Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eric Cantor Tries To Make Laws Without Senate, President

I recall back to my earliest government classes when I learned the process a bill undergoes to become law, which requires a bill to pass through both chambers of Congress - the House of Representatives and the Senate - and then to the president's desk.  Sounds simple, right?

This is what the Constitution has to say about that (Article I, Section 7):
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Apparently Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor believes otherwise - in a new budget bill proposed by the representative, Cantor insists that if the Senate cannot decide on a budget by next Wednesday, the GOP's budget will become law.  To be exact, the bill states that "if the Senate fails to pass a measure before April 6, 2011 providing for the appropriations of the departments and agencies of the Government for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, H.R. 1 (as passed by the House on February 19, 2011) becomes law."

Does Cantor honestly believe the House can unilaterally pass legislation by simply saying so in the bill?  Does Cantor believe he can rule the country, ignoring the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House?

I wonder if this was taught in one of those constitutional classes Michele Bachmann held months ago...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three Times A Charm? Wisconsin GOP Still Believes Anti-Union Bill Is Law!

For the second time in a month, a Wisconsin judge halted the controversial anti-union legislation Republicans rammed through while Democrats were protesting across state lines after conservative lawmakers defied the judge's orders and published the law, not by formal publication by the secretary of state but through the Legislative Reference Bureau, and then insisted that despite the ruling the law was in effect.

"Apparently that language was either misunderstood or ignored, but what I said was the further implementation of (the law) was enjoined," said Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi. "That is what I now want to make crystal clear."

Walker's administration begun to implement the law even though Sumi stated that the Republican's actions violated her order.  State Department of Justice spokesman Steve Means went as far as to insist that the law is still in effect.

Apparently Wisconsin Republicans don't believe in the separation of powers of the three branches of government, granting a higher authority to the executive and legislative branches - only to Republican members, of course.

If Republicans keep it up, it looks like Judge Sumi may have to address the matter a third time, and by then, I wouldn't be surprised if the defiant Republicans face some legal consequences themselves...

GOP Upping Medicare Eligibility Equals Tax On Business, Middle Class

Ricardo Alsonso-Zaldivar wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
Employers and even some younger people would pay more for health insurance if lawmakers raise the eligibility age for Medicare, a study to be released Tuesday concludes.

The findings suggest that the emerging debate over Medicare's future matters not only to seniors and those nearing retirement, but to a broad cross-section of Americans.

The report from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows that federal taxpayers would save billions if the Medicare eligibility age, currently 65, is increased by two years. But people ages 65 and 66, employers – along with states, Medicare recipients and even some younger families – would see ripple effects that add to their costs.

Those costs could total more than $2,000 a year for some individuals.
These figures of course assume the health care reform passed under President Obama's watch last year stays in place.  Should the GOP get their way and repeal the legislation or have it deemed unconstitutional, several more million people would be uninsured then before the reform took place.  It appears the Republican plan is a big screw you to businesses and the working class, and speaking hypothetically, should the minimum age be raised, I doubt small businesses - you know, the ones Republicans love to talk about - would be able to support the higher costs of insuring their employees, but then again, not having to pay for their health would mean bigger profits, right?

Bill O'Reilly Defies Pro-Palin Fox

For the second time in one month, Bill O'Reilly dissed Sarah Palin on her home ground - as we all know, Fox News has been propping up potential candidates like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin while shunning the likes of other GOP hopefuls like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.  When discussing the administration failing to appear on Fox News this weekend to discuss the current events in Libya, O'Reilly referenced Palin and her inability to answer a question - even from her own employers!

"The same thing is happening to Sarah Palin," O'Reilly said. "Her favorability among Republicans and independents has dropped four points in a month. And the reason I think it's dropping is because she's not engaging directly. When I had her on this program, I asked her some specific questions she didn't want to answer. She wanted to give a speech, this that and the other thing."

O'Reilly only gets away with this bitch slap to Palinbecause he has the highest ratings on the station, and unlike Glenn Beck, he doesn't lose advertisers by the hundreds.  O'Reilly is also probably miffed because Palin is such a narcissist and egomaniac like O'Reilly and he was unable to control the last interview with her on his program.

I'll be interested in seeing Palin appear on O'Reilly's program next time, if there is a next time...

Critics Of Media Matters Admit Fox News Bias!

Warner Todd Huston had a very interesting revelation on Monday - Fox News is biased towards Republicans.  But Huston stopped short of admitting that the station is a propaganda wing for the Republican Party. Basically, in a post attacking Media Matters for America, Huston claims that Media Matters was once a legitimate organization but is now engaging in borderline illegal behavior and is violating its tax exempt status all because the website has been focusing on Fox News' lies.
In other words, Media Matters is treating Fox as a political organization and not a media conglomerate. “Fox News is not a news organization. It is the de facto leader of the GOP,” MMfA’s Brock told Politico.

But this is obviously an illicit campaign. Fox is clearly not some sort of arm of the Republican Party. Does Fox have a leaning toward the GOP and/or the conservative side of the issue? Sure, without a doubt. But it is still a media organization separate and distinct from political organizations. Fox News is no adjunct of the GOP any more than NBC, CBS, ABC, or even MSNBC are somehow arms of the Democrat Party.

Media Matters is no longer even pretending to be interested in journalism. In fact, it is approaching illegal activities with this campaign. Certainly Media Matters is lapsing into immoral activities if nothing else.

But this is the left, folks. This is the hatred and the attack dog-style that the left specializes in.

Media Matters was once a perfectly legitimate, though left-wing media critic. Now it is a gutter sniping, mud slinging, dumpster diving, blackmailing, saboteur. I’d call it the National Enquirer of the Internet, but even that isn’t mean enough to describe MM.
Huston fails to understand the entire picture.  He admits Fox News is biased against Democrats, but then argues that it is not an extension of the Republican Party - he seems to forget the numerous politipundits, or politicians (including former politicians) who are employed by the station, such as former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former half-term governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, former senator Rick "Dick" Santorum, former GOP rpolitical consultant and Deputy Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush Karl Rove - all Republican.  And don't forget Fox's parent commpany News Corp. donating $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.  What other station has that many politicians working as a "fair and balanced" contributor?

The answer is none.

While fans of Fox News like to scream of media bias, insisting that NBC, CBS, ABS, MSNBC, and CNN are all propaganda machines for the Obama administration, none have shown a willingness to skew facts and promote one side of the argument like Fox News has, which leads me to the point of Huston's article - he believes Media Matters unfairly targets Fox News.

Calling Media Matters a "saboteur," Huston believes Media Matters is actively trying to destroy Fox News, not giving it the respect a news organization deserves. 

"Media Matters is treating Fox as a political organization and not a media conglomerate" wrote Huston. 

Does his statement mean that it is okay to scrutinize political organizations but not organizations like Fox News?

The readers of Huston's piece were quick to chime in on the matter.  "[Media Matters] claims to be non-partisan and claims a non-profit status to gain tax-exemption," wrote one individual.  "The illegality is not a speech issue, but in fraudulently representing themselves as non-partisan/non-profit before the IRS."

Most other commenters claimed that Media Matters posts lies and insisted George Soros was to blame.

What is interesting is considering what exactly Media Matters posts on their website and how it relates to Huston's claim that Fox News is biased towards Republicans.  All Media Matters posts is audio and video clips and quotes by those they discuss, as well as past comments made by those individuals and any evidence proving those comments otherwise.  They don't cut up videos to provide contextually false material for their articles - like the way Andrew Breitbart did with his Shirley Sherrod smear campaign - and they don't lie about the people at places like Fox News because they fully quote those people to give the correct context of the statements.

Now taking Huston's statement regarding Fox News' bias and applying it towards the desire by Big Journalism's fans to strip Media Matters of their non-profit status (while presumably supporting James O'Keefe's quest to make Project Veritas a charity), one would see that Huston and his sheep are greatly mistaken - if Fox News is biased towards the right, then by default any fact-checking conducted by Media Matters would instantly place their coverage left of right, or in the center.  If there is a liberal bias to Media Matters, it is not because they lean in a particular direction, but because they are to the left of the admittedly right-leaning Fox News. 

It is probably safe to say many of these critics nnever even visited Media Matters - just take a look at one of their articles targeting Fox News - I guarantee you will find a piece with nothing more then a bunch of supporting evidence proving their point, which hardly makes them partisan.  By Huston's own logic, the media should not be allowed to criticize anything outside of politics - especially Fox News and the Republicans...

Oh, and just in case you wanted to see a simple example of what Media Matters does, I point to this article where Media Matters exposes Fox News for altering the images of its guests in a less-than-flattering-way, yellowing teeth, expanding the forhead, and enlarging the nose and ears.

So is it safe to say Media Matter's focus on Fox News is anything but wrong?

Republican Party Seeks Information From Professor's Emails For Political Reasons

Just to show how Republicans feel about public workers, such as educators, Wisconsin state Republicans are targeting a University of Wisconsin professor, William Cronon, demanding Cronon release his private emails by evoking an open records law. Stephen Thompson, of the Wisconsin Republican Party, made the request for Cronon's personal emails, including any messages containing the words "Republican," "Scott Walker," and "union."

Thompson wrote the following: "Copies of all emails into and out of Prof. William Cronon’s state email account from January 1, 2011 to present which reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell."

Cronon points to the political nature of the information request, pointing to the quick request from Thompson in relation to his first (and at that time only) blog post.

"One obvious conclusion I draw is that my study guide about the role of ALEC in Wisconsin politics must come pretty close to hitting a bull’s-eye," wrote Cronon. "Why else would the Republican Party of Wisconsin feel the need to single out a lone university professor for such uncomfortable attention?"

I suggest reading Cronon's entire response to the Republican's partisan assault here.

The actions taken by Thompson are reprehensible and indicate the lengths political operatives like Thompson will go to to silence any opposition - even preceived opposition.  This is just one reason why the shift in the Republican Party has become more dangerous then ever...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fox News Attacks Non-Palin Potential GOP Hopefuls...

Earlier this month, Fox News suspended contributors Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich until they declare whether or not they are going to run for president, but oddly the cable station did not release Sarah Palin of her duties despite Palin offering the same vague comments regarding a presidential run.  I had written on March 2nd that Fox News may have been implicitly backing a Sarah Palin candidacy by kicking Santorum and Gingrich off the airwaves -  it was also no secret that Palin did not get along with the other two.
Over the past several months, Palin has publicly played with the idea of running for president - in an interview with Barbara Walters, Palin said she was "looking at the lay of the land now, and ... trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing," and that she would beat President Obama in a 2012 match-up.

It is also a known fact that Palin has been at odds with both Gingrich and Santorum. According to New York Magazine, Sarah Palin "despises" Newt Gingrich, citing an email Palin sent to an aide after a canceled speaking engagement. Palin had also been at a war of words with Santorum - after he had commented on her motherhood, Palin responded by calling him a "knuckle-dragging Neanderthal."

It is also no secret that both Palin and Fox News are highly revered by the tea parties, and as we have seen in the past, Fox News has no problem skewing the news to benefit both, so why all of a sudden would Fox News embrace corporate policy and suspend Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, when there is equal amount of evidence that Sarah Palin is planning a run next year?
It now seems that Fox News has made its latest assault against Palin's foes, with Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace interrogating Newt Gingrich over his hypocrisy regarding the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Elspeth Reeve wrote the following for The National Journal:
Did Newt Gingrich feel even a tiny twinge of guilt when he was working so hard to impeach President Clinton over his affair with an intern while Gingrich himself was cheating on his wife with a congressional aide? No. On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked the former House speaker and presidential candidate, "Isn’t that hypocrisy?" Gingrich countered that in 1998, he was taking a principled stand in defense of the deposition.

“Obviously, it’s complex and, obviously, I wasn’t doing things to be proud of. ... I had been in depositions. I had been in situations where you had to swear to tell the truth." Clinton, by contrast, had perjured himself by denying his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

But Wallace didn't let Gingrich get off easy, following-up: “I’m going to ask you man to man: Did you ever think to yourself, ‘I’m living in a really glass house. Maybe I shouldn’t be throwing stones?’" Gingrich said would have resigned if he thought he were unable to do his job. Wallace then aired a clip of Gingrich explaining his affairs in a way that implied he cheated on his wife because he loved his country so much. The Republican had had a decade to come up with a good response to the question, Wallace said, “and in all honesty there were a lot of people who thought the answer was kind of lame.”
In the tight-knit realm of Fox News where every little story, down to the precise verbage, is calculated and controlled by the News Corp. executives, Wallace's questioning of Gingrich is no mistake.  Palin will still get the soft balls lobbed at her but be sure that others will get tougher-than-usual questions from the propaganda channel.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rick Scott Tackles Health Care...

Rick Scott, the man who ran the nation's largest for-profit health company and who defrauded the government of millions, and who is now governor of Florida, has now turned his sights on health care in the state of Florida.  Scott's actions are quite peculiar - everything he has done far could greatly benefit his family's business.  Before Scott was elected, he signed over his company to his wife to give the appearance that there would be no future ethical dilemmas but that is far from the truth - his campaign was pretty much funded by accounts in his wife's name.

Anyway, there are three things Scott has recently announced that he stands to profit from greatly - the privatization of Medicaid, the privatization of public hospitals, and drug testing of all public employees and welfare recipients.

How exactly would Scott make money off of these proposals?  Simple.  He owns Solantic, a chain of urgent care clinics designed to attract those who do not have insurance, cannot get appointments with their primary care physicians, or do not have primary care physicians.  The company specializes in urgent care services, immunizations, physicals, drug screenings, and care for injured workers.

According to a Mother Jones article by Suzy Khimm, Scott has avoided answering any questions regarding conflicts of interest and pointed out that the program has failed in the past - Scott and his supporters still plan on going ahead.
Florida Democrats have blasted the governor over the controversy. "These changes to Medicaid are basically nothing but a business plan for Rick Scott's Solantic," says Eric Jotkoff, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. "It's clear that he stands to greatly profit from these changes to Medicaid." The Democrats also point to Scott's past: Columbia/HCA was ultimately forced to pay the biggest Medicare fraud settlement in history, totaling $1.7 billion, though Scott denied knowledge of the fraud and escaped being personally penalized. More recently, Florida's Medicaid system has also been beset by fraud perpetrated by private health care officials. In January, five former executives of Wellcare, a managed care company, were indicted by a grand jury for running a scheme that stole Medicaid money designated for patients.

Scott's current proposal aims to save the state $1 billion by drastically overhauling Medicaid, allowing private managed care companies to bid for contracts rather than paying traditional fee-for-services. The majority of Medicaid patients receive care through private companies and HMOs, but under Florida's bill such firms would end up having vast new authority over the program, with great leeway to limit access to services or reduce benefits. The bill would also put a hard cap on the amount of money that these managed care companies could spend on Medicaid, which advocates say could particularly harm disabled and elderly patients who require costlier long-term care.

In the past, Florida's Medicaid pilot programs—which tested the waters for the proposals at the heart of the current bill—have been plagued by problems. According to a 2008 study by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, participants experienced huge delays and restricted access to necessary treatments, says the center's co-executive director, Joan Alker. Patients found the new system bureaucratic and confusing—and HMOs were prone to dropping out without warning. Dr. Aaron Elkin, president of the Broward County Medical Association, recently declared the program to be a failure. And Medicaid patients don't have much better reviews. "It has taken four months to get a biopsy on a throat cancer due to the impediments placed by the HMOs for authorizations," one participant in the program told NPR.

Scott and Florida Republicans are nevertheless plowing ahead, arguing that slashing costs is necessary due to the state's $3.6 billion budget deficit. Yet even if the bill passes the Florida statehouse, it will likely face another roadblock with the Obama administration, which must approve the biggest changes in the measure. Though the Bush administration happily green-lighted the pilot program in 2005, Obama officials are less likely to be amenable to continuing the troubled program—much less expanding it. The Obama administration, however, is holding off from commenting on the Florida bill until it receives the final version, though officials are "aware of some of the concerns" raised about the pilot programs, says Mary Kahn, a spokesperson for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Changing Medicaid rules isn't the only way Scott would benefit - privatizing public hospitals is one way to get rid of the competition.  One of Scotts first actions in the health industry was to invest in a couple hospitals and then purchase a nearby hospital only to close it down, thus increasing his clientele.  Requiring state workers and welfare recipients to drug test is another way to increase business.  Scott's walk-in clinics specialize in drug testing and care for the uninsured - it is a safe bet that most people on welfare or unemployment lack health insurance of any kind, meaning they would depend on companies like Scott's. 

Scott also believes drug testing will save the state money, but past results have found it to be extremely costly for the state, yielding to few benefits, and lets not talk about the constitutionality of it all - I'll leave off by stating a judge had ruled the practice of drug testing state employees to be a violation of their rights, but Scott has really shown no interesting in upholding existing laws.

Basically, Scott is passing legislation that appears to benefit the state but in reality stand to benefit himself, which is why he refuses to talk about any conflicts of interest.  It is also smart of him to pass this stuff early in his term and all at once, that way when it is time for reelection the stupid voters won't remember Scott funneled tax payer dollars into his his wife's business.

Herman Cain Hates Muslims

With Republican hopefuls getting more and more media attention for their race to the top, right-wing candidates favored by the tea party are also getting a bit of undeserved attention.  Herman Cain spoke at an event in Iowa organized by GOP Rep. Steve King, in which he spoke about getting off the Democratic "plantation" and his willingness to exclude a religious group from government - he stated that he would not put any Muslims in his Cabinet should he be elected.

“I will not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt, this attempt, to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government,” Cain said. “It does not belong in our government. This is what happened to Europe. And little by little, to try to be politically correct, they made this little change. They made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.”

I think Cain has a lack of understanding about the social dynamics of Europe - the problems that arose in Europe, like the riots six years ago, were less about Muslim intolerance and more about European exclusion - a policy Cain wishes to extend.

Cain also referenced popular conservative anti-Islam talking points, such as isolated incidents like a 2009 case of domestic abuse where a judge refused to grant a woman a restraining order on the basis of religion - that ruling was eventually overturned - or a federal judge from blocking an Oklahoma law that would have barred courts from using shariah law or international law in deciding cases.

It seems like Cain's problems are with the government - not Islam.  The government was designed by the founding fathers to prevent the singling out of one particular faith in favor of another.  Cain doesn't want that.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wisconsin Republicans Publish Collective Bargaining Law, Claim It Is Official Despite Judge's Ruling

Here is an excerpt from an article by Patrick Marley and Jasont Stein from the Journal Sentinel:
In a stunning twist, Gov. Scott Walker's legislation limiting collective bargaining for public workers was published Friday despite a judge's hold on the measure, prompting a dispute over whether it takes effect Saturday.

The measure was published to the Legislature's website with a footnote that acknowledges the restraining order by a Dane County judge. But the posting says state law "requires the Legislative Reference Bureau to publish every act within 10 working days after its date of enactment."

The measure sparked protests at the Capitol and lawsuits by opponents because it would eliminate the ability of most public workers to bargain over anything but wages.

The restraining order was issued against Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette. But the bill was published by the reference bureau, which was not named in the restraining order.

Laws normally take effect a day after they are published, and a top GOP lawmaker said that meant it will become law Saturday. But nonpartisan legislative officials from two agencies, including the one who published the bill, disagreed.

"I think this is a ministerial act that forwards it to the secretary of state," said Stephen Miller, director of the Legislative Reference Bureau. "I don't think this act makes it become effective. My understanding is that the secretary of state has to publish it in the (official state) newspaper for it to become effective."

Walker signed the bill March 11. Under state law, it must be published within 10 working days, which was Friday.

It hasn't been printed in the Wisconsin State Journal, the official state newspaper, as other laws are. Late Friday, State Journal publisher Bill Johnston said in an e-mail that the notice for the law had been scheduled to run but had been canceled. He did not elaborate.

La Follette urged caution Friday, saying the measure has not been published yet by his office. He said he believes the law cannot go into effect until he directs the State Journal to publish it, which he has not done.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said it didn't matter that it hasn't appeared in the paper.

"It's published," Fitzgerald said. "It's law. That's what I contend."

Fitzgerald and Miller met Friday. Miller said Fitzgerald asked him to publish the law and, after reading the statutes, Miller agreed that he could do so. He said he had never published a law without being given a date by the secretary of state during his 12 years of running the reference bureau.

After the restraining order was issued March 18, La Follette sent a letter that same day to the reference bureau rescinding earlier instructions to publish the bill Friday. "I further instruct you to remove all reference to March 25, 2011, as the publication date and not to proceed with publication until I contact you with a new publication date," his letter said.
I find this very interesting - while there is a restraining order in place by a judge, the Republicans are playing with semantics in order to get their way and the Walker administration is already planning to enforce the law, which I thought was also interesting because of comments made by Walkers top cabinet administration official, Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch:

"Today the administration was notified that the LRB published the budget-repair bill as required by law," he said. "The administration will carry out the law as required."

Remember when Democrats fled the state because the legislature could not vote on budgetary matters without the higher quorom, but then they claimed the collective bargaining was later not a budgetary item in order to pass it without the Democrat's votes?

Don't you love how the Republicans say it is one thing, then say a completely different thing to get their way, only to go back to what they were saying in the first place?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big Government's Clarence Thomas Hypocrisy

Big Government recently published a post by Media Trackers titled "Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Would Have to Recuse Herself From Collective Bargaining Cases," in which the author of the piece argued that JoAnne Kloppenburg’s husband's political donations would be a conflict of interest.
JoAnne Kloppenburg’s husband, Jack, a UW-Madison professor, has publicly opposed Gov. Walker’s attempts to restrict collective bargaining for public workers and donated money during the past years to two of the formerly AWOL Democratic state senators – including Sen. Mark Miller, the Minority Leader who gave the opposition speech to Gov. Walker’s budget address.

According to, Kloppenburg said during a debate with incumbent David Prosser this week that “she also wouldn’t need to recuse herself from any cases on the collective bargaining bill because she has remained independent during the protests in Madison.”

But her husband hasn’t remained neutral.

Along with other professors from UW, Jack Kloppenburg signed an open letter this February that said in part, “We are concerned, therefore, about the governor’s proposal to deprive public employees of the right to bargain collectively in Wisconsin.” The letter ran in a campus newspaper and was disseminated as a press release by a group called Defend Wisconsin (its website contains the subhead “against Scott Walker’s attacks”). The press release bears the headline, “260 UW Madison Faculty Support Collective Bargaining Rights For all Workers.”

This revelation, on top of the news of Kloppenburg’s acceptance of a donation from the husband of Judge Maryann Sumi, raises serious questions about whether Kloppenburg, if she were to win a seat on the Supreme Court, would have to recuse herself from all matters relating to Scott Walker’s budget.
The donations referenced in the post were for Democratic Senators Mark Miller in 2007 and 2004 and Fred Risser in 1999 and 1995.  They also indicate Kloppenburg's husband had donated to Russ Feingold and that she had given money to the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee five years ago.

There are two things that are interesting with this piece.  One issue is the remarkable similarities between the argument against Kloppenburg made by Big Government and the argument against Clarance Thomas regarding his wife's political actions as a tea party activist.  The second issue is that using the same logic, Kloppenburg's opponent, incumbent David Prosser, would also have to recuse himself from any collective bargaining issues because of his past involvement with tea parties and because of statements he made, in which he stated "his personal ideology more closely mirrors" that of Governor Scott Walker - the man behind the current assault on labor unions.

In Big Government's defense, we can't really expect Big Government to be fair - Andrew Breitbart has appeared at tea party events along side Clarence Thomas's wife, Ginny Thomas, to talk about all things conservative, and Breitbart's propaganda sites have consistently defended the justice and his wife from accusations and claims.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

James O’Keefe Broke, Begs for Money and Lies for Non-Profit Status

Here is something funny – James O’Keefe, the pretend journalist who makes little videos designed to expose wrongdoings in organizations like ACORN or NPR, has sent out an email claiming to be personally in debt to the tune of $50,000. On top of that, O’Keefe’s message asking for donations states that his company, Project Veritas, is seeking non-profit status.

I have some problems with this email.

Read the rest at Veracity Stew!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Arizona's Over-Reaching Anti-Abortion Law...

Abortion foes have made a hard push this year, coordinating extreme legislative attempts with highly deceptive sting videos to try and prevent a medical procedure that is in some instances necessary but more importantly, legal.  In Arizona, lawmakers have decided to take it a step further and made it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion if the mother has the abotion as a method of sex or race selection.

Alia Beard Rau wrote the following for The Arizona Republic:
Republican supporters have said that statistics show a high percentage of abortions are being sought by minority women and that abortion clinics intentionally locate in minority areas. They say statistics show that some populations are increasingly seeking abortions based on the fetus' sex. Democrats argue that statistics show that neither is occurring.

"This legislation really is needed," said Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix. "Sex-selection abortions are happening in this country, and it is time we address it head-on."

Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Tucson, called HB 2443 "one of the most offensive, odious pieces of legislation I have ever seen."

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, said statistics show that there are slightly more female births in the U.S. than male births, indicating that there is not a systematic practice of aborting females.

"Gendercide is indeed a very real issue in China and India, but it is not an issue in the United States," Sinema said. "This legislation spreads myths that are untrue, and the implication that women make decisions based on these motives in our country is offensive."
Republicans supporters pointed to "statistics" as a reason why the legislation was needed, but as Titania Kumeh wrote for her article on Mother Jones, the Republican mention of "statistics" is meaningless and without merit.
Preventing race- and gender-based abortion seems like a no-brainer, right? But how real a problem is it?

There hasn't been much research on this. In one 2008 study, researchers at Columbia University using 2000 US Census data found that second and third births in Chinese, Korean and Indian families living in the US were skewed toward boys. If the first child was a girl, the researchers reported, the second child was more likely to be a boy. If the couple had two girls, the third child was even more likely to be a boy. In white families, the researchers found only a small variance from the expected gender ratios.

The Columbia study stops short of attributing these variations to abortion. Couples doing IVF, for instance, can select the sex of an embryo prior to implanting it. In any case, the number of Asian girls born in the US is on the rise, and Asian American women make up a relatively small proportion (less than 9 percent) of women having abortions in the US. What's more, the Arizona Capitol Times points out that 92 percent of abortions in Arizona occurred before 13 weeks of pregnancy, whereas women can't generally learn the gender of a fetus until week 17.

Not that Montenegro would care. His agenda seems to be more in line with anti-choice rhetoric than any real concern about Asian fetuses. He told Capitol Media Services, for instance, that he had information "that there are targeted communities that the abortion industry targets," and that more females are aborted than males. 

In fact, 63 percent of abortion clinics in America are located in predominantly white neighborhoods, according to a January report by the Guttmacher Institute (PDF). Fewer than 1 in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominately African American neighborhoods (the same neighborhoods anti-choicers claim are being "targeted"). About as many percent are located in predominately Latino neighborhoods, and 1 percent are in neighborhoods where most of the residents are deemed "non-Hispanic others."
Also, the portion about performing an abortion because of race is interesting.  While African-American and Hispanic women are more likely to have an abortion then non-Hispanic white women, to specifically outlaw abortions based on race selection seems highly intrusive to the the doctor-patient relationship.  I am not for abortion, and in particular racial-engingeering abortion, but by relation, if using abortion as a method of child selection is illegal, then so should invitro fertilization or even traditional methods of child creation, such as sexual intercourse.  There should even be an ellimination of racial information at sperm banks and a requirement that everybody - not just women - wear full-body burqas to prevent someone from making a racially-motivated selection of a mate, because after all, you are allowing people to engineer their child based on personal preferences, and Republicans believe it is the government's place to prevent such discrimination from occurring.

I would even go as far as to question the constitutionality of such a law, as how can such a determination - whether a doctor were to commit such a felony - be determined?

After all, the race of the child would be known by the mother (presumably), and if the sex was consensual, then the consequences of intercourse (pregnancy) would be known and the reason behind the abortion would probably be more then just race, such as economic or marital status.

Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post summed it up pretty good:
Basically, HB 2443 is rooted in the brand-new varietal of anti-Planned Parenthood paranoia, in which the organization stands accused of culpability in a massive scheme to commit in-utero genocide of black children. As in other recent cases of abortion law fearmongering -- such as the South Dakota law that imagined an epidemic of women being assaulted for the purpose of causing an abortion (and the presumed absence of laws that already made such assaults illegal in the first place) -- supporters of this bill cannot actually point to such an epidemic that's actually happening. But they try their best, all the same!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hypocritical Criticisms Of Coalition Air Strikes...

With the recent coalition air strikes against Libya, something struck me as peculiar - various legislators were coming out criticizing the decision of the administration for acting without giving what they believed to be deserved consideration to the legal and legislative branches of the government.

Sam Stein and Amanda Terkel wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
As the United States expands its military imprint on the international intervention into Libyan airspace, members of Congress have begun sounding the alarm over the lack of regard being paid by the president to the legal and advisory roles of the legislative branch.

On Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered his endorsement for a no fly zone over Libya. Conspicuous in his statement, however, was the threat to disrupt future operations should the president not consult Congress first.

“Before any further military commitments are made,” Boehner said, “the Administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission.”

A top GOP leadership aide clarified that Boehner wasn’t insisting that Obama needed congressional authorization for the use of military force in Libya. “The focus,” said the aide, “is on Congressional consultation.” At an off-camera briefing hours later, National Security Adviser Tom Donilon called such a request “fair" while arguing that it had been met by the president.

But Boehner's remarks still underscore the domestic political limits Obama faces as he executes, what aides insist will be, a limited, internationally-led military intervention in Libya; which, this weekend, included cruise missile attacks and air strikes. While the majority of lawmakers who have spoken publicly say they support America’s involvement in the U.N.-backed mission (some Republicans wishing it had come sooner), several influential voices have argued -- as Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Chair of the House Armed Services Committee did -- that the President “has an obligation to explain” operational objectives to Congress.

Lower on the leadership ranks, a strange-bedfellows coalition of progressive-minded pols and Tea Party members has emerged, not only raising doubts about the underlying strategy but the legality of it as well.

“I think [the president] has a duty and an obligation to come to Congress,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah.) told The Huffington Post. “I see no clear and present danger to the United States of America. I just don't. We're in a bit of the fog at the moment as to what the president is trying to ultimately do.”
I found this criticism to be nothing more then partisan whining because after all, Republicans are the ones who are supposed to be tough and Democrats are supposed to be a bunch of spineless peaceniks.  Rep. Jason Chaffetz is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of Obama's critics.  Chaffetz believes there is no immediate threat to America and that the president needs to explain himself, but how exactly would Chaffetz explain his signing of a letter to President Obama blasting the administration for planning to send $400,000 to Libyan foundations - Libya was on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror and it is believed that charitable donations - especially ones foundations headed by the children of Libyan dictator Mom are just funneled to terrorist organizations, which is why Chaffetz was upset in the first place.  Chaffetz, by the way, is against terrorism and for defending America.

Chaffetz wrote the following in a letter to Obama regarding the closure of Guantanamo Bay:
Certainty about how to deal with our enemies serves to reinforce our standing in the world. The two years of indecision supports the conclusion that our adversaries — and many of our allies — have reached: The United States no longer projects a determined course for freedom and the rule of law.
Wouldn't the participation in the air strikes against Libyan forces demonstrate American commitment to freedom and the rule of law, as well as expressing a certainty regarding how America deals with it's enemies?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Frank Gaffney Believes Air Strikes In Libya Will Lead To America Targeting Israel

I thought this was interesting - Frank Gaffney made a post describing a hypothetical situation where America would use situations somewhat similar to what is occurring in Libya to use military action against Israel, an American ally.

Gaffney wrote the following: "What I find particularly concerning is the prospect that what we might call the Qaddafi Precedent will be used in the not-to-distant future to justify and threaten the use of U.S. military forces against an American ally: Israel."

What is the end result of Gaffney's fear-mongering scenario?  Nuclear world war.

What a joke.

What is the purpose of his post?  Gaffney offers zero solutions.  He doesn't comment on whether or not the administration acted appropriately - according to Gaffney's other Big Peace peers, the Obama administration did what was necessary.  So basically, Gaffney has found some way to translate world events into the eventual destruction of Israel and the spread of Islamic extremism, oh yeah, and the collapse of America.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Breitbart Effect: Is The Huffington Post Becoming Influenced By Right-Wing Fear-Mongering

The Huffington Post published a story yesterday titled "Rising Food Prices Intensify Poverty, Hunger In U.S. And World," and in the article The Huffington Post cited a poll conducted by Gallup from over two years ago that lumped The United States with all of North and South America.
According to Gallup Polls conducted between 2006 and 2008, 16 percent of people in the Americas have gone hungry due to finances. And the trend of rising food prices is going to push more and more families into that category.

The U.S. Labor Department released its consumer price index survey this week. It reports that the price of grains such as corn, wheat and soybeans has roughly doubled since last summer, due mainly to bad harvests and also the use of corn for ethanol. Wholesale food prices rose by 3.9 percent in February -- the sharpest increase in more than 36 years. Meat and dairy prices also rose, as did fresh vegetable prices, leaping by nearly 50 percent in February. And the Department predicted that "food costs are likely to keep climbing for most of this year."
I am not saying hunger and poverty do not exist in America, but this article has all the makings of a Glenn Beck special.  All that it is missing is advertisements for food insurance.

I find this article somewhat misleading in part because it uses a poll from a few years ago that lumps the U.S. with the rest of the hemisphere.

When I think of articles like the one above, I cannot help but think of things like the ruling of the Canadian Supreme Court in favor of bio-tech giant Monsanto against a farmer because Monsanto held a patent on a gene in a canola plant.

What impact do corporations have on food costs in America?

The presence of this article, with its citation of a years-old poll from gallup make me wonder if Huffington Post is compromising their integrity to entice the fans of recently acquired contributor to visit their site.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Wisconsin Law Blocked!

Monica Davey wrote the following for The New York Times:
A judge issued a temporary restraining order on Friday that prevents Wisconsin’s new law cutting collective bargaining rights for public workers from taking effect, at least for now.

The decision, issued by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court, temporarily bars Wisconsin’s secretary of state from publishing the controversial law, one of the procedural requirements for it to come into effect in the state. Publication had been expected late next week, but Judge Sumi’s ruling delays that until at least March 29, when she plans to hold a full hearing on a lawsuit that questions the validity of the collective bargaining law based on the speedy manner in which it was carried out earlier this month.
The best part about this ruling - Judge Sumi was appointed by former GOP Governor Tommy G. Thompson!

That doesn't matter though - ignorant conservatives are already claiming judicial activism and court shopping by Democrats to find a sympathetic judge. 

"It seems to me the public policy behind effective enforcement of the open meeting law is so strong that it does outweigh the interest, at least at this time, which may exist in favor of sustaining the validity of the (law)," said Sumi.

The public policy Sumi is referring to is Wisconsin's open meetings law.  Republicans still claim they were in the right.

With this issue moving through the legal system, Republicans still have the option of ramming this legislation through again - they just have to do everything according to public policy first...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Should Donald Trump Run For President?

Debating whether or not to run for the presidency is the newest political fad.  Numerous potential candidates are mulling over the possibilities of mounting a campaign, and in doing so launching a pseudo-campaign - an off-the-grid attempt to soak up some cash and gauge voter temperment.

One particular candidate should be on everybody's watch list, and no I don't mean Sarah Palin.  If you are intelligent and read the title of this piece, then you would know that I am talking about Donald Trump.

Unlike the other potential candidates, Trump is doing the most non-commited out-loud thinking, and recently, he discussed financing and party selection.

During an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday, March 17th, the savvy real estate mogul and reality television star stated that he would spend up to $600 million of his own money on his campaign.

"Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich," said Trump.  "So if I need $600 million, I can put $600 million myself. That's a huge advantage. I must tell you, that's a huge advantage over the other candidates."

Trump also indicated that if he fails to capture the Republican primary, he may consider an independent run.

If that is the case, I believe Obama will surely win.  In a two-way race, with Trump being the Republican candidate, I think he would have a pretty decent shot - better then any other Republican - but in a three-way-race, Trump would siphon more votes from the Republicans, giving Democrats the win.

Sure Trump may take in some of the idiot vote, or those who would vote on Trump because of his celebrity status, similar to those who voted for Linda McMahon for her connection with professional wrestling and nothing else, but when the candidates start talking policy, with Trump being the straight shooter, would steal members of the Republican persuasion.  Tea party candidates would love him because he is a rich free-market political outsider, and conservatives in general would love him because of his general positions - the only group he may have trouble with would be the religious right, who may have a problem with Trump's personal life, but then again, who else would they vote for?

Considering Trump's statements regarding the other potential Republican candidates, I would think the strongest Republican ticket with Trump's name on it would be with Mitt Romney as his running mate.  As an independent, I would see Ron Paul or Mike Huckabee as a viable vice-presidential option - Trump would probably come in second, taking in a greater percentage of voters then Ross Perot did in the nineties.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Big Peace's Larry Klayman Advocates American Military Intervention Against Pro-Democracy Protesters In Bahrain

Larry Klayman wrote a ridiculous post for Big Peace on Tuesday, March 15th, that insisted Obama's failed diplomacy forced the Saudi government to aid Bahrain militarily against protesters.  Klayman actually applauded Saudi Arabia for "invading" Bahrain, wishing America had sent troops instead.
I applaud the actions of the Saudis. It’s time to not only stop the hegemony of the mullahs in Tehran, but also to take strong action to remove them from power. The world cannot leave in power a radical neo-Nazi Islamic regime, bent on not only destroying Israel, but pursuing a radical Shiite Islamic revolution worldwide. Sadly, and dangerously, thanks to Obama and Clinton, the Iranian regime has been succeeding, so much so that the Saudis now saw an urgency to step in to do the job the United States should have done long ago by stopping Iran in its tracks.

Let me get this straight - a writer for a website called "Big Peace" is calling for America to engage in an arm conflict with pro-democracy protesters?

Is Klayman mentally handicapped?

Jimmy Carter The Union Buster? Big Government Finds Reason To Love The 39th President.

In a March 13th post on Big Government by LaborUnionReport (LUR), an anti-union blog affiliated with the right-wing site, that sought to set the record straight on the decline of union membership and the proper attribution to the cause - according to LUR, the deregulation policies of Democratic administrations are to blame for declining membership, not Ronald Reagan and the Republicans, and that liberals have created a false narrative for the past 30 years.

According to the post, Reagan gets the negative press for busting the unions when it was policies in the Carter presidency that set the ball rolling.  If you read Big Government,  union-busting is not a bad thing, but Jimmy Carter is, and even though it is great to attribute such anti-labor antics on the conservative messiah, right-wingers still can't be satisfied because by trying to correctly identify the root cause of something, they found a reason to like Jimmy Carter and another reason to not like liberals - apparently there is a conspiracy between unions and Democrats to ignore the policies from 30 years ago to trash Reagan.

There were some conflicting points in the LUR post that I would like to address.

LUR claims it is the "left's narrative" that gave Reagan the credit, but later on there is mention that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters was one of three unions to endorse Reagan for the presidency. As we all know from conservative websites and media, unions are part of the "left," so why would a Reagan-supporting organization simultaneously bash the very people they endorse?

LUR also points out that a court case that resulted in the break up of AT&T's Regional Bell Operating Companies, although ruled in 1982, was decided by a Carter appointee.

I found this interesting because every time you hear about a ruling from a Democratic-appointed judge, the right cries about judicial activism, but in this instance almost 30 years ago, the right now screams unfair framing of the issue, which is another problem I have with this post - this article attempts to reveal the truth about the decline in union membership and the real role the Reagan administration had in it, as well as the false narrative the left has allegedly pushed for three decades, but if that is the case, then why do so many tea party Republicans praise Reagan's union-busting ways?

Why just last month Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker praised Reagan in a prank call with the Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy.

"You know, this may seem a bit melodramatic but 30 years ago, Ronald Reagan… had one of the most defining moments of his political career, not just his Presidency, when he fired the Air Traffic Controllers," said Walker. "To me, that moment was more important, not just for labor relations or the federal budget, that was the first crack in the Berlin Wall and the fall of Communism because from that point forward the Soviets and the Communists knew that Ronald Reagan wasn’t a pushover."

And what about people like Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity who constantly praise the actions of Reagan?

If there has been a false narrative floating around for decades, then someone definitely needs to tell these right-wingers of the truth about Reagan, but that brings me to my final point - what is the point of the LUR post?

Nothing is changed by the revelations that deregulation during the 70s led to changes in union membership in the subsequent decades - conservatives still love Reagan and still hate Carter.

At the end of the post, LUR gives credit to Carter for being "the nation’s biggest union-busting president in the 20th century."

It makes me wonder if conservatives are trying to stake claim to Jimmy Carter, much like they do with everything else. In case you were wondering , just consider fiscal responsibility, religion, moral superiority, or pretty much every other issue out there - Republicans claim to be the sole proprietor of all things.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Canceled Primaries A Plus for Democrats?

With budgets tight, three states – Massachusetts, Washington, and Kansas – are considering changing their electoral process from a primary to a party caucus.

In Massachusetts, the chief election official requested an additional $3.5 million from lawmakers or consider replacing their primary with party caucuses, Washington Gov. Chris Gregorie has recommended switching to a caucus to save $10 million, and the Kansas Senate had passed a bill to cancel next year’s presidential primary, allowing the parties to hold caucuses instead.

Read the rest at Veracity Stew...

Author Of "Birther" Bill Doesn't Know What A Long-Form Birth Certificate Is (Among Other Things)...

I thought this was very telling of the right-wing tea party movement and the resurgence of the Republican party - author of a "birther" bill in Tennessee had no clue what a long-from birth certificate was, or that the fact that many states no longer issue to type of certificate.

Tim Murphy wrote the following for Mother Jones:
Last month, Tennessee state Sen. Mae Beavers introduced SB 1091, a bill that would require presidential candidates to present a long-form birth certificate in order to qualify for the ballot in the Volunteer State. Beavers, a Republican, is in good company: Nearly a dozen states have now introduced similar legislation—part of national campaign mounted by the birthers, those conservatives who believe that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. To date they haven't had much luck; a bill proposed in Arizona looked the most promising but was scuttled in committee; on Wednesday, New Hampshire GOPers knocked down a similar proposal.
It's a far-fetched goal, and it turns out that Beavers, who recently discussed her bill on Reality Check, a radio show devoted to debunking birther legislation, still has some research to do. From the transcript:
RC: What are the specific requirements in the bill?
MB: That they have to have the long form birth certificate.
RC: What is the long form birth certificate?
MB: Now, you're asking me to get into a lot of things that I haven't really looked into yet.
The host then asked the obvious follow-up: why put a term into the bill, if you don't know what it means? Beavers responded, "Well, we are following some of the bills that have been filed in lots of other states, and you know how it is, you file your bill and, you know, you prepare before you go to committee."

Beavers went on to state more clearly, "I'm not entirely sure what long form means." She seemed genuinely surprised by the news that not all states even print long-form birth certificates anymore. "I only know about Tennessee," she explained. As for her motives for introducing the bill, Beavers didn't declare herself as an outright birther, but she noted, "I think people have raised questions about [Obama's birth] enough to make everybody wonder." Although the state of Hawaii has produced a certificate of live birth for Obama that has been been widely distributed, Beavers said proof of Obama's citizenship must have gotten buried in her inbox: "I get emails all the time with things in them, you know; I can't honestly tell you that I read all of them, because I get so many."

Beavers' long-form slip-up fits a trend of Republican state lawmakers amping up extreme right-wing legislation with dubious supporting evidence. As we reported last month, South Dakota state Rep. Phil Jensen floated a measure banning Islamic Sharia law that would have also undone child custody protections, and another bill that could have provided an opening for the killing of abortion providers. Alabama state Sen. Gerald Allen borrowed his own anti-Sharia bill from Wikipedia, and when asked by a reporter what Sharia actually is, said, "I don't have my file in front of me." Texas state Rep. Leo Berman, who introduced both an anti-Sharia bill and a birther bill, recently explained that he got most of his political information on YouTube because "YouTubes are infallible."
 Sadly, these people are elected into office...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Evidence The Tea Party Is Manufactured By Right-Wing Special Interests

A recent poll was conducted by The Wall Street Journal and NBC, respondents overwhelming believed entitlements, such as Medicare and Social Security, should not be reduced.  That figure also includes tea partiers, who in a 2-to-1 margin believed the government programs should be off limits.

This is interesting.

If a majority of the tea party (and America) does not support cuts to entitlement programs, then why are conservative politicians pushing for such measures, and more importantly, why are those very same tea partiers voicing support for such candidates?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Journalism's O'Keefe Hypocrisy - Why Allegations Against The Pretend Journalist Just Isn't Fair...


Big Journalism was upset today when they found out that earlier in the week, there was mention on PBS that James O'Keefe attempted to mess with Senator Landreiu's communications system.
O’Keefe and company pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of entering federal property under false pretenses.  There were never any allegations of a plot to bug or wiretap Sen. Landrieu in the FBI affidavit and a law enforcement official conceded over a year ago that the four men were not attempting to wiretap or intercept calls.  Despite all that, the reporter from PBS makes a definitive and erroneous claim that the activists pleaded guilty to attempting to bug Landrieu’s phones.  What’s more, legal representation for the accused went on record in January of last year, almost immediately after the arrest, stating there were no intentions to tap phones in the Senator’s office.
Why should anyone care about Big Journalism's correction request?

Just consider the Planned Parenthood videos pushed by Andrew Breitbart's websites and party girl Lila Rose - despite proof shooting down claims by Live Action and the right wing that Planned Parenthood "aided and abetted" underage child prostitution rings, Breitbart and his propaganda websites have continued to push their narrative.

As for O'Keefe's lawyers claiming O'Keefe was innocent - thats what lawyers are supposed to do, so maybe Big Journalism's idiotic correction Llama should find a cozy home in a zoo and leave journalism to the pros.

Update - Oddly, Glenn Beck's The Blaze had an excellent review of the video and the raw footage, pointing out inconsistencies and spots where the editing changes the context entirely.

The False Narrative Of The O'Keefe NPR Plot (One Of Many)

I keep reading article after article claiming NPR executives used poor judgement when entertaining a potential donor that was supposedly affiliated with the conservative-targeted Muslim Brotherhood.

Emily Bell wrote the following for blog The Bell Curve:
To say that NPR's senior fundraiser Ron Schiller made a serious error of judgment when he sat down with a "no strings" potential donor called the MEAC, is an understatement. The meeting for an organisation allegedly backed by the Muslim Brotherhood was in fact a hoax perpetrated by the rightwing activist James O'Keefe. The covert video of the meeting not only did for Schiller but also resulted in the resignation of NPR's chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation).
This alleged association with the Muslim Brotherhood is based on assumption and taking James O'Keefe's word at face value.

In the video, the two actors pretending to be members of this other Muslim organization, the Muslim Education Action Center Trust, or MEAC, simply state that their group was founded by "a few members of the Muslim Brotherhood in America" - how does this translate into MEAC being a front group?

Simple.  James O'Keefe tells us it is.

Beneath MEAC's name, O'Keefe let us know (but not NPR) what this group was supposed to be.

I also noticed something else - O'Keefe makes a big deal about federal funding of NPR, and as Ron Schiller points out, a minority of their funds come from the government.  The purpose of O'Keefe's video becomes more clear when you consider the opening shot of the video, featuring a shot of the NPR building and a sign from the adjacent lot saying "Project funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" - why would anyone O'Keefe's narrative when he uses deceptive imagery to elicit a certain response?

Scott Walker Appointed State Trooper Superintendent With Intent To Detain Democrats?

Here are some interesting facts - the Superintendent of the Wisconsin State Patrol is Stephen Fitzgerald, father of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.

Stephen Fitzgerald took office on February 14th, 2011 - the same day Walker introduced his controversial anti-labor bill.

Three days later, on February 17th, Fitzgerald's son, Scott, and Governor Scott Walker called for the state troopers to hunt down the missing Democrats.

To me it sounds as if Walker planned on using the state troopers to stop Democrats dead in their tracks and force the legislation through, but unfortunately the Democrats skipped town to fast.

Palingates: How Sarah Palin Deals With A Crisis

Regina at Palingates wrote the following on Thursday:
I have slowed down the review of Sarah Palin's gates as there aren't many left to refresh. I looked at the list and clicked on Indifference, which could well be renamed "Couldn't-care-less-gate." How did Sarah Palin react when her constituents faced a crisis? Did she use all the resources at her disposal to alleviate their plight? In some cases she could have been proactive and prevented a crisis. Did she act? I found four examples of her "actions."

Read more at Palingates...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jan Brewer Can't Operate Without Teleprompter!

During a speech on Wednesday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer went silent for an extended period of time as a result of a down teleprompter.

Speaking about economic development and education reform, the teleprompter suddenly stopped, causing Brewer to stop too, eventually moving on to a hard copy of the speech.

"As we limit the growth of the public sector and restrain unnecessary regulation, stimulate the engine of free enterprise (long pause) Well, the Teleprompter went dead," Brewer said - the audience apparently found this funny.

I find it funny because conservatives have continually blasted the president for using a teleprompter and here one of their darlings is shut down in the middle of a speech because of her reliance on one.


Watch her screw up below:

Brewer Has Another Lengthy Pause During Speech:

Message Board References Midnight Review Post Without Reading Contents!

I thought this was funny and that I had to share.

I had noticed that I had received some site traffic today from a message board by the name of Intruder Alert Cafe.  

From what I gather it is a motorcycle website.

Anyway, there was a message thread about President Obama, which began complaining about the high price of gasoline and how Obama wants gas to stay high.

"I believe Obama is OK with $5 gas, it will curb use and that is right down his alley," commenter Plowboy wrote. "He needs to get it up now so it is not such an issue in the 2012 election, old news high priced gas is."

Down the thread, another user by the name of "jrjr" left a list of links supposedly proving Obama is making money off of gas, using my website as a source.

This is the funny part - the article they linked to regarded the propaganda regarding campaign contributions to Obama's presidential campaign three years ago.

These misinformed individuals didn't even read what the article is about!

Later on in the thread, the comments complain that it isn't the government's place to be trying to take America off of oil.  If that is the case, then it also would not be the government's responsibility to keep oil prices low, eliminating any and all subsidies for it.  I wonder how those bike riders would feel then...

Scott Walker, Wisconsin Republicans Lie, Ram Anti-Union Legislation Through

From a Los Angeles Times article by Abby Sewell:
Senate Republicans in Wisconsin used a surprise legislative maneuver to advance a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights from most public sector workers, a move accomplished without the presence of 14 Democratic senators who fled the state to stall the measure.

Republicans voted 18 to 1 Wednesday night to pass the non-fiscal provisions of Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill, including those that would eliminate or severely limit collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

By omitting the financial provisions from the bill, Republicans were able to bypass a requirement that a quorum be present to vote on fiscal legislation. When all 14 Democratic state senators fled to Illinois on Feb. 17, they denied the GOP majority a quorum and thereby stymied action on the initiative.
Only one Republican voted against the bill - moderate Republican Dale Shultz, who had pushed for weeks fro Democrats and Republicans to compromise.

"Ultimately, I voted my conscience, which I feel reflects the core beliefs of the majority of voters who sent me here to represent them," he said.

Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein of The Huffington Post pointed out the hypocrisy:
It was also a 180-degree reversal by Walker and state Senate Republicans, who have insisted for the past three weeks that the collective bargaining provision was designed to help alleviate the state’s budget problems. State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) had previously said he would not attempt to pass any portions of the bill without Democrats present.
And what about all those emails Walker leaked showing he was really a nice guy and wanted to negotiate?

Sadly, voters will probably forget about this come election time and Republicans will probably claim they still represent the people when they seek the votes from the very people they attacked...

Kudos to Dale Shultz for actually listening to the people and voting in their interests...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

James O'Keefe's Latest Sting Controversial Because NPR Executive Ron Schiller Calls Out Tea Party, Conservatives

It looks like pretend journalist James O’Keefe is at it again releasing another video, this time targeting National Public Radio (NPR). The video depicts two actors claiming to be representatives of a Muslim organization speaking to President Ron Schiller and director Betsy Liley, wanting to donate $5 million to NPR, stating their reason was in part because of the defunding efforts by Republicans. Unfortunately, NPR didn’t bite, but that didn’t stop the actors from repeatedly making the offer.

Interestingly enough, Big Government’s editorial board confirmed that the video was “heavily edited,” but they were more focused on the contents of the video – critics of the broadcaster believe the videos prove a liberal bias because the two from NPR spoke about things like the GOP or the tea party.

Read the rest at Veracity Stew...

Wisconsin GOP State Legislators Collect Farm Subsidies

At a time when Republicans are calling for decreases in teacher's salaries and the elimination of collective bargaining, all in the name of balancing the budget, it makes you scratch your head when those same legislators are collecting what amounts to a welfare check from the federal government - if these people were truly principled and believed in what they said, wouldn't they have refused the subsidies?  

Sam Stein from The Huffington Post reported on the hypocrisy.
At least three of the Wisconsin state Senate Republicans currently demanding that public workers sacrifice benefits, wages and even collective bargaining rights for the sake of the budget have applied for and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal farm subsidies, a Huffington Post review of state and federal records shows.

From 1995 through 2009, state Sens. Luther Olsen, Dale Schultz and Sheila Harsdorf all had stakes in farms that received between them more than $300,000 in taxpayer funds.

Those federal appropriations had no direct impact on the state’s current budget woes, but the cash spent on those subsidies, which went to support a range of functions -- from soybean production to small hog operations -- could have been used elsewhere, perhaps even in Wisconsin. More than that, critics say, it muddles the notion, pushed by these lawmakers and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), that only they are serious about reining in an overextended, overspent government.

“Members of both parties ... preach fiscal austerity all the time, but then when it comes to farm subsides going to farmers in their districts, they think the spigot should remain wide open,” said Don Carr, a spokesman and policy adviser for the Environmental Working Group, which tracks and critiques federal farm subsidies.

As Carr acknowledged, there is more than a little irony in the use of government largess by the same senators now demanding that public workers tighten their belts.

Farm subsidies have long been criticized by conservatives and progressives alike as a clear waste of taxpayer money, but supporters of federal farm policy and less partial observers caution that for small farms, taxpayer help is key to survival. In the case of the Wisconsin state legislators, the farms in question seem to be primarily family operations.
Even though Stein indicates the subsidies are federal, not state, I do not think that matters.  When discussing pension plans and the fact that they are completely funded by the public employees, critics of unions who want to increase pension contributions point out that their entire benefits package (including salary) is funded by taxpayers.  Likewise, the fedral government draws its revenue from all Americans, including Wisconsinites, meaning these legislators who attack public workers for living large off the taxpayer's back are doing the same thing. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Labor Protests Descend Upon Orlando

Several hundred people convened at the Local Union 606 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers hall located on Virginia Drive in Orlando, Florida for the bi-partisan "Awake The State" protest, later marching down to Orange Avenue carrying homemade signs and chanting anti-corporate welfare slogans.  The protesters were heading towards the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce building for the rally at the adjacent Senator Beth Johnson Park on South Ivanhoe Boulevard, where even more protesters stood in anticipation.

The protests had a very large turnout, especially considering they took place on a weekday evening, and the spirit was lively and positive.  Many cars honked their horns as they passed, participating in the event.

This protest is to coincide with numerous others across the state to voice opposition to Governor Rick Scott's budget proposals and his "state of the state" address to the Florida Legislature in Tallahassee.  Scott's budget plans to change public employee pension plans, cut education and health care budgets, and drop corporate taxes.  The protests also echoed concerns in regards to the similar protests in Wisconsin, where conservative governor Scott Walker attacked workers and their right to collectively bargain.

Politicians like Scott and Walker insist public employees must contribute more to their benefits packages but what they fail to explain is that government pension plans are already funded by public employees.  Pensions are a form of compensation, where income is paid out at a later date then when it was actually earned - public pensions generally are cheaper to maintain then individual retirement accounts, but because of the mischaracterization from conservative organizations and politicians, public employee compensation plans have been been associated with budgetary problems and waste.

The protests will likely make no difference to the governor - as usual, he is out entertaining his tea party constituency and avoiding answering questions to the media.

“Here’s the key. All of us are better if we’re held accountable,’’ Scott said. “If we’re not going down the path, call us. Show up and complain.’’

“It’s easy to get distracted up here. It’s easy to hear what special interests want. It’s easy to hear what lobbyists want – because a they’re here everyday’’ he said.

This is all talk, though - Scott has ignored calls from the majority of Floridians.

Before Scott's budget cuts, he decided to refuse federal funding for Florida's high speed rail line, citing future uncertainty of government costs.  Even though a majority of Floridians and their legislators supported the rail line, private enterprise offered to cover budget overruns, and local municipalities offered to take control of the project from the state, Scott continued down his path of denial, all to the cheers of his conservative backers, who fund Scott's events - according to The Miami Herald, most of the pro-Scott protesters were retirees and bused in by right-wing group America for Prosperity.

Former Republican state Sen. Nancy Argenziano participated in an Awake the State protest in Fort Lauderdale, criticizing the governor in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

“Ever since Governor Scott and legislative leaders announced their plans to cut thousands of jobs, raise taxes on hardworking Floridians, cut essential services to the developmentally disabled, cut care to nursing home residents, condone gross legislative waste including a record number of six-figure staff salaries, and make the deepest cuts to education in history, people from all across the state have been looking for a way to voice their opposition," said . “Awake the State is giving them that chance.”