VOTING is the Ultimate Collective Bargaining Power

Shortly after taking their January oath, newly-elected Republicans who never ran on union-busting started proposing hardcore, damaging legislation aimed straight at the heart of some of the strongest Democratic organizers, the American unions.

The bad news is that these maneuvers have been reported by both political camps as part of a calculated strategy aimed at the upcoming election of 2012, and was only possible due to the 2010 election results.

The good news is that Republican overreach in the legislatures of Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Florida and Ohio may have woken up lethargic Democratic voters, as it should.

Many distressed Democrats blame the union-busting phenomenon on scheming, disingenuous Republicans and on Democrats who voted in 2008 but failed to show up in 2010. It is true that based on sheer math, this is how Republican Governors won their seats and how Democratic legislatures became Republican ones.

The Right, with their loud corporate media-owned megaphones, started instantly dividing public union workers from private union employees. The two groups were pitted against one another as though there was a difference in what their collective bargaining power represented. Republicans worked hard to convince the most gullible that private industry services that we pay for are somehow different from services that we pay for as taxpayers. I see it all coming out of my same pocket, and so I see no real difference. To paraphrase the old saying,  first they came for them (public employees’ unions), and when they came for you (private workers’ unions) there was no longer any of them to stand up with you.

Elsewhere on the blame front, the youth of America have been rightfully accused of being MIA in 2010. Who is responsible for ensuring that this cavalier, chillaxing group thoroughly understands that they are badly needed at the polls, consistently? Who can ensure that they fully comprehend that their lack of voting affects not only their educational opportunities and prospects in career choices, but also affects their parents and grandparents, their current and future families, the environment, the truly disadvantaged, our foreign policy, and in effect, our entire future? Continue reading VOTING is the Ultimate Collective Bargaining Power

Friday Talking Points [158] -- In Non-Charlie-Sheen News...

Last night my local television news led off their broadcast with the first video of the devastation in Japan. An absolutely enormous earthquake had struck off the coast — an earthquake almost one hundred times as big as the one which hit San Francisco in 1989 (the Richter scale is logarithmic — the difference between 7.0 and 9.0 is a factor of 100 — and the Loma Prieta quake was either a 6.9 or a 7.1 while the Japanese quake was either an 8.8 or an 8.9). That is a big quake, folks. Video was streamed live of the four-meter-tall tsunami wave destroying and carrying away everything it touched — cars, semi trucks, boats, buildings (some of them still on fire). It was a stunning bit of truly breaking news.

And then — you simply can’t make this stuff up — the anchor uttered the worst segue I think I’ve ever heard, possibly the worst in all of television news history: “We turn from the live feed of the tsunami in Japan to a police raid on Charlie Sheen’s house in Los Angeles….”

Chalk one more up on the “only in America” media chalkboard, I guess. Sigh. Which means, for the second week in a row, I must begin with the all-encompassing statement: “In non-Charlie-Sheen news…”

Democrats and Labor lost their standoff in Wisconsin this week, as the Republicans figured out a legislative loophole and immediately put it to use to end collective bargaining for public-sector union members. By doing so, they lost all claim that this was any sort of “budget crisis,” since they had to sever the Union-busting bits off from the actual budget in order to avoid the quorum requirement in their upper legislative house. In effect, the Republicans were admitting, “Nah, it’s not about the budget, we just want to crush the Unions.”

So far, though, the entire episode has had a catalyzing and energizing effect on the Democratic base. Labor is white-hot with rage, and there are a lot of Democrats outside the borders of the Badger State who have been cheering on the spectacle of tens of thousands of people marching in the streets of Madison (in February, no less) for their rights. This energy (so far, at least) shows no signs of dissipating now that the first battle has been lost — instead, multiple recall efforts have been launched and at least one television ad run from the state Democratic Party. The bar for recalling politicians in Wisconsin is fairly high, so it’s anyone’s guess whether any Republicans will actually be tossed out by the voters over the entire episode. But this fight reaches beyond Wisconsin, to many other Rust Belt states — which are, coincidentally, the states which may determine the next presidential election. Overall, a Union resurgence in political activism in these states is a wonderful thing to see for the Democratic Party as a whole. Continue reading Friday Talking Points [158] — In Non-Charlie-Sheen News…

Wisconsin Senate Votes to Reinstitute Slavery

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin, emboldened with the sudden realization that a quorum is not necessary to vote on any legislation not requiring public expenditure, capped off what leadership described as, “the most nostalgic night . . . → Read More: Wisconsin Senate Votes to Reinstitute Slavery

Take Five (more dark than shark edition)

ONE: Bachmann-Torpor Overreach.

It’s peculiar how fixated Republicans seem to be on light bulbs, since they seem hell-bent on taking the United States back to a time before light bulbs even existed.

A couple of weeks back, I mentioned the BULB Act proposed by Senators DeMint and Enzi. If passed, it would scrap current Federal light bulb standards, including the ban on incandescent bulbs scheduled to take effect next year.

Representative Michele Bachmann – herself a beacon of wondrous, freedom-tinged, all-American, thousand-watt, God-given, self-reliant goshdarn luminescence – revived a bill of her own from 2008 which would accomplish the same thing. This week she reintroduced her Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, and had some choice words for those bastards and bastardettes who would deny the citizenry their right to buy whatever they want and damn the consequences:

“The government has no business telling an individual what kind of light bulb to buy,” she said in a statement Wednesday…

“The American people want less government intrusion into their lives, not more, and that includes staying out of their personal light bulb choices.”

Ah, yes. I remember that “personal light bulb choices” section in the Bill of Rights. Unfortunately, I can’t find the cite right now because of the crappy, dim CFL in my desk lamp.

Bachmann’s weak legislative track record was pretty definitively taken apart last year by MinnPost’s Derek Wallbank, and I just hope that the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act will trudge off to the elephant’s graveyard where her other legislative proposals went to die, and that Wallbank can feature it in a revised overview of Bachmannfailia this year.

Yet the reanimated bill picked up four co-sponsors in no time, one of them being Ron Paul. Fast company indeed! So it’s simply too soon to predict how this might unfold. This is very much a new era in the House of Representatives, after all.  One might even say that it’s sort of a Dark Age. Continue reading Take Five (more dark than shark edition)

Our Budget and Finances are Exactly Where Republicans Wanted Them To Be

I’m amazed at how little has been mentioned about the real reason that our state and federal budgets are where they are. When I am saying that, I’m not talking about the details of spending or revenue, I am talking about one party’s MOTIVATION for keeping the spending and revenue in the general trajectory they have been for the last 30 years.

First, let’s examine the history of deficits in this country since the early 1960s.

As we can see from the graph, the modern practice of out of control deficit spending started with Ronald Reagan, continued under George H. W. Bush, was reversed by President Clinton, and then re-initiated with wild abandon by George W. Bush. President Obama and his fiscal policies are a separate case that I will discuss in future articles, but in the 28-year period between January 1981 and January 2009, all three Republican Presidents were guilty of financial irresponsibility and the one Democratic President was fiscally responsible.

What is it about these Republican Presidents that caused them to act this way? Is there a philosophy and strategy behind it?

The answer is YES. As I talked about in the link below in my appearance today on Peter Lavelle’s CrossTalk show on the Russia Today network, Republicans have been operating under a strategy called “Starve the Beast” since Reagan’s days in office. Continue reading Our Budget and Finances are Exactly Where Republicans Wanted Them To Be