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Paternal prison

Thank God someone’s looking after those stupid womenfolk, who schedule abortions on a goddamned whim. And thank God some rich rightwinger organization will be picking up the tab for this:

PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law Tuesday requiring women to wait three days after meeting with a doctor to have an abortion, the longest waiting period in the nation.

Abortion rights groups have already said they plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure, which also requires women to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions.

Daugaard, who gave no interviews after signing the bill, said in a written statement that he has conferred with state attorneys who will defend the law in court and a sponsor who has pledged private money to finance the state’s legal costs.

“I think everyone agrees with the goal of reducing abortion by encouraging consideration of other alternatives,” the Republican governor said the statement. “I hope that women who are considering an abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.”

You mean, like having the women who voted for you reconsider their choice?

Supporters of the measure say South Dakota’s only abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, gives women little information or counseling before they have abortions done by doctors flown in from out of state. The bill would help make sure women are not being coerced into abortions, they said.

Opponents say the law forces women to go to pregnancy help centers that harass them, rather than providing sound medical advice. They also say the waiting period and the counseling are an undue burden for women who have a constitutional right to have an abortion.

Ahem

Carl Jung, genius!

‘Proud American’

Go read.

Michigan

Give us your money or lose everything! I wonder if Republicans used to be bank robbers in a past life.

Why do I suspect that workers will make significant concessions – and end up losing their collective bargaining rights, anyway? Because that’s how Republicans roll!

Michigan’s new Emergency Manager Law is already forcing major concessions from unions. The law gives the governor the power to declare a city insolvent and appoint an emergency manager with virtually unlimited power to reorganize every aspect of city business, including dissolving the city entirely. The emergency manager even has the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements.

As a result of these expanded new powers, public employees unions in some Michigan municipalities are already making large preemptive concessions to keep their cities from tripping any of the “triggers” in the new law that might give the governor an opening to send in a union-bustingemergency manager, Eartha Jane Melzer reports in the Michigan Messenger.

In Flint, the firefighters’ union agreed to increase contributions to health insurance and give up holiday pay and night shift differentials. Flint Firefighters Union President Raul Garcia told the Wall Street Journal that these concessions were driven by fear of a state takeover of Flint. “I would rather give concessions that I would like than have an [emergency financial manager] or something of that magnitude come in and say this is what you are going to do,” Garcia said.

The new law also gives the Emergency Manager the power to privatize prisons, Melzer notes.

Ha ha

This is that firm I told you about that was buying up rights and then suing bloggers for using content. Now they have their own problems!

Last night

I had a great time talking to Athenae and Scout Prime from First Draft last night. I especially loved Scout’s moving accounts of being in the Madison capitol during the recent protests, so do listen to that.

Click here to listen!

‘All politicians should try LSD’

Words of wisdom from Larry Hagman!

Merger cons

Consumers Union says it’s hard to find an upside for consumers in this proposed AT&T deal:

Higher prices may lie ahead if AT&T successfully merges with smaller but spunkier counterpart T-Mobile, consumer advocates warned Monday, because the $39 billion deal would wipe out one of the wireless market’s more notable low-cost players.

For consumers in the Philadelphia region, of particular concern may be whether T-Mobile retains high marks from users, given that T-Mobile and behemoth Verizon scored well ahead of AT&T in a recent regional survey, said Paul Reynolds, electronics editor of Consumer Reports in Yonkers, N.Y.

But in the iPhone race, T-Mobile contract-holders eager to switch to the popular smartphone could find themselves with an option, given Apple’s exclusive relationships with AT&T and Verizon.

The pros and cons will be debated for months, as the megadeal is at least a year away from being approved or rejected by federal regulators. Consumer analysts said its elements would be examined carefully since it would give AT&T dominance over the U.S. cellular market.

“I think at this point, the potential cons outweigh the pros, as far as we can see,” said Reynolds, whose parent company, Consumers Union, has a public-policy staff in Washington eager to help frame the regulatory debate the Federal Communications Commission will undertake on the potential antitrust concerns.

“It’s early, and there are a lot of questions about this deal,” Reynolds said. “Our advocacy folks in D.C. at Consumers Union are feeling like it’s difficult to find a big upside for consumers in this.”

Upping the ante

This is a good sign. Instead of sitting around and waiting for leadership from the White House, liberal Congress members are taking the initiative to push tax legislation that will clearly draw the lines between the rich — and everybody else. From The Hill:

In an interesting development, liberals are calling for taxes to be raised on people making more than $1 million annually while Obama and other party leaders have embraced $250,000 or more per year. The left-leaning lawmakers stress that while they still support what Obama wants to do, the president wasn’t able to convince the Democratic-led Congress to pass his tax blueprint last year.

The group of legislators, which includes Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), argue that poll numbers suggest the public is on their side and that added revenue is needed to narrow deficits and keep programs such as Head Start from being placed on the chopping block.

But they downplayed the dollar figure differences between their plans and the president’s.

“I don’t think there’s anything magical about 250,000 or a million. It’s how much money do you need,” said Sanders, whose proposal would set a 5.4 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year. “In my view, the Democrats and the president should be very strong on this issue: that our goal is shared sacrifice and let’s not balance the budget on the backs of the working and middle class.”

Schakowsky signaled that her legislation – which would create a 45 percent bracket for income between $1 million and $10 million a year, with a top rate of 49 percent for income of $1 billion a year and above – could work in concert with a plan to return rates to Clinton administration levels. The current top individual tax rate of 35 percent would rise to 39.6 percent at the end of next year, unless Congress again extends existing high-income rates.

“I certainly don’t see it as a counter to the real and specific debate on the Bush tax cuts,” Schakowsky said. “The fact is, Republicans don’t want to do anything to take away tax breaks from the richest Americans, and we want to stimulate that debate.”

Republicans are good at creating jobs

Note: The photograph that originally ran with this piece identified as Valerie Cass was falsely labeled. It was a woman named Valerie Kurka who has nothing whatsoever to do with either of the principles in this story. My deep apologies to Ms. Kurka — I know all too well how things on the internet take on a life of their own.

This reminds me of something I tweeted a month ago: GOP job creation? Marry your mistress, creating job vacancy, and fill it. Progress!

As he pointed out in his campaign ad, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Randy Hopper really does know how to create jobs. His new girlfriend (he’s 45, she’s 26 — like we don’t all know how this ends?) just got a new job working for the state — and it pays $11,000 more than the last person who filled it.

Just a coincidence, doesn’t have a thing to do with Hopper being best buds with Gov. Scott Walker!

Even though the state is supposedly broke, top officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s team were able to scrape together enough money to give a state job to the woman identified as Sen. Randy Hopper’s girlfriend.

Anything for a political ally.

Valerie Cass, a former Republican legislative staffer, was hired Feb. 7 as a communications specialist with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. She is being paid $20.35 per hour. The job is considered a temporary post.

Cass previously had worked in the state Senate and for the GOP campaign consulting firm Persuasion Partners in Madison. She also was paid for campaign work for the state Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner before that.

“Ms. Cass’ name was among many forwarded to DRL by the Governor’s Transition Team as potential candidates for positions with the department,” said David Carlson, the agency’s spokesman.

But who exactly recommended her for the post?

Cullen Werwie, spokesman for the governor, confirmed that it was Keith Gilkes, Walker’s chief of staff. She was then interviewed by the Department of Regulations and Licensing’s executive assistant and deputy and hired by Secretary Dave Ross, a Walker cabinet member.

An internal staff directory lists Cass as working in the secretary’s office as the assistant to the executive assistant.

Werwie said Gilkes did not recommend her as a favor to the first-term lawmaker, who voted for the governor’s controversial budget-repair bill earlier this month.

[...] Since the recall effort was launched, news outlets and bloggers have focused in on Hopper’s pending divorce. His estranged wife, Alysia, issued a statement to WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) accusing Hopper, 45, of beginning an affair with Cass, 26, last year. He filed for divorce in August.

“Randy is the love of my life,” she said in the statement. “This divorce and the lack of any attempt to save our marriage is solely his decision not mine.”

There have been conflicting reports on whether she or the family’s maid signed Hopper’s recall petition. Democratic Party sources have told No Quarter that Hopper’s estranged wife has agreed to give to his opponent, whoever that may be.

Hopper has maintained that he had nothing to do with Cass’ recent appointment to the state job.

[...] Carlson said she filled a vacancy created by a previous limited-term employee who left in January. These temporary workers can put in no more than 1,043 hours during a fiscal year, which ends June 30. According to a Madison TV report, Cass received a substantial pay raise over her predecessor.

If she were to put in a full year in her current job, she would make about $43,200. Her predecessor was paid at a rate of $31,200 a year.

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