Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Last Call

Hey, FOX News:

Next time you decide to pull the "union thugs" card in Wisconsin in winter, try not to show California when doing it.

And yes, Tea Party people, FOX thinks you are not only too stupid not to notice the people in t-shirts, the palm trees, and the lack of snow in "Wisconsin" in March.  They not only think you're too stupid to notice, they think you're too stupid to even care you're being played like fools.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Democrats and public employee unions are fighting back, fully backing recall efforts for eight GOP state senators.  Greg Sargent:

Previously, Wisconsin Dems had not publicly supported talk about recalling GOP Senators, in hopes of privately reaching a negotiated solution to the crisis. The Wisconsin Democratic Party's decision to support the recall drives represents a significant ratcheting up of hostilities and in essence signals that all bets are off.

Eight Republican Senators are eligible to be recalled right now, and various groups around Wisconsin are beginning to file papers to make it happen. Tate told me that the party would throw its organization behind such efforts.

"We're an aggressive, on-the-ground group and we're going to be looking to aid these citizens in any way we can," he said.

Tate said he couldn't say whether such a recall drive would result in GOP Senators breaking with Walker, given their solidarity so far, but he vowed that a number of them would pay the price by losing their own jobs.

"There are Republican senators today that will lose their seats in a recall election in the next few months," he said "We're happy to assist."

Wisconsin really has changed a lot of things.  Democrats are no longer sleepwalking and moping about how there's no way to take the fight to Republicans doing everything they can to destroy them at the local and state level.  It's a matter of political survival now, and the sleeping giant just got a water tower full of hot coffee dumped on it.

Two can play at this game, gentlemen.

Small Enough Government To Fit In Your Uterus

Ohio Republicans continue to move forward on the most restrictive abortion law in the country, the so-called "Heartbeat Bill" that would outlaw any abortion procedure after the point a fetal heartbeat could be detected, except when the mother's life would be at stake.  And yes, that means if a woman was raped and didn't know she was pregnant by the second month or so, too bad.  Ohio Republicans would force her to have her rapist's child.

And they're perfectly okay with that.

A House committee watched ultrasounds of two pregnant women as testimony began this morning on legislation that would outlaw abortions after the first heartbeat can be medically detected.

If House Bill 125 is approved and signed into law, Ohio would have the most restrictive limits on abortion in the nation.

"This bill would essentially outlaw abortions in Ohio because they would be banned before a woman even knows she is pregnant," said Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-choice Ohio.

But supporters said once a heartbeat is detected, the fetus should be protected.

"This is an active growing baby. This is not a blob sitting there," said Ducia Hamm, executive director of the Ashland Care Center, told lawmakers as they watched an ultrasound image of a 9-week-old fetus.

Before a packed hearing room, two young mothers were given ultrasounds which were shown on a large screen.

Afterward, Erin Glockner, a 25-year-old Pataskala woman pregnant with her second child, said she agreed to undergo the ultrasound because she opposes abortion rights and hoped the images might convince some lawmakers to support the bill.

"A lot of people don't think it's a baby until it reaches a certain point," she said.

If anything, this ultrasound stunt in front of lawmakers just proves the point of the bill:  to end abortions in Ohio and eventually the country, period.  If this doesn't put a complete end to the "small government" lie for Republicans, I don't know what will.

Republicans have spent the last two years yelling about how "Obamacare allows the government to get between your doctor and you."  It's a lousy lie, but they have no problem with actually forcing the government to do just that.  As long as it's just women, though.  So they know their place, apparently.

The Right To Hate

Declaring that "we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker" Chief Justice John Roberts and the Supreme Court voted 8-1 in favor of allowing the controversial Westboro Baptist Church of Fred Phelps fame protest allowing gays in the military by picketing military funerals.

The justices, by an 8-1 vote, said Wednesday that members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars. The father of a fallen Marine had sued the small church, saying those protests amounted to targeted harassment and an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and -- as it did here -- inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

At issue was a delicate test between the privacy rights of grieving families and the free speech rights of demonstrators, however disturbing and provocative their message. Several states have attempted to impose specific limits on when and where the church members can protest.

The church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, believes God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality" through events including soldiers' deaths. Members have traveled the country shouting at grieving families at funerals and displaying such signs as "Thank God for dead soldiers," "God blew up the troops" and "AIDS cures fags."

As such, the ruling voids a lower court settlement that awarded the family of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who successfully sued Westboro Baptist for picketing their son's funeral in 2006.   The lone dissenting vote:  Justice Alito.

He said the church's "outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered," he said. "In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner."

Personally I can see Alito's point, but I would have voted with the majority in a heartbeat.  As repugnant as Westboro is, the second you criminalize opinion, this country's 230 plus year experiment in representative democracy is over, permanently.

SCOTUS did the right thing here, even when Westboro Baptist clearly didn't.

Things Are A Bit Shaky In Arkansas

GUY, AR — The Unites States Geological Survey is reporting a 4.7 magnitude eathquake in Arkansas.

The USGS says the shaker hit at about 11:00 Sunday night.
The center of the quake was about 4 miles Northeast of Greenbrier, AR and 4 miles south of Guy, AR.

Several people called the KSPR newsroom Sunday night, saying they felt the quake in Branson and Aurora.
These quakes have been coming closer together and more intensely.  I cannot help but think of the Bible verse that says these are birthing pains.  Normally, folks think of California when earthquakes come up, but we have been overdue for a long time.  Maybe the old-timers are right, and the New Madrid fault is going to finally give way.
WASHINGTON – After being criticized for providing Miranda warnings in terrorism cases, the FBI has reminded its agents that in some instances they can question terrorist suspects without immediately reading them their rights.

The Justice Department said Thursday the FBI guidance told investigators they can delay telling suspects of their rights to an attorney and to remain silent when there is immediate concern for the safety of the public.

Wh-wh-what?  Since when do we get to circumvent the Constitution and decide when the rules apply?  The Miranda warnings take less than a minute.  This is inexcusable.

With My Last Breath...

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a defendant in a murder trial who wanted to exclude the dying victim's identifying statements because the accused shooter had no chance to cross-examine the victim.
The court voted 6-2 that when the statements are made to police officers who are trying to deal with an "ongoing emergency," they can be admitted at trial without violating the Constitution's mandate that the accused have the chance to confront the witnesses against them.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the court's majority opinion over a furious dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia.
It is hard to imagine anyone interested in pursuing justice to ignore the dying words of the victim.  However, when I tried to separate emotion from the decision, I did find a small allowance for if the victim was confused or so near death that they may not communicate clearly.  Neither of those seemed to apply to this.  Scalia's comments were: "Today's so transparently false that professing to believe it demeans this institution." Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a separate, milder, dissent.

Adding Two Weeks To The Clock

So what does the two-week extension on the shutdown countdown clock mean?  As TPM's Brian Beutler points out, not a whole lot, other than Dems are once again playing to lose.

By agreeing to several billion dollars in spending cuts over the two weeks starting March 4, Democrats signaled that they've lost the argument on spending limits. Republicans want the longer-term funding measure to include over $60 billion in cuts, and they're likely to get them.

But in addition to wanting reduced levels, they want those cuts to target government programs they dislike, and they want the government funding bill to include a bunch of extraneous policy measures meant to tie the Obama administration's hands on issues as diverse as education, the environment and health care, as it attempts to govern from the executive branch.

The Obama administration and Senate Democrats have rejected those riders, but all three sides will have to come to terms on something by mid-month. We're facing a much bigger fight, and it will need to be resolved quickly. 

And odds are very good that the Republicans will get a lot of what they want too.  When the economy naturally gets worse, Republicans will howl that the cuts weren't deep enough and blame Obama, and voters will lose programs they need and blame Obama too.

Pretty predictable plan, and yet the Democrats are walking right into the jet intake.

Col. Mustard Gets That Poll Asked Look

Today's Col. Mustard harrumphing is a long diatribe against Monday's Public Policy Polling survey that found that in a rematch of the November election, Wisconsin Republican Scott Walker would have lost the Governor's race to Democrat Tom Barrett.  The good Colonel is vexed by what he calls a "clear bias" in the poll's sample:

The people answering the poll identified themselves as evenly split in how they voted last November, 47-47:

But the actual results in the election were in favor of Walker 52.3-46.5, as this chart from The New York Times shows.  

Also, he complains that in addition to under-sampling Walker voters, PPP over-sampled union households.   That's the crux of the argument, but that's assuming that there were no union voters that voted for Scott Walker, and that's a pretty huge assumption as Jensen pointed out.

It's actually Republicans, more so than Democrats or independents, whose shifting away from Walker would allow Barrett to win a rematch if there was one today. Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for Barrett last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again. That's an instance of Republican union voters who might have voted for the GOP based on social issues or something else last fall trending back toward Democrats because they're putting pocketbook concerns back at the forefront and see their party as at odds with them on those because of what's happened in the last month.

Pretty sure that doesn't have anything to do with oversampling of Democrats.  But what about union households?  Well, answer there is pretty convincing too.

Key on both of those questions about rights for public employees is that a majority of both union and non-union households stand with the workers on those issues. Union households support collective bargaining by a 70/26 margin, but non-union households do as well by a narrower 51/42 margin. Union households think public employees should have as many or more rights than they do now by a 66/32 spread, but so do non-union households by a 51/45 one.

Huh.  Well, kinda kills that complaint.  Americans are behind the unions...even the non-union workers.

From Badgers To Buckeyes, Part 2

While the attention is on Wisconsin Republicans going after public unions, the real battle is here in Ohio.  GOP Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Republicans are trying to do everything they can to eliminate all collective bargaining and strike rights for all Ohio state employees, including cops and firefighters.  In other words, the bill goes even further than Wisconsin's does.

Even worse, the "revised" bill introduced yesterday that would allow some collective bargaining would in turn completely eliminate arbitration, putting labor disputes in the hands of elected officials to resolve as they see fit.  That rather neatly removes the point of collective bargaining, when the outcome always favors the government over workers.

The new bill was the latest development in a hotly contested fight over rights for public sector workers that began in Ohio in early February. It came as unions drew their largest crowd of protesters yet to Columbus — about 8,500 people, according to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, a nonpartisan government group that manages the Statehouse complex here.

Another change would prohibit all public employees from striking, a right that public sector unions say is their only tool for getting a fair deal in labor disputes. The bill would impose fines and imprisonment for violators.
Currently, emergency workers, like police officers and firefighters, are prohibited from striking in Ohio, while most state workers and teachers are permitted to strike. Union leaders said that if the bill passed in its current form, they would press to put the issue on the ballot this fall.

“We will not support this,” said Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat on the committee. “If it’s illegal and criminal to strike, you really don’t have any collective bargaining rights at all.”

Lawyers pored over the 99-page bill Tuesday night.

Senator Bacon said that collective bargaining was reinstated because lawmakers had consulted with government administrators who argued that it was more efficient to deal with workers through collective bargaining. He said Republicans had enough votes to pass the bill out of committee on Wednesday. 

Ohio Republicans aren't stupid.  They've determined that if they keep the unions around, they keep their bogeyman and at the same time they can assure that the public unions can never strike and never win a dispute in third party arbitration, giving state workers precisely zero leverage.  Unions themselves get neutered, Republicans get everything they want.

You can bet every other state with public unions and Republican lawmakers will be looking to force the same outcome.  What's the point of collective bargaining when you can't win?

[UPDATE]  The "revised" bill passed the Ohio State Senate 17-16, and moves on to the House, where it is expected to pass.  Gov. Kasich has already said he will sign the bill.

And with that, unions die in Ohio.

What's to stop them from coming after your job?


Related Posts with Thumbnails