05/26/2011 archive

A victory?

Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin Law Curbing Unions


Published: May 26, 2011

Ruling that Republicans in the State Senate had violated the state’s open meetings law, a judge in Wisconsin dealt a blow to them and to Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday by granting a permanent injunction striking down a new law curbing collective bargaining rights for many state and local employees.

Republican senators asserted that they had enacted the collective bargaining law under emergency conditions, obviating the need to comply with the open meetings law. But Judge Sumi said she found no official evidence of emergency conditions or notice.

She (Judge Sumi) said the evidence demonstrated a failure to obey even the two-hour notice allowed for good cause if a 24-hour notice was impossible or impractical.

Perhaps temporarily-

“There’s still a much larger separation-of-powers issue: whether one Madison judge can stand in the way of the other two democratically elected branches of government,” he (Republican Scott Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader) said in a statement. “The Supreme Court is going to have the ultimate ruling.”

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Robert Reich: Paul Ryan Still Doesn’t Get It

Republican House Budget chief Paul Ryan still doesn’t get it. He blames Tuesday’s upset victory of Democrat Kathy Hochul over Republican Jane Corwin to represent New York’s 26th congressional district on Democratic scare tactics.

Hochul had focused like a laser on the Republican plan to turn Medicare into vouchers that would funnel the money to private health insurers. Republicans didn’t exactly take it lying down. The National Republican Congressional Committee poured over $400,000 into the race, and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads provided Corwin an additional $700,000 of support. But the money didn’t work. Even in this traditionally Republican district – represented in the past by such GOP notables as Jack Kemp and William Miller, both of whom would become vice presidential candidates – Hochul’s message hit home.

David Weigel: New York to Paul Ryan: Drop Dead

How much does Kathy Hochul’s victory over Jane Corwin owe to Ryan’s Medicare plan?

“Medicare! Medicare! Medicare!”

That was the chant in the union hall where Democrat Kathy Hochul declared victory last night, breezing past Republican Jane Corwin in a congressional election that was supposed to be closer. It reminded me of the fundraising e-mail Paul Ryan had sent out 11 days earlier for Corwin’s campaign.

“The playbook the Democrats and special interests have been using to attack me is being used right now in New York’s 26th District,” wrote Ryan. “As the New York Times has pointed out, my budget plan is at the center of the campaign.”

Mary Bottari: Move Over Machiavelli: WI GOP Kills Public Financing to Pay for Voter Suppression

You are a new Governor pursuing a radical, budget slashing agenda. In your spare time, you work to pass the most restrictive Voter ID law in the nation, which turns out to be quite costly. What to do? Here is an idea. To pay for your voter suppression efforts, why not rob public financing for elections, a system designed to encourage a diversity of candidates and a flourishing of democracy?

That is exactly what Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the WI GOP did this week when they raided the money set aside for the public financing of campaigns to pay for “the most radical Voter ID bill in the nation” according to Wisconsin Common Cause.

John Nichols: Who Says Ryan Budget Privatizes Medicare, Threatens Seniors? Senate Republicans

What’s Paul Ryan’s favorite whine?

“Mediscare” – Vintage 2011.

The House Budget Committee chairman admits that his advocacy for the deconstruction of Medicare as we know it cost his party a previously “safe” congressional seat in upstate New York’s 26th district. Asked on Wednesday morning about the role that concerns about Medicare’s future played in Tuesday’s upset win by Democrat Kathy Hochul, Ryan said: “I think that’s a big part of it.”

But the Wisconsin Republican claims that is only because the voters – presumably Republicans who switched from their usual pattern of voting for George Bush and John McCain to back a progressive Democrat – were duped by a campaign to deliberately “distort and demagogue”

“There is a Medicare story to be told here… and it’s that the president and his party have decided to shamelessly distort and demagogue Medicare,” Ryan explained on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

The budget committee chair branded the Democratic strategy a “Mediscare” campaign.

But the scariest talk about Ryan’s plan is not coming from Democrats.

Michelle Chen: Rape in Haiti: The Aftershocks Continue

This month, Port-au-Prince hailed Michel Martelly as he took office as president, trumpeting new hope for his disaster-stricken country. Elsewhere in the Haitian capital, hope was stifled in the smothered screams of women and girls.

More than a year after a massive earthquake sent the city crumbling to the ground, the chaos continues to reverberate in refugee camps through a wave of systematic sexual violence. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported widespread rape and sexual violence against women. The IOM notes that rising reports of sexual violence may be “linked to a growing trust between survivors and the police and service providers,” but safety protections for women and girls are still desperately lacking. And the primary problem remains that, nearly one year and a half after disaster struck, some 680,000 people still languish in squalid encampments.

Jim Hightower: Privatization: The Road to Hell

Billionaires are different from you and me, for obvious reasons, including the fact that they buy much pricier baubles than we do.

A sleek car costing $100,000? Why, for them, that’s just an easy impulse purchase. A few million bucks for a Matisse original? Go ahead – it’ll liven up the hallway. How about throwing a fat wad of cash at a university to get an academic chair named for you? Sure, it’s all part of the fun of living in BillionaireLand.

Then there is the top crust of the upper-crust – such megalomaniacal megabillionaires as the Koch brothers. Using money from their industrial conglomerate, their foundation and their personal fortunes, these two far-out, laissez-faire extremists are literally buying public policy. Their purchases of everything from politicians to the tea party help them push the privatization of all things public and the elimination of pesky regulations and taxes that crimp their style.

Pablo Ouziel: Will Indignation Salvage Spain?

Indignation is the catch phrase in Spain these days, most feel it and most express it, but the collective shouting seems to fall into a vacuum that can soon lead to despair. Much has been said about the popular-uprising taking place in Spain as a lead up to the regional and local elections. With citizens camped in city squares across the country, many feel this is the beginning of a much anticipated ‘European summer’ of discontent in which the people of Europe following the example set by Arab streets, take their turn in demanding democracy, justice and peace. Some commentary on the Internet has even begun to point to the possibility of a ‘North American Fall’ to follow from this uprising for change; but rather than predicting what might happen in North America, this is a time for reflection and critique of what it is that might have started in Spain, and what it is that such a popular movement is going to be coming up against in the coming months.  

In Spain, the elections have come and gone, with the squares full of thousands of people continuing with their shouts of indignation, but so far they have not been heard. The political party PSOE of Zapatero’s ruling socialist government has taken a beating, but the formal democracy in which we live has not changed, and the centre-right Partido Popular has taken control of much of the country. What this means, according to most market analysts, is that as the new administrations take control of regional and local governments, previously undeclared debt will surface making Spain’s economic reality much more dire than what has been estimated to date.

On This Day In History May 26

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

May 26 is the 146th day of the year (147th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 219 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1637, an allied Puritan and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, burning or massacring some 500 Indian women, men, and children.

The Pequot War was an armed conflict in 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies with American Indian allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England. It would take the Pequot more than three and a half centuries to regain political and economic power in their traditional homeland region along the Pequot (present-day Thames) and Mystic rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut.

The Mystic massacre

Believing that the English had returned to Boston, the Pequot sachem Sassacus took several hundred of his warriors to make another raid on Hartford. Mason had visited and recruited the Narragansett, who joined him with several hundred warriors. Several allied Niantic warriors also joined Mason’s group. On May 26, 1637, with a force up to about 400 fighting men, Mason attacked Misistuck by surprise. He estimated that “six or seven Hundred” Pequot were there when his forces assaulted the palisade. As some 150 warriors had accompanied Sassacus to Hartford, so the inhabitants remaining were largely Pequot women and children, and older men. Mason ordered that the enclosure be set on fire. Justifying his conduct later, Mason declared that the attack against the Pequot was the act of a God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot] as a fiery Oven . . . Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies.”  Mason insisted that any Pequot attempting to escape the flames should be killed. Of the estimated 600 to 700 Pequot resident at Mystic that day, only seven survived to be taken prisoner, while another seven escaped to the woods.

The Narragansett and Mohegan warriors with Mason and Underhill’s colonial militia were horrified by the actions and “manner of the Englishmen’s fight . . . because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” The Narragansett left the warfare and returned home.

Believing the mission accomplished, Mason set out for home. Becoming temporarily lost, his militia narrowly missed returning Pequot warriors. After seeing the destruction of Mystic, they gave chase to the English forces, but to little avail.

Six In The Morning

India courts Africa, long wooed by China

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh takes a six-day trip to the continent, in an effort to boost business ties and drum up support for New Delhi in its bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles  Times

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrives Thursday in Tanzania on the last stop of a six-day Africa trip designed to underscore his nation’s growing stature on the global stage, lobby for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council and signal to China that the South Asian giant is also a player on the resource-rich continent.

China has long targeted Africa under its “Going Out” strategy launched in 1998, and India, as part of a bid to make up for lost time, this week participated in the India-Africa Forum Summit, its second in three years. New Delhi said it would extend a $5-billion line of credit, fund 22,000 scholarships, set up a “virtual university” and support infrastructure and training programs on the continent.


Even in Connecticut $400,000 a year is wealthy.

Deficit May Snap 12-Year Tax Winning Streak for Top-Earning Americans

By Margaret Collins, Bloomberg News

May 25, 2011 1:57 PM ET

For a married couple with two children in Connecticut, which has the third-highest state and local tax burden in the U.S., the increase in rates Obama has proposed, along with levies from health-care reform, mean their tax bill may jump to $142,160 in 2013 from $126,410 this year, or 12.5 percent, according to an analysis Fleming ran for Bloomberg News.

That’s based on $485,000 in earnings, $2,000 in interest on investments, $3,000 in dividend income and $10,000 in long-term capital gains, and the following deductions: $20,000 in mortgage interest and charitable donations of $10,000, said Fleming, who works for PwC’s private company services tax group in Boston and Hartford, Connecticut.

Under the tax-cut compromise passed in December, individuals generally may gift up to $5 million during their lifetime without paying tax. That threshold will revert to $1 million in 2013 unless Congress acts.

“Move that $5 million now to your children or grandchildren to lock that in if you’re afraid that will go away,” Beerman said. That way the appreciation on those assets is out of an estate, Beerman said.

The biggest federal tax breaks for individuals include those for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, incentives for retirement savings and the exclusion for employer-provided health care, said Clint Stretch, managing principal of tax policy at Deloitte Tax LLP in Washington. Each of them would be “politically pretty toxic” to eliminate or reduce, Stretch said.

Phasing out the mortgage interest deduction would increase federal revenue by $214.6 billion over the next 10 years, according to estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation in a March report by the CBO. Curtailing deductions for charitable giving would raise an estimated $219 billion over the next decade, the CBO study said.

Did I mention their $400,000 McMansion?


helmetNever let it be said I’m above poking a little fun at my Viking relatives.

It seems that in addition to producing racist anti-Muslim cartoons, Denmark has decided to ban Marmite.

What you have to understand about this is that Marmite and it’s Australian cousin Vegamite are basically expended Brewer’s Yeast and they taste… well… let’s just say you have to acquire one.

Some will point out that it has high levels of umami and there are other foods that require a ‘willing suspension of disbelief‘ like natto and garum.

The reason they’re banning it is because it’s fortified with extra vitamins which, as with riding your dog like a small pony, IS FROWNED ON IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT!  Thank goodness I was able to hide this computer under my blanket so I can keep track of my blog accounts.

The advertising says you either love it or hate it, fans are up in arms ready to smuggle it in like Reservation cigarettes from Germany and Sweden and are calling for retaliatory bacon boycotts.

You’re wondering about the hat.  It’s what Vikings wear to keep the CIA mind control microwaves out.

Now, if it were Spam-

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for May 25, 2011-


My Little Town 20110525: Joyce

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a redneck sort of place, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I never write about living people except with their express permission, and Joyce is very, very long gone.  She was probably my best friend when I was little, and she is the sole exception for a little kid like me calling an adult, especially a very old person, by the first name.

That might sound strange, but considering her background it makes perfect sense.  Please join me in remembering a very dear woman whom I loved, and who loved me.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 43 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pressure mounts on Yemen’s Saleh as clashes rock Sanaa

by Jamal al-Jaberi, AFP

33 mins ago

SANAA (AFP) – International calls for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit mounted on Wednesday as fierce fighting between dissident tribesmen and security forces neared the capital’s airport, forcing its closure.

“We call upon President Saleh to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power,” US President Barack Obama said at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

Germany’s foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke echoed Obama’s calls urging Saleh to accept a Gulf-brokered exit plan.