Friday, March 4, 2011

Last Call

South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint vows to save America from passing any legislation or anything.

A bloc of Senate conservatives, led by South Carolina's Jim DeMint, flexed their muscles Thursday, pledging to block any bill they alone deem wasteful or unconstitutional.

Seven other GOP senators joined DeMint's effort, including three freshman he helped elect in November, and veteran Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

"I'm proud to stand with my fellow conservative Senate colleagues to require thorough review of bills to prevent secret passage of wasteful spending and unconstitutional legislation," DeMint said.

Beyond passing judgment on whether measures are constitutional, DeMint's new group wants any new spending to be offset by other funding cuts and for duplicative government programs to be consolidated or eliminated.

The group also demands that all government programs be reviewed periodically and that the cost of every bill be made public before the Senate votes on it, along with the full text.

Jon Summers, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he's pleased that DeMint and his allies recognize "that we need to reduce the deficit and cut spending to make government leaner and more efficient."

But, Summers said, "it's a shame their austerity does not apply to the unpaid-for, budget-busting special interest tax breaks that they seem all too happy to hand out."

Naah, those are paid for by Laffer Curve Fairies.

Jim DeMint.  Because government shouldn't really do anything, it messes up the corporate takeover of the country.  Nice to see Maverick McCain has decided that since he can't be President, nobody else can either.

Seriously, folks.  These Republicans have no interest in governing, just wielding power.

It's A Gas Gas Gas In Ohio, Part 2

Well yes, I suppose taking public transportation does save you from having to pay the nearly 10 percent premium in gas prices added in the last ten days, that is if cities could afford public transportation with knuckle-dragging Republicans screaming SOCIALISM at buses and subways and demanding they be shut down.

U.S. gas prices have increased 28 cents a gallon in the last 10 days to $3.47 per gallon. Individuals who travel by bus or commuter rail instead of filling up their tanks at that price would save $825 per month on average, the American Public Transportation Association said.

The group included the national average of $161.56 for an unreserved parking space in a downtown business district in its calculations.

Political uncertainty in oil-producing Libya is pushing up oil prices, and that in turn is forcing many Americans to pay more at the pump.

If prices remain high, individuals would save an average $9,904 each year, APTA said, adding that "this is the highest savings for public transit riders in two years."

APTA said a commuter who relies on public transportation in New York City has the most savings over a driver -- $14,376 a year -- followed by those in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle.

So if you're lucky enough to have public transportation where you live (because Republicans in Congress have been blocking a transportation bill for nearly two years now and want tens of billions cut from public transportation nationwide and are throwing away tens of thousands of jobs rather than improve infrastructure) then by all means, use it while it still exists.

It won't in a few years.

The Sight Of White Fright Night

CNN's John Blake spends an awful lot of screen column inches exploring the question of whites as an oppressed minority in America in 2011 and I just shake my head.  The piece is very informative however as far as seeing how the divide and conquer strategy is working wonderfully for Republicans.

The notion that many white Americans feel anxious about their race is not new. Today, however, economic anxieties are feeding those racial fears, says Tim Wise, author of "White Like Me."

Wise says the recession hit blue-collar, white Americans hard, financially and psychologically.

Many white Americans have lived under the assumption that if they worked hard, they would be rewarded. Now more white Americans are sharing unemployment lines with "those people" -- black and brown, Wise says.

"For the first time since the Great Depression, white Americans have been confronted with a level of economic insecurity that we're not used to," he says. "It's not so new for black and brown folks, but for white folks, this is something we haven't seen since the Depression."

Economic insecurity is what Colby Bohannan says convinced him to form the "Former Majority Association for Equality." The association is awarding $500 scholarships to five deserving white men because they aren't eligible for scholarships reserved for women and minorities, he says.

"Living in America, you hear about this minority or that minority, but it's never been used in the same sense for Caucasian Americans," Bohannan says. "There was no one for white males until we came around."

Bohannan says the formation of his group was not motivated by racism, nor will it accept donations from hate groups.

"We're not trying to promote racial bigotry," Bohannan says. "All we're about is helping college students trying to better their lives who happen to be white males."

Some white Americans not only feel ignored in higher education; they feel excluded by popular culture.

The face of America is changing, says Wise, author of "White Like Me." American culture has become so multicultural that many of the nation's icons -- including celebrities, sports heroes, and other leaders -- are people of color.

"The very definition of being an American is going through a profound change," Wise says. "We can no longer take it for granted that we (whites) are the dictionary definition of an American."

Indeed, nearly half of whites (44%) view themselves as an oppressed people these days, the victims of discrimination and bigotry, including some 61% of Tea Party voters.

To which the rest of America is going "Effing really?"

And if you're wondering how the hell the Tea Party took over the GOP, you have your answer.  Scapegoating minority groups during times of economic tension is a proud and storied tradition in the United States, and it seems every generation or so there's a new group of "them" coming for "our" jobs and economic freedom.  The election of Barack Obama only solidified the new "them", everyone who isn't white.

It explains how Republicans have been able to so easily cleave working-class whites away from the Democratic party and the unions that supported them traditionally.  Dressing up full-out class warfare as racial tension isn't new either, but the combination of the nations first African-American President and the worst recession in 80 years has formed a nasty malignancy and backlash.

And the Republicans have exploited it beautifully despite their own incompetence.  We now live in an era where police, teachers, and firefighters making $50k a year are regularly vilified by people making five million a year as lavish wastrels living off the public dole while the "regular Joe" millionaires are treated like royalty.  Indeed, a person's contribution to society is measured by their net worth, the richer they are, the more moral they must be.

And since the big guys own and run every aspect of our corporate and government society, of course we believe them when they say the answer is to cut taxes for the super-rich so that they can "create more jobs" while the average American has gotten nothing but poorer since 1980.

That class anxiety is being diverted into racial anxiety.  The true believers think their rewards will be coming just as soon as we remove all the power from the "welfare queens" and the "union thugs" and the "pointy elitists", all the while finding out much too late the long knives are aimed at their own throats by the corporate overlords that truly have all the power.

The folks taking away the power from working class whites aren't working class Latinos, or African-Americans, or Asian-Americans, but the new class enshrined by the Supreme Court:  the Corporate American.

And they're quite happy to watch the other 99% of us kill each other.  More resources for them.  They don't quite have them all yet, you see.

It Gets Worse For Ohio Professors

Via Memeorandum, Ohio public college professors just got all of their collective bargaining rights stripped under Ohio's union-buster bill.

A bill narrowly approved by the Ohio Senate on Wednesday contains even worse news for public colleges' labor unions than they had feared: In addition to scaling back the collective-bargaining rights of all state employees, it would effectively prevent many faculty members from engaging in collective bargaining at all, by classifying them as managers, exempt from union representation, if they engage in any of several activities traditionally associated with their jobs.

The language dealing with how faculty members are classified was inserted into the bill Wednesday, just hours before the full Senate vote, as part of a 99-page omnibus amendment introduced Tuesday by the bill's sponsor, Shannon Jones, a Republican.

"We were completely blindsided by it," said Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, which has local chapters on eight Ohio public university campuses that represent faculty members in collective bargaining. "We have just started to fight," he said. "We are not going to settle for this."

The classification provision defines as "management-level employees" those faculty members who, individually or through faculty senates or similar organizations, engage in any of a long list of activities generally thought of as simply part of the jobs of tenured and tenure-track professors. Those activities include participating in institutional governance or personnel decisions, selecting or reviewing administrators, preparing budgets, determining how physical resources are used, and setting educational policies "related to admissions, curriculum, subject matter, and methods of instruction and research."

The Senate passed the measure containing such language—a bill overhauling the state's collective-bargaining laws—on Wednesday by a vote of 17 to 16, with six Republicans joining all of the Senate's Democrats in opposing it. The bill is expected to have an easier time getting through the Ohio House of Representatives, where Republicans hold a 59-to-40 majority, and to be signed by Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, who on Wednesday issued a written statement applauding its passage by the Senate.

"This is a major step forward in correcting the imbalance between taxpayers and the government unions that work for them," the governor's statement said. "Our state, counties, cities, and school districts need the flexibility to reduce their costs and better manage their work forces, and taxpayers deserve to be treated with more fairness."

But Ohio's teachers, firefighters, public defenders, transportation engineers, police officers, and college professors don't.  Apparently they're not part of Ohio voters or citizens or taxpayers.  Since he took office, John Kasich has taken direct aim at Ohio workers, killing the rail project that would have provided thousands of jobs and now going after public employees of all stripes.

After all, as a former lobbyist for Goldman Sachs, he knows who pays the bills in the Buckeye State.

The Glass Ceiling Is Still Firmly In Place

(CNN) -- The earnings gap between men and women has narrowed, but a new White House report shows that on average women still only make about 75% as much as their male counterparts.

The report released Tuesday shows that women have not only caught up with men in college attendance but in fact have surpassed them, yet that gain hasn't translated into the pocketbook. Statistics also show women are more likely than men to live in poverty.

I'm going to try to hold back on this, because I take it personally.  I am one of those women who showed up on time, worked harder and for longer hours, and got paid a fraction of what my male coworkers earned.  That's one of the reasons I am now working for the company I joined this year. 

It's still a good old boys club.  And I'm sick of playing the game.  When 75% is an improvement, we deserve answers.

It Only Took Eight Years!

ST. LOUIS – Missouri is not leading the nation in methamphetamine lab busts and seizures for the first time since 2003, according to figures released Tuesday.
Missouri's numbers went up ten percent from last year, but according to this article Tennessee went up a whopping 41%, putting them oh so slightly ahead.  Meanwhile, pot is illegal and smoking tobacco  (which is completely legal) is being tested for at work, because some employers have decided to outlaw it even outside of the workplace.

If You Can't Trust The State's Top Election Official To Vote Properly...

The big political story here in the tri-state is the indictment of Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White on seven counts related to voter fraud.  Yes, this means that the state's top election official has been busted for lying about his residency to cheat the voting system.

Secretary of State Charlie White, the top election official in Indianapolis, is facing seven felony counts, including voter fraud, perjury and theft, all connected to what a prosecutor said was an attempt to hold on to his seat on the town council even though he was living outside of his designated district.

White was indicted by a grand jury in Hamilton County on three counts of voter fraud for allegedly lying about his address when he voted in last year's Republican primary, the Courier-Journal reports. In addition he's facing charges of perjury, fraud on a financial institution (for lying about his address) and theft for keeping the salary he received as a member of his town council after he moved out of his designated district.

A special prosecutor announced the indictment on Thursday and White turned himself in at the Hamilton County Jail this afternoon, the Indianapolis Star reports. He was released after he posted $10,000 bond. The probe has been in the works since at least October.

White has already admitted that he voted in a district where he no longer lived. His registered address was a home he and his now ex-wife had shared on and off until 2009. 

There's stupid, and then there's this guy, figuring he could game the system he was in charge of to allegedly collect his town council salary on top of his Secretary of State salary and lie about it, figuring nobody would notice.

Meanwhile, the entire point of Indiana's Voter ID law that critics contend would disenfranchise poor and minority voters in Indiana was to stop a "flood of voter fraud".  Seems the only voter fraud Indianans have to worry about are Republican Secretaries of State.  Oh, and no, the Indiana Voter ID law didn't stop Charlie White at all, good old fashioned police work did.  And of course, when White allegedly did it, it was because of his "chaotic living situation".  Just one big mistake. Voter ID laws don't apply to Charlie White, see.

Because a Republican would never cheat the system, only Dirty F'ckin Hippies and Those People do that.



Ahead of today's Labor Department numbers,  Gallup's survey of Americans finds their measure of the unemployment rate back up to 10.3%, but most importantly the underemployment rate at a whopping 19.9%.

Underemployment, a measure that combines part-time workers wanting full-time work with those who are unemployed, surged in February to 19.9%. This resulted from the combination of a sharp 0.5-point increase since the end of January in the percentage unemployed and a 0.5-point increase in the percentage working part time but wanting full-time work. Underemployment is now higher than it was at this point a year ago (19.7%).
U.S. Underemployment, 2010-2011 Trend
Not good in any way, meaning that there's been nothing but treading water in the last year according to Gallup's numbers.  I'll dispute their unemployment survey, but the underemployment numbers are far closer to reality than the government's 16-17% figure.

We'll see where the official figures come in.

Food Stamps For Thought, Part 5

Tyler Durden and the Zero Hedge crew note the final 2010 numbers for SNAP/Food Stamp usage in the country are pretty grim:  44.1 million Americans now on food assistance programs as we pass the 1 in 7 Americans mark at 14.3% of the country now getting help on affording basic food.

You're looking at those numbers correctly. In three years, over 16 million people have been added to the SNAP rolls, from 9% of Americans to over 14%. With oil and gas prices rising, expect these number to only get worse in 2011 as we head for the 50 million mark and one in six Americans on SNAP assistance.

I fully expect the final 2012 numbers to be well above the 52 million mark, meaning that the number of Americans on SNAP will have more than doubled from January 2007 to January 2013.

All bets are off on the social health of the country if one in seven of us can't afford food. But the answer is clearly more cuts in social programs, our Washington betters assure us.


Related Posts with Thumbnails