Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ignore the Facade of Moronic Over-Reaching: The Repugs Are Winning, and Winning Big

Yes, Democrats in Congress and the administration suck giant hairy warthog balls at negotiating, but that's not the real problem here.

The real problem is that Democrats in Congress and the administration are perfectly fine with eliminating every last dime spent on helping the non-rich.

I mean, c'mon: it's not like the poor and working-class vote in enough numbers to matter, and even the ones who do are easily swayed by the expensive television commercials paid for by the dems' BFFs on Wall Street.

Dems take care of corporations by transferring the nation's wealth from the middle-class to the obscenely wealthy, and in return corporations give them lots and lots of campaign cash.

Not as much cash as the corporations give to repugs, of course, but that's not something discussed in polite Beltway conversation.

And those Dirty Fucking Hippies screaming that dems are surrendering any chance to survive as a viable political party after they do the repugs' dirty work for them - well, dear, they're just too, too tacky.

Really now, if tens of millions of people really cared about how dems in Congress and the administration are ass-fucking them into penniless servitude, they'd be marching in the streets, wouldn't they?

Wouldn't they?


John Boehner's professional hostage game is now working perfectly, and Dems are falling for it hook, line, and stinker.

A top Senate Democratic aide says there's been a key thaw in discussions between Senate Dem leaders and House Republicans to avert a government shutdown.

The aide said Republican negotiators are once again willing to meet Democrats in the middle, to cut a bit over $30 billion from current spending -- just about half the $61 billion House Republicans have proposed.

Crucially, the idea of drawing from mandatory spending areas -- including the big entitlement programs -- is back on the table, according to the aide.

"Part of the thaw is that we think we can get some of the cuts we need to add up to this number from areas outside of discretionary," the aide said.

Another source familiar with the discussions says, "The appropriations committees in the House and Senate have been tasked to work on a bill that achieves cuts betweenw 30 and 36 [billion dollars]."

"That's just on [overall] spending cuts," the second source added, "and they'll have to hash out how much mandatory, how much discretionary."

But you see, now the GOP has gotten their opening proposal as the minimum of what they are going to receive from the Dems. The Dems have basically folded from day one.

All this talk about government shutdowns and Eric Cantor and his threats are just hiding the reality that the Dems have given the Republicans their original proposal without so much as a fight. Orange Julius has gotten a 100% win here and the Dems, the Village, and everyone has fallen for it. The Republicans started with $32 billion in cuts and the Democrats' pushback lasted less than a week. It is still possible that the Tea Party could go into complete revolt. But the real power behind the GOP will put them in their place, as always, and the GOP will take yet another complete win.
Democrats in Washington and the administration are not fighting for us. That's partly our fault for not holding their feet to the fire. But we'll never get the Democrats to do what we want if we kid ourselves that they're automatically on our side.

They'll only do what we force them to do.

Have you talked to your Democratic neighbors today?

Who Needs Racists When We've Got a Real Good Boy on the Supreme Court?

Clarence Thomas breaks the mold on Oreo, Step-n-Fetchit, Uncle-Tom, Good-Niggers.

Wonkette nails the fucker:

Fringe-right corporate lackey Clarence Thomas has famously kept his mouth shut during most of his 20 years on the Supreme Court, because how could anyone improve upon Antonin Scalia’s insane bullshit? But on Tuesday, Clarence Thomas cheerfully took the opportunity to read the conservative majority’s decision against an innocent black man in New Orleans who had been framed by the district attorney and was very nearly executed. The man, John Thompson, won a $14 million judgment against the crooked New Orleans prosecutors — a million dollars for every year he was wrongfully imprisoned, often in solitary confinement. And now that judgment has been overturned by our sorry excuse for a high court. Clarence Thomas really got a kick out of reading this to the Supreme Court.


After successfully reading the morally reprehensible decision against an innocent black man wrongly and deliberately imprisoned for 14 years and very nearly executed for nothing other than being poor and black and framed by the notoriously racist and corrupt New Orleans district attorney’s office, Scalia reportedly gave Clarence two cookies. Hooray for Clarence Thomas!

If Obama's Going to Emulate Reagan, He Should Go All Out

Jim White at Firedoglake:

As recently as last January, Barack Obama reiterated his love of the Reagan zombie, when Time described a dinner Obama shared with a group of presidential historians: “And yet Obama was clearly impressed by the way Reagan had transformed Americans’ attitude about government.” If Obama really wants to emulate Reagan, I have a suggestion for how he could copy Reagan’s pioneering moves when Reagan appointed individuals with attitudes diametrically opposed to the mission of their agency and in line with Reagan’s radically conservative agenda. With Robert Gates’ impending departure there is soon to be an opening for Secretary of Defense. With some bandying Leon Panetta’s name for SecDef, that leaves a potential opening for DCI. I have Reaganesque suggestions for Obama: appoint Dennis Kucinich,who has been a big advocate for a Department of Peace, as Secretary of Defense and Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers, as Director of Central Intelligence.

Perhaps the best-remembered of Reagan’s appointees who were put into positions where they could do significant harm to programs Reagan hated was James G. Watt, Reagan’s first Secretary of the Interior. In an article written near the end of Watt’s rocky tenure, Time noted that Watt was an early advocate for drilling in the Gulf and other near-shore areas:


Why not take that Reagan spirit that Obama so longs to capture and put it to good work for a liberal cause? If Obama really shares “virtually no priorities” with Reagan as the January Time article claims, he could honor Reagan by appointing a Secretary of Defense whose chief desire would be to transform the former “War Department” into a Department of Peace.


If James Watt was able transform the Department of the Interior from a conservation operation into one that openly auctions off resources, shouldn’t Obama bring balance to the world by nominating Dennis Kucinich to introduce the concept of nonviolent conflict resolution to the Defense Department?

In a similar vein, why not nominate Daniel Ellsberg, who famously released the Pentagon Papers which are widely credited with helping to turn sentiment against the war in Vietnam, to run the Central Intelligence Agency? Even now, only about a week away from turning 80, Ellsberg’s work on behalf of Bradley Manning continues his advocacy for release of classified information when it serves to document war crimes or other atrocities.

Of course, Obama would never make these nominations. The chief reason that he wouldn’t do so is that Time has it entirely wrong when they state that Obama shares “virtually no priorities” with Reagan. As far as I can see, Obama’s priorities are identical to Reagan’s with the blatant racism stripped away. You can bet that Obama will appoint a SecDef who shares Obama’s love of war and any new DCI will share Obama’s radical position on prosecution of whistle-blowers, two positions indistinguishable from those of Reagan.
Oooh, I've got one! Michael Moore for Secretary of the Treasury. Or head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Then we'd see some Wall Street heads roll.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Serfin' USA - the Feudal Economy is here.

What else do you call working for no pay? Except, you know, slavery.

Tom B. at They Gave Us A Republic does this abomination true justice:

Yeah, it's the wave of the fricking future alright but it's been around forever under various names like slavery, indentured servitude, sharecropping, tenant farming... there's always been a way for fat cats to sit on their fat asses and make fat profits solely by exploiting the people who make them fat.

And believe it or not, some people in the American working class have become so beaten down, so demeaned, so degraded... that being screwed into the ground by some fat toad in a paneled office somewhere for nothing actually BOOSTS their morale and self esteem.


There's nothing shameful about being unemployed... especially these days when the goal of fat cats everywhere is to MAKE you that way. There's no reason to feel guilty about needing the help and support of others during hard times... even hard times that have been deliberately engineered by those that profit from the misery of the rest of us.

Once the exploited start not only accepting but actually feeling good about BEING exploited however, we're no longer looking at hard times here, we're looking at doom itself, at least for the working classes and especially the working poor. this young lady is flat assed broke, one spat with the boyfriend away from being homeless, she's working for some company for nothing and while it may not be anything to be ashamed of, it's certainly nothing to feel good about. With acceptance comes complacency and those of us who were around when this country was still being rebuilt after the Wall Street rape fest this one is constatly being compared to, didn't do that rebuild by being complacent.


When the hell did Americans become such pussies, ready to lay down in front of every Wall Street steamroller that comes rolling down the hill? This country didn't get to where it is used to be because American workers were constantly willing to accept whatever the hell crumbs were sprinkled on them from on high as their just deserts for doing all the fricking work.

Until a relatively few years ago, the working class could rightfully look upon themselves as the backbone of this country without whom the good shit simply couldn't happen. Now we're thought of as the dregs of humanity riding the coattails of the super rich and the cause of all the BAD shit that happens.

And the worst part of it is that many of them agree with that assessment. Like the battered party in an abusive relationship, they not only tolerate every slap in the face or boot in the ass, they actually go out of the way to ensure that's all they're ever going to get by being willing to settle for it.

If masochism is their thing, that's fine with me but I'm getting goddamned sick and tired of being drug along behind those who are willing to settle for what they can get rather than going after what they're capable of having. Settling for evil only begets more evil.
Read the whole wonderful thing.

Where Not Voting Mean Voting No

For years, people fed up with the choices on the ballot have been suggesting a "none of the above" box for each elective offices. If NOTA gets the most votes, then NOTA wins - the office remains vacant until the next or a special election.

Now repugs want something even more anti-candidate than NOTA: counting all non-votes as NO votes. It's a goddamn good thing is wasn't an option in the midterm elections last November, because if it had been, the U.S. House of Representatives would be vacant. Not one single representative or challenger would have won.

But in their usual hypocrisy, Congressional rethuglicans want to force that very rule on unions.

Labor activists are preparing to step up their advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill ahead of a key vote on a union-busting measure later this week, according to sources familiar with their campaign.

The stepped up effort comes as anti-union activists are preparing efforts of their own, in order to make it harder for aviation and rail workers to unionize.

At issue is House legislation to renew FAA programs, which includes a provision that would reinstitute old rules governing how the National Mediation Board counts workers' votes. Under the current system, a simple majority of those voting wins, just like in, say, the House of Representatives. If Republicans get their way, those rules will change, and workers who don't vote will be tallied as having voted "no."

To illustrate the unfairness of that structure, the Communication Workers of America will circulate a new report on the Hill Monday, making the point that none of the recently-elected members of Congress would have won if their constituents who didn't vote at all had been counted as votes against them.


Here's what Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) said about it in committee when an effort to strip it failed by one vote.

Before I came to Congress, I spent eight years as Michigan's Secretary of State. In that job one of my prime responsibilities was to serve as my state's chief elections officer. I'd like to think I know a little something about conducting free, open, and fair elections...Each of us who has the honor to serve in this House does so with the consent of those we serve in free elections. All we have to do is win this privilege is receive more votes than our opponent. That is the fundamental caveat of our democracy, and how we conduct elections. Why should a union election be any different?
Remember that quote the next time a repug runs for Secretary of State in your state: they think non-votes count as no votes in congressional elections.

Read the full rerport: If Congressional Elections Were Like Proposed NMB Union Elections Final

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kentucky OWNS College Basketball

Humbly presented with all due modesty.

NCAA Final Four: UK

NCAA Division II: Bellarmine

NAIA: Pikeville

That is all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nailing These Big Insurance Bastards Would Make Up for a Lot

I am so old I remember when Blue Cross and Blue Shield were - you better sit down - non-profit insurance companies.

One of them covered doctors and prescriptions and the other covered hospital care. They merged and turned into a for-profit HMO during the Reagan crusade to corporatize America.

Before Reagan, HMOs were weird little experiments, trying to bring down healthcare costs by covering preventive care and encouraging healthy habits.

After Reagan, HMOs were Giant Rapacious Monsters, making profits not by encouraging good health but by denying payments to anyone stupid enough to actually get sick or injured.

They've been getting worse every year since. It does not surprise me to learn that Blue Cross/Blue Shield finally crossed the line from behavior that should be illegal to behavior that actually is illegal.

The surprising part is that the Obama Justice Department may actually prosecute the bastards for it.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars:

If Eric Holder ends up indicting and convicting the Blues, I'll take back every snide comment I ever made about the Department of Justice:

The U.S. Justice Department is widening a probe into whether Blue Cross Blue Shield health-insurance plans are artificially raising premiums in several states by striking agreements with hospitals that stifle competition from rival insurers.

Federal investigators and some state attorneys general have sent civil subpoenas to "Blue" health plans in Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and the District of Columbia, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation is examining whether dominant health plans around the country are forcing hospitals to sign anticompetitive contracts that unlawfully inhibit them from doing business with their rivals.

The Justice Department's investigation comes as the Obama administration seeks to rein-in rising health-care expenses that threaten to drive up the government's costs for expanding care under President Barack Obama's health-care plan. Congressional Republicans and others have said the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, won't lead to lower insurance premiums. Showing that the administration can counter rising premiums by encouraging greater competition could help win support for the law from a skeptical public.

The contractual provisions under scrutiny are known as "most-favored nation" clauses. They usually stipulate that hospitals must charge the insurers' competitors equal or higher prices for medical services.

Such clauses aren't in themselves illegal—they can simply be guarantees to get the best pricing available. But they can violate antitrust laws if used improperly by a dominant company to hobble competitors.

Blue plans tend to be state- or regionally-based and therefore have the market clout to strike such deals with hospitals. While national plans such as UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Aetna Inc. tend to be larger, they are more spread out and typically lack the concentration of a Blue plan in a given local market.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said: "The antitrust division is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices involving MFN clauses in various parts of the country."
These insurance contracts are written with all kinds of unfair and non-competitive restrictions. Did you know that when doctors sign an agreement with an insurance company to accept their users, they also agree that they won't offer lower prices to patients who don't have insurance? So even if your doctor wants to cut you a break, he can't.
Imagine, just for a minute, that your insurance company were motivated not by squeezing every last dime of profit out of you but by giving you financial incentives to get and stay as healthy as possible.

It actually does happen, right here in America: At the socialist-medicine success of the Veterans Affairs health care system. For millions of seniors who rely on the single-payer Medicare system. And soon for every resident of the Great State of Vermont, whose legislators have just approved a single-payer system.

Have you talked to your Democratic neighbors today?

"Are We Still in America?"

Robert Reich, who knows from labor history, on the repug war against workers:

Big business and Wall Street have emerged from the Great Recession with their pockets bulging. Profits and bonuses are as high as they were before the downturn. And they’re spending like mad on lobbying and politics. After the Supreme Court’s disgraceful Citizens United decision, there are no limits.

Pro-business goals are breaking out all over. Governors across America are slashing corporate taxes as they slash state budgets. House and Senate Republicans are intent on deregulating, privatizing, and cutting spending and taxes so their corporate and Wall Street patrons will do even better.

But most Americans are still in desperate trouble. Few if any of the economic gains are trickling down.

That’s why the current Republican assault on workers – on their right to form unions, on unemployment insurance and Social Security, on public employees, and even (courtesy of Governor LePage) on our common memory – is so despicable.

And it’s why we need a President who will fight for workers and fight against this assault — just as Perkins and FDR did.
Read the whole thing.

Have you talked to your Democratic neighbors today?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Already Forgotten Disaster?

It's not easy, but let's try to remember that the crisis at Japan's nuclear power plants is not the only or even the most devastating aftermath Japan faces.

From Digby:

These pictures of the aftermath in Japan are emotionally overwhelming.

Click over to see them all. I'm beginning to feel as if this is going to be the forgotten disaster --- which is just astonishing.

Vermont Gets Single-Payer Healthcare

It's hard to put the importance of this into words, so I'll just let Down With Tyranny do it:

Today we have some much more pleasant weekend fare, almost, compared to the way the rest of the country is going, a fairy tale, in fact. But for Vermonters, it's real. I guess it pays living in a state with an educated and aware citizenry willing to elect officials like Howard Dean, Bernie Sanders, Peter Shumlin, Patrick Leahy and Peter Welch, instead of, say, Mississippi, which is working overtime to limit the access of its citizens-- other than its wealthy ones-- to healthcare. Mississippi Republicans are eager to have drug prices regulated by... well, pharmacists who give big enough political contributions to Republicans to get put on a board. Anyway, Vermont is different from Mississippi:

Every Vermonter could sign up for state-financed health insurance under a bill passed by the House on Thursday that would put the state on a path to a single-payer health care system by the middle of this decade.

"This bill takes our state one step closer to a system that ensures that all Vermonters have access to the care they deserve and contains costs," House Speaker Shap Smith said shortly after the House passed the bill 92-49.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass, but with some possible changes.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, who made single-payer health care a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign last year, also praised the legislation. He said it would make Vermont "the first state in the country to make the first substantive step to deliver a health care system where health care will be a right and not a privilege, where health care will follow the individual, not be a requirement of the employer, and where we'll have an affordable system that contains costs."

Costs are an open question. The bill sets up a five-member state board to design a benefit package to be called Green Mountain Care, but doesn't require the governor to propose a way to pay for it until 2013. That drew fire from minority Republicans in the House, who said the hard part of reform-- paying for it-- won't be tackled until after Shumlin campaigns for a second two-year term in 2012. They also said the bill would create too much uncertainty for businesses in the state.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law, despite GOP hysteria by delusional sociopaths like Rep. Thomas Burditt of West Rutland who started braying about Lenin on the House floor, quoting him as saying "medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism" and conflating that with Vermont's popular healthcare reform initiative. "I believe," droned Burditt, "those who are promoting 'universal coverage' via government-run and government-controlled medicine know this. What they hope is that the public won't find out the truth. There is nothing compassionate about socialism."
Remember, single-payer healthcare works exactly like federal government Medicare: you get your healthcare from the private-sector doctor of your choice, and the federal government, as the insurer "Medicare," pays the doctor/pharmacist/hospital.

Single-payer is nothing more or less than Medicare for all. In the case of Vermont, the government entity acting as the insurer is the state government of Vermont, rather than the federal government, but it works the same way.

Vermont has the opportunity to set up a single-payer system thanks to federal healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which allows any state to set up its own healthcare system, as long as it covers everyone affordably.

Vermont is the first state to do so, and since it chose single-payer - as opposed to the die-faster system repugs want to install - it's like to be successful.

Big Government Thugs Arrest GOP Candidate's Fundraisers

Somebody ask Rand Paul: Can you really call yourself a true Liberty-loving teabagger candidate unless your campaign contributors get arrested for drug dealing?

John Cheves at the Herald:

Phil Moffett, a Republican candidate for governor, is calling on Kentucky to “nullify” the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration while he accepts campaign support from the owners of a Lexington store that police say sold illegal drugs.

Campaign manager David Adams said Friday that Moffett has specific concerns about the DEA’s interference in state sovereignty, but he does not back drug legalization or condone drug crimes. The campaign stands by its supporters because it believes they did nothing wrong, Adams said.

Lexington police on Feb. 10 raided The Botany Bay at 932 Winchester Road and seized a variety of illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, several thousand dollars in cash and two loaded guns, according to court records. Police arrested six people in connection with the raid, including store employees, who face pending felony and misdemeanor drug charges.

Police later charged store owners Ginny and Scott Saville, who were not present, with misdemeanor counts of trafficking in synthetic marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. They have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to appear next month in Fayette District Court.

Ginny Saville helped organize a Dec. 7 fund-raiser for Moffett and, with her husband, donated $2,000 to him. A large Moffett campaign poster hung in the store’s window Friday. When the raid happened, she and her husband were with the Moffett campaign at the Conservative Action Political Conference in Washington, D.C., according to Adams.
Media Czech notes:

Adams says that he believes in their innocence and Moffett won't be returning the money. The Savilles were also big contributors and volunteers for Rand Paul.

To make matters even more "interesting", Saville says that the raid is all part of a political conspiracy out to get them:

“This was a political hit on my shop and it was done because I work for everyone’s liberty,” she wrote. “And I will continue this work, and I will continue to win the battles I can.”
Let's see Wisconsin, Ohio or Florida's supposedly libery-loving governors beat that.

Way Too Early to Use Words Like "Succeeding"

"Tthe United States should not—and cannot—intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.

But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times."

Full transcript here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

The Rude Pundit:

It's one thing for capitalism to be amoral. It's another for it to be immoral.

While that immorality may not be so brazen nowadays, it is there in every cutback made by profitable companies, it is there in every job shipped overseas, it is there in every denial of health care for employees, it is there in every CEO's bonus check. That's why we have unions. That's why, despite the best efforts of the right to destroy them, gut regulation, and trust the immoral corporations again, we need them just as much they did back in 1911.

Time for Cable Companies to Put Up or Shut Up

Virtually all our economic problems can be traced back to corporations throwing temper tantrums unless they are handed massive profits on a platter.


Some 133 US cities now offer broadband internet as a public utility, but cable companies say that's an unfair advantage and are lobbying to pull the plug.
The reason we don't have universal, very high-speed, affordable broadband is because those very cable companies refuse to provide it. For years, their customers, their toothless regulators, their local officials and the federal government have been begging them to build the universal broadband system that Europe and Japan have enjoyed for so long.

But the fat and lazy cable companies just yawned and called for more monopoly bon-bons. Now that 133 cities have shown they can provide universal broadband faster and more affordably than the cable companies, the cable boys waddle to Washington and blubber about "competition."

The proper response to these companies is this: You have 30 days to build and connect universal high-speed broadband to every single resident in all 50 states. Fail, and you lose the right to offer internet service to any U.S. resident ever. You think ACA is a government takeover? You ain't seen nothin' yet, assholes.

Flintstone Truthers Insult Kentucky Supporters

Christian homeschoolers of Kentucky: Do you know that the builders of the great Ark Encounter think that you all are a bunch of drug-addicted, alcoholic, anti-war, fucking (literally) hippies? That you are as bad as war criminals?

Do you really want your tax dollars going to people who think you are as bad as war criminals?

Media Czech:

Looks like the son of Flintstone Truther and intellectual child abuser Ken Ham is a chip off the old block.

Nathan Ham comes to the defense of his dad against the folks at the Great Homeschool Convention who have banned him from their convention for being too flamboyantly hateful and intolerant of those who don't share his belief that humans rode saddled T-Rexes a few thousand years ago.

Who are those young earth Christian homeschoolers like? Dope smoking fornicating hippies!

Some Christians today are like the hippies of 50 years ago who used the word “love” to justify their fornications and sins against the word of God. The hippie culture is often pictured as a group of drug-addicted, fornicating drunks whose catchphrase “make love, not war” gave their movement a false sense of piety.
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why the Success of Health Care Reform is Such a Secret

Because our more-irrelevant-and-useless-by-the-day-mainstream-media can't be bothered.

Blue Girl uncovered the truth today:

This morning I attended a breakfast and roundtable discussion sponsored by the Missouri Health Advocacy Alliance that discussed the Affordable Care Act one year on, and how it had benefitted Missouri small businesses since the first provisions started kicking in last September.

When I walked up to the table to sign in, I was surprised that they were so thrilled to see a B-list blogger show up with a netbook and a digital recorder to capture and report on the event. Then when I walked into the room I knew why. There was not another soul in that room that even remotely resembled a reporter, even though a press release went out last week announcing the event.

This meeting was held at the Plaza Marriott, at 45th and Main in Kansas City. The KKFI studio is at 39th and Main, the KCUR studio is at 48th and Troost and the Kansas City Star is at 17th and Grand. It isn't like it was held in an inconvenient location. I didn't expect television cameras, but I did expect some coverage by either the print or radio press.

I mean, if 50 teabaggers who are against healthcare reform get together and wave misspelled, gramatically incorrect signs around, the Star covers that. But 50 small business owners and administrators who have benefited from the provisions of the law that have already kicked in, gathered in a meeting room to discuss those benefits? Nothing to see there, they don't even bother to send a reporter.

They will report on people who scream about "death panels" and "government takeover of healthcare" -- both rated "lies of the year" by PolitiFact for 2009 and 2010, respectively -- but they don't report on the very real benefits of the legislation.

No wonder the law isn't more popular.

If the traditional media had sent a reporter to the Marriott this morning, they could have reported on the benefits to small business, like the tax credit that allows Merrill Gobetz, the operations manager of Bistro Kids to insure her chefs, and how access to healthcare has made her employees healthier, less stressed and more productive. Or they could have reported on the grants available right now through the Department of Health and Human Services. These are funds that are set aside to help small businesses devise and implement workplace wellness programs -- which are proven to pay for themselves and even turn a profit in the form of reduced overall costs in both healthcare and lost productivity.
There's much more, including information on an upcoming webinar on how small businesses can best take advantage of the ACA.

Strikers' Picket Line Up at HuffPo - Do Not Cross

Wondering how you can show solidarity with and support for union members fighting exploitation by The Rich? Beyond buying pizzas for protesters? Here's a great one: support writers striking Huffington Post.

Guild tells HuffPost writers: 'Don't work for free'

The Newspaper Guild is calling on unpaid writers of the Huffington Post to withhold their work in support of a strike launched by Visual Art Source in response to the company's practice of using unpaid labor. In addition, we are asking that our members and all supporters of fair and equitable compensation for journalists join us in shining a light on the unprofessional and unethical practices of this company.

Just as we would ask writers to stand fast and not cross a physical picket line, we ask that they honor this electronic picket line.

The Newspaper Guild, a 26,000-member-strong national union of media workers, is committed to fair compensation for all workers, whether they are freelance bloggers or traditional employees. We are further committed to promoting quality journalism. Working for free does not benefit workers and undermines quality journalism.

In response to the Huffington Post's refusal to compensate its thousands of writers in the wake of its $315 million merger with AOL, the Newspaper Guild has requested a meeting with company officials to discuss ways the Huffington Post might demonstrate its commitment to quality journalism. Thus far, the request has been ignored.

Visual Art Source,, an art publication, represents more than 50 writers who have said they will no longer write for the Huffington Post for free and who object to a company that depends on unpaid labor for its success.

As Cherie Turner, one of the former writers, explained, "Certainly, we all have written for free for the great exposure the Huffington Post can give us, but what's the cost? Those of us on strike feel it undermines the value of our profession and is unethical, especially in light of great profits by those at the top. We are only asking for a fair share of what we are helping to create. We are also speaking out against real journalism being run side-by-side with advertorial."

We feel it is unethical to expect trained and qualified professionals to contribute quality content for nothing. It is unethical to cannibalize the investment of other organizations that bear the cost of compensation and other overhead without payment for the usage of their content. It is extremely unethical to not merely blur but eradicate the distinction between the independent and informed voice of news and opinion and the voice of a shill.
Read the whole thing.

You don't have to be a writer to support this strike. Stop reading huffpo. Stop clicking links to it. Stop linking it in blogposts and emails to friends. And tell all your friends to avoid huffpo like the plague.

There are dozens if not hundreds of news websites out there with all the news that huffpo has with none of the superstitious woo, celebrity gossip and abuse of workers.

Staying away from huffpo will make you a strong supporter of workers and unions who is better informed, better looking, healthier and better in bed than huffpo readers.

Keith's First Post-Comcast Special Comment

And it's a good one. h/t heather at crooks and liars.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Medicaid Disaster KY Rethuglicans Want

From Leo Weekly, via Media Czech, the human reality of the tragedy rethuglican senate president and gubernatorial candidate David Williams is causing.

I'm still not sure what the "True Leadership" of Williams is, but Kentucky is 8 days away from a Medicaid apocalypse. And it's been two days since the State House passed their compromise bill to avoid it by a bipartisan 94-4 vote. In a special session costing us $68,000 a day that was only called because Williams sprung his unpopular bill (all 41 House Republicans panned it) days before the end of the session.

And what has been the Senate President's reaction since the House passed this bipartisan compromise?


And what will happen if the Senate doesn't agree to the Medicaid compromise by next Friday?

The mother of an 18-year-old who is mentally retarded, autistic and bipolar, Baylon relies on Medicaid for her son’s health care, which includes extensive therapy from a behavioral specialist. Her health care provider recently contacted her to explain that if the Medicaid budget is not fixed by April 1, she will be in jeopardy of losing her son Simon’s coverage.

“This will desperately affect me,” Baylon says. “When change happens in our lives, his life, there are a lot of things that come from it: He becomes more aggressive, his behavior changes, he breaks things. These children, their whole lives are based on routine. Once you put a ringer in that, it means it will affect many people — the children, the families, the caregivers, the schools — it goes on and on.

“(The therapist) has been working with my son for eight years, and we’ve made tremendous progress with her. We could not live without her, honestly.”

Rosemary Smith, who owns eight pharmacies in Central and Eastern Kentucky and a medical equipment company, said her employees and her clients are worried and scared.

“Our employees are frightened,” Smith said. “Our customers are frightened that they may not be able to get their prescriptions filled. They have asked us, ‘What am I going to do?’”

The 35 percent reduction would mean that pharmacies will lose money if they fill most Medicaid prescriptions, pharmacists have said. Previous testimony has shown that on some medications, a pharmacist would lose $64 if they filled the prescription for a Medicaid patient.

“We’re panicked,” Smith said. “We just can’t fill those prescriptions. And our Medicaid clients are our most vulnerable population.”

“Such a drastic reduction would be devastating to providers, as the current Medicaid payments don’t cover the costs incurred by most providers in serving Medicaid beneficiaries,” said the letter, signed by Donald H. Robinson, chairman of the board, and Stephen Williams, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare.

Norton — which includes five hospitals — receives nearly $200 million a year from Medicaid. A 30 percent cut would equate “to nearly $60 million and would be disastrous, inevitably resulting in reduction or elimination of important medical services to the already medically fragile, reductions in workforce and other actions which would negatively effect our community and Commonwealth,” the letter said.

Mike Rust, president of the Kentucky Hospital Association, said internal calculations suggest the state’s hospitals would lose $125 million. How that would affect individual hospitals depends on how many Medicaid patients each hospital serves. Those with a higher Medicaid population, such as Norton, would have a much more difficult time managing the loss in cash, Rust said.
I know that the Mitch McConnell School of Obstruction is really good at winning elections, but considering that the health and well being of 800,000 Kentuckians are very much at jeopardy, don't you think it would be a good idea to maybe do the right thing this time?
Not that Cowardly Waste of Oxygen governor Steve Beshear and what passes for democratic leadership in the state house of representatives are much better, but at least they did finally pass a plan that might work.

Which is exactly why Williams and his fellow rethuglicans in the Senate will let it die.

Along with thousands of Kentuckians and Kentucky businesses it could help.

The Real Price of Slashonomics

Let's play Slashonomics! The latest rage sweeping the country is a rethuglican budget game for the whole family. It's easy: find federal programs that provide real-world benefits greater than their cost. When you cut them from the budget, you actually lose more money that you save. The player who destroys the economy fastest wins!

Katrina vanden Heuevel in The Nation:

An important new initiative from Half in Ten, a national campaign to reduce poverty by 50 percent over the next ten years, and the Coalition on Human Needs, is putting a face on irresponsible “slash and burn” deficit reduction by showing how it would damage real lives. The organizations are collecting people’s stories so that the cruel consequences of draconian cuts to key federal programs are plain to see.

Consider the story of Carolyn, who was in her 40s when her husband of 25 years left her with two daughters. She had never received any kind of assistance and describes turning to her local community action agency as “the hardest thing I had ever done.” Her fears were quickly allayed as she “was treated with respect and was never made to feel like a drain on society.” She enrolled in a workforce development program that helped her with tuition and books while she attended community college.

“I went to college five days a week and spent the weekend working, so I never had a day off,” writes Carolyn. “When I graduated I became a Registered Nurse, able to support myself and my family. I couldn’t have done it without the Federal Workforce Development Program and the supportive services the local Community Action Agency provided.”

But the Boehner-led “so be it” Republicans would nearly eliminate funding for Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) for the remainder of 2011, and President Obama proposes cutting it in half in 2012. The cuts would disrupt the antipoverty services provided by 1,065 community action agencies nationwide to over 20 million low-income people, including 5 million children, 2.3 million seniors and 1.7 million people with disabilities. What makes the cuts even more insane is that the agencies generate $6.54 from state, local, and private sources for every federal dollar received, according to the Coalition on Human Needs.

People like Carolyn would be hit doubly hard—not only would the community action agencies reach fewer people, but the kind of workforce development programs that allowed her to change her life would also be slashed by Republicans. In fact, at a time when 14 million Americans are out of work, more than 8 million adults and youth would lose access to job training and other employment services. Job training under the Workforce Investment Act programs for adults, youths, and dislocated workers would essentially be shut down until July 2012.
The examples go on forever - the false economies plus the missed opportunities to eliminate genuine waste like farm subsidies and corporate welfare make it seem as if rethuglicans are deliberately trying to create a feudal lords-and-serfs economy.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Forget Nukes; Let's Drill for ... oops

Yeah, nobody could have predicted this. Nobody except, you know, everybody with a lick of sense.

Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars:

While the media is busy assuring their audiences that we still need nuclear energy despite catastrophic accidents potential, environmentalists would like you to remember we still have issues in the Gulf of Mexico from another one of our short-sighted energy policies.

The Coast Guard is investigating reports of a potentially large oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the Deepwater Horizon site. According to a knowledgeable source, the slick was sighted by a helicopter pilot on Friday and is about 100 miles long. A fishing boat captain said he went through the slick yesterday and it was strong enough to make his eyes burn.

According to the Times Picayune, the Coast Guard has confirmed they are investigating a potentially large 100 mile slick about 30 miles offshore. They are going to a site near the Matterhorn well site about 20 miles north of the BP Deepwater Horizon site, according to the paper. The Matterhorn field includes includes a deepwater drilling platform owned by W&T Technology. It was acquired last year from TotalFinaElf E&P.
I'm sure that the GOP will insist that this has nothing to do with the Deepwater Horizon site and is strictly a coincidence. And of course, by no means should this force us to reassess the wisdom of deep water drilling. To which, you can be sure, the administration will shrug and acquiesce.

Because why should we worry about a fragile eco-system and search for alternative fuel sources (thereby adding jobs and strengthening the economy) when we can instead live in the back pocket of Big Oil?
As Blue Girl explained so clearly, there's no energy free lunch. Everything has a cost - environmental, safety, technological, investment. The key is making sure that cost is fully disclosed, accounted for and publicly accepted.

None of which is true of oil.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Plutocracy of the Rich, by the Rich and for the Rich

Masocchio at Firedoglake explains that our government is incompetent because it does everything for the rich:

The people who run our political economy, the rich and their tools in Congress, have adopted utterly incoherent policies: spending money on things they like and demanding cuts in everything they don’t like. The things that matter to the rich are completely different from the things that matter to the middle class and the poor, the only two classes that polite society admits exist. Even millionaires are middle class now, and the discussion in public spaces, like newspapers, television, radio and big internet sites, never points out that the very rich, the top few thousands of wealthy people, constitute a class with identifiable interests.

In September, 2008, they demanded trillions of dollars in direct and indirect bailout subsidies. Millions of Americans lost their jobs in the ensuing crash. When the Tea people began screaming about deficits, the rich explained that “we” had to bail out the economy, and that such deficits were natural. Somehow, the screamers didn’t notice that the cause of the problem was the greedy rich whose utter incompetence produced the Great Crash. The rich don’t want to pay for their disastrous management of the political economy, and that causes incoherent government policies.


How can we as nation survive this utterly incoherent management of the political economy by the rich?
Read the whole thing.

Re-Learning the Lessons of the Triangle

If you're ever tempted to cut the union-busters the tiniest bit of slack, remember that not one of them would have hesitated to lock those girls in that firetrap and shrug when they leaped to their deaths rather than burn alive.

Heather at Crooks and Liars:

If you've got HBO, set your recording devices for this show if you're not going to be home Monday night. It premiers at 9pm eastern time March 21st. Laura Clawson did a very good write up on this at Daily KOS -- Triangle: Remembering the Fire:

This is the week of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle fire, and tomorrow (Monday) night at 9:00, HBO is airing a new documentary. Triangle: Remembering the Fire is relatively brief, but it adds a great deal to the sketch, on several levels.

The documentary first places the Triangle fire in context: Less than two years earlier, garment workers had gone on strike in the Uprising of 20,000, making outrageous demands like a 52-hour work week and overtime pay.
I am particularly intrigued by this incident during the 1909 strike:

Soon after, police officers began arresting strikers, and judges fined them and sentenced some to labor camps. One judge, while sentencing a picketer for “incitement,” explained, “You are striking against God and Nature, whose law is that man shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. You are on strike against God!”
Recently, a dozen protesters in downtown Frankfort chanted and held up signs supporting union workers. Some passers-by honked their car horns or gave thumbs-up, but only one showed hostility by yelling:

"You should thank god for what you have!"

Ten thousand years of owners exploiting labor condensed to a single ignorant sentence. After all this time, after everything workers have achieved, the bosses are still using - and succeeding with - the same old threat:

Obey your masters, who are god's representatives here on earth, and accept all your suffering silently and gratefully, and you will be rewarded in heaven. Disobey, demand more than your just pittance, and you will burn in eternal hellfire for your presumption.


We don't teach this history in our schools, so I'm glad to see HBO doing this sort of documentary. It's important that we understand what it took to get so many of the things we take for granted right now and now easily we could go back to these days if we don't understand that the ultra-rich basically consider most of us a commodity that's expendable. And before you read the excerpt from the book below, a warning that some of it is not safe for work due to a few curse words. It's pages 186-191 of the book and recounts the incident at Triangle and the other strikes and the lifestyles of the Robber Barons around the time of the fire at the Triangle factory.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The rich are using the same playbook now that they did back in the early 1900's. Control the press so you propagandize the public, go after public education, use religious leaders to help your cause and trash unions.
Read the whole horrifying thing and try to tell yourself that if it were up to the Kochs, and governors like Walker/Kasich/Corbett/Snyder/Scott, and a sheriff like Joe Arpaio, the Ludlow massacre couldn't happen today.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This Explains Everthing

Heather at Crooks and Liars:

Bill Maher took a shot at Republicans in his New Rules segment for showing us that they have absolutely no interest in governing and instead just trying to whip their base up into a frenzy fear mongering over the latest faux outrage of the day.

MAHER: New Rule – Fantasies are for sex, not public policy. When you go down the list of useless distractions that make up the Republican Party agenda; public unions and Sharia law, anchor babies and a mosque at ground zero, ACORN and National Public Radio, the war on Christmas, the New Black Panthers, Planned Parenthood, Michelle Obama’s war on desserts…

…you realize that one reason nothing gets done in America is that one of the political parties puts so much more into fantasy problems. Governing this country with Republicans is like rooming with a meth addict.

You want to address real life problems like when the rent is due and they’re saying “How can you even think of that stuff when there’s police scanner voices coming out of the air conditioning unit?”
Republicans are deadbeats on meth - pass it on.

A Voice of Freedom in Libya Silenced

This isn't a fucking video game.

Siun at Firedoglake:

Three weeks ago many of us listened to this voice, a sudden cry from inside Benghazi, calling out to the world with the message that Libyan rebels were fighting for their freedom. That voice was of Mohammed Nabbous and his livestreams became Libya Alhurra (Libya Freedom). Mo has been broadcasting from inside the city ever since, delivering updates, visiting and filming scenes of carnage and of rebellion, letting the world see what his city was experiencing with a courage and clarity that few journalists can claim.

Overnight he was out again, driving from one end of Benghazi to another as he tried to track down the source of major explosions heard in Benghazi and then reporting on an attack by Gadaffi forces.

I am sorry to inform you that Mohammed Nabbous, the founder of Libya AlHurra TV, was killed this morning while reporting on the attacks from the pro-Gaddafi forces. He touched the hearts of many with his bravery and indomnitable spirit. He will be dearly missed and leaves behind his young wife and unborn child…

Mo’s objective in founding Libya AlHurra was to help his countrymen by getting the word out about what is happening in Libya. Please honor this courageous man and help him realize his dream by using his footage in your broadcasts.
You can listen here to Mo explaining how and why in this interview with Democracy Now! correspondent Anjali Kamat on Feb. 26 while she was on assignment Benghazi.

Killing Social Security is Job One

The nation is collapsing from the foundation-eating transfer of wealth from the working class to the already obscenely wealthy, but Obama and the Democrats are focused on that minor drip in the upstairs sink.


60 Senators sent this letter to President Obama today:

Dear President Obama:

As the Administration continues to work with Congressional leadership regarding our current budget situation, we write to inform you that we believe comprehensive deficit reduction measures are imperative and to ask you to support a broad approach to solving the problem.

As you know, a bipartisan group of Senators has been working to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction package based upon the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission. While we may not agree with every aspect of the Commission’s recommendations, we believe that its work represents an important foundation to achieve meaningful progress on our debt. The Commission’s work also underscored the scope and breadth of our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges.

Beyond FY2011 funding decisions, we urge you to engage in a broader discussion about a comprehensive deficit reduction package. Specifically, we hope that the discussion will include discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform.

By approaching these negotiations comprehensively, with a strong signal of support from you, we believe that we can achieve consensus on these important fiscal issues. This would send a powerful message to Americans that Washington can work together to tackle this critical issue.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

In addition to Johanns and Bennet, the letter was signed by the following Senators:

Lamar Alexander (R–TN), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Scott Brown (R- MA), Richard Burr (R -NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Bob Corker (R-TN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Lindsay Graham (R-SC) John Hoeven (R-ND), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Rob Portman (R-OH),? James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Thune (R-SD) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

John Kerry (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mark Begich (D-AK), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Mark Udall (D- CO), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Al Franken (D-MN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA) , Kent Conrad (D-ND) , Mark Warner (D-VA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Patty Murray (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Udall (D-NM) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Looks like we've got us a Grand Bargain in the making.

Just keep in mind that "tax reform" and tax hikes aren't the same thing. In fact, if the unsuccessful deficit commission report (as predicted, used as the "new bipartisan baseline")is any guide, the things they will agree upon are the elimination of arcane loopholes which will swiftly be replaced by new ones and ending middle class breaks like the mortgage interest deduction. But don't let that get in the way of a glorious agreement that will really start hurting citizens long after most of these people are well in their retirements, comfortably counting their millions, or in their graves.

But golly, I sure hope it "sends a message" to the market Gods and so they'll cure everything that else ails us in the mean time as the Republicans and Obama's economic advisors are betting on. Otherwise, I suspect we're going to come up a bit short in the WTF department.

This is not looking good in my opinion. They are determined to push this and there is almost no energy directed toward cutting defense. Medicare is probably off the table because of the recent health care battle and the GOP's ruthless, hypocritical attack on Democrats. That leaves discretionary spending and Social Security, the issue which the country has been prepped to believe is going broke unless something is done.

The Democrats will pay the price for this, but I'd guess most of the people who signed that letter are fine with that. I'm not sure about the others. And if anyone thinks this is designed to get the president to cover for their "tough choices" they're cracked. This is about doing Obama's dream, the Grand Bargain that only wealthy millionaires and Villagers could love. There is no political upside for anyone but him --- and that's only because he's probably going to be running against some unelectable Tea Partying wingnut. The rest of these Dems may not be so lucky.
It cannot be repeated often enough:

The fastest way to increase revenue is to spend large amounts of tax dollars to create jobs so 10 million unemployed people start paying taxes again.

The second-fastest way to increase revenue is to make the rich parasites pay their fair share, which is double or triple the next-to-nothing they've been paying for the last 30 years.

Bookmark this:

Greg Anrig has written a great, succinct myth-busting piece on Social Security. Here are the five main points in a nutshell:

1. Social Security didn’t create the deficit.

2. Social Security benefits are earned; reducing them amounts to confiscation.

3. Social Security is funded until 2037.

4. The trust fund is invested in bonds, the most secure investment in the world. To suggest that the trust fund wouldn’t pay is blatant fear-mongering.

5. Social Security is an easy fix.

Read the whole thing. Keep it available for when the rightwing harpies start shrieking about deficits and you need to remind yourself of reality.
Have you talked to your Democratic neighbors today?

Spread Your Legs, Bitch - We're the IRS

Sometimes I truly believe that voting republican should get you listed for life as a sex offender.

Steve Benen:

POLICING ABORTIONS THROUGH THE IRS.... In January, Nick Baumann took a closer look at the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," and highlighted an outrageous provision that would redefine rape. The language was ultimately removed after the ensuing controversy.

This week, Baumann put the spotlight on another problem with the same law, and this one may be tougher for proponents to change.

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops -- that is, during an audit, they'd have to determine, from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.

The proposed law, also known as H.R. 3, extends the reach of the Hyde Amendment -- which bans federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is at stake -- into many parts of the federal tax code. In some cases, the law would forbid using tax benefits -- like credits or deductions -- to pay for abortions or health insurance that covers abortion. If an American who used such a benefit were to be audited, Barthold said, the burden of proof would lie with the taxpayer to provide documentation, for example, that her abortion fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.
So, on the one hand, the House GOP wants to undermine the IRS's ability to actually collect revenue -- ostensibly, the agenda's purpose -- but expand the IRS's power to determine whether specific abortions meet the standards of tax law's exclusions for rape or incest.

Americans can take some solace in knowing this legislation, while certain to pass the House, has no chance whatsoever of becoming law, at least not in this Congress. But that doesn't change the fact that House Republicans are not only pushing this odious bill, they've also made it one of their top priorities of 2011.
The real-world effect of this insane bullshit is, of course, to push the Overton Window yet further over the Radical Reichtard cliff, and inure people to the fundamental precept of rethuglicanism: creatures who are not male, white, straight, Dominionist rethuglicans are sub-human.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thank a Union for Teachers Like This

The Most Aggressive Defense of Teachers You'll See This Year

"Absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining"

We know from the fuck-the-unemployed actions of this administration that it doesn't believe its own rhetoric on jobs and the middle class.

But I think the Vice President is sincere in his support for unions. If only it made a difference against Obama's Wall Street Gang.

Susie Madrak:

Joe Biden's a long-time union backer, and it's good to see that he's out showing support for labor in these ongoing battles with Republican governors:

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Biden gave the Obama administration's most forceful statement of solidarity with organized labor in its current battles around the nation on Thursday, encouraging activists to continue fighting for workers' rights.

"You guys built the middle class," said Biden in a virtual town hall conversation hosted by the AFL-CIO. "I would just emphasize what Hilda [Solis] said and say it slightly different: We don't see the value of collective bargaining, we see the absolute positive necessity of collective bargaining. Let's get something straight: The only people who have the capacity -- organizational capacity and muscle -- to keep, as they say, the barbarians from the gate, is organized labor. And make no mistake about it, the guys on the other team get it. They know if they cripple labor, the gate is open, man. The gate is wide open. And we know that too."

The e-mail announcement for the call went out to labor activists, including members of the growing advocacy group Working America, and it pitched the call as a conversation with 100,000 supporters about "Republican assaults on collective bargaining in at least a dozen states." AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis joined Biden on the call, where listeners were also allowed to ask questions (although Biden had to leave before that portion).

Biden's comments underscored the importance of labor not only in terms of workers' rights but also politically. He acknowledged the role that unions played in helping launch his political career, and he noted his personal identification with the activists as someone who grew up in the Rust Belt in Scranton, Penn.

"I've got to state the obvious," he said. "There's an old expression: 'You go home with them that brung you to the dance.' You guys all brought me to the dance 36 years ago in Delaware as a United States senator. You've been with me, and I've stayed with you."

Both Biden and Solis used the opportunity to promote what the Obama administration has done for this valuable constituency, such as restoring a level "playing field" at the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board upon taking office.
Click to hear the call.

If We're Going to Degrade People, Let's Degrade the Ones Who Deserve It

No, it's not from the Onion, though it should be:


Minnesota’s Republican lawmakers are, as expected, very angry about poor people. Why give those poor people money when we know they’ll just spend it on the hip-hop and fancy sneakers and for crack smokin’. So, the Republicans had an idea: Until any kind of welfare or assistance to the needy is completely outlawed, which will be soon enough, Minnesota should make it illegal for people getting “emergency cash assistance” to have any of the cash assistance in cash.

So, the poorest families and the poorest disabled adults would be unable to take any of this money as cash, even though poor people by design are kept from having bank accounts or a checkbook, which is why they usually pay bills and rent in cash:

St. Paul, MN – Minnesota Republicans are pushing legislation that would make it a crime for people on public assistance to have more $20 in cash in their pockets any given month. This represents a change from their initial proposal, which banned them from having any money at all.

On March 15, Angel Buechner of the Welfare Rights Committee testified in front of the House Health and Human Services Reform Committee on House File 171. Buechner told committee members, “We would like to address the provision that makes it illegal for MFIP [one of Minnesota’s welfare programs] families to withdraw cash from the cash portion of the MFIP grant – and in fact, appears to make it illegal for MFIP families to have any type of money at all in their pockets. How do you expect people to take care of business like paying bills such as lights, gas, water, trash and phone?”

House File 171 would make it so that families on MFIP – and disabled single adults on General Assistance and Minnesota Supplemental Aid – could not have their cash grants in cash or put into a checking account. Rather, they could only use a state-issued debit card at special terminals in certain businesses that are set up to accept the card.
Commenter historicat nails it:
They should be forced to wear some sort of patch or symbol on their clothes so that everyone will know their status.
Exactly! Only it's not poor people who need such warning signs on their persons; it's rich people.

The lie behind all the humiliations proposed for poor people is that people who need unemployment compensation, food stamps and welfare are somehow getting away with something on the taxpayers.

The fact is that it's rich people who are getting away with the biggest daylight heist in history.

It's rich people who get all the tax breaks and subsidies and special deals that working-class people pay for.

So let's make sure the rich have to display their parasite status to the working people who support their worthless asses.

I'm thinking a dollar sign dripping blood. In bright, rich full color. On the forehead. Visible at all times.

They can't use cash for anything, either. They have to pay for everything with a special Parasite Card that emits an alarm whenever it is swiped.

An alarm that screams "Parasite! Beware! Parasite!"

Because NAFTA Failed to Kill Every Last U.S. Job

We need more trade deals to destroy the middle class once and for all.

Full transcript here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Millionaire Congressman Wants Higher Taxes on Millionaires

Kentucky's own Proud Liberal John "Congressman Awesome" Yarmuth proposes to make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share of taxes.

From Media Czech:

FYI, this is what real long-term deficit reduction requires. Greece!

Yarmuth Calls on Millionaires and Billionaires to Pay Their Fair Share
Fairness in Taxation Act Creates New Tax Brackets For Super-Rich

(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-3) announced new legislation he has cosponsored, the Fairness in Taxation Act, which will create new tax brackets for millionaires and billionaires.

“At a time when Republicans in Congress are cutting funding and sacrificing the needs of everyone from pregnant women and students to firefighters and nurses, and even seniors and veterans, this legislation asks that the wealthiest Americans tighten their belts and contribute to our economic recovery, just like the rest of the nation,” said Congressman Yarmuth. “It is a critical step to ensuring our economy works for all Americans, and not just the wealthy few.”

Currently, the richest 1 percent of Americans control 34 percent of our nation’s wealth - 120 percent more than they did 30 years ago and more than the entire bottom 90 percent of income-earners. The top one-hundredth of 1 percent now earns an average of $27 million per household per year, while the average income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans is about $31,000.

At the same time, the tax rate for just the top 400 earning households has declined by almost 50 percent over the last 20 years as their income has grown five times larger.

There are currently four tax brackets progressively impacting Americans earning between $1 and $373,650 per year but only one for earners making more than $373,650 annually.

The Fairness in Taxation Act enacts new tax brackets for income starting at $1 million, as follows:

* $1 million -$10 million: 45%
* $10-$20 million: 46%
* $20-$100 million: 47%
* $100 million to $1 billion: 48%
* $1 billion and over: 49%

If enacted in 2011, the Fairness in Taxation Act would raise more than $78 billion.

Sponsored by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), the legislation is supported by Citizens for Tax Justice, United for a Fair Economy, and the Campaign for America’s Future.
Sounds Awesome.
President Obama wants Congress to take the lead on reducing the deficit? Done.

Soak the Rich. It Works.

Opening the Third Front in the Permanent War

Remember this 10 years from now when Libyan suicide bombers are attacking U.S. troops still occupying their country.

"The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a ceasefire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Gaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiyah, Misurata and Az Zawiyah, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas.

"Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

"Let me be clear: these terms are not negotioable. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Gaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences: the resolution will be enforced through military action.


"I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing: the United States is not going to be deploying ground troops into Libya, and we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal, specifically the protection of civilians in Libya.

"In the coming weeks, we will continue to help the Libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully.


"But I want to be clear: the change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power. Ultimately it will be driven by the people of the Arab world. It is their right and their responsibility to determine their own destiny.

"Let me close by saying that there is no decision that I face as your Commander-in-Chief that I consider as carefully as the decision to ask our men and women to use military force. Particularly at a time when our military is fighting in Afghanistan and winding down our activities in Iraq. That decision is only made more difficult. But the United States of America will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security. So I've taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary, and that we will not be acting alone.

"Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong."
Full transcript here, at the 9:02 p.m. mark.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If Obama Were Like Republican Governors

Steve M. finds yet another way to describe the failure of Democrats to wield power effectively:

When you look at the insane things in some of the Year Zero bills in newly Republican states -- the privatization of power plants by fiat in the Wisconsin "budget repair" bill, or the dissolution of local governments permitted in a bill that could soon be headed for the desk of Michigan governor Rick Snyder -- you'd have to go much further to imagine analogous acts by President Obama in his first days in office.

At the very least, we needed a stimulus that made up for a $2.9 trillion shortfall in economic activity, as Paul Krugman argued all along -- though, since we're imagining proposals that are analogous to what Republicans are doing right now, I suppose we should have gone for $50 trillion, as this guy recommended.

A Democrat analogous to Walker/Scott/Kasich/Snyder would have slapped handcuffs on dozens of bankers in the first hundred days; he'd have broken up the banks and restored Glass-Steagall. He and fellow Democrats would have repealed the Bush tax cuts on the rich by Groundhog Day '09, and would then begin restoring Clinton -- or even Reagan, or pre-Reagan -- tax rates on the wealthy. (And, of course, the economic team would be heavy on folks like Reich and Krugman and Warren, rather than Geithner and Summers.)

I could go on. For example, regarding Gitmo, the prisoners who were to be tried stateside would have been flown to the U.S. in the dead of night and shipped to Supermax prisons before any wingnut crybaby knew what was going on.

None of this could have happened, of course, because the Democrats we elect don't believe in doing this stuff, don't have the guts to do it, or both. But it would be analogous.
Read the whole thing.

Have you talked to your Democratic neighbors today?

"Our Cowardly Political Class"

Tom B at They Gave Us A Republic has the Rant of the Year:

The following is sourced from an Truthdig article by Chris Hedges: Power Concedes Nothing Without a Demand

That article pretty much lays bare our own failures in refusing to stand up not for what America is today but for what it used to be and our compromise and/or capitulate political philosophy in the face of the corporate takeover of the country.

Progressives and Liberals are bound and determined to learn the hard way that when you're dealing with a pack of ravening jackals intent only on having your ass for lunch, there can BE no compromise. They don't want a fourth or half or even three quarters of your ass, they want the whole damned thing and indeed feel that they are more entitled to own your ass than you are.

Compromise is a tool of the weak and the strong have no respect or regard for it. You either get up on your hind legs and kick them square in the nuts or you might as well drag out the silver platter and put your ass... your WHOLE ass... on it and let your congress whore or state governor serve it to them.

The liberal class is discovering what happens when you tolerate the intolerant. Let hate speech pollute the airways. Let corporations buy up your courts and state and federal legislative bodies. Let the Christian religion be manipulated by charlatans to demonize Muslims, gays and intellectuals, discredit science and become a source of personal enrichment. Let unions wither under corporate assault. Let social services and public education be stripped of funding. Let Wall Street loot the national treasury with impunity. Let sleazy con artists use lies and deception to carry out unethical sting operations on tottering liberal institutions, and you roll out the welcome mat for fascism.

And that's exactly what we've done.

I'm not going to say that we're getting what we asked for or that we deserve what we get because goddammit I didn't ask for it and I'm not about to feel like I deserve it.

WE... and I'm talking about the more than half of us who actually voted AGAINST what we're getting now... or thought we did anyway... didn't decide "bipartisanship", compromise and capitulation were the way to go in dealing with the mindless water carriers for Corporate spawned Fascism. Our leaders... again whom over half of us voted for precisely because they promised to stand up and fight AGAINST the kind of takeover we're witnessing today... decided that for us. WE didn't have a f**king word to say about it.

I don't give a goddamn whether or not it's good politics to roll over and play dead every time the corporate machine and their whining little sycophants in what's supposed to be OUR congress decide to steamroller another facet of our democracy. It may BE good politics... at least by someone's lights... but it's goddamned lousy governance and we need governance a hell of a lot worse than we need politics right now.
Read the whole beautiful thing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Help Big Ass Fans Bring Iraq Donkey to America

Big Ass Fans is a local Lexington manufacturer that is doing well, even in this recession. They also have a good sense of humor, illustrated by the name and their logo image of the rear end of a donkey.

In 2008, Bluegrass Field, the Lexington Airport, rejected the company's proposed sign "Welcome to Lexington, Home of Big Ass Fans" and the company ridiculed the decision in a press release. Since then the company and the airport have reached an accommodation, but the incident stands as a reminder that Lexington is not quite as cosmopolitan as some of us would like to believe.

But now, Lexingtonians, Kentuckians and Big Ass Fans fans worldwide can show their apprection by helping Big Ass Fans bring a donkey from Iraq to the United States.

For years, Lexington-based Big Ass Fans has provided financial support to a Colorado donkey shelter as a tribute to the company's mascot, Fanny. Now the company is taking it a step further. It plans to help pay for the rescue of a donkey that befriended American soldiers in Iraq and is destined to become a therapy pet for families of military members who were wounded or killed in battle.

Smoke, as the donkey is called, was malnourished when he was adopted by military personnel based near Fallujah in August 2008, said retired Col. John Folsom, who founded and leads Wounded Warriors Family Support.

Folsom said soldiers would send photos of Smoke to their children, and the smoky-gray donkey would get care packages and fan mail from the kids.

Follow Smoke the donkey on twitter here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Risks of Privatization

Tomorrow, the Kentucky General Assembly convenes in special session to try to close the gap in the state's budget for Medicaid.

A big part of the discussion will - or should - concentrate on the multi-million-dollar fraud committed by the state's Medicaid contractor.

Actually, the headline in this post is misleading. Privatizing is not at all risky. It is 100 percent guaranteed to waste money. Huge amounts of taxpayers' money.

Massive fraud and waste by private contractors using tax dollars to provide public services that government should be providing is the rule, not the exception.

Not only does privatizing government services NOT save money, it always costs more than having public employees provide the service.

Down with Tyranny:

According to privatization in America is a very risky business... for most of us, if not for the well-placed very rich looking, through political cronyism, to become mega, super-rich.

Since the 1980s, governments from the local to national level have experimented with privatizing public services and assets. The trend has been spurred by the belief that the private sector can achieve efficiencies and cost savings for government budgets. Unfortunately, numerous examples demonstrate that these supposed benefits of privatization are merely myths. Privatization has often moved forward without adequate public deliberation or oversight. Poorly conceived and constructed contracts have resulted in cost increases, as well as diminished service quality, and have failed to protect against corruption, profiteering, and loss of the accountability and openness required of government processes.

Privatization involves turning over previously governmental functions to private entities. It takes two basic forms:

• The government receives money for the purchase or long-term lease of revenue-producing infrastructure, facilities or other assets.

• The government pays a contractor to provide public services.

Many complex variations have evolved, including various forms of public-private partnerships, known as P3s.

Concerned with the loss of democratic accountability and control, many groups and communities are reconsidering privatization. They are working with lawmakers to provide protections against contracts that are against the public interest by promoting fair and responsible contracting standards, and requiring full public deliberation of decisions to sell or lease public assets.

Without proper protections, putting public services and assets in private hands can result in lost accountability and transparency, increased costs for government and taxpayers and degraded quality.

Other common risks of privatization include: corruption, reduced access, reduced labor standards, lost public capacity for core functions, environmental harm, and human and civil rights violations.
Wisconsin is now in the process of privatizing everything Scott Walker can sell off before he can be recalled by outraged Wisconsinites next January-- including the state's power plants, public parks and Wisconsin's beloved state university system. And Wall Street predators are jumping for joy, unable to contain themselves, over Michigan's quieter, but even more deadly, lurch down the same path Walker is dragging Wisconsin. They're already passed heinous legislation that will enable the state to turn over local government entities to private corporations, and will also enable union contracts to be broken, pension boards to be overturned... a right-wing wet dream. Turning elected government entities over to corporations is the height of anti-democratic privatization. It's a whole new concept in both sharing and redistributing the wealth... it's the Republican way.
Have you talked to your Democratic neighbors today?