Saturday, February 26, 2011

The tax you should be paying -

Hmm. Wonder what a Tea Partier would think of this. I estimate my "use tax" and send it in to the state of Michigan in our yearly returns. But how many people do not? How many people request the same level of governmental service for nothing? That's the big problem with any Tea Party argument. You can't get something for nothing...

The tax you should be paying -

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Challenge Of Polling Labor Rights

Surprise, surprise. The vast majority of Americans support collective bargaining rights. Governor Scott Walker is losing the public perception fight. Yay!

The Challenge Of Polling Labor Rights

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Caller Poses As Billionaire, Pranks Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker : NPR

Really? A "Louisville Slugger" for the Democratic Senators that fled the state because you rammed this legislation through? Shame on you Scott Walker! Shame on you!

Caller Poses As Billionaire, Pranks Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker : NPR

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Assault on Unions Is an Attack on Basic Civil Rights

I have to agree. This is an attack on basic human rights. Workers' rights. I simply don't understand why anyone would be against workers' rights.

Rev. Jesse Jackson: Assault on Unions Is an Attack on Basic Civil Rights

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin Governor Refuses To Compromise : NPR

And that's the problem. Refusing to meet in the middle. That is the problem with the Wisconsin government. It is the problem with the federal government. There is no compromise. There is no meeting in the middle. Government is a course of give and take. You have to give a little to be able to take a little. This unwillingness to compromise is unsettling...

Wisconsin Governor Refuses To Compromise : NPR

Governor Walker's Citizen Suggestions

Here is the link to contact Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Tell him to remove the elimination of collective bargaining rights from the budget bill...

Citizen Suggestions

Mandate? Really?

Okay - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is playing the mandate card to SHOVE the elimination of collective bargaining through the Wisconsin legislature. Um, 52% is not a clear mandate. Even so, if there was a mandate, would that make the Democrats reform of health care in 2010 also an mandate? Food for thought....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions - Rick Ungar - The Policy Page - Forbes

Not a big surprise. But stand up against the Tea Party. Stand up against the Koch brothers. They are against collective bargaining because they are against workers rights. They are for profits only. Sound familiar? It should because this was America at the start of the industrial revolution. Why would we want to go back to that age? Really? Stand up! Speak out! Protect our rights to unionize!

Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions - Rick Ungar - The Policy Page - Forbes

When the Water Runs Dry

Another factor in the current upheaval that now permeates North Africa and Southwest Asia:

If you're at all interested in what's happening on the ground, or if you've happened to have been in an emerging country during a natural resource shortage, you should read this.

Why Wisconsin matters for President Obama -

The most disheartening thing about the protests in Wisconsin is that there is NO middle ground. Their is NO compromise. There are NO talks between the two sides. We have come to a tipping point in our hyper-partisan political system. Conservatives hate liberals. Liberals don't trust conservatives. There are no moderates in the federal government. They have all been voted out. And so we have come to this. This will escalate.

The protests will spread to other states. And until there is some moderation (in which I don't see any right now), this will continue to happen for some time. We desperately need a THIRD party. And the Tea Party is not that answer. Tea Partiers are Republicans. And they were responsible for voting out the moderation in both parties.

A third party would invite talks, moderation and adaptability. Something we desperately need today.

Why Wisconsin matters for President Obama -

Tea Party activists join protests, favoring Wisconsin budget bill -

Great. The nut jobs joined the action...

Keep strong! Keep up the fight in Wisconsin and Ohio. Do not back down. Senators, stay out of the state...

Tea Party activists join protests, favoring Wisconsin budget bill -

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quoted for Truth

"Conservative politicians have always blamed the victim. It's minorities' problems for civil rights issues. It's environmentalists' problems on the environment. It's really always somebody else's fault. It's never the people responsible. It's never the bankers. It's never the way the legislation's done. It's always the workers."

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

So here we are. Less than a week after I spent a few pleasant days in, of all places, Madison, Wisconsin (it was nice to once again be in an area that celebrates a Super Bowl win, marking my fourth time doing so), there's finally a few minutes to take a breath and take stock of the events that are reshaping our world. And to think, my evaluation of Madison was: quaint, but boring.

The Middle East

As the dominos begin to fall, toppling corrupt regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, one of the things we as Americans discover is that what we hope for in other countries in other parts of the world doesn't really amount to a bottle of warm spit unless we literally come in guns blazing.

We've had literally no influence on events occurring outside of Southwest Asia (edited to add: other than putting half of those regimes in place to begin with), and will have no influence on those events in Africa and that region as they move forward. To that end, as regime after regime topples, and as citizens of the respective countries rise up and turn upon their governments, it should occur to someone, at some point, once again, just how stupid the Iraq invasion and the cost of lives and untold billions of dollars was (unless you look at it through the prism of oil, and we'll save that discussion for another day).

Somewhat sarcastically, in the comments section of our esteemed cat daddy's article on Tunisia, I mentioned that people were perfectly happy to participate in corruption as long as they had a job and benfited from it. Sometimes, sarcasm is warranted. At the time of the Tunisian uprising, unemployment among those under 30 approached 40%. Egypt's unemployment rate exceeded 10.5% at the time of Mubarak's ouster.

I strongly recommend this brief piece on just how bad the unemployment rate is in the Middle East. Because, at the end of the day, people all over the world are happy to belong to a regime that others may feel corrupt as long as they can feed their families and not be killed in the process. This has worked for multiple generations, as Middle Eastern and other oil regimes' trickle down economics has seen to it that most of the masses could be placated, and the ones who couldn't could be convinced that external forces (read: America or Israel) were to blame for their problems.

However, you walk a delicate line with that equation. As populations get larger, more socially connected, and better educated, too much concentrated wealth means the middle class can't expand, and the end result is pissed off cab drivers with degrees in higher education who can't find jobs suitable to their educational expectations. Give them something as simple as a cell phone with social media access and an uprising isn't that far behind. It isn't about religion. It's about jobs. Or, put another way, it's the economy, stupid, regardless of the predominant religion or skin color or way of life.

On Wisconsin

Speaking of which, I can't even begin to tell you how beautiful what's happening in Madison is now. I had a piece dripping with sarcasm prepared last week about how the American worker has turned on each other and lacked the backbone to stand up against plutocracy, but I wisely shelved it because it was rather rude and unsanitized, and then this happens.

You should, if you read this blog, be aware of the particulars; a phony budget shortfall ginned up by an undereducated governor who's strings are pulled by the Koch brothers in an effort to break unions. Add in a weak attempt at divide and conquer by exempting police and fire, and voila! mass protests by organized labor that are long overdue in this country.

If there are three political trends that overarch the waning years of the Baby Boomers they are these. First, the plutocratic idea, put forth in the Guilded Age that the wealthy "can hire half of the poor to kill the other half." Republicans have used this divide and conquer tactic since the implementation of Nixon's Southern Strategy in the early 1970s (though it goes back much, much further in American history in some form or fashion), and, outside of the south, it reached it's culmination with the Tea Party Movement, which was essentially, old white people screaming at everyone else that they were ruining their retirement by trying to keep the lights on. This isn't anything new on the part of that generation; Douglas Coupland identified this and summed it up nicely in Generation X, which was written in 1991. Malcolm X had a famous and adaptable quote about how slave owners would turn the house slaves against the field slaves that perfectly describes the Republican Party campaign management system.

The second is this: if I can't have mine, you can't have yours either. This is inherently selfish and narcissistic on the part of the person with this attitude, and I have to be honest, it seems quite strong and I'm not entirely sure where it comes from. But it's certainly counter productive. I'm not one to often play the God card, but the one fundamental tenet of every religion is the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. So you'll see a fair share of people who use this rationale when attempting to demonize those workers who are standing up for their right to collectively bargain. It's intellectually lazy, and being intellectually lazy takes very little effort.

I don't support Michigan's current governor, and wouldn't have voted for him if I could have, but you'll notice that while his budget certainly pummels the hell out of everyone and everything, he hasn't come close to expounding the rhetoric that Governors Walker, Kasich, Daniels, and LePage of Maine have as it relates to unionized public employees.

It's early yet, but Governor Snyder may just be that rare endangered species: a moderate Republican. A Republican is still a Republican, of course, (and your alternative in that election wasn't much of one), but still, it's a bit of a refreshing change from the nuts that populate the rest of the party and their hired help of elderly retirees and dimwitted exurban plumbers.

It's been entirely too long since protests from the left felt like anything other than obligatory. It's good to see employees standing up for their rights. And just in time too. Because if those of us who are liberal do not stand up right now, there will truly be nothing left to fight for.

The Painful Truth

One of the most dispassionate and intelligent writers on things Michigan is actually Jack Lessenberry of the Toledo Blade. He's written two very good columns (he doubles as the paper's Ombudsman) recently about Michigan's budget situation. I'd like to call your attention to this one.

While there are certainly some things that are unique to Michigan (it's abhorrence to local income taxes is one I share), the third political trend of baby boomers politically is this: I want everything, and I don't want to pay for any of it. This renders itself most explicitly in California, where a simple majority of citizens can approve a government funded mandate.

Unfortunately, they can also approve measures like Proposition 13, which drastically limit the state government's ability to pay for any of these mandates. The result, as in most states, is a crushing debt, brought on by one group of citizens, who want everything, and another group of citizens, who don't want to pay for anything. I mean, admit it, something for nothing is awfully appealing, regardless of your predominant ideology.

Politicians normally would have to walk the line and figure out which group of people are going to comprise the larger turn out in the next election to enable them to keep their jobs. That problem was solved in California with drastic redistricting, and in Michigan with term limits, neither of which are particularly effective. (Term limits are particularly stupid, another topic for another time.) Throw in the need for the same politicians to generate revenue to fund re-elections, gathered from business that expect a return on this particular investment, and you have the current situation we're in now.

Let's tie this in a bow. In the Middle East, revolution is triggered when excess wealth is tied into the hands of the top one percent and unemployment exceeds 10 percent amongst college graduates. To date, the US has dodged a bit of a bullet in that the most recent economic downturn hasn't disproportionately harmed college graduates outside of the midwest. (In fact, unless your degree is in philosophy or law, your employment prospects are fairly good).

But if you squeeze on that white collar too hard, it will bite you back, and there are plenty of unemployed blue collar folk willing to stand beside you, as Wisconsin Republicans are learning, the hard way. Finally.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Protests Continue In Wisconsin As Budget Fight Rages : NPR

Good job from the Wisconsin Senate Democrats! I'm sorry Governor, but these Dems are doing their job and rightfully so. Since your state does not a have a fillabuster provision in your legislature, this is the next best thing. It is a check and balance. It protects the people from a super majority. It looks out for the opposition and the opposition still has a voice here. Deal with it stinky cheese GOP!

Protests Continue In Wisconsin As Budget Fight Rages : NPR

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Books! Not bombs! February 16

Is a 3.4% percent increase in the defense budget necessary? $708 billion? Really? While only $49 billion is spent on education? Something is SERIOUSLY wrong with this picture. Why does defense get 14 times as much money as schools? And the GOP wants to cut education? Think again. Go for the FAT COW! Hit that $708 billion blood sucking leech that is the defense budget. And it's even more dismal for the evironmental protection agency. Kill that leech now!

Defense Budget:

Education Budget:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Books! Not bombs!

Hello all-

This will be the start of a campaign to influence our federal lawmakers that education is more important than defense. As the U.S. Congress is debating on where to cut spending from a fat federal budget, it is our goal to remind our policymakers that we should not cut our country's future for the present. And what is more telling the the present where a defense budget has exploded over the past decade. This blog will hopefully be the start of a new revolution. Fund education. Fund out future.  Books! Not Bombs!

I will support my case in the future posts on this site. I hope you will join me on this ride. Thank you!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Paul Ryan, John Boehner Defend House GOP Spending Cut Proposal

Why would we cut job training programs in what is a really slow recovery from the worst economic downturn in decades? Why not hit the low hanging fruit of the defense budget? Cutting job training when we need more jobs just does not make sense. The GOP is all smoke and mirrors... Their lies are become exposed!

Paul Ryan, John Boehner Defend House GOP Spending Cut Proposal

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ron Paul Wins Conservatives' Straw Poll : NPR

Not surprising when the Tea Party has hijacked the conservative political process. Liberals, stay strong!

Ron Paul Wins Conservatives' Straw Poll : NPR

Friday, February 11, 2011

Remarks by the President on Egypt | The White House

The President's remarks on the situation in Egypt were inspiring. Here is an excerpt... The full speech is after the link.

"We saw people of faith praying together and chanting – “Muslims, Christians, We are one.” And though we know that the strains between faiths still divide too many in this world and no single event will close that chasm immediately, these scenes remind us that we need not be defined by our differences. We can be defined by the common humanity that we share.

And above all, we saw a new generation emerge -- a generation that uses their own creativity and talent and technology to call for a government that represented their hopes and not their fears; a government that is responsive to their boundless aspirations. One Egyptian put it simply: Most people have discovered in the last few days…that they are worth something, and this cannot be taken away from them anymore, ever.

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence -- not terrorism, not mindless killing -- but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more."

Remarks by the President on Egypt | The White House

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Clinton Sticks To U.S. Principles On Egyptian Reform : NPR

The voice of the people of Egypt should be heard. President Hosni Mubarak should step down. People have the right to criticize the ruling government. Their voice needs to be listened to. We as the collective world should support the voices of the people.

Clinton Sticks To U.S. Principles On Egyptian Reform : NPR

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Palin: America Out Of Step With Reagan's Values : NPR

For once I guess I agree with Sarah Palin. America is on the "road to ruin" because of the newly elected GOP House of Representatives....

Palin: America Out Of Step With Reagan's Values : NPR