Cooking up a tea party

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  • 9-26-10: COMMENTARY

  • 6-22-14: Rand Paul on Iraq and Afghanistan

  • 12-21-10: John Bogle on the economy

  • 1-8-11: In the cross hairs -- U. S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords

  • 3-3-11: Republican governors try to defund the Democrats

    FEATURE ARTICLE from The New Yorker, 8-30-10, by Jane Mayer

    ``Covert Operations

    The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

    On May 17th [2010], a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company's upcoming season, and had given many millions before that ...

    In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

    With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge.

    The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch ... among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

    The Kochs ... believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry, especially environmental regulation.

    These views dovetail with the brothers' corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a 'kingpin of climate science denial.' The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups ...

    Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, "The Kochs are on a whole different level. There's no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."

    A few weeks after the Lincoln Center gala, the advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation [AFP], an organization that David Koch started in 2004, held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th [2010] weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream took place in a chilly hotel ballroom in Austin ...

    Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. "Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests," it said. "But you can do something about it." The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders ...''


    Op-Ed Column from The New York Times, 8-28-10,


    ``The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

    Another weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the "ground zero mosque." This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to "reclaim the civil rights movement" (Beck's words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier ...

    There's just one element missing from these snapshots of America's ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the "death panel" warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You've heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs' banner may not know who these brothers are.

    Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch's, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate's unchecked anger and the Obama White House's unfocused political strategy, they might.

    All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled "Invisible Hands" in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R.

    [The stakes for the kleptocracy are higher than ever -- the Kazakh oil of central Asia, and the chance to make Afghanistan another Congo. For more on the U. S. invasion of Afghanistan and the Unocal pipeline, see]

    You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League's crusade against the New Deal "socialism" of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our "socialist" president.

    Only the fat cats change -- not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government "handouts" to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont's portfolio of paint and plastics.

    Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers' father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society's top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of "a takeover" of America in which Communists would "infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us." That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

    Last week the Kochs were shoved unwillingly into the spotlight by the most comprehensive journalistic portrait of them yet, written by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. Her article caused a stir among those in Manhattan's liberal elite who didn't know that David Koch, widely celebrated for his cultural philanthropy, is not merely another rich conservative Republican but the founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which, as Mayer writes with some understatement, "has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement's inception."

    To New Yorkers who associate the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet, it's startling to learn that the Texas branch of that foundation's political arm, known simply as Americans for Prosperity, gave its Blogger of the Year Award to an activist who had called President Obama "cokehead in chief."

    The other major sponsor of the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, which, like Americans for Prosperity, is promoting events in Washington this weekend. Under its original name, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks received $12 million of its own from Koch family foundations.

    Using tax records, Mayer found that Koch-controlled foundations gave out $196 million from 1998 to 2008, much of it to conservative causes and institutions. That figure doesn't include $50 million in Koch Industries lobbying and $4.8 million in campaign contributions by its political action committee, putting it first among energy company peers like Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

    Since tax law permits anonymous personal donations to nonprofit political groups, these figures may understate the case. The Kochs surely match the in-kind donations the Tea Party receives in free promotion 24/7 from Murdoch's Fox News, where both Beck and Palin are on the payroll.

    The New Yorker article stirred up the right, too. Some of Mayer's blogging detractors unwittingly upheld the premise of her article (titled "Covert Operations") by conceding that they have been Koch grantees. None of them found any factual errors in her 10,000 words ...

    When David Koch ran to the right of Reagan as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket (it polled 1 percent), his campaign called for the abolition not just of Social Security, federal regulatory agencies and welfare but also of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and public schools -- in other words, any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes.

    He hasn't changed. As Mayer details, Koch-supported lobbyists, foundations and political operatives are at the center of climate-science denial -- a cause that forestalls threats to Koch Industries' vast fossil fuel business. While Koch foundations donate to cancer hospitals like Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, Koch Industries has been lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying another product important to its bottom line, formaldehyde, as a "known carcinogen" in humans (which it is).

    Tea Partiers may share the Kochs' detestation of taxes, big government and Obama. But there's a difference between mainstream conservatism and a fringe agenda that tilts completely toward big business, whether on Wall Street or in the Gulf of Mexico, while dismantling fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and the subsistence of the elderly.

    Yet inexorably the Koch agenda is morphing into the G.O.P. agenda, as articulated by current Republican members of Congress, including the putative next speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Tea Party Senate candidates like Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and the new kid on the block, Alaska's anti-Medicaid, anti-unemployment insurance Palin protégé, Joe Miller.

    Their program

  • opposes a federal deficit, but has no objection to running up trillions in red ink in tax cuts to corporations and the superrich [or spending trillions fighting oil wars for the kleptocrats and enriching war contractors];

  • apologizes to corporate malefactors like BP and derides money put in escrow for oil spill victims as a "slush fund";

  • opposes the extension of unemployment benefits;

  • and calls for a freeze on federal regulations in an era when abuses in the oil, financial, mining, pharmaceutical and even egg industries (among others) have been outrageous.

    The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests ...

    When wolves of Murdoch's ingenuity and the Kochs' stealth have been at the door of our democracy in the past, Democrats have fought back fiercely. Franklin Roosevelt's triumphant 1936 re-election campaign pummeled the Liberty League as a Republican ally eager to "squeeze the worker dry in his old age and cast him like an orange rind into the refuse pail." ...''

    A version of this op-ed appeared in print on August 29, 2010, on page WK8 of the New York edition.


    PBS TRANSCRIPT, 9-28-10

    ``Recession Ushers in Widest Income Inequality Gap on Record


    The U.S. now has the greatest disparity between the rich and the poor within Western industrialized countries, new Census data show. Timothy Noah of Slate magazine and Howard University professor Roderick Harrison look at the growing income gap in America.

    GWEN IFILL: Next: a look at the growing problem of inequality in America.

    A new analysis out today showed the recession magnified the gap between the richest and poorest to the widest margin since the census began counting. Last year, the top fifth of Americans, who earn more than $100,000 a year, received nearly 50 percent of all income in the U.S., while the bottom 20 percent received just 3 percent. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity between rich and poor among Western industrialized nations.

    We look at that gap and what's driving it now with writer Timothy Noah, who just completed a series on the topic for "Slate" magazine, and Howard University professor Roderick Harrison, who studies census data for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

    Welcome to you both. Tim Noah, you write in "Slate" about the great divergence. Describe what you mean.

    TIMOTHY NOAH, It's a ... three-decade trend that began in the late 1970s, a trend towards income inequality.

    Incomes have been growing less and less equal since 1979. A lot of people accept that as the norm, but, in fact, for much of the 20th century, the trend was going the other way. Between 1929 and the early 1970s, incomes were becoming more and more equal.

    And, of course, right in the middle of that period, you had a great deal of prosperity after World War II.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Harrison, what -- what is the cause of this?

    RODERICK HARRISON, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: The underlying cause is that the gains in productivity have been divided more towards corporate earnings and profits than towards the workers and employees.

    If we had maintained the historical levels and share of sharing productivity gains, the middle- and lower-income portions of the income distribution would have fared much better, and you wouldn't see this acceleration in the gap.

    GWEN IFILL: But we didn't maintain it. What was the reason for that?

    RODERICK HARRISON: Well, I mean, again, you have a gain in productivity. You're producing more per worker.

    If that goes primarily to profits, which it has in recent decades, wages are not increasing due to that gain in productivity. The workers, the employees are not benefiting from it. And wages and the earnings have in fact stagnated over much of this period.

    So, if more of that had flowed to the large number of people in the work force, you would have had some increases. We have had great increases in productivity over the period. You would have much greater increases in the earnings and wages and much less of a gap.

    GWEN IFILL: So, Tim, we know we're coming out of ... out of a recession, but people feel like we're still in one. Is that the cause or the effect of this kind of divergence we see?

    TIMOTHY NOAH: The divergence is ... has been going on a very long time. So, the divergence doesn't have anything to do with the recession.

    It does appear that, during this recession, what we have seen is a new, at least short-term, one hopes short-term, effect, which is a huge surge in the poverty rate. We haven't seen an increase like this since the mid-1990s.

    GWEN IFILL: So, the recession exacerbated a situation that already existed?

    TIMOTHY NOAH: Exactly. What the trend ... has been since the early 1990s has been that incomes at the top has just been skyrocketing. The top -- we're talking about the top 1 percent and especially the top 0.1 percent.

    Emmanuel Saez, who won a MacArthur grant today, did some pioneering research on this at Berkeley.

    GWEN IFILL: And he found exactly the same thing?

    TIMOTHY NOAH: ... this went unnoticed for a long time because social scientists were looking at census data, which is not very precise.

    GWEN IFILL: Right.

    TIMOTHY NOAH: Saez and his co-author, Thomas Piketty, looked at IRS data, and were able to get a much sharper picture of this increase.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Harrison, can we talk about the demographics of this? Who is affected the most? Is it an urban-vs.-rural construct, male-vs.-female, racial?

    RODERICK HARRISON: If you look over the three or so decades, clearly, most rural areas have been left out of the economic growth of the country, particularly during the '90s. That great expansion left many of those areas behind.

    Some of the sharpest differences are between the less well educated and the college educated. College-educated have shown gains. And particularly where you have college-educated husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, those families have gained. The income opportunities for less-well-educated workers have not kept pace.

    GWEN IFILL: Another part of this -- and a lot of people have talked about this education gap, but people have talked less about -- or at least there have been assumptions made about immigration as an effect or trade policy. Jobs are being outsourced to other countries. Is that part of this as well?

    TIMOTHY NOAH: Well, immigration -- as far as economists have been able to determine so far, immigration has not been a major factor, ... except with regard to the very poor, the bottom 10 percent -- people who do not graduate from high school have suffered as a result of immigration.

    But the middle class, whose income stagnation is really the defining factor of what I call the great divergence ... was unaffected by immigration.

    GWEN IFILL: But how about taxation? There's a lot of discussion now, and we have been having it on this program, about the effect of taxes, raising them or lowering them, on people's well-being. Is that also driving this divide, or is there any evidence to suggest?

    RODERICK HARRISON: The Bush tax cuts, and particularly the debate over the top 2 percent, certainly increases some of this ...

    GWEN IFILL: But that's just been the last few years.

    RODERICK HARRISON: It's not the driving force, ... This has been going on for decades, and independently of tax policy. And it's part of really the restructuring of the economy.

    There is one thing I would like to mention I think is very important. The relationship of this to the recession might be -- and Robert Reich is making this argument -- the suppressed incomes of lower- and middle-income people meant that people were maintaining their living standards by credit and borrowing.

    That was unsustainable. And that's part ... of the difficulty with climbing out of the recession is these relatively flat incomes.

    GWEN IFILL: If this is a trend which is now decades-long, this growing, widening gap, is it an arrestable trend? Is there some policy or some personal responsibility that people need to take to dig themselves out of this kind of hole?

    TIMOTHY NOAH: It's hard to point to any one individual thing. Obviously, improving the education system would help, because we really need to be producing more high school graduates than we're producing. The work force doesn't seem to be meeting the education level required by employers.

    But -- I know this sounds glib, but electing Democrats to the White House seems to help. There was a very interesting study done by a Princeton political scientist where he looked at administrations going back to 1948. And he found exact opposite trends under Democrats and Republicans.

    GWEN IFILL: Because of government -- because of government policies, ideology?

    TIMOTHY NOAH: Because of a whole range of government ... policies. Democrats were much more favorable to people at lower incomes than Republicans.

    GWEN IFILL: And, finally, what do you think can arrest this trend?

    RODERICK HARRISON: I think the distribution of increases in productivity is the key. If ... we have had great, substantial gains in productivity. If we maintain those, but if we distribute the benefits of that more widely across the work force, you would start to see a leveling out ... That would ... broaden the consumer base and give some strength.

    GWEN IFILL: Professor Roderick Harrison of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and Tim Noah for "Slate" magazine, thank you both very much ...''


    PBS TRANSCRIPT, 9-30-10

    ``Pelosi: Democrats Expect to Keep House Majority, 'Battle-Tested' for Campaign


    In an interview with Judy Woodruff, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi predicts Democrats will retain a majority in the House despite a hostile political environment and weighs in on the battle over extending Bush-era tax cuts ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, thank you very much for talking with us.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), Speaker of the House: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Virtually every respected political analyst in this town, around the country, are saying the Republicans are poised to take control of the House of Representatives.

    How worried are you?

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: I think it's great that they think that, but we are acting upon another possibility, and that is that we will hold the House.

    Our members left Congress last night very confident that they would return in the majority. We take it one district at a time. Nothing less is at stake than the choice between going back to the exact agenda of the Bush administration or moving America forward, and our members are ready for the fight.

    Again, we take it one district at a time. For some reason, when they come here, they say, what's all this conversation about in Washington? We don't see that in our districts.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The voters say the main issue on their minds is jobs. What do you say to voters ... that make them believe that Democrats are going to create more jobs than Republicans, especially when the Democrats haven't been able to do anything significant here in the last few weeks about jobs?

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, the fact is, is that we have done a great deal about jobs from day one. When President Obama took office, immediately, one week and one day later, we passed the ... Recovery Act, which created or saved 3.6 million jobs. And I want to add that, in the first eight months of 2010 alone, more private-sector jobs were created than in the eight years of the Bush administration.

    So, we have to go tell our story and understand that this is a choice. The American people love choice. And they will have a choice in this election. And, so, in terms of jobs, from day one, we've created or saved 3.6 million. The job situation is not where we want it to be. We have to do more.

    That's why we have to get reelected to move forward, instead of going back to the failed economic policies that got us where we are in the first place.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I ask because voters keep raising jobs as their main concern.

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: That's right.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: The one thing many Democrats, though, think that Congress should have done before adjournment is pass middle-class tax cuts to accentuate the differences with Republicans. The decision was made not to go for that vote. Was that a miscalculation...

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: No, not at all. It's a decision because the fact is, our president got out there and talked about giving a tax cut to all Americans, ... but he does not agree that we should give an extra bonus to people making over $250,000 a year. They, too, will get a tax cut under President Obama's plan.

    We support that. Our members are fully prepared to go home and talk about what they support in it. It ... doesn't require a vote to take a position on it. So, ... we are very confident about the decisions that we have made, about the priorities in legislation that we had passed, health care reform for all Americans -- improving quality, expanding coverage, lowering costs -- [and] Wall Street reform. The list goes on.

    Members are going home to talk about that, but also to talk about the future, what is the choice. And one of those choices is, ... do we give a tax cut to everyone which creates jobs, or do we give a tax cut, a bonus to the upper income, which will only add to the deficit? We're not going to do that.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, speaking of that, there are 47 House Democrats, about a fifth of your Democratic Caucus, who are urging you and the president to go along with extending tax cuts on investments, like the capital gains tax ...

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: ... We've probably passed 16 tax considerations favorable to small businesses. But the decision here and the distinction here is, do you want to give a tax cut to all Americans which creates jobs, or do you want to hold that tax cut hostage to giving an extra tax cut to the high end which will take us $700 billion into debt? ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... is there room, though, for compromise on this -- tax cuts on investments that -- for people who earn income through investments that create jobs, up to a million dollars?

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: Our position is clear. Everybody gets a tax cut. If you make over $250,000 a year, you do not get an extra tax cut.

    Most of that tax cut, by the way, at the high end -- 80 percent of it goes to people making over a million dollars a year as joint filers. So, we feel very clear about our position: It's where jobs are created. It is not where the deficit is increased ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: I know you believe and you've said the Democrats are going to have the majority in the next Congress...

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: Right ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: When it comes to health care reform, Madam Speaker, the Republicans are already talking about it. They are saying, ... if we can't repeal it, we're at least going to de-fund it ...

    REP. NANCY PELOSI: Well, that's another reason why we must win this election -- and we will -- because making health care more affordable, accessible and higher-quality is important to the American people.

    Republicans want to de-fund stopping denial of coverage because you have a preexisting medical condition, stopping repeal of your policy because you become sick or because you need an operation. The list goes on and on of very positive initiatives -- which have already gone into effect -- that the Republicans want to de-fund.

    So, our members know that it was one thing to pass historic health care reform. Now we have to make sure it is enforced. The Republicans want to stand in the way of that ...''


    USA TODAY OPINION, 10-4-10, By Sherrod Brown

    ``Progressives are an impatient bunch. We fight for people who have waited too long already -- for health care, for educational opportunity, for jobs to keep them in the middle class.

    But for generations, conservatives have appealed to fear to protect the privileged and preserve the status quo -- fear of immigrants, fear of diversity, fear of big government. For conservatives in 2010, it's easy:




    Meanwhile, for more than a century -- in churches and temples, in union halls and neighborhood centers, in the streets and at the ballot box -- progressives have moved the country forward. Progressives brought us minimum wage and Social Security in the 1930s, civil rights and Medicare in the 1960s, and health care and Wall Street reform in 2010.

    Opponents of these accomplishments -- some of society's most privileged and well-entrenched interest groups -- have not changed much. The John Birch Society of 1965 has bequeathed its fervor and extremism to the Tea Party of 2010.

    History tells us that rage on the right should not be confused with populism. The far right attacks government regulation as it feeds Wall Street and the insurance companies. It rails against government spending for the least privileged as it lavishes tax cuts favoring the most privileged.

    No one should be surprised over what has happened in the last 18 months:

  • We passed health care reform, so the insurance companies are coming after us at election time.

  • We enacted consumer protections for homeowners and credit card users, so Wall Street is spending millions to defeat us.

  • We worked to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, and now large multinational corporations are doing everything possible to beat us.

    We already know the damage that comes from the right's rage. During President Clinton's eight years, our country added more than 22 million private sector jobs, incomes went up, and we enjoyed the largest budget surplus in U.S. history.

    In the following eight years of the Bush administration, only 1 million jobs were added, incomes stagnated or plummeted for most Americans, and we were left with record budget deficits.

    Yet Republican candidates in 2010 are offering the same faux populism and "solutions" of the Bush years: more tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of special interests, and trade agreements that cost us millions of manufacturing jobs. And in places like my state of Ohio, they are even offering up as candidates the same people who got us into this mess.

    To fight back, progressives must talk about the historic accomplishments of the last 18 months in specific, understandable terms:

  • We saved the U.S. auto industry in the face of naysayers' exhortation to "let the market work," and our efforts preserved hundreds of thousands of jobs.

  • We passed health care reform that improves drug benefits for senior citizens, provides coverage to those with a pre-existing condition, allows a 22-year-old daughter home from college to stay on her parents' insurance, and promises health care for millions of Americans.

  • We made college more affordable for students and passed historic legislation for our nation's veterans and for equal pay for women.

    If you have a 401(k), take a look at it today and compare it with the day before President Obama was inaugurated. Back then, 750,000 jobs were being lost each month, with 22 consecutive months of job loss costing 8 million jobs. We've got a long ways to go, but this year we've seen eight straight months of private sector job growth.

    Is this enough?

    No, which is why progressives must rally and persevere.

    The Tea Party vision of 21st century America would

  • gut Medicare and Social Security,

  • ignore the minimum wage,

  • and scale back consumer protections and regulations that keep Wall Street honest and our food supply safe ...

    Tea Party populism is driven by anger at our government and at our country. Real populism fights for all Americans, while Tea Party populism divides us ...''

    Sherrod Brown, a Democratic senator from Ohio, is the author of `Myths of Free Trade.' ''

    Top -- Home


    ARTICLE from The Bear Market News, By Hal Crowther. 9-26-10

    ``The 'Tea Party' stands for more for them and less for the rest of us.

    When I published an unflattering assessment of the Tea Party movement ["Rabies on the Right," 6/1/10 TPP], I anticipated a spirited response ... I admit they surprised me ... Betraying a certain lack of media sophistication, some assumed that I lived in the city where they happened to read my essay, and threatened to pay a visit to my house. Most of them signed their names, too.

    My memory doesn't extend back to anything quite like this, nothing so animated by rage yet devoid of content. As a friend of mine wrote several years ago, everything's like pro wrestling now, taunts and scowls, fantastic narratives and pantomimes of violence, empty conflict aimed at inflaming an audience of oafs.

    And of course we're aware that the wife of the founder of the World Wrestling Federation, herself a participant in some of those preposterous ringside narratives, is spending a fortune to win a US Senate seat in Connecticut. One key difference is that most Tea Party combatants come armed with deadly weapons, engineered to shed real blood. Dialogue, as I learned dramatically, is not their style.

    But what sort of dialogue can we imagine with a fierce minority virtually lobotomized by its gullibility, a minority of bubble-dwelling reactionaries whose every "fact" has been distorted or manufactured? ...

    Nearly every city has its own instigator, its mini-Limbaugh peddling bizarre conspiracy theories and assuring eager racists that Barack Obama is a Muslim/communist/Antichrist born in Kenya and educated by terrorist mullahs in an Indonesian madrasah.

    Most Tea Party mythology is so ridiculous that reasonable people will grin and ignore it. Sometimes they do so at their peril. Senator Lisa Murkowski, who passes for a moderate conservative in her home state of Alaska, lost the Republican primary to a Wild Right challenger because, observers theorize, she failed to respond to a fusillade of savage attack ads from the Tea Party Express (the same kamikaze group supposedly expelled from the Party for posting a grotesquely racist "satire" of the NAACP on its blog).

    "They literally accused her of almost everything imaginable," one pollster reported. No doubt Murkowski thought that answering them was like trying to answer monkeys who scream and throw nuts and excrement from the treetops. In the shadow of Sarah Palin, she should have known better than to overestimate the intelligence of Alaska's Republicans. In this age of reality-proof information bubbles, lies and labels become deadly weapons.

    The Tea Party's "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington Aug. 28 [2010] was sponsored by the media demagogue Glenn Beck, self-anointed messiah of America's meanest morons. It was staged inappropriately, some say obscenely, at the site and on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous plea for civil rights, the speech remembered as "I Have a Dream."

    A throng of grizzled white insurgents cheered and whistled as Beck and Palin, an odd couple of vulgarians waxing very rich on their admirers' simplicity, appealed America's fate to a Higher Power. They exhorted us to pray on our knees for deliverance from socialism and recycled the apocalyptic language of the tent revival ...

    It was the late Fuhrer himself, a poor general but a supremely successful demagogue, who wrote, "The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one." "Big government" is the big lie that our Tea Party has swallowed whole, with a hogwash chaser.

    An overripe canard from the conservative Chamber of Horrors, "big government" still works wonders with the logically impaired. (Hitler also wrote "All propaganda has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach.")

    Did they notice that during the let-the-fat cats-feast administrations of George W. Bush, there was never a word about big government from the Glenn Beck section? Not even when deficits soared, hopeless wars drained the treasury and the White House expanded its powers in flat defiance of the Constitution [and the kleptocrats sucked in trillions for foreign oil, some of it coming back at us as bullets and bombs] ...

    The current "big government" wave of rightwing rhetoric is about as populist, at heart, as a string of polo ponies. It's the latest attempt by the plutocrats [kleptocrats] to restore discipline to their stable of safe politicians ...

    Where does the Tea Party fit in? Old white men they may be, but everyone knows that white men of the ruling class don't wear t-shirts that say "Babies, Guns, Jesus." Past their prime, lower-middle class but not entirely uneducated, Tea Party soldiers may in some cases even understand that the gap between America's richest 1% and the rest of us has widened scandalously since 1980, and even more radically since the Bush tax cuts and the market crash of 2008.

    The United States of America has become a cruel winner-take-all society. What sets it apart from every other developed country ... is the huge number of Americans who support that arrangement because they believe, against all evidence, that they are, or could be, among the winners ...

    Jane Mayer revealed in The New Yorker that the Tea Party's principal angels are the mega-billionaire Koch brothers, David and Charles.

    The Koch family, one of America's half-dozen wealthiest, has been bankrolling the Far Right at least since the brothers' late father committed his oil money to the John Birch Society back in the 1950s. The Kochs, reactionary royalty, control foundations and energy-industry PACs that have lavished several hundred million dollars on the Tea Party and other right-wing causes in the past decade alone ...

    All intelligent Americans, the ones who deplore it and the ones who profit from it, are well aware of this populist scam. Everyone except the aging warriors out marching in the uniforms of the Continental Army. Their blindness is a greater shame, as I see it, because the Tea Party gets one very important thing right:

    The system is broken. Awash in money and mendacity, America's democracy is like a big animal that can't swim, floundering and drowning in two feet of water. Cash and slander rule -- huge wallets, huge lies. If you won't lie and can't pay, you have no future in American politics.

    If you aspire to public service, try to find a country with a Supreme Court majority that doesn't spell "free $peech" with a dollar sign. The Court's Citizens United decision last January [2010] ... simply legitimized and institutionalized everything that's most disgusting about our system.

    To grasp the absurdity and obscenity of equating free corporate spending with free speech, visualize an actual political gathering, and put it to the bullhorn test. The crowd is huge, row after row, as far as the eye can see. One candidate has a huge bullhorn that reaches the back rows easily; his opponent has such a tiny bullhorn that his voice is inaudible beyond the twentieth row. When he asks why he can't use a big bullhorn, too, they tell him "Because you can't afford it." Think that's unfair, un-American? Tell it to the Supreme Court ...

    No midterm election cycle has seen as many reckless big spenders as this one. Candidates had spent $400 million before the end of August, including unprecedented price tags on the Meg Whitman ($104 million to date) and Carly Fiorina campaigns in California.

    Linda McMahon, the wrestling mogul, pledged to spend up to $50 million, if necessary, for Connecticut's Senate seat ... The Right loves to talk about the Founders and original intent. Do they think the Founders meant to auction off the highest offices to the highest bidder?

    The Constitution never had a fighting chance against billionaires' egos or the Koch brothers' brand of checkbook democracy, which has frozen favored incumbents in office and swallowed up both Democrats and Republicans. They flip-flop in and out of power regardless of their failures because voters have no memory and no real options; third parties can never raise enough money to stop the revolving door ...

    From Bernie Madoff and the Ponzi industry to recalls of shoddy pacemakers ... and still deregulation is a passionate religion. The free-market Right raged against regulators and environmentalists for decades, while the government babied the oil industry with incestuous concessions. Then came the BP disaster and oil spill, right on schedule ...''

    From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2010


    ``Commentator 2

    If you call $300 million "tiny," then yes, he inherited a very tiny fortune ... Sure, he's a successful businessman. But political ideology seems secondary; he uses his financial assets to increase his financial assets. The Kochs just slipped into whatever political ideology would most directly benefit the morbidly wealthy.

    As described in the article, the Kochs grew impatient with trying to influence politics by bankrolling individual politicians or setting up pseudo-science think tanks to conduct the research that would influence policy makers and enhance their business. So they began setting up a series of 'grassroots' political organizations to invent the anti-govt, anti-tax Tea Party-type movement, which hadn't found any organic support before ...

    Commentator 3

    Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, "The Kochs are on a whole different level. There's no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."

    Commentator 4

    Do some simple math in your melon: Obama received MORE SMALL donations than any other president, because MORE OF US contributed to stop the demise of America. We WERE spent into a flaming pit, in two wars, our banks failing, industries failing, jobs evaporating and already in debt when Obama was elected ...

    Look back at every GOP president since Ike. They each pass on debt and disarray to their successor, and then attack the needed spending by the Dem cleaning up the crime scene as a "tax and spend Democrat", when a more accurate term would be the guy paying the bills for the jackass Republican preceeding pres, that was a "borrow and spend Republican" ...

    Commentator 5

    Why do the Kochs hide their investments into politics behind so many little different recently invented entities? They COULD just do it under Koch industries, if they were NOT trying to be invisible?

    Why would Dick Armey pretend he was NOT paid by the Kochs? When did political donations, turn into buses driving thugs all over the nation to disturb the peace and intimidate public meetings? ...

    Commentator 6

    Missed by Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article -- as well as by many other commentators -- is the fact that Charles Koch was a member of the John Birch Society [JBS] until May 1968. So it was not just Daddy Fred that found JBS conspiracy theories alluring ...

    Commentator 7

    Consider the "tea bag" rebellion. No one professes more hatred for the two-party, business-as-usual political system in Washington than those angry Americans who're caught up in the tea-bag rallies. Yet unbeknownst to most of the mad-as-hellers who have showed up, it was Republican-tied lobbyists and political functionaries who cynically financed, organized and orchestrated the very first tea-bag protest.

    They have steadily co-opted the tea-bag faction to make it a front for the corporate agenda, and many of the tea-bag groups have devolved into subsidiaries of the Republican Party -- fabricating and spreading fake grass-roots organizations all across the country, including Patients United Now (anti-health care reform), Hot Air Tour (anti-global warming), Free Our Energy (pro-offshore drilling), No Stimulus (tried to kill Obama's economic recovery plan) and Save My Ballot Tour (tries to keep workers from joining unions).

    It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you -- and they are! While such corporate elites as the Kochs are a tiny minority of Americans, they are able to hide their own selfish agenda behind front groups, surreptitiously skewing our public debate, agenda and policies to serve themselves. Ultimately, what they are out to get is nothing less than America's essential uniting ethic of the common good, replacing our democracy with their corporate kleptocracy.

    And as for that old Limbaugh line that it is 'class envy' that makes Democrats think our taxation is UNFAIR, when it is those who don't have a pot to pee in themselves, who stick up for this totally one-sided Corporate and Wealthy Welfare that the Republians give, waiting for that wonderous day when maybe a couple dollars will ... trickle down!''


    Filed by Associated Press, 10-6-10

    ``Working-class whites flocking to Republicans, report says

    WASHINGTON -- Desperate for jobs and cool toward President Barack Obama, working-class whites are flocking to Republicans, turning a group long wary of Democrats into an even bigger impediment to the party's drive to keep control of Congress.

    An Associated Press-GfK Roper poll shows whites without four-year college degrees preferring GOP candidates by twice the margin of the last two elections, when Democrats made significant gains in the House and Senate. The poll, conducted last month, found this group favoring GOP hopefuls 58 percent to 36 percent -- a whopping 22 percentage-point gap.

    In 2008, when Obama won the presidency, they favored GOP congressional candidates by 11 percentage points, according to exit polls of voters. When Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006, the Republican edge was 9 percentage points.

    Compared with better-educated whites, working-class whites tend to be older and more conservative -- groups that traditionally lean Republican and are uneasy with the young president's activist governing ...

    Though accustomed to trailing among working-class whites, Democrats can hardly afford further erosion from a group that accounts for about 4 in 10 voters nationally. Their GOP preference is in contrast to whites with college degrees, who the AP-GfK Poll shows are split evenly between the two parties' candidates, and to minorities, who decisively back Democrats.

    Many of these working-class voters were dubbed Reagan Democrats in the 1980s, when some in the North and Midwest who had previously preferred Democrats began supporting conservative Republicans.

    Many never warmed to Obama during the 2008 presidential race ... They preferred Hillary Rodham Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination, by 2-1 and in the general election backed Republican nominee John McCain by 18 points ...

    In the AP-GfK poll, working-class whites were likelier than white college graduates to say their families are suffering financially and to have a relative who's recently lost a job ...

    They are likelier than better-educated whites to dislike Obama personally and are more negative about his leadership ... Quinnipiac University polls show clear advantages with this group for GOP Senate candidates in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio ...

    The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Sept. 8-13-10 by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications and involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 randomly chosen adults. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. Included were interviews with 416 whites without college degrees, for whom the error margin is plus or minus 6.6 points.

    Commentator 8

    The media can do a poll on anything, they can do a poll on people who are overweight and ask if they support Obama or no. Then publish as breaking news on CNN and say 65% of fat people support Obama. and they can talk for weeks why fat people support Obama. This poll thing is nonsense!!!

    What you should be asking is what do Republicans have to offer that they didn't in the last 8 years they were in power. Or what new thing are they bringing?

    Commentator 9

    I voted for Bush twice ... Once because I believed in his message. The second time because I thought that he would follow through during his second term because he wouldn't have to worry about being reelected. Not only was I mistaken, but he became more of a party puppet the second time around.

    Lets not forget what Bush did: he took our economy from surplus to massive deficit. When we were in a recession he gave MASSIVE tax cuts which created a MASSIVE deficit?. and by the way created a major trickle UP economy where the rich got richer.

    I had been telling people to watch out for the housing bubble pop since 2005 simply because I noticed the mass of realty signs building in front yards: and they weren't moving. Then Bear Stearns died in March 2008, which was a preview of what was to come in September 2008.

    Bush waited for the bottom to fall out before attempting anything. And then what did he attempt?


    Yep, you know -- the solution everyone loves to point out as being Obama's fault.

    So, we're all sitting here unemployed, underemployed, taking pay cuts or worried when any of those three things will happen to us. and who got the 'bail out'? The big boys. They did not learn their lesson with the Bush tax cuts: the rich keep their money. Trickle down is a lie ...

    Now all I hear out of Republicans are how bad Dems are and empty promises. I say empty promises because when you press them for how they will accomplish these goals, they have no answers.

    I guess I'm going to be kicked out of the white club because I absolutely refuse to support a party of empty promises whose only goal is to enrich themselves.''

    [Will Archie Bunker vote for the kleptocrats because he hates Obama?]

    Top -- Home

    [Senator Rand Paul speaks out on Iraq]

    By Carrie Dann

    Rand Paul: I Don't Blame Obama for Iraq Turmoil

    Senator Rand Paul says he doesn't blame President Barack Obama for the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and that former Vice President Dick Cheney and other proponents of the Iraq War should ask themselves the same questions Cheney is raising now about the conflict.

    "What's going on now -- I don't blame on President Obama," Paul said in an interview with NBC's David Gregory to air on "Meet the Press" Sunday [6-22-14]. "Has he really got the solution? Maybe there is no solution ..."

    In an op-ed this week authored with his daughter Liz, Cheney wrote of Obama that "rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."

    Paul, a possible 2016 presidential candidate known for his breaks with Republican defense [WAR] hawks on foreign policy, said that Cheney's criticism of the president's strategy should also be questioned.

    Cheney is widely credited as a key architect of the 2003 war [and the increase in the price of oil from $25 per barrel in 2003 to $125 per barrel in 2006; the owners of oil wells made trillions at the expense of the American people].

    "I think the same questions could be asked of those who supported the Iraq War," Paul said. "You know, were they right in their predictions? Were there weapons of mass destruction there? That's what the war was sold on.

    Was democracy easily achievable?

    Was the war won in 2005, when many of these people said it was won? They didn't ... understand the civil war that would break out."

    [Senator Paul] added that the Iraq War has caused ongoing chaos in the Middle East as well as the emboldening of Iran. "Iran is much more of a threat because of the Iraq War than they were before -- before there was a standoff between Sunnis and Shiites. Now there is Iranian hegemony throughout the region," he said.

    Published June 20 2014


    November 8, 2010

    [Rand Paul on Afghanistan]

    ``Senator-Elect Rand Paul said today that there needs to be a national debate on Afghanistan, that Congress has abdicated its role ...

    During his interview with ABC, just before being questioned by Stakeout, Paul called for cutting the military budget as well as other federal programs ...


    QUESTION: Senator-Elect, are there examples where Bush exceeded proper limits of executive power in the "War on Terror," and is Obama doing the same now?

    PAUL: Well, I think that I would like to see when we go to war that we declare war formally, and I think we should go to war reluctantly, and I think we do as Americans believe in a certain reluctance towards going to war, but I think when we had a use of force resolution instead of a declaration of war resolution, that lessened the debate somehow, and I think it needs to be elevated to an incredibly important plateau in order to discuss it.

    [ Why do most Tea Partyers chose to ignore Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution which says that Congress has the power "to declare war" not the executive branch of government?]

    So I will argue that when we go into hostilities, we declare war formally and we don't do it with a use of force resolution ...

    QUESTION: Are we in violation of the Constitution? How do you rectify that? And also in terms of Yemen and Pakistan now?

    PAUL: I think we need to have a debate over it, at the very least, is we need to begin to debate. I don't think we're even having the debate. So I think it's a step forward to have the debate.''


    Published November 04, 2010

    ``... "The challenge for conservatives is that nation-building isn't conservative," said Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. For the libertarians in the Tea Party, he said, many will be skeptical of the prolonged engagement in Afghanistan ...

    Paul's father, Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, is an opponent of the Afghanistan war and a lonely GOP member of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus chaired by Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers.

    The elder Paul had a message to Tea Partiers, some of whom see him as a leader in the movement, in an August magazine column. "As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad," he wrote ...''


    ``... AMANPOUR: One of those aiming to make history is Rand Paul, senator-elect from Kentucky, and he joins me this morning. Welcome. Thank you for being here.

    PAUL: Good morning.

    AMANPOUR: In a way, it is, to coin a phrase, historic. There's never been a Tea Party in modern American history, and you are one of the prominent Tea Partiers. What is your first aim once you get ... to the Senate?

    PAUL: I think the debt. We have to do something about the debt. I think we've been fiscally irresponsible for a generation or more here.

    [A commentator wrote on 12-31-08:

    ``In an effort to paralyze the U. S. federal government, just three presidents, Reagan and the Bushes, have incurred most of our cureent $11 trillion national debt ..."]

    AMANPOUR: ... Would you cut the military?

    PAUL: Yes. Yes.

    AMANPOUR: By how much? Obviously, Robert Gates has made some suggestions.

    PAUL: Well, I think it's hard ... the interest on the debt now is going to approach ... what we spend in the national defense budget ... We need to do something about it.

    AMANPOUR: The question, again, is, exactly what? Because, again, the Republicans in the campaign have come up with $50 billion here, $100 billion there, a lot to you and me, but in terms of reducing a $1.3 trillion [annual] deficit, how does the math add up? ...

    AMANPOUR: Afghanistan? Are you going to call for early withdrawal there? ...

    PAUL: Well, after 10 years, I think the Afghans need to have stepped up more to do more. when I asked our G.I.s, from Kentucky leaving the base, I said, "... Would you rather the Afghans do more of the patrolling on the streets?" Every one of these young brave men and women will tell you, "Yes." So the mood is changing, even within those who are the brave young men and women that are serving our country ...''


    [We would not be in Afghanstan another five minutes if the men in black, and the kleptocrats they serve, would abandon the Unocal pipeline project from Kazakhstan across Afghanistan to the port of Karachi in Pakistan. But a lot of Americans have been convinced we are there to bring democracy and freedom to the Afghans, or at least to stop al Qaida, when, in fact, al Qaida is operating freely from Pakistan.

    For more on the Unocal pipeline and the run-up to 9-11-2001 and the Afghan War, see

    Some Americans may also believe that a troop surge pacified Iraq when, in fact, the "success" was achieved by paying off the Sunni Moslems in western Iraq and by Iran restraining the militant Shiites such as al Sadr's Mahdi Army.

    In the 1980's, we gave Osama bin Laden Stinger missiles to shoot down the Russian helicopters in Afghanistan, creating a chain of events that resulted in the Russians losing most of their Islamic empire.

    Do you think the Russians are going to forget this? We will have to build the Unocal pipeline over their dead bodies. Where did Iran get medium range missiles to threaten Israel and high-tech roadsde bombs used so effectively against us in Iraq? Where are the roadside bombs coming from in Afghanistan?

    Kazakh War of 2020, here we come.]

    Top -- Home

    [John Bogle on the economy]


    Posted by: Jay Kernis - Senior Producer


    More stimulus dollars?

    Creating more job?

    Learning from the Depression?

    Joining us to answer today's five OFF-SET questions is John C. Bogle, who founded The Vanguard Group, Inc. in the mid-1970s.

    The Vanguard Group is one of the two largest mutual fund organizations in the world, comprising more than 100 mutual funds with current assets totaling about $950 billion. Vanguard 500 Index Fund, the largest fund in the group, was founded by Mr. Bogle in 1975 ...

    Bogle appeared on Parker Spitzer on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010.

    JAY KERNIS: Do you think President Obama has done enough to deal with the country's financial crisis? What else would you have him do?

    JOHN BOGLE: President Obama has done mostly what's right, despite intransigent opposition from his political adversaries. But he should have focused more of the available stimulus on infrastructure and mortgagees, where the payoff in economic recovery would be more immediate.

    JAY KERNIS: What do you think is the most effective way to create more jobs?

    JOHN BOGLE: In our deadlocked political system, more stimulus, however urgent, seems unlikely. So the President should focus on unleashing the entrepreneurial energy of small- and medium-sized businesses through reducing (some) regulation and creating incentives for hiring and investment.

    JAY KERNIS: On Dec. 1 [2010], we learned that the Federal Reserve made $9 trillion in loans to major banks and Wall Street firms during the financial crisis. What was your reaction when you saw that figure?

    JOHN BOGLE: Immediate reaction: Shock. After a moment's reflection: Of course! We live in an interconnected global world, and contagion can be almost immediate. Good move, likely essential to resolving the credit crunch.

    JAY KERNIS: According to a recent study commissioned by the Council of Institutional Investors, pay practices at major Wall Street banks likely helped drive excessive risk-taking by executives and brought financial markets to the brink of collapse in 2008. The study found that total CEO compensation at major Wall Street institutions in 2003-2007 was two to three times the level of pay at other Fortune 50 companies during the same period. Don't CEOs deserve whatever their boards of directors are willing to pay them?

    JOHN BOGLE: No. Boards too often revere even non-performing CEOs; compensation consultants, in thrall to CEOs, chose the metrics of measurement, and ratchet them up, year after year. The system is sick.

    JAY KERNIS: You come from a family that was affected by the Great Depression. Are there any lessons from that experience that resonate with you today -- that the rest of us might want to pay attention to?

    JOHN BOGLE: What I remember from my youth is the danger of borrowing, and the profound psychic rewards of earning the money to buy what one wanted. Save until you have the money; only then, buy. Our departure from those ancient virtues helped to get us into the financial morass we face today.''



    ``KATHLEEN PARKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening and welcome to the program. I'm Kathleen Parker ...

    ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He's one of the most important figures on Wall Street over the last 50 years, but not because of his own profits. When other folks were trying to figure out how to make money out of your pocket, he was figuring out how to make money for you.

    On Wall Street today, it isn't so easy for regular folks to profit. You think you're smart about your investments, "Don't Count on It." That's the title of the latest book from John Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard mutual funds, the largest mutual funds in the nation. So what is his view of Wall Street today? Joining us in the "Exchange" tonight, Jack Bogle.

    Jack, thank you for being here. I just want to preface this by saying I am an enormous fan of yours.


    SPITZER: You are one of the few, honest folks on Wall Street who always put the client first.

    BOGLE: That's the way to build a good business ...

    SPITZER: All right. So the notion was keep fees and costs low?

    BOGLE: And invest for the long term and ... the shareholder -- you make a decision. Don't make it for the manager, make it for that shareholder --

    SPITZER: Explain first why this issue of fees is so important.

    BOGLE: The reason it's important is, in a very simplified way, if the market gives an eight percent annual return, ... Wall Street takes -- the mutual fund money managers and the traders and the marketers and the lawyers and that whole constellation --

    SPITZER: [Those] who feed out of this.

    BOGLE: Yes, they're feeding away. The rent seekers, they call them. And they take about two percent out of that eight percent, leaving you with six. And if you compound that over a lifetime, it means that you put up 100 percent of the capital. You took 100 percent of the risk and you get about 25 percent of the return. And Wall Street puts up none of the capital. Takes none of the risk, and gets 75 percent of the return. If you think that's a good deal, Eliot, welcome to Wall Street.

    SPITZER: And that exactly is the tension, the conflict of interests that has been adherent in so many of these mutual fund companies for decades.

    BOGLE: Exactly. The mutual fund industry has become a big marketing industry whose objective is to raise the amount of assets under management. The bigger you are, the more your fees. There's a lot of leverage in those fees and huge economies at scale as you get bigger. And the mutual fund industry by and large has not shared those economies to scale with investors. They've shared it with themselves.

    SPITZER: But your notion was keep the fees low to give a bigger return to the investor.

    BOGLE: Exactly right and keep the transaction cost low ... And that's what the index fund does.

    SPITZER: Right ...

    BOGLE: And no trading costs, high tax efficiency, ... It's a way to capture your fair share market returns, whatever they may be.

    SPITZER: OK. Now I want to switch gears and talk about how you see our economy right now and what you think is the underlying problem with an unemployment rate at about 9.8 percent that seems to be stuck there. A lot of money sloshing around, but no real investment, no job creation?

    BOGLE: No. There is no real investment and job creation. I think what we have to do, and you know, I think the Obama administration moved in the right direction with the stimulus, but there's not going to be anymore stimulus.

    The politicians down there in Washington will become, I think, their own parody, [and they] aren't going to give any more stimulus.

    So I think we have to work [at] making, particularly for small businesses and medium-sized businesses, it more attractive to hire. Whether that's credits for new hiring, whether it's investment credits, whether it's some limited reduction in regulations, make the world easier for the small and medium-sized businesses. The big guys can take care of themselves ...

    SPITZER: For those of us who believe the issue is lack of aggregate demand, how do you stimulate that demand? You said that the president had a stimulus that was OK, but we need more of it. How would you craft another stimulus and where would it come from?

    BOGLE: We talked about when all these came up, shovel-ready product, projects. They didn't seem to be many shovel-ready projects. So I think we ought to move the focus ... away from TARP and funding the bankers to the productive part of the economy. Because in the long run, the productive part of the economy is what America is all about. And the financial part of the economy creates no value and, in fact, subtracts value from the returns of business.

    SPITZER: ... The problem we have politically is that the newly ascended Republican Party seems to reject the notion of Keynesian economics, which is essentially what you're talking about, which is creating that demand by having government spend the money or buy the goods that create ... the demand. Have we rejected Keynesian economics? Is that a bad thing to do?

    BOGLE: ... We got a wonderful test going on in the United Kingdom ... -- that's going to be a struggling economy with huge cutbacks in the government's role in the British economy ...

    No one's ever going to be able to prove these things, but I think you've got to try something with the best possible prospects in this really fragile, very fragile position in which our nation finds itself.

    SPITZER: And what is your view of this whole notion of cutting taxes for the wealthy at this moment in time?

    BOGLE: Well, please. I mean, the idea, honestly of holding up the unemployment benefits to people who haven't been working, some for a long time, they're probably 20 million of them ... to favor the top one percent and more likely the top one-tenth of one percent or the top one-hundredth of one percent of America's wealthiest people seems to me, first, abusive, counterproductive, economically incorrect, and even worse, Eliot, if I can fly a little higher ..., contrary to the spirit of America which does, don't forget, say something about promoting the general welfare.

    SPITZER: And you are a Wall Street guy saying all this?

    BOGLE: Yes ...''


    Regarding long term unemploment, Commentator 11 wrote on 12-21-10:

    ``The topic of human labor being rendered obsolete by robots has come up from time to time. I discovered a web site and book about this by someone named Martin Ford:

    Ford founded a silicon valley software development company, so he knows a thing or two about computers and robots ...

    Commentator 12 wrote on 12-21-10:

    I think the author Commentator 11 refers to is probably spot-on when he brings up the rather unsettling prediction that a free market (as it is currently understood and practiced) is likely to cease to function if robotics continue to assume much of the labor ...

    Personally, I would like to see the day come where our current monetary system might be turned upside down in a major fundamental way ...

    Commentator 13 wrote on 12-21-10:

    The U.S. monetary system has been turned upside down several times in the past, eliciting forceful responses. The fundemental bone of contention is "Should our currency be based on debt, with interest often being paid to money lenders (our current system) or to holders of 'bank notes,' or should our currency be based on something besides debt?"

    Jefferson argued forcefully against debt. Hamilton was all for debt. I have not yet read Ron Paul's book "End The Fed" but it won't be long before interest on the national debt is the largest budget item, exceeding military expenditures and transferring enormous wealth from the taxpayers to the money lenders.

    Commentator 11 wrote on 12-21-10:

    Today, most of us accept that technology will continue to advance and produce things that we might currently view as impossible. However, we still think too narrowly. We accept that there will be new technologies, new products and new industries, but most of us are not prepared to accept that all this will change the basic economic rules that we take for granted. But why wouldn't that be the case? Is there a fundamental reason why accelerating technology should impact nearly every aspect of our lives -- but not impact the way the economy works?

    Commentator 14 wrote on 12-21-10:

    An unconditional basic income movement is gaining traction in Germany and Brazil ...

    The Basic Income Earth Network:

    A Journal on Basic Income:

    Basic Income signed into law in Brazil in 2004 but not implemented:

    Small scale Basic Income experiment in Brazil:!/pages/BIG-QUATINGA-VELHO/117066824987781?v=info

    Larger Scale Basic Income experiment recently completed in Nambia:

    Article: Basic Income Grants Alleviate Poverty in Namibia:


    Commentator 16 wrote:

    Consider the example of a Chiropractor that would be paid anyway, even if the client didn't have the money to pay himself. What's to stop everyone from "purchasing" goods and services for which they have no money, living a life of luxury, and contributing nothing in return? (and I can assure you there are many who would if it were possible).

    The net result would be that little if anything got done, so the goods and services available would be severely limited ...

    Commentator 11 wrote on 12-24-10:

    I noted this problem as well. In real life, with the present system, we do have this problem with medical practitioners. Many people have virtually unlimited access to conventional doctors without paying much extra because their insurance covers it and the deductible is small. This does cause some people to overuse medical care, which causes long waits and extra cost for everyone else.

    There are other examples of resources that we have decided to give away at no cost, which causes overuse. Public roads, highways, and parking spaces in Manhattan are the best examples.

    Commentator 13 wrote on 12-24-10:

    A far more serious problem is the use of emergency rooms by people without insurance. This is rapidly driving up insurance rates for those with insurance. Continuing this give-away seems to be a primary objective of those with tea bags for brains as they mount legal challenges against mandatory health insurance coverage. They seem to have no problem with mandating that hospitals give free emergency-room service.

    Commentator 17 wrote on 12-24-10:

    One thing that strikes me about the chiropractic example is that it seems more people would become chiropractors (or doctors or perform any service) because their possible base of patients would expand to people who nowadays can not afford such services.

    But somebody has to pay for the services of the chiropractor. If it isn't the poor person, it must be the taxpayers.

    If the economy is efficient, if products are made at a low cost [by robots], then they can be bought by the poorer people and impose a lower burden on the taxpayers.


    Commentator 13 wrote on 12-24-10:

    Here's a brief history of the contention between the Hamiltonians and the Jeffersonians:


    President Andrew Jackson succeeds in destroying the Second Bank of the United States by withdrawing U.S. funds in 1833.

    Skull and Bones Society formed at Yale.

    William Huntington Russell founded the Order of Skull & Bones in 1832 after he returned from studies in Germany. The Russell family's business - Russell & Co. - was the premier American opium shipper and the third largest in the world. In the 1830s, opium became the world's largest commercial commodity, and was the foundation of great wealth with the smuggling of opium into China.

    January 30, 1835

    ``Aassassination attempt on President Andrew Jackson

    What is believed to be the first attempt to [murder] a sitting President of the United States occurred just outside the United States Capitol Building ...''

    April 12, 1861

    The Civil War began when General Beauregard, in command of the provisional Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina, opened fire on Fort Sumter.


    Bankers offered loans to the Lincoln government at a minimum 24 percent interest. So the Legal Tender Act of 1862 authorized the "greenback," a fiat paper currency that was issued directly into circulation by the United States Department of the Treasury.

    The London Times printed the following: "If that mischievous financial policy, which had its origin in the North American Republic, should become [established], then that Government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off debts and be without a debt. It will have all the money necessary to carry on its commerce. It will become prosperous beyond precedent in the history of the civilized governments of the world. The brains and the wealth of all countries will go to North America.

    That government must be destroyed, or it will destroy every monarchy on the globe." (Hazard Circular - London Times 1865)

    April 15, 1865

    President Abraham Lincoln is murdered.


    Federal Reserve System was created.

    The Federal Reserve System was created in 1913 by the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act. It consists of twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks

    ``Thomas Jefferson warned 200 hundred years ago that if private bankers were allowed to issue America 's money, indebtedness, foreclosure and suffering would follow. Yet, in 1913, private bankers gained control over America's money by the passage of the Federal Reserve Act.''

    ``Who owns the federal reserve bank[s?

    That is a complicated question ... [In other words, "who knows?"]

    It is historic fact that the plan for the Federal Reserve was created by banking interests in great secrecy at Jekyl Island in 1910 ... The operations of the Federal Reserve are secret, have no active congressional oversight, and are not audited by the GAO or the IRS ...''

    June 4, 1963

    John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 11110 ... which gave Kennedy, as President of the United States, authority to print United States Treasury Notes.

    November 22, 1963,

    John F. Kennedy is murdered

    Only one day after Kennedy's assassination, all the United States notes which Kennedy had issued, were called out of circulation.

    [Also see The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 ]

    Commentator 15 wrote on 12-31-08:

    ``In an effort to paralyze the U. S. federal government, just three presidents, Reagan and the Bushes, have incurred most of our cureent $11 trillion national debt -- this was not accident or stupidity; it was deliberate policy.

    Paying interest on this debt as it continues to grow should be repugnant to all of us -- what a waste of our tax dollars. So, here is a proposal in the tradition of President Abraham Lincoln:

    Immediately pay off the entire U. S. debt with electronic (and printed when necessary) U. S. Treasury bills, "electronic greenbacks." These treasury notes will pay no interest; and will be "stored" in the U. S. Treasury until the debt-holders give the U. S. Treasury their account numbers for "electronic greenback" direct deposit. All interest payments on notes issued by the Federal Reserve will be banned by law and immediately cease.

    The new greenbacks will be legal tender in the U. S. and must be accepted abroad by U. S. agencies, contractors, and banks chartered in the U. S. no matter where they are operating.''

    Top -- Home

    [In the cross hairs -- U. S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords]

    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 1-8-11, by the Associated Press

    ``Arizona Rep. Giffords shot; 6 others killed

    TUCSON, Ariz. -- A gunman targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords as she met with constituents outside a busy supermarket Saturday, wounding the Democrat and killing Arizona's chief federal judge ...

    The assassination attempt left the three-term congresswoman in critical condition after a bullet passed through her head ...

    Giffords, 40, is a moderate Democrat who narrowly won re-election in November against a tea party candidate who sought to throw her from office over her support of the health care law. Anger over her position became violent at times, with her Tucson office vandalized after the House passed the overhaul last March [2010] and someone showing up at a recent gathering with a weapon.

    Police say the shooter was in custody, and was identified by people familiar with the investigation as Jared Loughner, 22 ...

    [Sheriff] Dupnik said Giffords was among 13 people wounded in the melee that killed six people -- including 9-year-old Christina Greene, 30-year-old Gifford aide Gabe Zimmerman, and U.S. District Judge John Roll. The 63-year-old judge had just stopped by to see his friend Giffords ...

    Dupnik said the rampage ended only after two people tackled the gunman.

    Also killed were 76-year-old Dorthy Murray, 76-year-old Dorwin Stoddard, and 79-year-old Phyllis Scheck, investigators said.

    The sheriff blamed the vitriolic political rhetoric that has consumed the country, much of it occurring in Arizona.

    "When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous," he said. "And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

    Giffords expressed similar concern, even before the shooting. In an interview after her office was vandalized, she referred to the animosity against her by conservatives, including Sarah Palin's decision to list Giffords' seat as one of the top "targets" in the midterm elections.

    "For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action," Giffords said in an interview with MSNBC ...

    During his campaign effort to unseat Giffords in November [2010], Republican challenger Jesse Kelly held fundraisers where he urged supporters to help remove Giffords from office by joining him to shoot a fully loaded M-16 rifle ...

    Law enforcement officials said members of Congress reported 42 cases of threats or violence in the first three months of 2010, nearly three times the 15 cases reported during the same period a year earlier. Nearly all dealt with the health care bill, and Giffords was among the targets.

    A 19-year-old volunteer at the event, Alex Villec, described how the violence unfolded.

    Villec, a former staffer for the congresswoman, told The Associated Press that the man who later turned out to be the suspect arrived at the event wearing a black cap and baggy pants and asking for the congresswoman.

    "I told him she'll be more than happy to talk to you as your turn comes," Villec said. The man walked away, but returned just minutes later and burst through a table separating Villec and Giffords from the public. Villec said he saw him raise an arm, and then he heard gunfire.

    The gunman fired at Giffords and her district director and started shooting indiscriminately at staffers and others standing in line to talk to the congresswoman, said Mark Kimball, a communications staffer for Giffords ...

    The shooting cast a pall over the Capitol ... Capitol police asked members of Congress to be more vigilant about security in the wake of the shooting. Obama dispatched his FBI chief to Arizona ...

    Doctors were optimistic about Giffords surviving as she was responding to commands from doctors. "With guarded optimism, I hope she will survive, but this is a very devastating wound," said Dr. Richard Carmona, the former surgeon general who lives in Tucson ...

    Giffords was first elected to Congress amid a wave of Democratic victories in the 2006 election, and has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate in 2012 and a gubernatorial prospect in 2014.

    She is married to astronaut Mark E. Kelly, who has piloted space shuttles Endeavour and Discovery. The two met in China in 2003 while they were serving on a committee there, and were married in January 2007.

    Sen. Bill Nelson, chairman of the Senate Commerce Space and Science Subcommittee, said Kelly is training to be the next commander of the space shuttle mission slated for April [2011]. His brother is currently serving aboard the International Space Station, Nelson said ...''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 1-8-11, By Amanda Garrett, The Plain Dealer

    ``Politicians believe overheated rhetoric is fueling thoughts of violence

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A federal jury in Akron recently convicted a Tennessee man of threatening to burn down the house of then Ohio Congressman John Boccieri last year.

    Other members of Congress -- including Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- were threatened too, with words, bricks and, in one case, a faxed image of a noose. The threats happened ... in the run-up to a historic vote over federal health care.

    Many blamed overheated rhetoric, cautioning threats could escalate to violence if people on both sides of the debate didn't ratchet back their language.

    And Saturday, after learning of the attempt on Giffords' life, some of Northeast Ohio's leaders fear they were right.

    "The rhetoric has risen to such a level that people can no longer discuss differences in any civil way," U.S. Congresswoman Marcia Fudge said Saturday evening ...

    Boccieri -- who lost his bid for re-election in November [2010] -- also pointed to an incident involving then-House Minority Leader John Boehner and former Cincinnati Rep. Steve Driehaus. Boehner, according to news accounts, warned that Driehaus "may be a dead man" if he voted for health care ...

    Boccieri said [that] the tension was so thick that on the day of the health care vote, that both Boccieri and Fudge said they feared for their safety. As he was walking across the mall to vote in Washington, D.C., Boccieri said he looked out at Tea Party protestors and thought: "This could be it. Someone could have a gun in this crowd." ...

    During the fall campaign, for example, Republican Sarah Palin posted a map on her Facebook page showing where Democrats -- including Boccieri and Giffords -- were running.

    Each was pinpointed with cross hairs, like those seen through the scope of a gun ...

    Shortly after the shooting, House members received e-mail warnings from Capitol Hill law enforcement officials advising them to have more security at public events and take reasonable precautions regarding security.

    Not long after, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown canceled a public appearance today in the Cleveland area. His staff initially said it was because of safety concerns, but later added it was out of respect for Giffords, too ...''


    NEWS ARTICLE from NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, 1-8-11, by Liz Halloran

    ``'Vitriol' Cited As Possible Factor In Arizona Tragedy

    Law enforcement officials continue to piece together the facts in Saturday's shooting rampage that left a federal judge dead and a congresswoman critically injured in Arizona, and some are questioning whether divisive political rhetoric may have played a role.

    At least six people died and at least a dozen were injured in the Saturday morning shooting at a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store parking lot, in which the gunman specifically targeted Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Pima County, Arizon Sheriff Clarence Dupnik said. Giffords was shot in the head, and the shooting continued until citizens tackled the suspected gunman, he said.

    The dead included John Roll, chief judge of the U.S. District Court of Arizona. Also killed was Gabe Zimmerman, 30, the congresswoman's director of community outreach, and a 9-year-old girl. Two other Giffords staffers were injured.

    At a news conference Saturday night, a clearly emotional Dupnik, who has been close to both Giffords and Roll, repeatedly cited what he characterized as the "vitriol" that has infected political discourse. He said that his own state has become "the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

    There is reason to believe, he said, that the shooting suspect "may have a mental issue," adding that people like that "are especially susceptible to vitriol."

    "That may be free speech, but it's not without consequences," he said ...

    The suspected gunman was tackled and held by people at the event until police arrived and took him into custody. Law enforcement sources told NPR the suspect was 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner ...

    During an interview with MSNBC after her office was vandalized, Giffords noted that her district was on Sarah Palin's "crosshairs" list of targeted congressional races.

    And it had been reported that in 2009, Roll and his wife received 24-hour protection for at least a month after receiving death threats after certifying a multimillion-dollar lawsuit illegal immigrants had filed against an Arizona rancher ...

    About Gabrielle Giffords:


    Born: June 8, 1970, in Tucson

    Family: Married to Mark Kelly, a Navy pilot and astronaut with NASA; two children

    Home: Tucson, Ariz.

    Religion: Jewish


    U.S. House Representative, elected 2006

    State senator, Arizona, 2002-05

    State representative, Arizona, 2000-02

    CEO El Campo Tire, 1997-00

    Price Waterhouse Coopers, 1996-97


    Scripps College, BA, 1993

    Cornell University, MS, 1996

    Fulbright Scholar in Mexico, 1996 ...''


    POST from The Dailey Beast, 1-8-10

    ``No motives have emerged from today's senseless shooting in Tucson, but Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has a long history of being targeted by the Tea Party -- sometimes in violent terms.

    In the run-up to 2010's heated midterm elections, Arizona Democrat Gabrielle Giffords was placed on Sarah Palin's "target map," released in March [2010], which featured gun crosshairs superimposed over her target's districts on a United States map ...

    Giffords' Republican opponent in the race, Jesse Kelly, whom she narrowly defeated, held a campaign event in which he invited supporters to shoot a machine gun. "Get on target for victory," an ad for the event read. "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office. Shoot a fully a automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly," the ad continued.

    As Giffords' father rushed to the hospital after his daughter was shot, the New York Post asked him if his daughter had any enemies. "Yeah," he said. "The whole Tea Party." ...''

    Top -- Home

    Republican governors try to defund the Democrats

    A commentator wrote:

    ``[Maybe] you're ... interested in the on-going struggle pertaining to two diametrically opposing political POVs vying to steer the direction of our economy ...

    I hope our planet may soon benefit from the fallout of [the work of the] Rossi & Focardi duo (and possibly Mills & Co.) ... In the meantime, we must contend with the reality of the situation:

    The reality of Broken Economies:

    Who are we going to blame?


    How do we fix the problem?

    On Friday [2-18-11], Wisconsin's state and local public employees offered to accept all of the economic concessions called for in the budget repair bill - including Governor Walker's pension and health care concessions, the very items our governor originally stated are absolutely necessary in order to solve Wisconsin's looming deficits.

    The unions only asked that Scott Walker remove the provision that does away with 50 years of collective bargaining. Governor Walker flatly turned the offer down.

    If the issue had really been about solving Wisconsin's looming budget deficit, a budgetary solution is now at hand. The unions have now conceded to all of Walker's key budgetary demands.

    It has become blatantly clear at this point that the primary agenda in Walker's modus operandi was never about balancing the budget; rather it is to get rid of unions, particularly the right of unions to bargain collectively [and to financially contribute to the Democratic Party]

    It is incredible to me that our governor is willing to refuse a solution to our state's looming budget crisis by refusing to accept the very fiscal concessions he has constantly been calling for.

    PS: 14 Wisconsin senators remain AWOL. At present all it would it take for Scott Walker to get the entirety of his bill passed as-is (with no negotiating), which would include the destruction of collective bargaining would be to nab just one "missing" senator and force him back to the capital to complete a quorum ...''


    ARTICLE from Mother Jones, February 18, 2011, By Andy Kroll

    ``Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Brothers

    Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers.

    Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry ... For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to ... right-wing organizations ... And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers' largess is Scott Walker.

    According to Wisconsin campaign finance filings, Walker's gubernatorial campaign received $43,000 from the Koch Industries PAC during the 2010 election. That donation was his campaign's second-highest, behind $43,125 in contributions from housing and realtor groups in Wisconsin.

    The Koch's PAC also helped Walker via a familiar and much-used politicial maneuver designed to allow donors to skirt campaign finance limits. The PAC gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association [RGA], which in turn spent $65,000 on independent expenditures to support Walker. The RGA also spent a whopping $3.4 million on TV ads and mailers attacking Walker's opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Walker ended up beating Barrett by 5 points. The Koch money, no doubt, helped greatly ...

    Walker's plan to eviscerate collective bargaining rights for public employees is right out of the Koch brothers' playbook. Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions.

    Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado; Mix said in a recent interview that he supports Governor Walker's collective-bargaining bill.

    In Wisconsin, this conservative, anti-union view is being placed into action by lawmakers in sync with the deep-pocketed donors who helped them obtain power ... The Koch brothers' investment in Walker appears to be paying off.''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 2-22-11, By Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer

    ``COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Boisterous protests intensified at the Statehouse Tuesday as Ohio moved to the forefront of a growing national debate surrounding Republican efforts to curtail workers' collective bargaining rights.

    About 5,500 workers - teachers, police, nurses, electricians and others from across Ohio - swarmed the snowy state capital by mid-afternoon. They held signs, chanted and marched along the streets against Senate Bill 5, a Republican-backed plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state workers and restrict such rights for employees of local governments ...

    The scene mirrored those in other states where Republicans are seeking to erode unions' power and influence.

    In Wisconsin, Democratic senators failed to show up at work Tuesday, stalling Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to weaken public employees' bargaining rights. The Democrats have been gone since Thursday. Tens of thousands of protesters, however, have remained.

    Democrats in the Indiana House of Representatives also skipped work on Tuesday to prohibit Republicans from working on legislation to make Indiana a "right-to-work" state ...

    In Ohio, Democrats are so outnumbered they cannot stop Republicans from voting on legislation ... Republicans hold a 23-10 majority in the Senate, and a 59-40 edge in the House. Only a simple majority is required to hold a vote and pass a bill ...

    Republican Ohio Governor John Kasich ... supports [SB5 and destroying] the nearly 30-year-old collective bargaining law ...

    Labor leaders at the Statehouse on Tuesday said ... the changes Republicans seek are an attack on the middle class, and political payback aimed at unions that typically support Democrats.

    The union leaders said Republicans have offered no evidence their plan will save money. "All workers, union and non-union, are starting to smell something rotten in Columbus," said Tim Burga, president of the Ohio AFL-CIO.

    Leaders for Ohio's police and firefighters urged lawmakers to slow down and gather more information about the ... proposal, which would eliminate binding arbitration for safety forces.

    "This bill is being rushed through the legislature," said Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio. "There's no compelling evidence or reason to change binding arbitration as it is today." ... McDonald, Burga and other labor leaders said they are willing to negotiate with Republicans ...''


    LETTER TO THE EDITOR of The Plain Dealer, 2-26-11, By Other Voices

    ``What Republican mandate?

    We have witnessed a flurry of legislative activity at the state and national levels recently that call for eliminating public employees' collective-bargaining rights, curtailing environmental regulations, limiting access for women to family planning and abortion, and cutting domestic programs. Lawmakers insist they have a public mandate from the November [2010] elections.

    So what was the national voter turnout? A paltry 41.6 percent.

    Looking at states with freshman senators and congressmen with Tea Party support, this number is shocking. For example,

    In Utah, where Mike Lee was elected, voter turnout was 38.5 percent.

    [In] Florida, with a new governor and Sen. Marco Rubio, voter turnout was 42.6 percent.

    In Illinois and New York, with five new freshman congressmen each, voter turnout was 42.5 percent and 35.5 percent, respectively.

    Indiana, 38.2 percent;

    and Texas, the worst of all, 27.1 percent.

    Here in Ohio, we were higher, with 45.8 percent; Wisconsin had 49.5 percent.

    Yes, the truth is there are no mandates, and although the Tea Party is a presence in America's political climate, members are in the minority. What will the silent majority do? ...''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Washington Post, 2-28-11, By Peter Whoriskey and Amy Gardner

    ``State and local workers earn about 4 percent less in wages than similarly educated workers at private companies, according to a study by John Schmitt at the Center for Economic and Policy Research that echoes other findings ...

    Union supporters assert that lower pay for government workers shows that they are not demanding too much.

    "There are constraints on government worker pay, and they are working," said Bill Raabe, director of collective bargaining and member advocacy for the National Education Association, one of the nation's largest unions.

    Raabe also cautioned against blaming the government workers for state budget shortfalls, which he said were largely caused by a recession precipitated in part by the excesses of Wall Street.

    "Our members ... are people making $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000 who are being asked to bear the brunt of serious mistakes made by million- and billionaires."

    So far, some recent polls have shown the public leaning in favor of government workers having collective-bargaining rights and maintaining the essence of a union.

    A USA Today/Gallup poll found, for example, that 61 percent of Americans are opposed to a bill that would take away some collective-bargaining rights of public unions. And a poll in Wisconsin by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that 74 percent of voters opposed removing state workers' collective-bargaining rights, as long as they agree to cover more for their health care and pensions ...''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 2-28-11, By Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer

    ``With collective bargaining law in place, Ohio teachers already cutting pay, according to study

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Wages paid to Ohio's teachers dropped nearly 4 percent in recent years while teachers across the country saw pay increases, according to a new study that criticizes a Republican-backed effort to weaken public workers' collective bargaining rights.

    Innovation Ohio ... also found that student achievement suffers in states where teachers are not required to collectively bargain their contracts.

    "If teachers are already agreeing to the kind of reforms we need to improve the system and student performance, there is no compelling reason to repeal or weaken a law that has been in place since the Reagan administration," Dale Butland, spokesman for Innovation Ohio, said.

    Innovation Ohio officially launched today with the release of its analysis of education and Ohio's collective bargaining law. Janetta King, a deputy chief of staff for policy under former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland, is the organization's president. Former State Rep. Stephen Dyer, a Democrat from the Akron area, was a primary author of the analysis ...

    Innovation Ohio did not reach specific conclusions about the economic impact of Senate Bill 5.

    It found Ohio's teachers, on average, saw a pay cut of 4 percent in 2008-2009. The national average over that time was a 2 percent increase, according to Innovation Ohio.

    Innovation Ohio also found teachers' collective bargaining rights coincide with student achievement. The 13 highest-achieving states all require collectively bargained contracts for teachers ...

    Conversely, seven of the 10 lowest-ranked states in student achievement had laws that either ban or do not require collective bargaining for teachers.''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 2-27-11, By Maria Maisto and Matthew Williams

    ``Go to college to learn what Senate Bill 5 will do:

    Rather than speculate about what might happen if Senate Bill 5 eliminates public employee collective bargaining in Ohio, legislators should study what has actually happened as a result of one group of public employees having been denied this right for the past 28 years.

    Current Ohio law specifically denies collective-bargaining rights to graduate students and part-time faculty ("adjuncts"), who now constitute the majority of the faculty at public colleges and universities statewide. At community colleges, they can constitute as much as 80 percent of the faculty.

    These so-called "part-time" teachers and researchers do work that requires full-time effort -- for poverty-level wages, no benefits, no access to the rights and responsibilities of tenure, and minimal institutional support. Most aren't even provided desks or computers.

    No longer just practitioners bringing "real world" skills to classrooms, adjuncts teach most of the critical developmental and required core courses, like English and math, even as institutions systematically deprive them of the tools and conditions they need to succeed.

    Meanwhile, college costs, which include executive salaries and marketing budgets, have steadily risen and educational outcomes have suffered in the form of declining student success, employers upset with the skill levels of college graduates and everyone concerned about the cost -- and value -- of a college education.

    Adjuncts earn $12,000 to $24,000 annually for work that is part-time in name only. The Bureau of Labor Statistics asserts that people with equivalent education, responsibility and experience average $65,000 per year. Often marked by doubled or tripled workloads to avoid poverty, adjuncts' situations demonstrate to students the many ways education doesn't pay.

    Anyone who cares about the quality of higher education should consider it indefensible that many faculty must teach 15 to 24 courses annually for economic survival. Besides classroom time, college instruction requires time for class preparation, grading, curricular and professional development, and frequent consultation with students with increasingly diverse needs.

    Professors must be technological experts, mentors, job coaches and, in the post- Virginia Tech/Tucson era, first responders. None of this essential nonclassroom work is done consistently well when adjuncts do it without pay, or when so many faculty members have to take on unsustainable workloads.

    Adjuncts who cannot work this way are driven out of the profession, subjecting students to frequent faculty turnover and depriving institutions of talented educators. Those who can tolerate these conditions usually have income and benefits through a spouse, family or other job -- or sometimes rely on public assistance. Adjuncts' inability to compel their employers to support their work properly thus leads to higher education leeching resources from other sectors of the community.

    Fiscal responsibility is not just about lowering costs but about meeting obligations while spending resources wisely. Courses taught by adjunct and regular faculty have exactly the same value on transcripts and the tuition is exactly the same for both, yet the "savings" reaped from paying adjuncts less do not get passed along to students as reduced tuition. Instead, the teaching and learning conditions of adjuncts and their students are simply substandard. Without the prospect of collective bargaining, Ohio institutions have had no incentive to improve them.

    In 2008, the then-vice president for human resources at the University of Akron, A.G. Monaco, described adjuncts as "a highly educated working poor." ... He recognized that higher education has become addicted to the penny-wise, pound-foolish strategy of exploiting adjunct faculty. Like most addictions, this one has blinded institutions and legislators to the deep and wide-reaching ways in which it harms individuals and communities.

    Without access to collective bargaining, Ohio's adjuncts have been set up for demoralization, burnout or failure, unless they are willing and able to donate most of their services. In either case, they are subject to arbitrary administrative or political decisions ...

    In its treatment of adjunct faculty, Ohio has had 28 years to prove that collective bargaining is not necessary. It has failed miserably.

    If the state really wants to effect positive change in collective-bargaining law, it should extend access to collective bargaining to all higher education faculty rather than seek to ensure that all public sector employees and, by extension, all of Ohio's citizens, experience the degradation that the denial of that right has inflicted on adjuncts and students. [In other words, the kleptocrats want to turn Ohio into a "right to work" state]

    Maisto, an adjunct at Cuyahoga Community College, is a founder and the president of New Faculty Majority (NFM), a national, nonprofit advocacy group for adjunct faculty. Williams, a former adjunct, serves on the Summit County Republican Party Executive Committee and is vice president of NFM.''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 3-3-11

    ``Local union leaders may be disappointed and in disbelief, but they are energized for a longer fight to protect collective bargaining in Ohio and the middle class.

    Wednesday [3-2-11], the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate passed the controversial Senate Bill 5 that will restrict the collective bargaining rights of thousands of teachers, police officers, teachers and public employees. The bill ... now moves onto the state House, which also is Republican-controlled.

    Republican Gov. John Kasich has said he supports the bill.

    Dave Woods, president of the Lorain Education Association, was in Columbus after snagging a seat in the standing-room only Senate hearing chamber and listened to the speeches and debates, thinking how bad it would be if the bill passed. He learned his worst fears had come to fruition on his drive back to Lorain County.

    Woods said "It's a wrong bill that wipes out 30 years of peaceful negotiations and terminates what took a long time to craft. This is not about the budget or finances or even the economy. This is a direct attack on unions, and it is purely politically motivated ...


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 3-2-11, By Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer

    ``Ohio Senate Republicans pass ... [SB5]

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After three weeks of raucous debate that drew thousands of protesters to the state Capitol, the Ohio Senate on Wednesday [passed SB5] ... drastically reducing collective bargaining rights for Ohio's public workers ...

    The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, which has a 59-40 Republican majority ...

    Senate Bill 5 has thrust Ohio into the national spotlight, along with Wisconsin and other states where workers' rights are under [attack] ...''

    The bill would overhaul Ohio's nearly 30-year-old collective bargaining law. Democrats and unions have pledged to put the bill before voters if it also passes the House and the governor signs it into law ...

    The bill ... bans public workers from striking, establishes penalties for striking -- including jail time ...

    "This law is not only unjust, it is unconscionable," Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, said. "But it is also un-American. It strips middle class Americans of their rights." ...

    Opponents also worried about the impact on safety forces. Union leaders for police and firefighters said the law would leave it up to management whether quality of equipment, such as bulletproof vests, could be bargained.

    "This bill provides for our safety to be contracted out to the lowest bidder," said Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio ...

    John Anthony, a member of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association at the Statehouse Wednesday, said union workers will be back to protest when the bill is heard in the House ... "There's going to be a backlash on the Republican Party."''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 3-3-11, By Stephen Koff, The Plain Dealer

    ``WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ohio's Sherrod Brown created buzz this afternoon by going on the U.S. Senate floor to decry efforts in Ohio and Wisconsin to bust public union bargaining rights -- and noting tyrants in the last century who also fought the unions. "That would include Hitler And Stalin, and more recently, Mubarak in Egypt. These autocrats in history don't want independent unions." ...''


    ARTICLE from PolitiFact, 3-9-11

    ``The Truth-O-Meter Says:

    May Day was first celebrated as an international day of labor in New York in the 1880s. Hitler made it an official paid holiday, not just a negotiated day off, on May 1, 1933 -- and used it to rally for his regime and industrialization. William Shirer (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich), who was there, called it "an elaborate piece of trickery."

    The next day, on May 2, 1933, unions were dissolved, their assets were confiscated, their offices were occupied and their leaders were arrested. Hitler then outlawed strikes, abolished collective bargaining and established the German Labor Front, a corrupt party organization ...

    In Russia, ... Stalin didn't have to eliminate unions -- Lenin already had. And Stalin's first Five-Year Plan converted labor groups into oppressive mechanisms for increasing worker productivity.

    Mubarak does not belong in the same category as Hitler and Stalin. But his government did routinely suppress worker protests by force. The government-run Egyptian Trade Union Federation was given a monopoly on labor organization in 1957 by the Trade Union Act, which prohibits union freedoms.

    Brown's statement about tyrants and unions ... is historically accurate. We rate Brown's statement as True.''


    PBS TRANSCRIPT, 3-3-11

    ``AFL-CIO's Trumka: No American Should Face Choice Between Rights, Job


    Judy Woodruff talks to Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO ...

    Many AFL-CIO members would be affected by pending state-level legislation that would cut collective-bargaining rights for public employees.


    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... In Ohio yesterday, workers gathered as the Republican-controlled state Senate passed a measure that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of all unions. Known as Senate Bill 5, it would affect roughly 350,000 teachers, university professors, firefighters, police officers and other public employees. The bill would ban strikes by public workers and penalize those who participate in walkouts.

    Automatic pay raises would disappear and future wage increases would be based on merit, not seniority. Unionized workers could not negotiate on health care, sick time or pension benefits.

    It's one of a number of measures backed by Republican governors in several states that challenge the very notion of traditional bargaining with public sector unions ...

    In Wisconsin, where Senate Democrats fled the state two weeks ago to avoid a vote on a similar bill, the deadlock remains. Reports said both sides are talking about a compromise ...

    One late-breaking development in Wisconsin: Gov. Walker announced this afternoon that he plans to start laying off state employees tomorrow unless there's an agreement.

    Well, we talk about some pivotal questions facing labor now with its most prominent leader. He is Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a voluntary federation of 57 national and international labor unions, many of them subject to the changes outlined in our tape piece.

    We invited governors from half-a-dozen states, including Wisconsin and Ohio, to participate in tonight's discussion. All declined our invitation ...

    So, Rich Trumka, thank you very much for being with us.

    RICHARD TRUMKA, AFL-CIO: Judy, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But let's start with this announcement today from Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin that he's ready to send out those layoff notices unless there's some kind of an agreement. Is that a price worth paying? ...

    RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, first of all, it's the most outrageous thing that he's done.

    You heard him say that laying off was something we shouldn't do in today's economy, and yet, he's putting this choice to those workers in Wisconsin: Either give up your rights, or get laid off. Give up your job.

    Now, no American should be put in that position. This isn't about the economics, Judy. ... The unions have already agreed to the exact concessions that he's asked for. This is about him trying to take away the rights of workers to come together to bargain for a middle-class life.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But Gov. Walker's argument -- and I know you have heard him make it ...

    RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, quite frankly, I have listened to him several times, and I never heard him explain why he wants to do away with the workers' rights to come together to bargain for a middle-class life.

    But let me give you these facts. The five states in the United States that prohibit collective bargaining by public employees, ... have a cumulative debt of $222 billion. Collective bargaining didn't cause that.

    Look, this isn't about public employees. This was caused by the crisis and the recession that we have. We have 15 million people out of work. Put them back to work; they pay taxes; the economy starts to hum; and all of us start to ... live better.

    And this governor, instead of creating the jobs that he was elected to do, is now trying to destroy more middle-class jobs [and] hurt the Wisconsin economy even more.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: [Scott Walker] said ... public workers should be willing to give some.

    RICHARD TRUMKA: Well, you know, they have been.

    He asked for cuts, and they agreed to all the cuts that he asked for. Remember this. Those public employees are citizens as well. This is a concerted campaign by a number of Republican governors to vilify public employees ...

    Walker first said that Wisconsin employees are paid too much. Well, now we know from study after study that the public employees are paid less than private employees. And then he said it's about the pension plan. And then we find out that his pension plan is nearly fully funded, 100 percent of assets versus liabilities.

    And then he says, well, I need these cuts. And they agreed to them. And then, again, the most outrageous thing that he did was say that to these employees, I'm going to lay you off unless you give up your rights.

    Now, no American should be subject to that. We ought to be doing more to build the middle-class, not less. And what he's trying to do is take [from] nurses, firefighters, EMTs, snow plow drivers, their ability to come together to make their way into the middle class.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: But ... his argument [is] that ... It's the taxpayers' money ...

    RICHARD TRUMKA: Of course, but you have to have quality employees.

    Take John Kasich. He says everybody has to share. When he came in, he gave his senior staff a 30 percent increase in wages, and then he turns around to public employees and says, now, I want to strip you, not only of the pensions you have been promised and the health care that you have been promised, but I want to take away your ability to negotiate for those.

    Look, in a modern society, in a global economy, the companies that succeed are the companies that sit down with their employees, and they say, we have a problem. Let's solve it. The old way of doing things, the Kasich way, the Walker way, is saying, employees, you have nothing to offer. Shut up and sit down and accept what we give you ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... how worried are you that, if Governor Walker wins this argument in Wisconsin, ... that it ... makes stronger the argument against unions in these other states? ...

    RICHARD TRUMKA: ... This is about a governor taking away the rights of his employees to come together to bargain for a middle-class way of life. ... Imagine what the country would be like if there were no unions.

    Gov. Walker could come in one day and say, oh, in order to ... to balance the budget, ... employers can pay women less for ... the same work that men do, or we're going to do away with overtime, or we're going to do away with the [child] age limit.

    Those are the kind of things that are at stake, because teachers ..., you know what they bargain for? They bargain for smaller class size. You know what police bargain for? They bargain for equipment that will save their lives out on the street ...

    Now, a police officer knows what [he] needs. A firefighter knows what [he] needs. And a teacher bargaining for a smaller class size is trying to bargain for all of us.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Now, do you view Wisconsin as a kind of Waterloo for these issues that you care so deeply about?

    RICHARD TRUMKA: You know, any time that they're taking any employee, any worker's rights away, and saying to them, as Gov. Walker did, you have to give up either your job or your rights, we take that seriously, and we're going to stand with them and fight ...

    And I will say this to you. We will stand with those employees. They want to fight for their rights. They want to fight for the middle class. They want to fight for the opportunity to get to the middle class. And we're going to be with them every step of the way.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: ... So, what do you say to American -- to private-sector workers who are watching right now -- who think public workers get a better deal?

    RICHARD TRUMKA: So, in some cases, they might, but, in most cases, they don't ... Here's what I would say to them. In America, we have never, as a country, looked up and said, that person over there has a pension. Let's take it away from them.

    What we as a country have always said is, they don't have a pension. Let's figure out a way to get them one.

    We're the richest nation on the face of the earth. Corporate America had record profits. It's not that we can't afford this. We need a shared sacrifice. Workers have shared. They have given up their jobs. They have lost their homes ... It's time for to us come together and create jobs ...

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Rich Trumka, the president of AFL-CIO, thank you very much for talking with us.

    RICHARD TRUMKA: Thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: As we do. And, once again, our invitations to Republican governors ...''


    COLUMN from The Plain Dealer, 2-23-11, By Connie Schultz

    ``'Pampered' unionists' Really?

    If you work for somebody else for a living and you resent unions, the solution for what ails you isn't to derail the hard-earned gains of organized labor.

    What you need to do is to join a union, so that you, too, will be treated with the fairness and respect every hardworking human being deserves ...

    Public union employees are now fighting for their working lives in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey. The battle is over their right to collectively bargain with their employers for wages and benefits, which is why unions exist.

    Conservative legislators in these states are trying to obliterate public employee unions, and they're using the most cynical of strategies: Turn workers against workers -- union versus nonunion -- and then maybe no one will notice the ever-widening abyss between the ... wealthiest Americans and everybody else ...

    Conservatives have their supporters, too. "Wisconsin is ground zero," said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a Tea Party faction. "I think it is going to determine largely whether the pampered nature of these public employees is finally reined in."

    New York Times reporter Eric Lipton pointed out what Phillips forgot to say:

    "What Mr. Phillips did not mention was that his Virginia-based nonprofit group [Americans for Prosperity], whose budget surged to $40 million in 2010 from $7 million three years ago, was created and financed in part by the secretive billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch.

    [New York Times, 2-23-11: ``Phillips said ... that his group is working with activists and officials in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania to urge them to curtail union benefits'']

    "State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker ..."

    As for Phillips' claim of "pampered" public employees, various studies, including one by University of Wisconsin economics professors Keith Bender and John Heywood, found that state and local employees' wages and salaries are, on average, 6.8 percent lower than those for private-sector workers of equal education.

    The professors also found that public employees' earnings have been in relative decline for 20 years.

    Still, no one, including union workers, is saying concessions should not be made. Unions have been making concessions for some time now, including where I work. Guild members are in our second year of voluntary pay cuts, and I've not heard a single colleague suggest we should stop sharing the burden.

    That's the thing about those so-called "pampered" union workers. They don't exist. But the mythology comes in handy when you're looking to redirect the blame for these tough economic times. [The thieves take the money, and their victims are punished.]

    A wise man once wrote, "The working classes didn't bring this on. It was the big boys that thought the financial drunk was going to last forever and overbought, overmerged and overcapitalized."

    That came from Will Rogers on Oct. 25, 1931.

    Today, he'd be accused of engaging in class warfare.

    I am reminded of the union mantra: "They only call it class warfare when we fight back."''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Plain Dealer, 2-23-11, By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press

    ``Phony call spoofing billionaire David Koch dupes Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

    MADISON, Wisconsin -- On a prank call that quickly spread across the Internet, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was duped into discussing his strategy to cripple public employee unions, promising never to give in and joking that he would use a baseball bat ... to go after political opponents.

    Walker believed the caller was a conservative billionaire named David Koch, but it was actually a liberal blogger. The two talked for at least 20 minutes -- a conversation in which the governor described several potential ways to pressure Democrats to return to the Statehouse and revealed that his supporters had considered secretly planting people in pro-union protest crowds to stir up trouble ...

    In the call, the governor said he was ratcheting up the pressure on Senate Democrats to return to the Capitol a week after they fled to block the legislation. He said he supported a move to require them to come to the Capitol to pick up their paychecks rather than have the money deposited directly.

    He also floated an idea to lure Democratic senators back to the Capitol for negotiations and then have the Senate quickly pass the bill while they are in talks ...

    Walker said aides were reviewing whether the GOP could hold a vote if Democrats were not physically in the Senate chamber but elsewhere in [the building] ...

    Democrats seized on Walker's recorded comments as evidence that the governor plans to go beyond budget cuts to crushing unions.

    "This isn't about balancing the budget. This is about a political war," State Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee yelled Wednesday on the floor of the state Assembly.

    In the call, Walker said he expected the anti-union movement to spread across the country and he had spoken with the governors of Ohio and Nevada. The man pretending to be Koch seemed to agree, telling Walker, "You're the first domino."

    "Yep, this is our moment," Walker responded.

    The remarks showed Walker's private relationship with David Koch. He and his brother, Charles, own Koch Industries Inc., which is the largest privately owned company in America and has significant operations in Wisconsin.

    Its political action committee gave $43,000 to Walker's campaign, and David Koch gave $1 million to the Republican Governors' Association, which funded ads attacking Walker's opponent in last year's election.

    The Kochs also give millions to support Americans For Prosperity, a conservative business group that [has] launched a $320,000 television ad campaign in favor of Walker's legislation ...''


    NEWS ARTICLE from The Chronicle-Telegram, 3-9-11, By Cindy Leise

    ``Prison workers fear Kasich intends to sell Grafton Correctional Institution

    A contingent of union officials representing prison workers arrived in Columbus on Tuesday to hear Gov. John Kasich's State of the State speech, only to learn that a report was circulating that the Grafton Correctional Institution would be sold to a private vendor.

    "This was a hit to the gut, and it gives a sick feeling," said Bobbie Peters, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association chapter at Grafton Correctional.

    "I don't know how it will stimulate the economy if all of the profits go to a private company out of state," she said.

    Gov. John Kasich wants to generate $200 million by selling Grafton Correctional and four other prisons to private vendors, according to budget proposals obtained by the Dayton Daily News ...

    "We're all very concerned. We're sick," said Barb Davis, a guidance counselor at the prison on state Route 83.

    Another employee, Tom Thompson, said he is worried about what could happen if he loses his job of 15 years.

    "We have three kids in school, and my wife and I just built a house," Thompson said. "The scary part is that if Senate Bill 5 passes, no one would have bumping rights."

    That means an employee with two years at another prison could keep his or her job while Thompson, with 15 years of experience, loses his.

    Peters, the union president, said she also is worried that prison workers would lose their ability to transfer to other prisons if Senate Bill 5 passes and Grafton Correctional is [sold] ...

    Two of Ohio's 31 prisons, the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility in Grafton and the Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Conneaut are run by Management & Training Corp., a private vendor out of Utah.

    Contact Cindy Leise at

    A commentator wrote:

    ... If we continue to sell-off or contract-out public services to private corporations we will become an oligarchy and be effectively governed by for profit big business.

    Since the bottom line of any business is profit, it is the business' best interests to keep wages minimal, benefits cheap, and pensions that are hardly livable.

    Is this what we really want as a society? Is the national craze of 'Pension Envy' going to infect our ability to see the big picture and long term negative effects on all workers if this scenario happens?''


    THE SCONZ, 3-9-11, Madison, WI

    Here is a column [from] a reader:

    ``As a former Republican aide in the Wisconsin State Senate, part of my job was to help read the governor, and advise my senator accordingly. If I were still advising a Republican state senator, this is what I'd say right now ...

    This governor is not hard to read. He's a giant fiery ball of ambition. When he sneezes he compares it to how Reagan sneezed. His first major act, after netting a modest 52 percent in a GOP wave election, was to pick the most dangerous and inflammatory political fight he could think of. His next major act was to propose a budget that might get him re-elected in Texas, but not Wisconsin. Why?

    Clearly he doesn't care about getting re-elected in Wisconsin. He doesn't care about protests, or poll numbers, or recalls. He barely even cares if what he's proposing passes. So long as he gets attention for proposing it.

    Scott Walker is driving a fast bus to Washington, estimated time of arrival 2012 ...

    I'm not the only political watcher walking around Madison wondering what's holding the GOP caucuses together on the Walker-for-Vice-President express ...

    It requires only a two-year sense of history to identify the last photogenic gubernatorial novice who turned into a conservative folk hero when a presidential candidate needed some far-right street cred ...''



    Aired March 14, 2011 - 20:00 [hours] ET

    ``ELIOT SPITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening ... Welcome to our program.

    Breaking news right now. It just keeps getting worse. The last of the three reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant in northern Japan is now the scene of an explosion. This was reported just minutes ago on NHK, the Japanese television ...

    SPITZER: If Japan's nuclear emergency continues, fears about the safety of nuclear energy are growing here at home. Some 100 reactors in operation across the country, can we risk the president's push to build more?

    Jeffrey Sachs is here joining us. He's the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University ...

    Jeff ... Are they about to dive into a precipice in terms of their equity markets?

    JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, EARTH INSTITUTE: Well, the equity markets are reflecting this huge loss of wealth. But I think the economy, as devastated as it is in that area, probably will recover nationwide.

    The experiences even with these terrible, terrible hits like this one, the Kobe earthquake in 1995, the Chilean earthquake last year, an economy as a whole, if it's not a desperate situation like you were talking about in Haiti, but a rather modern and well- managed economy like Japan's should bounce back ...

    SPITZER: And if I'm right, the prefecture which is the ... governmental unit where these tsunami hit and where the power plants are, only constitutes two percent of the total Japanese economy ...

    SACHS: Yes ... the Japanese economy as a whole is very large. And even when the estimates of $200 or 300 or $400 billion of losses are given, that should be compared with the $6 trillion annual output ...

    SPITZER: They have the resources to bounce back ...

    SACHS: And even they have some spare capacity that they'll be able to draw upon. That was not an economy running at the very edge of employment ...

    SPITZER: Meaning they'll be able to borrow to spend the money.

    SACHS: They will be borrowing, of course ...

    SPITZER: All right. Now I'm going to ask you to do something that may seem virtually impossible at this precise moment in time. You are, ... -- correct me if I'm wrong -- a huge fan of nuclear power.

    SACHS: Well --

    SPITZER: You defend it ...

    SACHS: You know, I believe that we'll see after this also in Japan, in China, in the United States and Europe, that nuclear power will remain part of the mix ...

    Nuclear power, we have more than 100 nuclear power plants in this country that have run safely for decades. We had, of course, the Three Mile Island disaster. But even there, there wasn't a massive loss of life. Just four or five incidents. And so, nuclear power on the whole is safe to now resist a 9.0 earthquake, one of the biggest in modern history, biggest in Japan in 300 years, and a giant tsunami ...

    SPITZER: ... France is what? Eighty percent of its energy --

    SACHS: For electricity?

    SPITZER: Yes, for electricity is nuclear powered ...

    SPITZER: Quickly, in the last moments we have left, our domestic economy, will it be affected by what's going on in Japan? ...

    SACHS: I don't think the Japanese events, as horrible as they are, are going to do much here at all ...

    We have a lot of crazy policies going on in Washington. One of them is that the Republicans are cutting the science and the warning systems that protect us from this kind of disaster ...

    The majority leader, Eric Cantor ... says we have no money to monitor earthquakes and tsunamis and to keep the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration running.

    What is he talking about? Tax a few rich people, [and] easily pay for what would keep the 300 million of us safe.

    They're making terrible decisions. And this should be a wakeup call to our Congress to stop being so anti- scientific, to stop neglecting these powerful forces of nature ...

    SPITZER: Jeff, you're saying you want a heads up before that tsunami comes over the coastline?

    SACHS: I think it would be nice if we had some science and monitoring here and not to cut these agencies ...

    SPITZER: Well, look, my editorial comment is not only are you exactly correct but where the cuts are being discussed is in the worst possible place. It's actually where the investments for the future [need] to be made ...''

    [It's embarassing when a prominent Congressional tea bagger publicly displays her ignorance of where the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought, but it is a serious problem when apparently the majority of those with tea bags for brains want to cut spending with no idea that the United States can not afford its empire, especially oil wars like the military adventure in Afghanistan to secure the "Unocal" pipeline.

    For more on the Unocal pipeline and the run-up to the Afghan War, see]


    The Truth-O-Meter Finds:

    ``Marcia Fudge on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 in an interview on C-SPAN said "There are corporations in this nation, some of the biggest corporations in this nation, who do not pay taxes."

    Early this month, Democratic Rep. Marcia Fudge of Warrensville Heights appeared on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," public affairs television program where viewers phoned in to ask her questions.

    A caller who identified himself as James, an Akron small-business owner, discussed some of the tax write-offs he uses as a small businessman, and said larger businesses "game the system" by writing off things like parties, food and clothes.

    Fudge agreed with him, calling for an overhaul of corporate tax policy, saying: "There are corporations in this nation, some of the biggest corporations in this nation, who do not pay taxes."

    "It is not that they are cheating," Fudge continued ... We have given them tools."

    We thought examining Fudge's tax claim would be worthwhile, since representatives of some of the nation's biggest companies, such as Cincinnati's Procter & Gamble, argue that Congress should be cutting business taxes ...

    Are some large U.S. businesses not paying taxes, as Fudge claims?

    To back up her assertion, Fudge's office cites media reports about particular companies -- like General Electric and Bank of America -- that did not pay 2009 taxes as well as a July 2008 report from Congress' Government Accountability Office that showed it's relatively common for big companies to pay no taxes.

    Between 1998 to 2005, GAO found that about 72 percent of large foreign controlled companies and 55 percent of large U.S. controlled companies reported zero tax liability for at least one year.

    About 57 percent of foreign controlled large companies and 42 percent of U.S. large companies paid no taxes in two or more years, and a third of the foreign companies and one quarter of their U.S. counterparts paid no taxes for at least four of those years.

    Just 45 percent of large U.S. companies and 28 percent of foreign companies reported a tax liability for each of the eight years. The report defined large companies as those with at least $250 million in assets, or at least $50 million in receipts ...

    The nation's big business representatives don't dispute the report's findings, even as they stress it should not be misconstrued to mean businesses are evading taxes they owe ... [Most of the tax liability was probably eliminated by campaign contributions, lobbyyists for the kleptocrats, etc. Moammar Gadhafi probably pays no taxes in Libya either -- all perfectly legal. And what about the oil depletion tax credit?]

    Our research finds solid ground beneath her claim that some large U.S. companies don't pay taxes. That's why we rate her statement as True.''


    COLUMN from The Plain Dealer, 3-19-11, by Thomas Suddes

    [A shell game for the brain dead]

    ``... Republican "mastery" ... hinges on amnesia.

    Kasich said last week that he wants to radically reduce state aid to local governments because, hey, the federal government ended "revenue sharing" years ago.

    What Kasich didn't say is that revenue sharing was a Republican idea; that it was one of Richard M. Nixon's signature policies; and that Nixon, when signing federal revenue sharing into law in 1972, said it would mean "lower property taxes or lower sales taxes or lower income taxes."

    Isn't the opposite also arguable -- that limiting or ending revenue sharing ... will lead to higher local property taxes and [higher] local sales taxes and [higher] local income taxes?...

    Then there's this: In 2005, Republicans abolished the property tax on business inventories and equipment -- a huge goal of business lobbies. The "tangible personal property tax" was a LOCAL tax.

    What, in effect, GOP legislators and then-Gov. Bob Taft did was forbid schools and local governments to keep levying that tax. For most businesses, that property tax was last collected in 2008; not a penny had ever gone to Columbus.

    Statehouse Republicans made two related moves. One, they imposed a new commercial activity tax (CAT) on business, while abolishing, for most businesses, the state "franchise tax" Ohio had long charged corporations.

    And they decided in 2005 to make up, via reimbursement from Columbus, some of what schools and local governments lost from repeal of the tangible property tax ...

    Last week, unveiling his proposed 2011-13 state budget, Kasich said he wants to end those state tangible property tax reimbursements ahead of schedule.

    That's where Statehouse forgetfulness figures in. When Republicans abolished the tangible property and corporate franchise taxes, and imposed the CAT, the Ohio Business Roundtable said those "reforms" would produce "78,500 new jobs by 2010."

    According to data from the Department of Job & Family Services, Ohio's total nonagricultural employment in July 2005 -- just after legislators passed pro-business "reform" -- was 5,435,600. For the latest month available, February 2011, Ohio's total was 5,081,900 -- a loss of more than 350,000 jobs. ...

    the only thing scarcer than fact is memory.''


    LETTER to The Sun-Sentinel, 3-10-11:

    ``During last fall's frenzied election process, American citizens were exposed to the cries of Tea Party members who wanted their country back from big government.

    I too want my country back ... from the Supreme Court of the United States ...

    The conservative majority, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, in the Citizens United case, ruled to allow corporations ... to [secretly] donate unlimited amounts ...

    The big spenders did not wish to be identified. Republicans in the Senate successfully filibustered the Disclose Act which would have required lavish contributors to [publicly] identify themselves.

    Common Cause has alerted us ... Justice Clarence Thomas, although required, failed to reveal his wife's income of over $680,000 from the Heritage Foundation ...

    Has the integrity of the Court been challenged when the billionaire Koch brothers, Tea Party supporters, issue invitations to Justices Scalia and Thomas to attend their confidential meetings?

    May I have my country back?''

    For related information, see

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