Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman Cain Flip Flops On Sexual Harassment Claims

"I know nothing of this settlement I am about to describe..."

A recent Politico exclusive detailed two women accusing GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment during his tenure as the head of the National Restaurant Association.
The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures...

The women complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain that made them angry and uncomfortable, the sources said, and they signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association. The agreements also included language that bars the women from talking about their departures.
What is interesting is that Cain originally denied any sexual harassment or settlement.

"I have never sexually harassed anyone and those accusations are totally false," Cain said. "It was concluded, after a thorough investigation, that it had no basis."

"I am unaware of any sort of settlement," he added. "I hope it wasn't for much, because I didn't do anything."

In a matter of hours Cain contradicted his original comments completely.  When asked by Greta van Susteren, Cain responded with the following:

"My general counsel said this started out where she and her lawyer were demanding a huge financial settlement…I don't remember a number…But then he said because there was no basis for this, we ended up settling for what would have been a termination settlement."

This is far from being "unaware of any sort of settlement."

Another point of interest in the Greta interview is Cain's explanation of the incident.

"She was in my office one day, and I made a gesture saying -- and I was standing close to her -- and I made a gesture saying you are the same height as my wife. And I brought my hand up to my chin saying, 'My wife comes up to my chin.'" Cain said. "And that was put in there [the complaint] as something that made her uncomfortable," Cain said, "something that was in the sexual harassment charge."

This is interesting because during the interview Cain said he only recollected one situation but according to the Politico article, there were two settlements separation packages. The article goes on to detail the complaints:
The sources — including the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.
This is interesting because what Cain offered up in the interview only touches upon part of the complaint - inappropriate physical gestures that may or may not have been sexual in nature - meaning Cain may be saving the best for last. Why would he address one situation but not the other - unwanted sexual advances in at hotels during conferences and NRA events?

Is Cain exploiting non-disclosure agreements by giving his own "facts" for what had happened in an attempt to discredit the anonymous sources, and with virtual free-reign since those who received the settlements would risk penalty should they come forward with the details that were swept under the rug. Also, considering Cain was party to the settlements - he claimed to have recused himself from the settlements but then said that he ended up settling with his general counsel - would he be in risk of violating that agreement as well?

Something just does not add up.  Cain first denied and claimed to not know what happened but then on friendly ground - Fox News - he offered up a little more details.  I guarantee within the week even more details will come out surrounding this situation and considering the amount of the settlements were in the five-figure range, I would imagine some press agencies would be willing to offer such compensation to these women for an exclusive interview providing them with the funds to repay any breach of contract.

Hilda Solis Uses Term "Teabagger." Conservatives Cry, Of Course.


Conservatives are being hypocritical yet again.  Recently, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis spoke at a luncheon praising the economic policies of the administration and crticized the tea party movement, calling them "teabaggers."

“I’ll be darned if I’m going to set that aside now because a few teabaggers want to somehow muzzle my voice,” Solis said. “We don’t have to sit back and allow a minority in the Congress, known as the tea party, to dominate the discussion in our households.”

Apparently this was enough for the right wing to cry foul - Big Government propagandist F. Vincent Vernuccio decided to blast the official and unleash a massive amounts of hypocrisy.

First, Vernuccio cried about the origins of the usage of the term "teabagger."
At the Florida Democratic Party State Convention over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis insulted members of the Tea Party, referring to the activists as “teabaggers.” Teabagger is a pejorative term used to refer to a certain sexual act. Liberal talk show hosts such as Rachel Maddow brought the phrase into the mainstream in 2009, using it as a tongue-in-cheek insult.
Keith Olbermann did a great job reminding the conservative groups who first started using that term.

“It is as useful to remind them anew of how the term originated and with whom. A TV news report aired last March 14 in which a correspondent described the original protest act, ‘take a teabag, put it in an envelope, and mail it to the White House.’ Olbermann said, ‘ has a headline Teabag the Fools in D.C. on tax day.’ Thus the verb to teabag was invented by the teabaggers themselves, and the correspondent who put it on TV was a Griff Jenkins of Fox News. Send your complaints to him.”

Of course the hypocrisy doesn't stop there.  Vernuccio then attacks Solis for admitting a bias towards unions but then criticizes her support because many teabaggers happen to be union members too.
The comments coming from the head of the Labor Department are striking because of the recent attacks from heads of unions on the Tea Party—this despite the fact that many union members are also members of the Tea Party.
This attack is doubly hypocritical because Big Government has spent a significant amount of time attacking unions - just do a simple search on their website to see the numerous negative articles regarding unions.  Vernuccio even differentiates between the two groups later on in his post: "The Tea Party vs. unions and Democrats divide will become even more striking as the 2012 election heats up."

So which is it? Are the teabaggers separate from the unions or are they part of the unions?

Update - The Midnight Review tried to enlighten the folks at Big Government with the facts but was met with some ignorant resistance.

As a service to those idiots over at Big Government, the Midnight Review found this wonderful timeline surrounding the origins of the term "teabagger" from the website The Week.
Feb. 27, 2009
At the first anti-stimulus "New American Tea Party" rally in Washington D.C., a protestor carries a sign reading "Tea Bag the Liberal Dems before they Tea Bag You!!" The Washington Independent's David Weigel calls it "the best sign I saw."

March 2
Americans for Prosperity, an anti-tax group, is one of the first Tea Party organizations to advocate sending tea bags to elected officials to protest the stimulus package. Several other lobby groups follow suit.

April 1
Several Tea Party protest sites encourage readers to "Tea bag the fools in DC." Jay Nordlinger at National Review Online later admits: "Conservatives started [using the term]... but others ran and ran with it."

April 9
Rachel Maddow is the first to mock the Tea Party's use of the phrase on her left-leaning MSNBC show. "Even Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina is getting in on the hot tea-bagging action," she says , stifling laughter. (Watch Rachel Maddow joke about the "tea baggers")

April 13
David Shuster, filling in for liberal commentator Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, also makes fun of the phrase. "While the parties are officially toothless, the tea-baggers are full-throated about their goals," he says. Jeff Poor at the Business and Media Insitute says that the MSNBC comments are "lost in juvenile criticism and ignoring the reason there is discontent from the conservative base"

April 14
Anderson Cooper, on his avowedly non-partisan CNN show, makes a similar crack , but later back-pedals, calling his remark a "stupid, silly, one-line aside" that was not meant to "disparage legitimate protests."

September 10
Badges with the message "Proud to be a Tea Bagger" are still on sale at Tea Party events, according to an article written later in the year .

November 10
A report in The New York Times claims the President called Tea Partiers "the teabag, anti-government people" prompting the blog Redstate to respond : "Sexual innuendo is inappropriate in political discourse. The Left and their media tools need a soap bar sandwich to clean up their act."

December 7
In an article for National Review Online , Jay Nordlinger notes that the word is being used so regularly, it is beginning to lose its pejorative association. "'Tory' and 'Whig' were put-downs when they originated," he notes, and "'Yankee Doodle' was none too nice." However, he suggests conservatives should continue to oppose the "lowdown term."

April 14, 2010
Prominent conservative Andrew Breitbart posts a video on the site Big Government in an attempt to reclaim the term. "I'm Proud to be a Tea Bagger" currently has over 90,000 views.

May 4
In his book, Alter quotes Obama saying that GOP opposition to the stimulus package "helped to create the tea-baggers." Grover Norquist, president of the Americans for Tax Reform group, compares it to the pejorative use of the N-word.
Let's see if those fools decide to open their eyes. 

Update - Apparently the people at Big Government would prefer to remain in their shell. After attacking the Midnight Review's comments as being offensive and immature, the users at Big Government then proceeded to direct homosexual slurs towards this website.

Real mature...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Does Warner Todd Huston Hate Private Enterprise?

A popular, veteran doctor from central Illinois has been sidelined by employer (Springfield-based) Memorial Health System because he has not become proficient with the electronic medical records system that they purchased and implemented. Patients are so incensed that they’ve started a Facebook page as well as a blog to rally to his defense. This situation brings into focus the problem of top-down medical solutions, calling into question the efficacy of healthcare by committee, not to mention Obamacare itself. Do we really want to sacrifice good doctors in favor of good followers of top-down rules? Do we want good computer operators or excellent doctors?

The doctor, Steven Kottemann, 63, was placed on paid administrative leave in September because he was allegedly not properly utilizing the new electronic medical records system that his employer, Family Medical Center, instituted. Kotteman initially tried to upload verbal recordings of his notes made when meeting with patients, but the system failed to accept the recordings. The only other option was to type in by hand all his patient notes. Kottemann tried to input the notes while actually with his patients but eventually came to feel that typing at a computer while trying to work with his patients was not conducive to good care.

Dr. Kottemann then began staying late after office hours to type in all the notes, but due to a stroke of his own, the effort became too much for him. “It got to the point where I was going in seven days a week to keep up,” Kottemann told the State-Register newspaper. For its part, the employer says that Kottemann’s lack of proficiency with the computer system was not the only reason they fired him, but Memorial Medical Center refused to comment further on this story when I contacted them.
While Huston sees a sob story of how government regulation is choking a hard-working businessman, I see something different - a business (Memorial Medical Center) suspending an employee (Dr. Kottermann) for not being able to perform his job appropriately.  Management for the hospital paid for a new electronic medical records system and required all of its employees to become proficient, but Dr. Kottermann could not adapt to the decisions made by his bosses and was placed on paid administrative leave.

Think of it this way - an old-fashioned supermarket buys all new electronic point of sale (POS) terminals.  An older cashier customers have grown to love has a hard time adapting to the new electronic POS.  He is slow and he is holding up the lines because he is having difficulty adapting - he would rather go back to the old system where he felt he was able to provide a better level of service but that is not an option.  Other doctors are able to provide that great service and use the new POS terminals.  Management notices the old cashier's problems and so they counsel him and try to work with him so that he can get to where he needs to be but it just is not working.  The only solution left is to remove the cashier from his position.

Dr. Kotterman is that old cashier.  I bet there were situations like this 30 years ago when bar codes were introduced.  Heck - not too long ago 7-11s adopted laser scanner POSs instead of their old manual entry registers.  Some of the older employees had a longer time adjusting but now when I stop into a 7-11, the checkout is faster and more accurate.

Huston also points out that Dr. Kottermann's poor performance with the computerized system may stem from his health problems.  Huston apparently is insinuating that businesses should make special accommodations for the handicapped.  He also insists that the good doctor is being stifled by management.

Sounds as if Huston wants employees to have some sort of basic rights or that he has a grudge with employers.  He points out in his post that Kottermann's employer stated there were additional reasons as to why they placed him on administrative leave but they would not communicate that with him - probably because this is an employer-employee conversation and Huston has no place injecting himself in between the company's internal problems.

Funny.  Aren't those his complaints against Obama/Democrats/unions/etc.?

What's even funnier is the comment thread on Huston's post - many of the sheep are crying about discriminatory practices and how the doctor should sue.

Maybe he is fighting to get Doctor Kotterman reinstated so he can make a second triumphant post titled "Welcome Back Doctor Kotterman!"

Did I forget to mention that Memorial Medical Center is a community-based not-for-profit corporation?  

Donald Trump's Billion Dollar Problem

There as been a feud brooding between MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell and Donald Trump for some time, but it appears that O'Donnell has finally pushed the right button causing Donald Trump to threaten a lawsuit over comments O'Donnell made.
Trump threatened to sue O'Donnell on Wednesday for what he said were "many false statements" the MSNBC host made about the self-proclaimed billionaire on his Tuesday night show.

O'Donnell and Trump's twitter feud erupted this week. O'Donnell took to his show Wednesday night to respond to the threatening tweet.

"Donald Trump could never sue me," O'Donnell said in a still, serious voice that was vaguely reminiscent of Don Corleone ordering the murder of his enemies. It was a little chilling, in a melodramatic sort of way. O'Donnell announced that he knew Trump's "big secret," and that Trump "knows he knows his big secret."

O'Donnell was referring to the fact that, according to him, Trump lied about his wealth and was not really a billionaire. "He can't afford to sue me," he said fiercely.
I found this interesting because it is very similar to another incident in which Trump was involved in - the constant questioning (and continual doubting) of the president's birth certificate.

Trump has consistently made accusations that something was wrong with the president's birth certificate and that he was hiding something (perhaps not being an American citizen). Trump even went as far as to claim he sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to dig up the "truth" but that was only a lie considering Trump's recent comments doubting that the long form birth certificate Obama released after Trump's big commotion was a fake.

"I don't necessarily accept it," Trump said when asked about the issue. "As you know, check out the Internet. Many people say it's not real."

Well, if you check the internet, you will notice that many people say Trump is lying about his wealth and that his claims of being a super wealthy billionaire are greatly exaggerated. Looks like Trump should put his money where his mouth is (literally) and release his financial documents.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big Government's Philip Christofanelli Hides Fact He Is Conservative Activist

Philip Christofanelli has a gripe with unions and universities. He recently wrote a post for Big Government crediting his "exposé" in influencing two universities' ban on recording in the classroom.
Following my exposé this past spring of two Labor Studies professors at the University of Missouri who were using their positions to recruit students to the Communist Party and encourage the use of industrial sabotage, several universities have attempted to crack down on the recording of professors by students.

There are, no doubt, professors all over the country who are engaging in equally egregious teaching practices as Don Giljum (who reportedly resigned) and Judy Ancel (who’s now enjoying life as a Kansas City Occupier; she addresses #OccupyKC in the video below from 3:44 to 3:54 – hat tip to KansasWatchdog).

My guess is that enough professors complained to prompt faculty associations at both the University of Missouri and Washington University in Saint Louis (my alma mater) to pass resolutions calling for a ban on recordings in the classroom without the written permission of the instructor.
As a side note, Christofanelli implies that his actions were the result of his former professors' resignation and career change but another Big Government post points out that his professor, Don Giljum, had announced prior to Christofanelli's exposé that he would retire.

After reading Christofanelli's two posts I felt it necessary to point out a couple things - hypocrisies and false conclusions.

First, let's take a look at Christofanelli's first post - the supposedly damning "exposé."
In this post, I will try to describe, with careful attention to context and accuracy, what occurred in these public classrooms over the course of the semester. I believe that any reasonable person who takes the time to read this post in full will come to the same conclusion that I did: Professors Giljum and Ancel used a public university class to promote their own radical political opinions and organizations, and to train students and union members in negotiating tactics that are apparently illegal, and profoundly unethical. Their behavior was highly unprofessional and inappropriate, and the University of Missouri should simply admit that fact and take steps to ensure that classes are not taught in that way ever again.

I am in fact a Washington University student. I needed three more credits for my degree, and I chose to pick them up at UMSL. When I saw “Introduction to Labor Studies” in the course catalog, I expected a fairly straightforward class about unions, their internal structure, and their relationship to management. I signed up because I have always been fascinated by unions, and nothing similar was ever offered at Wash U.
Christofanelli talks about trying to describe accurately and in context the situations he has issue with but he admits that he has always been "fascinated by unions," meaning that he has had preconceived notions regarding unions and had wished to learn more about them, and based on the information in his posts we can figure out where Christofanelli stood regarding organized labor.

Now granted, the information presented by Christofanelli's teachers appears to be extremely pro-union, you cans tart to see Christofanelli's pre-conceived notions begin to take shape.

He attacks the author of his course's text, Michael Yates, for his other socialist magazine and then picks some choice excerpts from his book Why Unions Matter to prove it's bias, which is interesting because Christofanelli claims to be approaching this from a neutral perspective attacking Yates for his other publications yet Christofanelli is not being honest with the readers of his post - he was the founder of the Young Americans for Liberty who's mission is to "train, educate, and mobilize youth activists" to achieve their goal of "cast[ing] the leaders of tomorrow and reclaim[ing] the policies, candidates, and direction of our government."
  • An entire television network, Fox, spreads pro-business and anti-labor propaganda twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. (p. 132)

  • First, the Republican and Democratic parties are most obviously allied with and subservient to the most powerful employers in the nation.  The Republicans may seem to be more ruthless in their willingness to obey the dictates of capital, but the Democrats, in practice, are no different…[S]ince they are perceived as more liberal than they are, they are able to get away with more vicious attacks on workers. (p. 133)

  • If labor ties its star to the Democratic Party, it is tying itself to its class enemy. (p. 133)

  • Over the last ten years, especially during the administration of George W. Bush, our government has been increasingly under the thumb of corporate interests. (p. 12)

  • The AFL-CIO actively rejected the Republican Party’s Contract with America, which threatened vital social services. Its research department developed good materials that exposed the bogus statistics and analysis on which it was based. (p. 12)

  • Large numbers [of Mexican immigrants] have come to the United states intensifying competition in some labor markets, allowing employers to divide and conquer their workforces, and giving an excuse for xenophobes like CNN’s Lou Dobbs to foment anti-immigrant hysteria, which helps to keep domestic workers from seeing that it is their employers (and the employers’ allies in government) that are their true enemies. (p. 12)

  • In general terms, the employer must come to be understood as the class enemy of the workers, one that can only be defeated if workers stick together, acting as if an injury to one is an injury to all. (p. 64)

  • Christofanelli goes on to write:
    All of these assertions were made without presenting a shred of evidence or data. The book made very little effort to hide the fact that it was a piece of political propaganda, and not an academic text. Nonetheless, the professors saw no problem with making it the sole text for the entire class.
    Christofanelli is upset that he wasn't offered any evidence of these comments. The Midnight Review has decided to do just that - provide examples to prove the text's assertion.
    • An entire television network, Fox, spreads pro-business and anti-labor propaganda twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
    A simple search on Media Matters for "Fox News" and "unions" would yield dozens of incidences where Fox News presented a pro-business and anti-labor agenda.
    • First, the Republican and Democratic parties are most obviously allied with and subservient to the most powerful employers in the nation.  The Republicans may seem to be more ruthless in their willingness to obey the dictates of capital, but the Democrats, in practice, are no different…[S]ince they are perceived as more liberal than they are, they are able to get away with more vicious attacks on workers. (p. 133)
    If you look at the very site that Christofanelli writes for, you would find numerous posts discussing this very thing, although they mostly focus on Democrats.  How's that for fair and balanced?
    • If labor ties its star to the Democratic Party, it is tying itself to its class enemy
    Based on the previous statement - that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican parties in regards to organized labor - then yes, this statement is true, and it is fair to accuse Republicans of being no friends to organized labor considering the numerous measures Republican legislatures have taken this year alone to strip labor unions and their workers of any power or rights they may have once had.
    • Over the last ten years, especially during the administration of George W. Bush, our government has been increasingly under the thumb of corporate interests. (p. 12)
    Law Memo points out numerous decisions ruled by President Bush's Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  To be more specific, Daniel J. Doyle wrote the following for Student Pulse:
    Upon their appointment, the members of Bush’s NLRB rejected precedent and overturned all of these decisions made by Clinton’s NLRB, as well as numerous others. While the NLRB made clearly partisan decisions prior the Bush Administration, these decisions were well supported as enforcing the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act. Bush’s NLRB made decisions that rejected precedent, were poorly justified, and often flew in the face of federal labor laws. In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc, the court decided that unless a statute speaks clearly to the contrary, the governing agency with jurisdiction over a particular field is given the final word on all policy decisions within its area of operation, “unless [it is] arbitrary, capricious or manifestly contrary to statute.”41 This means that the NLRB may make decisions on issues of labor law with very limited oversight. Chevron allowed Bush’s NLRB to make sweeping changes to labor policy, without the ability for any other governmental body to hold them accountable.
    • The AFL-CIO actively rejected the Republican Party’s Contract with America, which threatened vital social services. Its research department developed good materials that exposed the bogus statistics and analysis on which it was based. (p. 12)
    Consider the new "Contract with America" Republicans crafted last year and the actions Republicans planned on taking when retaking the House of Representatives.  Brent Budowsky wrote the following for The Hill:
    If elected, Republicans promise to privatize Social Security; cut back Medicare, oppose more jobs programs; raise costs for student loans; cut protections for credit card holders so banks can raise your rates; attack consumer protections for mortgage holders; defend Wall Street bonuses for bailed-out banks; oppose efforts to cut back outsourcing of U.S. jobs; support more tax cuts for the most wealthy; use taxpayer money to hire partisan Republican Congressional staff to turn the House of Representatives into a subpoena-churning partisan political operation; and bring their K Street project to seek special interest campaign money, this time in secret.

    Yeah, Republicans sure do have a new Contract with America. They won' tell you what it really is. I just did.

    For every assertion I make above, there are Republican legislative proposals, policy papers aimed at their right wing base or statements of high-level Republicans.
    Since that article was written (September 23rd, 2010), Republicans have continued to promise or attempt all of those things listed, which sound awfully like "[threatening] vital social services."
    • Large numbers [of Mexican immigrants] have come to the United states intensifying competition in some labor markets, allowing employers to divide and conquer their workforces, and giving an excuse for xenophobes like CNN’s Lou Dobbs to foment anti-immigrant hysteria, which helps to keep domestic workers from seeing that it is their employers (and the employers’ allies in government) that are their true enemies. (p. 12)
    Lou Dobbs isn't a xenophobe?
    • In general terms, the employer must come to be understood as the class enemy of the workers, one that can only be defeated if workers stick together, acting as if an injury to one is an injury to all. (p. 64) 
    Christofanelli is in a "labor studies" course to understand unions more and he is upset at the notion that there is an adversarial relationship between the employer and the employee and that it is in the benefit of the employers to band together?

    Christofanelli then complains that their grades were based heavily on opinion essays without mentioning whether or not students with opposing opinions were penalized and then, god forbid, Christofanelli was assigned to write a letter to his elected representative to discuss his position - not that of the professor's - on the Employee Free Choice Act.

    "Since our only materials were Yates’s very one-sided account of the legislation, and the professors’ similarly one-sided account," wrote Christofanelli, "how could any student be expected to produce a different position?"

    Apparently Christofanelli doesn't believe in critical thinking and free thought, and the fact that he is writing his "exposé" criticizing his course and professors kind of proves him wrong on the ability for "any student... to produce a different position."

    Christofanelli then goes on to talk about how the professors actively tried to indoctrinate the student body and recruit them into the Communist party.  He claims they discussed strategies to combat employers and when questioned, by Christofanelli himself, encouraged the students to engage in activities contrary to the law - an interesting complaint considering Christofanelli encourages students to ignore college rules and record their professors without their knowledge or approval.  His take on the matter is quite simplistic and hypocritical considering his implied principles: "After paying upwards of $45,000 annually to attend Washington University, students should be encouraged to record whatever they want," he wrote. "Students should never doubt their right to record and disseminate class material."

    This line of thinking is very interesting - Christofanelli, a consumer (student/customer of University of Missouri) claims to have rights and encourages fellow consumers to "never doubt their right to... disseminate class material," id est, consumers have a right to inform the public of the perceived wrongdoing of their corporate overlords.

    See a parallel with the Occupy Wall Street argument?

    One difference between Christofanelli and the Occupy Wall Street protesters is that he believes that since he is a consumer of a product, he is allowed to do whatever he wants because he is "paying upwards of $45,000 annually." He believes that he defines the terms of his consumption, yet he criticizes union workers for trying to define the terms of their employment through negotiation and less traditional methods, such as striking and protesting.

    Christofanelli hypocrisy stems from his belief that because the university receives some funds from the state of Missouri, as a taxpayer he has more authority then he actually has.
    Students at both universities should be commended for fighting back. University professors have more job security than almost any other members of the American workforce. They do not need a whole new set of rules and regulations to protect their bad behavior from public scrutiny, especially when that behavior is heavily subsidized by the taxpayer, as was the case at the University of Missouri.
    Christofanelli is mistaken - the University of Missouri system has shown stagnant and diminished state support over the past several years, to be underfunded when compared to the higher education of other states, ranked last in staff salaries when compared to 33 other public institutions of the Association of American Universities, and the per capita spending per student to be one of the lowest in the nation, meaning that the University of Missouri is not "heavily subsidized by the taxpayer," as Christofanelli insists.  His claims are evidence of his bias - not that of the schools' or professors'.

    Basically, Christofanelli misrepresented himself claiming to be an ordinary student who was only interested in labor studies when in actuality he was a libertarian student activist aiming to "reclaim" the government.  Based on that fact alone, the entirety of his "exposé" is questionable, but that could be expected being that he chose to publish he work on conservative propaganda website Big Government.  His dishonesty fits right in with the new breed of right-wing activists like James O'Keefe and Lila Rose.

    Rick Perry To Poor: "I Don't Care!"

    Rick Perry, when asked a question regarding his tax proposals and how they would increase income disparity, Perry stated that he "don't care about that."
    Bonnie Kavoussi wrote the following for The Huffingotn Post:
    Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry says he wants a huge tax break for the rich, and he doesn't care what it means for income inequality.

    Rick Perry announced on Tuesday that if elected president he would slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 and give everyone the option of paying a flat income tax rate of 20 percent.

    He also would try to encourage U.S. companies who have stored $1.4 trillion overseas to move their profits back to the United States by allowing them to pay 5.25 percent in taxes at first, according to Reuters.

    The plan, if enacted, would dramatically reduce the tax burdens of the wealthiest people in the United States, saving millions of dollars for some, while raising taxes for poor and middle-class people who opt into the plan.

    "I don't care about that," Perry said of the increased economic inequality that would result from the tax plan in an interview with The New York Times. "If that's what comes, I'll take that criticism."
    Rick Perry does not care if his tax plan (which he touts as fair) would unfairly increase the tax burden on the poor and middle-class while giving huge breaks for the rich.  He doesn't care at all.  You see, Perry and the GOP bunch have been claiming tax cuts for the rich as a means of job creation, but the problem is that under their proposals, even if there are created jobs, those individuals will now pay a greater tax then they would have before.

    Perry wants to cut the pay of millions of average Americans because in his eyes they don't create jobs.  He would rather redistribute that wealth into the hands of the few so that the rest of the population can hope they do something productive with that money, and if they don't, Perry is fine with that too because that is their right.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Judge Blocks Florida Law Requiring Welfare Recipients To Drug Test

    Michael Peltier wrote the following for Reuters:
    A judge on Monday halted a new Florida law that requires low-income parents seeking federal cash assistance to pass a drug test before receiving any money.

    In a 37-page ruling in Orlando, District Court Judge Mary Scriven granted an injunction barring the state from enforcing the new law until the case is resolved.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida sued on behalf of a University of Central Florida student who refused to take the drug test when he applied for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, a federal program that provides cash assistance to families with children.

    The ACLU argued that the drug tests are unconstitutional in other situations.

    In her ruling, Scriven said the testing procedure could cause irreparable harm to recipients, who are required to pay for the tests and are barred from collecting benefits for at least six months if they fail.

    The ACLU has a good chance of prevailing in its lawsuit, she said.

    Plaintiff Luis Lebron, a single father and military veteran who plans to graduate in December with an accounting degree, was denied benefits when he refused to submit to a drug test, a requirement that Florida lawmakers approved earlier this year.

    The law requires applicants for the funding to pay for and pass a urine test for illegal drugs, which costs between $25 and $45. Applicants who pass the test are reimbursed.

    So far, the state says only 2 percent of applicants have tested positive for illegal drugs, a failure rate that is below that of the general population. A 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 8.7 percent of Americans age 12 and older reported using illicit drugs.

    The U.S. Supreme Court in a 1997 decision threw out a Georgia law requiring candidates for state office to certify they had passed a drug test. Since then, a federal court in Michigan threw out that state's attempt to require all welfare recipients to be tested.
    This is yet another instance where Republicans in the state of Florida have overreached - the Florida Supreme Court had ruled that Governor Rick Scott had "overstepped his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers" when he issued an executive order preventing all pending rules from taking affect until he could review them.

    There was nothing right about this law.  To begin with, it was ethically questionable when Scott proposed this law considering he placed his company of small clinics in a revocable trust to his wife to skirt around ethics requirements.  Then there was the issue that laws similar to this one were struck down by federal courts in the past essentially dooming the Florida law from the start and on top of all that, a simple cost analysis of the law would have revealed that the costs of drug testing every welfare recipient would far outweigh the percentage of those who fail the test, are required to pay for the test, and are denied benefits for a certain period of time.

    This law is very telling - in the face of the facts that this law would potentially infringe on personal liberties, cause harm to those affected, and was not fiscally sound, Republicans championed this law.  Aren't they the ones who claim to be all for personal liberties and fiscal conservatism?

    Saturday, October 22, 2011

    Big Government's Lech Walesa Lie...

    Updated October 23rd, 2011!

    News had broke earlier his month that Lech Walesa, the Polish politician and trade-union organizer who served as president of Poland during the fall of the Soviet Union, supported the Occupy Wall Street movement and was planning on attending a protests.  As I had written before, the Occupy movement has been under attack by conservatives because they view this is a serious threat to their own agenda.  Now conservatives are setting their sites on prominent Occupy supporters like Walesa to try and discourage them from attending any protests or offering any future support.

    Adam Andrzejewski wrote the following for Big Government: 
    We suspected that the European news media had filtered out accurate information about the genesis of Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

    When Walesa’s comments hit the AP wire last week, my team immediately reached out to our Polish contacts. We made the point that the political themes of Occupy Wall Street may have started out with some of the principles that we share, but OWS themes were rapidly being morphed into anti-freedom and anti-liberty messages. At the core is the want for a big, powerful central government to dominate the lives of individual citizens.

    Using plus other news sources, rapidly we painted an accurate picture of the groups training, leading, and organizing the “movement.” The movement is organized by anarchists, Code Pink, the American Communist movement, jihadists, anti-Israel, socialist, and anti- free enterprise interests. OWS folks are politically to the left of President Barack Obama.

    At the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation in Warsaw, they were thankful to receive this information.

    Based on our discussion and intervention, President Walesa is not going to get involved with the OWS. He is not comfortable with the “organizations” behind the movement. It was not a difficult discussion.
    The Associated Press comments Andrzejewski mentioned were as follows
    The Nobel Peace laureate told The Associated Press that he is planning either a visit or a letter to the protesters.

    "I am weighing now how and when to best support them, without doing any harm," Walesa said Thursday.

    Since mid-September, the protesters have besieged a park near Wall Street to rally against corporate greed, saying that is the main cause for the U.S.'s failing economy. Similar protests are planned across Europe this weekend, including in Poland's capital, Warsaw.

    The 68-year-old Walesa said the global economic crisis has made people aware that "we need to change, reform the capitalist system" because we need "more justice, more people's interests, and less money for money's sake."

    "We cannot accept a situation when capitalism is making huge money and then does not know what to do with it," Walesa told the AP. "It should invest in new jobs."

    "People are most important," he said.

    The legendary freedom leader said employees, employers and representatives of state and local governments should get together to work out solutions that would best serve the people and the societies.

    "For now, capitalism is working to produce more money but does not see the people," Walesa said. "This problem is getting worse across the world."
    So how exactly does Andrzejewski sway Walesa to not support the movement?  He claims he provided the  Lech Walesa Institute Foundation in Warsaw " plus other news source" - not Lech Walesa himself - and that they were "thankful."

    Ever write a letter of complaint to a company, organization, or politician and get that letter in response thanking you for your words?

    This is exactly what it sounds like Andrzejewski received.  Nowhere does he state that Walesa changed his mind regarding Occupy Wall Street.  The original comments made to the Associated Press were made on October 13th.  Andrzejewski's little Big Government post regarding his informing the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation was made October 21st, yet just two days ago, Lech Walesa reaffirmed his support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.
    “The banks get taxpayers money, and they don't feel any shared responsibility for the economic crisis,” the former president said in an interview with Polish tabloid Fakt.

    “Do you know how much money bankers make? Heavens above, it's a crime,” he declared.

    “People are dying of hunger and they're not showing a sign of moderation,” Walesa said.

    The former Solidarity leader concluded that a radical rethink is called for to remedy the situation.

    “The economy needs to be looked at again with fresh eyes: the trade unions, the owners of the means of production, and the government administration.”
    Does that sound like a the complete reversal Big Government's propagandists talk about?

    This isn't the first time Big Government referenced Walesa either - they believed Walesa's denial to meet with the president during his Polish visit was a snub, due to a difference in politics (the right insists Obama is too liberal for the former Polish president).  How different are Walesa's comments above and those made by President Obama any different?

    Sounds as if conservatives are trying to rewrite history to gain another hero, similar to their treatment of Ronald Reagan or defense of George W. Bush.

    Update - When confronted with the facts, the recipients of the propaganda choose not to do any research of their own, instead choosing to remain irrational and illogical.

    Apparently, my offering evidence that Lech Walesa's support hasn't diminished is proof to the fools at Big Government that he no longer supports the movement, and no comment would be complete on these sites without the standard insult referencing either intelligence or liberal political stance.  They could not even offer any corroborating evidence - either a press release from Walesa himself or Occupy Wall Street - to support their claims that they convinced the Polish hero to not support this growing movement.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Obama Put His Money Where His Mouth Is.

    When people like President Obama or Warren Buffet talk about the wealthy paying more taxes conservatives usually respond "If you believe in paying higher taxes, why don't you send the government your higher portion?"

    We all know Warren Buffett has used his vast fortunes for numerous philanthropic endeavors (as has other extremely wealthy individuals), but it has just been revealed that the president - yes, the president - has written personal checks to people in need who had written to the White House.

    Arthur Delaney wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
    Got problems? Tell Barack Obama. He can help. He might even give you money.

    On more than one occasion, the president has cut personal checks to struggling Americans who've written to the White House, according to an excerpt from a new book by Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow about the ten letters the president reads every day.

    "It's not something I should advertise, but it has happened," the president told Saslow.

    How many times has President Obama intervened on someone's behalf, and with what kind of problems does he help? Mortgage payments? Medical bills? And when he wants to help someone out with a personal check, how does it work? Does he send a check signed "Barack Obama" directly to the individual in need, or does he send the money to a bank or company on the person's behalf? Do people even know when Obama has helped them out, or does the help arrive anonymously through a lawyer?

    The White House declined to answer any questions about the practice.
    "Some of these letters you read and you say, 'Gosh, I really want to help this person, and I may not have the tools to help them right now,'" the president told Saslow. "And then you start thinking about the fact that for every one person that wrote describing their story, there might be another hundred thousand going through the same thing. So there are times when I'm reading the letters and I feel pained that I can't do more, faster, to make a difference in their lives."

    Considering the wealth of some of the GOP presidential candidates, how charitable have they been in the past?

    Although Mitt Romney has given millions to charity, most of his donations had gone to the Mormon church, and we know how they spend their cash.

    While Herman Cain used to donate to charity, once brokering a deal with the YMCA of Greater Omaha and a struggling youth center over 20 years ago, his donations has since subsided with politics taking a greater percentage of his donations. Not only that, since Cain assisted the struggling center it has since parted ways with the YMCA and is barely getting by financially.
    In recent years, Cain has written more checks to political causes and candidates than to charity. But the former businessman and conservative radio talk show host had chosen in years past to focus his philanthropy on education for inner-city youth so, he has said, they can overcome poverty and racial discrimination the way he did.
    Apparently, his involvement is worth more to him as an example of his personal charity in his stump speeches.

    Rick Perry's charity appears to be confined to his role as governor handing out jobs and contract to his big dollar donors.

    The only Republican candidate who seems to be as generous as they claim to be is John Huntsman, who operates numerous charities with his fortune.
    Huntsman, his wife, Karen, and their nine children have donated $350 million to various causes in the state, he notes. Time magazine listed Huntsman last year as the sixth-largest philanthropist in the United States.

    Huntsman's leading effort is the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah Medical Center.

    Both of Huntsman's parents died of the disease and he has survived two episodes of it himself. Huntsman plans to build a cancer hospital next to the institute, which sits about a mile away from his corporation's headquarters, high on the city's eastern foothills.

    But his touch is felt in many other areas: the annual Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, the Huntsman Awards for Excellence in Education that annually give 10 Utah teachers $10,000 each, homeless shelters, sanctuaries for abused women and children, to name a few.
    Why is this interesting?

    Because Republicans love to talk about the free market taking over the responsibilities of some government entities and helping those who have none but few practice what they preach, but they love to criticize the president who does appear to practice what he preaches.

    Obama's Libya Vs. Bush's Afghanistan and Iraq

    It is all over the news - Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has been killed by the rebel army. There have been several reactions to this news from every side of the political spectrum. I have seen conservatives continue their criticism of the president while laying praise on the British and French while I have seen liberals commend the administration on their limited involvement in assisting the rebels and achieving a positive outcome. There were also some extremes.

    Some on the right defended George W. Bush's negotiations with Libya in getting them to surrender their nuclear arsenal, claiming that negotiating with rogue nations will be more difficult because they will be left vulnerable, stating Obama's actions have now damaged the United States' (as well as UN and NATO) credibility, while also complaining of Obama's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the cost and loss of lives during Obama's watch - apparently since Obama didn't "end" the wars they are now his.

    Others on the left were upset with America's involvement with Libya, despite not having any troops on the ground and the loss of zero American lives, seeing the move by Obama as an imperialistic hunt for oil at the cost of the lives of innocent Libyans, but I think that is a stretch.

    I thought Jon Stewart on the Daily Show summed it up pretty well:

    "We removed a dictator in six months losing no American soldiers," said Stewart "spending like a billion dollars rather than a trillion dollars and engendering what appears to be good will to people who now have a prideful story of their own independence to tell."

    "Not to mention oil. They have oil" Stewart added.

    My opinion is that Obama's leadership on this front was appropriate and led to the same result as that of Afghanistan or Iraq minus the cost and commitment of troops. I fear that had this been a Republican presidency, America would have been on the ground on day one in not only Libya but all over the Arab world. Considering the language used by pretty much every Republican out there, I would fear that electing a Republican for president in 2012 would lead to another prolonged American military operation as early as 2013.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    GOP Contradicted By Multiple Deportation Reports

    I found these two articles to be very interesting:

    Jordan Howard wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
    A Republican New Hampshire state lawmaker is calling for the formation of a commission to bring charges of treason against President Obama.

    Harry Accornero (R-Laconia) sent an email to every New Hampshire state representative stating that President Obama "has crossed the line, and under Article III section 3 of our Constitution is guilty of treason by giving aid and comfort to the enemy and attempting to overthrow our government from within."

    "I am formally asking you to bring a commission of treason against Mr. Barack Husain [sic] Obama," wrote Accornero in the email, posted by Blue Hampshire and obtained by The Huffington Post. "We have a President who allows our borders to be violated by illegals of any country while we are at war. He allows them work permits, access to our services and when apprehended by law enforcement refuses to have them jailed or deported."
    Accornero is not alone in criticizing the president on immigration issues - pretty much every Republican has something to say about the matter.

    Now check out what Elise Foley wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
    The Obama administration set a new record for deportations, removing nearly 400,000 undocumented immigrants in the last fiscal year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Tuesday.

    The agency removed 396,906 undocumented immigrants from the United States in the 2011 fiscal year, a slight increase from the previous year's 392,826 removals. Administration officials said the increase is the result of a continued focus on policing undocumented immigration, a rebuttal to claims by GOP presidential candidates and others who say the president has been too soft on unauthorized immigration.
    As a quick visual below is a chart showing criminal and non-criminal deportations for the past decade:
    It appears that the Obama administration is doing a far better job than the Bush administration in regards to the deportation of illegal immigrants.

    "Smart and effective immigration enforcement relies on setting priorities for removal and executing on those priorities," ICE Director John Morton said in a statement. "These year-end totals indicate that we are making progress, with more convicted criminals, recent border crossers, egregious immigration law violators and immigration fugitives being removed from the country than ever before."
    So far, the administration seems likely to continue to push for nearly 400,000 deportations per year, which enforcement officials say is the most they can remove under current funding levels. If Congress wants to see more deportations, Morton and Napolitano have said it should increase funding to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Napolitano said in August, "Congress should look at numbers if they want more deportations."
    Maybe Accornero should introduce an immigration bill that increases funding for ICE, or would that go against the GOP's mission to make the Obama administration a failing administration?

    Sunday, October 16, 2011

    Do As Scott Walker Says, Not What He Does...

    Scott Bauer wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who forced public workers to pay more for their pensions as part of a push to curb union rights, broke his campaign promise to pay the full cost of his state pension immediately after taking office in January.

    The Associated Press requested copies of the governor's pay stubs to see if he had fulfilled the campaign promise he made in June 2010. Walker said then he would begin paying the cost immediately in order to lead by example since he was proposing all state employees do the same.

    "As governor, I'll pay my share toward my retirement because everyone should pay their own way, including me," Walker said during the campaign.

    Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch made the same pledge and also didn't pay as promised.

    Walker's pay stubs provided Friday in response to the AP's open records request made in September had details about his pension payments redacted. But Walker's spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor did not start paying the full cost until August, when the state law he pushed required elected officials and other state employees to contribute more.

    The requirement that state workers pay their 5.8 percent contribution was part of Walker's bill that also took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public employees. The fight over that measure resulted in protests as large as 100,000 people, led to all 14 Democratic state senators fleeing to Illinois to block the bill, and made Wisconsin the center of the fight over union rights.

    If Walker had fulfilled his campaign promise, he would have been paying his pension costs during that fight in February and March.

    Werwie did not have an explanation for why Walker didn't pay until the law forced him to. The law required Walker and other elected officials to make payments of 6.65 percent of their salary starting in August. That goes up to 7.05 next year.
    Somehow not fulfilling a campaign pledge - especially one regarding a highly disputed law - is fulfilling a campaign pledge.  Walker's spokesman believes that "ultimately" they were "fulfilling what our campaign pledge was."

    This will be more fuel for the repeal of Scott Walker, who has demonstrated that he is nothing but a partisan liar.

    Occupy Wall Street Hits Orlando, Florida

    Matt Lupoli wrote the following for WESH news in Orlando, Florida:
    With nearly 7,000 followers on the Occupy Orlando Facebook page, a large crowd turned out for Saturday's demonstration.

    Occupy activists said they are protesting the influence of big business and banks.

    "We are fed up that our great nation is masquerading as a democratic republic, when in fact it has become 'Corporatocracy,' reads a statement on the group's website.

    Meanwhile, protesters in other Central Florida communities have also had demonstrations.

    In Daytona Beach, an all-day Occupy protest took place in Tuscawilla Park along International Speedway Boulevard as Biketoberfest visitors converge on the area.

    Similar protests will take to downtown Ocala in Marion County and the Merritt Square Mall in Brevard County. And across the state, protesters in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Tampa, Gainesville and Tallahassee are expected to meet as well, according to Occupy Florida's website.
    The strong turnouts at these protests are amazing, and as a point of consideration, are much stronger then when the tea party had their numerous protests around the nation on a particular day.  These protests have lasted for weeks and they continue to grow. 

    Rick Perry's Son Quits Job, Mom Blames Obama

    Luke Johnson wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
    Anita Perry, the wife of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said she sympathized with the unemployed Friday because her son resigned from his job at Deutsche Bank to campaign for his father, reports CNN.

    "He resigned his job two weeks ago because he can't go out and campaign with his father because of SEC regulations," she said at a Pendleton, S.C. diner, in response to a middle-aged voter who lost his six-figure job and now works as a handyman. "My son lost his job because of this administration," she added. CNN reports that the SEC recently adopted stricter rules for investment advisers undertaking political activity.

    However, Thursday she said that he eagerly resigned. She recalled when her husband brought the family together to discuss his run for president last May. "So, our son Griffin Perry is 28. He loves politics, and he just couldn't wait. He said, 'Dad, I'm in! I'm in! I'll do whatever you need me to do. I'll resign my job. I'll do what you need me to do,'" she said in a speech at North Greenville University.
    It seems these people will blame everything on the president.

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Conservatives Confuse Warren Buffet's Personal Taxes With Corporate Taxes

    Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor and perhaps the biggest (and wealthiest) proponent for increasing the tax rate on America's wealthiest individuals, has drawn some ire from conservatives for, well, wanting to pay more taxes.  The biggest attack against Buffett is to paint the billionaire as some sort of hypocrite. Buffett just asserts that he is only operating in a broken system - he has made numerous comments in the past regarding his tax situations and how he took advantage of tax breaks, etc.

    “I knew I was getting favored treatment compared to the local doctor, lawyer or C.E.O.,” Buffett told The New York Times. “But I made no voluntary payments to the Treasury, nor does any hedge fund manager of whom I’m aware.”

    The newest attack coming from the right seems to be targeting the lengthy tax dispute between Berhskire Hathaway - Buffett's company - and the Internal Revenue Service.

    Bill Wilson wrote the following for Americans for Limited Government:
    Americans for Limited Government researcher Richard McCarty, who was alerted to the controversy by a federal government lawyer, said, “The company has been short-changing the tax collection agency for much of the past decade. Mr. Buffett’s company has not fully settled its tax bills from 2002-2009. Yet he says he’d happily pay more. Except the IRS has apparently been asking him to pay more going on nine years.”

    Apparently, not paying taxes in full is an annual occurrence under Buffett’s watch. Considering the size of the company, the amount of unsettled taxes could total in the tens of millions.

    McCarty explained, “The rough translation of the report is that Berkshire Hathaway did not pay all the federal taxes that it was required to for 2002 through 2004. The IRS examination team caught Berkshire Hathaway on at least some issues. Instead of paying up, Berkshire Hathaway is threatening the IRS with protracted litigation and is in the process of cutting a deal with the IRS Appeals office.”

    He continued, “For 2005 and 2006, Berkshire Hathaway again did not pay all the federal taxes that it was required to. Again, the IRS examination team caught Berkshire Hathaway on at least some issues. Now, Berkshire Hathaway is again threatening the IRS with protracted litigation and is trying to cut a deal with the IRS Appeals office.”

    McCarty concluded, “And, finally, the IRS has opened another examination of Berkshire Hathaway’s tax returns for 2007 through 2009, but has not officially sent Berkshire Hathaway the bill yet for taxes that Berkshire Hathaway failed to pay for those years. One would expect they will find yet more issues.”

    Now, most Americans, when they receive a tax bill from the government, they pay it. They don’t get an attorney. They don’t appeal the bill. They pay it — on time and in full. But not Buffett’s company, which apparently takes years to settle its liabilities.

    Since this appears to be an ongoing pattern at the company, it becomes reasonable to ask: Is this some sort of internal company policy to delay paying taxes on time? If so, could this be construed as a form of tax evasion?
    This is where Wilson and McCarty starts to blur some lines to try and confuse the reader.

    "[Buffett] says he’d happily pay more." said McCarty.  "Except the IRS has apparently been asking him to pay more going on nine years."

    The IRS has been asking Berkshire Hathaway - not Warren Buffett to pay more.

    Wilson also cries that when receiving their tax bill the average American just pays it - they don't lawyer up - but again, Wilson is confusing Buffett with his company.  This is an important detail because most businesses hire an accountant to help navigate the tax code and help reduce their tax liability - the average American does not have the resources to find those loopholes to help them pay less like their corporate cousins.  This is exactly the point Buffett has been making with his calls to increase taxes on people like himself - the tax code benefits the wealthy allowing them to pay less than their fair share.

    This doesn't make a difference - the folks at Big Government fell for the conservative meme that Buffett is a tax-dodging hypocrite, which means the rest of the conservative media is not too far behind.

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    The Hypocrisy Of Erick Erickson's 53%

    Over at the Wonk Blog Monday, The Washington Post's Suzy Khimm shed light on CNN contributor and Red State editor Erick Erickson's decision to lead a conservative "counterpunch to the viral 'We are the 99 percent' site that's become a prominent symbol for the Occupy Wall Street movement."

    WeAreThe99Percent allows users to post images with testimonials laying out their personal struggles amid growing income inequality, in order to explain their support for the growing Occupy Wall Street movement against economic and social injustice.

    In response, Erickson posted a testimonial calling the protesters "whiners," and claiming to represent the "53 percent subsidizing you so you can hang out on Wall Street and complain." After a Twitter campaign to promote his movement, several people have responded with similar testimonials.

    Gawker has more on Erickson's movement calling it "a response to 'We Are the 99 Percent,' an Occupy Wall Street-affiliated blog that collects the stories of the underemployed, overworked, debt-ridden and uninsured victims of the recession."

    Erickson, recall, once called then-Supreme Court Justice David Souter a "goat-fucking child molester."

    Gawker points out that Erickson's movement is centered around the misleading notion that nearly half of Americans don't pay taxes. As The New York Times David Leonhardt noted in April, the figure distorts the economic debate away from growing income inequality and completely ignores taxes that all American households pay.

    In the post that sparked the "counterpunch" Erickson wrote that he works "three jobs," and complained about insurance costs and the housing market, adding "But I don't blame Wall Street."
    With that being said, I thought I would shed some light on some of those 53 Percenters.

    This individual praises their tax paying status by acknowledging the fact that they wouldn't have been able to achieve this feat had they not received welfare and food stamps.

    This person was born poor so they most likely had some sort of government support in their past, but again, they admit that the only way out of poverty was to accept a government check by joining the military to pay for school.  While they may not have had the benefits of staying on their parent's health insurance plan, being a member of the military would have granted him access to veteran's benefits like health care.

    The reference of his house losing over fifty percent of its value is interesting.  This is a simple admission that he purchased his home during the housing boom and it had lost its value as a result of that institution he does not wish to blame.

    Another veteran, this person claims to have a college education but has to work two jobs to make it and still does not have health insurance.  Assuming he works two jobs out of necessity, who would pay his hospital bills should he get sick?

    Why can't he sell his house and why are his insurance costs outrageous?

    I'll give you one guess...

    Apparently this person never fully learned the differences between "wants" and "needs" - they paid more for their home then what it is worth and now they complain that they spend close to $12,000 per year on health insurance.

    This lady is proud that the American dream for immigrants to come to this nation, work hard, get sick, and die.

    This person took out loans for school, paid too much on his house, but then proceeds to blame the government for his over-priced home.  He admits that he is in the bottom 99 percent but he accepts responsibility for his actions, or at least he doesn't blame the wealthy or Wall Street - just the government.

    This girl is just asking to be in the bottom 99 percent - what kind of career is in store for an art student?

    A common theme is that many of these people had assistance in their climb to success (or realization that they will always be a working-class citizen).  What they don't understand is that the anger over Wall Street or corporations is not that they exist, but it is similar to the anger of the Tea Party - these institutions accepts taxpayer money - our money - and then they turned around and kept the cash, paid off debts, and gave multi-million dollar bonuses to their executives while average Americans were facing increasing medical costs, increasing education costs, and decreasing home values.

    Conservatives are pushing back against the Occupy Wall Street movement because it resonates with a majority of Americans and these images are evidence of the right-wing spin machine on full spin.  These people have benefited from assistance and would most likely not be affected by reform yet they believe they would should the demands of the Occupy protesters are met - where were those concerns when the tea party was upset with the government bailouts?  Where is the anger over their artificially inflated medical costs?  Their upside-down mortgages?

    I understand accepting a certain level of responsibility for one's actions but these people have been convinced to accept the actions of others as fair and normal business as usual.

    Conservatives Worried By Occupy Protests

    The Occupy Wall Street protests are spreading and conservatives seem to be worried despite the similarities between the ultimate goal of the Occupy protesters and the original concerns that sprung the tea party movement.

    First, news organizations seemingly dismissed the protests, ignoring to cover them, offering little coverage at all, and if covered, report on them in a condescending tone.

    Secondly, it was reported that conservative publications like The American Spectator admittedly placed "plants" into the Occupy crowds in an attempt to discredit the protestsSpectator author Patrick Howley once discovered began to rewrite his account of his subversive tactics.

    But as far as anyone knew I was part of this cause -- a cause that I had infiltrated the day before in order to mock and undermine in the pages of The American Spectator -- and I wasn't giving up before I had my story. Under a cloud of pepper spray I forced myself into the doors and sprinted blindly across the floor of the Air and Space Museum, drawing the attention of hundreds of stunned khaki-clad tourists (some of whom began snapping off disposable-camera portraits of me). I strained to glance behind me at the dozens of protesters I was sure were backing me up, and then I got hit again, this time with a cold realization: I was the only one who had made it through the doors. As two guards pointed at me and started running, I dodged a circle of gawking old housewives and bolted upstairs.
    Became this:
    But as far as anyone knew I was part of this cause -- a cause that I had infiltrated the day before -- and I wasn't giving up before I had my story. Under a cloud of pepper spray I forced myself into the doors. Suspecting that the entire crowd would be able to get inside, I ran blindly across the floor of the Air and Space Museum to find a place to observe, drawing the attention of hundreds of stunned khaki-clad tourists (some of whom began snapping off disposable-camera portraits of me). I strained to glance behind me at the dozens of protesters I was sure were backing me up, and then I got hit again, this time with a cold realization: I may have been the only one who had made it through the doors.
    Howley then altered his article to claim he only pushed forward for "journalistic purposes."

    Now, conservatives are trying to find every little clip imaginable and spouting any nonsense they can to counter the protests.  For instance, the Big propaganda sites have been trying to portray the Occupy Wall Street crowd as a bunch of pot-smoking communist freaks.

    Then there is this stupid headline:

    The headline claims the protests are racist and fascist but the fourth word in the post claims the organizer is an anarchist.  For those of you who don't know, fascism is an authoritarian nationalistic form of government while anarchism opposes the state.

    The post also claims the movement to be racist but take a look at what they are about - they "welcome people from all colors, genders and beliefs to participate in [their] daily assemblies."

    Basically, the right-wing is fearful of the Occupy protests becoming a brand like the tea party that is capable of influencing politics.  The right-wing has tried to monopolize protests - only their groups should be reported on, only their groups speak for the people, and only their groups matter.  Based on the comments on conservative sites, they view the tea party as good Christian gatherings while the the Occupy protests are dirty  drug parties.  They also like to underplay the attendance of these gatherings while inflating their own numbers to try and give the appearance that they are the majority.  They are trying to perpetuate the Spiral of Silence.