Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mass strike in UK, riots in Greece

It's not clear how many government workers went on strike today in the UK, but it's a lot. Meanwhile, Greece approved a second austerity budget that will undoubtedly cause more violence.

NPR has the story about the UK:
The unions are saying hundreds of thousands of public workers have joined the strike, but the British government says its borders and air travel have been unaffected.
The Guardian reports that some 11,000 schools, however, have "either closed or cancelled lessons" because of the strike. The Guardian says the number of workers who joined the strike could be as high as 750,000 across the country.

As we reported yesterday, the strikes are just the latest protest against austerity measures in the country.
Here's al Jazeera's take:
British teachers, air traffic controllers, customs officers, and other civil servants are staging a one-day strike over plans to reform public sector pensions in one of the UK's biggest protests over proposed austerity cuts intended to slash the country's budget deficit.
Protestors are demonstrating in many British cities, including London, where thousands marched peacefully in the centre of the city, their route took them in front of the prime minister's office at 10 Downing street.
Mark Serwotka, head of the UK's biggest public sector union, said, “We’re striking now because the government has made it absolutely clear they intend to make our workers work eight years longer, pay thousands of pounds more and get half the pension they currently get.”
In Greece, reports Huffington Post,
Protests continue in Greece after lawmakers approved a new round of sweeping austerity measures amidst a general strike that has brought tens of thousands into the streets.
Riot police have fired volleys of tear gas, smoke bombs and stun grenades in a bid to clear the masses of Greek protesters surrounding the parliament in Athens....
"There's going to be a default right up the road, so they could default now and they could refuse to accept these conditions," says Mark Weisbrot, an economist and the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, on Democracy Now! today. "They may be better off for that, especially, if the result of what is going to play out is years of recession and high unemployment."

Tom Morello rocks the Teamsters

The Night Watchman at the 28th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention.

Perry, Scott AWOL at Kochfest during state emergencies

Hard to imagine that a governor would abandon a state during a disaster. Even harder to imagine that a governor would do it to attend a fundraiser by  union-busting, oil-speculating, thieving billionaires in order to figure out new ways to attack the middle class.

But that's exactly what Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Florida Gov. Rick Scott did last weekend. ThinkProgress has the story:
As Texas faced some of the worst wildfires in its history and a severe drought crisis that has caused the federal government to declare the entire state a disaster area, its governor was schmoozing with well-heeled conservative donors in Vail, Colorado at a retreat organized by the right-wing industrialist Koch brothers. Gov. Rick Perry (R) left his state without notifying constituents or the press and dodged inquiries into his whereabouts....Perry has spent the past two months complaining that the Obama administration has not been paying enough attention to his state’s fires.
Meanwhile, in Florida, days after declaring a state of emergency for his state’s own climate crisis, Gov. Rick Scott (R) disappeared over the weekend, failing to disclose his whereabouts in his public schedule and refusing to respond to numerous press inquiries. Yesterday, Scott finally admitted he left the state without informing his constituents to attend the the Koch summit. Florida press spent most of the past few days trying to track down the rogue governor while more than 300 wildfires continue to burn in the state...
That's leadership for you.

VIDEO: Today's Walker Protest

Another day, another protest of Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Today's expression of outrage was held in front of the Milwaukee Athletic Club, where Walker was sucking up corporate cash attending a fundraiser for son-to-be-recalled state Sen. Alberta Not-So-Darling.

We like the giant puppet of Wisconsin's hacktacular governor.

Union busting worse than we thought

Twenty years ago, 30 percent of employers threatened to shut down a plant if workers joined a union. Now it's 57 percent of all employers, according to a new study by the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy.

And, by the way, threatening to close a workplace is illegal.

The study is especially timely as the National Labor Relations Board is proposing that the election process be reformed to limit employer ability to attack union organizers. As The Huffington Post reports,
The report comes a week after the National Labor Relation Board proposed new rules that if adopted, could make the road to unionization easier by streamlining the election process and -- most critically -- shortening the length of time between organizers gathering a sufficient number of signatures from workers and a union vote.
Typically, elections take place within two months after a petition is filed. The new rules would shorten that time period, though it's unclear by how much. Labor advocates say that almost any compression of the time period would be a good thing: For employees seeking to join a union, each day that passes is another opportunity for the employer to engage in crushing -- and often successful -- anti-union strategies.
The same anti-worker corporations that attack workers' right to organize (and that rip off the taxpayers) are also prodding Republican candidates to attack the NLRB. According to The Hill,
A pro-business group asked Republican presidential candidates to make attacks on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) a centerpiece of their campaigns.
The Workforce Fairness Institute (WFI) is pressing the GOP presidential contenders to take a more active role in opposing the NLRB, which stoked conservatives' ire by filing suit in an attempt to block Boeing from relocating a plant to South Carolina because of the state's right to work laws.

"Business owners and workers around the nation call on you to make opposing the NLRB’s job-killing actions a centerpiece of your campaign," wrote Fred Wszolek of WFI in a letter to the campaigns' managers, and to President Obama. "You can stand up for business owners, workers, job creation and the rule of law by doing so."
Very, very nice.

Today's Teamster News 06.30.11

WI Recall: New Daily Kos polling shows path to victory  Daily Kos   ...In August, months and months of effort will culminate in a set of unprecedented recall elections in the state of Wisconsin, focused on a single aim: taking back the state Senate from Republicans and dealing a major blow to Gov. Scott Walker's war against the middle class, students, and above all, unions...
Record 1.3M back vote to torpedo Senate Bill 5  Toledo Blade   ...6,000 (people) paraded through downtown Columbus to file boxes containing 51,000 petitions...
Benton Harbor Emergency Manager restricts park access  Michigan Messenger   ...Locals are no longer allowed to take early morning walks in the park under an order issued by Benton Harbor’s Emergency Manager Joe Harris...
Rick Scott Admits He Was in Colorado for Koch Brothers Retreat  Broward-Palm Beach New Times   ...We finally have an answer as to where Gov. Rick Scott was this weekend, and it confirms our suspicion: at the billionaire Koch brothers' secret conference outside Vail, Colorado...
Minnesota government shutdown hours away  Politico   ...Minnesota is on the verge of a government meltdown if it does not pass a budget by the end of the day Thursday - potentially shuttering highway rest stops, suspending low-income child care, and even closing the state zoo...
LePage vows to renew union dues fight next year  Kennebec Journal   ...A day before the expiration of state workers' union contracts, Gov. Paul LePage told lawmakers Wednesday that he will push again next year for legislation to stop requiring nonunion state workers to pay a portion of union dues...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

VIDEO: NYC greets Walker with rat

Can Koch whore Scott Walker go anywhere without running into a protest? He went to New York City yesterday to suck up some corporate cash. He was greeted by protesters and our buddy, the giant inflatable rat.

The hacktacular governor will meet more protesters tomorrow outside the Milwaukee Athletic Club. He'll be attending a big-dollar fundraiser for soon-to-be-former state Sen. Alberta Darling. The Facebook page about the event is here.

Here's another question: When does this guy govern? All he seems to do is attend fundraisers and fend off protesters.

'We're angry,' says Crumlin at IBT convention (VIDEO)

Teamsters vowed to organize in the face of resistance by anti-union political regimes and by powerful multinationals during the second day of their 28th Convention.

They passed several resolutions about global solidarity, including one that stated,
...the future of working people and the future of our great Union depends on our ability to organize the unorganized and to build alliances with workers throughout the world.
Another resolution honored Mansour Osanloo, the leader of the Tehran Bus Workers Union, by making him an honorary Teamster. Osanloo was sentenced to five years in prison in July 2007 after being dragged from a Tehran bus by Iranian security forces. He was charged with “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the state” because he helped found a democratic trade union for bus drivers in Tehran.

Paddy Crumlin, president of the Maritime Union of Australia, gave a rock 'em, sock 'em speech about sticking together. He said
We are here because we are angry about what is being done to workers and because we want to do something about it.
Together, brothers and sisters of the Teamsters, we are the difference for working people and their future.
Teamsters passed a resolution supporting global solidarity that said, in part,
...the International Brotherhood of Teamsters recognize that the future of working people and the future of our great Union depends on our ability to organize the unorganized and to build alliances with workers throughout the world. We will particularly focus on the global supply chains where we are uniquely positioned to build Teamster power...
Follow convention proceedings here.

VIDEO: Awesome Walker protest

Ya gotta see this. It's a hilarious protest of Koch whore Scott Walker at Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. We especially like the sailboat that sails behind him with a "RECALL SCOTT WALKER" sail.

Wonkette has a great take on the protest of Wisconsin's hacktacular governor:
...The hippies open their show ominously, holding their “Recall Walker” protest signs as they float silently in their protest canoes behind Walker.
Then, uh oh, they are surrounding the event area. Closing in! They chant at him whenever he stands up. Hey, Scott Walker has a massive bald spot and he is sweaty, and he is probably going more bald just from this event. He wishes the Koch Brothers would just murder all these hippies right now, with poison. Aren’t they doing that anyway? It’s not working fast enough.
Finally, the hippies just cold surround Walker and shove their protest signs in his face while he sweats himself to death. One hero protester manages to say right in his face, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”

1.3M signatures in OH!!

What an awesome effort. Hundreds of people today marched in the People's Parade in Columbus to deliver nearly five times as many signatures as are needed to put SB5 on the November ballot.

WKBN reports:
Hundreds took to the streets in Columbus this morning as part of what is being called the 'People's Parade.'
Those taking part in the event are opposed to Senate Bill 5 and delivered nearly 1.3 million signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State's Office in an effort to get the measure on the November ballot.

The opponents needed at least 231,000 signatures. They want to repeal the law, which limits collective bargaining and bans strikes by public employees.
We learn from We Are Ohio that 1,298,301 signatures have been collected to put Senate Bill 5 on the ballot for a citizens veto.

Tim Burga, president of Ohio's AFL-CIO, calls it "a historic moment for Ohio."  Burga said,
This unprecedented number is a record for any Ohio ballot initiative and shows that Ohioans are fed up with Gov. Kasich's extreme partisan agenda.
More than 10,000 volunteers participated in this effort and the Ohio AFL-CIO and the 650,000 working families it represents commend their hard work and dedication to going ahead and beyond to repeal this anti-working family bill. When the measure is approved by the State of Secretary, the Ohio AFL-CIO, working in coalition with the We Are Ohio campaign, will immediately turn our attention to continuing to educate voters on the detrimental effects Senate Bill 5 will have on communities across the state.

This is not just a referendum on Senate Bill 5, it is a referendum on Kasich and his political allies blatant assault on working families and the middle class. Senate Bill 5 has galvanized a true grassroots movement of Ohioans who have stood up and made their voice heard, not only on Senate Bill 5, but also on Kasichs jobs killing budget, bills that would suppress the vote, and a slew of other attacks.

(LIVESTREAM) Watch SB5 parade in OH

Streaming Video by Ustream.TV

Woo-hoo! Citizens parade in Columbus to deliver petitions to repeal SB5 in November. We understand a Teamster is at the wheel of the semi filled with more than 1 million signatures. We're going to kill that bill in November! Watch here.

Today's Teamster News 06.29.11

After heated debate, Wis. union law takes effect  Wisconsin State Journal   ...The changes amount to an average 8 percent pay cut. The bill also strips them of almost all their collective bargaining rights, allowing them to negotiate only on wages...
Protesters, and rats, greet Scott Walker in New York  Capitol Confidential   ...“Say it loud! Say it clear! Scott Walker is not welcome here!” chanted a gaggle of union members and supporters...
State Senate passes budget that will change Ohio  Columbus Dispatch   ...Local governments, nursing homes, schools and universities must make do with less...
Christie signs bill reining in employee benefits  Associated Press   ...New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed landmark employee benefits legislation that increases pension and health contributions paid by a half-million teachers, police and other public workers and removes the issue from collective bargaining for four years...
Malloy: With union deal dead, legislature may have to force change  The Connecticut Mirror   ...Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today he will explore legislative options to curtail what he called state government's unsustainable, long-term health and pension costs, but he refused to say if he will seek a curb on collective-bargaining rights for state employees...
Calif. bill would ease farmworker unionization  Associated Press   ...Gov. Jerry Brown has until midnight Tuesday to act on a bill that would make it easier for unions to organize farmworkers in California, but growers characterize the legislation as a union power-grab...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Woo-hoo! Another Teamster organizing victory in IN

Teamsters welcome more than 3,000 pilots for Republic Airways Holdings who voted to join or stay with the union.

Pilots for Republic, a newly-merged airline, chose Teamsters by a  margin of 2-to-1, the National Mediation Board announced yesterday.

Thousands of Teamsters, their families and their guests greeted the news with deafening applause at the 28th International Brotherhood of Teamsters Convention. The union already represented more airline workers -- mechanics, pilots and fleet service workers -- than any other union in North America. The organizing victory brought Teamsters' airline membership to about 65,000 workers.

Our Republic brothers and sisters are members of Local 357 in Indianapolis.

Local 357 Executive Council Chairman Capt. Patrick Gannon said he looks forward to joining with the other pilot groups. He said,
We can now move forward with our goal of one list, one voice, one contract.
Republic is the result of a merger among Republic Airlines, Chautauqua Airlines, Shuttle America, Frontier Airlines, Lynx Aviation and Midwest Airlines. Republic pilots were already Teamsters. The Teamsters defended and retained union representation for 2000 current members in the merged airline and won an additional 1,100 new members.

Previously, Frontier pilots were represented by the Frontier Airlines Pilot Association (FAPA). Midwest pilots were represented by the Air Line Pilot Association (ALPA) and Lynx was represented by the United Transportation Union (UTU). In 2009, Republic Airways placed the winning bid in an auction to acquire the then-bankrupt Frontier Airlines.

Today's Teamster News 06.28.11

Updated: Sheriff investigating Wis. Supreme Court argument  Associated Press   ...A fight between Wisconsin's divided Supreme Court justices led today to a criminal investigation and calls from the governor and others to resolve longstanding differences and restore public confidence in the institution...
Wisconsin Teachers React To Gov. Scott Walker's Newly Signed Budget Huffington Post   ...This weekend, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) signed into law a budget that scrapped $800 million in education funding following an earlier law that reduced collective bargaining rights to almost nothing...
GOP wants to keep the riffraff out of Ohio's polls: Thomas Suddes  Cleveland Plain Dealer   ...Southern segregationists used the poll tax to keep black Americans and poor Americans from voting. Today, Republicans want to require a photo ID from an Ohioan before he or she may vote...
Indiana's bumpy road to privatization  Los Angeles Times   ...After the private sector took over the state's public assistance program, services were disrupted while politically connected firms benefited...
Legislature to hammer out final details of state budget this week  Associated Press  ...Stark differences in party policy and ideology will be fully exposed this week as Republicans and Democrats hammer out the details of New Jersey’s state budget for the fiscal year that starts Friday...
Republicans doing harm to N.H. residents   ...On June 22, the Republican supermajorities in the N.H. House and Senate launched an all-out attack on the people they were elected to serve...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Woo-hoo! Hansen challenger kicked off ballot in WI

Great news! A challenger to our Teamster brother, Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Hansen, has been disqualified from the recall election. has the story:
The Government Accountability Board today ruled GOP state Rep. John Nygren didn't have enough valid signatures on his nomination papers to qualify for the ballot in the 30th SD recall election.
The board found Nygren, R-Marinette, had 398 valid signatures, two short of what he needed. Earlier in the afternoon, the board rejected a challenge to Republican David Vanderleest's nomination papers, leaving him the only Republican on the ballot to challenge Dem Sen. Dave Hansen.
Greg Sargent at the Washington Post explains why this is a big break for the Democrats:
...what happened here is that one of the Dem state senators that Dems and labor thought was genuinely vulnerable to a recall challenge — Dave Hansen — will now no longer face his toughest challenger...
We Are Wisconsin's spokesman Kelly Steele had something to say about that:
The recall efforts in Senate District 30 have seen unprecedented allegations of fraud and corruption, and it’s unfortunate that the man who oversaw and defended of much of that fraud – David VanderLeest – remains on the ballot.

Nevertheless, voters will now face a stark choice between Dave Hansen’s consistent record of standing up for middle class working families against Scott Walker’s radical agenda, and candidate David VanderLeest – whose rap sheet reads like a directory of the Wisconsin state criminal code.

The Teamsters are in the building

It’s hard to get noticed in Las Vegas, but several thousand Teamsters, their families and guests are managing to do it. Proud Teamsters in their Teamster gear paraded through hotels, met in conference rooms and rehearsed their appearances on the grand and glitzy stage. Outside the Paris Hotel, tourists took photos of Teamsters posing in front of the gleaming red-white-and-blue Teamster semi-tractor trailer from Joint Council 42.

Teamsters from all over the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are gathering today for the first time in five years. Day One’s agenda of the 28th annual IBT convention is focusing on the War on Workers, combining solemnity with fervor, formality with music, world-renowned celebrities and rank-and-file Teamsters.

General-Secretary Treasurer Tom Keegel -- aptly introduced as "a Teamster's Teamster" -- said the war on workers is going full blast. Keegel set the tone with his vow:
There’s no way they’re going to bust us or take us down because it ain’t gonna happen.
The morning began with a rock ‘em, sock’em, opening: an ear-splitting drum tattoo, a throng of protesters waving “Stop the War on Workers signs, "We Won't Get Fooled Again," and yes, a dozen Harleys roaring through the enormous hall.  

Teamsters quickly dispatched committee business – appointments, reports and resolutions.

And then the first resolution: Vision, Solidarity, Action.  Teamsters resolved to fight the war on workers. We'll have that for you soon.

Prosser Watch: Fox says alleged victim should resign

You can't make this up. Fox News natterer Greta Van Susteren said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson should resign because Walker clone  Justice David Prosser tried to choke Justice Ann Walsh Bailey.

ThinkProgress has the story:
Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren has called for the resignation not of Prosser but Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson:
And while I have no idea who is off the wall (Justice Prosser or Justice Walsh or both), I do know one thing, CHIEF JUSTICE SHIRLEY ABRAHAMSON sure is not doing her job to lead the court and to give confidence to the people of Wisconsin. She needs to step aside and let someone else attempt to run that zoo.
Abrahamson is a previous victim of Prosser’s abusive behavior. In March, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “Justice David Prosser exploded at Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson behind closed doors, calling her a ‘bitch’ and threatening to ‘destroy’ her.” While Prosser admitted he “probably overreacted,” he also said his outburst was “entirely warranted.” Bradley, Prosser’s latest alleged victim, wrote an email to the other justices complaining of his behavior.
Isn't that what abusers do -- blame the victim?

Today's Teamster News 06.27.11

Union contracts will come to an end on Wednesday  Wisconsin State Journal   ...Tens of thousands of teachers and government workers will be without union contracts for the first time in decades on Wednesday...
State PBA Filing Suit Over Pension Changes  Belleville Patch   ...The ongoing debate over the landmark pension and health benefits reform package expected to be signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie on Monday will soon be heading to New Jersey's courts...
Follow the exit signs  Columbus Dispatch   ...Amid a push by Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly to reduce public workers' take-home pay, benefits and collective-bargaining rights, state and local governments are seeing the biggest exodus of experienced workers in recent history, perhaps ever...
'Most Restrictive' Voter ID Law In The Country Loses Support Of Republican Secretary Of State  Talking Points Memo   ...Ohio's measure is so restrictive -- it requires the photo IDs to be issued by the state, so voters couldn't identify themselves with their full Social Security numbers -- that it lost the support of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted...
FACT CHECK: McKenna campaigns with faulty data  Associated Press   ...(Washington State Attorney General) Rob McKenna launched his campaign for governor recently with a vow to curb the costs of personnel in state government, citing statistics that drew gasps from his audience of supporters...
The Selling of the World: Privatization Schemes Proliferate  firedoglake   ... Greece essentially must sell the family silver – their ports, their state-run water supply systems, their utility company, their telephone company – to get out of the mess created largely by the financial crisis and the Great Recession...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

WI gets its protest on today

Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker managed to sign his budget to destroy the middle class at a company NOT owned by a convicted tax felon today. He didn't manage to avoid the protesters though. jessarp24 has the story from the Badger State.

NY Times picks up Prosser chokehold story

It didn't take long for the story about Walker clone Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser attacking a fellow judge to hit the mainstream media.

The New York Times picked up the story about the judge putting his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley's neck during an argument about Wisconsin's collective bargaining law.

Here's the Times' take on it:
...signs of a strong philosophical debate within the court reached a different level with a report published on Saturday suggesting that the argument had, shortly before the release of the ruling on collective bargaining, turned physical.
The report by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Radio described an episode in which three unnamed sources said that Justice David T. Prosser had grabbed another justice, Ann Walsh Bradley, around the neck during an argument in her chambers this month.
Now of course the Koch-backed Tea Party front groups are claiming Justice Bradley attacked Prosser. Um, there were three witnesses who said that didn't happen.

And Here's what Bradley said late Saturday:
The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold. Those are the facts and you can try to spin those facts and try to make it sound like I ran up to him and threw my neck into his hands, but that's only spin.
Matters of abusive behavior in the workplace aren't resolved by competing press releases.
I'm confident the appropriate authorities will conduct a thorough investigation of this incident involving abusive behavior in the workplace.
The Tea Party plans a singalong in the Wisconsin Capitol on Monday to counter the 15 weeks of enthusiastic Solidarity Singalongs by union members and their allies. (You'll recall a Tea Partier slugged a Solidarity Singer last week. What is it with these people?)

Tweeted @joevittie:
Tea Party Singalong to open with David Prosser leading Ted Nugent cover version of "Stranglehold"

No arrests at Kochapalooza

Here are the 50 patriotic Americans who protested Koch brothers corruption outside of the latest Kochtopus confab in Vail, Colo.

@ProgressNowCO tweets:

Could there be a more beautiful place to protest Koch Bros corruption? CO represents. 

Colorado Progressives to Koch Brothers: End Your War on the Middle Class
@APkristenwyat tweets:
Common Cause Colo. reports Koch protest over, about 50 people attended, no arrests or problems.
Progress Now Colorado gives us this report on the last-minute protest at Beaver Creek:
Progressives from around Colorado gathered today near a top strategy meeting of conservative funders, officials, and opinion makers near Vail, Colorado organized by the billionaire Koch brothers, to demand an end to recent attacks on Medicare and Social Security, and other institutions vital to the middle class in America.
"The billionaire Koch brothers are leading funders of the Tea Party, and the countless unnamed groups who appear on TV every election spreading misinformation," said Kjersten Forseth, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. "Their agenda is simple: they want to dismantle Medicare and Social Security, cut education and every other source of public funding beneficial to America's middle class, while giving the wealthy and big corporations even more tax breaks."
"This secret conference is where they plot the next steps," said Forseth.

Koch bro buys pix for $2.3 M

Wow. William Koch bought a rare photo of Billy the Kid for $2.3 million yesterday in Denver. Just in time for the Kochapalooza his brothers are hosting today at a posh resort in Vail, Colo.

$2.3 million for a picture. And William is a poor relation to his notorious brothers, Charles and David, the union-busting, oil-speculating, thieving billionaires.

William is the one who blew the whistle on Koch Industries' theft of oil from public lands. Reports Watchdog Progressive:

In 1999, William Koch brought a civil suit against his brothers, Charles and David Koch of Koch Industries, under the False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to file suit on behalf of the federal government. The accusation? William Koch accused Koch Industries of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in oil from federal lands. The suit was settled two years later by Charles Koch who agreed to pay $25 million in penalties to the federal government to have the suit dismissed.
We don't have much news yet from the protest today in Vail, where the brothers are holding their confab on destroying the middle class. We do like this tweet, though, from @trickyclones:
billionaires don't jumpstart the economy. middle class consumers do. america, stop drinking the koch!

Secret VIDEO: Kasich thanks Koch front group

Whoa. Here's corporate stooge Ohio Gov. John Kasich posted a secret video on youtube thanking the Kochtopus group Americans for Prosperity (the Tea Party). He tells them
 "... in the four months that I've been Governor, we've accomplished a lot in Ohio... in all of these efforts the strong support of Americans for Prosperity has made a really big difference...
Progress Ohio reports Kasich recorded the video using state resources. Funny, we thought the Tea Party was against Big Government.

Kasich calls the Koch acolytes "Fighters for Freedom" and says,'s so important that Ohio's fighters for freedom, the grassroots leaders of Americans for Prosperity, continue to lend their support to the effort to get Ohio back on track."
(NOTE: We do need to know whether Kasich plans to fly to Vail for the Kochapalooza that starts today.)
The video is secret because it's unlisted. That means only people who have the link can see it. Well, here's the link.

Today's Teamster News 06.26.11

John Nichols: Walker’s pay-to-play state budget  The Cap Times   ...Walker’s budget, the most fiscally and economically irresponsible in Wisconsin history, cheats Wisconsin taxpayers, families and communities in order to pay off his political benefactors...
Kasich’s $55.5 Billion Ohio Budget Will Sell Prisons  Bloomberg News   ...Kasich said there will be efforts apart from the budget to have companies take over state assets or services, including the lottery and the 241-mile (388-kilometer) Ohio Turnpike...
Financial Martial Law (P.A. 4) repeal gets a jump start in Ann Arbor  Eclectablog   ...nearly 100 local activists, concerned citizens and organizers got together for an informational townhall meeting...
Banner year for companies, not consumers  Palm Beach Post   ...The insurance bill Crist vetoed last year got passed and signed under Scott. It allows insurance companies to jack up rates 15 percent without getting approval from the Office of Insurance Regulation...
Workers target LePage at rally  Kennebec Journal   ...Workers rallied at the State House on Saturday to criticize Gov. Paul LePage for rejecting an offer to extend state worker contracts with no pay raises and for his decision to hire a (union-busting) New York lawyer to conduct negotiations...
Even for Cashiers, College Pays Off  New York Times   ...The educated American masses helped create the American century, as the economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz have written...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Prosser grabs female justice by neck

Whoa! Walker clone Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser grabbed another justice -- a woman -- by the neck during an argument over the law to destroy collective bargaining rights.

According to,
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly grabbed fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley around the neck in an argument in her chambers last week, according to at least three knowledgeable sources.
Details of the incident, investigated jointly by Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, remain sketchy. The sources spoke on the condition that they not be named, citing a need to preserve professional relationships.

They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands.

Justice Prosser, contacted Friday afternoon by the Center, declined comment.
As @KagroX tweeted,
Justice Prosser defends Wisconsin from "union thugs" by strangling another Justice.

Update on Koch CO confab

Details are trickling out about the Koch brothers' latest conference in Vail on how to destroy the middle-class.

The Facebook event page, Uncloak the Kochs, is posting information about carpools to a Sunday protest at Nottingham Lake Park in Avon. Though the union-busting billionaires are trying to keep the details of the event secret, many people are betting the Koch event will be at the Ritz Carlton Bachelors Gulch. It's a luxury hotel in foreclosure. The financial trouble of the resort's owner
...stems from its deals with Lehman Brothers, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal. (Isn't that just perfect?)
Common Cause Colorado and Progress Now Colorado are organizing the protest against the union-busting, oil speculating, thieving billionaire brothers.

And Associated Press gets it exactly wrong in reporting "liberals" will protest the "conservative" Koch brothers. There's nothing conservative about destroying the environment, plundering the government and impoverishing working families.

As Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa once pointed out, the central political battle isn't between "right" and "left," "liberal" and "conservative," but the "individual" and the "corporation."
If you understand politics as a battle between liberal and conservative, then you don't understand politics at all.
The central political battle today is between the corporate billionaires on one side and the little guy on the other. The fight is about whether the government should protect corporate power to enrich a few billionaires, or restrict corporate power to protect the liberty and property of the average American.
We know which side the Koch brothers are on.

Today's Teamster News 06.25.11

Can the Union Bill Be Rolled Back?  Milwaukee Express   ...State Rep. Mark Pocan and state Sen. Fred Risser—both Democrats—have announced that they're drafting legislation that would roll back the horrible collective bargaining bill...
What To Watch For In The Wisconsin Recall Elections  National Journal   ...Republicans hold a 19-14 advantage in the state Senate, so Democrats have to net three seats during the recall elections to take control of the chamber...
Medicaid cuts could cost Ohio billions  Columbus Dispatch   ...The Republican plan also would cost Ohio thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in lost business, a study released yesterday found...
House OKs plan eliminating retiree health care insurance  Lansing State Journal   ...Michigan lawmakers advanced another proposal Thursday to eliminate retiree health care insurance for future and most current members of the Legislature...
Poll: Rick Scott’s unpopularity handicapping GOP prez candidates in Florida  St. Petersblog   ...A plurality of Florida voters say they are less inclined to support a Republican presidential candidate in 2012 because of the way their freshman GOP governor has acted since taking office...
Unions fend off right-to-work bill in New Hampshire  Wall Street Journal   ...Amid a year of relentless challenges to their power around the country, unions notched a victory this week when New Hampshire Republicans failed to muster enough votes to override the governor's veto of a right-to-work bill...
8 Signs Your Governor Has a Koch Problem   ...Are they planning on attending the upcoming Koch brothers invitation-only strategy session in ritzy Vail, Colorado?...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Paul Ryan. Radioactive.

Separated at birth from Eddie Munster?
There's a lot to dislike about a lot of Badger State Republicans. One of the biggest tools in the Wisconsin GOP's Middle Class Destruction Box is Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who's trying to kill Medicare.

Ryan's not too popular these days. Politico reports that Republicans running for election are distancing themselves from his plan to enrich insurance companies and take health care away from all but the wealthiest Americans. Doofus Former Sen. George Allen of Macacaville Virginia recently tied himself into knots dodging a question about how he would have voted on Ryan's plan. According to Politico,

Pressed further, Allen said, “I’m not a U.S. senator. If I were a U.S. senator, yes, I would vote yes or no on it.”
And here's Politico on Florida Senate president Mike Haridopolous:

Pushed repeatedly by an Orlando-based host — nine times in 4½ minutes — to say how he would have voted on the plan, the Florida state Senate president would only offer, “I’m not going to get into that today.”

The exasperated host finally lashed out, “Get him off my phone. I don’t want anything to do with this guy. Get rid of him,” before cutting the line.
Ken Blackwell, Ohio's former secretary of state, actually supports the plan. And he's running for office. The Gooznews blog has Blackwell figured:
(Blackwell) plans to take on Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown next year. “We need to elect conservatives who will have the courage to take the tough votes and stand with the conservatives already serving in the Senate,” he wrote in National Review. “A good place to start will be to support only those Republicans who had the courage to support the Ryan budget.”
I was there in 1979 when Blackwell, then a Democrat elected to the Cincinnati City Council as a member of the reform Charter Party, switched sides in a vote on giving a tax break to a luxury high-rise along that city’s riverfront. As the head of the local Ohio Public Interest Campaign, I had lobbied hard to prevent that tax break, which deprived local schools of much-needed revenue. His cave-in to the local real estate industry and eventual switch to the Republican Party marked the beginning of his long and lucrative career catering to the rich.

Protest Scott Walker in NYC on Tues

We were thinking maybe it's time for Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker to start paying attention to job creation in Wisconsin. Ever since he got elected he's been acting like a baby with a nail gun, raising taxes on the poor, giving millionares tax breaks, destroying government unions, shrinking essential services for Wisconsin's middle class and increasing joblessness in nearly all of Wisconsin's cities.

Even a mouth-breather like Walker has got to realize that he's bound to be recalled in 191 days if he doesn't turn things around. Especially after making the enormous blunder of planning a budget-signing ceremony at a company owned by a felonious tax evader.

But no, he's jetting to New York City on Tuesday to head a swanky fundraiser for the chairman of the Republican National Committee. That'll create a lot of jobs in Wisconsin, won't it? Actually, it will inspire a protest. Here are the deets:
Tuesday, June 28. Grand Army Plaza Park, 5th Avenue between 58th and 60th Streets 
(Across the street from the Sherry Netherland Hotel). The fundraiser runs from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Perhaps the good people from Bloombergville would like to join.

Stay tuned. We'll have more on this.

Teamsters protest confab to rip off taxpayers

Today in Florida a seminar was held on how to corrupt the political process, damage the middle class, rip off U.S. taxpayers and incarcerate as many poor people as possible. Only they didn't call it that. They called it the Government Services Privatization Conference.

Florida Teamsters called it by its right name when they protested today outside of the confab:
"Looking for further opportunities to sell our vital state services to the lowest bidder."

That was Teamsters International Vice President Ken Wood, who's also president of Joint Council 75. And here's what William C.F. Muse, a retired FDOC colonel had to say:
We know what dangerous criminals are capable of. We work hard to keep the public safe, and putting the public’s security in the hands of companies looking to make a big profit is wrong.
Just yesterday, the Justice Policy Institute released a study showing how prison companies profit through the suffering of mostly poor people. JPI reported
The three main companies have contributed $835,514 to federal candidates and over $6 million to state politicians. They have also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct lobbying efforts. CCA has spent over $900,000 on federal lobbying and GEO spent anywhere from $120,000 to $199,992 in Florida alone during a short three-month span this year.

Meanwhile, “the relationship between government officials and private prison companies has been part of the fabric of the industry from the start,” notes the report. The cofounder of CCA himself used to be the chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party...
In Arizona, 30 of the 36 legislators who co-sponsored the state’s controversial immigration law that would undoubtedly put more immigrants behind bars received campaign contributions from private prison lobbyists or companies.
Florida's chief predator Gov. Rick Scott and the mini-predators Florida legislature recently passed a state budget that lets the state to privatize prisons in 18 counties. That could eliminate 4,300 correctional officer jobs with the FDOC, the third largest prison system in the nation.

Here's one question: What will these people feast on when they've finally devoured every last morsel from the carcass of the middle class?

CA sen stands up for BMW Teamsters

Here's someone else who thinks it's wrong for a German automaker to kick American Teamsters to the curb after accepting a low-interest loan of $3.6 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States: California Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Boxer wrote a letter to the head of BMW in the U.S., Jim O'Donnell. Boxer wrote,
As the economic recovery continues, it is deeply disappointing that these loyal employees would be penalized at a time when your company recently reported 2011 first quarter earnings of $1.78 billion -- triple that of first quarter earnings in 2010 -- and first quarter sales 21 percent greater than last year.
BMW's plan is to fire its loyal and hardworking workers from its Ontario, Calif., warehouse, then reopen with a cheaper less experienced work force. Nice, hunh?

Here's what brother Bob Lennox, secretary-treasurer of Local 495, had to say:
They think they can take an American taxpayer bailout and then treat their American workers in a way they would never treat their German employees.
California Rep. Joe Baca also wrote a letter. You can read it here.

Walker cancels budget-signing ceremony at tax felon's company

We thought Koch whore Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was completely and utterly shameless, but we were wrong. The mouth-breathing guv has a tiny shred of awareness that it looks bad to sign a budget that raises taxes on the poor and cuts them on millionaires at a business owned by someone who spent three months in prison for felony tax evasion.

After ThinkProgress, broke the story of the tax-cheating business owner, the Milwauke Journal-Sentinel reports,
Gov. Scott Walker has called off plans to sign the 2011-'13 budget bill at a private Green Bay-area company run by an executive with six felony convictions, a spokesman announced today.
The announcement came less than an hour after the Journal Sentinel contacted the governor's office to ask about the executive's criminal history.

Walker aide Cullen Werwie said his office would be announcing a new location soon for the budget ceremony on Sunday. 
Werwie acknowledged that Walker's advance team had erred by not conducting a thorough background check on Gregory A. DeCaster, chief executive officer of Badger Sheet Metal Works in Ashwaubenon.

The truth about the economy in 2 min. (VIDEO)

Watch this video. It only takes 2 minutes and 15 seconds to learn the truth about our economy. Courtesy of Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary.

Walker tops Scott in budget-signing scandal

(Above: Video of a  protest against Wisconsin's savage budget, with thanks to Blue Cheddar)

Wow. You didn't think it could get any worse than Florida Gov. Predator Rick Scott's budget-signing ceremony. You know, the one where he signed a budget for public spending at a private event and used publicly funded sheriff's deputies to kick out elderly Democrats?

Leave it to Koch whore Gov. Scott Walker to outsleaze Scott. This Sunday Walker will sign the Wisconin budget, which raises taxes on the poor and cuts them for corporations and the wealthy, at a business owned by a tax felon.

Walker's host for the signing of the shameful budget will be Greg DeCoster, owner of Badger Metal Works. DeCaster was sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion back in 1995. Writes Think Progress,
While none of this should cast aspersion on Mr. DeCaster, who served his time in jail dutifully and has paid his debt to society, it is fitting that Walker would choose to sign a budget that absolves the rich from paying their fair share at a business owned by someone who was once convicted of the felony of tax evasion.
You just can't make this up.

WI solidarity with NJ

Wisconsin offers solidarity to New Jersey.
@madjanetJD: Solidarity from #Wiunion "The first thing we did right was the day we started to fight. Hold on, hold on." #standupnj
What happened yesterday in New Jersey was another attack on the middle class through the erosion of collective bargaining rights. Complicit Democrats in the legislative leadership enabled lardass NJ Gov. Chris Christie to go all Koch whore Scott Walker on workers. A budget "compromise" was crafted. Government workers' collective bargaining rights for health care were destroyed, and workers were required to contribute more for their benefits and pension plans.

The peerless David Dayen writes,
Unions in New Jersey actually have no collective bargaining guarantee other than health benefits, so this eliminates pretty much their main bargaining chip.
The legislation will impact 750,000 public workers and retirees
Let's be clear: The reason New Jersey's pension system is in a shambles is that irresponsible governors going back to Christie Todd Whitman skipped pension payments, mismanaged the funds and engaged in such fraud that the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the state. Lawyers, accountants and bond underwriters (i.e., Wall Street) were all paid well for promoting the fraud. When New Jersey settled the case, none of the lawyers, accountants or bond underwriters paid the slightest penalty. They weren't even named so that the public would be aware of their disgraceful behavior.

The issue here isn't that workers are unwilling to share in the sacrifice. It's the millionaires who aren't willing. And remember, some of them profited from New Jersey's pension fraud. Christie vetoed a tax hike on millionaires last year and he'll do it again. @cwatbruno tweeted it best:
A millionaire can't afford a 1% tax but a public worker making $35K can pay10% to pay for healthcare!!!! Great logic! #standupnj #njpension
Taking workers' collective bargaining rights away prevents them from sitting down at the table and negotiating a fair solution to a difficult problem. That's what workers are steamed about. Rightfully so.
Here's how bluejersey describes the mood:
We shall rise from the ashes and the flames of our wings shall burn out of office the traitors and heretics who sacrificed our rights.
Let June 23rd, 2011 be remembered as the day that marked the end of every Christiecrats political career.

If we don't stand together, we fall alone.
Wisconsinites offer this crucial tip to their brothers and sisters in New Jersey: Get twigged to twitter. Click here for a quick guide from Wisco, where the art of twitter-inspired protest was perfected.

Kochapalooza protest planned for Sun.

Good news! We've found out where the Kochs are holding their next strategy session to destroy the middle class. It will be Sunday through Tuesday in Beaver Creek, Colo. Colorado Common Cause is organizing a family-friendly protest, so if you can be there, go!!

Here are the deets:

Meet at 11 a.m. at Nottingham Lake Park located at 1 Lake Street, Avon, Colo.,  right below the Ritz Carlton at Bachelor Gulch. The protest will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause, writes,
Please bring signs, but not ones mounted on sticks or anything that could be construed as a weapon. Some sign suggestions would be "UnVail the Kochs", "Corporations are not people", "Koch + Thomas = Supreme Conflict", "Reverse Citizens United", "Money does not equal speech" and "Stop the War on the Middle Class." ...
I realize this comes on short notice, and that just what the Kochs want. They've managed to keep this event under wraps until now precisely to keep folks like you and me from showing up. Let's not let them get away with it.
The only reason we know as much as we do about the latest Kochapalooza (they have them twice a year) is that Cradle of Treason Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell let slip his plan to be there. As the Vail Daily reported, 
When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's office announced his upcoming travel plans Wednesday, word got out that the annual Koch brothers' summer seminar was being held in Vail this weekend...
A recent study by The Center for Public Integrity, a Washington-based watchdog, found that Koch Industries, the brothers' Kansas-based energy company that is the second largest private company in the United States, has increased its spending on lobbying from $856,000 in 2004 to $20 million in the last two years. The report also shows the company had $100 billion in revenues in 2009. 
Click here for the link to the Facebook event page.

VIDEO: 1st WI recall ad

Shelly Moore, a Wisconsin teacher, is running against Subsidy Sheila Harsdorf for state Senate in the upcoming recall election. We Are Wisconsin is up with the first television commercial of the recalls.

Here's the Huffington Post on the campaign:
The labor-backed progressive group We Are Wisconsin has launched its first television ad of the upcoming recall elections, targeting state Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls).
Harsdorf is one of six Republican state senators facing recall in August, all of whom voted in March for the measure stripping public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. Three Democrats also have recall elections this summer.
The first We Are Wisconsin ad is supporting Harsdorf's main Democratic challenger Shelly Moore, a public school teacher and active member of the Wisconsin Education Association Council union.

Today's Teamster News 06.24.11

N.J. Assembly passes landmark employee benefits overhaul   ...New Jersey lawmakers tonight voted to enact a sweeping plan to cut public worker benefits after a long day of high-pitched political drama in the streets of Trenton and behind closed doors...
Effects of the Biennial Budget and Budget Repair Bills for Working Families  Wisconsin Council on Children and Families   ...Earned Income Tax Credit -- $56 Million Tax Increase for 152,000 Working Families...
Unemployment up in most Wisconsin cities  LaCrosse Tribune   ...A report from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development released today shows that unemployment rates increased in 25 cities with a population of 25,000 people or more...
Husted says Kasich's divide and conquer is a no go  Columbus Dispatch   ...Secretary of State Jon Husted's office issued a statement this morning that the Ohio Ballot Board could not split a referendum into multiple issues - which could throw a wrench into Gov. John Kasich and his allies' plans to defend Senate Bill 5...
The Indiana Exception? Yes, but...  New York Times   ...Hundreds of thousands of Indiana residents are unemployed and underemployed...a striking number of people here...have simply left the work force altogether since the dawn of the recession...
Bills Would Cap Public Employer Health Insurance Contributions   ...Font Size: The Republican-led Michigan Legislature continued its efforts Thursday toward requiring many public employees to pay more of their own health insurance costs...Critics consider it an attack on collective bargaining rights...
Union fights freeze on longevity pay for R.I. state workers   ...Flyers popping up all over the State House urge workers to call their local legislators and "ask them to oppose proposals that take away our ability to negotiate longevity and retiree medical benefits.''...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WI's accidental activists

Watch this amazing trailer for a documentary-in-progress about the Wisconsin protests. Learn more here.

2 NJ funerals today

One was held in Trenton, N.J. The other was held at the Royal Poinciana Chapel in Palm Beach Florida.

The first was a funeral for the death of collective bargaining and the Democratic Party as we know it. It was held during the biggest protest of the year -- The Second Battle of Trenton -- in New Jersey.  Union members and their allies are trying to prevent the state Assembly from concurring with the Senate on an anti-worker bill. It would destroy workers' collective bargaining rights over health care and raise their required contributions for pensions and benefits. One protester drove a shiny black hearse draped with a "Soul of the Democratic Party" banner. Others carried a coffin covered with signs that said, "The Death of Collective Bargaining." 

The Newark Star-Ledger gives us an update:
4:19 Scenes from the Statehouse
The rally is winding down. Assembly members killing time while waiting for the session to start.
The Boss gave the eulogy today at the second funeral in Florida, this one for The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, who died Saturday. The towering E Street Band saxophonist was the backbone of the band, which for decades chronicled working-class dreams and struggles.  Gov. Chris Christie, a huge Springsteen fan, ordered flags in New Jersey flown at half-staff. One can't help but think, though, that he is tone deaf to the band's message. Springsteen summed it up once as a prelude to a performance of "Jungleland," during which Clemons gave up one of his signature solos. Said The Boss,
Nobody wins unless everybody wins.  
Let's hope the Assembly has listened a little more carefully to the E Street Band than the governor, the Republican lawmakers and the Democratic leadership.

Privatize this, Ohio!

Ohio's Legislature is considering privatizing, well, just about everything. The Lottery. The prisons. The turnpike. The schools. College dormitories.

The Toledo Blade (one of the only newspapers in the country to oppose Nafta) asks a couple of good questions:
Why the rush to sell off Ohio's assets?
Are we giving away state and local assets, which taxpayers have spent a lot of money to build, for less than they are worth?
Will privatizing actually cost less?
Will privatization limit our ability to make decisions and deliver good services?
Who will benefit from these deals, and will that adversely affect making of good policy?
The answers are easy: Political payback, yes, no, yes, Kasich's friends.

Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan -- they're all going the privatization route, thanks to their Governors Gone Wild. Here's just one example of what happens when a taxpayer asset -- in this case a prison -- is privatized (thanks firedoglake):
“It was a mini riot, and yet no guards intervened.”
That is the description of the situation which Antoney Jones found himself in almost immediately after arriving at the Idaho Correctional Center. Jones, a black gay man, was intentionally placed by guards into a housing unit where he would be assaulted by other prisoners. “Prisoners throughout the pod lined the rails and began yelling, ‘Kill the nigger,’ ‘Get the fag’ and ‘Kill the rat.’”

Mr. Jones’ story is one of more than a dozen similar ones found in the complaint of a lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Idaho against CCA for their operation of ICC, a prison so notorious for its violence that it’s been dubbed “gladiator school” by those housed there. The violence is so pervasive particularly because the prison is private; by routinely hiring unqualified staff and reducing staffing levels to the barest of minimums, the prison is literally a breeding ground for violent activity.

Kochapalooza this weekend in CO

Cradle of Treason Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will be heading to Vail this weekend where he'll join those lovely Koch brothers in their semi-annual confab on destroying the middle class. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports McDonnell,
...leaves on Sunday for Vail, where he'll attend the Koch brothers' summer seminar.
Koch Industries is a Kansas-based energy conglomerate owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the backers of conservative causes, including Americans for Prosperity. The Koch brothers hold conferences twice a year, keeping the guest lists and details largely under wraps.

The last one was held in Palm Springs, Calif., in January. McDonnell has attended at least seven of the seminars, the last in Aspen.
The Kochs have tried to keep their "seminars" secret because people tend to show up, protest and say damaging (but true) things about the union-busting billionaires -- that is, if they can sniff them out.

We'd love to know who else is going to this weekend's Kochapalooza. If you're stuck with a Governor Gone Wild, call and find out where he or she will be on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Mahablog has a great summary of a Robert Greenwald opinion piece in the Guardian about the Kochtopus:

Robert Greenwald writes about the way the Koch brothers use money to plant falsehoods in our collective brains and thereby manipulate public opinion. You know the story — they pay “experts” in the think tanks they support to crank out “authoritative” arguments for the crackpot ideas the Kochs want to put over on the public. And these crackpot ideas become conventional wisdom in media, repeated over and over without critical evaluation, and soon most Americans have been properly indoctrinated into believing whatever the Kochs want us to believe.
Now, this isn’t new, and it isn’t just the Koch brothers. In fact, the Koch brothers are relatively new to the propaganda biz. The Heritage Foundation, for example, was founded in 1973 with money from Richard Mellon Scaife and Joseph Coors.
The Koch boys are just adding to a propaganda-catapulting infrastructure built by the previous generation.

The right-wing echo chamber became so effective that sometime in the 1980s genuinely progressive ideas were shouted out of mass media and the nation’s public political discourse. For many years the only opinions expressed in mass media were degrees of conservatism (this includes the media figures frequently called upon to represent liberals, but who were actually moderate conservatives).

10K get their protest on in NJ

We're guessing that's the size of the crowd in Trenton demonstrating against the Pen-Ben bill that New Jersey's Assembly will soon vote on. The Senate passed a similar version on Monday.

There isn't a lot of love for the Democratic Party today. Up until now, New Jersey's lardass governor, Chris Christie, has been held in check by Democratic majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. But a little over a week ago, the Democratic leadership sold out cut a deal with Christie to raise state workers' pension and benefit contributions and to kill collective bargaining over health care. And so you're seeing signs in Trenton today that say, "Dems Are Traitors."

Here's the Newark Star-Ledger at 1:36 pm:
Biggest rally of the year
More than 8,500 workers have gathered outside the Statehouse complex in Trenton, according to the State Police.

Onstage, the union leaders that have been fighting Gov. Chris Christie for months over the pension and benefits overhaul are making what could be their closing arguments before the last votes are cast today in the Assembly.
Charles Wowkanech, state director of the AFL-CIO, vowed that Democrats voting for the bill would face retribution in November...
Meanwhile, Bill Lavin, the president of the state's largest firefighters union said it might be time to break off from the Democrats and form a labor party — a tactic that disaffected union workers in North Carolina took last year.
Here's what we're learning from the tweetosphere:

@bluejersey: We can hear you on the TV coverage of the #NJN hearing going on in the Senate.

@WHREAPres: Three carloads of teachers heading to Trenton after school.

@Janetb1211: We are ten-thousand strong. We can do this!

@jaycaplan 1212: Public employees, let the @njassemblydems hear you loud & clear. Rain isnt going to stop us from being heard

@CWA_NJ: No seats inside for the people, swat teams & armored cars outside.

@Sethcwanj: Chanting "kill the bill" into the Democratic Caucus

@CWA_NJ: Workers encircle the statehouse, make sure the assembly can hear exactly what they're killing

@SorayaGardner: We'll remember in Nov. This is what democracy looks like.

NJ's WI moment

Today's protest in NJ, The Second Battle of Trenton
Looks like The Second Battle of Trenton is a hell of a protest.

The Assembly votes today on the Pen-Ben bill in which collective bargaining rights over health care are destroyed and workers are required to contribute more to the pension and health benefits.

Yup, once again unions are taking the fall for the greed, mismanagement and fraud of politicians and Wall Street.

If you live in New Jersey but can't make it to the protest, call your representative in the Assembly. Here's how, thanks to @TrentonBattle2 DON'T FORGET TO CALL 1(888)724-6474 AND TELL YOUR LEGISLATOR TO VOTE NO ON ASSEMBLY BILL 4133!! #StandUpNJ

More from the tweetosphere:

Shouting outside - or in the hallway? - now clearly audible inside #NJN Senate hearing.
Signs here: you can't fix stupid but you can vote it out!
Bob Master fires up the crowd: We will not scarifice our democratic rights! THIS is what democracy looks like!
Love hearing "God Bless America"
Talking to rally goers, it's difficult to overstate the level of abandonment felt in the crowd
Rev Davidson: I'm not a union member but a citizen standing here w u. And there are 1000s of us out there.

3K nurses don't mess around on Wall Street

Alternet reports on the rock 'em, sock 'em protest the 3,000 nurses from National Nurses United held on Wall Street yesterday, along with their allies.

The nurses figure they're healers, so their prescription for what ails the economy will work. They propose a small financial transaction tax to discourage speculation and to raise money to rebuild the American middle class.

According to Alternet,
...a feisty group of 3,000 nurses, and their supporters from other unions and community groups, rallied at Federal Hall on Wall St. in New York City to confront the greedy banking industry and demand they pay tiny taxes on financial transactions to stop devastating budget cuts and finance health care for all...

"America's nurses see and feel broad declines in health and living standards for their patients and their own families that are directly tied to the collapse in jobs, housing , health care, and other basics of what used to be called the American dream," said NNU co-president Deborah Burger, RN....
And the nurses are seeing a lot that can be directly linked to the prolonged economic decline. Their message: because the economic crisis is linked to a rise in health problems, the Wall Street bankers must also pay for the ailments they have provoked. Health conditions caused by the poor economy include stress-induced heart problems in younger patients, diabetes in children due to unhealthy diets, and anxiety and depression across all age groups as parents and children alike wonder if they will be able to afford a roof over their head or food on the table...

Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Tom Harkin proposed such a tax. In 2009, DeFazio announced the proposal he and 22 colleagues sponsored in a press release: legislation ...assess(es) a miniscule tax on Wall Street securities transactions. The money it generates will be used to rebuild Main Street. The legislation, Let Wall Street Pay for the Restoration of Main Street Act, has powerful support from the economists, Wall Street investors, labor organizations, and consumer groups.
“Our nation continues to be crippled by a struggling economy which has resulted in an astronomical unemployment rate of 10.2%. The American taxpayers bailed out Wall Street during a crisis brought on by reckless speculation in the financial markets. This legislation will force Wall Street to do their part and put people displaced by that crisis back to work,” DeFazio said.
The UK has such a tax and it hasn't inhibited financial activity. Economists support it as well. Two years ago, the Center for Economic and Policy Research put out a statement saying
Over 200 economists, including James K. Galbraith and Dean Baker, have signed a letter in support of a modest set of financial transaction taxes, which could raise a substantial amount of needed revenue while having little impact on trades that have a positive economic impact.
The cost of trading financial assets has plummeted over the last three decades as a result of computerization. This has led to an enormous explosion in trading volume, with most trades having little economic or social value and redistributing disproportionate resources to the financial sector. A set of modest financial transactions taxes, which would just raise trading costs back to the level of two or three decades ago, would have very limited impact on trades that have real economic value.
Maybe it's time for another letter...

VIDEO: The American Dream

The American Dream used to mean something....

Look for Teamsters in SB 5 parade

We have word that a Teamster (not sure exactly who yet) will drive a semi tractor-trailer delivering petitions to repeal the heinous SB 5 bill on June 29, the day before the deadline.

We Are Ohio announced a parade will be held to deliver the petitions with at least 714,137 signatures on them to the state. They announced the total on Friday, but they're still asking people to sign the petitions. Will there be more than 1 million signatures? Stay tuned.

The Toledo Blade reports
A group seeking to repeal Ohio's new law weakening public employee collective bargaining rights said Wednesday it will hold a parade when it files petitions Wednesday.
That's the day before the state deadline for filing.

On Friday, We Are Ohio claimed it had gathered more than 700,000 signatures. That's three times the 231,149 signatures that must stand up to scrutiny by county boards of elections to make the Nov. 8 ballot.

The filing of the signatures automatically would put Senate Bill 5 on hold pending the review process. If the referendum qualifies for the ballot and voters reject the law, it never would take effect.
We Are Ohio is keeping up the pressure against SB 5 in other ways. The group held a press conference in front of the Westerville (pop. 37,000) fire station yesterday. Westerville!

ThisWeekNews was there, and reported,
"It's so wrong what Senate Bill 5 is doing," said Brian Young, a lieutenant in the Westerville Division of Fire. "I always thought the government was here to protect our rights. This takes away our rights."
The employees said while legislators say the bill would allow public union groups to continue to bargain, the law restricts it so far that it really takes the power of collective bargaining away.
A pro-SB 5 (i.e., corporate-backed) group called "Build a Better Ohio" has also been formed. The Blade reports it hasn't been visible yet. SB 5 supporters shouldn't get too comfortable though. The Koch brothers and their cronies are certain to pour money into a pro-SB 5 campaign.

Then again, the Youngstown Vindicator opines,
If the opponents of SB 5 do file million-plus signatures, Gov. Kasich and Republicans in the General Assembly will know that they will have a fight on their hands come November.
And a commenter replied,
you say: "SB 5 has woken a sleeping giant in the form of the labor unions, their Democratic Party allies and Ohio’s public employees."
This is a true statement devoid of one big fact: many Republicans are also very much against this heinous bill. They understand that it is in no one's best interest to destroy labor unions, nor to devalue and demoralize your state employees. Those many signatures have an incredible amount of Republican and Independent voter support among them.

Today's Teamster News 06.23.11

Teamsters at odds with BMW  The Press-Enterprise   ...Southern California Teamsters, furious that luxury vehicle manufacturer BMW is firing its unionized workers and turning its Ontario distribution center over to an outside contractor, say they'll fight on national and possibly international levels...
Senate Healthcare and Pension Reform Bill is 'Terrible' for Workers, Says Teamsters VP   Point Pleasant Patch   ...Monday's state Senate vote undermines collective bargaining, says Fred Potter...
New Jersey union sues over pension fund payments  Reuters   ...A New Jersey labor union filed a lawsuit on Wednesday over the failure by Governor Chris Christie to make payments to the state's pension funds, claiming workers' constitutional rights were violated... 
Battle over beer legislation   ...A group of Republican lawmakers is urging Gov. Scott Walker to kill a measure they recently passed. The craft brewer provision...
O'Brien says right-to-work veto override vote can wait until fall  Manchester Union-Leader   ...Speaker of the House William O’Brien said he will wait until the fall to attempt an override of Gov. Lynch’s veto of the right-to-work bill...
Unions: 2nd vote possible if state concessions rejected  Connecticut Post   ...If state unions narrowly reject a $1.6 billion concessions package by week's end, labor leaders may find a way to try to salvage the deal and push forward with a second vote...