Archive for: March, 2011

Sarah Palin Cover Up? Alaska Removes Film Incentive Page

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

How DARE you hold me accountable for taking your money?

Sarah Palin took to Facebook yesterday to “correct” the Daily Caller over their reporting about her use of the Alaskan film tax incentive for Sarah Palin’s Alaska. Palin never got around to addressing how a self-described fiscal conservative uses taxpayer money for subsidies she then feeds into her own bank account for a TV show that boiled down to one long political ad for Sarah Palin. Interestingly, when I went to the Alaska Film Office website, the film incentive pages are gone. Luckily, I have the PDFs. The film tax incentive specifically prohibits political advertising from receiving the tax credits.

Palin claims in her defense that only the production company benefited from the tax incentives, but that’s not accurate. Sarah Palin benefited to the personal tune of over $100,000 plus perks and whatever back end points she negotiated. And in case you think this doesn’t impact you, Alaska has no state income tax. Just where do you think they get that money? Check your wallet, because it’s possible that you paid for Sarah Palin’s Alaska, which was pure and simple taxpayer funded political propaganda that also enriched the politician. And yes, that is a first.

The production company for her reality TV show received $1.2 million in state tax credits. Sarah Palin got a seven-figure paycheck from that seven-figure subsidy from the taxpayers. Palin’s film incentive reimburses the talent’s salary at 10%, which means that we all paid around $100,000 of Sarah’s rather high (for reality TV) salary, in addition to various other pieces of equipment, vehicles, plane rides, etc. It was a lot of money. In addition to her reality TV show, she also built a studio in her fourth home, next to the “White House” on the dead lake in Wasilla (a nod to Palin’s anti-environmental stance that makes the fundies so happy- each dead fish is another day we get closer to Jesus). I’m sure we are all paying something for that gateway to Fox News. And you wonder why she won’t go away.

There are all kinds of tax deals for companies that have anything to do with film/TV in the incentives as well. Do we really think Palin isn’t taking advantages of those? This is Sarah Palin, who grifted her way through the RNC’s money buying silk underwear for Todd and hundreds of thousands of dollars on clothes for herself and refused to give any of it back. We never did hear what happened to it after the RNC sent someone to collect it. This is the same Sarah Palin who “forgot” to pay taxes on a second home. Forgot to the tell the IRS it even existed. This is the same Sarah who charged Alaskans per diem because she didn’t want to go to work and then didn’t pay taxes on that per diem.

It is a violation of the ethics code in Alaska to use one’s office for financial or personal gain, not that anyone would know that from Palin’s brief tenure. Of course, this wouldn’t hold up in court, since she quit as governor, but it sure as heck doesn’t look good and it sure as heck isn’t the act of a fiscal conservative who thinks everyone else should do for themselves with no help from the government.

The Alaskan film incentive allows 30 percent transferable tax credit to film productions who spend more than $100,000 in Alaska. The credit go up to 44 percent if incentives for local hire, remote locations and winter filming are also used. Alaska has no personal income tax and LLCs do not pay tax (in case you were wondering why Alaska is one of the biggest welfare states of federal money). The law was signed in 2008 and amended on June 18 of 2009. Gosh, golly that’s like what…weeks before she quit to pursue fame and fortune. By March, 2010, they were shopping Sarah Palin’s Alaska for distribution.

Palin’s long-winded refudiation (oh yeah) involved strawmen such as:

…. after he spent the first page completely spinning a situation to give the impression that Alaska’s film production tax credit legislation was somehow solely my idea hatched up to benefit the Palins years before I was ever involved in a documentary series on TLC/Discovery Channel. Here’s setting the record straight: As Governor, I signed into law a popular bipartisan bill that was crafted and passed by others and has resulted in numerous Alaska-based productions that are airing today. The only alternative to signing the legislature’s work product would have been for me to veto their legislation, which would have been useless. Besides all that, their legislation worked.

OK, SPA wasn’t a documentary by any stretch of the imagination on any planet. I won’t even get into the reasons why, as by definition alone, my argument is made. It’s true, Palin did not have distribution for the series yet when she signed the legislation, but we have no way of knowing just when she started talking with production companies about doing a show. It could have easily been before she quit as governor. And by the way, Palin didn’t get paid IF the series got distribution, she got paid for making it, therefore TLC/Discovery (distribution) is irrelevant to the issue.

This isn’t hypocritical because “I’ve said many times that government can play an appropriate role in incentivizing business, creating infrastructure, and leveling the playing field to foster competition so the market picks winners and losers, instead of bureaucrats burdening businesses and picking winners and losers.”

It was, in fact, called a subsidy bill by Republicans at the time, “This is a film industry subsidy bill,” said Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage. The fact that Palin labels subsidies the free market should be making real conservatives cringe, but they know they can’t afford that kind of hypocrisy, in light of the oil company subsidies and corporate tax breaks they give out every year in the name of “job creation.” Palin forced the taxpayers to foot the bill for a private media project that was a political ad. That’s not free market or limited government.

The problem with Sarah Palin is that she has no idea what is behind policies that she advocated. On this hand we have her saying giving money away in a subsidies program is a free market and then on the other she says using windfall profit taxes on oil companies isn’t socialism. Neither, of course, has anything to do with the accusation that she took advantage of a piece of legislation she championed, and is profiting from it. So these issues are nothing but strawmen.

“The accusation hinges on the notion that I signed the legislation into law knowing that it would personally benefit me. That’s totally absurd. It wasn’t even my bill, and obviously I had no intention of benefiting from it when I signed it into law in 2008 because I had no idea I would be involved in a documentary series years later.”

Palin most definitely did benefit from this legislation. In running away from the obvious, Palin ruins her entire argument, because it’s arguable that she didn’t know she was going to benefit from it when she passed it originally (though I suspect by the time they updated it in June of 2009, she did). The truth is that she negotiated her deal with Burnett knowing he would pay more for her salary than normal because she could get the state to pick up the 10%. Plus, a lot of the benefits and demands made by “name” actors she got picked up by the state due to the specifics of the film incentives, which were exceptionally generous compared to other states, by the way. It’s entirely possible that without these incentives, Palin never would have been able to get a deal to make her show. After all, the state/taxpayers funded 44% of it. But here’s the real stickler; the following types of productions are NOT eligible:

(c) The following productions are not eligible, regardless of the production costs:
(1) news, weather, or current events programming;(2) a production produced primarily for industrial, corporate, or institutional purposes, and for internal use;
(3) an advertisement, infomercial, or any other production that solicits funds, except for a commercial television advertisement produced for national distribution;
(4) a political advertisement;

Palin’s show, which was obviously political in nature, should have been exempt. It is absolutely wrong that taxpayers were forced to pay for a political ad for Sarah Palin. This is, of course, outrageous, which is why it is exempted. In addition to the blatantly political myth building purpose of her show, I made a bet last fall that we would see snippets of this show used in her Presidential ads. Even if Palin used any of these clips to raise funds from SarahPac, that would and will disqualify the production from tax incentives even more clearly. What do you think, will they pay us back if and when I am proven right?

Sadly, I don’t get solicitations from SarahPac, but I’m sure some of my readers do. Weigh in, won’t you? Ever seen a video with clips from her show, even if it’s just a split second, in a SarahPac email? How about a photo from the shoot?

In addition to taxpayers funding 30% of Sarah’s show, there are some extra goodies thrown in:

(1) an additional 10 percent of qualified expenditures that are wages paid to Alaska residents;
(2) an additional two percent of qualified expenditures made in a rural area; and
(3) an additional two percent of qualified expenditures made in the state between October 1 and March 30.

Note that “rural area” means a community with a population of 1,500 or less or a community with a population of 5,500 or less that is not connected by road or rail to Anchorage or Fairbanks. Hello, Sarah Palin’s Alaska!

So, covered here we have on top of the 30% for general costs associated with shooting, 10% of the over a million dollars that Palin was paid as talent (who knows how much she got paid as “producer”) and the 2% for rural areas. She wanted a million per episode for season 2. Can we afford that? I thought we were “broke.”

Now for the goodies, expenditures (or “entitlements” or “welfare” – read this how you will) may include:

(1) costs of set construction and operation;
(2) costs of wardrobes, make-up, accessories, and related services;
(3) costs associated with photography and sound synchronization;
(4) costs of lighting and related services and materials;
(5) costs of editing and related services;
(6) rental of facilities and equipment;
(7) leasing of vehicles;
(8) costs of food and lodging;
(9) costs of digital or tape editing, film processing, transfer of film to tape or digital format, sound mixing, and special and visual effects;
(10) the total aggregate payroll for services performed in Alaska, including all salaries, wages, compensation, and related benefits provided to producers,directors, writers, actors, and other personnel that are directly attributable to services performed in Alaska;
(11) the costs of the use of an Alaska business for processing qualified payroll and related expenditures;
(12) costs of music, if performed, composed, or recorded by an Alaska musician, or released or published by an Alaska business;
(13) costs of intrastate travel, if provided by an Alaska business;
(14) costs relating to the design, construction, improvement, or repair of a film, video, television, or digital production or postproduction facility or related property, infrastructure, or equipment, except commercial exhibition facilities, as determined by the film office;
(15) costs of state or municipal taxes levied in Alaska on the lease or rental of passenger or recreational vehicles or the rental of rooms or other lodging;

Does anyone recall the huge RV the Palins drove around in on SPA? You paid for that, too. Probably bought it, if I know Sarah. And how about those expensive plane rides and the ATVs? They only showed the Palins in the planes, but they had to fly the crew there, too – and of course, the entourage had to come. You paid for that, too. Yeah, nothing like a little sucking off the government teat to the tune of 1.2 million dollars.

So there’s no way that the tax incentive didn’t benefit her. She uses the strawman that she didn’t draft this to benefit herself personally to avoid the fact that she took advantage of the taxpayers to fill her own bank account, and that she used government as a funnel to get taxpayer money for herself. While most conservatives do that these days, it is not a part of conservative ideology to suck money out of the government for yourself and hence, she’s getting flack for this. Also, the conservatives just don’t want her around now that she did their dirty work for them in 2010. She’s not national material and they know it. She should prepare herself for a lot more flack from her side of the aisle.

If she were a true fiscal conservative, she would have turned down the money all together or donated it to an Alaskan charity – but she would not have taken taxpayer money for personal benefit. Sorry, but there’s no way around that. But that’s not the most glaring problem facing Palin regarding the film incentive. The largest issue is that by the very exemptions listed in the bill, her show should have been ineligible. Sarah Palin used taxpayer money to enrich herself and to create and distribute very expensive political propaganda — and that’s the part the conservatives missed in their criticism of her use/abuse of her own legislation.

One wonders how they will feel if someone like say, Hilary Clinton, does the same thing before her Presidential run in 2016. Hey, they set the precedent. Let the taxpayers fund a series on Discovery about Hilary that pays her $100,000 and some swag. Or maybe they would like to fund Clinton’s private TV studio so she can be a pundit for MSNBC. No?

I don’t know about you, but I never agreed to pay for political ads for Sarah Palin — during which she bashed Michelle Obama and liberals pretty consistently — and I have a lot more worthy causes to donate my money to than a seditious Republican puppet.

I want my money back. The Alaska government knows they are on thin ice here. Is that why they took the tax incentive pages off the web?

34 responses so far

Donald Trump Claims That Obama Could Be A Muslim

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Is this the protocol for the Republican primary?  Every GOP potential 2012 Presidential candidate has to prove they are further to the right and crazier than the rest of them by questioning the place of President Obama’s birth.

Now the “Don” Trump says is an interview with Laura Ingraham, that the President might not be showing his original birth certificate because it might mention MUSLIM! (video marker at around (3 minutes).  

Trump stated ;

“He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does there is something on that certificate that is very bad for him.

Now somebody tells me and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be, that where it says religion, it might have Muslim and if your a Muslim you don’t change your religion by the way. But somebody said maybe that’s the reason he doesn’t want to show it. I don’t think so.  I just don’t think he has a birth certificate…”

Now we know from prior articles by Jason Easley, that Laura Ingraham has the journalistic integrity of a newt and I wouldn’t put it past her not to challenge any absurdity coming out of any potential Republican candidates for 2012.

If this is the best bunch of people the GOP can drum up as potential candidates, 2012 may not be so bad for Obama.  We have Sarah “the quitter” Palin, Michelle “the queen of paranoia” Bachmann, Newt “the family values except for me” Gingrich etc.. and now we have Mr. Donald “Orly Taitz Birther” Trump.

This latest stunt by Trump is the typical fear mongering that many people have come to expect from the GOP. We have seen this since the days of terrorist alerts in 2004 in order to scare people to vote for the “rough and tumble” candidate George W. Bush.  Now they are using the latest scare tactic, MUSLIMS and the crimson red conservatives latch onto that rhetoric like leaches in a swamp.

Let’s sit back and enjoy the circus people, this is going to make great talk show material and PoliticusUSA articles over the next year, stay tuned!

Editor’s Note:

Trump went on MSNBC today and actually up the birther ante. Trump even claimed that Obama could have, ““could have come in after birth and could have been registered for purposes of hospitalization” or even “welfare.” “Excuse me, I’ve grown up watching some of the great thieves of the world… this is peanuts compared to what these people do.”

Here is the video:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

 

Image: Gawker

17 responses so far

Glenn Beck Has Lost 500,000 Viewers a Night In 2011

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The empire is continuing to crumble for Glenn Beck. This week Buckley Radio yanked Beck’s radio from four more of its radio stations after they had already pulled him from their flagship station, WOR in New York. The news is even worse on the television side where Beck’s Fox News program has lost 500,000 viewers per night during the first quarter of 2011.

Forbes’ Rick Unger was discussing Glenn Beck’s radio show problems when he cited some interesting ratings data about Beck’s Fox News program, “The prophet of doom has managed to lose, on average, over 500,000 viewers each night of the first quarter of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010- down 30% in average viewership on year to year basis, and down a staggering 37% among the cable news advertiser target adults 25-54 demo vs. the first quarter of 2010. While Beck still holds the number one spot in his TV time period, his numbers represent the steepest decline in all cable news programs. That rarely bodes well for a program’s future.”

Beck’s radio issues only partially are related to his habit of putting his foot in his mouth with controversial, racist, and bigoted thoughts. The bigger issue that is causing radio stations to dump his show is that his ratings aren’t high enough. Ever since Beck has turned more religious it would appear that he has turned off some listeners/viewers, and their response has been to literally turn off Glenn Beck’s shows.

Rick Buckley, who is the president of the radio station group that most recently dumped Beck blames the host’s shift towards religion for his ratings decline. Buckley said, “In the last six months or so, he has tended to be more and more taking a religious point of view … It didn’t do well here in the east. It has not gotten real traction. If you want a religious point of view, we’ve got plenty of religious stations. You can get it 24/7.”

When Glenn Beck’s ratings first started to tank
, he decided that the way to revive his career was to inoculate his political views with a healthy dose of religion. The Rally to Restore Honor had nothing to do with honor. It was big coming out party for Glenn Beck’s new persona as a religious leader.

The problem is that Godly Beck still had political Beck’s biggest character flaw. He can’t stop saying racist and bigoted things. Godly Beck got himself into trouble by comparing reform Jews to Islamic fundamentalists. Political Beck sowed the seeds of his demise when he called Obama a racist.

The question is, why are viewers and listeners both leaving Glenn Beck? Is because of the religious tone of the programming as Buckley speculated? Is it because Beck has taken the humor out of his show, and gloom and doom isn’t very entertaining. Could it be that Beck’s redundant end of the world message has caused bored viewers and listeners to flee?

One, some, or a combination of all of the above factors could be the reason why Glenn Beck’s numbers have gotten so bad. (Remember Sarah Palin reading the phone book for an hour a night probably could do close to 2 million viewers for FNC so in Fox News terms, Beck is in the tank.) Viewers haven’t returned to Glenn Beck. They are still leaving, and the ones who already left are staying away.

Glenn Beck completely misjudged why his audience watched and listened. They liked Beck because he was the conservative warrior who scared the pants off them with a cheerful smile. He entertained them. But last year when Beck decided that he was going to go God, he appears to have alienated and annoyed a portion of what was left of his declining audience.

It will be no surprise if when December rolls around Fox News decides to part ways with Beck. What’s interesting is that it wasn’t the advertiser boycott, or “progressive conspiracies” that brought Beck down. He failed because he forgot who he was and what his audience wanted.

The only person who has to blame for sabotaging his career is Glenn Beck. When Glenn Beck stopped bringing in the ad dollars, he was no longer worth the trouble, and this is why this self-styled patriot of democracy and the free market could be about to be shown the door.

21 responses so far

While We Suffer Corporations Privatize Profits, and Socialize Losses

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

“Privatize the profits and socialize the losses.” Hasn’t that been the M.O. of big corporate interest for the last 35 years?  Of course it has been, yet you $30,000 dollar  conservative Republicans don’t even see this because of the lies right wing think tanks have pumped into your head.

Just coming out now is another case where politicians are shifting money into the hands of a billionaire while Rome burns.  In a recent report by Bloomberg and Business Insider, Los Angeles taxpayers have floated $350 million dollars worth of bonds in order to help finance another stadium for the city.  Billionaire Philip Anschutz’s is trying to build a football stadium and convention-center addition in  Los Angeles and offers the city a financial guarantee that is not even close to what he gave with Staples Center over a decade ago.

By the Anschutz subsidiary behind the project  not providing a letter of credit or additional guarantee that means if the stadium and convention center is built,  but the proceeds fall short of what’s needed to cover the bonds, the city of Los Angeles and the taxpayers are on the hook.

“With no bank, corporate or municipal insurance, you are possibly looking at the city having to make the payments,” Jeffrey Appelbaum, an attorney who specializes in stadium finance at Thompson Hine LLP in Cleveland, said in an interview.

How great is it to be a billionaire and have millions of taxpayers finance your business?

So essentially if the company goes bankrupt, the ones that are forced to pay the note will be the taxpayers of L.A. because the private investors who bought the municipal bonds need to be made whole.

This is obviously not the only case, former Red Sox pitcher,Curt Schilling is pulling this same stunt in Rhode Island and of course the same scenario could happen.  Curt Schilling owns 38 studios and the state of Rhode Island is floating a $75 million dollar bond for them. 38 Studios will receive $13 million immediately, with the rest coming to the studio during the next 15 months provided that it reaches certain employment milestones.

This isn’t the free market, this is direct government intervention in the market that only helps ONE corporation and in some cases ONE industry. Tens of thousands of community businesses and business owners take out loans in the company’s name or in the case of sole proprietors their personal name in order to start their business, what makes these billionaires any different.

In a time of massive lay-offs involving teachers, who add compound value to the economy.  We have municipalities taking risk and taking out loans for one corporation.  Where are our priorities?

2 responses so far

Christian Conservatives Turn Political Judas On Christ’s Teachings

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Prior to 1979, religion in America was a private enterprise, and although it influenced people’s daily lives, it certainly was not used as the driving force in governing. Christians worshiped in their homes, churches and in meditative silence, and only occasionally would a Christian impose their beliefs on anyone else. Since the ascendance of the Moral Majority at the beginning of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the religious right has steadily incorporated Christianity into all forms of government and national policy decisions.

The Moral Majority was an organization made up of conservative Christian PACs which campaigned on issues that were important to maintaining its Christian conception of moral law. Today, conservative Christians are serving in Congress and passing laws that enforce the Christian conception of moral law. It is one matter to form a PAC to lobby for social conservative causes, but the fallacious Christians have infiltrated the government and imposed their abhorrent, bastardized version of Christianity on all Americans much to the despair of the poor, women, gays, and atheists. Along the way, Christians in state legislatures and Congress have enriched the corporate world with money stolen from the poor and now the elderly.

If Christian Conservatives represented Christianity as taught by their namesake, Jesus Christ, America would indeed be the greatest country in the world. However, the vile, fallacious Christianity practiced by social conservatives is the polar opposite of Christ’s teachings and is a detriment to every living person in America. Whether the so-called Christians in Congress allow the oil and coal industry to poison the Earth, air, and water, or promote war and gun ownership, they are not following the tenets of Christ’s teachings.

Men like Jim DeMint (R-SC), a self-avowed conservative Christian gives taxpayer dollars to rich corporations, but worked tirelessly to defeat the Affordable Health Care Act. DeMint also opposes programs to feed children as well as community health centers that serve the poor. Jesus said rich people should give all their money and belongings to the poor in order to be allowed into heaven (Matt. 19:20 – 21). DeMint and all conservative Christian legislators steal from the poor to give to the rich. Senator DeMint’s lord and savior would disavow knowing the Christianity DeMint practices.

Much of the blame rests with the clergy for not encouraging their congregants to follow Christ’s admonition to be non-judgmental, charitable, and humble in all things. Mike Huckabee (R) is a preacher and judges non-Christians, lies, and opposes giving healthcare to every American. Sarah Palin (R) is a conservative Christian who lies, boasts about herself, opposes the health law, and slaughters animals for sport. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is another conservative Christian who is a staunch advocate for war, a gun rights advocate, and also opposes making affordable health care available to all Americans. This list could go on ad nauseum and demonstrates that nearly every Republican conservative Christian legislator uses their Christianity to garner votes, but they oppose the teachings of their religion’s namesake.

If the conservative Christians were followers of Christ as they claim, they would adopt stringent gun control laws, provide health care for all Americans, stop the senseless wars, and stop enriching the wealthy with American taxpayer dollars. They would also pass legislation to ensure that every American enjoyed the freedom and pursuit of happiness the Founding Fathers intended as well as augment and enforce environmental laws to guarantee the health and safety of Americans. But America’s conservative Christians follow a bastardized Christianity that contradicts Christ’s instructions.

Although lawmakers wield great power and use their fallacious Christian dogma to force destructive conceptions of moral law on Americans, they are in power because the religious right votes for Republican candidates. Christian voters know Republicans do not follow the rudiments of Christ’s teachings but they vote for them nevertheless. Republicans oppose Christ’s simplest directives such as not killing, helping the poor, loving your neighbor as well as your enemy, and most importantly, not judging. Jesus was quite clear that Christians are not supposed to judge because it is God’s provenance; not man’s or women’s.

For the past two months Americans have seen the damage Republican Christian legislators are inflicting on nearly every segment of society. A perfect example is a pregnant Iowa woman who was arrested and charged with attempted “feticide” after she fell down a flight of stairs. The injured and still pregnant woman spent two days in jail because of Personhood-type laws that claim a zygote is a human being. The law was sponsored and paid for by Christian organizations that wrote the law and lobbied Christian legislators to pass the measure. Republicans have spent precious time and resources to defund Planned Parenthood and if successful, will eliminate reproductive health care for millions of poor Americans. If Republicans truly followed Christ, they would increase funding to Planned Parenthood to help millions of men and women get cancer screening, birth control, and counseling on maintaining reproductive health.

There is no end to the horrors the deceptive conservative Christians in America have committed. In churches all across America, the clergy preaches that Jesus said love your neighbor, clothe and feed the poor, practice peace, and give your belongings to the destitute. After the sermon though, the clergy tells the congregation which policies to support and who to vote for at election time. It is astonishing that parishioners can quote scripture and verse propounding the virtues of Christ’s teachings about love, peace, and charity, and then proceed to deprive their neighbors of basic human rights.

Christianity that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ is a beautiful religion for people apt to believe in god, and if its adherents followed the philosophy and practiced the loving kindness Jesus expounded, it would be more acceptable as a guide for lawmaking. But the Christianity practiced by most Republican legislators is oppressive and damaging to Americans as well as the environment. The fallacious Christians would be wise to change their religion’s name to save their mortal souls. If one believes in an afterlife in the presence of the loving savior Jesus Christ, they would be wise to remember Jesus’ words regarding working in his name. Jesus said in Matthew 7:23, “Lord, Lord, did we not…perform many powerful works in your name? And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” If there is a Jesus Christ, he is going to be ready and waiting for fallacious Christians in legislatures across America; and the Christian voters who put them in positions of power.

 

Image: cafepress.com

86 responses so far

Wisconsin Republicans Jump The Shark & Proclaim They Are Above the Law

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Republicans in Wisconsin have decided that they are above the law, and so they will ignore Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi’s second ruling that the anti-union bill not be implemented until further hearings.

In order to jump this shark, the Republicans have had to ignore the basic tenets of our government, while attempting to untie themselves from various positions they’ve taken which invalidate their current position and of course, this will all cost millions of dollars to sort out via endless court challenges – a fact which in and of itself invalidates the false premise they started this entire war on workers with. Killing collective bargaining never had anything to do with money as it relates to budgets.

The Daily Reporter wrote:

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has advised Walker that because Sumi didn’t specifically name the administration in her order barring further action on the law, it can proceed with the payroll changes. Justice Department Executive Assistant Steve Means said Wednesday that the state’s position had not changed.

Republican Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald went further, openly questioning the judge’s right to rule in the case, saying it “flies in the face of the separation of powers between the three branches of government.”

“It’s disappointing that a Dane County judge wants to keep interjecting herself into the legislative process with no regard to the state constitution,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.

Walker’s top aide, Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch, said Tuesday that work on the payroll changes would stop if Sumi ruled the law hadn’t taken effect. But on Wednesday, he issued a statement that suggested the administration hadn’t decided on a course of action, saying the effects of Sumi’s order on efforts to implement the law are “unclear.”

Sumi’s orders were abundantly clear both the first and second time she ruled that the law not be implemented, so the Republicans decision to again operate within contempt of court appears to be both arrogance and desperation.

The Republicans claim that the judge doesn’t have the authority to stop a bill before it’s law. They’ve presented precedent for this position, however dubious. However, the proper course of action is to argue that position in court, not do as they please and determine the answer before the court can hear the evidence.
There are further problems with their position, and they know it; a) they claim they’ve already published the bill and that it is law, therefore the judge could very well stop it within her bounds and b) the judge stopped the implementation because she found that the case against the way they passed it would likely succeed. As remedy for this, she suggested the Republicans take the bill through the process again (if you remember, they passed this bill at night, within minutes, and without proper notice and access). The Republicans refused to do that, most likely because they can’t get their caucus again.

As for their arguments that the judge doesn’t have the authority to make this ruling because the bill wasn’t law (an argument Republicans invalidated themselves when they claimed the bill was law), that she is over-stepping her authority by violating the 3 branches of government, that they can step around her ruling based on technicalities they have imagined and that as county judge she doesn’t have the authority to rule on their big boy process, either the Republicans are too ignorant to hold their positions or they are too arrogant to hold them.
As an exercise in wading through the Nixonian waters, let’s examine their positions.

Republicans invalidated their first argument all on their own when they published the bill and claimed it was law.
As for the argument that the judge over-stepped her authority regarding the three branches of government, perhaps the Wisconsin Republicans need to pay attention to themselves, because the judicial branch has the authority to check the legislative and executive branches; that is exactly how the three branches were intended to operate, in fact. The entire purpose of the judiciary is to make sure the other two branches do not over step their bounds. I realize that post-Bush, this might not be obvious to the average American, but if Republican lawmakers don’t understand this, I’m not sure recalls are good enough for them. This is truly Bushian.

The irony in this position is, of course, that it invalidates Republicans who are trying to have mandates thrown out of the healthcare reform law via trial courts across the land. And while we are on this subject, Republicans want to familiarize themselves with the notion that the law was passed properly and is not a bill any longer. It was never enjoined from implementation, so any attempts at false equivocation are disingenuous at best. There was never any question that healthcare reform was passed improperly (among sane, law-abiding, informed people, that is). Whereas, the judge determined that there was ample reason to believe that the anti-union bill was passed in violation of open meeting laws, without a quorum, and using a senate law that did not apply.

Republicans argue that they can side-step her order based on supposed technicalities, but the spirit of the law was made clear on both occasions and they know it. Some of the press accept this argument as valid only because they apparently never read her rulings on either occasions, but merely report what the Republicans tell them her ruling said. This is the dog ate my homework level bs.

All cases start at the trial level and in Wisconsin, county courts are trial courts. The judge hears the testimony and determines what laws are applicable. In this case, she heard the testimony, determined that it appeared the Republicans had violated the open meeting law and that their argument of the open meeting law not applying to them was not applicable. Upon these criteria, she enjoined the bill from being published until further exploration of the merits of the arguments of both sides.

Sumi’s order to enjoin and restrain the bill from being published was an attempt to save the state from harm because it seemed it would cause damage to the state to allow the bill to become law. One only need look at the cluster mess the state is in now to understand her concern; Republicans announced this past weekend they would dock pay of state workers, but then they were told by a judge that they must not act to implement the bill. If they dock pay, which they say they will keep doing, you can bet there will be lawsuits littering the streets of Madison and that will cost the state more than they “saved” with the anti-union bill.

The claim that the anti-union bill “saves money” opens up another can of worms, since Walker originally claimed he needed to kill collective bargaining because it would save the state money, but then when he couldn’t get it passed that way, he decided to pass it separately and took it out of the “budget bill” and passed it without the quorum necessary for fiscal issues. So, why does he need this bill again?

Obviously it was never about money, because they are going to waste millions of dollars litigating this both now and into the future trying to fix the mess of implementing a law that was enjoined by a judge as well as passed improperly. In no way does this bill appear to have made it legally into being a law. Sorry, but it doesn’t.

This is what cheap labor fiscal conservatism looks like.

Governor Walker and the Republicans are ignoring the orders of judges, the opinions of their Secretary of State (a person whose job has been mysteriously suggested to be phased out in 2012 after he refused to publish the bill immediately, but instead took the full ten days allowed), and most egregiously, appear to have worked in a conspiracy to force another body to publish the law against their wishes.

The attorney general (a Republican) is advising the Republicans to press full speed ahead in this case, claiming the judge did not specifically enjoin the administration in her ruling. In order for one to accept this stance, they must believe that a ruling that enjoins and restrains the bill from implementation somehow exempts the executive branch, who is, according to the attorney general, above the law.

The AG might want to look at other attorney generals who cleared the path for power mad executives before he continues down this road (hint: they are always the first fed to the rabid press when the barest hint of the scandal hits the public’s conscience). However, as I wrote about earlier, by choosing to claim the bill is law, Republicans opened themselves up to the law being killed because this action invalidates the only somewhat legitimate claim they had, which was that the county court may not have the authority to stop a bill from becoming law. Ironies abound.

If legal nooses amuse you, you might find the conundrum of the Wisconsin Republicans fodder for a Thursday (which comes before Friday – are the Republicans the Rebecca Black of the political world now, popular for all the wrong reasons? You betcha) laugh as they are now trying to get their appeal of Judge Sumi’s ruling canceled because an appeal assumes the bill is not law. This request, however, was denied.

One wonders where the Wisconsin Republicans were in history class during the Nixon chapters. Ah, taking notes on how to rule, no doubt.

2 responses so far

Mike Huckabee Calls for Spiritual Warriors to Lose Jobs for Jesus

Mar 31 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

"Lose Your Job for Jesus!"

“To have credibility within the Republican party is to have none outside it. They act as if all their Kool-Aid has been spiked.”

Gary Younge, AlterNet, March 28, 2011

Mike Huckabee in his pandering to the Christofascist right continues to up the ante with his public policy statements. As though encouraged by the receptivity of America’s Talibangelicals to his message of exclusion and hate, he reaches new lows on an almost daily basis. It is difficult to see how he can have any hope of getting enough votes by excluding all but the extremist Christofascist fringe of the American political landscape.

After all, you do need at least some votes to get elected and the disenfranchisement of voters, redistricting, union busting and vast sums of corporate money will only get you so far.

His latest pronouncement ramps up the Christians as persecuted minority meme that is so popular as the well-funded Christofascist movement deprives women, minorities, and non-Christians of their rights in state after state. Now his message to these poor downtrodden soldiers of Christ is that in order to prevent same-sex marriage people should lose their jobs if that is what it takes.

Taking his hate-filled gospel to Iowa, he tells his followers at the Rediscover God in America Conference that he is looking for spiritual warriors (i.e. Christofascist stormtroopers); that they must take this stand for righteousness.

He appeals to the martyrdom instincts of his audience. Yes, he challenges them: they must stand against same-sex marriage even if they lose their jobs, because it is better than losing their souls.

Of course, nobody is actually trying to force anybody to marry a person of the same sex, so it is difficult to see how their souls could be at stake. Jesus certainly never mentions that possibility. The message of exclusion and hate tacked on to the end of the Gospel of Mark after it was written reads only:

“The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.”

It says nothing about punishing the person who delivered the Gospel because the listener ignored the message.

And there is the obvious problem that Christians in this country are not a persecuted minority. Christianity has been calling the shots in the Western World for most of twenty centuries and has ruthlessly eliminated every alternative to itself whenever it has had the power to do so. Even today, these same Christofascists who claim to be persecuted are persecuting others in every state in which they have the political muscle to do so.

The poor Christian martyr meme is getting very old, as lies tend to do.

Ironically, the poor persecuted me meme is one held in common with Muslim religious fanatics, for example, the message put out by groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, who recruit the credulous by drumming up belief in the alleged “plight of Muslims around the world” – a plight that is plainly imaginary (except for anti-Muslim persecution by fundamentalist Christians in the U.S.). Again, the real complaint is that their specific brand of Islamic fundamentalism is not allowed to freely persecute and force moderate Muslims to live the way they say.

So I guess the message here is that if you’re not persecuted yet, you should do all in your power to get yourself persecuted so that you can prove that people are persecuting you for your beliefs; put your family’s welfare on standby. Speak out, lose your job (though I’m not certain how this job-losing thing is supposed to work unless he means that people should physically assault gay coworkers), and let your family starve while you crusade against the Constitution and everything this nation stands for, and has stood for, for over two hundred years.

What kind of madness is this?

What about the real problems facing our nation? Unemployment, nutrition, education, wars, and so forth? Is the only thing that really matters women’s reproductive rights and marriage equality? Is that seriously the stuff of a political platform in a modern liberal democracy?

It should be the recipe political suicide.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Crazy as Republicans have been, some have actually made their way into office. Others have proven too crazy, like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and Joe Miller. Others, like Michele Bachmann, seem to prosper in their Rasputin-like madness.

Considering the President not only did not do away with the blatantly unconstitutional Faith Based Initiative of President Bush but enlarged it, it is difficult to see in what way Obama or anyone else has been busy persecuting, marginalizing or silencing Christians in this or any other country. His only real sin is that he refuses to let fundamentalist Christians persecute everyone else, like the LGBT community.

The real religious “Others” in the United States are all non-Christians, including the Pagan community, atheists, secularists and members of other non-traditional religions but especially Islam. The supreme irony is that they complain about Sharia Law and its “creeping” effects while pushing an identical Mosaic Law on us. Let’s face it: to the majority of Americans, one theocracy is as bad as another. We don’t need a Christian theocracy any more than we do an Islamic one.

Again, I don’t know what measures Huckabee thinks sufficient to lose your job in opposition to marriage equality but maybe if these people somehow manage to do it, they’ll be too busy trying to find new jobs and a roof over their heads to vote. Not a bad outcome.

Image from Dvorak Uncensored.

26 responses so far

New Approval Ratings Prove Obama Is The GOP’s Worst Nightmare

Mar 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Republicans know that they have a lackluster field of presidential candidates as they inch toward the 2012 primary season. Their only hope for defeating President Obama short of an act of God is to drive up his negatives, but a new AP/GfK poll shows that not only are Obama’s approval ratings remaining steady at 53%, but an incredible 84% said that the president is a very likable person.

The numbers in the AP/GfK poll show an electorate that is still not happy with the direction that country is going in. 62% of those surveyed said that the country is going in the wrong direction, which is a five point increase since the last poll was taken. 90% of respondents said that the economy is very important to them.

This would appear to set up a good environment for Republicans to saddle Obama with the economy and drive his approval ratings down, but something very interesting happens when you look at Obama’s approval numbers. They aren’t going down. Obama’s job approval rating is still at 53% which is where it has been since January. Obama’s personal approval rating was 59%, which is a four point increase since November. A majority of Americans (50%) believe that Obama should be reelected.

On the question of the economy, respondents were split within the margin of error about Obama’s job performance on the issue. 47% of Americans favored Obama’s handling of the economy and 52% and did not. (The poll’s margin of error was 4.2%). When Americans were asked if they were happy with their lives, 80% said yes. Of course this is the Queen Mother of loaded poll questions, as very people are going to admit that they are miserable sad sacks just trying get through another pointless day of earth bound existence.

The one point that emerged from this poll is that America really, really likes Barack Obama. When asked to evaluate how well Obama understands the big issues facing America, 68% believed that he understood them at least somewhat well. 60% believed that Obama understands the problems of ordinary Americans. 61% believed that he will keep America safe, and 59% thought that he understands their problems. 57% called Obama a strong leader, and most tellingly a whopping 84% said Obama is a likable person.

It is tough for a lot of people to get 84% of their friends and family to call them likable, much less the entire country. Needless to say, these are not the numbers of a future one term president.

Republicans face a twofold problem when it comes to defeating Obama in 2012. First this president is still really, really personally popular, and despite our lofty presumptions in the world of political science about the “rational voter” most voters vote for the candidate that they personally like best.

The second problem that Republicans face is that their potential 2012 field is loaded with unlikable people. Mitt Romney’s favorability has slid to 41%. Mike Huckabee is the most popular Republican, and his popularity has dropped 4 points to 45%. Newt Gingrich has more people who dislike him (42%) than like him (40%), and then there is Sarah Palin. Palin is in a class all by herself. She has lost 7% off her approval rating. She is now down to 39%, and her unfavorable rating has gone up 8 points to 57%.

In short, the Republicans are armed with a bunch of known also rans who aren’t likable enough to defeat a very well liked incumbent president. After seeing how quickly voters have turned on them after their 2010 midterm election victory, Republicans know that they are in for a tough time in 2012.

The Republicans only strategy for 2012 is to drive up Obama’s negatives. This is the purpose of the obstructionist Party of No, but so far it isn’t working.

Until the jobs all come back and there is a chicken in every pot, Obama will still hover around 50%, but even that small majority would be more than enough easily defeat any of the slugs that the GOP may be forced to run against him in 2012.

The Republicans have become the political kids who live on Elm Street. Every time they doze off with an episode of Touched By An Angel on the TV, and start to dream of a President Huckabee, or glory be a President Palin, Obama bounces into their dream and delivers a second inaugural about universal health care, a growing economy, clean energy and the lowest unemployment rate since the Clinton years.

For the Republicans, 2012 has turned into a Nightmare on K Street.

One, two, Obama’s coming for you.

34 responses so far

CREW Wants Wisconsin GOP Senator Punished For Misuse of Troopers

Mar 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Oh, my. First Fitzy ignores a judge’s order, and while contemplating ignoring the second, we find out that the Washington watchdog group CREW got a hold of his emails and things aren’t looking so good for him on the ethics front either. I’m sure you’re shocked.

We are, of course, talking about Wisconsin again, where Republican senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (of the Fitzgerald GOP “mafia”; aka, daddy’s head of the troopers, bro is in the House and Fitzy leads as Walker’s main dog in the senate) got himself into hot water when he told his daddy to go after those mean Democrats who didn’t want to let him and Scotty steal all of the people’s rights.

CREW ordered up some of Fitzy’s emails and they were none too impressed with his ethics upon reading them. Again, I feel your shock. Yes, the same FitzWalkerStan gang that violated open meeting laws, had Democratic lawmakers roughed up, locked Democrats out of the Capitol during hearings, and had all of the windows bolted to prevent access (against another judge’s order) to the Capitol to those horrid unwashed teachers also used the state troopers to try to harass and intimidate Democratic lawmakers, only stopping when they were afraid they might “create sympathy” for the Democrats. For some reason, CREW was not impressed with this behavior and now wants Fitzgerald to be punished. Imagine that.

I’m sure the FitzWalkerStans needn’t have worried about the public having sympathy for the Democrats; we all get Fox and so we know that Democrats are evil people who do not celebrate the same religion as the pious FitzWalkerStans of the country. Democrats are even known to care about the sick, the vulnerable, and the downtrodden. Ewwww.

WTAQ reports:

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said Fitzgerald was wrong to have state troopers look for the 14 Democratic senators who stayed away for 3 weeks to delay a vote on the union bargaining restrictions. And the group asked the Government Accountability Board to punish Fitzgerald for it.

The Washington ethics group received e-mails sent by Fitzgerald’s staff which suggested numerous penalties for the AWOL Democrats. And the ethics group said Fitzgerald knew the senators couldn’t be arrested when he sent the troopers out.

He said Wednesday the troopers were only trying to help the Senate’s sergeant at arms urge the Democrats to come back. Fitzgerald said arresting them would have been a public relations nightmare. He found the Democrats in contempt, and took away their committee voting powers and direct checking deposits for their paychecks…..
Aide Tad Ottman wrote that he’d be cautious in what they do so, “it doesn’t end up creating sympathy for the Dems.”

On March 1, Hrafnkell Haraldsson first reported for PoliticusUSA CREW’s concern about Walker’s unlawful deployment of state troopers who are not to be deployed in labor disputes, “The laws of Wisconsin are very specific as to when and why the WSP can be employed by the governor, such as civil disorder or threat to the safety of individuals, or a state of emergency, none of which applied. And the governor absolutely cannot employ the WSP “in any dispute or controversy between an employer and employee concerning wages, hours, labor, or working conditions.”

This only seems bad, after all Fitzy may have larger problems if he and Walker violate Sumi’s order again. Then again, since Fitzy and Walker have no regard for the judicial branch of government, why would they care what some Washington watchdog group thinks of them? Psst….boys, just pass a new law making you immune to all other laws and if someone doesn’t like it, send your daddy’s armed troopers out to intimidate them. That’s how we roll in America when the Republicans are in charge.

7 responses so far

As Gov Kasich’s Approval Tanks, Ohio House Passes Anti-Union Bill

Mar 30 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

The Republicans are continuing their war on workers, this time it’s the middle class in Ohio they’re killing.

The Ohio House Republicans passed Republican Gov. John Kasich’s anti-union bill, also known as Senate Bill 5, late Wednesday afternoon, sending it to the Senate for approval of changes made to legislation aimed at limiting the collective bargaining rights of public workers. The Senate may vote on the revised version this evening.

This is all part of the Republicans governors’ unpopularity contest. Kasich, a former Fox News commentator and Lehman Brothers investment banker, has been diving in the polls since he first announced his unpopular plan to kill collective bargaining. On March 14, an Ohio poll showed that 53% of Ohioans wanted the budget balanced with tax increases and spending cuts, and only 40% approved of their Governor. But then on March 23, Quinnipiac University released a poll that showed that 46% disapprove of the way Kasich is handling his job, while only 30% approve.

That’s a pretty steep fall in a remarkably short time; but perhaps it’s not so special in modern day Republican circles. After all, wallowing among the noxious fumes of Bush’s low approval ratings upon leaving office seems to be contagious for Republicans, who refuse to give up W’s already proven failed economic policies. These days, instead of waiting for a year to show us all that they hate us and are incompetent, Republicans give it to us straight out of the gate.

ProgressOhio reports:

After nearly four hours of debate, the Ohio House of Representatives passed an amended version of Senate Bill 5, immediately prompting jeers and boos from the gallery.
The vote passed with 54 members voting in the affirmative, 44 members voting against the measure.

Republicans voting against the Bill were McGregor, Carey, Gardner, Johnson and Kozlowski. All Democrats voted against the Bill.

Speaker Batchelder had the gallery cleared by the highway patrol after the vote was cast. The bill immediately was returned to the Senate for their confirming vote.

While Kasich joins the ranks of exceptionally unpopular Republican governors like Scott Walker, Rick Scott and Rick Snyder in order to implement the nationally planned assault on the middle class and basic human rights, the people continue to show their displeasure, their outrage and their fortitude.

Even if the Senate passes this tonight, the Ohioan Republicans haven’t heard the last of it by any stretch of the imagination. The Republican Party deserves to be branded forever as a bunch of morally-bankrupt, feeble puppets on their knees to a corporate logo while they steal milk from babies.

A more shameful performance by a political party against the people I’ve yet to see.

22 responses so far

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