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Monday, February 28, 2011

Once Again, Fox Masquerades GOP Activist As Concerned Parent To Attack Unions

by Eric Schroeck

This morning, Fox & Friends hosted an "upset Wisconsin parent" to discuss her objection to Wisconsin public schools' teaching of labor union history. Left unsaid during the segment: The parent, Amber Hahn, is also a local GOP official.

Fox & Friends, which asked last week if teaching labor history in Wisconsin schools is "pro-union propaganda," used the interview with Hahn to renew its attacks. A graphic that aired during the segment asked if Wisconsin schools are "pushing the union agenda," and co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Hahn if she thought the lessons on unions are "biased."

At the end of the interview, Hahn thanked the hosts for "bringing light" to the issue. Watch:

This is now the second time Fox has masqueraded a GOP activist as a concerned parent to attack unions. As Media Matters noted on February 18, Your World guest host Chris Cotter interviewed "Wisconsin parent" Dave Westlake to attack teachers for calling in sick to protest, resulting in some schools in Madison, Wisconsin, being closed. Not noted was the fact that Westlake ran for Senate in Wisconsin, losing in the GOP primary.

Wisconsin voters would not elect Gov. Walker in retrospect: poll

By Eric W. Dolan

If voters in Wisconsin could repeat the 2010 gubernatorial election, the majority would support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Republican Scott Walker, according to a report [PDF] by Public Policy Polling.

Fifty-two percent of the 768 registered Wisconsin voters surveyed said they would vote for Barrett if they could do last fall’s election for governor over again. Forty-five percent said they would vote for Walker and four percent were uncertain.

"The difference between how folks would vote now and how they voted in November can almost all be attributed to shifts within union households," Tom Jensen of PPP explained. "Voters who are not part of union households have barely shifted at all - they report having voted for Walker by 7 points last fall and they still say they would vote for Walker by a 4 point margin."

"But in households where there is a union member voters now say they'd go for Barrett by a 31 point margin, up quite a bit from the 14 point advantage they report having given him in November."

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Wisconsin have protested against Gov. Walker's budget repair bill, which would curb the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Republicans in Wisconsin claim the union rights of public employees need to be limited so the state can avoid laying off workers due to a budget gap of $137 million in the current fiscal year.

The protests in Wisconsin have sparked workers' rights rallies across the United States. Millions of Americans were out in the streets this past Saturday, participating in the largest flare-up of labor protests the nation has seen in decades.

A major contribution to Walker's victory, according to Jensen, was the amount of Democratic voters who did not vote in November. But with the media spotlight enlivening Wisconsin's political landscape, Gov. Walker is unlikely to face apathetic voters again.

"Those sleeping dogs aren't lying any more though and when you combine the reinvigoration of the base with GOP union households trending back toward the Democrats, Walker seems to have severely hurt his party's chances of building on their gains from 2010 next year," Jensen concluded

M.C.L Comment: Democrats I told ya if you didn't vote don't be shocked when you end up with people like Scott Walker wins. Now people are trying to organized ways to recalled this special ed drop out and some of these flying monkey GOP state house reps. Listen up the only people who benefits from you not voting are people you're claiming to be against. There's an election next year so those who stayed home you gotta choice re-elected President Obama and help the Democrats retake the house or stay home and relive the last eight years of the Bush administration. But remember if you chose the second option you gave up all your rights to complained.

No Minorities Allowed: Texas Group Launches Scholarship For White Males Only

By Tanya Somanader

In an effort to address the most under-served minority in a John Travolta film, a non-profit in Texas is launching a scholarship program for disadvantaged students. The Former Majority Association for Equality is offering a $500 scholarship to those who meet one eligibility requirement: “Male – No less than 25% Caucasian“:

The application for a $500 scholarship from the Former Majority Association for Equality looks pretty much like all the others out there. Well, except for this eligibility requirement: “Male – No less than 25% Caucasian.”

Yes, the Texas-based nonprofit organization has launched a scholarship for white men. Members of the group, which goes by FMAFE, say they aren’t racist and “have no hidden agenda to promote racial bigotry or segregation,” according to their Web site. Instead, they say their goal is to provide financial aid to white men who might not qualify for other scholarships.

“FMAE’s existence is dedicated around one simple principle, to provide monetary aid for education to white males who need it,” the group’s mission statement reads.

In addition to being white and male, applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and “demonstrate a commitment to education, and substantiate financial need.” FMAFE insists “it will not accept money from any organization affiliated with white supremacy or hate groups.” Indeed, like the all-white basketball league, FMAFE says it is not promoting “racial bigotry,” but merely giving a leg up to this continually overlooked demographic.

Gov. Walker Misleadingly Claims His Union-Busting Bill Doesn’t End Collective Bargaining

By Pat Garofalo

The protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) legislative assault on public sector workers continue today, after Wisconsin police refused to evict protesters from the Wisconsin Capitol last night. Walker himself is going on a media tour, appearing on Meet the Press yesterday, as well as a statewide news magazine show, “Upfront With Mike Gousha.”

During the latter interview, Walker claimed that his “budget repair bill,” which actually has little to do with balancing Wisconsin’s budget, does not end collective bargaining for public employees, but only “narrow[s] it down”:

Q: Very briefly, do you see any need for public employee unions in this state, philosophically?

WALKER: If I didn’t, I would have eliminated collective bargaining all over.

Q: Did you think about that?

WALKER: We looked at every option. But in this case we said we could narrow it down, still have a role for collective bargaining, still have a role for public employee unions, but cap it in so that the taxpayers aren’t trumped in by the decision we currently see with collective bargaining.

Watch it:

Walker is making this claim because his budget repair bill would still allow workers to “negotiate” for their wages: under a cap that Walker and the Republican legislature want to set in stone. This is clearly not “collective bargaining” in any real sense of the word, since public employees would already have strict limits imposed upon them before they even get to the bargaining table. Plus, restricting collective bargaining to only wages means that the employer can simply change other elements of worker compensation (like slashing benefits) to make up for any wage increases, without workers having any say about it.

Walker’s goal is simply to bust public employee unions, which is exactly what happened in Indiana after Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) ended collective bargaining for public employees:

If there is one thing the two sides agree on, it’s that an end to collective bargaining will lead to far weaker public sector unions. Mr. Daniels said that after he banned bargaining, membership in the unions for state workers nosedived by 90 percent, with workers deciding it was no longer worth paying dues to newly toothless unions.

Under Walker’s bill, not only would workers lose their collective bargaining rights in all but name, they would also be subject to protections against unfair firings that are “far weaker and narrower than union protections.”

This is not the first time that Walker has tried to mislead the public about the practical implications of his union-busting effort. In fact, earlier this month, he ludicrously claimed that under his proposal “collective bargaining is fully intact.

Ending Special Interest Tax Dodging Would Balance Wisconsin’s Budget And End The War On Unions

By Zaid Jilani

Over the weekend, Main Street America held the largest rallies yet to take place against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) radical proposal to gut his state’s public employee union collective bargaining rights. Walker claims that his assault on the state’s labor unions is designed to help close his state’s budget deficit and save taxpayers money.

Yet the truth is that the relatively minor budget woes that Wisconsin faces aren’t aresult of the middle class pay and benefits afforded to hard-working teachers, municipal employees, and other Main Street Americans. Rather, declining tax revenues from a recession caused by Wall Street and corporate tax cuts Walker immediately rammed through the legislature are much more responsible for the relatively minor shortfalls the state is facing.

Walker claims that that the state is facing a $137 million budget deficit and says that the state’s hard-working public employees should sacrifice their pay and benefits and have their collective bargaining rights crippled in order to close this budget gap. Additionally, Walker has included language in his latest budget proposal that wouldrestructure the state’s debt, which would essentially take care of any economic problems in the short-term. Despite the fact that they aren’t responsible for a budget deficit, Wisconsin’s public employee unions have “announced they would accept paying half the cost of pensions and 12.6 percent of the cost of health insurance — as long as they were allowed to keep their collective bargaining rights” — a deal Walker has flatly rejected.

Yet if Walker really feels like the state is facing unacceptable budget problems and that it needs to be able to recoup revenue, he doesn’t have to attack the pay, benefits, or rights of his public employees at all. All he has to do is look at his state’s tax code and take action to close a handful of special interest tax loopholes and tax breaks so that the state’s richest pay their fair share so that the middle class that has already sacrificed so much doesn’t continue to have to bear all the burdens of the recession by itself. ThinkProgress has assembled a far from comprehensive list of just some of these special interest tax breaks and loopholes that could help balance the budget and end any need for a war on unions:

Close The Internet Sales Tax Loophole: Currently, online retailers all over the country make skillfull use of the tax code to avoid paying sales taxes. Big retailers like Amazon.com set up subsidiary corporations in states and then argue that the subsidiary corporation doesn’t obligate the parent company to collect sales taxes in the state. A University of Tennessee study estimates that “in 2011 alone, Wisconsin will lose an estimated $127 million in uncollected sales tax on purchases made online” — only $10 million short of what Walker projects his state’s deficit to be. While the best way to close the internet sales tax loophole is for federal action, some states like New York have enacted what they refer to as the “Amazon law,” which would decree that any internet sales company would be liable for the state’s tax laws if it has “independent ‘affiliate’ websites in the state promoting sales on its behalf.” After New York enacted its law to capture previously lost revenues in 2008, Amazon responded by unsuccessfully suing the state. Wisconsin could follow New York’s lead.

- Close Special Interest Property Tax Loopholes: Much of the funding necessary to support government services in Wisconsin comes from property taxes, collected by municipalities, with these taxes currently generating “far more revenue than any other state or local tax.” Considering that much of the Wisconsin state budget is consumed by aid to municipalities, closing these loopholes would relieve city budgets and therefore help reduce statewide expenditures. The current exemptions on potential property taxes amount to $700 million a year. Many of these exemptions were won by interest groups with clout in the state legislature. For example, nonprofit community hospitals — which make up 89% of hospital revenue in the state — currently have an exemption, allowing them to forgo $128 million in taxes in 2008. Certain retirement homes also have an exemption that costs the state $15 million a year. The 2009-2011 state budget included a special exemption “for student housing owned by a nonprofit organization that houses up to 300 students, with at least 90% of its residents enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison” — which benefitted a single dorm: the “Pres House on the UW-Madison campus, which would pay about $250,000 in taxeswithout it.” While some of the state’s current exemptions make sense, others simply benefit special interest groups and should be closely examined.

- Crack Down On Corporate Income Tax Dodgers: The Institute for Wisconsin’s Future (IWF) notes that the state is “losing over one billion dollars annually to the ‘tax gap,’ the difference between what is legally owed by taxpayers and what is actually paid.” It notes that “business income is only 8% of Wisconsin income, but responsible for 57% of the underreporting tax gap,” mostly due to underreporting. This gap accounts for $113 million in revenue. Some companies dodge their taxes by setting up subsidiaries in neighboring states with corporate income tax havens, like Nevada and Delaware. IWF suggests that simplying the tax code and expanding the network of state auditors could help close the tax gap and stop businesses from underreporting their income to avoid taxes.

And it’s worth noting that the tax cuts Walker rammed through during his first month in office “will reduce general fund tax collections by $55.2 million in 2011-12 and $62.0 million in 2012-13.” It is simply irresponsible for Walker and his allies to continue to blame middle class Wisconsinites for his state’s modest budget woes while ignoring the tax dodging by the state’s special interests who continue to fail to pay their fair share.

UPDATERather than making sure special interests and tax dodgers pay their fair share, Walker and his allies are busy bolting the capitol building's windows shut so protesters can't get in and so do the demonstrators inside can't get out without being locked out (HT: @ericming):
There are some reports that the bolting story may be false.
UPDATENearly a hundred Idaho students protesting the state's upcoming education policies that would layoff hundreds of teachers have encamped themselves on the second floor of the capitol rotunda and are "quietly doing their homework." Watch it:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Random Friday:Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception Trailer

M.C.L Comment: All I can say is I can't bleeping wait!!!

Conservative Media Use Cropped Video To Vilify NEA

From Media Matters:
In the midst of widespread anti-union sentiment among conservatives, right-wing media figures are using a cropped portion of a July 2009 speech by Bob Chanin, former general counsel of the National Education Association, to suggest Chanin admitted that the union does not "care about the children." In fact a fuller transcript of Chanin's remarks show that this is a blatant distortion.
Hannity, Limbaugh Use Cropped Quote To Suggest Former NEA Official Said He Does Not "Care About The Children" Hannity Airs Cropped Video, Suggests Chanin Does Not "Care About The Children." From the February 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity: HANNITY: Let me show both of you. This is the former National Education Association General Counsel on why the NEA is so effective. I'm playing this because it is my belief that rank and file are often abused. Rank and file money goes to the unions. Unions support Democratic candidates. Democratic candidates funnel exorbitant benefits to them that they kick the can down the road and can't afford. But do they care about the children? You decide. We will roll this tape. CHANIN (video clip): It is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them. HANNITY: Not because we care about children. Not because we have creative ideas. Not because of the merits of our position. Mike, do you find that as offensive as I do? MIKE LANGYEL, MILWAUKEE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION: Well, you know what, what we're saying is that -- HANNITY: I asked you a question. Is that offensive to you? LANGYEL: It is not the question that we have to face today. Today, the question is what are we doing to improve education? -- HANNITY: Wait a minute, I find -- This is about unions. Do you find what the head of the NEA said about children, do you find that offensive? LANGYEL: You took that out of context. You really did -- HANNITY: But I played it in its entirety. LANGYEL: I know this person. But it is taken out of context. He did not say that we don't care about kids -- HANNITY: It is not about our creative, it is not the merit of our positions, it is not because we care about children. LANGYEL: But we do care about children. We care about children and that is exactly the point he was making. If you just give me a second. He said this that we care about children but it is our collective bargaining rights that gives us the power to represent the children -- HANNITY: He said it's not because we care about children. [Fox News' Hannity, 2/24/11] Rush Limbaugh Also Ran With Cropped Quote. From the February 23 edition of Limbaugh's radio show: LIMBAUGH: All of this involving the public sector unions is an attack on the rich, or is an attack on the middle class. It's the middle class and their taxes that are paying for all of this. Let me give you a quote here. This is Bob Chanin. Bob Chanin, the general counsel to the National Education Association, in his farewell address to the NEA convention last summer, here's what he said. This is the head of the teachers union. Well, the legal counsel, the lawyer to the union. He said, "Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power." It's not that we're doing it for the kids, it's not that we have greater ideas, it's none of that stuff. "We have power." That's why we are effective. And that's what Obama knows. So you've got an effort here to beat down the middle class. They want to talk about class warfare all they want, but, see, collective bargaining for state and public sector unions falls apart. Collective bargaining is against the people. The people, the vast majority of 'em, are middle class. The rich are not getting soaked here to pay for public sector union people. It's not the rich getting' soaked. It's that simple. [RushLimbaugh.com, 2/23/11] In Fact Chanin Did Not Say NEA Doesn't "Care About Children" Chanin: Caring For Children And Creative Ideas Are Not Enough To Make NEA An "Effective Advocate." In his closing remarks in his farewell address former NEA General Counsel, Bob Chanin said NEA's creative ideas, vision, and care for children are not enough to ensure that NEA is an "effective advocate." Rather, he said that ensuring the power of the NEA will "enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child." Chanin further stated that "closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality" are "the goals that guide the work we do." From Chanin's speech (the portions in bold show the misleadingly cropped quote used by Hannity and Limbaugh): CHANIN: At first glance, some of you may find these attacks troubling. But you would be wrong. They are, in fact, really a good thing. When I first came to NEA in the early '60s it had few enemies, and was almost never criticized, attacked, or even mentioned in the media. This was because no one really gave a damn about what NEA did, or what NEA said. It was the proverbial sleeping giant: a conservative, apolitical, do-nothing organization. But then, NEA began to change. It embraced collective bargaining. It supported teacher strikes. It established a political action committee. It spoke out for affirmative action, and it defended gay and lesbian rights. What NEA said and did began to matter. And the more we said and did, the more we pissed people off. And, in turn, the more enemies we made. So the bad news, or depending on your point of view, the good news, is that NEA and its affiliates will continue to be attacked by conservative and right-wing groups as long as we continue to be effective advocates for public education, for education employees, and for human and civil rights. And that brings me to my final, and most important point. Which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees. This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality, and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary, these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay. When all is said and done, NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions, and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members. If we do that. If we do that and if we do it well, the rest will fall into place. NEA and its affiliates will remain powerful and that power will in turn enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child. Today, NEA has thanked me for some of the things that I have done. But this is in a sense, backwards. It is I who should thank NEA for giving me the opportunity to spend almost 50 years of my working life for causes that I truly believe in and to be part of an organization that has made a difference in the lives of children and education employees and has led the defense of public education. [NEA, 7/6/09]
M.C.L Comment: Sean Hannity and Fox News using doctor videos to smear people that they hate? I'm shocked, shocked I tell ya.

Koch Brothers Funding Scott Walker Anti-Union Ads

As if buying Scott Walker’s way into the Wisconsin governor’s office weren’t enough, the Koch-funded advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is running banner ads, with television and radio ads to come.

After unions announced they would be running ads in Wisconsin, the Washington D.C.-based and pro-business front group Americans for Prosperity countered with an announcement that they, too, would be running ads. Banner ads are already appearing on websites, which was how we became aware of the AFP move.

AFP is funded by rich, conservative donors, and might as well be called a Koch Brothers front group. Like a mafia, now that their boy is under seige, they need to protect him.

How surreal is it that this comes not two days after the Buffalo Beast aired a recording of a comedian Ian Murphy posing as David Koch and pranking Scott Walker? One needs only the right name to get a direct line to the governor’s office—the same can definitely not be said of any of the thousands of state labor union members protesting in Madison.

The Kochs brothers like to hide behind these nostalgically anonymous front groups, but their fingerprints are there and illuminated for all to see.

And while we cannot be sure if the Kochs have any direct financial stake in the Wisconsin, it is mostly irrelevant, for their game lies elsewhere—in breaking unions nationwide to enrich their various corporations and by extension, themselves.

To that end, the banner ads link to the Americans for Prosperity website, where you follow a link to sign a petition and watch the AFP pro-Walker ad, which we’ve embedded below.

And just so we can all be certain that this is a concerted national effort, the end of the petition reads, “every state should adopt Governor Scott Walker’s common sense reforms.”

FLASHBACK: Ronald Reagan Called Union Membership ‘One Of The Most Elemental Human Rights’

By Zaid Jilani

As the Main Street Movement of students, workers, and other middle class Americanserupts across America, many conservativeshave invoked the legacy of former president Ronald Reagan to demand that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) not back down from his push to end collective bargaining for his state’s public employees. In a prank call with the Buffalo Beast’s Ian Murphy, where Murphy pretended to be right-wing billionare David Koch, Walker himself even fantasized about being just like Reagan.

Yet conservatives may be shocked to learn that their idol Reagan was once a union boss himself. Reagan was the only president in American history to have belonged to a union, the AFL-CIO affiliated Screen Actors Guild. And he even served six terms as president of the organized labor group. Additionally, Reagan was a staunch advocate for the collective bargaining rights of one of the world’s most famous and most influential trade unions, Poland’s Solidarity movement.

Founded in September 1980, Solidarity was formed in Soviet-occupied Poland as the USSR’s first free and independent trade union. By 1981, the union had grown to 10 million people and became a powerful force for demanding economic and political reforms within the Soviet Union. Solidarity began to use strikes to demand these reforms, and the Soviets responded by jailing their leaders and cracking down on their right to organize. During his Christmas address to the nation on December 23, 1981, President Reagan condemned the Soviet-backed Polish crackdowns on labor unions, promoting the “basic right of free trade unions and to strike”:

REAGAN: The Polish government has trampled underfoot to the UN Charter and Helsinki accords. It has even broken the GdaƄsk Agreement of 1980 by which the Polish government recognized the basic right of free trade unions and to strike.

Watch it:

In a radio address given the following October, the former president escalated his rhetoric. Reagan condemned the Polish government’s outlawing of Solidarity, and attacked it for making it “clear they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights — the right to belong to a free trade union”:

REAGAN: Ever since martial law was brutally imposed last December, Polish authorities have been assuring the world that they’re interested in a genuine reconciliation with the Polish people. But the Polish regime’s action yesterday reveals the hollowness of its promises. By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union.

Although Solidarity was not an American union, it is important to understand that much of its political program at the time was much farther to the left than any comparable U.S.-based unions. Solidarity’s economic platform in 1981 called for worker-owned businesses, social control of the food supply so as to ensure that everyone was fed, and for workers to decide what days of the week businesses would be able to declare holidays, among other things.

As conservatives, including Walker himself, continue to fashion themselves as clones of Reagan as they face off with a new progressive populist movement across the country, Americans should know that Reagan’s views and actions may not have always perfectly aligned with those on the far right.

Broun’s Vitriol Spawns Hate As Constituent Asks Congressman, ‘Who’s Going To Shoot President Obama?’

By Zaid Jilani

This past Tuesday Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) held a town hall meeting in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. During the question and answer session, one constituent asked a particularly outlandish question. As the Athens Banner Herald reports, the questioner asked, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” The question apparently evoked laughter from the town hall meeting.

Rather than outright condemning the suggestion of violence, Broun tried to show empathy for the questioner by saying that he knows “there’s a lot of frustration with this president” and that he hopes we can “elect somebody who’s going to be a conservative” next year:

The thing is, I know there’s a lot of frustration with this president.We’re going to have an election next year. Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller, who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Out of all of the members Congress, Broun has used perhaps the most vitriolic rhetoric to describe his political opponents, including Obama. He has previously said that Democrats want to take over “all of society,” that the president was spewing “venom” at the State of the Union, that the stimulus and health care laws were going to “kill” the elderly, that clean energy legislation would make southerners die from hyperthermia, and has compared Obama to Hitler, complete with a claim that the president is secretly assembling a version of the Hitler Youth.

In a statement provided to the Athens Banner Herald, a Broun spokesman said, “Obviously, the question was inappropriate, so Congressman Broun moved on.” Yet until Broun stops telling his constituents that all of his political opponents are plotting to kill Americans with diabolical fascist plots, he should expect more and more of them to think violence is justified.

UPDATEThe Secret Service was dispatched to investigate the constituent who asked the question and determined it was asked "in poor taste," but that it was not a serious threat.
UPDATEBroun has released a statement saying that he "regrets" that the incident happened and that he condemns "all statements -- made in sincerity or jest -- that threaten or suggest the use of violence against the President of the United States or any other public official. Such rhetoric cannot and will not be tolerated."
M.C.L Comment: This is what pisses me off between 2001-2007 Paul Broun and his ilk were accuse you of having Osama Bin Laden hiding out in your basement if you said anything remotely critical of George W.Bush leap forward to now Paul Broun can call the President whatever he wants and those knuckle dragging half wits that made up Bush supporters can ask dumb ass questions about shooting the president.. Could you image what would that right wing would have done if he stood next to someone asking the same question about Bush? He would probably tried to knock that guy out.

Koch Front Group Americans For Prosperity: ‘Take The Unions Out At The Knees’

Kevin Donohue

In a speech earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Committee’s annual conference, Americans For Prosperity-Michigan Executive Director Scott Hagerstrom revealed the true goal of his group and its allies like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) efforts. Speaking at CPAC’s “Panel for Labor Policy,” Hagerstrom said that AFP really wants to do is to “take the unions out at the knees”:

HAGERSTROM: It’s easy to go out there and fight taxes and increased regulation, you know we send out an action alert on taxes to AFP and we get thousands of people to respond. You send out one on a more complicated issue and it just doesn’t quite resonate…We fight these battles on taxes and regulation but really what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees so they don’t have the resources to fight these battles.

Watch it:

Taking “the unions out at the knees” has long been a goal of the Koch brothers and their many front groups. In the run-up to the 2010 elections, the Kochs worked with other anti-labor billionaires, corporations and activists to fund conservative candidatesand groups across the country. Now after viciously opposing pro-middle class policies for years, Koch Industries is trying to eliminate the only organizations which serve as acounterweight to the well-oiled corporate machine.

Earlier this week, ThinkProgress reported on the Koch brothers’ integral role in provoking Walker’s showdown with Wisconsin’s public sector unions. Koch Industries donated $43,000 to Walker’s gubernatorial campaign, and Koch political operativesencouraged the newly elected governor to take on the unions. Since the showdown began twelve days ago, Koch-funded front groups like Americans for Prosperity — which is chaired by David Koch — and the American Legislative Exchange Council have organized counter-protests, prepped GOP lawmakers with anti-labor legislative talking points and even announced an anti-union advertising campaign. Even while local business leaders have called for Walker to end his assault on Wisconsin unions, Koch executives have said that they “will not step back at all” and pointed to the importance of their “grassroots” group, saying, “it is good to have them on the ground, in the battle, trying to help out.”

For now, however, the AFP message doesn’t appear to be resonating: Koch-backed pro-Walker demonstrations have had low attendance and were dwarfed by pro-union supporters in Madison this week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rush On First Lady: "If You're Gonna Tell Everybody To Eat Twigs And Berries ... You Had Better Look Like An Ethiopian"

M.C.L Comment: Rush isn't there a young Dominican Republic boy you should be forcing to have sex with you right now?

Tea partiers outnumbered by union protesters at state capitol 50-to-1

This is starting to become a trend.

Today in Lansing between 1,000 and 1,500 people, mainly union members, rallied at the Capitol Building. They were protesting a number of things including new Republican Governor Rick Snyder's budget as well as a number of anti-union bills currently in before the Republican-run State Congress.

Two different tea party groups planned a "counter-protest" as well.

They had between "a handful" and 20 people.

One of the folks promoting the event today was Lance Enderle, the candidate many of you probably recall from his run in MI-08 against Republican Mike Rogers after the Democratic candidate dropped out.

"This effects everybody in this state," Enderle said of GOP legislation targeting unions.

He was specifically upset about House Bill 4214. Calling the legislation "passive aggressive," Enderle says the bill which would give broad powers to emergency financial managers could easily be used to eliminate union contracts negotiated and approved in good faith.

"Imagine if you make and agreement and sign a contract with me. Now, two weeks later I come back to you and say, 'We don't have to adhere to that agreement,'" Enderle said. "That says contracts don't matter. That's bad for business."

That particular bill is particularly worrisome. Here's Raul Garcia from the Flint Firefighters Union:

"It's a union-buster. It's a union-buster," said Flint Firefighters Union President Raul Garcia.

Garcia says he's worried about this bill. The city and firefighters union are at a standstill in contract negotiations while the mayor says the city of Flint is weeks away from running out to cash.

If that happens, it could trigger an emergency manager coming in. And if the bill passes, that emergency manager could have more power -- including voiding union contracts.

Other points of contention include a plan in Snyder's budget to tax pensions, bills to restrict the collective bargaining rights of state workers, a bill to eliminating the law that requires workers on state, county and municipal construction projects be paid the prevailing wage for the area and a bill to make Michigan a right-to-work state.

Here's a shot of the union members filling the hearing room while testimony on repealing the prevailing wage was heard (thanks to Larry for the photo):

Fortunately, the Governor himself has no appetite to take on the unions as Scott Walker has in Wisconsin:

"We're going to go negotiate with our unions in a collective-bargaining fashion to achieve goals," the Republican governor said in an interview. "It's not picking fights. It's about getting people to come together and say here are the facts, here are the common-ground solutions."

This is my favorite bit with regard to the tea partiers:

At one point, about two dozen tea party supporters, many hoisting "Don't Tread on Me" flags, began marching toward the mostly pro-union group of a few dozen people gathered in front of the east Capitol steps. But they stopped about 50 feet away and eventually turned back, later regrouping near Capitol Avenue in front of the monument to Michigan's Civil War governor, Austin Blair.

"Recall Snyder" and "Don't Tax Grandma" were the messages on some of the anti-budget signs demonstrators carried. "Get Back to Work" and "I'm Not Getting Paid to Be Here" were among the messages on signs carried by tea party supporters.

In Wisconsin, it was 35-to-1. In Michigan, it was 50-to-1 (or maybe even 75-to-1).

I like that ;)

I'm just sayin'... ===================

Nebraska may permit ‘justifiable homicide’ in defense of the unborn

By Sahil Kapur

Legislation introduced in Nebraska includes a "justifiable homicide" clause that could be used in defense of a fetus, potentially offering legal cover for the killing of abortion providers.

The bill, LB 232, was put forth by Nebraska state Sen. Mark Christensen, who fiercely opposes abortion even in cases of rape, as Mother Jones first reported. It would allow any third party the chance to use self-defense as a legal justification for killing someone believed to be threatening the life of a fetus.

Although it may not have been Christensen's intent, critics fear that the language it could make way for legalized killings of abortion doctors, who are already frequent targets of death threats from anti-abortion activists.

"I think it opens the door to something unintended," said state Sen. Steve Lathrop (D), according to Mother Jones.

"I don't think you came in here intending to make those who provide abortions a target of the use of force," he was quoted as telling Christensen, "but I think it may unintentionally do that or at least provide somebody with an argument that they were justified in that."

"It is very disturbing that lawmakers who target abortion providers are again making national headlines," said Nancy Keenan, president of the pro-abortion-rights group NARAL. "Nebraska lawmakers have the moral obligation to protect reproductive-health care professionals who are providing legal medical services to women. We call upon the bill's sponsor to insert language that explicitly protects abortion providers from violence."

Republicans in Iowa have introduced a similar measure, the Iowa Independent reports.

These episode are the latest in a series of controversial anti-abortion legislation Republicans have pushed in several states and on a national level. A similar but somewhat narrower measure wasintroduced in South Dakota recently, only to be stripped after controversy erupted.

House Republicans have also come under fire in recent weeks for proposing national legislation that would redefine rape as it relates to abortion coverage (the language was later amended), as well as a bill that could allow hospitals to refuse abortions to a woman even if her life was in danger.

The House last week approved a measure that would strip government-sponsored family planning funds from Planned Parenthood, which provides a variety of health care services, including abortion.