Front and Center

Politics, society, and other random randomness

Monthly Archives: March 2011

In Wisconsin, a Union Shakedown in the Name of “Supporting Workers Rights”

The story in Wisconsin continues.  The bill taking away state employees ability to bargain for things other than wages may have been passed, but a judge has kept the bill from being put into force due to possible violations of a 24 hour meeting notification rule.  Meanwhile, union members are telling businesses to openly support them or be boycotted:

Members of Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME Council 24, have begun circulating letters to businesses in southeast Wisconsin, asking them to support workers’ rights by putting up a sign in their windows.

If businesses fail to comply, the letter says, “Failure to do so will leave us no choice but (to) do a public boycott of your business. And sorry, neutral means ‘no’ to those who work for the largest employer in the area and are union members.”

So, let’s get this straight. If you are a business owner, and you are not interested in getting involved in the ongoing battle, you could still get boycotted for choosing not to get involved. In the current economic atmosphere, I have no doubt that some businesses will capitulate to ensure their doors remain open. But how is this behavior ok? How can unions complain about how they are being treated in the legislative process, then turn around and basically threaten business owners?

Seems like a possible return to old fashioned union bullying tactics.

Want To See a “Humanitarian Crisis?” Look at the Ivory Coast

As mentioned before, the US isn’t being consistent when it comes to intervening in places around the world.  I actually understood when the President said we needed to intercede to prevent a mass slaughter, as Libya’s military was moving to kill the occupants of an entire city.  But such brutality is not unique to Libya.  Look at the Ivory Coast.

Laurent Gbagbo is the president of the Ivory Coast.  Or was.  Elections were held in November and he lost.  But he won’t give up power.  Further, he kicked out the UN peacekeepers.  But it gets worse.  Forces loyal to him have attacked folks who dare to protest.  DeWayne Wickham, writing for USA Today, describes the situation:

Nearly 500 people have been killed by forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivory Coast president who lost a re-election bid in November but refuses to give up control. Many more people have been wounded in the fighting spawned by Gbagbo’s refusal to leave office. An estimated 500,000 have been displaced, and 90,000 more have fled the West African country, according to the Associated Press.

Evidently, we are refraining from getting involved and waiting for the African Union to step into the situation. But why wait? If we are into the whole thing of stopping killing on humanitarian grounds, shouldn’t we just jump right in along with the UN?

Something just doesn’t jive.

On Libya and US Foreign Policy

I may have addressed this before, but at the risk of being repetitive, I have to question the rhyme or reason behind the US getting involved in Libya.  Further, I have to look at it from a different view–if we are going in there to help with regime change, or prevent a leader from killing his own people, how do we decide which places to stick our noses in and which ones to ignore?

President Obama publicly rebuked Libya leader Mommar Quaddfi, saying that the US and its allies would get involved in Libya to stop the killng that was going on there.  On the surface, such actions are noble.  who doesn’t want to see an end to slaughter and bloodshed by a tyrannical dictator?  But the issue is a complex one.  If we are going to take this stance on Libya, why not on other countries?  There have been hundreds of thousands killed in Darfur.  The people in Iran tried to rise up and got squashed.  There are numerous countries in the Middle East where the citizens are currently protesting their government.

Of the situations mentioned, there is no plan for intervention from the US or otherwise.

So the question becomes, under what grounds do we decide to jump in?  Does the situation have to be 100% winnable?  Only under NATO approval?  Only when invited by the Arab League?

Someone somewhere needs to spell this out.

Uncle Sam Wants to Tax You…By the Mile

In the US there is always the need for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.  Unfortunately, funds are short these days.  So, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has floated an idea for a new tax to raise funds.  What’s the new tax?  Simple.  Drivers would get taxed for every mile they drive:

The report discussed the proposal in great detail, including the development of technology that would allow total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to be tracked, reported and taxed, as well as the pros and cons of mandating the installation of this technology in all vehicles.

CBO’s report stressed it was making no recommendations but seemed to support a VMT tax as a more accurate way of having drivers pay for the costs of highway maintenance. The report said miles driven is a larger factor in highway repairs than fuel consumption and suggested that having drivers pay for the real costs of highways “would involve imposing a combination of fuel taxes and per-mile charges.”

On the one hand, funds have to be raised somehow, and this may be a viable option. However, it also would penalize folks who got more fuel efficient vehicles (less gas purchased at the pump means less gas tax revenue). Also, for folks like me, who are in sales, we would bear a disproportionate share of the tax bill.

We will see how this one pans out.

Becoming President Can Make You Hypocritical

We’ve seen it many times. Candidate runs for President and says “I will do A, B, and certainly C.”  They then get into office…and suddenly, a few of those promises are conveniently forgotten.  With the recent actions in Libya, President Obama has joined the club.

First, a few quotes from then-Senator Obama about the US and military actions:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

Then-State Senator Obama on why the US shouldn’t go into Iraq, circa 2002:

“I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity … But … Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors …”

Fast forward to 2011. Quaddafi is no threat to the US. They only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil. But not only are we participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya, we did so without Congressional advice and consent. A complete 180-degree turn on both counts, no?

Links:
“Q and A with Presidential Candidate Obama”

“From Iraq to Libya, Obama Becomes a Hypocrite”

Obama Under Impeachment Threat–From His Own Party?!

Just a quick hit, from Politico, where it seems President Obama’s actions in Libya have have ticked off his own party members:

A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.

Further, Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought up the “i” word:

Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.

Now, Kucinich has come up with some off-the-wall things in the past, and this is no different. But to me, this just goes to show that as Obama not only tacks to the center in terms of policy, and also becomes more agressive militarily, he risks having his own party mates turning against him. Time will tell.

Links:

Liberal Democrats in uproar over Libya action

See, It’s Not Just the “Tax Cuts for the Wealthy” That Are Adding to the Deficit!

As mentioned here before, arguments complaining about how the “tax cuts for the rich” are unpaid for and adding to the deficit is disingenuous without an accompanying argument about the similarly “unpaid for” tax rate cuts for everybody else–which cost three times as much.  Somehow, no one wants to talk about that.

Today the CBO released an analysis of President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.  According to the analysis, while the Obama administration predicted $7.2 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years, the CBO stated that the number is more like $9.5  trillion.

Nine-point-five.  Trillion.  With a “T.”

But what also jumped out of the analysis is that the CBO predicts that tax rate cuts for the middle class will be made permanent–and the cost of that cut is going to help increase the deficit:

CBO said the biggest reasons for the deficits, compared to the status quo, are the permanent extension of the Bush-era tax rates for the middle class and changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax that Obama favors in this budget. As a result of the tax policy, there is a $2.7 trillion net increase in the deficit over the next 10 years.

There you have it, folks. criticizing the rich may be en vogue, but if there is to be honesty in this, all tax rate cuts must be discussed.

And then, rolled back.

What Was That About Toning Down Rhetoric? Biden Uses Rape to Describe Repubs

Not too long ago there was so much talk about toning down rhetoric.  Even before that, using rape or things related to rape to describe your opponents was darn near taboo.  But today, Vice President Joe Biden pulled that one out at a fund raiser.  His logic?  According to an account in at thehill.com, “Republicans who want to cut spending while at the same time cutting taxes for the wealthy are similar to rape apologists:”

“When a woman got raped, blame her because she was wearing a skirt too short, she looked the wrong way or she wasn’t home in time to make the dinner,” Biden said.

“We’ve gotten by that,” he said. “But it’s amazing how these Republicans, the right wing of this party – whose philosophy threw us into this God-awful hole we’re in, gave us the tremendous deficit we’ve inherited – that they’re now using, now attempting to use, the very economic condition they have created to blame the victim – whether it’s organized labor or ordinary middle-class working men and women.”

The countdown clock has started to see how long before the women’s groups yell about this. It’s so off the wall, I won’t even go into how crazy he sounds still talking about an “inherited deficit” when we are going into year 3 of the Obama administration, especially with the amount of money that has been spent in the last 2 years alone.

Unions to Protest on Anniversary of MLK Slaying. That is NOT Kosher.

The right to assemble is one of the fundamental rights people have in America. As long as you follow the rules, anyone and everyone can get together all they want. So I have no problem with unions wanting to assemble mass protests.

But in an attempt to link civil rights and “workers’ rights,” they are calling for such gatherings to take place on April 4th. The significance of that date? It is the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, TN in 1968. King was on his 4th (and unfortunately final) trip to Memphis to support an ongoing sanitation strike by black workers, who were being paid less and treated worse than their white counterparts. There had been rallies and marches, and King had been there to help bolster the worker’s effort to be treated equally. In that effort, he lost his life and black america lost its “Drum Major.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Image via Wikipedia

For some reason, unions feel that their efforts to maintain the level of power they have now equates to that effort in 1968, that civil rights–treat me the same as the white workers–and workers “rights” are linked. My question is, how so?

In 1968, segregation was still the norm in a lot of places. To be black meant to be treated differently. Forget the idea that other than skin color, a person was a person. Those workers were treated like 2nd class workers. The fight to get them their equal pay and treatment was unquestionably a fight for the inalienable right to be treated as equals.

It’s now 2011. Exactly how, in the ongoing labor disputes, are union workers NOT treated equally? Collective bargaining, while a legal right in some jurisdictions, is not an inalienable right, no matter how loudly people yell to the contrary. As I have mentioned previously, Democrats on the federal level who said such in support of the Wisconsin protesters were speaking doubletalk, since they have made no effort to say or do anything in support of collective bargaining for federal workers since they lost the right to do so under Jimmy Carter. Speaking of Wisconsin, the bill that was passed (and is currently on hold due to a judge’s ruling) still allows union workers to bargain for their pay. I and millions of others have the ability to do this one on one with any perspective employer. The public employees would no longer have the ability to negotiate on benefits and perks. For the most part, I and the millions are in the same boat. So really, what the bargaining on benefits and perks would be for is special treatment. Granted, many in Wisconsin opposed the bill passed by Gov. Walker and the Republicans there. But you’re not going to convince me that they have some inalienable right to 100% funded pension and free healthcare, at taxpayer expense, during a time of a major budget shortfall.

Now, I’m sure that these unions will most likely get the support of many black organizations in their April 4th protests. But from this black person, I look at connecting two completely different rights as an insult to MLK and what he fought for.

I’ll end it with a quote from Byron York, writing on the topic in the Washington Examiner:

Will it work? After all the demonstrations, and all the speeches, will the public watch protests by angry, nearly all-white, middle-class school teachers with excellent health and retirement plans and think of Martin Luther King? Trumka’s AFL-CIO and the big unions are very rich and very powerful. They have the ability to get their message out. But their April 4 strategy might be too ambitious even for them.

Let’s Talk About “Uncle Tom”

In a recent documentary on Michigan’s “Fab Five,” Jalen Rose charges that Duke only recruited black players that were “Uncle Toms.”  Of course this has raised a ruckus all over.  But this is nothing new.  The term “Uncle Tom” has been used by Blacks against Blacks for years.  Often interchangeable with that other favorite term, “sell out,” it’s used to describe someone who, in essence, acts white in the eyes of the person who is throwing out the term.  Of course, if you’re Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, you are called Uncle Tom, sell out, AND depicted on the cover of a black-oriented magazine as a lawn jockey, but I digress.

The Original Uncle Tom was from Harriett Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe, who was anti-slavery, used her novel as an eye-poke to the pro-slavery folks of the day. But many blacks in the day (and after) weren’t happy with the fact that Uncle Tom was a very subservient, “God will save me” character instead of one who fought back against his situation. Fast forward some years. As blacks continued to fight for rights and fight to be treated equally, some managed to do well and begin to assimilate to what at the time were lifestyle activities more akin to whites in the US. Those who went too far were prone to catch the “Uncle Tom” nickname.

So, back to Mr. Rose. He looks at his own background, which wasn’t so easy. He looks at the black players at Duke, including Grant Hill, who many people know came from a 2 parent household, with a former NFL player for a dad and a highly educated mom. And instead of saying “well, we’re just different,” he plays the UT card.

Now, to paraphrase (and agree with) what my friend Hashim Uqdah tweeted just this morning, I doubt he had even read the book to know where the term came from. Then again, MOST folks who say it probably didn’t read the book. They heard it and decided its nice and handy to use. But ultimately, it comes down to one thing: the person using the term has decided that the target of the slur isn’t black enough.

When I heard about Rose and his quote, I wasn’t thinking this, but then that jumped into my head and I realized it was true.  Somewhere, there is a “Black Handbook” that lists all the things a black person should say, do, like, eat, drink, and even think. Violators are treated harshly (look up the movie “DROP Squad”). Now, I’m not condoning those decide to completely forget their life, history, and heritage (example: OJ Simpson seems to be in that category, and made a triumphant return to being black around the time he went on trial for murder). But for the majority, simply doing the activities mentioned earlier was enough. As things have changed in the 2000s, and we see more and more starting to “make it,” the Uncle Tom moniker tends to be focused more on politics. Black and conservative? Yep, Uncle Tom. Disagree with affirmative action? Oh, yeah, UT. And don’t be a Tea Party member!

Bottom line is, it is a true shame that within the black community, we often end up tearing down others who may not fit a certain mold instead of simply saying “to each their own.”  One wonders if we will ever get to that point.

Want To Get Quick Sympathy Points? Compare Your Cause to Slavery!

Here we go again.

Two weeks ago, at the height of the union protests in Wisconsin, NY Representative Charlie Rangel decides that losing the ability to collectively bargain is “close to slavery:”

“Collective bargaining is something that is so close to slavery in terms of abolishing it, that it is not an American concept to tell people that they cannot discuss their economic position.”

Slavery. As in, that institution where you’re just a piece of property, where you got separated from your family at the whim of the slave owner, where you had no freedom (and to attempt to gain it could mean your life), and where the bullwhip was used with impunity?

Uh, ok, Charlie.

Fast forward 2 weeks. We now have a new union battle taking center stage, between players and owners in the NFL. I won’t go into the details of conflict, or of the pending lawsuit. But Adrian Peterson, star running back for the Minnesota Vikings and the-running-back-everyone-wants-on-their-fantasy-team, has now followed Mr. Rangel’s lead. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ “Shutdown Corner” blog, Peterson says this in reference to the current situation:

It’s modern-day slavery, you know?

Now, when I heard about this, of course I’m thinking that he is out of his mind. NOTHING compares to slavery! He has even received negative feedback from many directions, including fellow NFL players.   But then, I did something that most people don’t bother to do–I read the entire interview.

I’m still not fond of the analogy, because just as I felt about Rangel’s remark, no one is being forced to stay on the job, no one is losing their freedom, and certainly no one is getting whipped. But I do have some sympathy here different from my thoughts on the Wisconsin situation, the biggest being the conflict between the NFL and the owners is a debate over profit sharing in a private sector organization. Also, there is this interesting comparison (by way of Dave Zirin at The Nation) from former NFL player Anthony Prior, author of the book Slave Side of Sunday, where he draws an analogy of playing in the NFL vs being a slave:

“Black players have created a billion-dollar market but have no voice in the industry, no power. That sounds an awful lot like slavery to me. On plantations slaves were respected for their physical skills but were given no respect as thinking beings. On the football field, we are treated as what appears like gods, but in fact this is just the ‘show and tell’ of the management for their spectators. In reality, what is transpiring is that black athletes are being treated with disrespect and degradation. As soon as we take off that uniform, behind the dressing room doors, we are less than human. We are bought and sold. Traded and drafted, like our ancestors, and the public views this as a sport, ironically the same attitude as people had in the slavery era.”

Zirin also has an interesting comparison of what players go through at the combine vs how slaves were treated, traded, and evaluated.

Ultimately, while I don’t like at all using the slavery comparison to discuss modern day issues, I have to admit that maybe, on occasion, there is no better way to getting the point across. But I’m sure there will be debate, discussion, and outrage every time it happens.

Sorry, Michael Moore; Taking the Billionares’ Billions Won’t Bail Us Out

Mary Katherine Ham took Michael Moore’s idiot idea of confiscating wealth and using it as a “national resource” and basically showed how much of an idiot he is

The grand total of the combined net worth of every single one of America’s billionaires is roughly $1.3 trillion. It does indeed sound like a “ton of cash” until one considers that the 2011 deficit alone is $1.6 trillion. So, if the government were to simply confiscate the entire net worth of all of America’s billionaires, we’d still be $300 billion short of making up this year’s deficit.

Read more: Michael Moore’s National Resources

Klavan on Unions

Rep. Keith Ellison’s Teary Hearing Speech Gets a Lot of Press. Too Bad It Wasn’t True

Yesterday, Rep. Peter King conducted a hearing into radicalization in America:

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) rejected calls from nearly 100 Democratic members to cancel the highly controversial hearing as he carried out his attempt to explore whether the U.S. Muslim community is being radicalized.

King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the four-hour hearing was “successful” and announced plans to hold another in the next several months on the radicalization of Muslim Americans in the U.S. prison system.

“This was an extremely productive, worthwhile hearing,” King told reporters after it ended. “I am more convinced than ever that it was the appropriate hearing to hold. We broke down a wall of political correctness on an issue which has to be addressed.”

There was, of course, plenty of drama on hand due to the controversy stirred up leading to the hearing, but one speaker who received a lot of press–even before the hearing was even over–was Rep. Keith Ellison, for his teary presentation at the beginning of the hearing:

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, broke into tears during the hearing as he spoke of a 23-year-old Muslim New York Police Department cadet and paramedic named Mohammed Salman Hamdani who was killed trying to save people from the crumbling World Trade Center buildings on 9/11.

Ellison became visibly emotional when he began describing how people spread false rumors after his death that Hamdani had helped the terrorists attack the U.S. Ellison was barely able to finish his statement but said he was concerned that fear-based rumors and prejudice could arise from Thursday’s hearing as well.

However, an interesting thing came to light: either Ellison got his story mixed up, or it just isn’t true:

Does Ellison’s account check out with reality?

No. It is actually pretty close to the opposite of the truth. In fact, six weeks after the September 11 attacks — before Hamdani’s remains were identified, which Ellison implies to be the turning point of public perception — Congress signed the PATRIOT Act into law with this line included: “Many Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have acted heroically during the attacks on the United States, including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who is believed to have gone to the World Trade Center to offer rescue assistance and is now missing.” That is, Hamdani was actually singled out for particular high honors among the thousands of victims of the September 11 attacks.

There’s little evidence of the “rumors” of which Ellison speaks, either. Poke around yourself. Go to Google and search for Mohammed Salman Hamdani’s name, using various time frames from before today’s hearings (say, in the week after the September 11 attack). You’ll discover two discordant sets of returns: none for sites and news reports accusing Hamdani of being a terrorist, and many thousands of pages honoring him as a hero while claiming that he was “widely accused” of being a terrorist.

So, one has to wonder if Rep. Ellison didn’t realize that his set of facts is incorrect, or if he was simply out to make a dramatic splash.

Different Perspectives on the Republicans’ “Win” in Wisconsin

After the move made by Republicans in Wisconsin to pass a bill taking away some collective bargaining abilities, the response are coming in.  On one side, its said that what was done was no different than what Dems have done to get legislation passed, and that to decry it would be hypocritical.  On the other side, the criticism is blistering, and the governor may find that support from his own party supporters may have slipped away.   Here are a couple of good pieces of analysis.

From the Washington Post, on the “Plum Line” blog, Greg Sargent speculates that the amount of maneuvering needed by Gov. Walker and Republicans to get the collective bargaining bill passed means the fight is only going to get worse:

There’s no quibbling with the fact that if it does stand, Walker and Republicans will have gotten their way in the short term fight. But let’s recall an important fact: Republicans control the governorship and state legislature. The fact that they were forced to resort to this trick is itself a concession that they had lost the battle as they themselves had previously defined it. And in so doing, they were forced to pull a maneuver that will only lend even more energy to the drive to recall them.

On the other hand, Mickey Kaus at The Daily Caller says the situation was definitely a win for Gov. Walker:

If Walker’s concessions had been accepted, he still basically would have won (largely because of the dues provision). But the Dems could have returned to Madison claiming that their dramatic walkout had resulted in a non-trivial victory of sorts, and the press was poised to portray them as brave, victorious heroes. This outcome denies the Democrats that media triumph.

So, it can be said that the Wisconsin Republicans either stood their ground, or they ignored the will of the people. It can also be said that Democrats did represent the will of the people, or they are being hypocritical (reconciliation is ok, but just when they do it). We shall see who wins the messaging war.

Wisconsin Dems Now Angry After Their Holdout Backfires

14 Democrat Senators in Wisconsin continued to stay holed up in Illinois in what had been a successful attempt to prevent the passing of a bill that would strip collective bargaining abilities from public workers (important sidenote:  they would retain the ability to bargain for pay, something that seems to get ignored).  In their view, leaving town was their way of fulfilling the will of the people–even though the obvious “will of the people” was that they wanted Republicans in charge, based on the last election results.  They were determined to prevent what they felt would be a removal of of rights from occurring.

All that changed in minutes.

Republicans realized that a quorum is only needed for spending bills.  So, they removed the collective bargaining piece from the spending bill and passed it as a separate bill which did not need a quorum.  Just like that, Dems’ out-of-state foray was rendered moot.  Of course they are crying foul. One senator, speaking on the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC, talked of how he was driving back doing 80 miles per hour in an attempt to stop what was happening. O’Donnell, sympathetic to the guest, failed to make an obvious point: if they had actually been in Wisconsin instead of hiding out, there would’ve been no need to have to “come back!”  Very simple idea, really.

Now, there you have it.  a group voted into the minority who leaves the state in order to avoid legislation they don’t like and putting the government process on hiatus now screams bloody murder because business continued on without them.  How does THAT make sense?

Links:
CNN: Union supporters to rally after Wisconsin Senate passes limits
Runaway Wis. Dem Drove Back As Fast As He Could To Stop GOP

“The president…is most likely the beast spoken of in the Revelation.”

If there is something that has bipartisan agreement, then it’s this:  the Westboro Baptist clan is crazier than Charles Manson and his group of followers ever was.  This group of…Christians (so they say, but who am I to judge?) goes around protesting at the funerals of fallen soldiers, spreading their “God hates gays” message to the masses.  The Church has approximately 50 members, and I think that in their eyes, there will only be 50 people in Heaven after the Rapture.

Fresh off of a Supreme Court win that affirmed their free speech protections, one would figure they would be quite appreciative to the Supreme Court justices.

Not so fast! Evidently, they are all destined for the fiery pits of Hell. But they won’t be alone:

“So the justices are going to hell? The president is going to hell?” asked Fox host Chris Wallace.

“Absolutely on the president,” Margie Phelps replied. “The president is going to be king of the world before this is all said and done, and he is most likely the beast spoken of in the Revelation.”

Yep. I guess now we know why President Obama’s hair is turning gray. It’s to cover up the “666” stamped somewhere in his hairline.

Read the story here: “Westboro Attorney: Obama, Justices Going to Hell”

Politico Cites Report That Union Heads Make 6 Figure salaries

A Politico article cites a recent report that shows that the people heading the country’s largest unions aren’t do so bad for themselves:

Leaders earned between $173,000 and $618,000 at major unions, the Center for Public Integrity found in examining 2009 tax records, with some groups paying dozens of employees in the six figures. At the three major unions , which together represent more than 5.6 million public workers, presidents’ salaries in 2009 ranged between $400,000 and $500,000.

For the most part, I and most other people don’t begrudge a person for how much money they make. But many of the same people who support unions also complain vocally about company execs and their salaries. It would seem to me if one can make that complaint, but look at this report and be ok with it, that there seems to be a level of hypocrisy.

Read more: Report: Union heads make six figures

Georgia Politicians Back off of Birther-inspired Bill

Either they got cold feet, or they realized they were getting laughed at by most of the country, but the bill in the Georgia Legislature to require proof of a presidential candidate’s citizenship seems to be losing sponsors:

When state Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross, dropped his bill to require next year presidential candidates to provide hard proof of their birth on U.S. soil, the paperwork contained the signatures of 93 of his House colleagues – 92 of them Republican.

Word of House Speaker David Ralston’s coolness toward the legislation spread through the Capitol on Wednesday. Those concerned with the Port of Savannah made their opinions known.

The article and an image of the bill with names of the former sponsors scratched out can be found here.

Nobel Prize winner (and know-it-all) Paul Krugman Gets Crushed By a Blogger

Paul Krugman is an economist who spends his time explaining how everything Left is right everything Right is wrong.  He recently wrote a piece in which he used an argument many union supporters have been using lately–that school performance in non-union states is worse than in union states.  Unfortunately, he didn’t do the full research.  Blogger David Burge pulls out the facts and proceeds to completely crush Krugman’s argument:

Please pardon this brief departure from my normal folderol, but every so often a member of the chattering class issues a nugget of stupidity so egregious that no amount of mockery will suffice. Particularly when the issuer of said stupidity holds a Nobel Prize.

Case in point: Paul Krugman. The Times’ staff economics blowhard recently typed, re the state of education in Texas:

Continued here: Longhorns 17, Badgers 1

Is there ANY proof that Birthers will accept?

After hearing about a bill in the Georgia Legislature to require citizenship proof for a presidential candidate (which we all know is an effort to keep Obama off the 2012 ballot), I had to scratch my head.  What’s with these people??  Do they not realize how dumb they come off?  Anyway, soon after, I heard someone call into a radio show and ask a question that shuts the entire Birther argument down:  if Obama’s mom was an American citizen, doesn’t that make Obama an American citizen?”

Game.  Set.  Match.  If she was a citizen, it doesn’t matter WHERE she gave birth.  He’s a citizen.

Anyway, since Google is my friend, I did a little looking and came across what is (in addition to the info above) the ultimate “shut up, Birthers!” argument.  Never mind that they can’t prove their own argument (notice they always ask Obama for proof instead of offering up their own proof).  The article lays out every main argument by birthers– then shoots them down one by one:

Based on this working understanding of U.S. citizenship, three things have become obvious to me:

1. Those promoting the Birther fiction don’t have the first clue about almost anything having to do with how American citizenship really works.
2. Given that Dr. Orly Taitz (one of the main poo-stirrers spinning the fan in this fracas) is herself both an immigrant and a licensed member of the California bar, she should presumably know this stuff cold. But the national case that she’s built almost entirely on spurious legal fictions is one of incompetence.
3. The Google’s been around for over a decade now, but nobody on the right seems to have figured out how to use it yet. You can find confirmation for most of what I’m about to tell you in about 0.86 seconds, assuming you can type and spell and think well enough to concoct a basic search string. Apparently, nobody in Birtherland has that level of skill.

Link: Firing Back on the Birthers: Where’s Their Evidence?

Georgia Legislature Considering Bill to Require Proof of Citizenship

Republicans won’t pass a bill to allow Sunday alcohol sales, but evidently, verifying a candidate’s citizenship is much more important!

Georgia has become the 10th state to require proof of citizenship for a presidential candidate before they are allowed to be put on the ballot:

Even though Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s citizenship, his birth certificate has been made public and courts have rebuffed challenges, the so-called ”birther” issue hasn’t gone away.

Georgia Rep. Mark Hatfield, a Republican, said he still doesn’t know if Obama is eligible to serve as president, and 92 of his GOP colleagues and one Democrat support the bill introduced Monday.

”Most people feel it’s an issue to a significant enough portion of our population that it needs to be addressed by the state,” Hatfield said. ”It is, in a sense, a response to … the sitting president and his inability or unwillingness to release his original birth certificate.”

Lets be clear. This is nothing but playing politics. Somehow, these folks don’t realize how stupid they look. If there is anything about this that is shocking, its that one of the sponsors is a Democrat.
Need proof that Georgia deserves the bottom ranking for education in the US? Just look at our politicians.