Archive for February, 2011

February 28, 2011

A Corporate CEO, a Public Union Worker, and a Teabagger…

by Ben Hoffman

A corporate CEO, a public union member, and a teabagger sit around a table. In the center of the table is a plate holding 12 cookies. The CEO takes 11 cookies starts eating them. The teabagger appears puzzled. The CEO leans over and wispers in his ear, “look out for that union guy, he wants part of your cookie…”

The teabagger pulls out his gun and shoots the union member. “Damned socialist,” he states proudly. “The CEO worked hard for those cookies.”

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February 26, 2011

Wisconsin Police Support Protesters

by Ben Hoffman

“The fact of that matter is that Wisconsin’s law enforcement community opposes Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate most union activity in this state, and we implore him to not do anything to increase the risk to officers and the public. The costs of providing security can never outweigh those associated with a conflict.”

Jim Palmer [executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association] said he had asked members of his group to come to the Capitol to sleep amongst the throngs of protesters.

“Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong,” Palmer said. “That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight.”

In an interview, Palmer said he had already heard from some of his members who plan to join the protesters beginning Friday night.

“We can’t sit idly by and see our collective bargaining rights go away,” Palmer said.

Read more…

February 24, 2011

More Stimulus Spending — $35 BILLION On Something That We Don’t Need

by Ben Hoffman

The Pentagon announced Thursday that it has selected Boeing to supply a new generation of aerial refueling tankers in a deal worth more than $30 billion.

Donley said Boeing beat out European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS), to provide 179 tankers in the first phase of the program to replace the aerial refueling fleet. He indicated that both companies met all 372 mandatory requirements of the contract but that Boeing submitted the lower bid.

The tanker is to be designated the KC-46A, and the first 18 planes are to be delivered by 2017, Donley said.

Read more…

That money could have gone towards saving teachers jobs and providing financial help for college students. It’s time to stop all this goddamn spending on defense and spend it on our country instead.

February 24, 2011

Rally To Save The American Dream — Saturday, February 26th, 12:00 PM

by Ben Hoffman

Teachers, nurses, firefighters, students, police officers and others protesting in Wisconsin have occupied the Capitol building and streets of Madison for the past nine days.

On Saturday at noon, their protest is going national. In cities across the nation, including every state capital, we’ll come together to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin.

This time the Republicans have gone too far in their attempts to bust unions, slash state budgets, and give tax breaks to their wealthy friends.

So on Saturday we’ll stand up to say that we’re sick of the attacks on workers’ rights. That we’re sick of an economy that showers corporate executives with bonuses while squeezing middle-class families. That we still believe in the American Dream. And that we’re willing to fight for it.

We’re putting everything we’ve got into one massive display of solidarity nationwide. We’ll all show up wearing Wisconsin Badger colors: red and white. And if we can get huge crowds across the nation, it’ll send a clear message that progressives are fired up and ready to go.

Until this week, Republicans have dominated the debate over the economy—with Washington arguing about which vital programs to slash, instead of how to create jobs and help the middle class. Now the Republicans are threatening to shut down the government next week in order to force Democrats to agree to devastating cuts to NPR, the EPA, food aid to hungry kids, clean energy research, AmeriCorps and more.

But thanks to the folks braving the cold in Wisconsin, that could all change. This is an opening to call out the Republican game plan for what it is: a brazen effort to use a wrecked economy as an excuse to reward the rich and powerful while destroying 50 years of democratic progress.

That’s why we’ve come together with a huge coalition of progressive organizations—from the Netroots to the labor movement, environmental groups to community organizations—to show our strength and make sure the folks in Wisconsin know that millions of people across the country are standing with them.

Sign up

February 23, 2011

Walker To Make No-Bid Sale Of Wisconsin Power Plants To Koch Brothers

by Ben Hoffman

A controversial plan to privatize state-owned power plants, a plan that last caused a stir in 2005 before being vetoed by then-Gov. Jim Doyle, has been revived by Gov. Scott Walker in his budget bill.

The provision would give the state Department of Administration the authority to sell the plants or contract for their operation. The proposal calls for net profits from the sale of the plants to be deposited in the budget stabilization fund.

Source

Here is the text in the bill:

16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

The Koch Brothers have been active in purchasing power plants and who basically funded Scott Walker’s gubernatorial run are the likely beneficiaries. This is corporate cronyism at its worst.

The privatization of services and goods for the commons in never a good idea. The savings never materialize. The workers are paid less, the services are often of lower quality, we lose accountability, and the owners rake in the profits by screwing the public. This is fascism coming to America.

February 23, 2011

Walker Gets Punked — Accepts Call From Fake David Koch!

by Ben Hoffman

An alternative paper in Buffalo, New York, which prides itself on being about as beastly as the subjects they cover, claims they’ve managed to trick Governor Scott Walker into taking a call from one of their editor posing as tea party tycoon David Koch.

A few highlights included the alleged governor warning the phony oil baron that Wisconsin House Rep. Tim Cullen, a Democrat who’s voted with Republicans on numerous issues, was “not one of us;” Walker supposedly commenting that he’s “got the layoff notices ready” and bragging that he’s got a baseball bat with his name on it; and accepting an offer to be flown out to California for “a good time.”

The call also allegedly reveals that Wisconsin Republicans are planning to hold Democrats’ paychecks hostage by changing the rules to end direct deposit, placing their printed checks in their desks on the floor of the senate, forcing them to physically come in to pick them up.

The voice alleged to be Walker also said he was trying to find ways to prosecute Wisconsin Democrats on ethical violations if they accepted favors from union organizers.

Moments later in the call recording, Walker allegedly accepts an offer for similar favors from the fake Koch.

Charles and David Koch, two key financiers of the Republican tea parties, were also major financiers of Walker’s bid for the Wisconsin governor’s office. Their political action committee gave Walker roughly $100,000 in campaign contributions during the 2010 election, according to campaign finance records highlighted by Mother Jones.

The contributions came from the same source — Koch Industries PAC — and though through two channels which were both legal under current campaign finance law.

About $43,000 worth of PAC monies went directly to Walker’s campaign, while the Republican Governors Association (RGA) sent $65,000 from the PAC to Walker. Wisconsin’s governor also received help from the RGA by way of a $3.4 million ad buy on television and direct mail attacks against his political opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

As if the connection weren’t clear enough, the Koch brothers front group Americans for Prosperity produced a website called standwithwalker.com, encouraging people to support elimination of labor union rights.

Read more…

February 23, 2011

Anti-Union Legislation Will Cost Wisconsin $46 Million In Federal Funds

by Ben Hoffman

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 into law, he could be forfeiting tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation.

Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate “collective bargaining rights” that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted. The provision, known as “protective arrangements” or “Section 13C arrangements,” is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

It also could potentially hamstring governors like Walker who want dramatic changes to labor laws in their states. Wisconsin received $74 million in federal transit funds this fiscal year. Of that, $46.6 million would be put at risk should the collective-bargaining bill come to pass — in the process creating an even more difficult fiscal situation than the one that, ostensibly, compelled Walker to push the legislation in the first place.

Read more…

February 22, 2011

Michigan Republican Governor Proposes $1.2 Billion In Cuts To Education To Pay For $1.8 Billion In Tax Cuts For The Wealthy

by Ben Hoffman

Like many states around the country, Michigan is facing a huge budget deficit, $1.4 billion in this case. Mr. Snyder’s budget would make $1.2 billion in cuts to schools, universities, local governments and other areas while asking public employees for $180 million in concessions. Mr. Snyder said that he would set an example by reducing his salary this year to $1.

Mr. Snyder’s plan also calls for big changes to the state’s tax system. He would eliminate the current business tax in favor of a flat 6 percent corporate income tax, resulting in $1.8 billion in tax cuts for businesses. To pay for those changes, he would eliminate many personal income tax credits and require pensions to be taxed.

Read more…

February 22, 2011

Save America! Raise Taxes!!! Cut Defense Spending!!!

by Ben Hoffman

Our country is sinking deeper and deeper into the massive debt abyss. We can’t simply keep piling up this debt. We’re paying 1/2 a trillion dollars a year just on interest on the debt.

States are cutting funding for education, police, fire fighters, infrastructure, and services. The result will be higher unemployment. And the wealthy just keep getting richer, profiting from the mess they caused.

It’s time to raised taxes, first on the rich, then on everybody else. We’re spending too much money on defense, with much of that money not doing anyone any good except for the war profiteers.

Raise taxes and cut defense spending. It’s the only way to save America.

February 22, 2011

Wisconsin Government Brought To You By The Koch Brothers

by Ben Hoffman

This country is turning into an oligarchy. The Koch brothers are pulling the strings of their puppet governor Scott Walker. They bought him his governorship and now they want payback.

The billionaire brothers whose political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker $43,000 and helped fund a multi-million dollar attack ad campaign against his opponent during the 2010 gubernatorial election have quietly opened a lobbying office in Madison just off the Capitol Square.

Charles and David Koch, who co-own Koch Industries Inc. and whose combined worth is estimated at $43 billion, have been recently tied with Walker’s push to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public workers. The two have long backed conservative causes and groups including Americans for Prosperity, which organized the Tea Party rally Saturday in support of Walker’s plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights and recently launched the Stand with Scott Walker website.

Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, acknowledged in a New York Times story Tuesday that he had encouraged Walker even before the election to mount a showdown with labor groups.

Read more…

February 21, 2011

Worker Solidarity Rallies Planned Across The U.S.

by Ben Hoffman

Today is Presidents Day. Let’s fight to preserve what our founding fathers fought for.

This week, workers, community, faith, and students will come together to rally in support of workers under attack in Wisconsin and across the country. Here is a list of planned rallies across the United States.

February 21, 2011

Our Country Is Full Of Idiots (from both parties)

by Ben Hoffman

These are the results from the latest Gallop poll where respondents were asked: “Who do you regard as the greatest United States President?”

Source

To be fair, the survey population consisted of 800 people with landlines and 200 with cell phones only. The landline crowd tends to be older and more conservative, thus skewing the results towards the idiot range. The cell phone respondents may have been young, which would explain the high rankings of Clinton.

February 20, 2011

Fascism Coming To America (starting with Wisconsin)

by Ben Hoffman

First they Came

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

– Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) a German pastor and theologian who was anti-communist and initially a supporter of Hitler

February 19, 2011

Protests Intensify In Madison – Now 60,000 Strong!!!

by Ben Hoffman

MADISON, Wis. — As lawmakers continue to trade barbs over what will happen next, supporters and opponents of Gov. Scott Walker gathered in Downtown Madison on Saturday Crowds have been estimated at 60,000, according to Madison police.

Democrats and union leaders said they’re willing to agree to parts of the proposal that would double their health insurance contributions and require them to contribute 5.8 percent of their salary to their pensions. But they want to keep their collective bargaining rights.

But, Wisconsin Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is not negotiable and will pass as is.
Protests Intensify In Madison
Fitzgerald said Saturday terms of the bill are not negotiable. He is calling on Democrats who left town Thursday to return to take up the bill. Fitzgerald said the Senate can meet within three hours if Democrats are ready to return.

Walker said on Friday he is prepared for the legislative stalemate over his proposal taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees to drag on into next week.

Read more…

February 18, 2011

Wisconsin Police Can’t Touch Democratic Legislators Who Fled

by Ben Hoffman

The Wisconsin legislators on the lam cannot be touched by out-of-state police, according to veteran Wisconsin lawyers.

The attorneys agree that authority of Capitol Police and other local law enforcement ends at Beloit, meaning Illinois officers couldn’t help their Wisconsin brethren retrieve those Democrats who escaped if they wanted.

“Cops in other places can’t just pick people up and haul them across state lines,” said Rodney Cubbie, a former federal and Milwaukee County prosecutor. “You have to have some sort of court order or warrant.”

Raymond Dall’Osto, a criminal defense lawyer, agreed the Democrats would have a safe haven if they continue to hide out in Illinois.

Illinois police “could arrest if there is a crime, but what is the crime?” said Dall’Osto, a Democrat and former head of the local American Civil Liberties Union office. “They would have no legal right to arrest them right now.”

Read more…