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Archive for March 2nd, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
The AnimalsPlease Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, live at the NME Poll Winners Concert, 1965.

The AnimalsPlease Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, live at the NME Poll Winners Concert, 1965.

What’s on your mind?

Family Devalued
Newt Gingrich forms an exploratory committee, ostensibly not to find a fourth wife.

via Attaturk at flickr.com

Oh thank goodness, finally the GOP Presidential field is not just one Sarah Palin joke after another.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will launch a presidential “exploratory” campaign this week, becoming the first big-name GOP candidate to take a formal step toward a White House bid.

Ultimately the ol’ bag o’ gas will not run in my opinion because it will be a lot of this:

“You adamantly oppose gay rights . . . but 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 Isabel Friedman, president of the Penn Democrats…how do you reconcile this hypocritical interpretation of the religious values that you so vigorously defend?”

Of course, maybe he will run because as his second wife knows, he’s just that deluded:

“It doesn’t matter what I do,” he answered. “People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”


Boeing Boondoggle: Pork Can Fly

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Boeing Boondoggle: Pork Can Fly
“The gift that keeps on giving” should have been the headline on the Pentagon’s decision to award the Boeing Co. a $35 billion defense contract. Defense of the nation, of course, had nothing to do with it.

By Robert Scheer

“The gift that keeps on giving” should have been the headline on the Pentagon’s decision to award the Boeing Co. a $35 billion defense contract. Defense of the nation, of course, had nothing to do with it.


Related Entries



Is The Military Ensuring Quality Education For Soldiers?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Is The Military Ensuring Quality Education For Soldiers?
The Department of Defense has doled out increasing amounts of federal money in recent years to allow active-duty military personnel to pursue college degrees in…

Lincoln Mitchell: Back to the Nineties With Newt
Gingrich’s chance to become president, to some extent, rests upon finding a potent if offbeat idea through which he can capture the imagination of his party’s base.

U.N. Suspends Libya From Human Rights Council
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly suspended Libya from its top human rights body as governments worldwide pressured Muammar Gaddafi to halt the…

Dave Johnson: America Waking up to Value of Unions
There has been a virtual blackout of information about unions in the corporate media: More than 1/3 of the public hasn’t heard enough about unions to know if they like them or not.

Walker Unveils Full Budget With Deep Cuts
MADISON, Wis. — After focusing for weeks on his proposal to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights, Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday presented his…


Hannity Falsely Claims Ohio Public Workers Earn More Than Private Sector Counterparts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Hannity Falsely Claims Ohio Public Workers Earn More Than Private Sector Counterparts

Sean Hannity falsely claimed that public workers in Ohio earn more than private sector workers, parroting a discredited USA Today analysis. In fact, the Economic Policy Institute found that compensation for Ohio public employees is “slightly less than what they would receive in the private sector” after controlling for factors such as education and experience.

Hannity: OH Public Employees Earn More Than Private Employees

Hannity: “Public Workers” In Ohio “Make More Money On Average Than Those In The Private Sector.” During the March 1 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity said, “[A]ccording to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Ohio is one of 41 states, including Wisconsin, where public workers make more money on average than those in the private sector.” [Fox News, Hannity, 3/01/11]

Hannity’s Claim Echoes Discredited USA Today Analysis

USA Today: BEA Data Shows That “Wisconsin Is One Of 41 States Where Public Employees Earn Higher Average Pay And Benefits Than Private Workers.” On March 1, USA Today reported its analysis of the differences in compensation between public and private workers state-by-state, based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:

Wisconsin is one of 41 states where public employees earn higher average pay and benefits than private workers in the same state, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Still, the compensation of Wisconsin’s government workers ranks below the national average for non-federal public employees and has increased only slightly since 2000.

[…]

The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience. In an earlier job-to-job comparison, USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits. [USA Today, Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn’t reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees. [USA Today, 3/01/11]

CEPR’s Baker: USA Today Analysis Did Not Account For “Education, Experience Or Other Factors That Typically Affect Pay.” Economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research said of the USA Today study:

USA Today ran an article highlighting a difference in pay between government workers and private sector workers in Wisconsin and 40 other states. The methodology used in the article simply takes average compensation per worker without adjusting for their education, experience or other factors that typically affect pay. (Most people expect a cardiologist with 25 years of experience to earn more than a 20-year old counter person at McDonalds.)

[…]

Analyses that do control for education, experience and other factors in ways that are standard within economics consistently find that public sector workers receive somewhat lower compensation than comparable workers in the private sector. [CEPR’s Beat the Press, 3/01/11]

EPI: OH Public Workers Earn Less Than Private Sector Workers

EPI’s Keefe: Public Employees In Ohio “Earn Lower Wages Than Comparable Private Sector Employees.”  Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the Economic Policy Institute wrote:

The research shows, however, that state and local government employees in Ohio are not overpaid. (When we refer to public employees, we are referring to state and local employees, not federal workers.) Comparisons controlling for education, experience, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, and disability reveal that employees of state and local governments earn lower wages than comparable private sector employees. Average annual wages and salaries of full-time state and local public employees in Ohio are 5.9% lower than those of comparable private sector employees. However, some full-time public employees work fewer hours on average, particularly college-educated employees. When annual hours worked are factored in, full-time state and local employees earn 3.3% less in wages and salaries than similar private sector workers. Looking at total compensation (wages and nonwage benefits) Ohio public employees annually earn 6% less than comparable private sector employees and 3.5% less on an hourly basis than comparable private sector employees. [Economic Policy Institute, 2/10/11]

Jeffrey Keefe’s report included the following chart:

ohiocomp

[Economic Policy Institute, 2/10/11]


Holder: No Prosecution In Connection With Planned Parenthood Video ‘Sting’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:42 am by HL

Holder: No Prosecution In Connection With Planned Parenthood Video ‘Sting’
Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the FBI has declined to prosecute in connection with a series of incidents where a man entered Planned Parenthood and claimed to be a pimp operating a sex trafficking ring. Those incidents were later revealed to be part of a video “sting” by the anti-abortion group LiveAction.

Issa Fires Spokesman After Email Controversy
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has fired his spokesperson, Kurt Bardella, after Politico raised concerns that Bardella had shared emails from other journalists with The New York Times’ Mark Leibovich.

Pam Geller On ‘Hate Group’ Label: ‘A Badge of Honor’
Pamela Geller is pretty worked up about the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of her group, Stop Islamization of America, as a hate group. But not because she gives the designation any credence. On the contrary, Geller — the blogger behind Atlas Shrugs and one of the most vociferous opponents to a planned Muslim community center near Ground Zero in New York City — says “a slam from the SPLC is a badge of honor.”


Koch Industries In-House Magazine

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Koch Industries In-House Magazine


Huckabee Leads GOP Hopefuls in South

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Huckabee Leads GOP Hopefuls in South
A new Winthrop University poll shows Mike Huckabee leading a field of hypothetical Republican primary rivals among probable Republican primary voters in 11 Southern states. Huckabee got 21.9% support, followed by Newt Gingrich at 12.9%, Sarah Palin at 8.7%, Mitt Romney at 6.9%, Tim Pawlenty at 6.2% and Ron Paul at 5.7%.

Key finding: President Obama’s approval rating in the 11 states is just 38%, with 51% disapproving, and just 32% approve of his handling of the economy, with 58% disapproving.

The State: “That adults in South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia disapprove of Obama’s prescriptions for the ailing economy should surprise no one … But with the 2012 campaign about to get revved up, the South’s steadfast disapproval of the Democratic president shows he has not expanded his base of support in the region. That leaves open the door to GOP opponents including Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor whose bid to capture the Republican presidential nomination failed in 2008.”


Washington Wrecks the Economy: More Evidence

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Washington Wrecks the Economy: More Evidence
We now have even more evidence that inept policies from Washington are causing enormous suffering across the country. It is not quite the line that the right-wingers are pushing. The new evidence is that the stimulus worked and was in…

The Top 10 Names for the “Pro-Life,” Pro-Cancer, Pro-UTI, Anti-Planned Parenthood Amendment
Nothing says “sanctity of life” better than cervical cancer, breast cancer, and HIV!?That’s why on February 18th, so-called “pro-life” members of the House of Representatives, voted 240 to 185 to defund?Planned Parenthood, a premier women’s healthcare provider for nearly a…


The Republican Shakedown
You can’t fight something with nothing. But as long as Democrats refuse to talk about the almost unprecedented buildup of income, wealth, and power at the top – and the refusal of the super-rich to pay their fair share of…



OH Anti-Choice Activists Will Present ?Youngest? Witness ?Ever? To Testify For Abortion Bill: A Fetus

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:36 am by HL

OH Anti-Choice Activists Will Present ?Youngest? Witness ?Ever? To Testify For Abortion Bill: A Fetus
While Republican lawmakers in Washington execute the most “comprehensive” assault on women’s rights, Republican-led state legislators are working at break-neck speed to develop the most extreme anti-choice legislation. Taking to that mission with zeal, Ohio state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R) unveiled the “heartbeat bill” last week, the “first proposal of it’s kind” that would “prohibit […]

While Republican lawmakers in Washington execute the most “comprehensive” assault on women’s rights, Republican-led state legislators are working at break-neck speed to develop the most extreme anti-choice legislation. Taking to that mission with zeal, Ohio state Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R) unveiled the “heartbeat bill” last week, the “first proposal of it’s kind” that would “prohibit women from ending pregnancies at the first detectable fetal heartbeat,” which can come as early as 18 days after conception, when most women don’t even know they are pregnant.

Admitting that “there is no scenario” in which this bill survives in court, Ohio Right To Life and the right-wing advocacy group Faith2Action are still going to absurd lengths for the sake of promotion. Tomorrow at a hearing on the bill, the House Health Committee will hear “testimony” from its youngest witness ever: a “nine-week old” fetus:

“For the first time in a committee hearing, legislators will be able to see and hear the beating heart of a baby in the womb–just like the ones the Heartbeat Bill will protect,” said Janet (Folger) Porter, President of Faith2Action, and former Legislative Director of Ohio Right to Life, where she helped pass the nation’s first ban on Partial Birth Abortion.

Two in-utero babies will appear live before the committee by an ultrasound projector which is able to not only show that baby’s moving arms and legs, but also display–in color–the baby’s beating heart. “When passed, the Heartbeat Bill will insure that once that heartbeat is detected, the baby is protected,” added Porter.

As Right Wing Watch notes, this is certainly not Porter’s first time at the ridiculous rodeo. Last year, Porter lost her radio program after she organized a “May Day prayer rally” at the Lincoln Memorial to advertise her “dominion” theology — “the idea that Christians are called to take complete control over every aspect of human life in order to bring about the return of Christ.” She also served as the co-chair of Mike Huckabee’s Faith and Family Values Coalition when he ran for president.

Despite the probable failure of Porter’s efforts, her sideshow has secured 50 cosponsors. But as NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio’s executive director Kellie Copeland told ThinkProgress, “the committee won’t hear from women who have made the profoundly personal decision to terminate a pregnancy.” “The politicians behind this bill refuse to acknowledge what Ohioans understand: Every woman’s situation is different, and it’s unacceptable for anti-choice lawmakers to think they should make the personal, private decisions that belong to women and their doctors.”

Arizona already has a similar bill in the works, Georgia, Kansas, and Oklahoma, and Texas plan to quickly follow suit.

REPORT: How Koch Industries Makes Billions Corrupting Government And Polluting For Free (Part 2)
In an opinion piece published today responding to his critics, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch promised to continue to finance anti-government, right-wing front groups. Charles writes that the “purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people’s lives better.” But when it comes to Koch’s carcinogenic pollution and carbon […]

In an opinion piece published today responding to his critics, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch promised to continue to finance anti-government, right-wing front groups. Charles writes that the “purpose of business is to efficiently convert resources into products and services that make people’s lives better.” But when it comes to Koch’s carcinogenic pollution and carbon emissions, the purpose of Koch’s political giving is to avoid any financial responsibility — no matter who gets hurt. Koch Industries has cornered the market in monetizing some of the most dirty industrial businesses. Koch imports oil from the Middle East, refines high-carbon Canadian crude, maintains coal-burning plants, owns one of the largest oil pipeline networks in America, runs environmentally hazardous lumber mills, produces toxic chemicals, and manufacturers fertilizer. The University of Masschusetts Amherst has scored Koch as among the top ten worst air polluters for its carcinogenic chemicals.

Much of the entire Koch political machine is geared towards ensuring that Koch Industries never has to compensate the people and ecosystems damaged by Koch Industries pollution. Koch front groups — from Tea Party groups to think tanks — have diligently promoted Koch Industries’ bottom line by denying global warming, fighting regulations on Koch’s cancer-causing chemicals, and snuffing out investigations into Koch’s environmental crimes:

In 1990, as both Republicans and Democrats proposed a cap and trade system to address acid rain, Koch financed a front group called “Concerned Citizens for the Environment” to battle proposed regulations. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the group “has no citizen membership of its own,” but produced studies arguing that acid rain was a myth and that deregulation would benefit the environment. Koch refineries and factories, top emitters of acid rain-causing toxins, were impacted by the successful cap and trade system. A front group founded by David Koch, Citizens for a Sound Economy (which later changed its name to Americans for Prosperity), also battled regulations designed to combat acid rain, labeling the problem a “myth.”

– Koch Industries vastly expanded its political giving in reaction to revelations that the company had systematically stolen oil from Native American reservations and federal lands. Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS), a personal friend of the Koch brothers and top recipient of Koch money, sponsored legislation to suppress an investigation into the oil thefts. Over 50 Koch Industries employees later testified that indeed the “Koch Method” of manipulating data to surreptitiously take Native American oil resulted in an estimated 300 million gallons of oil the company received for free. Koch later settled for $25 million in penalties.

– Between 1995 and 1997 there were over 300 reported oil spills at pipelines owned and operated by Koch, which caused an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and streams in six states. David Koch helped Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) raise over $150,000 for his campaign, and was rewarded with Dole-sponsored legislation that would have helped Koch Industries avoid serious penalties for the oil spills. On January 13, 2000, the government settled that case for $35 million in fines.

– In 1997, the EPA proposed strengthening rules governing air pollution, regulating particles from coal plants and industrial plants which cause tens of thousands of premature deaths a year. Again, because Koch’s factories were impacted by the regulations, Koch-funded front groups sprung into action. Koch’s Citizens for a Sound Economy front group ran ads claiming (Koch Industries created) particle pollution isn’t harmful. One ad featured a ”pediatrician” who says increased rates of asthma are not caused by the toxic particles, but rather by “dust mites, stuff like that.” Another ad from CSE claimed the EPA regulations would ban fireworks and backyard grills. ”Imagine that,” the ad stated, ”a new government regulation that takes away our freedom to, huh, celebrate our freedom.”

– Koch funneled large amounts of donations into electing George Bush in 2000 (even sending Koch-linked lobbyists to help disrupt the Florida recount). At the time, Koch Industries faced a 97-count federal indictment charging it with concealing illegal releases of 91 metric tons of benzene, known to cause leukemia, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. When Bush took office, his Justice Department dropped 88 of the charges and settled the case for a small amount of money.

– As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has reported, Koch Industries emits over 300 million tons of greenhouse gases a year. That is why, as a Greenpeace study has found, Koch Industries has pumped about $50 million into dozens of front groups denying the existence of climate change. To block EPA regulations of Koch’s carbon pollution, Koch fronts, like Americans for Prosperity, the Hot Air Tour, and the Regulation Reality Tour, have expanded their lobbying to children.

– Investigations by the Los Angeles Times and the Wonk Room have found that the House Republican push to neuter the EPA is largely coordinated by Koch lobbyists. Koch front groups helped elect the new Republican Congress, and have closely worked with the new Republican chair of the Energy and Commerce committee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). Koch allies in Congress have passed amendments to gut the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, enforce the Clean Air Act, and even monitor other air and water pollutants. They also cut funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

– One Koch front, the “No Climate Tax Pledge,” has successfully manipulated the Republican primary process by demanding that Republicans sign a pledge against supporting clean energy solutions. This pernicious political ploy, along with millions in Koch campaign donations, has resulted in the majority of the Republican caucus now doubting the science underpinning climate change.

After a lobbying campaign waged by Koch fronts Americans for Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, and others to stop federal action on climate change, Koch fronts have worked to decimate state-level efforts to curb carbon emissions. As ThinkProgress first reported, Koch fronts were at the forefront of an effort last year to repeal California’s landmark clean energy law. Currently, Koch fronts, including the State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council, are working to revoke the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New England.

– Koch Industries is one of the largest producers of formaldehyde, a chemical that “several major scientific studies have concluded” causes cancer in human beings. Koch’s conservative front groups have battled proposed regulations on formaldehyde, and David Koch used his position on the National Institutes of Health to try to stop the EPA from classifying it as a “known carcinogen” in humans.

Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) demand that he be allowed to sell off Wisconsin’s state owned power plants with no-bid contracts has fueled suspicion that Koch Industries might take advantage of the deal, especially given Koch’s support for the Walker campaign and his current power grab. But the more dangerous Koch Industries kickback from Walker is likely to be from his administration’s approach to environmental regulations. Koch owns several Georgia Pacific plants along the Fox River near Green Bay. These plants are notorious for dumping thousands of pounds of toxic waste into the river, so it is discouraging that Walker’s administration has indicated that it will rollback environmental safeguards. If Walker allows Koch to pollute Wisconsin’s waterways, he is risking the lives and health of Wisconsin’s people.

In his book, the Science of Success, Charles pays tribute to libertarian scholar F.A. Hayek as one his role models. But Hayek famously wrote that pollution should be regulated not only for the “owner of the property in question or to those who are willing to submit to the damage,” but for society at large.

As one of the leading sources of carcinogenic chemicals and greenhouse gases, Koch’s financing of anti-regulation front groups is a back-door lobbying attempt to avoid having to pay for Koch Industries’ pollution. Refusing to pay for pollution is the core of the Koch business, and allows the company to make billions in illegitimate profits. Moreover, a business refusing to pay for its own pollution violates true libertarian principles.


Both Parties Face a Shock Wave in 2012

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 2nd, 2011 5:31 am by HL

Both Parties Face a Shock Wave in 2012
Brent Budowsky, The Hill
Those waging war against American workers are winning. Incumbents of both parties will be losing. The next great change election is coming. The economic and political shock wave will be momentous as budget politics will increase joblessness and reveal with brutality that Washington is out of touch with heartland America and dominated by special interests that voters deplore.One-fifth of the nation suffers from Depression-like pain. Tens of millions of additional voters know the recession continues for them.

Walker, Christie Talking Like Adults on Budget
Gene Healy, Examiner
“An adult conversation” — that's what we need to have about spending, President Obama proclaimed at a Feb. 15 presser. The president's hardly the first to use that cloying, self-congratulatory phrase: so many House Republicans mouthed it in November that Jon Stewart put together a “Daily Show” montage on the theme.It's Washington's favorite sound bite these days. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., even called for having “an adult conversation” about prostitution in Nevada (I'm pretty sure you can't have…

In Madison, Reactionaries in the Streets
Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail
Everyone in Canada has been transfixed by the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Too bad we’ve ignored the tens of thousands of protesters converging across the border in Wisconsin. The drama playing out there is likely to have a far bigger impact on our lives, far sooner.In Madison, unlike Cairo’s Tahrir Square, it’s the reactionaries, not the reformers, who are in the streets. It’s the labour groups and old-line Democrats who are relentlessly agitating for the status quo.