Wednesday Reads: Winter…Sunlight, Monsters and Tolkien

78308149-7d10-4b53-8b07-648b314a268bGood Morning!

Finally…we have a nippy morning here in Banjoland! I love the cold weather, it makes sleeping late in a nice cozy bed even more enjoyable.

There was another shooting late yesterday, this time in Portland, Oregon. Gunman Opens Fire in Oregon Shopping Mall. According to VOA, the gunman shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself…no final number of wounded as I write this post. I will be sure to update you on this latest shooting as more information comes forward.

Okay…I’ve got plenty of politics for you this morning, if it is okay I will give them to you in link dump fashion. (Honestly, I am still a bit “gun-shy” with WordPress. It may take a few post before I feel comfortable writing a lot of words in these threads. I think it is a slight case of PSTD, from way back in college…when my final thesis went phffft, poof and gone…just as I was printing the thing out on the day it was due. Nightmare!)

Anyway, here are some of the political stories of the last 24 hours:

Soledad kicked some major ass yesterday. She is awesome at her job, which btw is being a journalist and a real savvy reporter. Soledad Grills Jeff Sessions: ‘You Hurt People Who Need Food’ with Food Stamp Cuts

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on Tuesday faced tough questions from CNN host Soledad O’Brien for his plan to cut the food stamp program and “hurt people who need food,” including 20 percent of his own constituents in Alabama.

Speaking to Sessions in an interview on CNN’s Starting Point, O’Brien wondered if cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be on the table as part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations.

“Absolutely,” Sessions insisted. “This month was a record increase in food stamp participation at a time when unemployment is declining.”

“But there are people who say if you’re doing cuts, you invariably hurt people who need food,” O’Brien observed. “It’s 61 percent of households in your state have children who are recipients of the food program that they’re on.”

Sessions continued to spew his crap, I mean opinion:

“Soledad, this program has been growing out of control at an incredible rate and there are a lot of people receiving benefits who do not qualify and should not receive them,” Sessions remarked. “No child, no person who needs food should be denied that food. Nobody proposes that. We are talking about an amendment that I offered that would have reduced and closed a loophole of $8 billion when we would spend $800 billion was opposed by saying it would help — it would leave people hungry in America, but it would have only eliminated abuses in the program.”

The CNN host, however, pointed out that the Alabama Republican had voted twice to grow the program and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities had determined that “SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program.”

“People highlight the program as actually not having a lot of fraud,” O’Brien explained. “Most people who are on it are not somehow working the system. They’re just hungry people.”

Snap for SNAP…Video at the link.

From ABC News, and what looks like the back of Barbara Walter’s head: EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes

PHOTO: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012.
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama participate in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Dec. 11, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As the clock ticks toward a tax hike on all Americans in 20 days, President Obama predicted Republicans would join Democrats to extend current rates for 98 percent of earners before the end of the year.

“I’m pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals,” Obama said today in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters.

You wanna bet?

These right-wing Republicans are like bulldogs locked down on a hunk of red meat…they do not give up. Just take a look at these headlines:

Angry with Obama, GOP threatens political war next year – CNN.com

Rick Perry: Outlawing All Access To Abortion Is ‘My Goal’ | ThinkProgress

Yes, threats and promises of all out war to get what they want. Basturds!

In other GOP political news:

H/T to Tennessee Guerilla Women: Michigan ‘Right-to-Work-for-Less’ Bill Copied from Koch-Funded ALEC Playbook

You didn’t think Michigan Republicans had an original idea:

Michigan Passes “Right to Work” Containing Verbatim Language from ALEC Model Bill 

I’ve got to share this political cartoon with you, it can’t wait until our Friday Nite Lite:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Right to Work Pee

Right to Work Pee © Daryl Cagle,CagleCartoons.com,ssGOP,Republican,elephant,urine,union,United Auto Workers,UAW,AFL-CIO,Teamsters,pee

Yup, piss on…piss on!

This latest PPP poll shows that people are sick of the mutant asshole turtle, I mean…Mitch McConnell…he is highly unpopular according to Public Policy Polling

Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular Senator in the country. Only 37% of Kentucky voters approve of him to 55% disapprove. Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska’s Ben Nelson.

McConnell is predictably very unpopular with Democrats (23/73). But his numbers are almost as bad with independents (33/58) and even with Republicans he’s well below the 70-80% approval range you would usually expect for a Senator within their own party (59/28).

If only this disgust toward McConnell would relate in votes against the man.

The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat. This is the same phenomenon we saw in Florida and Pennsylvania this year where Bill Nelson and Bob Casey won by solid margins despite middling approval numbers because Democrats that weren’t thrilled with them still voted for them. And although independents don’t like McConnell they don’t like most of the Democrats either, and they support McConnell in every match up we tested.

The PPP article mentions Ashley Judd, go read the rest at the link. (I sure hope Judd does run for McConnell seat in 2014. But my hope is up there with a Hillary run in 2016….I think it is kind of a long shot they will run period.)

Speaking of Hillary, Nate Silver has this to say about Hillary 2016: Why Hillary Clinton Would Be Strong in 2016 (It’s Not Her Favorability Ratings)

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate in 2016.

Mrs. Clinton’s credentials as secretary of state, as a United States senator and as a politically engaged first lady would be hard for any of her Democratic or Republican rivals to match. She would have little trouble raising funds or garnering support from the Democratic officials, and she might even come close to clearing the Democratic field of serious opposition.

Be sure to read the rest of Silver’s post.

With the release of The Hobbit later this week, J.R.R. Tolkien is figuring in lots of blog post, like this one from Medieval.net: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

By J. R. R. Tolkien

Introduction: In 1864 the Reverend Oswald Cockayne wrote of the Reverend Doctor Joseph Bosworth, Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon: ‘I have tried to lend to others the con-viction I have long entertained that Dr. Bosworth is not a man so diligent in his special walk as duly to read the books… which have been printed in our old English, or so-called Anglosaxon tongue. He may do very well for a professor.’ These words were inspired by dissatisfaction with Bosworth’s dictionary, and were doubtless unfair. If Bosworth were still alive, a modern Cockayne would probably accuse him of not reading the ‘literature’ of his subject, the books written about the books in the so-called Anglo-Saxon tongue. The original books are nearly buried.

Of none is this so true as of The Beowulf, as it used to be called. I have, of course, read The Beowulf, as have most (but not all) of those who have criticized it. But I fear that, unworthy successor and beneficiary of Joseph Bosworth, I have not been a man so diligent in my special walk as duly to read all that has been printed on, or touching on, this poem. But I have read enough, I think, to venture the opinion that Beowulfiana is, while rich in many departments, specially poor in one. It is poor in criticism, criticism that is directed to the understanding of a poem as a poem. It has been said of Beowulf itself that its weakness lies in placing the unimportant things at the centre and the important on the outer edges. This is one of the opinions that I wish specially to consider. I think it profoundly untrue of the poem, but strikingly true of the literature about it. Beowulf has been used as a quarry of fact and fancy far more assiduously than it has been studied as a work of art.

It is of Beowulf, then, as a poem that I wish to speak; and though it may seem presumption that I should try with swich a lewed mannes wit to pace the wisdom of an heep of lerned men, in this department there is at least more chance for the lewed man. But there is so much that might still be said even under these limitations that I shall confine myself mainly to the monsters—Grendel and the Dragon, as they appear in what seems to me the best and most authoritative general criticism in English—and to certain considerations of the structure and conduct of the poem that arise from this theme.

Click here to read this article from the College of Southern Idaho

Click here to read this article from TeacherWeb

Click here to read this article from the University of Georgia

Hopefully one of those three links will work for you. Enjoy it!

And finally, a big hat-tip to Fiscal Liberal, who emailed me these links below…kewl as hell!

First link is to a blog that details the movement of sunlight and weather during the day, via Opentopia – World Sunlight Map

FireShot Screen Capture #358 - 'Opentopia - World Sunlight Map' - www_opentopia_com_sunlightmaprect_html

A world map showing current sunlight and cloud cover, as of Dec 12 2012 02:00 UTC.
This is the rectangular projection. You can also see a more realistic hemispherical projection.
Image provided by die.net.

Click the link to see the updated real/time image.

This next link is to a 19 minute video, OVERVIEW on Vimeo

On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.

I’ve embedded the video below…however if you want to see a larger screen image, click on that Vimeo link up top. Hope you enjoy this one too.

That is all I got for you this morning, should be a good start, right? What are you all reading and thinking about today?


State Governments Interrupted

I’ve spent the last few years watching Republican Governor Bobby Jindal enact the ALEC agenda 121211-michigan-2-8a.photoblog600down here and gut our state’s public education and health system to the point where it’s marginally functional.  All the while, he’s been taking state assets and selling them to the lowest bidders–who also represent his donor class–in the name of expensive privatization.  Any one with one of these Republican governors in office right now are watching many legislative agendas rammed through that have nothing to do with what the voting populace wants or needs. Florida, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and now Michigan are being plundered by today’s Privateers.

None of this privatization drive has anything to do with quality of service or cost savings.  Its purely away to transfer public wealth and the rights of people to corporations.   Cuts to medicare and destruction of the social security program will not improve market outcomes, do not control costs, and do not benefit the stakeholders.  Facts and other practical decision variables are not at the root at these moves.  They are naked, political plays by plutocratic power brokers who are trying to recoup their losses in investments like Mittens who didn’t pay. They’ve turned their sights to vulnerable states and populations.  Private insurance is expensive and cost-inducing.

 According to the  Council for Affordable Health Insurance , medical administrative costs as a percentage of claims are about three times higher for private insurance than for Medicare. The  U.S. Institute of Medicine  reports that the for-profit system wastes $750 billion a year on waste, fraud, and inefficiency. As a percent of GDP, we spend $1.2 trillion more than the  OECD average .

That’s an amount equal to the entire deficit wasted on private medical care companies.  One out of every six  dollars we earn goes to doctors, hospitals, drug companies, and insurance companies.

Ending social security for its less effective and more expensive private counterparts benefits no one but Wall Street.

Various reports have concluded that administrative costs for 401(k) plans are much higher than those for Social Security — up to twenty times more.

It would be difficult to find, or even imagine, any short-term-profit-based private insurer that is fully funded for the next  25 years .

At the state level, we have wars on unions, women, and public servants.  No where has the naked political aggression against working people and voters been more obvious this month than Michigan.   The  Lame Duck House Legislature is shoving through a “Right to Work” Law that is pure union busting.  It will not increase jobs.  It will not provide better outcomes for work or state budgets.  What it will do is decrease the political clout of unions in key states that  Republicans cannot win.

The Michigan House has approved one out of two right-to-work bills Tuesday. According to the AP, “The Republican-dominated chamber passed a measure dealing with public-sector workers 58-51 as protesters shouted ‘shame on you’ from the gallery and huge crowds of union backers massed in the state Capitol halls and on the grounds.”

A vote is still to come today on a second bill focusing on private sector workers.

The state’s governor has declared war on Michigan’s unions with the usual exception of police and firefighter unions.

Moreover the symbolism of Michigan’s pending right-to-work legislation cannot be overlooked. Michigan is the birthplace of the powerful United Auto Workers union–the state is practically synonymous with auto workers and other union jobs. Furthermore, Snyder’s support for the bill represents a shift in views for the Republican governor in his first term. Since he took office in January, 2011, Snyder has maintained that a right-to-work bill is not part of his agenda, and if he signs the legislation today, as is expected, he will likely face a harsh political backlash.

While Democrats lost their battle in Wisconsin, Democrats argued that the battle helped to energize the base for what turned out to be a decisive win for President Obama in the state.

And in Ohio, despite the recovering economy, Gov. John Kasich, who had his own losing battle with labor earlier this year, has approval ratings much lower than President Obama in Ohio. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Kasich with 42 percent job approval rating–his highest of his tenure, but is still 12 points below that of President Obama’s 54 percent rating.

With all three Governors up in 2014, the success for labor will ultimately be judged by whether or not these three are re-elected.

The Fox News Propaganda Network is on full steam ahead mode.

Fox News host Gregg Jarrett on Monday advised a woman who thought Michigan’s so-called “right to work” law was unfair because it allowed some workers to benefit from unions without paying dues to just “go get a job elsewhere.”

Speaking to Fox News host Martha MacCallum, Michigan state Sen. Arlan Meekhof (R) defended the legislation by saying that workers “will be able to choose how they spend their money.”

After her interview with Meekhof, MacCallum noted that Fox News had featured a woman who was angry that the anti-union law would allow workers who didn’t pay union dues to unfairly receive benefits.

“One woman, in a soundbite we had earlier, said ‘I don’t want to work somebody who doesn’t have to pay what I have to pay.’ That is part of the outrage there,” MacCallum explained to Jarrett.

“I mean, if she doesn’t like that, she can go get a job elsewhere, I suppose,” Jarrett opined in reply. “But the point here is, it seems anathema to democracy to force somebody to join a union, to force somebody as a condition of having a job to join a union.”

People that benefit from the services provided by a Union should pay for them.  Most people will free ride on union benefits.   The true benefit to Republicans is that Union Dues will not fill Democratic political coffers while Billionaires will continue their Citizens United Funding Fest.

As usual, the name “right to work” itself is a term meant to mislead the public.  The Fox reporter played into that completely.  It’s really about open and closed shops. 

Protests continue.

Law enforcement officials said they wouldn’t let Michigan become another Wisconsin, where demonstrators occupied the state Capitol around the clock for nearly three weeks last year to protest similar legislation.

Armed with tear gas canisters, pepper spray and batons, State Police officers guarded the Capitol as protesters shouted “No justice, no peace!” and “Shut it down!” NBC station WILX of Lansing reportedState Police confirmed that one of their troopers used pepper spray on one protester. No details were immediately available; the agency said it was still gathering information.

On the lawn, four large inflatable rats were set up to mock Snyder, House Speaker Jase Bolger, Senate Republican leader Randy Richardville, and Dick DeVos, a prominent conservative businessman who union leaders say is behind the bills.

This is just so obviously the work of wealthy corporate donors who are insisting their agendas be passed despite public outcry and votes.  The Republican led legislature is also attack women’s rights in a last minute attempt to shove right wing legislature through after losing at the polls.

Republican Senator Mark Jansen was the main sponsor of S.B. 613. This bill passed the state Senate and has been referred to the House Insurance committee. It prohibits abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered by the state insurance exchange in accordance with the Affordable Care Act unless a rider is purchased. So unless a female pays extra, she has no coverage in the case of an emergency. That would include an abortion needed to protect her life. How on earth is any woman supposed to look into the future and see if she would need to purchase such a rider? And one would wonder at the cost of such coverage.

Mr. Jansen didn’t stop there, though. He also sponsored S.B. 614 which requires any woman purchasing any insurance in Michigan to purchase a rider for abortion coverage. It’s sneaky about it, though. It prohibits any licensee, health care agency or facility from accepting reimbursement from any health plan for elective abortion services unless it’s from one of the aforementioned riders. Additionally, insurance providers won’t be required to even offer these riders. Again, women are expected to be able to predict the future and buy one of them. If they can even find an insurance company that offers one. And be able to afford it.

The Michigan House jumped right on board with these policies, passing H.B. 1293 and H.B. 1294, both sponsored by Rep. Joseph Hune and containing the same provisions. These were given “immediate effect.” These bills essentially ban any health care policy issued in Michigan from providing abortion coverage, making it almost impossible to obtain a medically necessary procedure.

This should show every one exactly how extreme and right wing Republican politicians have become recently and how detached they are from the will of their voters.  This should be an outrage and a warning to every concerned voter in the country.  This amounts to trying to overturn election results.  The governor of Michigan has caved to plutocratic privateers and should be removed from office.  The legislature was tied to a spending bill so it cannot be removed by voters like a similar bill was treated in Ohio.

Michigan can’t go the way of Ohio, where a referendum last year reversed legislation that would have restricted collective bargaining. Michigan’s right-to-work legislation is attached to an appropriations bill, meaning it can’t be reversed by referendum. Also, it may be too risky to wait and go the way of Wisconsin, where litigation continues after a judge struck down parts of a collective bargaining law.

However, in Michigan, there is an option of a “statutory initiative,” which would be permitted if opponents of the bills can collect enough signatures to equal 8% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, union leaders say. A so-called veto referendum could be triggered by collecting signatures equal to 5% of the votes cast.

A statutory initiative would allow voters to cast a ballot on right-to-work legisation in November 2014, when Gov. Rick Snyder, who has said he would support the legislation, will be up for reelection.

“There are multiple options for a referendum,” a senior labor leader said Tuesday. “All options are on the table. This fight is far from over.”

It’s unclear whether unions are promoting a referendum now to warn Snyder of the repercussions that signing the legislation would have.

Democrats including Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. John Dingell met with Snyder on Monday to urge him to veto the legislation. The governor promised to “seriously” consider their concerns, but Democrats remained worried that he would sign the bills.

“The governor has a choice: He can put this on the ballot, and let the voters make the determination, or he can jam it through a lame-duck session,” Dingell said Monday.


Tuesday Reads: Wisconsin Recall Madness!

Good Morning!!

Today is the day of reckoning for Wisconsin. Voters will go to the polls today to decide the fate of Governor Scott Walker and five other Wisconsin Republicans: the Lieutenant Governor and four state senators. If the Democrats can win just one of those seats, they will regain the senate majority.

I think everyone here knows the genesis of this recall battle, but here’s a quick explainer from Chris Cillizza at the WaPo. Cillizza also speculates on possible surprising outcomes from the election.

Cillizza allows that Barrett could conceivably win and the Democrats could retake the senate–the latest poll by PPP had Walker leading by only 3 points, within the margin of error. The poll also suggested that Barrett had the momentum as of yesterday. On the other hand, InTrade had Walker’s chances at more than 90% late last night. The truth is no one really knows for sure, because the turnout and enthusiasm on each side will tell the tale. Cillizza, being a Villager, still thinks Walker will win, but thinks the Senate could switch.

When they filed petitions to recall Walker himself last fall, Democrats also filed papers to recall another four state senators — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Sens. Pam Galloway, Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard, (Galloway resigned earlier this year; Republican state Rep. Jerry Petrowski is running for her seat.)

They need only win one race to take control.

Fitzgerald is likely safe given his heavily Republican district, although Lori Compas, his Democratic rival, has attracted a lot of media attention.

But Democrats are bullish on the races against Moulton and Wanggaard. Both districts went for President Obama in 2008; Wanggaard’s went narrowly for John Kerry in 2004. Whether Barrett wins or not, they expect to take back the state Senate.

Moulton faces former state Rep. Kristen Dexter; Wanggaard faces former state Sen. John Lehman (D). Outside groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on both sides. State Rep. Donna Seidel (D) also has a shot at beating Petrowski; before Galloway the seat had gone Democratic for two decades.

Cillizza points out that if Barrett wins and the Democrats take the state senate and could get some of the Walker legislation overturned before another election could give the senate back to the Republicans. The other possibility, Cillizza mentions is that Democrats could defeat Walker’s Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, but that’s pretty unlikely. She’s leading in the polls at the moment.

The Seattle Times had a good article on Sunday about the national issues that are at stake in the election today.

Under fire for cutting budgets at the expense of public employees, Walker would be the third governor in U.S. history yanked from office in a recall election. Walker has an edge, but the race is close.

The campaign will mean more than who governs Wisconsin. It’s a test case of the larger clashes in American politics that are driving elections for the presidency and control of Congress, highlighting divisions over the costs of government.

With more than $30 million raised from conservative donors, many of them from other states, and visits from a who’s who of high-profile Republican governors (New Jersey’s Chris Christie, South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal and Virginia’s Bob McDonnell), Walker’s campaign to survive the recall has the feel, the money and the stakes of a national race.

The state vote is raising questions that will echo nationwide. Can a tough-minded conservative Republican force cuts in government at the risk of angering public-employees unions and win a swing state such as Wisconsin? Will voters think he’s doing the best he can in a tough time? Or will they rise in a grass-roots backlash against the well-financed Republican effort?

Admittedly, that article has a Republican flavor, but it does do a pretty good job of spelling out the issues. For a more left-wing perspective, here’s a lengthy piece at by Sarah Jaffe of Alternet: Wisconsin’s Recall Drama Down to Nail-Biting Finish.

Wisconsin’s recall is, as reporter John Nichols put it, the kind of “renegade politics” that are disdained by the national Democratic party and even some state Democrats. It is being driven by the same activists who turned out by the thousands to occupy their capitol when Governor Scott Walker attacked workers’ right to organize and bargain collectively.

Now, a day before the biggest recall yet—of Governor Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and four Republican state senators—the fight will be won or lost where it began: on the ground.

There’s a lot of big outside money pouring into Wisconsin, mostly to pump up Walker’s attempt to hang on to his seat, but the one thing that money can’t buy is an excited, driven grassroots movement. If Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett beats Walker on Tuesday, it will be because of thousands of volunteers getting out the vote person by person.

“This is really a case of Walker raising $13 million against possibly the most widespread grassroots get-out-the-vote effort in the state’s history,” Matt Reiter, co-president of the Teaching Assistants’ Association at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, told AlterNet.

Please try to check that one out. It’s long, and very informative. John Nichols of The Nation (mentioned prominently in Jaffe’s piece) is Wisconsin native, and has written a book about the struggle in his home state. Here’s a piece Nichols wrote yesterday: How To Buy A Recall Election.

Governor Scott Walker is not trying to win the Wisconsin recall election that will be held June 5.

He is trying to buy it.

If the embattled governor does prevail, he will provide essential evidence not of his own appeal but of the power of money to define our politics.

On the other hand, if Walker is defeated, a template will have been developed for a people-power, message-power politics that might be able to challenge big money.

And there is no question that what is in play is very big money.

Read the gory details at the link.

At Salon, Josh Eidelson writes about the possible effects of some Wisconsin voters’ “resentment” of union workers on the recall outcome.

If Scott Walker survives tomorrow’s election, there will be plenty of reasons. Many people will point to his huge cash advantage, for good reason. But no factor will have been more important than the decades of decline in U.S. union membership.

“Unions had their place,” a woman named Jerri told me soon after I arrived in Wisconsin last week. “They did their part back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and then they got too big, and are abusing their power.” Jerri and her husband, Tim (both declined to give last names), were eating at a bar in Wauwatosa, the purple Milwaukee suburb that’s home to Scott Walker. They both work in sales: She’s in retail at the mall; he’s in wholesale, selling caskets. Tim said Walker’s union “reforms” were necessary because local politicians had been “looking out for the union” instead of “people like me.” He said unions are for people who don’t “feel they should have to work very hard.” Jerri complained that unions “are sucking off my teat.” Public workers’ benefits, she said, “should be the same as anybody in any kind of private job.”

That last statement is most telling. While resentment toward unions has grown since the 1950s, it’s not because they got too big. It’s because they got too small. A multi-decade drop in unionization left fewer Wisconsinites who are union members or live in union households. Meanwhile, because governments are less prone than businesses to terrorize workers or shut down facilities to avert unionization, public sector unionization has remained more stable. In 2009, for the first time, there were more total U.S. union members in government employment than in the entire private sector.

That one is pretty scary for those of us who care about quality education and public services.

The Wall Street Journal highlights the importance of turnout in the recall election.

Both sides say few voters remain undecided, after more than $63.5 million in political spending saturated the airwaves and clogged voters’ mailboxes. A weekend survey by the Democratic group Public Policy Polling found Mr. Walker holding a slight lead and only 3% of likely voters undecided. With few voters left to persuade, the main question is which side will win the turnout battle.

Labor groups and their allies knocked on more than 300,000 doors during the past few days and placed more than 400,000 phone calls, said Brian Weeks, the assistant political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

Unions historically have had a strong ground game. But Republicans said they took a page from labor’s playbook and have developed a coordinated get-out-the-vote effort, which could also give the party a boost in the November presidential election, helping the GOP equal the Democrats’ election-day machinery.

Felicia Sonmez and Rachel Weiner of the WaPo write about the battle of “TV ad spending vs. boots on the ground.” They say that this election:

serves as a proxy for the national battle between Democrats’ much-touted ground organization and Republicans’ fundraising advantage.

With Walker ahead in the polls and leading Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) in the money race by more than 7 to 1 – and with GOP-aligned outside groups far outspending their counterparts across the aisle — Democrats maintain that their shot at victory depends on a far superior get-out-the-vote operation buoyed in large part by organized labor.

According to Monica Davey at the NYT,

About 60 to 65 percent of Wisconsin residents of voting age are expected to go to the polls on Tuesday, the state’s Government Accountability Board said. That would be a higher turnout than two years ago, when Mr. Walker and a wave of Republicans largely swept state and federal offices here, but not as high as the more than 69 percent turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama easily won the state.

Only time will tell. We’ll have a live blog this evening so we can follow the results together. Now I need you to let me know what else is in the news. I look forward to clicking on your links.


Sunday Reads: Occupy Superbowl, Alveda King throws women under bus, and the big homeless

Vintage ad for a Sunday Drive...

It is Sunday Morning…

All day yesterday, I kept thinking it was a Friday. It is strange how days have a certain “feel” about them… If you missed any of yesterday’s posts, Wonk the Vote, PeggySue, Dakinikat and BostonBoomer had some excellent ones, take a look.

I have a lot of links for you this morning, so we’ll just dive in.

First off, the Occupy movement got hit hard yesterday evening. More than 100 Occupy activists arrested in Oakland after clashing with police

Occupy activists tossed pipes, bottles, burning flares and other objects Saturday at Oakland police, who responded by using tear gas and smoke grenades and arresting more than 100 demonstrators, city and police officials said.

Oakland has been a flash point of the Occupy movement since October when police used tear gas to break up demonstrators who refused to leave downtown. One demonstrator, a Marine veteran of the war in Iraq, suffered a skull fracture after being hit with a police projectile, according to a veteran’s group. Police said they acted after the crowd threw paint and other objects at officers.

On Saturday, police made mass arrests following an afternoon clash with protesters near the Kaiser Convention Center and then later outside a downtown YMCA, according to a police statement.

Let’s look at another link covering the same event: Dozens arrested at Occupy Oakland; protesters break into City Hall

Dozens of people were arrested in downtown Oakland skirmishes on Saturday, as an estimated 2,000 Occupy protesters tried to take over the grounds a vacant convention center, then broke into City Hall.

Police used tear gas and “flash” grenades in the afternoon against protesters who tried to tear down fences around the vacant Henry Kaiser Convention Center, where they hoped to establish a new camp. Police said some demonstrators started throwing objects at officers. There were at least 19 arrests in the afternoon.

After 6 p.m. (9 p.m. ET), police in riot gear declared a group of protesters gathered near the YMCA under mass arrest for failing to disperse, according to local media reports and livestreams. Police said about 100 demonstrators were arrested.

Several protesters at  the YMCA appeared to be put hard to the ground as police moved in and at least one protester had blood on his face.

Hmmmm…Here are some of the tweets during the arrests:

Matthew K
Report: Oakland police turn away KPIX, KGO television news vans attempting to reach City Hall where protesters are inside.
Andrew Katz
My screenshot from ‘s feed shows just how many protestors are still awaiting arrest.
RT
protesters took over City Hall, set US flags on fire

Watchdog Progressive

Arrests at like nearly all the others prior to, have largely under the cover of night when the brutality is the worst.

Jen Angel

RT : Tag press suppression & journalist arrests with (please RT and send tips)

Andy Carvin

Woman being gurneyed into an ambulance is yelling “Officer 119!” in reference to the officer who allegedly hit beat her.

Cathastrophe

So…when do we get concerned that every Press Pass at an Occupy Protest becomes ‘suspect’ at the officers discretion.. which is always.
What Cathastrophe and JCStearns are talking about is the appearance of organized arrests with police targeting journalists.  As this series of tweets from a reporter at  810AM in San Francisco below illustrates:

KristinHanesKristin Hanes

Whenever journalists are arrested/detained for reporting the news, everyone’s freedom is at risk. That is what frightens me the most. #oo
Kristin Hanes
When we walked past mobile processing center, officer said, “I’ve never put a reporter in there and didn’t want to.”

Kristin Hanes

I was arrested. Then let go. My officer flagged his boss down and said, “do we really want to do this?”

Kristin Hanes

When I was taken to be ziptied sergeant looked at press pass, “Thats not an Oakland pass, you’re getting arrested.”

I think there will be more news on the arrests later today, as of 12:25 am:

OWS Livestream

And updating with this tweet @2:34am est

daudigDave Gilson

#freegavin RT @markfollman: NBC news reporting “at least 300” arrested tonight in Oakland. MoJo’s @garonsen is among them.
49 seconds ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Sticking with the Occupy subject a little more: Protesters march through Super Bowl Village

A mix of union members and Occupy protesters from across Indiana marched through Super Bowl Village on Saturday in opposition to the state’s proposed right-to-work legislation.

About 75 marchers weaved through packed crowds at the pre-game street fair in downtown Indianapolis in the first of what could be several such protests before the big game Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium. The protesters chanted “Occupy the Super Bowl” and carried signs that read “Fight the Lie” and “Workers United Will Prevail.”

Saturday was the second straight day of right-to-work protests in the Super Bowl Village. About 40 people picketed the opening of a zip line in the Village. The 800-foot zip line allows participants to clip onto a wire about 100 feet off the ground and glide almost two blocks.

Most onlookers stared in silence as the protesters walked past them, but some like Jason Leibowitz of Jamestown were upset about their outing being interrupted. “There’s a place and a time for this,” Leibowitz said. “This isn’t it.”

Of course, the one guy these protesters are focused on is Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Most emphasized that while the right-to-work legislation appears likely to pass following Wednesday’s House vote approving the bill, that doesn’t mean an end to protests.

“If the governor signs, I want to shame him out of this state,” said Heath Hensley of Occupy Anderson. “He doesn’t want us screwing up this Super Bowl.”

State Senator Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis, called the bill evidence that Republican legislators are not in touch with the needs of working-class voters. “If you voted Republican in the past, stop,” Breaux said.

Talking about protests and labor unions, last night the movie Made in Dagenham was on Showtime. If you haven’t seen it, you should.

I have a few other US items to share with you, after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Primary Evening News Reads: South Carolina, New Hampshire, Indiana and Texas

Just a few quick links for you tonight…Dakinikat will have the live blog going around 7pm as we wait and see which clown takes New Hampshire.

News is that in another state, Colbert is actually out polling Huntsman.

Public Policy Polling, spurred on by Stephen Colbert‘s efforts to sponsor the South Carolina primary, as well as attempts to get on the ballot and get behind a referendum about, “whether corporations are people or only people are people,” announced on Tuesday the results of polls it conducted with Colbert’s name and referendum in the mix.

“Our team at PPP,” their release reads, “decided if he couldn’t get all that stuff on the actual ballot, we could at least poll it for him.”

So PPP rounded up 1,112 likely Republican primary voters, and found that Colbert is polling at 5%, putting him in sixth place, ahead of Jon Huntsman (4%).

More surprisingly, however, is that Colbert only has a 17% favorability rating, with 41% finding him “unfavorable,” and 42% “not sure.” The poll, conducted between Jan. 5 and Jan. 7, did turn up some good news for the Comedy Central host: 67% of those responding believe that “only people are people” (while 33% believe “corporations are people”).

I don’t know about you, but I would vote for Colbert any day! Al Sharpton is having his own twisted choice of candidate…

MSNBC’s Al Sharpton takes a rather unique approach to finding his ideal candidate, borrowing a page from none other than Dr. Frankenstein. Here are the bits and pieces he’d take from several of the GOP candidates (Notably absent? Huntsman’s everything.) to form his version of the ideal Republican presidential candidate:

1.Will Mitt Romney’s “Presidential Appearance and Persona”

“He looks presidential, until he starts talking,” said Sharpton. “If he didn’t say anything, we’d almost be impressed.” Al Sharpton is cold blooded, you guys.

2. Newt Gingrich’s “Pseudo-Intellect and Glibness”

“Newt sounds smart. He sounds smarter than I think he is.” You know what? Sharpton is going to wake up with a horse’s head in his bed tomorrow. A My Little Pony head covered in Romney stickers, most likely.

3. Rick Santorum’s Passion

“He’s very passionate. He seems like a man of purpose. A man on a mission.” A man with a vest.

And, finally…

4. Nothing from Rick Perry

“I can’t think of anything I’d take from Rick Perry”

Romney’s Persona? Are you kidding me…even a dead Frankenstein has more persona this Mittens!

Indiana had a lickety split hearing today, all of 6 minutes…House Committee passage of Indiana Right-to-Work law.

UPDATE: And here’s the latest. Democrats have walked out again in protest, denying Republicans a quorum.

Republicans in Indiana wasted no time. After House Democrats returned to work yesterday, the GOP immediately scheduled a Labor Committee vote on the divisive right-to-work bill. Mary Beth Schneider reported on the swift passage in committee:

House Republicans today voted 8-5 on party lines to send the so-called “right to work” bill to the full House, refusing to allow any debates or any amendments.

House Democrats, who unanimously voted against the bill, said they were outraged by the hearing that lasted about six minutes. One, Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis, said that he’d “never seen a charade like this in my life.” Another, Rep. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, said Democrats “object 100 percent.”

Protesters shouted “shame” as they left, with one saying the Republicans should be “tarred and feathered.”

A six-minute committee meeting. Ah, deliberative democracy. Here was the devious reason Republicans gave for refusing to allow amendments: Democrats failed to submit them 24 hours in advance of the hearing. The hearing was scheduled only 18 hours after the bill was announced on the floor. Joseph Heller’s got nothing on them.

We could be watching the a showdown in Indiana, now it is just a question of waiting to see if the Dems can hold out…

But, in Texas, there is a whole other can of worms opened up today by an Appeals Court that says Texas can force the Abortion law on women.

A Texas abortion law passed last year that requires doctors to show sonograms to patients can be enforced while opponents challenge the measure in court, a federal appeals court said Tuesday in a ruling that signaled the judges believe the law is constitutional.
When the state will begin enforcing the law was not immediately clear. The group that brought the case, the Center for Reproductive Rights, is weighing how to proceed and has 14 days to ask for a rehearing of the case. If there are no appeals by then, the court would likely allow the state to begin enforcing the law.
The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a temporary order against enforcing the law and went further to advise U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks how he should ultimately rule in the case. Chief Judge Edith H. Jones used her opinion to systematically dismantle the argument that the Texas law infringes on the free speech rights of doctors and patients, the key argument against the law.
“The required disclosures of a sonogram, the fetal heartbeat, and their medical descriptions are the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information,” Jones wrote. “The appellees failed to demonstrate constitutional flaws” with the law.

This should get the discussion going…at least until the circus results in New Hampshire gets started.