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Archive for March 9th, 2011

Panel: Senior Military Officers Too White

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:48 am by HL

Panel: Senior Military Officers Too White
The U.S. military is too white and too male at the top and needs to change recruiting and promotion policies and lift its ban on women in combat, an independent report for Congress said Monday. Seventy-seven percent of senior officers in the active-duty military are white, while only 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 16 percent are women, the report by an independent panel said, quoting data from September 2008.



What would Pinochet do?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:47 am by HL

What would Pinochet do?
Give the power to take away rights to the Secretary of Defense…you mean the name isn’t Orwellian enough?

pic via Xavier Zarra at flickr.com

I have not been under the impression that we elected Salvador Allende lately, but that doesn’t mean many Republicans are giving up on a series of military men on a white horse, or to put it more in modern context the ‘military-industrial complex’:

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) are teaming up with Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee to write legislation that would take decisions about trying detainees out of the attorney general’s hands and hand that power to the secretary of defense.

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Ooh, how lovely, and by that I mean, how awesomely anti-American. Maybe eventually we can do this with Union leaders and Democrats too? After all its not like they’re important, if they were they’d be on the Sunday chat shows more often…like McCain and Graham.

Remember, its not about unraveling a republic, its just about efficiency (and making accused people stand around naked, or worse), the fact it undermines our traditional notions of justice is just a bonus for them.

To contribute to the type of organization that both Augusto Pinochet AND John McCain opposed when they were fighting against Jose de San Martin together, look here.

Early Morning Swim

Late Late Night FDL: St. James Infirmary Blues
Tom Jones St. James Infirmary Blues, with Jools Holland and The Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

Tom Jones St. James Infirmary Blues, with Jools Holland and The Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

Laissez les bon temps roules – Happy Mardi Gras!  What’s on your mind?


Still in the Dark About 9/11

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Still in the Dark About 9/11
It is the right—indeed, need—of the American public to learn the truth about the motives, financing and methods of those who are alleged to have torn at the heart of our social fabric.

By Robert Scheer

It is the right—indeed, need—of the American public to learn the truth about the motives, financing and methods of those who are alleged to have torn at the heart of our social fabric.


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Duck, Duck Lose

By Mr. Fish

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Elizabeth Holtzman: Commemorating International Women’s Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Elizabeth Holtzman: Commemorating International Women’s Day
Why aren’t we number one in the quality of life we afford to all Americans here at home? To achieve that, I believe we need more women’s voices at the table.

Donna Brazile: Charlie White’s Indictment: Piercing the Veil of “Voter Fraud”
The hypocrisy of White’s claim that he would protect the integrity of the vote while simultaneously committing fraud himself has not escaped even his foremost supporters.

Pawlenty Pulls A Punch
Kendra Marr notes today that when Greta Van Susteren served up a golden opportunity for Tim Pawlenty to take a shot at his 2012 rival…

Robert Scheer: Still In the Dark about 9/11
Ignorance is the real victor in the president’s reluctant decision to abandon the effort to bring the alleged perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attack to…

Robert Walker: International Women’s Day: Hold the Champagne
A year ago, the U.S. was in a position of global leadership on women’s issues. What a difference a year makes. Congress — or at least the U.S. House of Representatives — is in full retreat.


Media Baselessly Suggest Americans View Public Employees “As Public Enemies In Some Ways”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Media Baselessly Suggest Americans View Public Employees “As Public Enemies In Some Ways”

The media have repeatedly targeted public employees by suggesting that the public dislikes their supposed generous pay and benefits. However, polls reveal that many in the public believe that public employees do not receive too much compensation and, in any event, believe state employees should not have their collective bargaining rights taken away. 

Media Target Public Employees By Suggesting Their Compensation Be Cut

Huckabee Suggests Cutting Public Employee Compensation To Balance Budget. From the February 18 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto:

COTTER (guest-host): You know, one of the things I am trying to do is get to between bottom of the fact as to whether Governor Walker gave the union ample opportunity to bargain collectively before dropping this bill on them, because all I am hearing is, oh, Friday, this bill was dropped on us out of nowhere.

I can’t imagine it was out of nowhere.

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, I don’t know if it was or not, but you still can’t justify their actions of essentially doing something that is illegal, which it is, in public employees to strike.

And that is all what we have here. If they are really serious about it, then the Democrats, instead of running off to Illinois or God knows where, they ought to sit down with the governor and say, now, Governor, come on, let`s figure out what we can do to balance the budget and to meet the needs.

But I think, when people start looking at the numbers, they know that the public sector employees are being paid significantly better than their private sector counterparts. And if you’re a taxpayer and you’re barely hanging on to your job, and you’re making concessions, it’s really tough to be asked to pay more money so that the people in the public sector get even more, and they`re already getting more. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 2/18/11, via Nexis]

Beck Attacks Well-Paid Union Members For “Mak[ing] It All About The Working Man.” During the February 22 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck said of the Wisconsin protesters, “They’re angry because the benefits that they have still far exceed the average worker in the private sector”:

BECK: All right. Let me tell you something. Come over here. There’s so much breaking news today, I don’t know where to start. Before we got into what we had planned, I want to give you a couple of updates.

In an attempt to transform the Wisconsin protests from the vulgar signs and angry union members, you know, come here, kind of like these guys back over here, you know, the angry union members — they are angry because the benefits that they have still far exceed the average worker of the private sector. Yes. Well, they’re going to try to transform everything that’s happening in other cities and make it all about the working man. That’s what’s happening here. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 2/22/11, via Nexis]

Kelly Claims There Is “Quite A Gap” Between “Salaries Of Public And Private Sector Employees” In Wisconsin. 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 and said, “A closer look at the salaries of public and private sector employees in Wisconsin reveals quite a gap.” After airing a graphic purporting to show a gap between public and private-sector workers,  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, 2/17/11]

Washington Examiner Op-Ed Attacks Compensation For Public Employees.  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 Examiner2/21/11]

Associated Press: Some See “Public Servants As Public Enemies In Some Ways.” Although the Associated Press highlighted a USA Today/Gallup poll stating that “Americans largely side with the employees” on the issue of collective bargaining, the article highlighted people who had, in the AP’s words, “pension envy”. The article also stated that some people see “public servants as public enemies in some ways.” From the Associated Press:

When Erin McFarlane looks at public workers, she sees lucrative pension benefits she doesn’t ever expect to get. And it makes her mad.

“I don’t think that a federal employee or government employee is worth any more than anybody else who does their job and does it well,” said the Slinger, Wis., woman. She’s been working a couple of bartending jobs since January, when she was laid off from her job at a Harley Davidson plant after almost a decade.

She’s not alone in seeing public servants as public enemies in some ways.

It’s a case of pension envy.

[…]

A USA Today/Gallup poll last month found show that Americans largely side with the employees, though about two in five that want government pay and benefits reined in.

Barbara Davis, a retiree from Cherry Hill, N.J., has been watching public workers in rallies in Madison, Wis., as well as Trenton. She says the protesters are wrong about tightening benefits hurting the middle class.

“I’m sorry, but what they’re doing is telling off the middle class,” said Davis, 76, and a co-chairwoman of the Cherry Hill Area Tea Party. “The middle-class people don’t get all the goodies that they do.”

At its heart, the issue is this: Some public workers get a sweet deal compared to other workers. And it’s taxpayers who pay for it.

That’s set off resentment in a time when economic doldrums have left practically everyone tightening their belts. Many people have found their tax bills rising even if their earnings haven’t. [Associated Press, 3/8/11]

Polls Do Not Find Support For Decreasing Public Employees’ Compensation

NY Times: “Majority In Poll Back Employees In Public Sector Unions.” A February 24-27 New York Times/CBS poll found that “61 percent of those polled — including just over half of Republicans — said they thought the salaries and benefits of most public employees were either “about right” or “too low” for the work they do.” From a February 28 New York Times article headlined, “Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions”:

Governors in both parties have been making the case that public workers are either overpaid or have overly generous health and pension benefits. But 61 percent of those polled — including just over half of Republicans — said they thought the salaries and benefits of most public employees were either “about right” or “too low” for the work they do.

When it came to one of the most debated, and expensive, benefits that many government workers enjoy but private sector workers do not — the ability to retire early, and begin collecting pension checks — Americans were closely divided. Forty-nine percent said police officers and firefighters should be able to retire and begin receiving pension checks even if they are in their 40s or 50s; 44 percent said they should have to be older. There was a similar divide on whether teachers should be able to retire and draw pensions before they are 65. [New York Times, 2/28/11]

USA Today: “53% Oppose Reducing Pay Or Benefits For Government Workers.” A February 23 article published by USA Today summarized the findings of a USA Today/Gallup Poll. From the article:

Key results:

— 71% oppose increasing sales, income or other taxes while 27% are in favor that approach.

— 53% oppose reducing pay or benefits for government workers while 44% are in favor.

— 48% opposed reducing or eliminating government programs while 47% were in favor of cuts.

“This underlines the difficulty of solving these problems,” Jeffrey Jones of Gallup says. “It’s hard to find a consensus on what to do.” [USA Today, 2/23/11]

Quinnipiac Poll Finds The Public Is Split On Pay For Public Employees. A February 21-28 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University found that 35 percent of the public say public employees are paid “about right” and another 15 percent say that they are paid “too little,” while 42 percent say they are paid too much. This means that 50 percent of respondents thought public employees were not being paid too much. [Quinnipiac University, 3/2/11]

Polls Also Reveal Strong Public Support For Collective Bargaining

NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll: 77 Percent Believe Public Employees Who Belong To Unions Should Have The Same Collective Bargaining Rights As Private Employees. A February 24-28 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that “77 percent believe that public employees have the same collective-bargaining rights (when it comes to health care, pensions, and other benefits) that union employees who work for private companies have.” [MSNBC, 3/2/11]

NY Times/CBS Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Public Worker Bargaining Rights. In a February 24-27 New York Times/CBS News Poll, results show that “Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them.” [The New York Times, 2/28/11]

USA Today/Gallup Poll Shows Majority Support For Union Workers. In a USA Today/Gallup Poll from February 22, results show that while Republicans supported limiting the rights of union workers by a 54 percent to 41 percent margin, 79 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents polled were against the limitation of union bargaining rights, representing the majority of total persons polled. As USA Today reported, overall, “[t]he poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.” From USA Today:

Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin have proposed cutting union rights for most state government workers and making them pay more for benefits. Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws. [USA Today, 2/22/11]


Civil Rights Commission May Examine Anti-Muslim Discrimination

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Civil Rights Commission May Examine Anti-Muslim Discrimination
Michael Yaki, a former member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who is awaiting reappointment, tells TPM he’s planning to propose the federal body examine the rise of anti-Islam and anti-Arab discrimination in America once he rejoins the agency.


NPR ‘Appalled’ By Exec Ron Schiller’s Comments in James O’Keefe Video
NPR has its first response out to James O’Keefe’s latest stunt, a hidden video featuring a phony Muslim advocacy group discussing a possible donation, and they are not happy with how their executive handled himself in the film.


NPR Punked By James O’Keefe In Muslim Brotherhood Stunt
James O’Keefe’s organization has put up what they claim is hidden camera footage of NPR executives slamming the Tea Party over lunch at a Georgetown restaurant with O’Keefe’s pranksters, who were posing as a phony Muslim advocacy group interested in donating to NPR. In the video released by O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas,” Ron Schiller, president of the NPR foundation, delivers a laundry list of liberal complaints against the Tea Party and remains quiet as the fake donors complain about Jewish control of the media. A spokeswoman for NPR confirmed to TPM that Schiller is the person in the video but did not offer additional information at this time. “They’re seriously, seriously racist people,” Schiller says of the Tea Party at one point.


Pro-Walker issue ads flooding WI media come from…

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:40 am by HL

Pro-Walker issue ads flooding WI media come from…
Author’s note: This article may not reveal anything new for most of you that have following the corporate fascist takeover of America, but some WI workers may not know what they are up against… Excerpt: People in Wisconsin watching the local news or many other popular programs on local networks have been given a steady dose of advertisements […]


Reid Can Thank Ensign

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:39 am by HL

Reid Can Thank Ensign
Jon Ralston looks back at the day Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) admitted to an extramarital affair.

“History may well recall that day went a long way toward re-electing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and making Rep. Dean Heller his partner in the Club of 100, while fundamentally changing the dynamic of the state’s (the country’s) politics. If Ensign had not disclosed his affair that day, freezing Heller’s ambitions to run the following year against Reid, the junior senator might now be the senior senator, preparing a strategy to rush to the head of a lackluster 2012 GOP presidential field.”

Obama’s Rift with the Cabinet
The Washington Post says White House chief of staff Bill Daley is working “to repair badly frayed relations between the White House and the Cabinet.”

Though we’ve never heard of the problem before, “both sides were deeply disgruntled. Agency heads privately complained that the White House was a ‘fortress’ that was unwilling to accept input and that micromanaged their departments. Senior administration advisers rolled their eyes in staff meetings at the mention of certain Cabinet members.”

Said Daley: “You hear the same thing: ‘I don’t think we’re used well.I don’t think we’re consulted enough.’ Whether it’s true or not, perception becomes reality, and I think there’s a desire to feel more part of a team.”


Divestment And Other Matters

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Divestment And Other Matters
Last week, at the J Street Conference, I appeared on a panel considering BDS. I made the case I had made last spring in The Nation, that lumping the three?together–boycott, divestment, and sanctions–was rash. Moreover, targeting West Bank settlements is…

Clarence Thomas and the Politicization of the Supreme Court
Justice Clarence Thomas, in a speech last weekend to the Federalist Society, accused his critics of “undermining” the legitimacy of the Supreme Court – politicizing it in ways that jeopardize the Court’s credibility in the eyes of the public. He…



Georgia GOP Raising Taxes On Girl Scout Cookies While Cutting Taxes On Foreign Corporations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on March 9th, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Georgia GOP Raising Taxes On Girl Scout Cookies While Cutting Taxes On Foreign Corporations

Like many states, Georgia is facing a budget shortfall. To address the problem, the legislature is considering a bill that would expand the tax base by doing things like reinstating a sales tax on food and raising the tax on gasoline.

Many Georgians would be adversely affected by the tax hikes on basic commodities, including the Girl Scouts, who are worried about the “significant financial impact” the bill would have on the revenue they raise through cookie sales, which would now be subject to sales tax. Over the weekend, Marilyn Midyette, the CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, sent an email to supporters warning them that the new tax on their cookies “would take money away from Girl Scout programs“:

This significant financial impact would take money away from Girl Scout programs, camp support, financial aid and proceeds from the sale that support troop activities and community service projects.

…[P]lease contact your State House Representative and State Senator TODAY and express your concern in a courteous, Scout-like manner about our Scouts being taxed. Please reference House Bill 385. Sample letters have been provided on the left to make it easy to copy and paste into your own email. There are sample letters for girls as well as for parents and volunteers.

But while Girl Scouts and anyone who buys groceries and gasoline is forced to sacrifice, domestic and foreign corporations in Geogia are being lavished with a tax break. The same bill that raises taxes on Girl Scouts Cookies lowers tax rates on corporate income, from 6 percent this year to just 4 percent in 2014:

(a)(1)(A) For any taxable year beginning prior to January 1, 2012, every Every
967 domestic corporation and every foreign corporation shall pay annually an income tax
968 equivalent to 6 percent of its Georgia taxable net income. […]

975 (D) For any taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2014, every domestic
976 corporation and every foreign corporation shall pay annually an income tax equivalent
977 to 4 percent of its Georgia taxable net income

Beyond Girl Scout cookies, taxes on food and gasoline are highly regressive disproportionately affecting lower and middle class consumers, who spend a larger share of their limited income on necessities like groceries than do people with higher disposable incomes.