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It’s a beautiful day

Queen:

Aramingo Avenue

I’ve tried to think of how to best describe the main business artery in my neighborhood, but Chip does it so much better.

Sleight of hand

Republicans are completely lacking in shame. They do whatever they want, and lie about it:

After dropping nearly $9 million from his own pocket to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, Ron Johnson didn’t have to feel the pain for very long.

Johnson’s plastics company paid him $10 million in deferred compensation shortly before he was sworn in as Wisconsin’s junior senator, according to his latest financial disclosure report.

The first-term Republican declined to say how his Oshkosh firm, Pacur, came up with a figure that so closely mirrored the amount he personally put into his campaign fund.

“You take a look in terms of what would be a reasonable compensation package, OK?” Johnson said this week. “It’s a private business. I’ve complied with all the disclosure laws, and I don’t have to explain it any further to someone like you.”
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Leaving the GOP

Broward County cops are leaving the Republican party because of Gov. Rick Scott:

Next month the Broward County Police Benevolent Association is holding a “Party to Leave the Party” — an event coordinated with the Supervisor of Elections where police officers and the general public can switch their voter registrations from Republican to Democratic or Independent.

The reason for the switch? The association, which serves as the bargaining union for the county’s law enforcement officers, is unhappy with the leadership of Governor Rick Scott and the results of the past legislative session, including changes to the Florida Retirement System that will require the workers to pay more of their own wages into retirement savings.

The PBA may be a union, but it’s not traditionally a bunch of liberals. “You’d be surprised,” says Broward PBA President Patrick Hanrihan. “I think most of our police officers and stuff are Republicans.” Well, until the party-switching party, that is.

“We’ve been supporting Republican governors for the past 20 years,” Hanrihan continued.

But this one’s antics may be too much for the traditionally red-voting, gun-wielding, meat-eating, hippie-busting (OK, we’ll stop) cops to stomach.

“[Governor Scott's] union dues deduction bill is a flat-out union-busting bill,” says Hanrihan. “Under the law, a government agency wouldn’t be allowed to collect union dues if it was involved in political campaigns.” He notes that Scott had “no problem” taking money from the police union in the past election. Scott did get significant pushback on the bill from some Republican representatives, but the House eventually passed it.

Don’t give up

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush:

Regulation is good if you can bust a union

As we see, regulation is good as long as Republicans like Darrell Issa can use it to bust a union! Of course, this doesn’t really address the insidious idea that a former federal agency is supposed to fund itself. (That same kind of thinking has led to hobbled Amtrak service throughout the country.) It’s not as if everyone doesn’t use the mail — it’s part of the common good. (Yeah, I know. Republicans hate that!)

In the richest country in the world, we’re about to lose the postal service because it doesn’t make money. Imagine if we asked the military to fund itself.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced legislation Thursday to restructure the U.S. Postal Service, saying more regulation is necessary to “prevent another taxpayer bailout” of the financially strapped agency.

The bill would eliminate Saturday delivery and give the Postal Service greater latitude to close post offices and regional mail processing centers. A panel would be created to oversee the agency, modeled on the District of Columbia’s Financial Control Board, with a broad mandate to reduce costs and bring the agency back to financial solvency. “Congress can’t keep kicking the can down the road on out-of-control labor costs and excess infrastructure of USPS,” Issa said in a statement.

The panel also would have authority to renegotiate collective-bargaining agreements with postal workers, a provision that will draw stiff opposition from unions. If the bill becomes law, employees will probably see reductions in their wages and benefits.

The plan from the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform would eventually save the Postal Service $6 billion a year. It comes on the heels of the agency’s announcement that it plans to suspend its contributions to the pensions of thousands of workers to help stem billions of dollars in losses.

Postal officials said they agree with some provisions in the bill; the agency proposed eliminating Saturday delivery several years ago. But they said Issa wrongly assumes the agency’s path to financial stability lies in more regulation. “The opposite is true,” the agency said in a statement. “Our financial instability is the result of dramatic loss in volumes, coupled with restrictions imposed by Congress that have prevented the Postal Service from adequately responding to those losses in a business-like fashion.”

Wow

Boston EMTs faking certifications? That’s really bad.

The default position

Matt Stoller on how the prison industry just wants you in jail:

More than a third of all states allow debtors “who can’t or won’t pay their debts” to be jailed. In 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal, judges have issued 5,000 such warrants. What is behind the increased pressure to incarcerate people with debts? Is it a desire to force debt payment? Or is it part of a new structure where incarceration is becoming increasingly the default tool to address any and all social problems?

Consider a different example that has nothing to do with debts. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania judge was convicted of racketeering, of taking bribes from parties of interest in his cases. It was a fairly routine case of bribery, with one significant exception. The party making the payoffs was a builder and operator of youth prisons, and the judge was rewarding him by sending lots of kids to his prisons.

Welcome to the for-profit prison industry. It’s an industry that wants people in jail, because jail is their product. And they have shareholder expectations to meet.

Privatized prisons are marketed to international investors as “social infrastructure”, and they are part of a wave of privatization washing over the globe. Multi-billion dollar prison companies are upgraded by analysts with antiseptic words like “prospects for global prison growth”, and these companies have built a revolving door and patronage machine characteristic of any government contractor. Only, in this case, the business they are in is putting people into steel cages (or “filling beds” as they put it), and they don’t care how, why, or whether the people in those beds should be there. They don’t care if you’re in prison for smoking pot, stealing cars, or being in debt. They just want people in jail.

Imagine that

Subsidized daycare pays for itself.

Funny

When the Republicans are in the majority, they insist on no compromise. And when the Republicans are in the minority, they insist on no compromise.

Why? Because it works! No matter who you vote for, the Republicans are in charge.

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