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First they came for welfare….

10:33 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

In Obama’s America, each day is Halloween. The “lesser people” (Alan Simpson) should be afraid, very afraid! Why? Uncle Sam is bankrupt. He lives merely on the kindness of strangers. Only painful actions can remedy this situation.

Uncle Sam, you see, has long suffered from Affluenza. While the condition is often mistaken for a state of healthy well-being, the illness can be terminal. There are limits. They need to be respected. Austerity looms. The open question before Americans today: What kind of austerity will we have? The common answer amounts to this: Uncle Sam’s Affluenza would be fatal but for the remedies which a public commitment to fiscal austerity can provide.

The medicine is harsh and drastic, but necessary.

Or, so it is often claimed by a large fraction of America’s political and economic elite. Bob Urie, on the other hand, points out that:

The scare tactics being used to cut social insurance depend on the public’s misunderstanding of several related issues. In the first, the U.S. isn’t ‘broke’ because it can create money as needed — ask yourself: how were the bank bailouts funded? Next: what is an ‘entitlement’ when existing government policy overwhelmingly benefits the rich through favorable tax treatment, cost-plus government contracts, Federal Reserve bailouts and government guarantees of the banks. ‘Free markets’ have nothing to do with how the wealthy became so. The fight over ‘entitlements’ is over how government expenditures are allocated, not over their ‘scarcity.’

Urie suggests that the rich have prevailed in the democratic class struggle and now wish to deepen and intensify their exploitation of the “lesser people,” using the federal state and its fiscal situation as their hammer:

Social Security has an income ‘cap’ of $110,000 above which no deduction is made. A billionaire who became rich by sending jobs overseas — by firing and lowering the wages of labor, pays a smaller proportion of his or her income into Social Security than does the worker whose wages have been reduced. And by reducing the wages of labor, workers are left with less to pay in to these social insurance programs through payroll taxes. The problem with Social Security and Medicare is that a small group of connected plutocrats have ‘entitled’ themselves to far more of what labor produces. How often has the deficit ‘crisis’ been raised when there is a war to be fought for multi-national oil companies or a corporate welfare scheme like the bank bailouts to be paid for?

And this all ties back to Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act — if he and his corporate supporters were truly interested in fiscal discipline they would have pushed for far less costly ‘Medicare for all.’ Instead Mr. Obama pursued a deal with private health insurers that includes (sic) a ‘profit’ above the cost of a government program. Those wanting to argue the political infeasibility of Medicare for all are now confronted with a ‘liberal’ Democratic President who believes he can cut the programs that most of us have paid into under known terms for decades. If doing this is politically feasible while building a rational public health care system isn’t, we are truly doomed.

Doomed? Yes….

Ultimately Mr. Obama, like his ‘opponent’ Mitt Romney, is but an apparatchik in a class war launched by the rich against the rest of us. Left out of the contrived nonsense about an ‘entitlement’ society is who exactly is entitled. Were the government spending the rich live off of under the knife there would be no argument of scarcity — we have the wars, the bailouts and corporate welfare to prove it. But social insurance programs stand between over one hundred million of our citizens and destitution. And these are programs we have collectively paid for — they aren’t a ‘gift’ as the rich and their servants in government would have us believe

Even the ‘gifts’ of income transfers, support for education and public transportation, Medicaid, subsidized housing, occupational training, works programs, etc. are not lacking in social benefits which directly and indirectly improve the quality of life enjoyed by every American. Every American would benefit from a fair and humane society, from a better standard of living. Such a society serves a common and public good. Who, after all, wants to watch the homeless die on the street for want of food and medical care? How might the United States compete with the emerging Asian economic powers when its education system, long the envy of the world at large, falters because of a lack of fiscal and political support? Who wants to bring children into the world when they will intimately know insecurity and want?

But the Nobel Laureate Americans just reelected wishes to create neither a fair nor humane society. He is a system politician who serves his various masters. The latter are cruel and greedy. Americans of the lesser kind along with the world at large deserve much better than Barack Obama. They truly need a man much better than him..

Another endgame driven by money

12:44 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

Thomas Ferguson and his collaborators have warned us about an endgame surge by the Romney campaign, a possible leap in his popularity that might eventually bury the Obama presidency. In this respect the Romney campaign may mimic the Bush campaign of 2000. Both have been fueled by massive spending and guided by lying. These, to be sure, are core competencies of the Republican Party. It is because of this late cycle spending that G.W. Bush jumped over Gore in the last days of the electoral season, although his election victory was helped by a corrupted electoral mechanism and a most dubious Supreme Court decision. Additional political disasters followed the constitutional coup d’état of December, 2000. Campaign money brought the country to that situation.

This is the post-Citizen’s United age in American politics, and money collection and spending along with elite ‘generosity and civic mindedness’ are the true stories of the current electoral season. This fact does not distinguish the 2012 elections from its recent predecessors. The defining mark this year issues from the quantities of money spent during the campaign. Billions of dollars will be spent on the presidential race alone. The Romney campaign, according to Ferguson, et. al., lately seems to be spending large sums of this money in the battleground states to win a victory next week. This effort favors Romney, of course.

A Romney victory fueled by big donor cash would certainly prompt outrage by Democratic Party partisans, although their rage would obscure the massive amounts of money raised and spent by the 2012 and 2008 Obama campaigns. The Democratic Party lacks clean hands in this matter. It, like the Republican Party, serves as a tool of Wall Street, the security-surveillance apparatus and, in a word, the empire. Thus the cries of the partisans ought to be considered mere hypocrisy rendered into obscure sounds, wholly without intrinsic importance. The somewhat obscure significance of this kind and degree of campaign spending lies elsewhere. Ferguson and company rightly locate and identify the effect produced by this money:

Big Money’s most significant impact on politics is certainly not to deliver elections to the highest bidders. Instead it is to cement parties, candidates, and campaigns into the narrow range of issues that are acceptable to big donors. The basis of the “Golden Rule” in politics derives from the simple fact that running for major office in the U.S. is fabulously expensive. In the absence of large scale social movements, only political positions that can be financed can be presented to voters. On issues on which all major investors agree (think of the now famous 1 percent), no party competition at all takes place, even if everyone knows that heavy majorities of voters want something else.

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Trumka put lipstick on a pig

10:50 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

Richard Trumka, leader of that political black hole the AFL-CIO, had this to say about Scott Walker’s decisive victory in the recent Wisconsin recall election:

We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people.

Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies.

Yes, Trumka wanted to elect the Democrat in this election. We know this because the AFL-CIO always wants to elect Democrats. The Democratic Party and ‘big labor’ have a special relationship. Trumka wanted ‘big labor’ to have a seat at the table. After all, AFL-CIO unions would need to be at the table in order to ‘negotiate’ the concessions the political and economic elite want unions to make. What Trumka did not want was the elimination of that furniture which never includes the majority of Americans. He thus wanted ‘big labor’ to have more political power than it now has, but not so much political power that that power would threaten to eliminate its seat at the table.

Actually, the election and the campaign beforehand hardly made Walker answer for his class politics. In fact, the outcome legitimized Walker’s class politics. Wisconsin voters affirmed a victory by the political reactionaries in America’s class war. Moreover, Walker’s easy victory made it clear to anyone with eyes that the left cannot challenge the party duopoly that governs America. The labor movement in America lost this election. Left populists lost this election. The system ‘worked.’

Finally, despite Trumka’s claim to the contrary, many Americans want divisive politics. The left especially wants divisive politics. The left wants to improve the lot of the poor, the working and middle classes; it wants to increase political accountability and democratic participation. These goals are inevitably divisive in the United States today. The Trumkas of the world do not want a divisive politics. They are, in a word, complacent. Gomperism lives. Complacency, unfortunately, produces system affirmative outcomes such as we have recently seen in Wisconsin and saw in 2008.

The ungrateful bastards

6:07 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

The New York Times reported that:

President Obama’s re-election campaign is straining to raise the huge sums it is counting on to run against Mitt Romney, with sharp dropoffs in donations from nearly every major industry forcing it to rely more than ever on small contributions and a relative handful of major donors.

From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.

To whom does the Obama campaign turn when the stuffed-pocket crowd has turned its collective back on him?

With big checks no longer flowing as quickly into his campaign, Mr. Obama is leaning harder on his grass-roots supporters, whose small contributions make up well over half of the money he raised through the end of March, according to reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Republican Super PACs are fat with cash just as one should have expected after the Supreme Court’s very controversial Citizens United decision (.pdf). This problem has thus forced the Obama campaign to make appeals for funding to the lesser people whose interests he failed to serve during his first term.

Caveat emptor!

Well, I’ll be God Damned

6:17 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

H.R. 2411 (July 6, 2011), the Reduce America’s Debt Now Act of 2011, wants “To provide for an employee election on Form W-4 to have amounts deducted and withheld from wages to be used to reduce the public debt.”

There is a word for this kind of thing: Chutzpah.

What is even more galling is the requirement that the generous patriot who donates a part (or all!) of her income to reduce the Federal deficit will still need to pay taxes on the money she donated to the Federal government!

The Secretary shall include on such certificates a reasonably conspicuous statement that any amounts deducted and withheld from wages under subsection (a) are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes.

Simon Black offers the following assessment of this legislation:

There are so many things utterly wrong with his piece of legislation, it’s hard to know where to begin other than by saying that such intellectual and philosophical perversion is only capable of springing from unprincipled sociopaths whose sole capability is the destruction of value.

Only the best for America

I cross-posted this article to All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go

President Obama wants to respect Constitutional limits

6:56 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

After Barack Obama’s meeting today with Republican leaders — during which they discussed the pain they would spread around the country and when they also agreed that they could live with the pain they will cause if they go through with their plans — it was left to Treasury Secretary Geithner to whip up Congressional support for the latest austerity budget. In this matter, the New York Times reports:

Mr. Geithner appeared to be playing a role not unlike that of Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who warned lawmakers in the fall of 2008 that unless Congress voted to bail out the banking system, the credit crisis threatened to plunge the United States into a depression. Stunned by Mr. Bernanke’s dire depiction, the lawmakers undertook measures that were until then unthinkable.

Lest his warnings go unheeded,

…Mr. Geithner told the lawmakers the White House did not believe it had the authority, under the Constitution, to continue issuing debt if it reached the debt ceiling. Nobody in the room disputed Mr. Geithner’s bleak assessment, the officials said.

Naturally, this President, a man of principle and a Constitutional scholar, would not want to exceed the authority given to his office by the Constitution. Never would he choose a path marked by political excess and legal impropriety. He would not act unconstitutionally even though his acting thusly would spare so many Americans the pain the emerging austerity budget will inflict upon them. It is just not in his nature. He will not flinch when forced by circumstances to look deeply into the abyss; nor would he refuse to throw the “lesser people” into this nothingness when Constitutional duty demands that he do so. He, like President Kennedy, would ask the “lesser people” what they can do for their country. The Constitution, as we have been told, is sacred and enduring, the Demos, on the other hand, is profane and transient.

Way too much is just enough for them

The Gasman came and has achieved the damage he was sent to do

1:31 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

A new Think Progress piece reports that:

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) signed a disastrous state budget last night that favors the natural gas industry at the expense of the state’s children and least fortunate citizens. The $27.15 billion budget does not raise taxes, but cuts health care for more than 100,000 of the state’s poorest residents. It did this by slashing Medicaid contributions by $280 million, which will result in a $425 million loss in matching federal funds. State universities and community colleges have announced the largest tuition hikes in state history as education funding took a heavy, $863-million hit.

Yet, state Republicans and Corbett did not have to punish children and the neediest to plug a $4 billion budget deficit. Several variations of natural gas drilling taxes were proposed this year, and an extraction fee tacked onto the budget by the state Senate last week would have raised $310 million. However, Corbett threatened to veto any tax, and he strong-armed the state House into withdrawing a vote on the tax this week just hours before it was scheduled to be debated. Corbett’s obstinacy continues even though Pennsylvania is the only major gas producer that does not tax its use.

So why is Corbett very friendly to natural gas, despite its documented dangers? It may be because the governor owes part of his political career to the industry, having accepted almost $1.3 million in campaign contributions from drillers.

One might consider the slashing and burning of Pennsylvania’s budget a necessary condition for spurring job growth — new jobs — in the Keystone State. Taxes on capital and profits allegedly deter investment. Investment in plant includes jobs as an unavoidable consequence. One might consider these things if one were a Republican! Now that I have reiterated the orthodox take on this matter, I wish to point out that the Keystone Research Center reports that the Marcellus Shale jobs premium has been modest so far:

Overall, Marcellus job growth is small — accounting for less than one in 10 of the 111,400 new jobs created since February 2010, when employment bottomed out after the recession, the report finds. Even if Marcellus Shale-related industries had created no jobs in 2010, the state still would have ranked third in overall job growth among the 50 states.

“The Marcellus boom has contributed to job growth, but the size of that contribution has been significantly overstated,” Dr. Herzenberg [of the Keystone Research Center] said.

“To explain Pennsylvania’s relatively strong recent job growth requires looking at factors other than Marcellus Shale — such as the state’s investments in education, renewable energy, workforce skills, and unemployment benefits,” he added.

Bluntly put, Pennsylvania has benefited little from its Marcellus Shale industry. Tom Corbett, on the other hand, has greatly benefited from the industry.

What we can clearly see is Tom Corbett quickly proving himself to be just another instance of a Republican politician promising economic benefits to the “lesser people” while implementing economic policies that are forms of economic predation. Someday, if this political trend continues unhampered, if, that is, reactionary political economics informs policy decisions in states like Pennsylvania, then the citizens of those states will lack social rights. Poverty will be a common denominator that unites them. Labor will gain the aggressively debilitating and inhuman quality found in the kind of labor performed in sweatshops around the world. Labor will wholly coincide with its function as a commodity input in a system of production.

Like his 2011 classmates Nikki Haley (SC), John Kasich (OH), Rick Scott (FL), Rick Snyder (MI) and Scott Walker (WI), Corbett has sought to make his bones in political attack on the well-being of common Americans. They have taken their place among the scoundrels of the age.

You've got a Friend in Pennsylvania

You will find a slightly different version of this post at All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go

Partinost at work

9:12 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

Netroots Nation recently gave Barack Obama’s Presidency a ‘thumbs up’, according to Roll Call and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research:

Despite their grousing about the administration during the Netroots Nation conference, liberal activists and bloggers are relatively happy with President Barack Obama’s performance.

A straw poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that 80 percent either approve or strongly approve of the president more than a year before voters head to the polls to decide whether he deserves a second term. The results broke down to 27 percent strongly approving of Obama and 53 percent approving “somewhat.” Thirteen percent said they “somewhat disapprove,” and 7 percent strongly disapprove of the president.

The poll of 519 people was conducted via iPad in the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

We should give thanks to Apple for giving the world the iPad! I wonder, though, what the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll would have revealed had the poll included participants using different gear. An inclusive poll might have exposed the frustration present at the convention, frustration that some reporters noticed and wrote about (see this, this, this, this, etc.)? Perhaps. It also might have shown a common awareness among the activists that the situation of the moderate left is now untenable. As one_outer pointed out:

The unofficial theme of this conference was of a movement at a crossroads, with a choice between our most deeply cherished principles and our understandable concern in accidentally empowering an insane and openly fascist Republican Party over a corrupt, ideologically conservative, and fully propagandized Democratic Party.

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was….

It is typical for the left in the United States to feel compelled to vote for the “lesser evil” candidate, which, for the left, is always a Democrat, even though participating in the Democratic Party in some way means working within and for the political machine. To make myself clear on this point I must point out that this political machine necessarily includes the Republican Party as a constitutive element. The two parties support each other. Moreover, the goals of this machine appear in the work of its apparatus. As one_outer noticed: “These professional political types are well on their way to full commodification of progressive politics for their own gain, as the elite gatekeepers of progressive votes, volunteer hours, and wallets.” They are brokers, and they trade in money, votes and flesh. They are not populists. Nor are they interested in promoting political accountability. They are interested in machine politics, such as the politics practiced by the professional political types found at Netroots Nation. This politics is intrinsically bipartisan because it must be bipartisan if it is to work at all, according to Walter Karp and Robert Lafollette (Karp, 1993, p. 31). And a fully commodified progressive politics would affirm machine politics as a matter of course. When the Golden Rule of politics is operative, those who have the gold make the rules. The holders and hoarders of this gold will not often be found at places like Netroots Nation.

For the left in general, the path is and has long been clear: It must abandon the Democratic Party if it wants to accomplish anything worth having.

This article can also be found at All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go

Union-busting links bibliography

8:40 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

My intent here is to compile, albeit selectively, links directly related to the national union-busting and service austerity effort which revealed itself for what it is when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker first announced his anti-union austerity budget repair bill.

Since the right to form and join a union is a fundamental human right according to Article 23, Number 4 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Republican attack on America’s union movement is significant because it is an attack on the idea of this fundamental human right, an attack on America’s unions as they exist today, an attack on those who fought for the right to organize a union, an attack on an important form of human solidarity and an attack on the communities served by the members of these unions. As the events in Wisconsin have occurred, it has become obvious that other Republican governors share Walker’s goals and want to follow his lead. A broader state-level anti-union project already includes Indiana and Ohio while the Republican Governors Association has already given support to Scott Walker during this conflict. This support should surprise no one, for, when one considers the efforts of the State level Republican Governors to be components of a larger project, it is clear that the national Republican Party wants to “crush” public sector unions, their supporters in the Democratic Party in general and, more importantly, the leftwing counter-public in the United States. To put the matter succinctly, the Republican Party wants to deny the Democratic Party of its institutional base and to marginalize the political preferences of those Americans who remain committed to features of the New Deal project. More importantly, the national Republican Party wants to deny the “lesser people” in America the ability to act politically. The latter can be gleaned in the reactionary attack on ACORN and its crusade against what it considers voter fraud. Thus, it can be said that the national Republican Party not only opposes the Democratic Party, it also opposes Democracy per se. To be sure, this anti-Democracy project has, in fact, long been one the Republican Party has pursued and it expresses the authoritarian component of the party’s political culture.

Although this list will not be comprehensive, it promises to be a long one in any case. I’ll update it as time permits and events unfold. An Acrobat .pdf file of the current version of this page can be found here and here (.pdf).

ACLU of Wisconsin, Madison. “Rules for protesters and members of the public in Capitol Building, (.pdf)” (2.28.2011).

——. “ACLU of WI Insists Wisconsin Department of Administration Give Citizens Fair Access to Capitol Building, (.pdf)” (2.28.2011).

——. “ACLU of WI Issues Letter to DOA on Fair Access to Capitol,” Cap City Liberty (2.28.2011).

AFL-CIO. “Over 100,000 rally for Wisconsin,” (2.26.2011).

Anonymous. “Press Release: #OpWisconsin,” (ND).

Associated Press. “No further protesters allowed in Capitol for now,” Wisconsin State Journal (2.28.2011).

——. “Protesters thank Democrats at Wisconsin Capitol,” (3.11.2011).

——. “Complaints accuse Wis. senators of violations,” The Chicago Tribune (3.10.2011).

Associated Press and Stephanie Jones. “BREAKING NEWS BLOG: Sen. Van Wangaard releases statement on vote,” JournalTimes (2.25.2011).

AlterNet. “Workers’ Uprising: Madison Capitol Protesters Ignore Gov. Walker’s Order to Leave, Key Wisconsin Republicans Defect,” AlerNet (2.27.2011).

——. “Updated: State Troopers Dragging Protestors Out; Wisc. Dems Head Home After GOP Union-Busting Measure Rammed Through,” AlerNet (3.10.2011).

Attaturk. “A weekend with the Swells,” FireDogLake (3.7.2011).

Aujla, Simmi. “Progressive Caucus co-chair calls Walker a ‘dictator’,” Politico (2.24.2011).

Baker, Dean. “The Origins and Severity of the Public Pension Crisis,” Center for Economic and Policy Research (2.2011).

——. “Right to Work: Representation Without Taxation,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

Barbour, Clay. “Thousands gather at Capitol to protest Walker budget bill,” The Wisconsin State Journal (2.16.2011).

Barbour, Clay and Dee J. Hall. “Constitutionally questionable: DOA bars protesters from Capitol,” The Wisconsin State Journal (3.1.2011).

Battisoni, Alyssa. “The dirty secret of public-sector union busting,” Salon (2.24.2011).

Bauer, Scott and Associated Press. “Wisconsin shocker: Anti-union bill slips through,” Salon (3.9.2011).

——. “Wis. GOP set to strip collective bargaining rights,” YahooNews (3.10.2011).

Baumann, Nick. “Indiana Conducting ‘Immediate Review’ of Official Who Called For Using “Live Ammunition” on Wisconsin Protesters,” Mother Jones (2.23.2011).

Bergquist, Lee. “Lawyer for media group says lawmakers violated state law,” JSOnline (3.11.2011).

Beyerstein, Lindsey. “Did Wisconsin Senators Break the State’s Open Meetings Law?,” In These Times (3.10.2011).

Bice, Daniel. “Legal challenge likely over short notice,” JSOnline (3.10.2011).

BizTimes Daily. “Milwaukee city attorney claims Walker’s bill is unconstitutional,” BizTimes.com (2.28.2011).

Bloomberg, Michael R. “Limit Pay, Not Unions,” The New York Times (2.27.2011).

Blue Texan. “David Brooks: Scott Walker Campaigned on Union-Busting,” FireDogLake (2.22.2011).

——. “Scott Walker’s and Rick Santorum’s Wingnutty Revisionist Histories,” FireDogLake (2.24.2011).

Bottari, Mary. “Hilarious Koch Prank May Reveal Serious Ethics Violations By Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,” AlterNet (2.24.2011).

——. “Local Sheriff’s Department Refuses To Be Part Of The ‘Palace Guard’,” PRWatch (3.2.2011).

Broderick, Rick. “Gov. Walker and the Ghost of Andrew Mellon. Wisconsin and the Death of Capitalism.,” CounterPunch (2.24.2011).

Brooks, David. “Make Everybody Hurt,” The New York Times (2.22.2011).

Buhle, Paul. “Badger Pride. Day 6 in Wisconsin.,” CounterPunch (2.21.2011).

Bump, Greg. “DOA statement on Capitol access,” WisPolitics (2.28.2011).

——. “Scott Fitzgerald meets with Dem senators,” WisPolitics (3.1.2011).

——. “Mahoney: Officers aren’t the ‘palace guard’,” WisPolitics (3.1.2011).

Calmes, Jackie. “Wisconsin Puts Obama Between Competing Desires,” The New York Times (2.20.2011).

Catanese, David. “POLITICO interview: Gov. Schweitzer,” Politico (2.27.2011).

Cay Johnson, David. “Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who ‘Contributes’ to Public Workers’ Pensions?,” Tax.com (2.24.2011).

cgibson. “Koch Industries Stomps on Wisconsin’s Unions in Governor Walker’s Boots,” Polluter Watch (2.22.2011).

Channel 3000 “Senate Votes To Strip Collective Bargaining Rights,” (3.10.2011).

City of Madison News Release. “Chief Wray Responds to Reporters’ Questions,” (2.24.2011).

Cohen, Richard. “Government pensions, an obesity epidemic,” The Washington Post (2.22.2011).

Cohn, Jonathan. “Public Workers Aren’t Walker’s Only Target,” The New Republic (2.22.2011).

Condon, Patrick. “Wisconsin readies to clear Capitol of protesters,” Wisconsin State Journal (2.27.2011).

Cooper, Michael. “Cancer Research Before Activism, Billionaire Conservative Donor Says,” The New York Times (3.5.2011).

Cooper, Michael and Megan Thee-Brenen. “Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector Unions,” The New York Times (2.28.2011).

Conniff, Ruth. “Threat of Benefit Cuts in Wisconsin Prompts Wave of Sudden Retirements,” AlterNet (2.28.2011).

Cooper, Michael and Katharine Q. Seelye. “Wisconsin Leads Way as Workers Fight State Cuts,” The New York Times (2.18.2011).

Covert, Bryce. “With State Budgets Withering, Get Ready for the ‘Womancession’,” The Nation (3.2.2011).

Costa, Robert. “Koch Executives Speak Out on Wisconsin,” National Review Online (2.24.2011).

Cox, Ted. “Confirmed: Union-Bashing Right-Wing Media Stars Hannity, Limbaugh and O’Reilly Are AFL-CIO Union-Affiliated Members,” AlterNet (2.26.2011).

Crane-Station. “Indiana Official Tweets ‘Use Live Ammunition’ Against Protesters (Updated),” FireDogLake (2.23.2011).

Cullen, Sandy. “Judge orders Capitol restrictions lifted but bars overnight stays,” Wisconsin State Journal (3.4.2011).

Damos, Tim. “Compromise? No thanks: Schultz suggests bargaining deal, but his party won’t budge,” The News Republic (2.27.2011).

Davey, Monica. “Wisconsin Protesters Leave Capitol After Judge’s Ruling,” The New York Times (3.4.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Senate Limits Bargaining by Public Workers,” The New York Times (3.9.2011).

Davey, Monica and A.G. Sulzberger . “In Wisconsin Battle on Unions, State Democrats See a Gift,” The New York Times (3.10.2011).

Dayen, David. Wisconsin Bill to Strip Collective Bargaining for Public Employees Part of a Pattern,” FireDogLake (2.14.2011).

——. “Large Rally in Wisconsin Against Stripping Collective Bargaining Rights for Public Employees,” FireDogLake (2.15.2011).

——. “Teachers Walk Out in Madison to Join Protests Over Public Employee Bill in Wisconsin,” FireDogLake (2.16.2011).

——. “Pressure Rises as 30,000 Come to Madison to Block Wisconsin Public Employee Bill,” FireDogLake (2.16.2011).

——. “In Wisconsin, Budget Repair Bill Passes Committee; Mass Teacher Walkouts Planned,” FireDogLake (2.17.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Senate Democrats Walk Out, Threaten Quorum on Public Employee Bill,” FireDogLake (2.17.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Budget 101: The Numbers and the Stakes in the Public Employee Bill,” FireDogLake (2.20.2011).

——. “The End Run: Wisconsin GOP Could Put Collective Bargaining Piece in Non-Fiscal Bill and Pass Quickly,” FireDogLake (2.21.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Budget Bill Wouldn’t Be Able to Be Implemented After Friday,” FireDogLake (2.21.2011).

——. “Poll Shows Support for Public Employees, Protesters in Wisconsin Fight,” Fire Dog Lake (2.22.2011).

——. “Indiana Democrats Walk Out to Protest Union-Busting Bill, Deny Quorum,” Fire Dog Lake (2.22.2011).

——. “Wisconsin’s Walker Signs Bill Requiring 2/3 Majority for Tax Increases,” Fire Dog Lake (2.22.2011).

——. “Walker’s Public Employee Union-Busting So Extreme, Rick Scott Won’t Do It,” Fire Dog Lake (2.22.2011).

——. Walker, Wisconsin GOP Make Threats; Workers and Activists Organize, FireDogLake (2.22.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Governor Walker Punked by Fake Koch Call,” FireDogLake (2.23.2011).

——. Labor Fights Spread Across Big Ten States,” FireDogLake (2.23.1011).

——. “The Incredible Ecosystem of the Wisconsin State Capitol,” FireDogLake (2.24.2011).

——. “WI Assembly Nearing Endgame on Budget Bill; Senate Dems Still Out of State,” FireDogLake (2.24.2011).

——. “Activists Occupy GOP Headquarters in Madison,” FireDogLake (2.24.2011).

——. “Assembly Dems Meeting with Walker Cabinet Secretary on Alternative Budget Proposal,” FireDogLake (2.24.2011).

——. “Walker: Local Government Bargaining Proves There Should Be No Bargaining,” FireDogLake (2.24.2011).

——. “Amy Goodman on Scott Walker: ‘It’s not a good season to be a tyrant’,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “Koch Industries Executives Call Unnecessary Attention to Themselves,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “Shutting it Down: Assembly Bill Passage Paves Way for Ejecting Protesters from Capitol,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “Rallies Spread Across Wisconsin on Thursday,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Professional Police Association Asks Walker to Keep Capitol Open,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “WI State Assemblyman: Republicans Ran Out of Capitol Last Night After Voting,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “WI State Senate Makes Budget Repair Bill Unamendable,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. Ohio’s SB 5 Just as Extreme as Union-Busting Bill in Wisconsin,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. Capitol Police: We’re Closing the Building Sunday at 4pm,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

——. “Iraq/Afghanistan Vet Chet Millard Fighting for Freedom in the Workplace,” FireDogLake (2.26.2011).

——. “Protests Will Come to a Head as Capitol Police Tries to Shut Down Building,” FireDogLake (2.26.2011).

——. “Protests Will Come to a Head as Capitol Police Tries to Shut Down Building,” FireDogLake (2.26.2011).

——. “Protests Begin in Capitol Rotunda for 13th Straight Day” FireDogLake (2.26.2011).

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——. “VIDEO: 100,000-Plus in Madison for Rally for Workers’ Rights,” FireDogLake (2.26.2011).

——. “Union Actors Come Out in Solidarity With Public Employees in Wisconsin,” FireDogLake (2.26.2011).

——. “Capitol Police Plan to Clear Building at 4; Civil Disobedience Planned,” FireDogLake (2.27.2011).

——. “PHOTO GALLERY: Day 14 in the Capitol in Madison,” FireDogLake (2.27.2011).

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——. “The People Rule: Activists Hold the Capitol Building in Madison,” FireDogLake (2.27.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Still Stalemated on Budget Repair Bill, as Next Budget Gets Released Tomorrow,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

——. “Capitol Police Blocking Access to Building in Madison,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

——. “Wisconsin: Sen. Dale Schultz (R) Will Vote Against Budget Repair Bill,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

——. “AFSCME Files Unfair Labor Practice Against Walker in Wisconsin,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

——. “Capitol Building Still Closed, Other Shenanigans,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

——. “Poll: Walker Would Lose if Election Held Today,” FireDogLake (2.28.2011).

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——. “Huge Crowds in Ohio to Protest Their Bill Stripping Public Employee Rights,” FireDogLake (3.1.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Updates: Still Blocking Capitol Access, Fitzgerald Meets with Senate Dems, New Budget Horrors,” FireDogLake (3.1.2011).

——. “Live: Walker Speaking On Wisconsin Budget,” FireDogLake (3.1.2011).

——. “Walker’s Two-Year Budget Shows Repair Bill to Be Trojan Horse,” FireDogLake (3.1.2011).

——. “Wisconsin: Republicans Move to Split Budget Repair Bill, Pass Anti-Union Measures Tonight,” FireDogLake (3.9.2011).

——. “Anti-Public Employee Bill Passes Senate in Wisconsin; Only the Beginning of the Fight,” FireDogLake (3.9.2011).

——. “Wisconsin: Confusion Reigns Over Legality of Anti-Union Bill Passage in Wisconsin,” FireDogLake (3.10.2011).

——. “Rights-Stripping Maneuver By Wisconsin Republicans Will Be Long Remembered Over Next Election Cycles,” FireDogLake (3.10.2011).

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Defend Wisconsin, “Protestors to be removed from Capitol rooms; Common spaces to remain open,” (2.24.2011).

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——. “What Wisconsin Democrats can teach Washington Democrats,” The Washington Post (3.10.2011).

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——. “Water Cooler – Wisconsin Republicans Go Nuclear,” FireDogLake (3.9.2011).

Eli, “Timing Is Everything,” FireDogLake (2.25.2011).

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——. “Nation Conversations: Jesse Jackson on the Energy of Egypt in Wisconsin,” The Nation (3.1.2011).

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——. “In Indiana, AWOL House Democrats Dig In,” TalkingPointsMemo (2.23.2011).

——. “Indiana Dems: This Is Our Moment And We’re Seizing It,” TalkingPointsMemo (2.23.2011).

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——. “Report: Major DC Lobby Firm Throwing Fundraiser For Wisconsin GOP Leaders,” TalkingPointsMemo (3.5.2011).

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——. “Wisconsin Crowds Swell to 30,000; Key GOP Legislators Waver,” The Nation (2.17.2011).

——. “’First Amendment Remedies’: How Wisconsin Workers Grabbed the Constitution Back From the Right-Wing Royalists,” The Nation (2.18.2011).

——. “Jesse Jackson Tells 50,000 in Wisconsin: ‘This is a Martin Luther King Moment!’,” The Nation (2.19.2011).

——. “‘This Is What Democracy Looks Like’ in Wisconsin, as Largest Crowd Yet—80,000—Opposes Union Busting,” The Nation (2.19.2011).

——. ”Wisconsin’s Political Crisis Is a Good Deal More Serious Than Its Fiscal Crisis,” The Nation (2.21.2011).

——. “Scott Walker to ‘Koch Caller’: Thanks for All the Support,” The Nation (2.23.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Governor May Have Violated Labor Law in Koch Call,” The Nation (2.24.2011).

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——. “Upwards of 125,000 March in Madison, as Activists Rally Nationwide to Back Wisconsin Workers,” The Nation (2.26.2011).

——. “Wisconsin Governor Moves to Silence Pro-Labor Dissent,” The Nation (2.28.2011).

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What’s wrong with this thought?

8:19 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

E.J. Dionne, while discussing the Wisconsin conflict, asserted that:

It’s said that this fight is all about partisanship — and it’s true that Walker’s proposal is tougher on the most Democratic-leaning public-employee unions than on the ones more sympathetic to Republicans.

But this goes beyond partisanship. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which swept away decades of restrictions on corporate spending to influence elections, has already tilted the political playing field toward the country’s most formidable business interests. Eviscerating the power of the unions would make Republicans and Democrats alike more dependent than ever on rich and powerful interests and undercut the countervailing strength of working people who, as those Kohler workers know, already have enough problems.

Even critics of public-employee unions should be able to recognize a power grab when they see one.

The key problem here, as I see it, is one of timing. Labor in the United States today hardly stands as a countervailing power to the power available to American capital and its political allies. Union membership as of 1.2011 amounts to 11.9% of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 6.9% of private sector workers belong to a union while a mere 36.2% of America’s public sector workers belong to a union. Simply put, a fraction of America’s economic and political elite had already broken the union movement before Scott Walker put his name on the 2010 Wisconsin ballot. It used the Stagflation Crisis of the 1970-80s as a pretext on which to make a public assault on America’s unions. The AFL-CIO’s 1981 Solidarity March failed to intimidate the Reagan faction of the GOP or to embolden the remnants of the New Deal Coalition who cared about the fate of America’s working class. And it is because organized labor lacked the power to defeat the Reaganite onslaught of the 1980s that it ceased to provide a base from which sympathetic Democrats could contest the rightward drift of the American political elite.

The Democratic Party already depends upon and prefers the help it gets from big capital. Organized labor may have a seat at the big table, but it literally pays dearly for the meager results it gets for its money. One need only to consider the fact that both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama supported the horrible Blanche Lincoln in the 2010 Arkansas primary, and gave her this support even though a Lincoln nomination would only produce a defeat in November. Moreover, Obama’s election along with his very disappointing tenure as President supports nothing else but the conclusion that the leaders of the Democratic Party belong to the FIRE sector of the economy. In fact, one can measure Obama’s labor sympathies by the fight he made in support of the Employee Free Choice Act while President.

As for my take on Wisconsin: What we are seeing in Madison today is not organized labor fighting a state politician and his party in defense of the right of some workers to collectively bargain with the State of Wisconsin. Nor, for that matter, is the conflict a local instance of the national Democrats making a stand on behalf of its base. What we are seeing instead is a troubled part of American society defending itself against the predatory practices of a social and political system dominated by big capital, its money and its political allies. What about the legacy parties in Washington? As we know, they are already spoken for by their well-heeled friends. At least some Democratic Senators of the Wisconsin Senate had the nerve to flee to Illinois, thus saving the Party from colluding once more with the Republicans. That is far more than one could reasonably expect from the national Democrats.

Cross-posted at All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go