OK, I give up

Suddenly, a Rise in Piracy’s Price - NYTimes.com

On Tuesday, Somali pirates shot and killed four American hostages. A single hostage intentionally killed by these pirates had been almost unheard of; four dead was unprecedented.

WTF is almost unheard of? Does it mean unheard of but really not? Or is it more of an acoustical thing like, you know, a really really soft whisper almost unheard or heard, but in a really really loud place? I almost have no idea.

...“did not amount to criminal wrongdoing.”

Executives Behind Financial Crisis at Little Risk of Jail Time - NYTimes.com

Late last week, word leaked out that Mr. [Angelo] Mozilo, who had co-founded Countrywide Financial in 1969 — and, for nearly 40 years, presided over its astonishing rise and its equally astonishing fall — would not be prosecuted by the Justice Department. Not for insider trading. Not for failing to disclose to investors his private worries about subprime loans. Not for helping to create a culture at Countrywide in which mortgage originators were rewarded for pushing fraudulent loans on borrowers.

And now he's back

Presidential Primary Book Club - NYTimes.com

Huckabee, you will remember, ran for president in 2008 and was regarded as the most likable guy in the Republican debates. This was not actually all that heavy a lift...


Kitchen window


GOP inquiry finds no evidence that ‘climategate’ scientists misused data | The Raw Story

WASHINGTON – A Republican-led federal probe of climate scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found no evidence that they manipulated data, after leaked e-mails in 2009 sparked the "climategate" controversy.

But hey, defund 'em anyway. Maybe they cheated on something else. It's possible.


So now we're clear, right?

Koch executives vow to 'continue to fight' in Wisconsin

In their first published remarks since a prank caller tricked
Gov. Scott Walker into thinking he was speaking with big-bucks
backer David Koch himself, Koch executives said that that hoax and
nearly two weeks of Madison protests have only strengthened the
Koch brothers' determination to continue to use their billions to
promote a national agenda that includes gutting the power of unions
and deregulating industry.

Truth in labeling, at least

Union protest can't stop bill | Top Stories | Wichita Eagle

TOPEKA — It was like a little slice of Wisconsin in the Kansas House on Thursday, when union advocates were thrown out of the chamber for disrupting a vote on a bill to reduce labor's political influence.

OK, maybe this is taking things a little bit too far

H/T First Draft

Really? Maneuvering?

UNDERNEWS: Providence mayor fires almost 2,000 teachers

NN - Termination notices have been sent to every teacher in the Providence public school system, setting off a wave of anxiety and anger in the Rhode Island city and prompting a union leader to accuse the mayor of anti-union maneuvering.

An Army of Trolls

cryptogon.com » Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda

It’s recently been revealed that the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda....

Look, I know it's just me and everything...

...but of I were working at Starbucks or Wal-mart or any number of other places and somebody like the jabbermonkeys on Fox Noise started raving about the dirty hippy union thugs (really!) up there in Wisconsin getting fat paychecks and lordly benefits for doing their cushy jobs what I would think is, cool, how can I get into one of those unions too? So why is that not happening? 

Well yeah, OK. Rhetorical question. But still.

Democracy in action

Wis. Assembly Passes Bill Taking Away Union Rights - NYTimes.com

Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.

Republicans immediately marched out of the chamber in single file. The Democrats rushed at them, pumping their fists and shouting "Shame!" and "Cowards!"


Yeah but that was so three years ago

UNDERNEWS: Things Obama forgot he said

And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner. - Barack Obama, 2007

Is Scott Walker Mubarak Lite?

Pro-union website blocked in Wisconsin Capitol - CNN.com

Madison, Wisconsin (CNN) -- A left-leaning website that union supporters used to rally protesters in Wisconsin was partially blocked as demonstrators gathered in the state Capitol over a controversial budget bill.

The website, defendwisconsin.org, could not be accessed on Monday and into Tuesday morning in the Capitol building, where crowds assembled over proposed legislation that would increase the costs of benefits to public employees and curb their collective-bargaining rights....

I've said all along Madison is not Cairo but maybe Walker thinks it is.

Really? More?

In Wisconsin, game on

Wisconsin Assembly approves plan to curb unions - chicagotribune.com

MADISON, Wis. (Reuters) - The Wisconsin state Assembly Friday passed a Republican plan to curb public sector union power over the fierce objections of protesters, setting the stage for a showdown with Senate Democrats who fled the state last week to prevent a vote in that chamber.

Sage Advice...

Photo: Phil Compton


Snow, sleet, and freezing rain

Dude, why do we get all the fun? BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop


Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Really bad reporting in Wisconsin

Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

[Emphasis in original.]


Wait! Do–over!

Close to Home | Talking Points Memo

Gov. Walker's threatened layoff notices go out. And one of the first to get one is the wife of Walker's top ally, the Majority Leader of the State Senate.

Army attacks U.S. Senate

Rolling Stone: Another Runaway General as Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators | Common Dreams

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in "psychological operations" to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned...

Race to the bottom-er

ThinkProgress » Gov. Christie Brags About State Layoffs: ‘Unions Are Trying To Break The Middle Class’

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), for instance, proposed a budget yesterday that holds property tax rebates for seniors hostage to benefit cuts for public employees: if public sector workers don’t agree to the cuts, property tax rebates don’t go out. And of course, Christie has rhetorically bashed teachers’ unions since he came into office, in order to score political points. During an appearance on MSNBC today, Christie actually bragged that his state leads the nation in terms of public sector layoffs, claiming that “unions are trying to break the middle class”...

Get with the program here

Revenge of the Pomeranians - NYTimes.com

All hope for averting disaster lies with Speaker John Boehner, who used to be a strangely tanned blowhard but is now regarded as a beleaguered statesman. This just happened a few days ago, so you may not have gotten the memo.


BBC News - Wisconsin union protest: Beards, budgets and bargaining

Wisconsin has become that odd thing in modern America, a place with a whiff of open class conflict.

Race to the bottom

Scott Walker’s plan to end collective bargaining has deep roots in GOP

As one of the [Wisconsin] protesters’ signs said, “GOVERNOR WALKER: THE
WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING.” Though meant as a warning, Walker, a
well-known media hound, is more likely basking in the attention.
Let’s face it. If he succeeds at eliminating collective bargaining
rights in Wisconsin — the first state to establish the practice for
public sector unions in 1959 — he will be the darling of the
Republican Party. But he needs to move fast as he now has

Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and other states are also looking at
measures that would curtail union power....



Fun is where you find it

America's deficit: Outrageous cuts | The Economist

Here's a fun fact: non-defence discretionary spending was equal to 3.6% of GDP in 1963. It was also equal to 3.6% of GDP in 2008. It is not behind the increase in government spending as a share of the economy over that time period. It has not made government any less affordable. It is not projected to rise substantially in the future....

Be careful how you bet on this one

Donald Trump Running Even With Obama; Americans May Not Know What Elections Are

Are we absolutely certain Americans know what a presidential election is? Like, they mark down their choice, and the person the most people choose actually becomes the president of the United States, usually?


Microsoft Windows Phone 7 update crashes smartphones - Telegraph

Microsoft has been forced to withdraw an update to its Windows Phone 7 operating system after it crashed users' phones.

The invisible unemployed

UNDERNEWS: Labor update

Washington Post - President Obama has traveled across the country since the November elections to tout his economic vision and rebuild relationships with the business community, meeting with executives, community college presidents, students, venture capitalists, plant workers and others. One group has been left out: the nearly one in 10 Americans who is old enough to work and seeking a job but can't find one....

Dude, these are the cops. Imagine what the robbers do.

UNDERNEWS: Foxes in the chicken coop

NY Post - Another black eye for the SEC: The agency’s top lawyer, David Becker, and his brothers inherited more than $1.5 million from their mother that she had earned in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme....

Exactly. Bingo. Click the link and watch the video.

Give 'Em a Fringe, They'll Take a Mile | Video Cafe

The Nation's Chris Hayes filling in for Rachel Maddow takes a look at the negotiating tactics being used by the GOP where they're more than willing to hold the country hostage to get their agenda passed no matter how damaging it is to our country and the Democrats never ending willingness to meet the crazy half way.

[Emphasis emphatically mine.]

Ooops, so much for our Sputnik moment

Providence faces shortfall, teachers to get dismissal notices - Projo 7 to 7 News Blog | Rhode Island news | The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The school district plans to send out dismissal notices to every one of its 1,926 teachers...

Just for the record all that Sputnik moment stuff never amounted to much anyway. It wasn't high school math teachers that got us caught up to the Soviets in space—not that the didn't try—it was a bunch of German rocket scientists in Huntsville. So who needs teachers anyway? Who needs schools? More Germans is what we need.

Glass Composition

Photo abstract: Phil Compton

Yes! You can try it yourself!

H/T Wonkette

Thin mints are the best

Fla. Police: Dispute over Thin Mints gets physical EarthLink - Top News

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) — Police say a brawl between roommates over Girl Scout cookies led to assault charges against one of them. According to the Naples Daily News, the Collier County Sheriff's Office reports that 31-year-old Hersha Howard woke up her roommate early Sunday and accused her of eating her Thin Mints.


JIC you think the cheeseheads are having all the fun

cryptogon.com » Seattle-Area Restaurant Refuses to Serve TSA Agents

Fed up with what he views as crappy treatment from the TSA, the owner of a restaurant near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has decided to put all TSA agents on his No-Eat List.

Attack of the trolls

Exclusive: Military’s ‘persona’ software cost millions, used for ‘classified social media activities’ | The Raw Story

According to Commander Bill Speaks, the chief media officer of CENTCOM's digital engagement team, the public cannot know what the military wants with such technology because its applications are secret.

"This contract," he wrote in reference to the Air Force's June 22, 2010 filing, "supports classified social media activities outside the U.S., intended to counter violent extremist ideology and enemy propaganda."

Also, digital engagement team? Really?


Teachers rock

From Wisconsin:

H/T Dependable Renegade

And why are you asking these silly rhetorical questions?

Wisconsin's Political Crisis Is A Good Deal More Serious Than Its Fiscal Crisis | Common Dreams

Why, if [Wisconsin] is in so much trouble, did [Gov.] Walker engineer the enactment of roughly $140 million in new tax breaks for multinational corporations, which the legislature passed in January? Why did he rush to reject federal transportation funding that other states – states with similar or worse fiscal challenges -- have rushed to collect? Why, in the very week that he was pushing his budget repair bill, did the governor reject federal broadband development money that Wisconsin's rural counties have been seeking for years?

What? The Republicans have some sort of extradition thing going on here?

Indiana Democrats Trigger Statehouse Showdown over Anti-Union Legislation | Common Dreams

INDIANAPOLIS - Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation.

...They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.

I've never heard of such a thing. It's like the R's think serving in a state legislature is some kind of crime or something. Well, come to think of it, maybe the way they do it, it is. But still. Even if it is—a crime—being forcibly returned to Indiana seems like cruel and unusual punishment. Isn't there some kind of law against that? 

Quelle surprise

Rahm Emanuel Elected Mayor of Chicago - NYTimes.com


The Wisconsin story

Spreading Anti-Union Agenda - NYTimes.com

In Wisconsin, union leaders agreed to concessions requested by Mr. Walker: to pay nearly 6 percent of their wages for pension costs, up from nearly zero, and double payments for health insurance. At that point, most governors would declare victory and move on. Instead, Mr. Walker has rejected union concessions and won’t even negotiate. His true priority is stripping workers of collective-bargaining rights and reducing their unions to a shell. The unions would no longer be able to raise money to oppose him, as they did in last year’s election, easing the way for future Republicans as well.


All the pretty pictures

Lots, lots more here at Mother Jones:
Eight charts that explain everything that's wrong with America.

Getting it straight


Greg Sargent makes a point that really can't be made enough: the Wisconsin public employee unions have already capitulated on all financial requests. They did so early on. What they will not give in on is their right to be unionized. All of Walker's arguments about this being a budget issue are therefore moot. This is just about breaking the unions, plain and simple.

Distinctions, distinctions

Fighting Obesity With Sophisticated Lard

What is the origin of donut french toast and other “elevated” junk foods? The New York Times knows! In a recent article about sports bars that cater to foodies, they explained that this is simply, “sophistication transforming yet another preserve of culinary ineptitude.” Translation: when we do it, it’s unique! When they do it, it gives you diabetes!

Of course not

Scott Walker denies ‘union busting’ | Raw Replay

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Monday that his plan to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights doesn’t amount to “union busting.”

This is getting to be a standard thing with R's, isn't it? Also tax cuts do not make deficits worse—that's another one of my faves. 

Imagine the fine

Thomas Jefferson Books Turn Up at Washington University - NYTimes.com

Books From Jefferson’s Library Turn Up After More Than a Century


How cool is this?

The Radio Fargo-Moorhead app. That's right, Bunky, Fargo as in Fargo. And Moorhead as in Moorhead, which is a sort of Fargo mirror in Minnesota, although it might perhaps be more accurate to say Fargo is a Moorhead mirror in North Dakota. Either way.


UNDERNEWS : Why labor unions are essential

The labor movement in the United States led the struggles to (sic):

- The end of child labor

- The right of workers to negotiate with their employers over wages, benefits and working conditions

- The 8 hour work day and paid overtime

- Compensation for workers injured on the job.

- Unemployment insurance.

- A minimum wage

- Pensions

- Healthcare insurance

- :Paid sick leave, vacations and holidays

- Elimination of job discrimination by ethnicity, color, religion, sex or national origin

- Family medical leave


Caddie Eyes

iPhone abstract: Phil Compton

Running the numbers on the teachers

UNDERNEWS : Labor update

Fark - Only 5 states don't have collective bargaining for educators. Those states rank as follows, re: avg. SAT+ACT scores: South Carolina 50th, North Carolina 49th, Georgia 48th, Texas 47th, Virginia 44th. Wisconsin, on the other hand, is 2nd. 

On Wisconsin

Scooter steps in it « Identity Politics

As bad as it is, [the move to strip union bargaining rights] appears to be backfiring. People are up in arms. This doesn’t faze the bull-headed Wisconsin Republican Party. They announced today that they (think) they have the votes to pass this bill. The million dollar question is: are they stupid enough to?

Getting it straight

Robert Reich (The Coming Shutdowns and Showdowns: What's Really at Stake)

There’s no doubt that government budgets are in trouble. The big lie is that the reason is excessive spending. 

Public budgets are in trouble because revenues plummeted over the last two years of the Great Recession. 

They’re also in trouble because of tax giveaways to the rich. 


Dotcom: It's baaaack

cryptogon.com » Twitter Valued at $10 Billion, Facebook Worth More Than Ford?

Every week, one of the new generation of internet firms seems to attract a sky-high valuation. Zynga, the social-network games company that has tempted millions to grow virtual vegetables in its FarmVille game, has been valued at $9bn (£5.54bn). Profitless Twitter is said to be worth $10bn. Groupon, vendor of online discounts, rejected a $6bn offer from Google and is considering a flotation with a potential valuation of $15bn. Tech-watchers say this is just the start: the real boom will come when Facebook, the head boy of the new dotcom frenzy, goes public, probably next year.

Follow the money

Koch Brothers Behind Wisconsin Effort To Kill Public Unions - Rick Ungar - The Policy Page - Forbes

You really have to wonder how long it will take for Tea Party devotees to realize just how badly they are being used.

Why what's going on in Madison is so important

Wisconsin Power Play - NYTimes.com

You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.



Government wants prescription meds to be safe and that constitutes a crackdown?

Drug shortages: Quality issues at plants, new rules triggering hospital problems - chicagotribune.com

Hospitals across the country are running out of key drugs used in surgeries and to treat some diseases, including cancer, causing doctors to turn to older treatments....

Part of the shortage is being caused by manufacturing issues and quality-control problems at a number of companies that include Lake Forest-based Hospira Inc., one of the primary makers of generic injectable prescription medicines, as they respond to the federal government's crackdown on drug safety.

(Emphasis mine.)



Next, frat boys with AKs

Texas poised to pass bill allowing guns on campus - Yahoo! News

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas is preparing to give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus, adding momentum to a national campaign to open this part of society to firearms.

Dude, duck.

It's not about wages, it's not about benefits, it's about breaking the unions

Republicans reject offer by unions to compromise on concessions - BizTimes

Although union leaders and Wisconsin Democratic Senators are offering to accept the wage and benefit concessions Gov. Scott Walker is demanding, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said today a bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees is not negotiable.

More on shared sacrifice

Suburban Guerrilla » Blog Archive » Polishing turds

According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations in the state pay no taxes, and the share of corporate tax revenue funding the state government has fallen by half since 1981.

In emergency session

In an emergency session late, late last night (the film commission, like the House of Representatives, likes to do things when there is no one left awake to notice) the film commission was required to make several rulings regarding the Movies With No Kissing list. 

The most important of these rulings involved "The Dead Pool," the last of Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry series. While noting the series should perhaps have ended one film earlier, it ruled the Movies With No Kissing list was all about movies with no kissing, not necessarily good movies, and so it has established a Dirty Harry exemption in the following rule amendment:

To be eligible for the Movies With No Kissing list, movies except Dirty Harry movies must not only have no kissing but also rate at least 60% on the Tomatometer. Deal with it.

Further, the commission ruled that biting people on the neck is equivalent to kissing when vampires do it, and therefore all vampire movies are ineligible for the Movies With No Kissing List by definition. Also documentaries, which are movies, of course, and often involve no kissing, are ineligible for the list because they are not movies your film commission plans to sit around watching much, if you see what we mean.

Finally, the commission wishes to go on record as being willing to consider a blanket trashy exemption at some future date.


Part of the reason, indeed

Who is Influencing Obama’s Budget Proposal? Follow the Funders. » New Deal 2.0

President Obama is a smart man. When Gallup surveys suggest that unemployment is around 10 percent — and that unemployment plus underemployment is 19 percent of the workforce — then it’s clear that the best way to raise revenues and close the deficit is to put people back to work. President Obama surely knows this. But his actions don’t seem to follow this obvious logic. Why is that?

Part of the reason lies in a group of people who pour money into our political system but don’t necessarily want the same things that ordinary Americans want.


Can we get a do-over on this last election somehow?

What Your Representatives Did While You Were Asleep | Crooks and Liars

Here are some of the things your House of Representatives did early this morning:

  • Voted to strip funding from just about every EPA project, including air quality, emissions, and water pollution monitoring.
  • Defunded NOAA
  • Stripped funds to administer the Affordable Care Act.
  • Eliminated funds for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Continued $53 billion in oil subsidies
  • Tried to eliminate Davis-Bacon rules for government projects (that failed)
  • Stripped federal workers of their salaries in positions within agencies targeted for defunding

Of course, yesterday they defunded Planned Parenthood, FCC allocations for enforcement of Net Neutrality rules, and the entire Affordable Care Act.

Also NASCAR, something something blah blah.

But Dude, never mind these guys are bonkers, NOAA is the friggin' weather service




In Madison, two sides in bitter fight agree over beers - Yahoo! News

So when the opposing rallies [in Madison] ended here on Saturday, many of the demonstrators retired to the numerous bars in the Capitol's shadow, like The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant, with its 50 beers on tap -- all from Wisconsin -- and another 100 in bottles, 99 of them from the Badger state. The one other, from neighboring Minnesota, is listed under imports.

Sharing the sacrifice

The Unemployed Need Not Apply - NYTimes.com

The Federal Reserve is projecting unemployment to continue at or near 9 percent for the rest of the year. That is 13.9 million Americans out of work. Here is more grim news: Barriers to employment for jobless workers may be even higher than previously thought.

About all those overpaid public workers

UNDERNEWS : Study: Wisconsin state employees underpaid

Economic Policy Institute - A new Economic Policy Institute study finds that full-time state and local government employees in Wisconsin are undercompensated by 8.2%, when compared to otherwise similar private-sector workers.

When Apple hits the sweet spot

Retailers experiment with iPads - chicagotribune.com

At a time when shopping has lost most of its glamour, the star power of Apple's iPad has retailers' hearts beating faster.

Merchants from Gucci to J.C. Penney are experimenting with ways to use electronic tablets in their stores to boost sales and dazzle jaded shoppers.