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Archive for February 23rd, 2011

Somali Pirates Murder 4 Americans

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:49 am by HL

Somali Pirates Murder 4 Americans
The four Americans aboard a yacht hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia have been found shot to death. Hijacked last Friday off Oman, the Quest was being piloted toward the Somali coast and shadowed by a U.S. Navy warship. Navy forces boarded the ship after hearing gunfire.



Late Late Night FDL: Rolling In The Deep

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:48 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Rolling In The Deep
AdeleRolling In The Deep.

AdeleRolling In The Deep.

What’s on your mind?

The New Adventures of the Old Orwellians
Good to know that Bush-era sloganeering remains as popular and bipartisan as ever.

pic via theangrykeyboarder at flickr.com

Well, surely the public is sure to stay quiet while this bill, this awesome bill, passes.

A Senate proposal that has become known as the Internet “kill switch” bill was reintroduced this week, with a tweak its backers say eliminates the possibility of an Egypt-style disconnection happening in the United States…the name of the bill has been changed to include the phrase “Internet freedom.”

It will surely soon turn into a lovely Easter-basket of Freedom, or if you are otherwise inclined perhaps a Passover of Freedom would be more appropriate?

Early Morning Swim: State Senator Lena Taylor (D-WI) Discusses Scott Walker’s Union Busting with Lawrence O’Donnell
Good on Taylor. Meanwhile, Pearlstein makes a good point.

Good on Taylor. Meanwhile, Pearlstein makes a good point.

One old trick is to suggest a thought experiment that asks readers to consider the mirror image of what is going on. In this case, you’d be asked what the reaction would be from Republicans and business interests if a newly elected Democratic governor and legislature proposed to deal with a budget deficit by first raising unemployment benefits and then pushing through a big corporate tax increase for all but the Democratic-leaning tech sector. For good measure, the package would also contain a ban on corporations making political donations without getting the permission of each shareholder, lest they use their power to repeal the tax increase and push the budget out of balance.

This is analogous, of course, to what Gov. Scott Walker has proposed for dealing with Wisconsin’s budget gap: the tax breaks for businesses, the benefit cuts for all state employees except Republican-leaning police and firefighters, the automatic decertification of all public-sector unions and the stripping of their right to bargain anything but wages. Looking at Walker’s reflection in the political fun-house mirror makes it abundantly clear that the governor has a more ambitious agenda than merely closing a modest budget gap.

Ya think?


Backlash Mounts Against Gadhafi

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:47 am by HL

Backlash Mounts Against Gadhafi
Support for Col. Moammar Gadhafi in the midst of a Libyan uprising, however much he had, was dwindling Tuesday as former members of his own government joined outside critics in condemning violence against protesters as Gadhafi held fast to his position.  —KA Al-Jazeera: Nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed in violence in the capital, Tripoli, and across the country as demonstrations entered their second week. Joining a lengthening list of high-level defections, Abdul-Fatah Younis, the interior minister and an army general, announced on Tuesday that he was now on the side of the uprising and urged the Libyan army to join it. […] Ali al-Essawi, who resigned as Libyan ambassador to India, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had been used by the government to bomb civilians. He said live fire was being used against protesters, and that foreigners had been hired to fight on behalf of the government. He called the violence “a massacre”, and urged the UN to block Libyan airspace in order to “protect the people”. Earlier, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, accused Gaddafi of launching a “genocide against the Libyan people”. Read more

Support for Col. Moammar Gadhafi in the midst of a Libyan uprising, however much he had, was dwindling Tuesday as former members of his own government joined outside critics in condemning violence against protesters as Gadhafi held fast to his position.? —KA

Al-Jazeera:

Nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed in violence in the capital, Tripoli, and across the country as demonstrations entered their second week.

Joining a lengthening list of high-level defections, Abdul-Fatah Younis, the interior minister and an army general, announced on Tuesday that he was now on the side of the uprising and urged the Libyan army to join it.

[…] Ali al-Essawi, who resigned as Libyan ambassador to India, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that fighter jets had been used by the government to bomb civilians.

He said live fire was being used against protesters, and that foreigners had been hired to fight on behalf of the government. He called the violence “a massacre”, and urged the UN to block Libyan airspace in order to “protect the people”.

Earlier, Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, accused Gaddafi of launching a “genocide against the Libyan people”.

Read more

Related Entries



Judge Tosses Latest Obama Health Care Suit

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Judge Tosses Latest Obama Health Care Suit
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit claiming that President Barack Obama’s requirement that all Americans have health insurance violates the…

Wisconsin Bill Targeting Unions May Cost State $46 Million
WASHINGTON — Budget referees and transportation officials in Wisconsin have informed Gov. Scott Walker (R) that if he were to pass his controversial anti-union legislation…

Rapper Rhymefest In Runoff For Chicago City Council
CHICAGO — Grammy-award winning rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith has made it into a runoff race for a Chicago City Council seat. With all precincts reporting,…

Anti-Immigration Vigilante Sentenced To Death
WASHINGTON — Shawna Forde, whom a jury convicted last week of murdering nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul Flores, was sentenced to death by…

Allan Abramson: Time for a Progressive Primary?
President Obama continues to disappoint. The occupation of Afghanistan continues with no end in sight, a U.S.-installed leader who does not lead, and no clear…


Right-Wing Media Push Misleading Stat That WI Public Employees Make More Than Private Workers

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Right-Wing Media Push Misleading Stat That WI Public Employees Make More Than Private Workers

As protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget continue in Madison, WI, right-wing media have continued to push the misleading statistic that public employees in the state of Wisconsin make more money than their private sector counterparts. In fact, according to the Economic Policy Institute, when education and experience are factored in, public sector employees in Wisconsin earn less than workers performing comparable jobs in the private sector.

Right-Wing Media Claim That State Employees Earn More Than Private Workers

Wash. Examiner: “Total Compensation Costs Of State And Local Government Workers Was 44 Percent Higher Than Private Industry.” A February 21 op-ed in The Washington Examiner claimed that “state and local government workers” were paid “44 percent” more than private sector employees in 2010. The op-ed, titled, “There is no right to collective bargaining,” was written by David Denholm, president of the anti-union Public Service Research Foundation. From the op-ed:

We might resent that [government is sovereign] when it comes to things like taxes but we need it when it comes to things like murder and mayhem. A sovereign institution might choose to seek input from interested parties about a decision, but when the decision is made, it is the law.

How different this is from a typical public-sector bargaining situation where the union makes demands and those demands are backed up by the threat — whether legal or illegal — of a strike.

There is a consequence to this distortion. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, the total compensation costs of state and local government workers was 44 percent higher than private industry; pay was only 33 percent higher but benefits cost 70 percent more. [The Washington Examiner, 2/21/11]

Kelly Claims There Is “Quite A Gap” Between “Salaries Of Public And Private Sector Employees” In WI. During the February 21 edition of Fox News’ America Live, host Megyn Kelly followed live coverage of the ongoing protests at the statehouse in Madison by saying, “A closer look at the salaries of public and private sector employees in Wisconsin reveals quite a gap.” A graphic showing “average annual pay” in Wisconsin in 2009 was then aired:

wipay

After reading the graphic, Kelly said: “What a difference. It used to be if you went to work for the state government, you would make less, but it was worth it, because you would have good benefits, good health care, nice fat pension, that kind of thing. So your salary would be lower. You can see from that full-screen we just showed you, that graphic, that that’s no longer the case.” [Fox News, America Live, 2/21/11]

Limbaugh Repeats Discredited Claim That Public Employees Nationwide Make “Twice” As Much As Private Workers. On the February 17 edition his Premiere Radio Networks radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed: “Taxpayers are paying public sector unions twice, on average, what the American employee earns. Pensions, welfare, benefits, the health care — all of that stuff. Twice. Wages, salary, you name it.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/17/11]

EPI Study: WI Public Employees Earn “4.8% Less … Per Hour” Than Private Sector Counterparts

EPI: “Wisconsin Public Employees Earn 4.8% Less In Total Compensation Per Hour Than Comparable Full-Time Employees In Wisconsin’s Private Sector.” A study published February 10 by the think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that when “[c]omparisons controlling for education, experience,” and other factors are taken into account, “Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin’s private sector.” From the EPI briefing paper released with the study:

[T]he data indicates that state and local government employees in Wisconsin are not overpaid. Comparisons controlling for education, experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability reveal that employees of both state and local governments in Wisconsin earn less than comparable private sector employees. On an annual basis, full-time state and local government employees in Wisconsin are undercompensated by 8.2% compared with otherwise similar private sector workers. This compensation disadvantage is smaller but still significant when hours worked are factored in. Full-time public employees work fewer annual hours, particularly employees with bachelor’s, master’s, and professional degrees (because many are teachers or university professors). When comparisons are made controlling for the difference in annual hours worked, full-time state and local government employees are undercompensated by 4.8%, compared with otherwise similar private sector workers. To summarize, our study shows that Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin’s private sector.

These compensation comparisons account for important factors that affect earnings, the most important of which is the educational levels of public employees. When comparing public and private sector pay it is essential to consider the much higher levels of education required by occupations in the public sector. As a consequence of these requirements, Wisconsin public sector workers are on average more highly educated than private sector workers; 59% of full-time Wisconsin public sector workers hold at least a four-year college degree, compared with 30% of full-time private sector workers. Wisconsin state and local governments pay college-educated employees 25% less in annual compensation, on average, than private employers. The compensation differential is greatest for professional employees, lawyers, and doctors. On the other hand, the public sector appears to set a floor on compensation, which benefits less-educated workers. The 1% of state and local government workers without high school diplomas earn more than comparably educated workers in the private sector. [EPI, “Are Wisconsin Public Employees Over-compensated?” 2/10/11]

EPI: “Workers With A Bachelor’s Degree Or More … Are Compensated Between $20,000 … To Over $82,000 A Year Less” Than Private Sector Counterparts. The EPI report also included a graphic showing the average compensation for public and private sector employees in Wisconsin by education:

wiwagesedu

A February 18 post on EPI’s website that highlighted this graphic stated:

The campaign against state and local workers is often justified with claims that they are privileged relative to their private-sector peers or have somehow been cushioned from the effects of the recent recession and slow recovery. These claims are clearly false.

In Wisconsin, which has become a focal point in this debate, public servants already take a pretty hefty pay cut just for the opportunity to serve their communities (Keefe 2010).  The figure below shows that when comparing the total compensation (which includes non-wage benefits such as health care and pensions) of workers with similar education, public-sector workers consistently make less than their private-sector peers.  Workers with a bachelor’s degree or more–which constitute nearly 60% of the state and local workforce in Wisconsin–are compensated between $20,000 less (if they just have a bachelor’s degree) to over $82,000 a year less (if they have a professional degree, such as in law or medicine). [EPI, 2/18/11]

Klein: “The Ones Who Got Played” In Wisconsin “Are The Public Employees.” In a February 19 blog post, The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein discussed EPI’s analysis to argue that, in reality, it was the public employees who got the “bad deal” from the state government when negotiating their contracts. From his post:

The deal that unions, state government and — by extension — state residents have made to defer the compensation of public employees was a bad deal — but it was a bad deal for the public employees, not for the state government. State and local governments were able to hire better workers now by promising higher pay later. They essentially hired on an installment plan. And now they might not follow through on it. The ones who got played here are the public employees, not the residents of the various states. The residents of the various states, when all is said and done, will probably have gotten the work at a steep discount. They’ll force a renegotiation of the contracts and blame overprivileged public employees for resisting shared sacrifice.

Which gets to the heart of what this is: A form of default. There’s been a lot of concern lately that states or municipalities will default on their debt. This is considered the height of fiscal irresponsibility — an outcome so dire that some are considering various forms of federal support. But the talk that states or cities will default on their obligations to teachers or DMV employees? That’s considered evidence of fiscal responsibility. And perhaps it’s a better outcome, as defaulting to the banks makes future borrowing costs higher, and can hurt the state economy in the long-run. But it’s not a more just outcome. [The Washington Post, 2/19/11]

Right-Wing Media Routinely Claim That Public Employees Earn More Than Private Workers

Right-Wing Media Regularly Cite Apples To Oranges Comparison To Claim Public Employees Earn More, “Twice As Much,” As Private Workers. As Media Matters has previously documented, right-wing media routinely claim that public employees earn far more than their private counterparts, often using a misleading USA Today analysis that claimed to show public employees earn twice as much as those in the private sector. PolitiFact rebutted the claim that “federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts,” and USA Today acknowledged that its “analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.” [Media Matters, 8/11/10, 9/22/10, 11/8/10, 12/1/10]


Report: Investigators Looking At Rivera’s Relationship With Consultant

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Report: Investigators Looking At Rivera’s Relationship With Consultant
State and local investigators looking into the personal finances and campaign accounts of freshman Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) are also looking into his relationship with a political consultant who has received $817,000 in fees from Rivera’s campaigns or affiliated political committees since 2006, The Miami Herald reports.

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Trend-spotting and the end of Liberal Media?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Trend-spotting and the end of Liberal Media?
Two years ago while visiting Australia, one of the bits of cultural differences we noticed was that sports on TV was ubiquitous. Enthusiasm about cricket matches and rugby games was rampant. Monday night football games from the USA played well being seen live during the day on Tuesdays in Sydney. Fox Sports […]


Former Russian Spy Turns to Politics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Former Russian Spy Turns to Politics
Anna Chapman, who was one of 10 Russian agents deported from the United States last summer, is running for parliament as a member of Vladimir Putin’s ruling party, the Telegraph reports.

“Although she and her colleagues became a laughing stock in the West for their alleged incompetence, the Kremlin feted them back home to show that they looked after their own.”

Gingrich Confronted Over Affair
At a forum in Pennsylvania, Politico reports Newt Gingrich was asked if he was a hypocrite for espousing moral values and opposing gay rights while “you’ve also been married three times and admitted to having an affair with your current wife while you were still married to your second.”

Said Gingrich: “I’ve had a life which, on occasion, has had problems. I believe in a forgiving God, and the American people will have to decide whether that their primary concern. If the primary concern of the American people is my past, my candidacy would be irrelevant. If the primary concern of the American people is the future… that’s a debate I’ll be happy to have with your candidate or any other candidate if I decide to run.”


How Obama’s Organizing Election Efforts Influenced the Wisconsin Protests

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:39 am by HL

How Obama’s Organizing Election Efforts Influenced the Wisconsin Protests
Organizers have created a harmonious community inside the capitol that’s part Paris commune and part Midwestern union hall — and many got their start with Obama.


Future Schlock

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on February 23rd, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Future Schlock
Is President Obama stupid, or does he think you are stupid? That’s what we have to ask when listening to the president and his minions promote his farkakte budget principles. In this case, the devil is not in the details,…

Why We Should Raise Taxes on the Super-Rich and Lower Them on the Middle Class
My proposal to raise the marginal tax to 70 percent on incomes over $15 million, to 60 percent on incomes between $5 million and $15 million, and to 50 percent on incomes between $500,000 and $5 million, has generated considerable…