Misreading Elections

Politicians these days represent narrow interests and are deliberately misrepresenting recent election results as support for policies not presented to the general electorate during their campaigns. Some of this agenda may have been possibly inkled to their extremists supporters through code words but from the looks of polls, most of it appears to have come as a complete surprise to their electorate.  This is probably because people generally don’t pay attention to primaries and the types of candidates supported by the most vocal and most extreme partisans.

No where is this disconnect more clear than in Wisconsin where poll-after-poll shows buyer’s remorse for their right wing extremist governor, Scott Walker. The latest Rasmussen Poll shows support for Budget Cuts but not state usurpation of collective bargaining rights for state workers.

Most Wisconsin voters oppose efforts to weaken collective bargaining rights for union workers but a plurality are supportive of significant pay cuts for state workers. Governor Scott Walker is struggling in the court of public opinion, but how badly he is struggling depends upon how the issue is presented.  There is also an interesting gap between the views of private and public sector union families.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Wisconsin voters shows that just 39% favor weakening collective bargaining rights and 52% are opposed. At the same time, 44% support a 10% pay cut for all state workers. Thirty-eight percent (38%) are opposed. That’s partly because 27% of Wisconsin voters believe state workers are paid too much and 16% believe they are paid too little. Forty-nine percent (49%) believe the pay of state workers is about right. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Strong support for collective bargaining rights showed up in a WSJ/NBC Poll yesterday where only 33% supported limited collective bargaining rights.  This result supported an early poll done by US Today who found the same 33% level of support. Yet, we continue to see bills advance that would erode these rights.  Ohio state senators barely advanced a bill with drastic limitations.  I’m getting qualified in a few months as a professor in one of the few high demand, high paying areas. That would be finance. I’m one of very few white, American women to do so also.  This implies I have two additional job skills that are very difficult to find these days in people with technical doctorates.  I speak and write in coherent American English.  Many of my peers struggle to do their lectures and research in cogent English.  You can only imagine what this does to students.  I don’t have to imagine.  I hear the complaints all the time.  This is a problem for candidates coming from top tier schools.  Ask me if I’m interested in any place in Wisconsin or Ohio at the moment.  The answer is a big fat no. I’m looking outside Louisiana for similar reasons.  I’m not going to be drastically underpaid in cash without some compensating benefits.  I can’t imagine that similarly qualified folks in engineering, accounting, medical fields, and computer sciences aren’t having the same thoughts. I pity the poor administration that’s going to try to find qualified people in those areas under these circumstances.

Why do politicians find people like me so terrible and unprofessional that they seek to deny us a place in determining our working conditions and remuneration?

Ohio state senators narrowly approved a bill that would prohibit public-employee unions representing 400,000 state and local workers from bargaining over health benefits and pensions, while also eliminating the right to strike. I’ve never particularly felt the need to strike except in the private sector where I basically just have voted with my feet after finding another job.  The private sector is filled with capricious and overtly-political bad managers.  It’s why most corporations can’t compete unless they scramble to find extreme cost cutting measures. They don’t want to be bothered with the higher callings of research and development, customer service, or any other type of innovation that would actually benefit employees and customers.  This now appears to be the model that many of these folks want transferred to the public sector where you still had a chance of being paid and promoted on how well you do your job instead of whose ass you’re willing to frequently kiss. The problem now is that there is so much market in the hands of so few businesses and some jobs are only available through the public sector.  The power to abuse is very much in their favor.  This brings me back to the 2/3rds of the electorate that appreciate checks and balances.  Union power checks the power of huge oligopoly and monopoly employers.

This brings me to a story of excess and the  Northern Mariana Islands and Jack Abramoff.  This also includes notorious B I G  Felon, The Hammer, Republican Tom Delay (H/T to Bostonboomer for reminding me about this.).  It’s a story of sex trade, Republicans, a deregulation haven, and the type of things that Republicans would like to see hoisted on the US and American workers.  I have to admit to having to do some reading up on this since most of the story broke in 2006 and I was busy recovering from a little thing called Katrina at the time.  You may recall we were a ‘petri dish’ of privatization and no bid contracts at the time and still are the guinea pigs of US privatization scams.  What they did to us pales in comparison to the treatment of people in the US Territories of the Marianas Islands.

The Marianas Islands situation serves as a cautionary tale that would be worth remembering today because the same people who took jaunts to this paradise of no regulation and slavery are the same people stripping US citizens of rights our grandparents fought for during the gilded age.  Here’s NPR describing work compounds that delighted and tingled the legs of visiting Republican politicians.  JOHN YDSTIE is the NPR host.  He introduced his guest as “Wendy Doromol was a schoolteacher there in the 1980s and ’90s, but became a human rights activist fighting sweatshops after guest workers on the islands came to her with tales of abuse“.  Now remember, this is the work environment that Republican politicians like Scott Walker and John Kasich admire.

Ms. DOROMOL: The barbed wire around the factories face inward so that the mostly women couldn’t get out. They had quotas that were impossible for these people to reach and if they didn’t reach them, they’d have to stay until they finished the quota and they wouldn’t be paid for that work. They were hot, the barracks were horrible. A lot of the females were told you work during the day in the garment factory and then at night you can go and work in a club and they’d force them into prostitution at night.

YDSTIE: And they also experienced things like coerced abortion?

Ms. DOROMOL: Yes, if some female got pregnant, they either had to go back to China to give birth or have a forced abortion.

YDSTIE: Guest workers were lured to the Marianas by recruiters in countries like China, the Philippines and Bangladesh, who told them they were going to the United States. The recruiters charged workers around $5,000 for the trip. Nashir Jahidi(ph) is one of the workers Wendy Doromol befriended. He came to Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands from Bangladesh by way of the Philippines. He says when he got on the plane, he thought he was going to America.

Mr. NASHIR JAHIDI (Ex-Worker): And not only me, there was some people that recruiter exactly told him that he can be going to Los Angeles by train from Saipan. So when I hear that the plane, you know, the host or somebody’s saying they were about to land in Saipan and I when I looked out the window and I saw it’s like blue water everywhere and small island and I was like, how?

YDSTIE: So you thought that you were going to be going to California or somewhere on the U.S. mainland?

Mr. JAHIDI: Not only me, most of the worker. They were surprised when they see the United States flag and the local island flag and we used the U.S. dollar, we used the U.S. stamp and everything, then people understand that this is only a small island. There is no way that you have the opportunity like what’s in the United States.

YDSTIE: Garment manufacturers were attracted to the Marianas, which had become a U.S. commonwealth in 1976, because clothes made there could be labeled made in the U.S.A. and didn’t face import quotas or duties. But despite flying the U.S. flag, the islands were exempt from many U.S. labor and immigration standards. As the abuses that Wendy Doromol helped uncover came to light, garment manufacturers there were sanctioned by the U.S. Labor Department. Then in the mid-1990s when it looked like Congress might force the Marianas to adopt U.S. Labor and Immigration laws, the island’s government took action. It hired lobbyist Jack Abramoff to protect its special status. Abramoff was paid millions for his work.

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Thursday Reads: Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful day today.

Even though the news has been discouraging for a long time now, we probably all have something to be grateful for. I know I do. I’m going to share some of what I’m grateful for today, and I hope everyone who comes around to to our “little blog that could” today will do likewise.

First, I’m very grateful today for all of you who have helped us get up and running these past few weeks!

Most of all, I’m grateful for my family. Although we lost my dad in March, we are fortunate to still have my mom with us. I’m grateful to have close relationships with my two brothers and two sisters. I’m grateful for my nieces and nephews and my grand-nephew and grand-niece. Children are our future, and I’m fortunate to have a chance to help make it better for them.

I’m grateful to have had the chance to pursue my education in the second half of in life. I’m grateful for my mother-in-law, who was there for me when I needed a place to live after my husband and I split up. I cared for her for 18 years, and I’m very grateful to have had her in my life, and all that I learned from her. Because she gave me a place to live, I was able to return to college and eventually earn a PhD in psychology. I’m also grateful for the state and federal government help I received during the time I was in school.

I’m grateful that I’ve been sober since May, 1982. If it weren’t for my sobriety, I wouldn’t have any of the other things I’ve mentioned. I was very fortunate to be able to turn my life around beginning 28 years ago.

As you know, I’m not that happy with how things are going for our country right now. I think our political establishment is beyond corrupt and that corrupt corporations are ruining our country and perhaps the world. I’m so thankful for the internet–without the ability to communicate with other people and share my anger at our political system, I don’t know how I would have survived. So I’m very grateful to many bloggers and commenters who have helped me know that I’m not alone in my anger and frustration.

Here are a few events in today’s news that I’m grateful for:

Texas Jury Convicts Tom Delay on Money Laundering Charges

DeLay was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, court bailiff Gilbert Soto said. He was accused of funneling $190,000 to help elect Republicans to the state House and Senate in 2002.

At the outset of the trial, DeLay predicted the jury would clear him, and he remained unrepentant after learning the verdict..

“This is an abuse of power. It’s a miscarriage of justice,” DeLay told reporters. “I still maintain that I am innocent, that the criminalization of politics undermines our very system, and I’m very disappointed in the outcome. But you know, it is what it is, and we will carry on and maybe we can get it before people who understand the law.”

More like this, please.

HIV Prevention Pill A Big Development in Communities of Color

A new study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that a pill, known as Truvada, may be able to prevent HIV infection for gay and bisexual men. Host Allison Keyes talks with Dr. Jonathan Mermin of the Centers for Disease Control and Adolph Falcon of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health about the drug and what it could mean for communities of color which are disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS in the US

You can listen to the interview at the link.

Nations band together to save tigers, eye comeback by 2022

The wild tiger population is less than 4 percent of what it was a century ago, and leaders in 13 nations are taking a stand against the poaching and habitat destruction that have decimated the majestic predators’ numbers….

With the conclusion of a high-profile summit, attracting guests as notable as actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments and conservation groups pledged $327 million with the goal of doubling the wild tiger population by 2022….

Poaching, illegal trade and habitat destruction have forced the animal to the brink of extinction, according to the Global Tiger Initiative, which estimates that wild tigers exist today in less than 7 percent of their historic range.

“I am confident that we will look back on this day as a turning point in the effort to save one of the world’s best-loved animals,” World Wildlife Fund Director Jim Leape said.

The St. Petersburg, Russia, summit featured leaders from all 13 countries where tigers still live in the wild: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

U.S. prepares for new Wikileaks release

As with past document dumps by Wikileaks, U.S. officials expect that major international news outlets have been provided the documents in advance and that their news stories about what the documents contain will be published around the same time that the website reveals its cache of documents.

The White House and State Department are concerned because the documents may contain negative remarks made by U.S. diplomats about corrupt foreign leaders.

Army Pvt. Bradley Manning was arrested in June and charged with leaking a classified video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians. There has been speculation that Manning also may have been the source for the Iraq and Afghanistan military intelligence reports released by Wikileaks.

He also may be the source of the State Department cables, because prior to his arrest Manning boasted in e-mails to a former hacker that he had passed along thousands of diplomatic cables to Wikileaks.

I’m sorry that some people in the government will suffer embarrassment, but the best disinfectant is sunshine.

Expert-Networking Worker Arrested for Insider Trading

U.S. prosecutors Wednesday arrested an employee of an “expert networking firm” on charges that he promoted the firm’s services by arranging for corporate executives to leak inside information to hedge funds.

According to a complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors claimed that Don Ching Trang Chu, also known as Don Chu, who worked at California-based Primary Global Research, had arranged for hedge funds to get tips on companies including Atheros Communications, Broadcom Corp and Sierra Wireless.

The arrest comes amid a wide-ranging probe by U.S. authorities into potential insider trading at hedge funds, mutual funds and expert networks.

Great. Now let’s hope he rolls on the higher ups and the feds bust them too.

Trading Inquiry Widens to Big Firms

Federal authorities, intensifying an insider-trading investigation, are demanding trading and other information from some of the nation’s most powerful investment firms.

Hedge-fund giants SAC Capital Advisors and Citadel LLC, big mutual-fund company Janus Capital Group Inc. and Wellington Management Co., one of the nation’s biggest institutional-investment firms, have received subpoenas from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office seeking trading, communications and other data as part of a broad criminal investigation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation also recently questioned an account manager at Primary Global Research LLC, a California company that provides “expert-network” services to hedge funds and mutual funds, people familiar with the matter say.

Such expert-network firms set up meetings and arrange calls between traders seeking an investing edge and current and former managers from hundreds of companies. The FBI is seeking information about a Primary Global consultant and his hedge-fund clients, these people say.

What are you grateful for today? Feel free to share your news links as always, and have a terrific Thanksgiving Day!!!!