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Archive for June 17th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: Blue Monk

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:48 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Blue Monk
Thelonious MonkBlue Monk, Baden-Baden, Germany, 1963.

Thelonious MonkBlue Monk, Baden-Baden, Germany, 1963.

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Gay Marriage Vote Down to the Wire in N.Y. State

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Gay Marriage Vote Down to the Wire in N.Y. State
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a special trip to Albany on Thursday to try to persuade GOP state senators to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage, but by the end of the business day the issue was still undecided. Although there have been some shifts within their ranks, the vote—should it go forward soon—may come down to one or two key Republicans.  —KA The Washington Post: The Democrat-led Assembly passed the bill Wednesday night and Republicans met early Thursday to discuss it behind closed doors. But political considerations got in the way and suddenly gay marriage was linked to a tax cap and rent control. Now, a vote may not come until next week, if at all. The unprecedented pressure has been clear this week: GOP Sen. Owen Johnson, at 81, spryly ducked under a TV camera’s view and Republican Sen. Roy McDonald, a daring U.S. Army scout in the Vietnam War who flipped to support gay marriage, blurted into reporters’ tape recorders: “Well, (expletive) it, I don’t care what you think,” he said of critics. While a few senators have teased they could switch sides and use the attention to promote their own measures, the 67-year-old Saland has not tipped his hand and has stayed, in his words, “under the radar.” Read more

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a special trip to Albany on Thursday to try to persuade GOP state senators to vote in favor of legalizing gay marriage, but by the end of the business day the issue was still undecided. Although there have been some shifts within their ranks, the vote—should it go forward soon—may come down to one or two key Republicans.? —KA

The Washington Post:

The Democrat-led Assembly passed the bill Wednesday night and Republicans met early Thursday to discuss it behind closed doors. But political considerations got in the way and suddenly gay marriage was linked to a tax cap and rent control. Now, a vote may not come until next week, if at all.

The unprecedented pressure has been clear this week: GOP Sen. Owen Johnson, at 81, spryly ducked under a TV camera’s view and Republican Sen. Roy McDonald, a daring U.S. Army scout in the Vietnam War who flipped to support gay marriage, blurted into reporters’ tape recorders: “Well, (expletive) it, I don’t care what you think,” he said of critics.

While a few senators have teased they could switch sides and use the attention to promote their own measures, the 67-year-old Saland has not tipped his hand and has stayed, in his words, “under the radar.”

Read more

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Tea Party Activists Say Romney Not Much Better Than Obama, Resist Calls For Unity

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Tea Party Activists Say Romney Not Much Better Than Obama, Resist Calls For Unity
ROCHESTER, NH — Inside the long, low-slung white church here, close to the Maine state line and about 20 minutes from the seacoast, the 35…

Palin: Weiner Has Been ‘Rendered Impotent’
During an appearance on Fox Business Network on Thursday night, Sarah Palin weighed in on news of embattled Congressman Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) decision to resign…

Federal Governor Enters Contentious Court Battle Over Planned Parenthood Funding
INDIANAPOLIS — The U.S. Justice Department entered the court battle over a tough new Indiana abortion law that disqualifies Planned Parenthood of Indiana from the…

As GOP Hopefuls Hit The South, Some Big Names MIA
NEW ORLEANS — As Republicans gather deep in the conservative South to hear from the party’s presidential candidates, they’ll also be sending a not-so-subtle message…

Robert Reich: The Growing Desperation of the Don’t-Raise-Taxes-on-the-Rich-Crowd
Today 34 Senate Republicans voted to end the special tax breaks for ethanol. If I were a cynic, I’d say the Republican right is showing signs of desperation.


Fox Continues To Misinform About WI Anti-Union Legislation

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Fox Continues To Misinform About WI Anti-Union Legislation

Fox & Friends hosted Glenn Grothman, a Republican state senator from Wisconsin, to promote Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union bill and to misleadingly suggest that the legal challenges to the bill simply involved state employees’ contributions to their pensions. In fact, the controversy surrounding the bill was its intention to strip most public workers of collective bargaining rights; the unions have consistently agreed to higher pension and health care contributions.

Carlson Allows Grothman To Misleadingly Suggest Controversial Aspects Of WI Law Pertain To Pension Contributions

Carlson Silent As Grothman Repeatedly Claimed Debate Centered On Making “State Employees Pay More For Their Pension.” On the June 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked Grothman if he felt “vindicated” by a recent court ruling “because you are one who supported Governor Walker’s plan.” Grothman replied that “there’s no question the ruling was right,” and that “now the law is finally going to go into effect … we are finally going to be able to have state employees pay more for their pension.” Later, Grothman again suggested that the legal challenges and opposition to the law centered on pension contributions. From Fox & Friends:

GROTHMAN: Well, they can always appeal one more time. Hopefully they won’t find another bad judge, but we are going to be — begin implementing this law as quick as we can. And like I said, the idea that it is against the law for the Wisconsin legislature to have Wisconsin employees pay for part of their pension is absurd.

[…]

GROTHMAN: They think that it’s a constitutional right [that] for the next hundred years, state employees like myself never have to contribute towards our own pensions? What a ridiculous situation.

CARLSON: One final thought is that these recalls of six Republican state senators and three Democrat senators still moving forward. What can you tell us about that?

GROTHMAN: Well, it’s a scary thing for both sides, I’m sure. We had hope — we would certainly hope for not only the good of the state, but the good of the country, that no legislators are recalled — which is very rare in the state of Wisconsin — in essence for saying that government employees have to pay for part of their own pension. If they are recalled, I think we have reached the tipping point in Wisconsin and the country, in which there are so many people receiving a government check that we cannot get not only the state but the national fiscal — fiscal situation back in order. It’s just going to be basically elections between those people who want to keep their full government checks right now, and those people who recognize that some government checks have to be reduced a little bit.

CARLSON: Wow. Very interesting analysis. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/16/11, emphasis added]

But The Protests And Legal Challenges Centered Around The Bill’s Collective Bargaining Aspects

AP: Legal Challenge Is “Against The Governor’s Plan To Strip Most Public Workers Of Their Collective Bargaining Rights. A June 15 Associated Press article reported:

A coalition of Wisconsin worker rights groups is going to court to block Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.

The groups are filing a federal lawsuit against the governor’s plan to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The groups are challenging the bill’s constitutionality. The lawsuit contends the bill violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by stripping away workers’ rights to organize and bargain. [AP, 6/15/11, via FoxNews.com]

AP: Coalition “Argu[ed] That The Law Violated The U.S. Constitution By Taking Away Union Rights To Bargain.” A June 16 AP article further noted:

The Supreme Court’s ruling was a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who said the law was needed to help address the state’s projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

But the legal battle was not yet over. A coalition of unions filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday arguing that the law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking away union rights to bargain, organize and associate and illegally discriminates among classes of public employees. The lawsuit seeks to block portions of the law taking away collective bargaining rights, but allows the higher pension and health care contributions that the unions agreed to take to move forward. [AP, 6/16/11, via Green Bay Press-Gazette]

Wisconsin AFL-CIO: “The Unions Do Not Seek To Enjoin The Pension And Health Insurance Contribution Requirements.” In a June 15 statement, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, one of the coalition members, clarified that the only portion of the bill the coalition sought to enjoin was the collective bargaining measure, pointing out that “the unions do not seek to enjoin the pension and health insurance contribution requirements.” From the Wisconsin AFL-CIO:

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin some, but not all, of the provisions of the Budget Repair Bill. Significantly, the unions do not seek to enjoin the pension and health insurance contribution requirements imposed by the Budget Repair Bill. Public sector unions have made it clear from day one that Wisconsin workers would do their part to share in the sacrifice and keep our state moving forward. The lawsuit only seeks to preserve the basic right to bargain and freely associate. [Wisconsin AFL-CIO, 6/15/11]

And Union Leaders Had Already Agreed To Pension And Health Care Concessions 

AP: Unions Were Already “Willing To Accept” 8 Percent Cut In Take Home Pay. During the debate over Walker’s controversial bill, Wisconsin public employee union leaders indicated that they were willing to contribute more of their salaries to health insurance and retirement benefits, which would result in a pay cut of approximately 8 percent. From the AP:

Walker’s plan would allow unions representing most public employees to negotiate only for wage increases, not benefits or working conditions. Any wage increase above the Consumer Price Index would have to be approved in a referendum. Unions would face a vote of membership every year to stay formed, and workers could opt out of paying dues.

The plan would also require many public employees to cut their take home pay by about 8 percent by contributing more of their salaries toward their health insurance and retirement benefits. Union leaders said their members are willing to accept those concessions, but they will not give up their right to collectively bargain. [AP, 2/21/11, via nola.com]

Wisconsin Education Association Council President: “Public Employees Have Agreed To Governor Walker’s Pension And Health Care Concessions.” The New York Times reported:

Mr. Walker’s plan would require government workers to put 5.8 percent of their pay into their pensions (most pay less than 1 percent now), and would require them to pay at least 12.6 percent of health care premiums (most pay about 6 percent now). Union leaders said they would go along with those plans, but they wanted to remove provisions that would prohibit collective bargaining for issues beyond wages, limit pay raises to a certain level without special approval by public referendum and require unions to hold annual votes on whether they should remain in existence.

”We have been clear — and I will restate this again today — money issues are off the table,” Mary Bell, the president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said on Sunday. ”Public employees have agreed to Governor Walker’s pension and health care concessions, which he says will solve the budget challenge.” [The New York Times2/20/11]

AP: Unions Only Seek To “Block Portions Of The Law” Related To Collective Bargaining And “Allows The Higher Pension And Health Care Contributions … To Move Forward.” From the AP:

But the legal battle was not yet over. A coalition of unions filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday arguing that the law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking away union rights to bargain, organize and associate and illegally discriminates among classes of public employees. The lawsuit seeks to block portions of the law taking away collective bargaining rights, but allows the higher pension and health care contributions that the unions agreed to take to move forward. [AP, 6/16/11, via Green Bay Press-Gazette]


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Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

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Feds Calling Witnesses Before Secret Grand Jury Probing CIA Abuses
Federal prosecutor John Durham has begun calling witnesses to testify before a secret grand jury probing the 2003 death of a man in CIA custody and other abuses at the agency.


Snow Whitey and the SIX Dwarfs

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Snow Whitey and the SIX Dwarfs


Weiner’s Successor Could be a Lame Duck

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Weiner’s Successor Could be a Lame Duck
Whoever wins the special election to replace former Rep. Anthony Weiner may be a lame duck the day he or she takes office, the New York Times reports.

“After all, with New York State set to lose two House seats because of the 2010 census, many believe that Mr. Weiner’s territory, the Ninth Congressional District, will be carved up to benefit Democratic incumbents in adjoining districts. If so, then whoever wins a special election this fall would quite likely get to call himself or herself a member of Congress for a little more than a year. And no more than that, because the expectation is that the winner — assuming it is a Democrat, since the district is strongly Democratic — would probably not challenge the neighboring incumbents. “

The Most Unpopular Politician
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds John Edwards just misses out to Rod Blagojevich as the most unpopular person in the pollster’s history.

Key findings: Just 9% of North Carolina voters have a favorable opinion of Edwards as compared to 81% with a negative one. That net -72 favorability spread is slightly better than the -75 that Blagojevich had in Illinois last year, 8% to 83%.


It Keeps Getting Worse — Fukushima Called ‘Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in the History of Mankind’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

It Keeps Getting Worse — Fukushima Called ‘Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in the History of Mankind’
Scientific experts believe Japan’s nuclear disaster to be far worse than governments are revealing to the public.


Health Care Reform: Preserving Judicial Independence in a Partisan Age

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Health Care Reform: Preserving Judicial Independence in a Partisan Age
Judicial independence depends upon the public’s confidence that the federal judiciary is something more than a third political branch. Correspondingly, judicial independence has never been more imperiled than it is today, for at least two reasons. One is that for…

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Charade
It’s time to end the charade that Pakistan is an ally in the battle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in…


Poll: Growing Number Of Americans Support Raising Federal Debt Ceiling

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 17th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Poll: Growing Number Of Americans Support Raising Federal Debt Ceiling
According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released today, a growing number of Americans support raising the federal debt ceiling, which Congress needs to do by August 2 or risk significant negative economic consequences. When the last NBC/WSJ poll was taken in April, 32 percent of Americans said the debt ceiling should be […]

According to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released today, a growing number of Americans support raising the federal debt ceiling, which Congress needs to do by August 2 or risk significant negative economic consequences. When the last NBC/WSJ poll was taken in April, 32 percent of Americans said the debt ceiling should be raised, while 62 percent said it should not, after being given a description of the debt ceiling debate. But in the latest poll, 46 percent of Americans support raising the debt ceiling, while 42 percent are opposed.