Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Last Call

Via Bob Cesca, the word cloud for last night's GOP Clown Car Special:

And yes, the three most uttered words in the debate? In order: Tea, Party, and Movement. Just in case you had any misunderstanding about where the GOP in 2011 is taking orders from.

The Badger Awakens, Part 9

While our pundit class is too busy trying to call the winners and losers of last night's GOP Clown Car Nationals race, over at Balloon Juice Kay has the story of how Wisconsin Republicans have decided that the lower court injunction against Scott Walker's union-busting bill doesn't actually apply to them because they don't want it to, so they're going to stick it in the budget anyway.

Assembly Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said at a press conference Monday that Assembly Republicans will put the collective bargaining bill back in the budget as an amendment by calling an extraordinary session if the State Supreme Court doesn't act before Tuesday afternoon. The bill would strip most collective bargaining rights from public workers.

“If need be, we are going to have to pass collective bargaining again because it is such an integral part of not having those services slashed and those people laid off,” Fitzgerald said.

During a normal legislative session, lawmakers must provide a 24-hour window between the time one house amends a bill, and the other takes it up. The only way this rule doesn't apply is if members bypass this rule by a two-thirds vote.

When in extraordinary session, an amended bill can move directly from one house to the other, bypassing the 24-hour waiting period.

That means if the Assembly does add the collective bargaining bill to the budget Tuesday, the budget bill would move immediately to the Senate.

Nothing like this has ever happened before in Wisconsin state legislative history, and the state's Republicans clearly don't give a good god damn about the rules, about transparency, or accountability when it comes to doing the bidding of their corporate masters who have bought and paid for every single one of them to destroy unions in the state. 

Wisconsin Republicans are willing to literally go to the most extraordinary lengths possible in order to bust the state's unions and end collective bargaining.  Checks and balances?  That's for Democrats.  Republicans make their own rules.  Literally.

Ahh, but that all became a moot point today as the Wisconsin Supreme Court indeed handed down their ruling in favor of the GOP.

Wisconsin's Republican governor has won a major victory: the state Supreme Court says his polarizing union rights law can go into effect.

Gov. Scott Walker pushed the law that eliminates most of public employees' collective bargaining rights and forces them to pay more for their health and pension benefits. He says it's needed for the state to address its budget problems.

The law passed in March after weeks of protests that drew tens of thousands of people to the state Capitol. But the law has been tied up in the courts since a Democrat filed a lawsuit accusing Republicans of violating the state open meetings law during the run-up to passage.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said the judge had no authority to interfere with the legislative process.

And so collective bargaining dies a slow death in Wisconsin, and will be executed in other states as well.  After all, workers without the ability to resist their employers ultimately become whatever their employers want of them.

Remember this when Republican legislators come after your line of work.

Moose Ate My Emails

I've said before that basically nothing would come of the released Sarah Palin emails, other than Sarah Palin being Sarah Palin.  However, there may be a specific reason why nothing unseemly or illegal was discovered:  nearly a month's worth of official emails are missing from the time Palin first took office in December 2006.

Nearly a month of former Gov. Sarah Palin's emails are missing from the documents released to media organizations last week, a gap that raises questions about what other emails might also be missing from what's being nationally reported as her record as Alaska governor.

The records include no emails between Dec. 8, 2006 and Dec. 29, 2006. The state's log of emails that it withheld from public release lists none from that time period.

That means, if the record is to be trusted, Palin did not send or receive a single email about state business during a time when she was busy taking the first major actions of her new administration.

That means zero emails during a period during which, among other things, Palin put out her proposed state budget, appointed an attorney general, killed the contract for a road out of Juneau and vetoed a bill that sought to block state public employee benefits to same-sex couples.

The state had no explanation Monday.

"I don't have any information on the missing documents," said Linda Perez, administrative director for Gov. Sean Parnell. "I forwarded all that off to (state technology services) and asked them if they would search their search criteria and see if they can explain or come up with any reason for this."

One likely factor is Palin's decision to use private email accounts for state business rather than her official state account.

It's a practice she kept up for most of her term. So while the Palin emails are being reported as an account of her time as governor, it's far from a complete record.

It's pretty hard to imagine that Palin sent zero official emails in her first month in office.  So where are they?  Some four and a half years later, she still hasn't come clean on her emails.  There wasn't a story here before, but there may just be one now.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 18

Congressional Budget Office director Doug Elmendorf warned that even a brief, "technical" default could add hundreds of billions to the national debt in higher borrowing costs.

"It is a dangerous gamble because any government that has borrowed as much as ours has borrowed and will need to borrow as much as ours will need to borrow cannot take the views of its creditors lightly," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told a roomful of reporters at a breakfast roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "Even a small increase in the perceived risk of Treasuries would be very expensive for the countries."

Ironically, Elmendorf noted that one of the potential consequences of even a brief period of default would be higher federal debt, triggered by a spike in interest rates and, thus, higher interest payments on federally issued debt.

"If Treasury rates moved up by just 10 basis points over the next decade, that would add $130 billion to interest payments over the decade," Elmendorf said. A basis point is one-one hundreth of one percent. Thus, according to Elmendorf, each 0.1 percent increase in interest rates on U.S. Treasuries would amount to a significant increase in U.S. debt.

And again, let's not forget that this would add billions in additional costs for US consumers, too.  Credit card rates, adjustable rate mortgages, car loans, any borrowing would go up as interest rates would rise, causing even further damage to the economy.

Of course, that's what the GOP wants to do, and then blame it on Obama.

Antivirus: You're Doing It Right

Bill Gates hates viruses.  Now he's making an effort to stamp out the preventable ones that are killing millions of people around the world.

LONDON - Britain and billionaire Bill Gates pledged $2.3 billion at an international donor conference on Monday to fund vaccination programs to protect children in poor countries against diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said his country would double its annual contribution to $180 million by 2015 to help fund an international campaign to combat common diseases that kill millions of children in the developing world.
More donors, including the United States, France, Germany, Japan and others, are expected to add their pledges later on Monday in an effort to stump up an extra $3.7 billion that GAVI needs to fund its programs though to 2015.
“Britain will play its full part. In addition to our existing support for GAVI, we will provide 814 million pounds ($1.33 billion) of new funding up to 2015,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told the conference, winning a standing ovation from the audience. “This will help vaccinate over 80 million children and save 1.4 million lives.”

The World Health Organization claims vaccinating is the most cost effective and productive ways to prevent disease.  This is investing wealth in a way that it directly saves lives.  I'm no fan of Microsoft, but I have to say that Gates has demonstrated a great amount of global conscience and put his money where his mouth is.   "When you make a promise to the poorest people in the world — you should keep it,” Cameron told the conference.  Good for them.  And good for millions who stand to benefit from this act of generosity.  That hurt to say.

Yeah, They're Angry All Right

Google recently removed at least 10 applications from the Android Market, all of which contained malicious code disguised as add-ons to one of the most popular apps of all time.
Each of the removed apps posed as a cheat or an add-on to Angry Birds, the much-lauded mobile application created by Finnish game development studio Rovio.
A number of the apps in question contained a spyware program called Plankton, which connects to a remote server and uploads phone information like the IMEI number, browser bookmarks and browsing history.
For the longest time, we have taken apps for granted.  When we became aware of the dangers that could be embedded into third-party code, we were assured that those on the legitimate Android market could be trusted.  That's not quite as accurate as we were once led to believe.

Phone security can't be neglected.  As we store more personal correspondence and information on those devices, we have to up the bar for security and public education.  We can't afford to have infected phones logging into financial and personal sites.

Looking Through The Revolving Door

TPM's excellent Shadow Congress page features all the former members of Congress who are now lobbyists.  I personally had no idea there were this many.  The big states for ex-Congress lobbyists?  New York for the Dems and Texas for the GOP.

There are also a number of ex-members of Congress who have in fact set up their own lobbyist shops.

Take a look at the page sometime and see who the members of Congress from your state are who are now running the lobbyist game.

The Big GOP Debate Thread

Umm, so the big CNN GOP debate last night went like this:

  1. All seven candidates (Romney, Paul, Bachmann, Pawlenty, Cain, Gingrich, and Santorum) had a low bar.
  2. That low bar was "Did not burst into flames on national TV."
  3. None of the candidates burst into flames on national TV, although it was close for Santorum.
  4. Since all seven candidates failed to burst into flames on national TV, the status quo was maintained (with the addition of Bachmann officially in the race now.)
  5. The status quo was Romney is the frontrunner, so nothing changed.
  6. I want my two hours back.

That's pretty much it.  You didn't miss anything.  Long-time readers will recall the "did not burst into flames" thing was the exact same bar Sarah Palin had in the Veep Debate in 2008.

Well, They Do Believe Mightily In Invisible Hands Moving Things

To recap, this is the guy a lot of GOP pundits are really, really excited about and want him to run for President.

PERRY: I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. We become slaves to government.

Social safety net? Medicare? Medicaid? Social Security? Food benefits? Unemployment benefits? Gov. Rick Perry of Texas wants you to know that it's all slavery that only bad Christians (or worse, non-Christians need.) Devout followers of Christianity? Don't need any of it because they work hard and bad things don't happen to those who work hard and pray hard.  If bad things are happening to you, it's because you aren't working hard enough, praying hard enough, or both.

Get busy.  Hey, when this guy is President, I'm sure he'll arrange for employers to be able to check "Didn't pray enough" to deny people unemployment benefits.  And that Jesus hippie with his whole "turn the other cheek" and "whatsoever you do to the least of your brethren" crap?  He needs to get a haircut and get himself a jay oh bee.  That help stuff is for people who need it, not lazy inner-city kids with their iPads and their hippity hop.

Also, someone should tell Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein that this "God" person is trying to pull rank on him.  I'm sure Lloyd won't approve of that.


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