February 24, 2011 archive

Going Viral For The Middle East

So this is what the Green Party’s got to say about Wisconsin

Before I start, just so you know, the Green Party is airing their first weekly podcast tonight at 10 PM EST, focused all around Wisconsin and WI Greens.  More info here – as usual, you can chat and interact and stuff like that.

Interestingly, Madison, Wisconsin is actually one of the better cities in the nation to be a Green in.  They’ve got 8 elected officials there and one of their strongest state representative candidates in the nation ran and got over 30 percent of the vote there in 2010.  His name is Ben Manski and he’s now taking a leading role, with his organization Liberty Tree and a new one called Wisconsin WAVE, in the resistance to this new trend of hardcore union-busting.

The Green Party of Wisconsin and the Green Party of the US have also put out press releases (available here and here, respectively) on the matter, but Ben’s debate on CNBC today with a Republican state legislator shows really some of the best the Greens have to offer and some of what’s really missing from the Democratic Party.  Enjoy.  (The debate starts a bit before 6:30)

Obama: Please Go To Wisconsin

Well, here I go again, oversimplifying, being idealistic, possibly ranting.  To all of these I plead guilty.  In advance.

President Obama’s made a few statements about the demonstrations in Wisconsin.  The most widely disseminated one is this one, reported in TPM:

Well I’d say that I haven’t followed exactly what’s happening with the Wisconsin budget. I’ve got some budget problems here in Washington that I’ve had to focus on. I would say, as a general proposition, that everybody’s gotta make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. And I think if we want to avoid layoffs — which I want to avoid, I don’t want to see layoffs of hard-working federal workers.

We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years, as part of my overall budget freeze. You know, I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.

On the other other hand, some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin — where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally — seems like more of an assault on unions.

And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers, and they’re firefighters, and they’re social workers, and they’re police officers. You know, they make a lot of sacrifices, and make a big contribution, and I think it’s important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.

So, I think everybody’s gotta make some adjustments, but I think it’s also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to the well being of our states and our cities.

Sounds, feels, smells and looks like a politician.  It’s balanced.  It’s cautious.  It looks over his shoulder to wonder which side might ultimately win the Battle of Madison.  It sounds like he’d like to be on the winning side for 2012.  What it doesn’t sound like by any means is leadership.

Leadership would be going to Madison and linking arms and standing in solidarity with the demonstrators and union members against the reactionaries and would-be union busters.  It would be standing up to the Koch funded “movement.”  It would be explaining clearly to all who would listen that these unions are important to sustained high pay in Wisconsin and the nation, and that the antedeluvian effort to kill these unions must be defeated.  The Wisconsin football stadium might be a good place to hold the rally.

The President, however, hasn’t shown any signs that he’s ready to lead a fight for labor, his largest supporter.  It looks like he might still want to invoke politesse and refer to these union busters as “the right to work” advocates with whom he has a small disagreement.

These people don’t deserve that kind of deference.  They have ginned up a plan to destroy public unions and are inflexible about it.  They will not modify it or back off from it.  They plan to destroy public unions.  Period.  They have begun by trying drive a wedge between public workers’ unions. The teachers and highway workers and bureaucrats are ok to beat up on and they won’t be able to bargain, but those the cops and firefighters, which are more traditionally Republican, will.  

Today’s mock phone call with “David Koch” proved beyond all cavil that Scott Walker is the lead dog running a national union busting movement.  He doesn’t care at all about the state’s budget.  This is another item entirely.  This for Walker is only about destroying public unions.  Yes, it’s happening through the state legislatures, but this is a manifestation of an organized, well funded, nationwide movement to emasculate public workers’ unions.

That’s why the unions can’t afford to lose this battle.  And it’s why President Obama needs to organize an appearance in Wisconsin.  The unions have already conceded on the economic issues in this confrontation by agreeing to pay more for their health insurance and to contribute more to their pensions.  Those issues are not what’s keeping 14 Wisconsin legislators under cover in Illinois (or elsewhere).  No.  They are outside the state solely to protect collective bargaining.  It bears repeating.  What makes the confrontation persist is only one thing: the governor’s adamant refusal to drop his plan for withdrawal of collective bargaining rights for certain Wiaconsin public workers.  Plain and simple: the Governor insists on destroying these unions.

That’s why the national democratic leadership in Washington needs to go to Wisconsin.  And they need to go now.  This is a confrontation that can and should be won.  Obama and the national leadership have to stop playing Bert Lahr.  They have to show up in numbers, and they have to roar.

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Under the Radar: Look Over Here

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Here’s some of the other news that gets missed or relegated to the inner pages by our ratings fixated media and what some of the loonies have been “plotting”.

  • Apparently somebody at the Justice Department told the White House that defending war criminals, even in a civil law suit, just might be problematic.

    The Justice Department under President Barack Obama has quietly dropped its legal representation of more than a dozen Bush-era Pentagon and administration officials – including former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and aide Paul Wolfowitz – in a lawsuit by Al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla, who spent years behind bars without charges in conditions his lawyers compare to torture.

    Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, confirmed Tuesday that the government has agreed to retain private lawyers for the officials, at a cost of up to $200 per hour. Miller said “conflicts concerns” prompted the decision. He did not elaborate.

    (emphasis mine)

  • Is New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on the White House payroll? Sure sounds like it. Again Keller, at the request of the White House withheld information from a news story. On January 27, Raymond Davis, who works at the US Embassy, killed two Pakistani men alleging they were threatening him. The White House has claimed that Davis is a diplomat and Pakistan cannot hold him. What was known but not released by the NYT, at the Obama administrations request, was that Davis, a former special forces soldier, was actually working for the CIA and, in fact, worked for Xe, aka Blackwater.

    This is not the first time that the NYT has done the bidding of the administration in power. Keller even boasted in a BBC interview that the NYT had earned the praise of the U.S. Government for withholding materials which the Obama administration wanted withheld.

    The NYT is now Pravda and Izvestia all in one.

  • Arizona may be overboard on a few issues like guns, immigration and denial of transplants under Medicare but the criminal justice system got it right in two cases.

    Jury Convicts Iraqi Immigrant in ‘Honor Killing’ of Daughter

    Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 50, also was convicted of aggravated assault for injuries suffered by the mother of his daughter’s boyfriend during the October 2009 incident in a suburban Phoenix parking lot, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

    Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that he mowed down 20-year-old Noor Almaleki with his Jeep Cherokee because she had brought the family dishonor by becoming too Westernized. He wanted Noor Almaleki to act like a traditional Iraq woman, but she refused an arranged marriage, went to college and had a boyfriend.

    Border Activist Sentenced to Death for Fatal Home Invasion

    Forde was convicted Feb. 14 of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009, deaths of Raul “Junior” Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia Flores, 9. She was also found guilty of attempted murder in the shooting of Gina Gonzalez, Flores’ wife and Brisenia’s mother.

    Prosecutors said Forde decided to target the house in Arivaca, Ariz., because she believed Flores was a drug smuggler and would have cash in the house. She wanted money to fund her border protection group, Minutemen American Defense, prosecutors said.

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