] run a 7-Eleven, let alone a country,” — David Brooks

 
 
 
IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Japan’s Devastating Earthquake: How You Can Help
2. CNN Poll: Most say govt. shutdown bad; Tea Party disagrees
3. WI Repub state senator lives outside district with mistress
4. Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Emergency Deficit Reduction Act
5. From the
DAILY GRILL
6. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart:
7. Wisconsin recalls: Where local and national politics converge
8. From
MEDIA MATTERS
9. Every Single GOPer On House Energy Cmte Won’t Say Climate Change Is Real
10. Congressional Approval Back Below 20%
11. Fact Checking The Sunday Shows – March 13, 2011
12. Late Night Jokes for Dems
13. Alaska Militia Members Arrested for Plot to Kidnap or Kill Police
14. GOP Cuts: A “Guillotine Job” on the Special Olympics
15. Elements Of NPR Gotcha Video Taken Out Of Context
16. “Newt’s Fishy Excuses,” a limerick by Madeleine Begun Kane
17. Texans Most Likely to Be Uninsured, Mass. Residents Least
18. Trend in Jobless Rate May Matter More Than The Level of Joblessness
19. Nuke industry spin: Be “reassured” by Japan

COMMENTARY

1. William Rivers Pitt: Then They Came for the Trade Unionists
2. BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP: In defense of NPR
3. Robert Reich: Governor Walker’s Coup D’Etat
4. James Ridgeway: Peter King, Qaddafi, and the IRA
5. NY Times Editorial: It’s Not Over in Wisconsin
6. MICHAEL D. SHEAR: Walker Hands a Victory to … Obama?
7. Steve Benen: Cornyn Wants To Play With Fire; Will We All Get Burned?
8. MAUREEN DOWD: In Search of Monsters
9. Steve Rendall: O’Reilly’s Amnesia on Right-Wing Terror
10. PAUL KRUGMAN: Another Inside Job
11. E.J. Dionne Jr.: What if we’re not broke?

   
FYI
 
   
1. Japan’s Devastating Earthquake: How You Can Help

http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main

2. CNN Poll: Most say govt. shutdown bad; Tea Party disagrees

Nearly 59% of the people questioned in the poll say that it would be a bad thing for the government to shut down for a few days because Congress did not pass a new spending bill, and if a government shutdown lasted a few weeks, that figure would rise to 73 %s.

“But Republicans think a shut down that lasts a few days would be a good thing. And a majority of Tea Party supporters approve of a shutdown even if it lasts several weeks,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “That puts pressure on House Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders to take a step which might hurt their standing with independents as well as some Republicans.” 3.15.11 http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/15/cnn-poll-most-say-govt-shutdown-bad-tea-party-disagrees/

3. WI Repub state senator lives outside district with mistress

Protesters who marched at the home of Wisconsin state senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) were met with something of a surprise on Saturday. Mrs. Hopper appeared at the door and informed them that Sen. Hopper was no longer in residence at this address, but now lives in Madison, WI with his 25-year-old mistress. David Ferguson 3.13.11 Read more at http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/03/13/wi-repub-lives-outside-district-with-mistress-says-wife/

Note: One supporter of the recall movement against Hopper is his wife, who says he had an affair with a 25-year-old staffer and lives with her outside his district in violation of state law. http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/03/wisconsin_state_senators_wife.html

4. Sen. Bernie Sanders Introduces Emergency Deficit Reduction Act

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today introduced The Emergency Deficit Reduction Act that would establish a surtax on millionaires and eliminate tax breaks for big oil and gas companies. 

Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said any proposal to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year must pair additional revenue from those who can afford it the most with spending cuts.

“The American people get it. They understand you can’t move toward deficit reduction just by cutting programs that working families, the middle class, low-income people desperately need in order to survive in the midst of this terrible recession. They understand that serious, responsible deficit reduction requires shared sacrifice,” Sanders said in a Senate floor speech. 3.10.11 Read more at http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?id=4f353057-535a-4a88-81fc-20af8751b48d

5. From the DAILY GRILL

“Here’s, in my view, the politically effective and the true argument. They make more than you do, right, these public sector employees.” — The Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson, 3/09/11

VERSUS

“Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin’s private sector.” — The Economic Policy Institute, 2/10/11

“The pretense is that a flush trust fund will pay retirees for the next 26 years. Lovely, except for one thing: The Social Security trust fund is a fiction.” — The Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, 3/11/11

VERSUS

“Far from being ‘worthless IOUs,’ the investments held by the trust funds are backed by the full faith and credit of the U. S. Government. The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.” — Social Security Administration, retrieved 3/14/11

“Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States.” — NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, explaining why he won’t meet with the Obama administration to discuss gun issues. 3/14/11

VERSUS

 “I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land.” — President Obama, 3/13/11


“This budget also asks retirees for the same shared sacrifice we are asking of our state employees and increases the retirement age to 65 for new and recent hires.” — Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME), 2/25/11

VERSUS

“The governor has exempted himself. … If LePage faced the same increase as state employees, it would cost him $5,880 over his term.” — Mike Tipping, MainePolitics.net, 3/13/11
  

6. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (videos)

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia? http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-march-8-2011/peter-king-wants-to-investigate-any-american-muslim-who-is-not-actively-stopping-terrorist-plots-

Radical Muslim Hearings – IRA Terrorism: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-10-2011/radical-muslim-hearings—ira-terrorism

Your moment of Zen – Ronald Reagan Supports Unions: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-march-10-2011/moment-of-zen—ronald-reagan-supports-unions

7. Wisconsin recalls: Where local and national politics converge

Number of state lawmakers removed from office by recall in all of American history: 13.
Number of state lawmakers currently facing recall campaigns in Wisconsin: 16.

Those figures hint at the oddity and immensity of what’s going on in the Badger State. But it’s not just their breadth that makes the recall drives in Wisconsin unprecedented in American politics. It’s the national dimension they’ve taken on. Craig Gilbert 3.11.11 http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/117804138.html

8. From MEDIA MATTERS

“Fantastic”: Fox & Friends Takes A Victory Lap After WI Senate Passes Anti-Union Bill (video) http://mediamatters.org/research/201103100019

Limbaugh: Obama Is “Afraid To Do Anything In Libya” Because “Bullies Are Notorious Cowards” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103100024

Limbaugh Says WI Protests Are “Mob-ocracy” And “Thuggery” By “Bused-In Union Thugs” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103100021

Limbaugh: Wisconsin Death Threats Are “From The Obama Wing Of The Democrat Party. These Are Obamaites” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103100029

Limbaugh: Wisconsin Protesters Are “Long-Haired, Maggot-Infested Michael Moore Fan[s]” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103100018

Rush: “Everybody On Our Side Agrees” Health Care Reform “Has Got To Be Repealed, Or The Country As We Know It Is Over” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103110027

Fox Promotes Drilling In ANWR: “I Would Sacrifice A Few Caribou For Lower Gas Prices.” http://mediamatters.org/research/201103100033

Mocking Obama’s Reaction To Japanese Disaster, Limbaugh Says: “Maybe The Birth Certificate’s In Osaka” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103140024

Rush Attacks Conservatives Who Think Palin Is Worse Than Obama: “The Democrat Party Is Destroying The Freaking Country” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103140027

Beck Lists NPR Among Enemies Of God (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103140015

Beck: The Next Step Of The “Marxists” Is To “Round Me Up And Then Shoot Me In The Head” (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103140019

Beck On Japan Earthquake: “There’s A Message Being Sent” From God (audio) http://mediamatters.org/blog/201103140010

Limbaugh: Media “Exaggerat[ing]” Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Like They Did With BP Oil Spill (audio) http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201103160029

9. Every Single GOPer On House Energy Cmte Won’t Say Climate Change Is Real

Thirty-one Republicans on the House Energy And Commerce Committee — the entire Republican contingent on the panel — declined on Tuesday to vote in support of the very idea that climate change exists.

The amendments came on a Republican bill to block the EPA from offering regulations to mitigate the results of global climate shifts. Evan McMorris-Santoro 3.25.22 http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/03/every-single-goper-on-house-energy-cmte-wont-say-climate-change-is-real.php

10. Congressional Approval Back Below 20%

Congress’ approval rating is down to 18% after being in the 20% range the first two months of the year, and is essentially back to where it was just after last November’s midterm elections.

Americans’ opinions of Congress have not been very positive historically, with an average 34% approval rating since Gallup began tracking this measure in 1974. But the recent approval ratings for Congress have been among the lowest in Gallup’s 37-year trend. Since 2008, Congress’ approval rating has been below 20% in 15 of 39 months, including a record-low 13% last DecemberJeffrey M. Jones 3.11.11 Read more at http://www.gallup.com/poll/146567/Congressional-Approval-Back-Below.aspx

11. Fact Checking The Sunday Shows – March 13, 2011

CLAIM: Sen. McConnell Claimed Economic Trajectory Over Past Two Years Proves Government Spending Can’t Create Jobs
CLAIM: Sen. Kyl Claimed The Recovery Act “Didn’t Work”
FACT: Pres. Obama’s Policies Taken Us From Hundreds Of Thousands Of Job Losses Every Month To 12 Straight Months Of Private-Sector Job Growth

CLAIM: Sen. McConnell Blamed Rising Gas Prices On President Obama
CLAIM: Sen. Kyl Claimed President Obama’s Actions Have Doubled Gas Prices
FACT: Gas Prices Are Jumping Up Around The World Due To The Widespread Unrest In The Middle East
FACT: Before Middle East Unrest This Winter, Gas Prices Had Returned From Recession-Fueled Lows To More Normal Levels

Fox News Sunday
CLAIM: Sen. McConnell Claimed “We Aren’t Doing Anything To Bend The Curve” Of Future Entitlement Spending
FACT: The Affordable Care Act Slows The Growth Of Health Care Costs — Which Is The Primary Driver Of The Entitlement Spending Curve
CLAIM: Sen. Chambliss Implied That Tax Cuts Pay For Themsleves Because Cutting Income Taxes Increases Tax Revenue
FACT: Tax Cuts Reduce Revenue
FACT: Expert Consensus, Even Among Conservatives, Is That Tax Cuts Do Not Pay For Themselves

Meet the Press
CLAIM: Gov. Daniels Implied That Gov. Walker Campaigned On Revoking Public-Sector Collective Bargaining
FACT: As NBC’s Todd Correctly Pointed Out, Gov. Walker Isn’t Merely ‘Living Up To His Words’ Because He Didn’t Campaign On Revoking Collective Bargaining Rights For Public Employees

Details at http://politicalcorrection.org/factcheck/201103140002

12. Late Night Jokes for Dems

“Congressman Peter King is holding hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims to determine why they feel alienated from American culture. Hopefully these hearings into why they’re so dangerous will make them feel more welcome.” –Stephen Colbert

“Newt knows that before he throws his giant hat into the ring, he has to explain his past positions — specifically, why those positions were so often on top of women who weren’t his wife.” –Stephen Colbert

“Charlie Sheen — he’s our new national pastime. Sorry baseball, call me when your foul lines are drawn with coke.” –Stephen Colbert

“They say that Japan’s rigorous building codes and regulations saved thousands of lives. Or as Republican here saw it, it fostered a socialist anti-business environment that’s worse than being dead.” –Bill Maher

“It turns out that the Republican budget that they submitted for next year slashes funding for the agency that issues tsunami warnings and organizes responses to the tsunami. In their defense, Republicans say that tsunamis are just a theory, they are not a real threat like ACORN, the Black Panthers, NPR, and math teachers in Wisconsin.” –Bill Maher

“Newt Gingrich, who famously cheated on wife number two with now wife number three, says he prays for God’s forgiveness. He also prays that wife number three never finds out about Vanessa.” –Conan O’Brien

“Newt Gingrich has started a web site to gauge whether he should start an exploratory committee to determine whether he should run for President. This is just the type of firm, decisive leadership this country needs.” –Jay Leno

“Julianne Moore is going to play Sarah Palin in a new HBO movie. Julianne said, ‘But I know nothing about politics,’ and the producers said, ‘Perfect!'” –Craig Ferguson

“I’m upset that friend of the show Mike Huckabee criticized Natalie Portman for having a child out of wedlock. Listen, I’m no fan of unwed mothers either, but this is Natalie Portman we’re talking about. That unborn child is Luke Skywalker.” –Conan O’Brien

“This is the last voyage of the Space Shuttle, and President Obama called them in space today: ‘You’re not going to believe what’s happening with Charlie Sheen down here.'” –Conan O’Brien

“Arnold Schwarzenegger has been offered a role in a sequel to ‘The Terminator.’ In this one he travels back in time and kills the person who suggested he run for Governor.” –Conan O’Brien

“Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is a man who cheated on his first wife and left her while she was in bed with cancer. Then he cheated on his second wife with his current, third wife. I don’t think actual newts are this slimy.” –Bill Maher

“But, he didn’t ever have to go away. And now he’s going to run for president and lecture gays about the sanctity of marriage. I can’t even wrap my head around this. There are three women in America who agreed to f**k Newt Gingrich?!” –Bill Maher

13. Alaska Militia Members Arrested for Plot to Kidnap or Kill Police

Five members and associates of a Fairbanks, Alaska, right-wing militia group were arrested yesterday for allegedly plotting to kidnap or kill Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks judge.

The five include Francis “Schaeffer” Cox, the founder and leader of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. Cox also founded a pro-gun group and advocates armed resistance to gun control.

Cox and the other defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit arson, in addition to gun charges and other crimes. 3.11.11 Read more at http://mediamatters.org/blog/201103110013

A video of Francis Cox and Congressman Don Young (R-AL) is HERE.

4. GOP Cuts: A “Guillotine Job” on the Special Olympics

Food safety, family planning, cancer research, and low-income housing—now add the Special Olympics to the long list of organizations and federal programs targeted for major funding cuts by congressional Republicans.

The House GOP’s budget, which passed last month, takes a hatchet to programs for disabled kids and Special Olympics athletes. The proposed cuts could force the closure of at least one Special Olympics program, which is funded through the Department of Education. DubbedProject UNIFY, the program serves more than 750,000 students in 43 states and draws from techniques used in Special Olympics training for activities in public schools. Suzy Khimm 3.10.11 Read more at http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/budget-cuts-special-olympics

15. Elements Of NPR Gotcha Video Taken Out Of Context

Footage posted online last week by conservative activist James O’Keefe III captured NPR’s chief fundraising official, Ron Schiller, disparaging conservatives and the Tea Party and saying NPR would be better off without federal funding.

A closer review of those tapes, however, shows that many of Ron Schiller’s most provocative remarks were presented in a misleading way. David Folkenflik 3.14.11 NPR audio and text are at http://www.npr.org/2011/03/14/134525412/Segments-Of-NPR-Gotcha-Video-Taken-Out-Of-Context

16. “Newt’s Fishy Excuses,” a limerick by Madeleine Begun Kane

Mr. Newt has an oddball excuse
For something that’s close to abuse:
Abandoning wives
Who were ill just derives
From his working too hard? How obtuse!
Read more at http://www.madkane.com/madness/2011/03/10/newt-gingrich-infidelity/

17. Texans Most Likely to Be Uninsured, Mass. Residents Least

Nearly 3 in 10 adults living in Texas (27.8%) do not have health insurance, making it the state with the highest uninsured rate in the country in 2010. Mississippi and Louisiana also have high rates of uninsured residents, with about one in four lacking coverage. By a significant margin, Massachusetts — where state law requires all adult residents to have health insurance — continues to have the lowest percentage of uninsured residents, at 4.7%. Connecticut, Minnesota, and Hawaii also have relatively low uninsured rates, with about 1 in 10 adults not carrying health insurance in each. Elizabeth Mendes 3.14.11 Read more at http://www.gallup.com/poll/146579/Texans-Likely-Uninsured-Mass-Residents-Least.aspx

18. Trend in Jobless Rate May Matter More Than The Level of Joblessness

The U.S. jobless rate will be 7.7% in November 2012, the highest level for a presidential election month since Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford in 1976, according to the average forecast of economists in the latest Wall Street Journal survey.

While the 7.7% rate in November 2012 would be the highest in seven presidential election cycles, analysts point out that it is often the overall trend—rather than the level of joblessness—that determines an incumbent’s fate. President Carter was defeated in 1980 by Ronald Reagan when the unemployment rate was 7.5%, lower than the level when he was elected but up from 5.6% earlier in his term. Meanwhile, President Reagan was re-elected in 1984 with the rate at 7.2%, but that was down sharply from the peak of 10.8% recorded in 1982. Phil Izzo.3.14.11 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703555404576195030362085382.html

19. Nuke industry spin: Be “reassured” by Japan

As Japan struggles to contain a growing nuclear crisis — with more than 200,000 people evacuated, an explosion at one power plant, and possible meltdowns in several reactors — the American nuclear industry faces a different challenge: how to position itself in the intense public-relations battle that has already started.

The most striking claim made by NEI spokesman Mitchell Singer: Americans should be “reassured” by the crisis unfolding in Japan.

“There hasn’t been any significant release of radiation. So obviously they must be doing something right at this point,” said Singer. While acknowledging that the crisis is still in early stages, Singer argued in our interview, and earlier to the Wall Street Journal, that Americans should be reassured because the industry will learn from the accidents in Japan, where fail-safe systems have themselves failed. 3.13.11 http://www.salon.com/news/japan_earthquake/index.html?story=/politics/war_room/2011/03/13/nuclear_industry_response


Cartoon courtesy of Dorothy Kalaveras at aalsignsplus.com
 
 
   
COMMENTARY
 
   

1. William Rivers Pitt: Then They Came for the Trade Unionists

On this day, it behooves us to remember the words of Martin Niemoller.

“First they came for the communists,” he wrote, “and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

I am a trade unionist, and yesterday in Wisconsin, they came for me. They came for you. They came for every working person in America, and their intent could not be more clear. Governor Scott Walker, along with the Koch Brothers and the right-wing radicals of the Republican Party, moved in darkness and with shameless deceit to gut the ability of dedicated laborers to bargain on an equal footing for the right to earn a living wage and to have access to decent health care.

Among other things, the bill as passed allows the state to fire anyone who participates in a strike. The story of the 20th century was written by workers who dared to face the truncheon in order to fight for their basic rights, and the strike was integral to that struggle. Any Wisconsin worker who dares to stand in defiance of The Bosses now faces personal annihilation, not just for themselves, but for their family. America was made in the struggle of union workers standing shoulder to shoulder in defiance of the idea that being rich means being right. That struggle is now in mortal peril, and the outcome affects all of us. 3.10.11 Read more at http://www.truth-out.org/then-they-came-trade-unionists68363

2. BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP: In defense of NPR

Come on now: Let’s take a breath and put this NPR fracas into perspective.

Ron Schiller’s a fundraiser, not a news director. NPR keeps a high, thick firewall between its successful development office and its superb news division. The “separation of church and state” — the classic division of editorial and finance — has been one of the glories of public radio as it has won a large and respectful audience as the place on the radio spectrum that is free of commercials and commercial values.

If you would see how this integrity is upheld, go to the NPR website and pull up any of its reporting since 2009 on the Tea Party movement. Read the transcripts or listen to its coverage — you will find it impartial and professional, a full representation of various points of view, pro and con. Further, examine how over the past few days NPR has covered the O’Keefe/Schiller contretemps and made no attempt to cover up or ignore its own failings and responsibilities.

Then reverse the situation and contemplate how, say, Fox News would handle a similar incident if they were the target of a sting. Would their coverage be as “fair and balanced” as NPR’s? Would they apologize or punish their outspoken employee if he or she demeaned liberals? Don’t kid yourself. A raise and promotion would be more likely. Think of the fortune Glenn Beck has made on Fox, spewing bile and lies about progressives and their “conspiracies.”

And oh, yes, something else: Remember what Fox News chief Roger Ailes said about NPR executives after they fired Fox contributor Juan Williams? “They are, of course, Nazis,” Ailes told an interviewer. “They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view.” When the Anti-Defamation League objected to the characterization, Ailes apologized but then described NPR as “nasty, inflexible” bigots.

Double standard? You bet. A fundraiser for NPR is axed for his own personal bias and unprofessionalism but Ailes gets away scot free, still running a news division that is constantly pumping arsenic into democracy’s drinking water while he slanders public radio as equal to the monsters and murderers of the Third Reich. 3.10.11 Read more at http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/03/10/bill_moyers_npr/index.html

3. Robert Reich: Governor Walker’s Coup D’Etat

Governor Scott Walker and his Wisconsin senate Republicans have laid bare the motives for their coup d’etat. By severing the financial part of the bill (which couldn’t be passed without absent Democrats) from the part eliminating the collective bargaining rights of public employees (which could be), and then doing the latter, Wisconsin Republicans have made it crystal clear that their goal has had nothing whatever to do with the state budget. It’s been to bust the unions.

That’s no surprise to most people who have watched this conflict from the start, but like any coup its ultimate outcome will depend on the public. If most citizens of Wisconsin are now convinced that Walker and his cohorts are extremists willing to go to any lengths for their big-business patrons (including the billionaire Koch brothers), those citizens will recall enough Republican senators to right this wrong.

But it’s critically important at this stage that Walker’s opponents maintain the self-discipline they have shown until this critical point. Walker would like nothing better than disorder to break out in Madison. Like the leader of any coup d’etat, he wants to show the public his strong-arm methods are made necessary by adversaries whose behavior can be characterized on the media as even more extreme.

Be measured. Stay cool. Know that we are a nation of laws, and those laws will prevail. The People’s Party is growing across America — and the actions of Scott Walker and his Republican colleagues are giving it even greater momentum. So are the actions of congressional Republicans who are using the threat of a government shutdown to strong-arm their way in Washington.

The American public may be divided over many things but we stand united behind our democratic process and the rule of law. And we reject coups in whatever form they occur. 3.10.11 Read more at http://robertreich.org/post/3760147381

4. James Ridgeway: Peter King, Qaddafi, and the IRA

Peter King is, in one sense, uniquely qualified to hold hearings on the “radicalization” of young men to a terrorist cause: He may be the only member of the United States Congress to have undergone the process himself, at the hands of the Irish Republican Army.

Some of King’s previous dealings with the IRA have been reported, but the depth of his embrace is best documented by Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA and former Northern Ireland editor of the Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune, whose reportage on the IRA’s operations is second to none. Moloney now writes a blog, The Broken Elbow, in which he recently recapped what he knows about King—including his links to none other than Col. Muammar Qaddafi, long known as an arms supplier to international terrorists:

Peter King is the last person in the world to be preaching about terrorism, including Muslim terrorism. The very idea that the U.S. Congress would put on such an odious display, led by this consummate hypocrite, humiliates the country at large. 3.11.11 Read more at http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/03/peter-king-qaddafi-ira

5. NY Times Editorial: It’s Not Over in Wisconsin

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin have reversed half-a-century’s middle-class progress in the state by erasing collective-bargaining rights for public employees. Union members, caught off guard and infuriated by the Senate vote on Wednesday and the Assembly vote on Thursday, immediately talked of legal challenges and general strikes, but the outcome was probably inevitable given the Republican success in the 2010 elections. Now union members have to make sure they do not stay away from the polls again when their rights are at stake.

The vote, pushed by Gov. Scott Walker, would have happened weeks ago if Democratic state senators had not fled to Illinois to deprive the Senate of the supermajority it needs to pass bills that are considered fiscal matters. Republicans then moved the bargaining rights from a larger budget bill to a separate bill that they could pass by proclaiming that the rights were not a fiscal issue.

And, in doing so, they reluctantly exposed the real truth behind the maneuver: stripping the unions of their rights was never about the budget, especially once the unions had agreed to significant concessions on pensions and health care. It was always about politics. Governor Walker had hoped to hide behind a cooked-up budget crisis, but the fleeing Democrats at least succeeded in pulling away that facade.

More broadly, the overreach by Mr. Walker and Republicans elsewhere has finally revealed their true agenda to blue-collar voters who either voted for them last year or who stayed home. These voters are not going to benefit from a crippled union movement; they live next door to the teachers and nurses and D.M.V. clerks who are about to lose what little clout they had in the state capital. Many have suffered during the recession and have watched in pain as private-sector unions have been battered to the point of ineffectiveness.

They understand the power play that took place this week. The place to exercise some power of their own is at the voting booth.
3.10.11 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/opinion/11fri2.html

6. MICHAEL D. SHEAR: Walker Hands a Victory to … Obama?

The votes late this week by the Wisconsin Legislature to curtail collective bargaining rights appears to hand political victories to two very different men: Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, and President Obama.

After a three-week stalemate, Republicans in the state found a procedural way to force Mr. Walker’s signature measure through the legislature despite the absence of the Democrats in the state senate. Mr. Walker has vowed to sign the bill over the objections of the unions and the Democrats.

But in the process Mr. Walker has done for Mr. Obama an unintended favor. He has energized labor unions, a major part of the president’s political base and one that will play a big role in whether or not Mr. Obama is re-elected.

The danger for Mr. Obama was not that labor unions would fail to support him in 2012; the danger was that they would not support him enthusiastically, that their passions for him from four years ago would fade. That could translate into difficulty for Mr. Obama, especially in crucial states where union membership is high and presidential politics is competitive.

Were it not for the battle in Wisconsin, Mr. Obama would have faced a difficult task: how to fire up the union voters without alienating the independents he is clearly trying to court; how to win back the left in general while embracing a more centrist, pragmatic agenda and seeking a more cooperative relationship with Republicans in Washington.

But Mr. Walker, by sparking the Wisconsin fight over collective bargaining, may have awoken a sleeping giant, not only in his state but also across the nation. 3.11.11 Read more at http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/walker-hands-a-victory-to-obama/

7. Steve Benen: Cornyn Wants To Play With Fire; Will We All Get Burned?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated on Friday his caucus is prepared to kill a debt-limit extension unless “something significant” is done about the debt McConnell helped create. On Twitter yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the NRSC, was even more explicit:

“Debt ceiling vote is ultimate leverage to get fiscal reform.”

It’s hard to overstate how irresponsible this is, especially for a leading U.S. senator.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently warned congressional Republicans not to “play around with” a coming vote to raise the government’s legal borrowing limit, adding that lawmakers shouldn’t view the debt ceiling as a “bargaining chip.” Austan Goolsbee, chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, recently explained, “If we get to the point where you’ve damaged the full faith and credit of the United States, that would be the first default in history caused purely by insanity.”

And yet, there’s John Cornyn, not just saying crazy things in private, but taking his strategy public. “Do what I want,” he’s effectively telling Democrats, “or I’ll cause a catastrophe on purpose.”

Behold, the Republican Party of the 21st century. Read more at http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2011_03/028426.php

8. MAUREEN DOWD: In Search of Monsters

The Iraq war hawks urging intervention in Libya are confident that there’s no way Libya could ever be another Iraq.

Of course, they never thought Iraq would be Iraq, either.

All President Obama needs to do, Paul Wolfowitz asserts, is man up, arm the Libyan rebels, support setting up a no-fly zone and wait for instant democracy.

It’s a cakewalk.

Didn’t we arm the rebels in Afghanistan in the ’80s? And didn’t many become Taliban and end up turning our own weapons on us? And didn’t one mujahadeen from Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden, go on to lead Al Qaeda?

So that worked out well.

Even now, with our deficit and military groaning from two wars in Muslim countries, interventionists on the left and the right insist it’s our duty to join the battle in a third Muslim country.

“It is both morally right and in America’s strategic interest to enable the Libyans to fight for themselves,” Wolfowitz wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece.

You would think that a major architect of the disastrous wars and interminable occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq would have the good manners to shut up and take up horticulture. But the neo-con naif has no shame. 3.12.11 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/opinion/13dowd.html

9. Steve Rendall: O’Reilly’s Amnesia on Right-Wing Terror

While defending Rep. Peter King’s (R.-N.Y.) congressional hearings on domestic Muslim extremism, Bill O’Reilly (3/9/11) scoffed at the notion that the biggest domestic terror threats in the U.S. come from the “radical right” and not from homegrown Muslims. After playing a clip of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok making that argument, O’Reilly responded:

Are you kidding me? The radical right? The last terror act assigned to them was the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995.

In reality, acts of political violence connected to the far right are a regular occurrence. To make his claim, O’Reilly even had to overlook at least two domestic terror acts apparently inspired by his Fox News colleague Glenn Beck.

In July 2010 Beck devotee Byron Williams shot two California Highway Patrol officers when they stopped him on his way, as he later told police, to kill people at the Oakland California offices of the progressive Tides Foundation and the ACLU. Byron cited Beck, who journalist John Hamilton pointed out had aired anti-Tides commentaries on 29 separate editions of his Fox News show, as an inspiration.

Furthermore, the ADL reported that Pittsburgh’s Richard Poplawski–who was arrested after a shootout with police that left three officers dead–was so inspired by Beck’s anti-government conspiracy theories he posted to a neo-Nazi website tape of Beck suggesting the government was building concentration camps for dissidents.

And how could O’Reilly forget Jim Adkisson, who shot and killed two people at a progressive Tennessee church in 2008? In his “manifesto,” Adkisson wrote that he “wanted to kill…every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book.” (These days, Adkisson inspiration Bernard Goldberg is best known for his regular appearances on the O’Reilly Factor.) 3/11/2011 Read more at http://www.fair.org/blog/#post-17577

10. PAUL KRUGMAN: Another Inside Job

Count me among those who were glad to see the documentary “Inside Job” win an Oscar. The film reminded us that the financial crisis of 2008, whose aftereffects are still blighting the lives of millions of Americans, didn’t just happen — it was made possible by bad behavior on the part of bankers, regulators and, yes, economists.

What the film didn’t point out, however, is that the crisis has spawned a whole new set of abuses, many of them illegal as well as immoral. And leading political figures are, at long last, showing some outrage. Unfortunately, this outrage is directed, not at banking abuses, but at those trying to hold banks accountable for these abuses.
The immediate flashpoint is a proposed settlement between state attorneys general and the mortgage servicing industry. That settlement is a “shakedown,” says Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. The money banks would be required to allot to mortgage modification would be “extorted,” declares The Wall Street Journal. And the bankers themselves warn that any action against them would place economic recovery at risk.

All of which goes to confirm that the rich are different from you and me: when they break the law, it’s the prosecutors who find themselves on trial.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll see pro-banker politicians denounce the proposed settlement [ of the complaintf iled by Nevada’s attorney general against Bank of America that charges the bank with luring families into its loan-modification program0, asserting that it’s all about defending the rule of law. But what they’re actually defending is the exact opposite — a system in which only the little people have to obey the law, while the rich, and bankers especially, can cheat and defraud without consequences.3/14/11 Read more at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/opinion/14krugman.html

11. E.J. Dionne Jr.: What if we’re not broke?

“We’re broke.”

You can practically break a search engine if you start looking around the Internet for those words. They’re used repeatedly with reference to our local, state and federal governments, almost always to make a case for slashing programs — and, lately, to go after public-employee unions. The phrase is designed to create a sense of crisis that justifies rapid and radical actions before citizens have a chance to debate the consequences.

Just one problem: We’re not broke. Yes, nearly all levels of government face fiscal problems because of the economic downturn. But there is no crisis. There are many different paths open to fixing public budgets. And we will come up with wiser and more sustainable solutions if we approach fiscal problems calmly, realizing that we’re still a very rich country and that the wealthiest among us are doing exceptionally well.

Consider two of the most prominent we’re-brokers, House Speaker John Boehner and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

“We’re broke, broke going on bankrupt,” Boehner said in a Feb. 28 Nashville speech. For Boehner, this “fact” justifies the $61 billion in domestic spending cuts House Republicans passed (cuts that would have a negligible impact on the long-term deficit). Boehner’s GOP colleagues want reductions in Head Start, student loans and scores of other programs voters like, and the only way to sell them is to cry catastrophe.

Walker, of course, used the “we’re broke” rationale to justify his attack on public-worker collective bargaining rights. Yet the state’s supposedly “broke” status did not stop him from approving tax cuts before he began his war on unions and proposed all manner of budget cuts, including deep reductions in aid to public schools.

In both cases, the fiscal issues are just an excuse for ideologically driven policies to lower taxes on well-off people and business while reducing government programs. Yet only occasionally do journalists step back to ask: Are these guys telling the truth? 3/11/11 Read more at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-if-were-not-broke/2011/03/11/ABhFE6T_story.html

 

 

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