Class War

The End Of Food Stamps—Oh Hey That Handbag Looks Tasty

This is a pretty good editorial in the Times about the insanity that went through the House of Representatives yesterday—the great planned evisceration of food stamps. But not, apparently, a great evisceration of farmer welfare? Hmm. Good news though: Congress is hosed. In any event, whatever mangled bill makes it through the House and the Senate then gets vetoed and then… ??? Maybe "no more government." In any event, you know what we're not going to have less of over the next decade? Underemployed and food-insecure people. The Louis Vuitton monogram tote is $4000 exactly.


Why Does Verizon Hate America?

Verizon, who has recently been quite happy to secretly turn over millions of loyal Americans' phone records to the government (and then lie about doing so!), now has a much more difficult choice to make about what's right. Do they cater to anti-union bias and Wall Street profit-grabbing? Or do they engage just a little in trying to make America better by not helping to destroy the middle class?

With global operating revenues last year of $106 billion (and only $31 billion in real costs), the company doesn't feel a need to really engage with its 45,000 striking workers. Last year, Verizon laid off lots of staff—2500 directly, [...]


Wisconsin's Nasty Spring Election: Impartiality with Its Sleeves Rolled

The partisan divide on display in Wisconsin— which is eroding the neighborliness found in small communities across the state—is also infecting the nation. The political fervor finds an America acting out an increasingly satirical reverse version of Mao's Cultural Revolution, such as in Maine, where lawmakers have removed a historical mural simply because it depicted the state's labor history.

Meanwhile, with an election approaching on April 5, Wisconsin finds itself in an absolute fit over partisanship.

The same partisans that are pushing Attorney General JB Van Hollen to challenge the federal heath care reform bill in the courts are criticizing the lawsuits that challenge Governor Walker's budget bill. [...]


Is the Wisconsin Budget Like Obama's Health Care Reform? Well, Kinda!

"Now maybe the Liberals know how the Conservatives felt last year when the Democrat Congress rammed Obamacare through (without even reading it)."

That comment, by "JamVee" on a Reuters story about last Saturday's near-100,000-strong protest crowd in Madison, perfectly sums up what has become the predominant arguing position of pro-Walker conservatives. This "shoe on the other foot" defense of Governor Scott Walker's budget bill stinks of revenge, not reason. But while there are many more solid reasons that the two bills are different, there really are ways in which the two pieces of legislation are the same—and, in one sense, they're exactly the same.


And Now Ohio: Budget Plan, For Starters, is to Sell Off the Prisons

"Just two months after being sworn into office, Ohio Gov. John Kasich will lay out his plan for Ohio’s budget reduction on Tuesday at noon…. Ohio Representative Matt Lundy told NewsChannel5 that he learned of plans to sell the Grafton Correctional Institution and the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility as a package to a private prison operator are part of Tuesday’s budget announcement. Right now, the North Coast Correctional Treatment Facility is privately operated, while Grafton Correctional is operated by the state." You could make this stuff up but you wouldn't be creative enough. The Ohio budget gap is $8 billion.


A Guide to American Majority's Plan to Dismantle Public Schools

On Tuesday we published an in-depth look at how Republican representatives running for office lied to union reps during the vetting process—lies which directly led to those Republican candidates receiving union endorsements. We also looked at how American Majority, a far right conservative organization founded by the Sam Adams Alliance, had become active in Wisconsin. Their goal: training candidates to take over school boards and city council seats to better use the "tools" in Governor Scott Walker's budget "repair" bill.

A very polite person named Kasey Ginsberg identified herself in the comments of that piece as an American Majority employee and offered some "corrections."


Who Were Those Folks at the Madison Budget Address? Ann Althouse's Husband, For One

Scott Walker's budget address to the Wisconsin legislature on Tuesday was a circus—except inside the assembly chamber, where the governor enjoyed a resoundingly warm reception. This reception was suspiciously affectionate: on Wednesday, we looked at the makeup of the west gallery audience, where attendees—every one of them—stood and cheered most loudly during the address.

What kind of special access was granted to the assembly chamber that day? How did everyone get in? Let's look at Larry Meade, blogger and also spouse of Ann Althouse, the most influential conservative blogger in the region and a UW-Madison law professor, where she teaches Constitutional Law I and other [...]


Rich People Eat Like This, and Everybody Else Pays At the Counter

"Darden Restaurants (DRI) has been struggling to make its brands relevant again as diners increasingly head to chains like Chipotle and Panera, where they feel they're getting restaurant-quality food without paying as much. As it looks for ways to catch up to shifting trends, Red Lobster this week started testing a 'pay-at-the-counter' concept at two locations near its headquarters." —The great divide between people who like to occasionally eat at a restaurant with table service and the food-obsessed coastal elite snobs grew a little wider this week, as mall chain stalwart Red Lobster began selling its Krab Dinners at the counter, McDonaldland-style.

Photo by Daniel Oines.


Scott Walker Gravely Concerned About Workers' Health Care Costs

Here is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's testimony today at the House's hearing on state's debt—while a judge was ruling that Dane County doesn't have standing to sue the state over Walker's bill that limits collective bargaining. Walker, or as Wonkette calls him, "the Koch Brothers’ dumb little whore from Wisconsin," was not there to talk about how the Wisconsin state assembly voided an ordinance this week that ensured five whole sick days a year to employees of companies that had 10 or more staff. No, he went forth to rail about the high cost of health insurance born by private workers! Yes. He did. He [...]


Maine Governor Creates Jobs! (Painting Over Pro-Worker Mural)

"Maine Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor headquarters building in Augusta…. Don Berry, President of the Maine AFL-CIO, issued a statement… 'It's a spiteful, mean-spirited move by the Governor that does nothing to create jobs or improve the Maine economy.'" —Incorrect! Somebody's gotta paint over that mural. Now that's job creation we can believe in!


"Tennessee is not Wisconsin": It's Maybe Even Worse

"Troopers have forcibly carried out seven union supporters from the Tennessee Capitol after their protest disrupted a Senate committee hearing." —Yes, Tennessee too. The Senate Speaker would like to make it clear that Tennessee is not Wisconsin. Yes, in Tennessee, they're actually going to outlaw teachers' collective bargaining entirely.


After Wisconsin, Government Won't Negotiate Anything with Any Unions

Of the 16 Wisconsin senators eligible for recall elections, half are Republicans and half are Democrats. The difference between them, however, is that, for the Democrats, "the only group trying to recall them so far is Americans Against Immigration Amnesty, a little-known Utah organization," which is actually the American Patriot Recall Coalition, which has no board members in Wisconsin. Also they have no board members with last names. Ha! Who knows who's funding them? There can be no recall challenge to an elected politician in Wisconsin until he's been in office a year; but, with at least 100,000 people demonstrating in Madison on Saturday, there should [...]


Feral Leftist Mob Attacks Madison (in Right Wing's Imagination)

What happened last night in Madison, Wisconsin? According to Fox Nation, "Rabid Leftists Storm Wisconsin Capitol After Vote"! If only. Perhaps better characterized as a large community of shocked and betrayed workers? (Who are not unlikely to have a victory in court, some months and years from now.) Above is a picture of the "rabid leftists" currently "storming" the Capitol in Madison this morning. (Actually: patiently waiting for the building to open.) Here they are knocking on the locked doors, just now. Don't they look like wingnuts? Or maybe more like middle-aged working people. Last night, says the local paper, "Thousands of protesters rushed to [...]


Ohio Likely to Ban Strikes by All Public Workers

"An Ohio state Senate panel voted on Wednesday to strip public sector unions of some collective bargaining rights and end their right to strike." —This bill goes before the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate this week; it should pass. It's nasty, too! "The Ohio proposal also eliminates binding arbitration of contract disputes by a neutral third party."


The 1% Fires Back! "I Am a Fat Cat, I’m Not Ashamed"!

Well, here you go. What to even quote? Let's try this! Asked if he were willing to pay more taxes in a Nov. 30 interview with Bloomberg Television, Blackstone Group LP CEO Stephen Schwarzman spoke about lower-income U.S. families who pay no income tax. “You have to have skin in the game,” said Schwarzman, 64. “I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.”

It's an incredibly hot defensive mess up in there.


The Maine Labor Mural Story Keeps Getting Better

"Governor Paul LePage, who previously made national headlines for telling the NAACP to 'kiss my butt,' has explained his decision to remove the mural by citing an anonymous fax from a 'secret admirer' comparing the 36-foot wall painting to something in 'communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.'" —The Maine labor mural story is the best story.


Paper: Police Just As Bad As Educators

You know, when the house organs of the right started attacking teachers, I figured it was only a matter of time before they started going after the cops. I just didn't reckon that it would happen so quickly.


Rebel Libyans Stalling While the World Debates

Word that someone flew a plane into Gaddafi's palace is still but a word. I think we'd all love to hear more about that, should it have happened! Otherwise, back in Libya, well… "Libyan rebels are retreating from the strategic town of Ajdabiya under heavy bombardment by Muammar Gaddafi's forces." Anti-Gaddafi forces seem to only hold three cities, and they're isolated from each other; and government forces are trying to beat down the road to Benghazi, which has about 2/3rds of a million people. What is happening there is truly terrible. And what will happen if the revolution really does fail is even worse: two [...]


Wisconsequences: What Happened This Week and What's Next (Up First: the Voter ID Bill)

On Wednesday night, Wisconsin's state senate amended Governor Scott Walker's budget bill and speedily voted it through, using a loophole that made a quorum unnecessary. Just 24 hours later, after a couple hours of "discussions" that turned the assembly chamber into a straw man carnival and included a motion to remove the majority speaker on the grounds of "impaired judgment," the Assembly voted to pass the bill. Walker will sign off, after some legal questions are answered. There will be lawsuits, and consequences.

"Elections have consequences" was the hammer used to drive the spike that has now severed union employees from collective bargaining. So that is now the call [...]


A Blueprint for a Takeover: Wisconsin Republicans Lied While the Kochs Schemed

The simple rhetoric of the Wisconsin budget battle is that the Democrats are just "thug" unions—and that Republicans are carrying water for wealthy corporate sleaze. It's more complicated than that. For one, several teachers' unions endorsed Wisconsin Republicans last year—unions are hardly the unthinking automatons of the left they're now depicted to be. Why would they do that? Quite simply, those Republicans looked into the face of their constituents… and lied.

As the marquee battle over unions and Walker's bill is happening in Madison, the true fight over changes to the state is happening elsewhere. The ransacking of Wisconsin cannot be done from Madison alone. Governor Scott [...]