June 30, 2010
I know what happened at Harvard
Jeff Sessions brings out the worst in me. I can hardly watch this political peacock preen before the cameras as the ranking Republican on the Judiciary committee at the Kagan hearings. (Once nominated by President Reagan to be a federal judge, he tries to exact a pound of flesh from nominees to the bench to get even with the bastards who knocked him off the list of judges.)
Sessions once suggested that the ACLU and the NAACP were "were un-American and communist inspired because they tried to force civil rights down the throats of people."
Sessions of Alabama was so bad that Howell Heflin, Senator from Alabama, concluded there was "reasonable doubt Sessions would be fair and impartial." His nomination was withdrawn and now we get a chance to see what Heflin, Specter, Mack Mathias and others saw.
This guy is mean, as far to the right as you can go, and I suspect his views on race are closer to Bull Connor's than even the GOP members of the Judiciary Committee. He doesn't like Kagan and he went after her because she supposedly decided that discrimination by the Army against gays and lesbians violated Harvard's policies. She explained, but peacock responded, "I know what happened at Harvard." Really Jeff? How do you know more about the Harvard question than the Dean? He didn't say "I heard," "I think," he said, "I know." I know something--Howell Heflin from Alabama was right.
Bill Taylor passed on. I have been lucky. I met Bill Taylor and he arranged for Ben Zelenko and me to teach a course on the law of sports at Catholic University. I am lucky because that allowed me a chance to get to know Taylor. He was one of the giants of the civil rights battles. (Jeff Sessions would not approve of Taylor, that is a certainty).
I urge you read his NY Times obit. A good man, a leader and more.
June 29, 2010
Taxes and good citizenship
Once upon a time, we were dedicated to the proposition that paying taxes was simply part of the cost of civilization. Our duty, but a welcome duty. My dad told me when I was a young boy that WPA and other New Deal programs saved our country. How? He explained that everyone wants to pay taxes--their fair share of taxes--and if you could not find work you couldn't pay your share. FDR put people back to work, put some money in the hands of working people, and the result was happy workers pleased to pay a fair tax.
Paying our share made us more than passive observers. It made us participants in the system we call government.
Somewhere along the path we lost that sense of community. Instead of rewarding the workers--the taxpayers--we opted for "greed is good." We decided we could have all the good stuff without raising the revenue to pay for good schools, safe bridges, social welfare. Any politician who told the truth about taxes was targeted for defeat. It is time to change that approach. Won't work.
June 28, 2010
The picture of Jim Haney in the Wisconsin State Journal showed a smiling WMC boss with the look of a keynote speaker who just sat on a whoopee cushion. The story was more humorous than the picture. Haney regrets that politics has become so divisive. Whoa Nelly, Jim.
Mexico is becoming dangerous. The illegal drug war has become a real war. Thousands murdered; millions of dollars stolen, government corrupted, bodies beheaded. All because of the U.S. and the demand for cannabis. Prohibition didn't stop drinking--just the opposite. Making pot illegal is a dumb idea. Here is What Willie Nelson had to say: "Weed is 50 percent of what's causing the problems along the border with the drug cartels. Legalize weed and it would stop immediately."
Willie Nelson makes more sense than Bill Bennett.
Senator Robert Byrd is gone at 92. Despite a bad opening act, Byrd was a good man, a good senator, and he was not afraid of peace. We will miss him.
June 27, 2010
Which Side Are You On?
Tom Geoghegan, who will speak at Fighting Bob Fest on September 11, wrote a book with the title in this blog post's headline. While the subject was organized labor, the song and book title come in handy in many situations. For example, the NYT carries a picture of Mike Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs, meeting with President Karzai in Kabul. Mullen is quoted saying, "The leadership has changed but the policy is the same." Mullen looks foolish in camouflage but there he is trying ever so hard to get Karzai to like us.
Karzai is the guy seeking peace with the Taliban in secret meetings with our enemy, behind our back, while Mullen is giving assurances that he can trust the U.S. Isn't it time to ask, "President Karzai, which side are you on?" If you are ready to accept the Taliban, we are out of here! When? Now!
June 26, 2010
I have my doubts--you?
The media is in a twit over Oliver Stone's latest movie/documentary. Believe it--they suggest Stone might be a tad biased! Say it ain't so! His South of the Border is the film I want to see, but be careful if you go because Stone, whose JFK forced people to think the unthinkable, that the CIA murdered the president, makes a hero of Hugo Chavez. OMG, OMG!
Now return to the funny pages for a real-life objective discussion of the Stanley McChrystal episode/docudrama/nonsense. You label it. I call it fiction.
Is it believable that career soldier, general, brilliant Special Ops guy doesn't know what even illiterate privates know--you don't call the sergeant an idiot while at parade rest. You don't play Dixie at the July 4 fireworks display in Madison. Nope.
Now try to accept the idea of the commanding general in Afghanistan reading The Progressive, The Nation, Mother Jones, FightingBob.com or Adbusters. Silly notion? You bet. Not very likely. Next imagine the commander trusting Rolling Stone if he is part of the military industrial complex. Not just trusting Rolling Stone--inviting it into the den for a scotch or two, and some chips for candid discussion!
Yes, indeed, Oliver Stone must be crazy!
Then imagine smart policy wonks like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and former maverick McCain reviewing the unwinnable war, ushering in unthinkable thoughts like the end of American military domination when we finally get out of Afghanistan and Iraq because we will have to file for bankruptcy. How do we get out? Idea: Have the guy in charge call the president an idiot, force the president to uphold the dominance of citizens of over the military, and in the process sow the seeds of blame on Obama, our gutsy commander-in-chief, for losing the wars. Brilliant? No, it began in the 1950's. "Who lost China?" cried the Luce dynasty.
"I know," said tail-gunner Joe, "communists in the State Department!" Damn those commies! Damn them.
As Bob Herbert writes today, "Afghanistan, a disaster that cannot be won. The American public gave up on the war long ago." So, Mr Special Ops guy--take one for the team! You have been the good soldier and there will be a place for you in Dubai alongside Dick Cheney.
Ah, I almost forgot--the commies are back! Oliver Stone--get a life! Don't try to fool us! We understand the game.
June 25, 2010
Wishes and thoughts
I wish our dreams would become thoughts, but it ain't that simple no matter what Common Cause or the N.Y. Times say. The wish is that the Congress will enact tough campaign financing rules that will level the playing field, keep corporations out of politics, help challengers defeat incumbents, and reverse the Citizens United v. FEC decision. The wish/dream of the so-called Chris Van Hollen campaign reform law that passed the House by 219-206 is built on a faulty assumption--a wish in reality, not real reform. Fact is a.) It won't pass the Senate; b.) It is laughable reform because it has as its foundation "disclosure."
Disclosure won't impact contributions. Period. Money trumps disclosure almost every time. Ask yourself--who has given money to Scott Walker or Tom Barrett. Do you care? The Times editors more or less agree but urge passage anyway. They write, "It is flawed with...exemptions...for example, for the NRA, but it is the best that voters can hope for to help them fathom a likely boom in attack ads and campaign propaganda."
Nonsense. If BP invests a billion dollars in campaigns this fall, what would change if they had to disclose? I know--we could boycott BP gas! Would we? And would BP give a hoot if they win the right to escape clean-up in the Gulf if a few citizens drive past to get gas at Shell?
Are you willing to accept a few crumbs from the banquet table or do you believe Fighting Bob, who argued that "half a loaf simply dulls the appetite" for the full loaf? Hell, if this were even half a loaf--a slice perhaps--we might think about it, but disclosure without public financing is a farce.
More on this as we approach the 4th of July and the speech of La Follette in 1902 celebrating that great holiday. Meanwhile, let us distinguish between wishes and thoughts.
Unprotected water, polluted air, lack of courage. A court of appeals decision ought to remind us that we should pay attention to judicial elections. In a slap in the face, the state appeals court ruled that communities are helpless when trying to protect water quality. Things like limiting "nutrient run-off" or requiring well water tests--no way.
Let's see. We once had a public intervenor, an independent DNR, local standards to protect us from the mega-farms. Today the DNR is MIA, the Office of the Public Intervenor gone, and the court of appeals did the rest. Question: If citizens seek protection from pollution, where should they turn?
June 24, 2010
Got that right.Your next assignment?
OK, Mr. President, OK. You did what you had to do--you fired a general who should face charges. He won't, but then who does these days? Now the real problem--you are in a war you can neither afford nor win. The lucky guy, I hate to say it, is McChrystal. He is off the hook, home free--you are waste deep in the big muddy. You are Commander-in chief. Congratulations!
As in the Gulf, where you have scratched and clawed your way to the top, you are responsible for fixing the calamity. You are in charge. Yikes! Congratulations. But, BP says, we will drill in the Arctic--get out of the way!
We are told, "BP defends the drilling in the Arctic saying it is safe and [catch this] environmentally friendly." Yes, you are in charge all right and you can't win. First you get slapped by a federal judge--OK. Sure, he should have recused himself, but inevitably some smart-ass will ask, "Why didn't your lawyers ask him to step aside?"
But back to war hero-with-a-plan McChrystal. Do you think he might have taken a dive for the team? You can't win. That is obvious so, the boys at the Pentagon need someone to blame. Tag! You are it! We are paying millions to warlords for safe passage. The government of Afghanistan? MIA. Gone. Mineral rich country with foreign occupier. That is about the best you can hope for?
Yes, they think we are idiots. Full page ad in NYT: "Florida's boundless, beautiful nature is just as wonder-filled, pristine and breathtaking as always." I am not kidding. OK, a few tar balls, but hey! Tourists! Come to Florida! Their motto? "P.T.Barnum--there is a sucker born every minute."
Q. How do we get out of this mess? How about a candid interview with Rolling Stone? Just a thought. Just a thought.
June 22, 2010
Dear Dean Davis
"I am writing to request an adjustment of my grade in Contracts. I know it was a long time ago and won't help me if I need a job, but I'd feel better with an A."
Catch this in today's NY Times: "In Law Schools, Grades Go Up, Just Like That." I am not kidding, Loyola of Los Angeles, Georgetown, and others are raising grades to "make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market." Wow! Loyola has been creative if a tad shady in "tacking on .333 to every grade recorded in the last few years." Really.
Not to be out-done my those Catholics, "Southern Methodist is paying for-profit law firms to hire its students." Whoa Nelly! I am astounded. How about ethics? Any takers? Any teachers? Is it time to slow the graduation numbers for lawyers? Supply management? Or would that require fewer faculty, administraters...you catch the drift?
Thank you, Dean. See you at the fundraiser.
SURPRISE HEADLINE: "Road construction firms largely favor Walker for campaign contributions." The Wisconsin State Journal tells us "there's no mistaking which horse highway interests are putting their money on."
And then there is the sad but predictable headline: "Justices Back Monsanto on Biotech Seed Planting." The vote was 7-to-1. The one? John Paul Stevens, of course.
June 21, 2010
Thanks, Whirlpool! Thanks very much.
It all begins with a depressing public announcement. Another American corporation has placed a thumb in our collective eye. "Whirlpool announced Friday that it will close its refrigerator factory in Evansville, Indiana and cut 1,100 jobs as it continues to trim excessive capacity."
The jobs will be eliminated in mid-2010. "The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based appliance maker has aggressively cut costs." Yada-yada, yada. Think again about the concept swallowed by so many people of "good corporate citizen"--re-visit the Supreme Court holding in United Citizens vs. FEC. Recall that truth-bender Justice Alito shaking his head at the State of the Union and mouthing "no" when Obama warned in one great understatement that the decision places America in a position where corporations can rule the election process. Whoa Nelly!
Obama fights to create jobs for the unemployed while Whirlpool moves 1,100 family supporting jobs to Mexico. Not because of lousy employee work. "This decision has nothing to do with employee performance," said the Whirlpool spokesman. (I suppose they can have a presence in Michigan so they can exercise their First Amendment rights in November!)
We, the people, need nothing less than a constitutional amendment to reverse the horrendous Supreme Court, limiting corporations to economic concerns not political. At Fighting Bob Fest, Congresswoman Donna Edwards and John Bonifaz will explain the amendment approach. We need your help.
Waiting for Congress to build a better mouse trap to eliminate corporate control is waiting for Beckett's Godot.
Ask yourself if "corporate citizen" Whirlpool should be able to move thousands of workers, fellow citizens, to another place, another country. The bastards! Our soldiers fought and died for them. Our politicians worked with them to keep corporate taxes low while raising user fees, property and sales taxes.
Thanks, Whirlpool. If I thought a consumer boycott would work...
June 20, 2010
How about some truth serum?
Thinking about the "news" this week is a bit depressing. Can't anyone tell the truth in this joint?
First and foremost, a neighbor asked last night, "Who broke the story about the trillion dollar stash of minerals in Afghanistan?" Damned good question. I read in the NY Times that the Pentagon knew about the mineral deposits for years, and soon we read that government types yawned and said, in essence, "Where you been Rip Van Winkle? Were you with Woody Allen in Sleepers?"
No, I was not, and I will tell you that I read almost every story published about Afghanistan in the paper of record, particularly sine it became "Barack's War," and I did not see a story about Afghanistan potentially becoming one of the world's wealthiest countries. Not one until last week when we were assured that the Pentagon has known for years.
Here is the rub. If the Pentagon knew, then presidential candidates knew. Barack Obama knew. Hillary knew, Joe Biden knew and so did Jane Harman, Nancy Pelosi and lots of other "leaders" who were sending young Americans to face a very dangerous insurgency. Death and injury. And billions of dollars needed right here in "suckerville" were bundled up and sent to "poor" Afghanistan. I need more than two cups of tea!
Follow the bouncing ball and sing along. If we are to believe the government, some Soviet soldiers found some maps and information about the incredible wealth during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Worried this info would fall into the wrong hands, these brave Soviets hid the papers in desk drawers in a museum during the day, and took them home at night to be guarded like French peasants protect gold--under the mattress.
Hello? Anyone out there buying this cockamamie story?
We have been led to believe that President Karzai's brother was earning lots of money on illegal drug sales. Don't you wonder what he is taking from those who would love to get their hands on the minerals? The president of Afghanistan is ready to make a deal with the Taliban. Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Taliban are talking, David Patreus was passing out in the Senate hearing, and we are surging in Afghanistan but can't tell if we are winning--check back in December.
(Where is Monte Hall when we need him?)
Karzai knew about the stash. His minister of mines said "no, no, no no. We have $3 trillion in minerals not one."
Question for the day: When was the president going to tell us? Or wasn't he going to tell us? Whoa Nelly!
June 19, 2010
Some truth finds its way
Jim Hackett was "shocked" by information that has emerged in the BP fiasco. "Shocked" is he? Turns out Hackett's company Anadarko might be partially liable as a 25 percent partner with BP, but not if BP's behavior was "willful misconduct or grossly negligent." So, pile on Jim Hackett. Throw your partner onto the funeral pyre.
Good for the president for the escrow account. Of course $20 billion won't cover it--perhaps no amount will-- but it is a darned good start. Well done. Now stop the kings of tort from huge billion dollar pay. This entire episode could be an opportunity to learn.
I agreed to be a guest on a right-wing talk show Friday. The other guest was one of those non-stop, never pause, no need to breath, Ann Coulter types: "repeal the Jones Act, Obama stopped the Dutch from helping, Obama is a bum"...Yikes. You think you can respond, but the machine-gun-like bursts from the right are impossible to match with reason. So, why try? Gotta try--talk faster! If you get on a roll the bursts come even faster.
No progress in Congress on reversal of the Citizens United decision. Change must come from the bottom up not top down.
June 18, 2010
A tad high
Yesterday I opined that it is hard to prosecute a guy who just gave $200 billion...Obviously I meant $20 billion. Same point. But Joe Barton would lose his mind over a $200 billion "shake-down."
Here is the focus for now on Afghanistan. "Mining executives, as well as American officials, are concerned about corruption in the Afghan government," reports the paper of record. I am not kidding. Afghan officials say U.S. predictions of a trillion dollars "were two conservative and say they could be worth as much as $3 trillion!" Ah corruption is our concern and chickens have lips.
How come we have not been told that "Afghanistan could be one of the leading producers of copper, gold, lithium and iron in the world." How come?
Not to worry about corruption.
No sir. "Nongovernmental western mining experts will be helping the Afghan mining ministry develop a bidding process." And if you can't trust the experts, you get the drift.
I say put Joe Barton in charge--he doesn't know much, but he knows corruption. Or we could insert the Department of Interior folks--they need jobs! Hey! Unemployment ain't fun for them either. Besides, the Minister of Mining "pledged to make the bidding process as transparent as possible." There you have it. A job for Dick Cheney. Keep us informed, Dick. Please.
I think I will go back to bed.
June 17, 2010
Oh no! Petulance.
I winced as the BP executives tried to stifle grins when leaving the private exit at the White House. All I could think about was that Phase One of the BP PR campaign to make criminal charges less likely was successful. Hard to arrest the guy who just gave you $200 billion [correction: $20 billion]. Not only that, BP loves the "small people." Ya gotta love 'em!
In Britain, this quote from former Conservative Party leader Lord Tebbit. He accused our president of, catch this, "a xenophobic display of presidential petulance." Oh, anything but that! And the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, complained that the U.S. was unleashing a wave of anti-British rhetoric.
What was the Adlai Stevenson quote (or was it Truman?)? I think it was, "If the Republicans will stop lying about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about the Republicans." (Close enough.) So, my message to BP: If you will start telling the truth we will send you a cake when you are behind bars.
No Mas! I will never forget those words from the boxer Roberto Duran. I feel the same about giving money to those seeking a better job. I'll bet 30 legislative candidates have called me this year. Do they want my views on the flotilla attack? Housing evictions? Payday loans? Afghanistan? No, no, no, no and no. They want money and have all sorts of gimmicks; $50 for the senator's 50th birthday; must make the filing deadline; Obama's presidency is on the line. Breakfast, brunch, lunch, cocktails, brats, "a non-event." Just send money while watching the Brewers game.
It never stops.
Some remind you that there is a limit! Yikes. Whoa Nelly. Why not call to discuss why the Democratic-controlled legislature could not cap interest rates at 36 percent? No time. "Gotta make calls and then doors."
Enough! The big boys have us playing their game. The real question is, "How do we take back our elections?" At Fighting Bob Fest some bold plans will be pushed. See you there. In the meantime I'm thinking of getting an unlisted number!
June 16, 2010
"He is an untrustworthy, scheming bastard....egocentric and unprincipled." Who said that? Can you name the target? If you do, you win a Fighting Bob Fest beer mug. Was it President Obama in a new version of Little Red Riding Hood? Was it the big oil boys on the Hill describing the BP CEO?
No, this quote was from the obit page--most of the quote came from Andre Previn, describing the music director of the L.A. orchestra, but I suspect most of you would use these or similar descriptors for the BP CEO if given a chance. Our president had a chance last night but chose a different path. Will we ever forget My Pet Goat in Bush's nightmare? Well, I can almost hear Barack Obama reading, "Grandma, what big ears you have..."
It is charitable to say that we were "disappointed" in the speech. No plan, lots of "trust us---we are in this fight to the end."
In Congress, even Exxon dumped on BP! Our president? No thanks. The BP spokesman ducked and bobbed, and said BP was "sorry." But, reports the New York Times, he "refused repeated requests to place billions of dollars of BP's profits in an escrow fund to pay damages," and the president apparently did not carry a big stick in his meeting with a guy who should be in prison or out on bond. No, the president said nothing about escrow accounts that would lead anyone to confidence that the BP liars will do the right thing. "My what a big nose you have, grandma."
Now grandma opened wide to expose some big teeth--and told us the flow may be 60,000 barrels per day! But not to worry--BP still says it will pay "all legitimate claims." How long will it take BP to determine if a claim is "legitimate"? Hint: yesterday, the British government announced a decision from the committee studying the "Bloody Sunday" killings nearly 40 years ago.
That timeline would take us to 2050 or so. Hang on fisherpeople, hang on. It is becoming obvious that the BP CEO will be dealing with the calamity in the Gulf longer than the president. That scares me. And the president read on, "What big teeth you have grandma..."
June 15, 2010
Now that is confidence!
The secretary of defense was asked if the U.S. will be able to pull out of Afghanistan soon. Also asked, "How is it going over there?" The Washington Post carried this response (italics are mine):
"I think General McChrystal is pretty confident that by the end of this year, he will be able to point to sufficient progress to justify continuing the effort," he said.
"And I presume we are pretty confident BP or the Tooth Fairy will plug the hole in the Gulf."
OK. I made up the Tooth Fairy part.
Message to soldiers in Afghanistan: "Hey, listen up people. We feel pretty good about our plans. Sorta confident in fact. No promises, but keep your spirits high."
Fundraiser a failure. The Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Convention, still in the formative stages, was upset to learn that multi-millionaire Congressman James Sensenbrener, who owns 3,604 shares of BP stock, will not abandon his friends at BP by recusing himself on any votes. Nope, even the paper loss of $118,000 in the value of his holding won't stop him from serving the people of his District while guarding BP from a government takeover. A fundraiser was held to help the congressman, but those cheap progressives gave nothing to help Jamie!
Question. Who owns the trillion dollar mineral find in Afghanistan and the oil in the Gulf of Mexico? Or the oil in Iraq and Ecuador? Is it a given that only private companies can own and operate mines and oil rigs? Is there something in the Bible to guide us? What are we to do?
June 14, 2010
Can you top this?
Mark Russell, great comedian, said during Watergate, "You don't need writers in this business. How can you top Nixon's famous, 'Your president is not a crook'?"
Well, say hello to Jim Klauser of Tommy Thompson fame (or was Klauser the famous one?). Klauser, for years the most powerful person in Tommy-land, ordered people around, but now must "ask" and it kills him.
Thanks to Dan Bice of the Journal Sentinel, we catch a glimpse of the wounded Klauser. He endorsed a goof, Mark Neumann for governor, and sent $5,000 along as token of appreciation. He has changed his mind. He now wants goof #2 to be the candidate so he called goof #1 and told him to drop out but Goof 1 said drop dead!
So Klauser got mad and demanded his money back so he could give it to Goof 2. "No and heck no" was the response, so the guy who would like to be governor if he could skip an election and be appointed, Goof 3, Bill McCoshen, sent an e-mail to Scott Jensen who awaits another felony trial, this one on home turf, in which he says "bully Jimbo, bully" or whatever Madison Club rules prescribe.
(Bice does not tell us if McCoshen wrote to all accused felons in the Republican Party or just to Jensen.) I will leave it with this from Goof 1's campaign manager: "They've been caught with their pants down." Yikes! Where are we, Toto? South Carolina?
Afghanistan: I leave the war/police action/skirmish with a new take on the smart war: "U.S. DISCOVERS MINERAL RICHES IN AFGHANISTAN. Could be the Saudi Arabia of lithium." (Did we just make that discovery or did we know before it became the "smart war"?)
Like Klauser, I want my money back!
June 13, 2010
Are we ready for a crisis?
The lesson I take from the pathetic response to the explosion in the Gulf of Mexico from BP to Obama, Salazar to Congress, from CBS to MSNBC, is our inability as a people to handle a crisis. Katrina, as it turns out, was not a wake-up call it was, if anything, a new floor in the rush to identify the "culprit" or an alarm with a long snooze button.
BP execs should be handling media calls from prison. The Obama administration should be a beehive of activity investigating why a second ship to haul away oil won't arrive off the coast for weeks or months! (The first one is full.) Damn. I'm no scientist, but even I could figure out that a second, third, fourth tanker should be ready to fill up. We are all smart enough to know when our car needs gas. But not so, BP! Jaysus! Instead of arrest warrants, the president yields again and will meet with the BP CEO! Why? I can only imagine the conversation. "Gosh, Mr. President, don't punish our pensioners for BP's little mistake. We joined you in the Iraqi invasion--remember? Please, Mr. President--if you clean up this one, the next one's on us!"
Crisis number two: The Supreme Court opts for corporate state over democracy. In a head-long plunge, the Scalia-five decided corporations are "people." Better than people--they don't serve in war, don't have sick parents or children, and they pay less in taxes or avoid them altogether with off-shore addresses. Ah, to be Exxon, AIG, Goldman.
No sign of panic at this weekend's state Democratic Party Convention. Nope. Politics as usual. No need to adjust--just beat that goof Walker and all will be well. Corporations? Force them to disclose their serfs and everything will be OK. I don't think so.
Finally, as the nation prepares to lay-off, fire, terminate as many as 300,000 teachers this year, those kids will be OK. C'mon! We had it tough and we have done just fine. Well, I go with Nicholas Kristof, who writes, "It should be a scandal that California spends $216,000 on each child in the juvenile justice system, and only $8,000 on each child in Oakland public schools." Tell it to BP, or Arne or candidates spending 100 million bucks in campaigns to protect us if we elect them. Whoa Nelly. Think about climate change! All set, are we?
June 12, 2010
"Karzai Is Said to Doubt West Can Defeat Taliban." Little amplification of today's NY Times headline needed.
Suppose your son or husband got killed yesterday in Afghanistan. Imagine knocking on the door where you will deliver the "news" that he is dead. Your life will be permanently altered. Your family's future destroyed. "Your (fill in blank_________) died honorably defending (fill in blank________), a grateful nation (choose one: Pakistan, Afghanistan, America________) thanks you. You may keep the flag as a reminder of the "smart war."
Headline #2: "Obama Steps Up The Prosecution of Media Leaks." Anger At Disclosures--Cases Begun by (fill in blank ________)are pursued aggressively.
Kick ass, Mr. president! Kick ass!
And #3: "Of all the devious tricks practiced by the financial industry--hidden fees, usurious interest rates, and incomprehensible contracts that take advantage of consumers--the campaign strategy for 2010 has to rank right up there." Ruth Conniff, Political Editor of the Progressive wrote those words at the start of her superb article, "The Bankers' Latest Scam." If you do not have a subscription to the Progressive, get one.
Democrats are meeting in Madison this weekend. We will report as the news flows in.
June 11, 2010
As bad as 9-11? Worse!
I must admit to feeling queasy when I look at the BP disaster flowing into the Gulf. The only thing more sickening is the flow of BS flowing from BP's corporate hole. They have been lying throughout--not little fibs--the big ones!
This is a moment when words come hard and "Truth" can't find her boots. Like you, I often feel a bit of despair as it becomes increasingly obvious that a.) Our government has been replaced by the Business Roundtable; b.) The only gods to be served are shareholders and rating services; and c.) If the end of civilization is on the horizon due to global warming, the profiteers don't care or are simply so blinded by greed that at this point they can't do anything anyway. Too late.
It apears that "an amount equivalent to Exxon Valdez could be flowing into Gulf of Mexico every 8 to 10 days." I think it is probable the oil will ruin the east coast of the U.S., move on to Europe and indeed the entire world. Is this enough for the international wake-up call? Dunno! You?
Meanwhile, "What's with the hair?" seems more important than "How do we deal with the great disaster?"!
Will the new form of governance care? I think the answer is "no" when the Brits are angry that we are angry at British Petroleum. Whoa Nelly! And one can almost hear the cry to "drill in the Great Lakes baby, drill." What could go wrong? And think about the thousands of jobs! Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.
June 10, 2010
Unbossed and unbought
As I watched beautiful people on cable scream and holler over "ladies night" I couldn't help but wonder what in hell were they thinking. Gail Collins got it right--it was the "Rise of the Richies" not the response to the gutsy moves of Shirley Chisolm, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan: the women who paved the way for women's rights. Tuesday night some extraordinarily wealthy pols spent a personal fortune to win elections but that was not the news. No way--it was ladies night.
Collins writes that we have been guessing how this election would be on TARP, health care, tar balls on the beach, voter anger. Nope--rich self-funders spent tens of millions on campaigns without telling us a damned thing about the gap between the rich and the rest of us; or campaign reform; or unemployment. Who has time? It was ladies night at the Club. The richies were busy, busy. Sorry Shirley, Betty, Gloria...it will happen someday.
Salazar sure is tough!
BP, with help from scholars like Senator Mary Landrieu, is warning that if the Obama folks hit the pause button on new deepwater drilling jobs will be lost, the economy will tank, and terrible things will happen. I guess Senator Landrieu thinks the company has learned its lesson, so let them all go back to work! So, they say, "drill baby drill: forget about the spill."
Ken Salazar, the protector as Interior Secretary, said, and I am not making this up, he will "ask" BP to repay the salaries of any worker laid off as a result of a six-month moratorium on deepwater exploratory drilling ordered by his putative boss Obama while we try to figure out how to avoid another disaster! He will ask this awful company if it will pay. That is bad enough but, sit down before reading, he said he will offer to lift the moratorium early if it does!
Good god, Mr. Secretary, these workers will be laid off because of the criminal negligence of this scofflaw BP. Don't ask, tell. Order them to pay and if they won't pay, sue the bastards. Put them in jail. "Ask"? Jaysus!
Truth down to a trickle by Monday, says BP. If you believe that I have another one for you.
June 9, 2010
They did it again!
Historians, asking themselves 100 years from now, "Why did America collapse?" will find themselves studying the 2000 election, stolen by Bush, Cheney, and the right-wing "institutes," because that theft led America down a path to plutocracy. An end to citizen involvement in politics, a halt to meaningful reform of elections.
The appointments of extremists to the Supreme Court meant that corporate billions would determine all important elections from state Supreme Court races to congressional races. All efforts to plug the money hole seemed like the BP record in the Gulf with an even stronger flow--of money rather than oil.
Yesterday, the "Scalia 5" did it again, in the form of an injunction to halt Arizona from providing public funds to help candidates respond to attack ads!
A constitutional amendment is our only hope--our only escape.
June 8, 2010
Her message to Jews to "go back to wherever you came from" was outrageous and offensive and I in no way wanted to side with her in my previous GarveyBlog post. I was making light of her as a threat to anyone at 89 years of age. Threat or no threat, it is a sad ending to a great career.
A friend said "gimme a break" in response to my previous remarks about Thomas. He is right. I was not careful.
What's the rush?
While it seems like the "spill," "geyser," whatever you call this Gulf disaster, has been going on forever, relax, BP, Shell, Exxon and their pals at Halliburton will show you some tricks in stalling you never dreamed about. How do I know? Check this header in the Times today: "8 Former Executives Guilty in '84 Bhopal Leak." That's correct--eight corporate executives, all Indians, were convicted of, sit before reading, negligence. As one advocate put it, "The world's worst industrial disaster reduced to a traffic accident."
Union Carbide sold its Indian subsidiary to Dow Chemical; one defendant died; 3,000 victims died instantly in the slum; thousands more died later. But at least the living victims got damages; an average of $550 each! Meanwhile, BP has promised to pay all legitimate claims--of course all the judges in the Gulf region are friends of big oil...you get the picture.
My favorite headline came in 1992, giving new meaning to "justice delayed is Justice denied." It read, "Vatican admits error on Galileo." Some 350 years before, in 1633, Galileo was forced to his knees before the Inquisition for saying that the Earth was not the center of the universe. He admitted his views were false, abjured, cursed, and detested. Why? Well, they gave him a choice: be burned at the stake or recant.
So, give or take a few hundred years, BP, if there is one, might pay all "legitimate" claims. Meanwhile relax.
At least we have located the secret to peace in the Middle-East--get Helen Thomas! No more commencement speeches for her! No more lip from her at presidential news conferences. Nope. We like pretty women and men throwing soft balls at the president.
June 7, 2010
Manipulation or true uprising?
Go back to Florida in 2000. Recall the angry, shouting demonstrators? I do. They wanted us to believe these were real citizens of Florida who wanted to end the campaign for president by all sides uniting around big oil, big insurance, big everything with angry mob and president Bush. Today we know that the shouting masses were a "rent-a-crowd" from Washington, D.C.
Somewhere in a windowless room there must have been lots of high-fives as the public was fooled into halting the recount that would, we now know, have found Al Gore as our president.
What a different country we would have today had the people's voice, not the purchased voice, been heard.
Some will say, "Hey Ed, get over it," and that's fine, but are we falling victim again to the so-called Tea Party? Are people really so angry or are they clueless? I have been in lots of campaigns. People who attend rallies are polite. The don't threaten, shake fists, or shout racial comments at the speaker so pardon me, but I am suspicious. Who are these angry shouters? I suspect many are part of that big money "rent-a-crowd." It would be nice if some reporters would dig in and prove me wrong. I may be wrong, but this unrestrained anger doesn't seem real.
I started with Bill Kraus's latest GuestBlog post--his plea--to take back campaigns by "running the campaign consultants out of Dodge." Not going to happen soon, but we must ask who are these people? Did anyone check credentials? Are they also running for office as true progressives? Read the NY Times story about the lieutenant governor challenger to Blanch Lincoln in Arkansas. Where did Halter come from? Oh, we know...he is a true progressive angry at Lincoln for disloyalty. Or do we?
Where did Halter get his training? He was hired by a new "Institute" (there is that word again) funded by the likes of Sam Walton. Hard to imagine the Waltons hiring a real lefty. What did they know that we didn't? See you at the victory party--if invited.
June 6, 2010
Suggest you read Joel McNally's post this morning. The "libertarian movement," like the "labor movement," implies great roiling of the water and lots of new ideas. In other words a movement not a new research paper from the Bradley Foundation, a new poll from the UW political science folks or something way out from Heritage. Rand Paul is evidence that it is more "ho-hum" than "to the barricades."
Here is Paul's earth-shattering observation reported in the NYT: "We believe that stealing from people is not good, whether you're the government or whether you have a mask on your face." Talk about bold! But wait, the Pretty Boy Floyd lyrics oft repeated, "As through this life I rambled, I've met some funny men. Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen." Woody for president!
Hard to be a libertarian if your house is on fire--taking a helping hand from the community-owned fire department makes more sense.
Yes, a good idea in the Wisconsin State Journal. OK, it was a letter to the editor, but if the WSJ had gone under we might not have read this from James in Lodi, who reminds us that the Social Security tax stops when taxpayer reaches $106,000. Why stop? James wrote, "Wouldn’t a Social Security tax on all incomes, not just earned incomes, go a long way toward solving the projected deficit and spreading the burden over the entire population rather than on those least able to bear the burden?"
Sure would! Then Jerry from Portage writes, "Raise the max and then index to cost of living." Good thoughts--too simple? Too hard on Warren Buffet or Bill Gates? I think they could still afford to dine out once a week. You?
Frank Rich captures the idea I have been struggling with. What's wrong with Obama? No, it is not his lack of temper. Rich writes, "We still want to believe that Obama is on our side, willing to fight those bad corporate actors who cut corners" and cost us dearly.
Just as you say, great, "He's back (BP will pay!)," he meets with the governor of Arizona and acts almost contrite that he called her awful immigration approach "misguided." Makes you wonder where he would have been in the deep south in the 1960s.
Message to the President: We need you on our side. There are plenty of Glenn Becks on the other side!
June 5, 2010
Whatever happens to BP, the president can't catch a break or a breath. He began his presidency with the worst fiscal crisis since 1929; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did not take a break for his inaugural; the debt was/is awesome, private sector unemployment on the rise; and big business was grabbing hold of our collective political throat.
Health care reform? Sure. A public option? Well, not so fast. And then, just a few days after permitting deep-sea drilling off the coast of Virginia to please the "drill baby drill" crowd, the BP disaster occurred.
If he had gone toe-to-toe with the drill baby crowd over Virginia, his moral standing would have been just the prescription. But, it is Murphy's Law at work. Somehow he did not have the stomach for that fight. Like a golfer whose ball dipped into the hole but jumped out...
And then, as if on cue, Israel decides to force the president's hand in--get ready for another war--Iran!
One thought he would, at least, have a united Democratic Party as mid-term elections approach, but his staff screwed that notion and his constant plea that one or two Republicans join him on anything sounds more and more desperate. And progressives are discouraged or angry. The bloom is off the rose and disaster looms.
Now the better news. Obama seems more and more in control in the Gulf. I think he will prosecute BP; he promises to hound BP until it makes good on clean-up, pays for economic injury and, if he sticks to it, November might be a surprise.
Let's focus on Israel for a moment. The position of Israel is that others are always to blame for every outrage committed by Israel. Obama cannot win on this one. If he condemns Israel, bye, bye Turkey and, of course, he cannot even hint that Israel is at fault.
How bad are things? Almost two dozen incumbents in the Wisconsin Legislature have turned away from almost secure employment for uncertain times. Why? I'm trying to figure that out.
June 4, 2010
How embarrassing! Wisconsin is number 1 in the country for high school graduation. Yes, 90 percent of our kids graduated last year! Damnit! How can Doyle/Evers prove to Arne Duncan to give us Brinks trucks full of cash in his ill-advised Race to the Top if we are #1?
Can we count on minorities to do poorly? Well 63 percent--not too shabby. Unacceptable, but imagine if Mississippi had become #1. Haley Barbour, the governor who struggles to speak English, would be hosting a conference on "How we did it!" Our governor must be angry.
Who suggested that teacher evaluations be tied to student performance? Yikes, that would mean most teachers in Wisconsin deserve a raise! Back to the drawing board!
Bud Selig: True story. I was privileged to join the Reverend Jesse Jackson, three of his staff, and Mannie Jackson, the owner of the revived and successful Harlem Globetrotters, at an editorial board meeting of the Baltimore Sun several years ago. Subject? The nearly all-white front offices in Major League Baseball. Not much progress was made until Jesse asked if any blacks were under consideration for commissioner of Baseball. A board member asked, Do you know anyone qualified for the job? "Yes," said the reverend, "Mannie Jackson." The Board smiled and made it clear that Mannie was not qualified! Who got the job? Bud Selig! Qualified? C'mon.
Why pick on poor Bud? Baseball fans know why. An umpire, Jim Joyce blew a call--not just any call and it was not even close. The NY Times wrote The worst umpiring all in the history of baseball. It ruined a perfect game for Galarraga--26 outs--no one reached base. And the 27th batter hit a ground ball, an easy out, perfect game. Huzzah! Safe ruled the umpire. Yikes screamed the crowd. Tears from the umpire who blamed himself. The pitcher? He said "No one is perfect." He handled it with poise and dignity. Commissioner, Selig? Let's agree he did not cover his office in glory. Mannie would have handled it--but he was not qualified!
June 3, 2010
Thank you, Evjue
Fighting Bob received $10,000 yesterday from the Evjue Foundation, the charitable arm of The Capital Times. Thank you, Evjue Foundation! Every year they have come through. Now it is our turn to raise the rest so that Fighting Bob Fest IX is a success.
We like to say that entry is free but you must pay to get out! If you can, please send $20-$40 to help us today. Our goal of $14,000 in addition to the Ejue funding needs a boost.
We are delighted as the program for 9/11 is moving forward and picking up speed. Jim Hightower, Thom Hartman, David Couper, Greg Palast, Russ Feingold and more. Semi-final program will be up on the Bob Fest website early next week.
BP is running full page ads with the new mantra: "We will get this done. We will make this right." A tad late boys, a tad late. I think the officers will soon turn their attention to prison reform.
See you in Baraboo. We are adding a break-out session on the Middle East. Whoa Nelly.
June 2, 2010
If you can't trust BP...
"BP officials have insisted that they are not relying on the ($75 million) cap," the newspapers say. They claim they have already spent more. But BP continues to repeat the mantra, "We will settle all legitimate claims."
Quite a word, "legitimate." Just to prove they are fair, BP wants a judge who knows the industry to preside: "BP has asked the Judicial Panel to have all cases heard in federal court in Houston." Close to home. Well, some lawyers think BP is seeking a home field advantage. Imagine that! Just can't satisfy some people.
Obama sounded annoyed with BP--even angry--yesterday. He suggested criminal charges. I hope he surprises us and just does it. Eleven men are dead and it sure looks like BP was negligent. How negligent? That is why we have juries.
Should BP get "Miranda warnings"? Don't need Miranda, they will have an army of legal talent advising them. Miranda is for poor people. Delay is for corporate giants. Prisons? Mostly for minorities.
June 1, 2010
It is really important!
Carol Browner, Obama's adviser on oil, was on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday. She said, "It is important for people to understand that from the beginning, the government has been in charge." Why? Dunno. But she says the unwashed should be told. I guess it is important because it is painfully obvious government is not now, nor has it ever been, in charge. BP is in charge. We all know that.
(I wonder if Carol Browner has also been in charge of the Brewers' bullpen.)
The failure of the regulators and the oil companies is classic. I don't see BP making the counter argument. Browner's comment conjures up the notion of school kids arguing. "My grandfather was captain of the Titanic," says one kid. "No," says the other kid, "My grandfather was captain! Or at a minimum he charted the course."
School shame: Forget the BP-Titanic, and take a gander at laws passing state legislatures to get some cash from Saint Arne Duncan in his awful Race to the Top scheme (bribery?). Embarrassing is a significant understatement. Money-starved states are awarded 58 points toward a perfect 800 points if new teachers are denied tenure for at least two years while the state prepares to "pass more robust [Gotta love that word. Robust--Iraq, Afghanistan] teacher evaluation systems." Translated, that means tying at least 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation to student grades! No matter that collective bargaining agreements must be breached. Aren't teachers and their unions responsible for poverty? No? Carol Browner is?
I am not making this up.
Some states are not participating, and Minnesota, always in the top 4 or 5 in test scores, pulled out.
How about some honesty? A year after Arne leaves his post, if scores remain stagnant or decline, who will rush forward to take the blame? And, dare we ask, after the Race to the Top money has been awarded, what happens to the losers? Nuts to them! I remember all the who-ha from Tommy over vouchers. It was the answer, but release of evaluations was delayed for years. Why? The grand Bradley Foundation's voucher program didn't work.
To every complex problem there is a simple solution--always wrong!