Sunday, October 7, 2012

Last Call

Your nightly read comes from TNR's Alec MacGillis on the biggest employer in Ohio coal country along the West Virginia border:  Murray Energy.  CEO Bob Murray is a major backer of the Republican Party...and apparently he seems to think his employees should be backing the GOP too.  This year that means the company line is "give to Mitt Romney, and give till it hurts."

Over the years, CEO Robert Murray has brought in GOP pols from as far away as Alaska, California, and Massachusetts for fund-raisers. In 2010, the year John Boehner became House speaker, the firm’s 3,000 employees and their families were his second-biggest source of funds. (AT&T was in first place, but it has nearly 200,000 employees.) This year, Murray is one of the most important GOP players in one of the most important battleground states in the country. In May, he hosted a $1.7 million fund-raiser for Romney. Employees have given the nominee more than $120,000. In August, Romney used Murray’s Century Mine in the town of Beallsville for a speech attacking Barack Obama as anti-coal. This fall, scenes from that event—several dozen coal-smudged Murray miners standing behind the candidate in a tableau framed by a giant American flag and a COAL COUNTRY STANDS WITH MITT placard—have shown up in a Romney ad.

The ads aired even after Ohio papers reported what I was told by several miners at the event, a bit of news that an internal memo confirms: The crowd was not there of its own accord. Murray had suspended Century’s operations and made clear to workers that they were expected to attend, without pay. “I tell ya, you’ve got a great boss,” Romney said in acknowledging Robert Murray from the stage. “He runs a great operation here.”

Gosh, he sure does.  Ahh, but it gets worse.  Not only is Bob making sure that being a good company man involved backing Romney whether the rank and file want to or not, but part of the responsibility of management appears to have extra financial incentive tied into it.

The accounts of two sources who have worked in managerial positions at the firm, and a review of letters and memos to Murray employees, suggest that coercion may also explain Murray staffers’ financial support for Romney. Murray, it turns out, has for years pressured salaried employees to give to the Murray Energy political action committee (PAC) and to Republican candidates chosen by the company. Internal documents show that company officials track who is and is not giving. The sources say that those who do not give are at risk of being demoted or missing out on bonuses, claims Murray denies.

The Murray sources, who requested anonymity for fear of retribution, came forward separately. But they painted similar pictures of the fund-raising operation. “There’s a lot of coercion,” says one of them. “I just wanted to work, but you feel this constant pressure that, if you don’t contribute, your job’s at stake. You’re compelled to do this whether you want to or not.” Says the second: “They will give you a call if you’re not giving. . . . It’s expected you give Mr. Murray what he asks for.”

Hey, after all, he signs your checks, right?  You're employed because of him, you owe him everything as an employee, including your political fealty as well.

But of course, these are the people also telling you that President Obama is a fascist who will take your rights and smash your freedoms.  Funny how that works.

The Kroog Versus Our Post-Factual Media

Paul Krugman came right out and said what Ian Boudreau and I were discussing on Saturday's podcast, namely that our "both sides do it" Village media is incapable of calling out Republican lies without equating them to whatever sin the Democrats have committed.

On ABC's "This Week" roundtable Sunday, Paul Krugman said Mitt Romney is exploiting a press that is ineffective at holding politicians accountable for lies.

"The press just doesn’t know how to handle flat-out untruths," he said.

"I don’t know whether to blame [the debate moderator Jim] Lehrer or the president, but it was kind of amazing because Romney was not only saying things that are not true, he was saying things that his own campaign had previously said weren’t true,” said the economist and New York Times columnist.

Citing Romney's claims on taxes and preexisting conditions, Krugman said the Republican nominee showed "contempt for us by thinking the news media will not cover on me as long as they say forcefully I won."

Almost immediately tjereafter, GOP press flack Mary Matalin proved Krugman's point, berating him and announcing to Krugman:

"You have mischaracterized and you have lied about every position and every particular of the Ryan plan on Medicare, from the efficiency of Medicare administration, to calling it a voucher plan, so you’re hardly credible on calling somebody else a liar."

Except, you know, Krugman is right about Ryan's Vouchercare nonsense.

But this is exactly what the Ryan proposal is — turning Medicare from a “defined benefit” into a “defined contribution” plan. Seniors would get a voucher from the federal government that they could use to help pay for a selection of private plans.

Although the Romney/Ryan campaign has shied away from this phrase in favor of the euphemistic “premium support,” Ryan himself has specifically referred to his proposal as a “voucher” program in the past.

That's exactly what it does.  And as President Obama pointed out at the debate, the problem with this is that insurance companies are not required to give coverage nor to approve medical care.  Under Ryan's Vouchercare scheme, the insurance companies get to decide still.  Defined contribution, meaning you pay into the program.  Not defined benefit, because coverage under the program is NOT GUARANTEED.

Do we get it now finally?

Show Me Ethics: Springfield City Council Can Still Do The Right Thing

This is no longer about marijuana, it is about doing the right and ethical thing.  Springfield City Council pulled a dirty move in an "apparently legal" strategy (there's some fine reporting, News-Leader) that lets them adopt a bill only to gut it or repeal it at their convenience.

It was nothing more than a move to keep this from a vote by Springfield citizens.  And that must not be tolerated by our government, especially in wake of their making it so they do not suffer the risk of being unseated by an election.

Maranda Reynolds, of Springfield Cannabis Regulation, said the group has decided not to pursue a referendum petition to undo council’s Sept. 24 repeal of the ordinance, which would have restricted the penalties that can be assessed for minor marijuana possession.
“We were thinking about a referendum, but we decided it would be unwise because (City Council) could use the same move they did with the petition to kill it,” Reynolds said. “We don’t want to take the risk of doing all that work again only to have them go around it.”
Supporters of the ordinance gathered more than 2,100 signatures, forcing council either to adopt the law as written or send it to a vote. They and other critics have accused council members of subverting the initiative petition process by approving the marijuana law only to repeal it at the first opportunity.
Apparently legal, the maneuver allowed council to avoid putting the proposed ordinance on the November ballot.

We must stand up for our right to be heard, and hold the council to their obligation to honor the law and the spirit of the law.  This is not the first time they've acted in lieu of allowing people a voice.  It simply has to stop.

They can still voluntarily put this to a vote.  They won't, but they could.

"Unbecoming" Behavior For A State Senator, Like Playing WoW

Republicans are going after Democrat candidate Colleen Lachowicz and comments made by her World of Warcraft character.  You can go here to read them in context.  All but one are ridiculous.  The bathtub comment was dumb but not threatening like it is being made out.  If one cannot distinguish between this and reality, that's a sad statement. As for any other comment she makes - tell me you have never thought or said something exactly like that.  I have, every person I know with Internet access at work has.  Whether it's WoW, your chat room, texting or personal email, we all check messages on the clock or surely wish we could. Online community ties mean online communication, which means virtually all are all tempted to check our Facebook or other accounts.
“This is not about her playing video games, this is about the comments she made while gaming,” David Sorenson, communications director for the Maine Republican party, told ABC News, referring to the comments about Norquist, as well as things said about other Republicans. “These are all things that are unbecoming to a state Senator.”
Lachowicz has appeared to shrug off the criticism. Her campaign released a statement on the attacks, criticizing Republicans for not talking about the issues.
“What’s really weird is that the Republicans are going after my hobbies instead of talking about their record while they’ve been running Augusta for the last two years. Instead of talking about what they’re doing for Maine people, they’re making fun of me for playing video games,” Lachowicz said in the statement.
Unbecoming to a state Senator?  Sounds a lot like Akin calling Claire McCaskill a wildcat who had been let out of her cage.  Or when he said she was unladylike because she dared show aggression in a campaign.  Sorry guys, women are people too.  We play online games, we fight back, we have a spine and a heart and a brain.  If we don't fit in the narrow apple pie baking June Cleaver mold it doesn't mean we are crazy.  It means anyone who expect half the population to act a certain way due to distorted memories of the good old days is crazy.

If Todd Akin can say women's bodies shut down pregnancies in cases of legitimate rape, she's going to have to work hard to top that.  Anyone who can defend Akin and come after her is a hypocrite and a jackass.

Why Obama Now: The Video

Professional animator Lucas Gray (who has worked on The Simpsons and Family Guy) put together this video, with President Obama's own words, as the case for four more years.

It's rather compelling.  Do give it a watch.
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