The Daily Planet, Vol. 20

 

Tsunami after massive Japan quake:

A massive earthquake has hit the north-east of Japan, triggering a tsunami that has caused extensive damage.

Japanese television showed cars, ships and even buildings being swept away by a vast wall of water after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake.

The quake has sparked fires in several areas including Tokyo, and numerous casualties are feared.

It struck about 250 miles (400km) from the capital at a depth of 20 miles. There have been powerful aftershocks.

The tremor at 1446 local time (0546 GMT). Seismologists say it is one of the largest earthquakes to hit Japan for many years.

The tsunami warning was extended to the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Pacific coast of Russia and Hawaii.

Map of Japan

Tsunami waves hit Japan’s Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, officials said.

__________________________________________________

 

TAKE ACTION

 

USUncut

Let’s keep up the pressure, keep up the fight. We will prevail.

See list of national actions!

 

COLOR OF CHANGE

Right now, Republicans are trying to cut programs that provide access to basic health care, housing assistance and job training. For many families, what happens could mean the difference between stability and homelessness, or life and death.

The GOP’s war on Black, poor and working folks is bad enough. But as we’ve seen in the past, Democrats often refuse to fight for us. If that happens this time, the most vulnerable among us will be left in the cold while the wealthiest Americans continue to receive massive tax breaks.

Please click to demand that Democrats defend the programs we need, not use them as bargaining chips as they negotiate with Republicans. Then ask your friends and family to do the same. It only takes a moment.

 

 

Reset the Budget Debate

To avert a government shutdown, we have to find a bipartisan compromise. But Republicans are deliberately confusing two separate issues: reducing the deficit and cutting government.

We need to reset the debate so we’re not just talking about cuts in the 12% of our budget that goes to “domestic discretionary spending,” but so we can talk about reducing spending on things like military spending and agricultural spending as well — not to mention revenue raisers.

Use our easy online form to encourage your representative in Congress to reset the budget debate today.


BUDGET

 

Walking the Walk: Finding Budget Solutions, Not Scapegoats: Lessons From an Oregon Victory

In this new series, “Walking the Walk,” author, activist, social entrepreneur and labor veteran Amy Dean will take a look at the faces and strategies behind the real change that is happening across the country to fight back against this onslaught. This first article in the series examines how the state of Oregon balanced its budget – democratically.

This week, as President Obama unveiled the federal budget and state legislatures across the country continued heated battles over their own financial crises, we are continuing to hear a single message from Republicans: that people want a smaller government, that they are fed up with public spending and that budgets must be cut.

But there’s a big problem with their story: it’s not true.

Blanket antigovernment rhetoric may fly with reference to Washington, but when it gets down to the state and local level, where government is closer to people, voters think about it differently. Faced with threats to essential public services, voters feel a common responsibility for the quality of life in their cities, towns and neighborhoods.

[…]

Mobilizing the Majority

Converting popular support for public services into actual policy victories takes smart organizing. In order to get past fear-mongering, antigovernment rhetoric, people have to be mobilized.

In Oregon, the mobilization was rooted in a process that took over a decade. “In the 1990’s, politics was an afterthought for us, but that started to change,” Towers says. “In 2000, there was a dramatic shift in understanding how political engagement could be linked to supporting and building strength for workers trying to build a better lives for themselves through their unions. We finally discovered as an international union that organizing and politics had to be two sides of the same coin.”

Union activists reached out to community allies, building a deep coalition that had a vision for progressive change that was bigger than the day-to-day priorities of any one organization. This allowed the groups to collectively engage a much larger constituency than they would have been able to alone.

When they then turned to electoral politics, the activists worked to rethink their model for political action, recreating themselves as both a year-round political force and a partner in governing, rather than as an ATM for candidates who become fair-weather friends during election cycles but then distance themselves from social movements once elected.

Replicating Success

Things in Oregon have turned out differently than in many places in the country not because the political climate in that state is exceptional or because conditions there are particularly favorable to progressives. In fact, prior to the 2010 victory, Oregon had a history of antitax votes, with residents capping property taxes and repeatedly rejecting efforts to raise the state income tax or create a sales tax.

Yet, across the nation, polls show that while people may favor reducing government spending in the abstract, when it comes to the actual programs that might be affected, they prioritize public services over deficit reduction. In a recently released survey by the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of Republicans said that the government should focus on reducing the deficit. Yet when asked about specific programs, a majority of respondents, including Republicans, rejected spending decreases for programs such as education, Social Security, agriculture and roads and bridges. Our challenge is turning the voices that we don’t hear regularly in the media into a vocal majority.

When we allow Republicans on the national level to set up the debate as one of saving money versus spending money, we lose. Drawing from the Oregon example, we must approach the discussion in a different way, creating a conversation about what is really worth paying for.

More>>>

 

Dumbing Deficits Down

Krugman:

According to a column in Kaiser Health News, Republican staffers jeered at any and all proposals to use Medicare and Medicaid funds better. Spending money on prevention was no more than a “slush fund.” Research on innovation was “an oxymoron.” And there was no reason to pay for “so-called effectiveness research.”

To put this in context, you have to realize two things about the fiscal state of America. First, the nation is not, in fact, “broke.” The federal government is having no trouble raising money, and the price of that money — the interest rate on federal borrowing — is very low by historical standards. So there’s no need to scramble to slash spending now now now; we can and should be willing to spend now if it will produce savings in the long run.

Second, while the government does have a long-run fiscal problem, that problem is overwhelmingly driven by rising health care costs.

[…]

Limiting health costs, therefore, requires a smarter approach. We need to work harder on prevention, which can be much cheaper than a cure. We need to find innovative ways of managing health care. And, above all, we need to know what works and what doesn’t so that Medicare and Medicaid can say no to expensive procedures with little or no medical benefit. “So-called comparative effectiveness research” is central to any rational attempt to deal with America’s fiscal problems.

But today’s Republicans just aren’t into rationality.

[…]

Of course, Republicans aren’t the only cynics. As the national debate over fiscal policy descends ever deeper into penny-pinching, future-killing absurdity, one voice is curiously muted — that of President Obama.

The president and his aides know that the G.O.P. approach to the budget is wrongheaded and destructive. But they’ve stopped making the case for an alternative approach; instead, they’ve positioned themselves as know-nothings lite, accepting the notion that spending must be slashed immediately — just not as much as Republicans want.

Mr. Obama’s political advisers clearly believe that this strategy of protective camouflage offers the president his best chance at re-election — and they may be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the White House is aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our deficit debate.

And this dumbing down bodes ill for the nation’s future. Health care is only one of the large and difficult problems America needs to deal with, ranging from infrastructure to climate change, all of which demand that we engage in a lot of hard thinking. Yet what we have instead is a political culture in which one side sneers at knowledge and exalts ignorance, while the other side hunkers down and pretends to halfway agree.

More>>>

 

ECONOMY

 

Liberal groups to push Obama on jobs plan

A coalition of liberal groups Thursday will call for the Obama administration to put out a detailed plan to create jobs and urge both parties to stop focusing so much on the federal budget deficit.

“Washington is focused on draconian cuts that will hurt the recovery,” said Roger Hickey, head of the liberal group the Campaign for America’s Future, which is sponsoring the conference. “The immediate crisis is jobs.”

Hickey, in an interview, acknowledged Republicans in the House would oppose virtually any kind of plan that would call for increased spending to spur economic growth. And he said officials in the Obama administration had bluntly told him “there is no jobs bill they can get out of the Republican Congress.”

But Hickey argues Democrats should call for more spending anyway. Even if Republicans block a stimulus-style bill, voters in 2012 would know Democrats tried to push an ambitious plan.

 

Where the jobs are

THE Bureau of Labour Statistics has released the latest state-level employment data, for the month of December, so it’s possible to get a look at which states enjoyed the most job growth in 2010. Here is the total employment change:


As you can (hopefully) see, Texas leads the pack. About a fifth of all new jobs were created there last year. About half of net new jobs were produced by the top 6 states, and about 80% were produced in the top 15. New Jersey had the biggest job loss, followed by Nevada. New Jersey’s job losses were almost entirely due to cuts in government employment.

[…]

Most of the District of Columbia’s employment increase isn’t government employees, but it does reflect the macroeconomic stabilising effect of the acyclical government. After the District and Texas, the list gets interesting. It’s not exactly the places you’d expect to see, and neither is there a clear geographic pattern. The country’s west is generally in poor shape, but Washington is in the top ten. Arizona is there, while other bubble centres have done very poorly. One wonders to what extent Arizona’s relatively strong economy has benefited from in-migration of desperate Nevadans. In general, the northern Plains look strong, as do the mid-Atlantic and northeast. The south and midwest didn’t have as good a year.

This is changing, to some extent. The latest regional unemployment data show that the midwest enjoyed the largest drop in unemployment rate from January of 2010 to January 0f 2011, from 10.1% to 8.5%. So it’s not all bad news for the industrial heartland.

 

HEALTH

 

Woman Forced To Watch Her Baby Die Because Nebraska Anti-Abortion Law Prohibited Doctor From Acting

In Nebraska, one law already in existence heaped needless trauma on a mother’s tragedy. Thirty-four-year-old Danielle Deaver was 23 weeks pregnant when she faced a fate “worse than your own death” — her baby would not make it. Her water broke early and, without amniotic fluid, the fetus would not develop lungs to survive outside the womb. Deaver and her husband decided they wanted to let “nature take it’s course” and would not risk harming the child further, so they asked their doctor to help “put an end to this nightmare.”

But because of Nebraska’s law prohibiting any abortion after 20 weeks, the doctor could not assist or he would “face criminal charges, jail time, and lose his medical license.” Her doctors told her “she’d just have to wait.” So she did, in “torture,” and gave birth to Elizabeth at 3pm, watched her gasp for breath, and then watched her die at 3:15pm on December 8, 2010. “The outcome of my pregnancy, that choice was made by God,” said Deaver, but “how to handle the end of my pregnancy, that choice should’ve been mine.”

She told her story to the Des Moines Register, watch it.

Yesterday, in a 94-2 vote, the Oklahoma House passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks based on the dubious assumption the fetus “can feel pain.” Oregon, Minnesota, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Florida, Missouri, and Ohio are also considering joining the 31 states that currently have such a ban. Should these states successfully push the ban through, Danielle Deaver’s personal tragedy may become a common expectation.

 

Giffords hopes to attend husband’s shuttle launch

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has shown so much progress in her recovery from a bullet wound to the head that friends and family are making plans for her to attend the launch of her husband’s space shuttle mission next month in Florida, a person close to the family told The Associated Press on Thursday.

[…]

Dr. Gerard Francisco, the head of the team of doctors overseeing Giffords’ rehabilitation, said last month that a decision would be based on the progress of her recovery, how independent her movement is, and whether she could handle the commotion of traveling.

 

HEALTH CARE REFORM

 

The Conservative Assault on Medicaid

The right wing’s attack on government insurance programs has taken a novel and brash twist: Conservatives have started arguing that people on Medicaid would be better off with no insurance whatsoever. If you’re a thirty-something mother making, say, less than $20,000 as a hotel housekeeper, some conservatives think you’d be better off uninsured–i.e., completely at the mercy of charity care, depending in many cases on emergency rooms even for routine treatment–then if you had the government’s insurance policy for the poor.*

[…]

To be clear, Gottlieb, Roy, and the rest are absolutely correct when they suggest Medicaid has problems. For certain populations and particularly in certain states, it’s unambiguously inferior to private insurance and to Medicare. Partly that reflects structural problems in the program, like poor management of chronic disease. But partly (perhaps mostly) it reflects the fact that Medicaid reimburses the providers of medical care at absurdly low rates. This makes it harder for Medicaid patients to find professionals that will see them.

(By the way, this may be yet another confounding factor the University of Virginia study missed: Low reimbursement rates may restrict Medicaid patients to less experienced surgeons and less technologically advanced hospitals.)

The solution to this problem is to spend more money on the program, so that it reimburses physicians and hospitals at levels closer to other insurance programs. The Affordable Care Act actually does that, albeit modestly, by boosting Medicaid payments to primary care doctors and reducing the number of uninsured who will get pure charity care. Do I wish the Affordable Care Act would raise reimbursements more? Absolutely. And would I be willing to see at least some of the Medicaid population get coverage directly from private insurers? Maybe, depending on the program design and regulations.

This is why the conversation about Medicaid is so frustrating. First critics deny Medicaid the funds it needs. Then they blame Medicaid when it doesn’t perform up to standards. Then they suggest replacing the program with a more “flexible” or private alternative that won’t actually improve access overall and might even limit it further.

Of course, conservatives have been making these sorts of arguments for a very, very long time, and not just about Medicaid. In that sense, I guess, this latest argument isn’t novel at all.

Move>>>

MEDIA

 

All the Aggregation That’s Fit to Aggregate

Bill Keller is executive editor of The New York Times.

Of course I care deeply about The Future of Journalism, and I know the upheavals in our business matter a great deal. But the orgy of self-reference is so indiscriminate, so trivializing. We have flocks of media oxpeckers who ride the backs of pachyderms, feeding on ticks. We have a coterie of learned analysts — Clay Shirky, Alan Mutter, Jay Rosen, Jeff Jarvis and the rest — who meditate on the meta of media. By turning news executives into celebrities, we devalue the institutions that support them, the basics of craft and the authority of editorial judgment.

[…]

Some once-serious news outlets give pride of place not to stories they think important but to stories that are “trending” on Twitter — the “American Idol”-ization of news. And we have bestowed our highest honor — market valuation — not on those who labor over the making of original journalism but on aggregation.

“Aggregation” can mean smart people sharing their reading lists, plugging one another into the bounty of the information universe. It kind of describes what I do as an editor. But too often it amounts to taking words written by other people, packaging them on your own Web site and harvesting revenue that might otherwise be directed to the originators of the material. In Somalia this would be called piracy. In the mediasphere, it is a respected business model.

The queen of aggregation is, of course, Arianna Huffington, who has discovered that if you take celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications, array them on your Web site and add a left-wing soundtrack, millions of people will come. How great is Huffington’s instinctive genius for aggregation? I once sat beside her on a panel in Los Angeles (on — what else? — The Future of Journalism). I had come prepared with a couple of memorized riffs on media topics, which I duly presented. Afterward we sat down for a joint interview with a local reporter. A moment later I heard one of my riffs issuing verbatim from the mouth of Ms. Huffington. I felt so . . . aggregated.

Last month, when AOL bought The Huffington Post for $315 million, it was portrayed as a sign that AOL is moving into the business of creating stuff — what we used to call writing or reporting or journalism but we now call “content.” Buying an aggregator and calling it a content play is a little like a company’s announcing plans to improve its cash position by hiring a counterfeiter.

Then again, some of the great aggregators, Huffington among them, seem to be experiencing a back-to-the-future epiphany. They seem to have realized that if everybody is an aggregator, nobody will be left to make real stuff to aggregate. Huffington has therefore hired a small stable of experienced journalists, including a few from here, to produce original journalism about business and politics.

I can’t decide whether serious journalism is the kind of thing that lures an audience to a site like The Huffington Post, or if that’s like hiring a top chef to fancy up the menu at Hooters.

 

White House Reaffirms Commitment To Funding NPR, Public Broadcasting

The White House yesterday affirmed its support of NPR and public broadcasting, only hours after NPR President Vivian Schiller resigned amid a controversy generated by conservative activists. “In an era where tough choices have to be made, including the ones this president laid out in his proposed 2012 budget, there remains a need to support public broadcasting and NPR,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

The $451 million that Obama allocated in his 2012 budget is, of course, for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting and not just NPR alone. And while Republicans in Congress have primarily singled out NPR as an example of federal waste, their legislative sites are actually set on knocking out both organizations.

 

Sorry, Charlie

The “news” is all too happy to follow the plunging arc of Charlie Sheen’s career, while Governor Walker of Wisconsin is preparing to fire state workers out of spite.

I was watching “Family Guy” the other day on the local Boston Fox affiliate when they interrupted the broadcast for the following news bulletin. I quote: “Charlie Sheen may joke about them, but witches and warlocks in Salem say it’s no laughing matter. See why tonight on Fox News.”

No, really. That happened.

[…]

So, yeah. Labor insurrection, Town Hall rage and a gubernatorial meltdown in Wisconsin. Vicious persecution of an entire religion in the House of Representatives, complete with Japanese internment victims standing in defense of Islam. Death and destruction continue unabated in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, and we can hold anyone we choose in Halliburton cages for as long as we like without trial or legal representation, because Mr. Obama seems to think Mr. Bush was right when it comes to human freedom and the rule of law.

But no, let’s talk about Charlie Sheen being an F-18 deploying his ordnance to the ground.

Right?

I don’t think so.

[…]

This Just In: America is dying, and the “mainstream” news media is the one sticking in the poisoned dagger.

 

MILITARY

 

U.S. Intelligence Chief Alarms Senators By Calling China, Russia ‘Threats’

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper caused a stir Thursday during an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee when he described China and Russia as “mortal threats” to the U.S.

His remarks, coming in response to a question from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), caused concern among senators of both parties. After all, the U.S. has mainly friendly relations with both China and Russia.

Iran and North Korea? Not so much. So senators were taken aback, to say the least, that those two members of what used to be called the “axis of evil” got a pass.

The senators were so concerned that Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), chair of the committee helped Clapper “revise and extend” his remarks, as they like to say in Congress.

[…]

Even after Levin tried to provide an escape route, Clapper refused to use it. A few minutes later, he sad that because of the New START treaty with the Russians, he would rate them a lower threat than China.

Then there was his answer to the senators’ Libya question which call can be boiled down to this response he gave to Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT):

CLAPPER: So, I just think from a standpoint of attrition —

SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.

GEN. CLAPPER: — that over time, I mean — this is kind of a
stalemate back and forth, but I think over the longer term that the
regime will prevail.

That was problematic since the Obama Administration and many of its Western allies have made clear they want Gadhafi to leave.

White House aides spent part of the afternoon doing damage control.

More>>>

POLITICS

 

Christie’s Talk Is Blunt, but Not Always Straight

NYT’s:

New Jersey’s public-sector unions routinely pressure the State Legislature to give them what they fail to win in contract talks. Most government workers pay nothing for health insurance. Concessions by school employees would have prevented any cuts in school programs last year.

Statements like those are at the core of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign to cut state spending by getting tougher on unions. They are not, however, accurate.

In fact, on the occasions when the Legislature granted the unions new benefits, it was for pensions, which were not subject to collective bargaining — and it has not happened in eight years. In reality, state employees have paid 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance since 2007, in addition to co-payments and deductibles, and since last spring, many local government workers, including teachers, do as well. The few dozen school districts where employees agreed to concessions last year still saw layoffs and cuts in academic programs.

“Clearly there has been a pattern of the governor playing fast and loose with the details,” said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. “But so far, he’s been adept at getting the public to believe what he says.”

[…]

Misstatements have been central to Mr. Christie’s worst public stumbles — about how the state managed to miss out on a $400 million education grant last year, for example, and whether he was in touch enough while he was in Florida during the blizzard in December — and his rare admissions that he was wrong. But Peter J. Woolley, a politics professor and polling director at Fairleigh Dickinson University, said there had been no sign, so far, that these issues had much effect on the governor’s political standing.

“People prefer directness to detail,” Professor Woolley said. “People know it’s not unusual for politicians to take the shortcut in public debate, that they’re not academics who are going to qualify everything.”

Some overstatements have worked their way into the governor’s routine public comments, like a claim that he balanced the budget last year without raising taxes; in truth, he cut deeply into tax credits for the elderly and the poor. But inaccuracies also crop up when he is challenged, and his instinct seems to be to turn it into an attack on someone else instead of giving an answer.

More>>>

 

SCOTUS

 

Justice Scalia Objects

One rough measure of how any Supreme Court term is going is to track the decibel level of Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinions. In a case last week, the question was whether statements made to the police by a shooting victim as he lay bleeding to death in the parking lot of a Detroit gas station were properly used at trial to obtain a murder conviction of the man he named as the gunman.

The court’s answer, by a vote of 6 to 2, was yes. Writing for the majority in the case, Michigan v. Bryant, Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained that what was all-important was the context in which the police-victim interaction occurred. Rather than trying to obtain a dying man’s testimony for later use in a courtroom, she said, the police were urgently investigating what they believed to be an “ongoing emergency,” someone with a gun on the loose on the streets of Detroit. Under that view of the facts, the victim’s statements were not “testimonial,” meaning that their use at trial did not violate the defendant’s right under the Sixth Amendment to “confront” an accuser who was unavailable for cross-examination.

That conclusion enraged Justice Scalia. Of course the police officers knew they were gathering evidence for potential use at trial, he objected, and to maintain otherwise was “so transparently false that professing to believe it demeans this institution.” With this decision, the Supreme Court “makes itself the obfuscator of last resort,” he complained. A “gross distortion of the facts,” “utter nonsense,” and “unprincipled” were a few of the other zingers the dyspeptic justice aimed at Justice Sotomayor’s opinion.

[…]

But what strategic sense could lead a justice to administer such a public thrashing to a junior colleague?

More>>>

 

UNIONS

 

Wisconsin Can Repeal Walker’s Anti-Union Bill In 2012 And Amend The State Constitution In 2013

Yet even if Gov. Scott Walker (R) succeeds in signing this bill into law, Wisconsin voters have the power to ensure that his victory is short lived.

First, a broad coalition of these voters are circulating petitions to recall the eight GOP state senators who are currently eligible to be removed from office. If just three of these seats are flipped to the Democrats, the GOP will lose control of the state’s upper house.

Second, because Wisconsin law allows any elected official to be recalled after they have served one full year of their term in office, all remaining state legislators and Gov. Walker will be eligible for a recall election next January. If Wisconsin voters wage a successful campaign to fire the state’s anti-worker lawmakers, this bill could be repealed as soon as the snow starts to melt in spring of 2012.

Third, Wisconsin also has the power to ensure that no future lawmakers can repeat Walker’s assault on working familes:

[…]

In other words, the Wisconsin Constitution can be amended in a three step process: 1) the current legislature must approve the amendment; 2) after the next election, the new legislature must approve the amendment; 3) the voters must ratify the amendment by a majority vote. Under this procedure, Wisconsin could amend its constitution to permanently protect working families as soon as 2013.

In Ohio, pro-worker lawmakers are already planning a ballot referendum to overrule an anti-worker bill that is moving forward in that state. Wisconsin law will require working families and their supporters to jump through a few more hoops to reverse Walker’s actions. Nevertheless, they unambiguously have the power to repeal Walker’s bill in 2012 and to ensure that similar bills can never become law again in 2013.

 

Wisconsin GOP State Senator Admits Union Fight Is ‘Absolutely’ About 2012

 

Wisconsin GOP Anti-Union Vote Violates State’s Open Meetings Law

Wisconsin law requires all government meetings to be conducted publicly and with advance notice except under very limited circumstances. According to a guide to Wisconsin’s open meetings law prepared by the state’s Republican attorney general:

The provision in Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3) requires that every public notice of a meeting be given at least twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting, unless “for good cause” such notice is “impossible or impractical.” If “good cause” exists, the notice should be given as soon as possible and must be given at least two hours in advance of the meeting. … If there is any doubt whether “good cause” exists, the governmental body should provide the full twenty-four-hour notice. [...]

Wis. Stat. § 19.97(3) provides that a court may void any action taken at a meeting held in violation of the open meetings law if the court finds that the interest in enforcing the law outweighs any interest in maintaining the validity of the action.

[…]

A few GOP-aligned outlets are now trying to claim that the law was not violated because the conference committee was announced two hours in advance. Yet there is no evidence whatsoever that it would have been “impossible or impractical” to give the full day’s notice required by law. In other words, Barca’s arguments are clearly consistent with the attorney general’s understanding of the law, and the most important open question is whether the courts will exercise their authority to “void any action taken at a meeting held in violation of the open meetings law” and invalidate this bill.

 

Wisconsin Dems ask district attorney to invalidate GOP maneuver

Here’s a copy of the legal complaint that Wisconsin Democrats are filing today: They are asking the district attorney who has juristiction to block last night’s GOP legislative maneuver, on the grounds that it violated the state’s open meeting law. You will find that law attached to the complaint.

The general sense I’m picking up in labor circles today is that people are pessimistic that there will be a legal way to block what happened last night. On the other hand, Dem and labor strategists think it’s worth a shot. Kicking up as much noise as possible about potential illegalities will keep the story in the news and help feed the impression that Repubilcans subverted democracy last night — an impression that can only help recall efforts.

 

The way forward in Wisconsin: recalls and legal challenges

Yesterday sucked in Wisconsin, and there is no getting around that. Further, the bill stripping collective bargaining rights will pass through the Wisconsin state Assembly today, which means more suck is on the way.

But even in midst of the wreckage falling around us, never forget that we have recourse to overturn this bill and restore workers’ rights. The two most promising avenues are legal challenges and recall campaigns. David Dayen breaks down the legal situation.

Finally, there is also a lot of talk about strikes right now, but I’d be wary. Any public employees who go on strike will likely be fired. Patience John points out the relevant version of the bill that passed the state Senate last night:

b. Participates in a strike, work stoppage, sit−down, stay−in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government, including specifically participation in purported mass resignations or sick calls.

Even after stripping their rights, Walker and Republicans are practically begging opponents of the bill to strike, so that they can fire them. This is outrageous, but we need to channel our anger into the recall.

 

Pro-Union Protesters Swarm Indianapolis

Near the end of the third week of the Indiana state government stalemate over worker’s rights and the policy agenda of Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), pro-union protesters are surging near the state capitol in what organizers are calling the largest protest in Indiana history.

The Indianapolis Star reports union supporters have begun pouring into the capital, in advance of the rally which is set to begin at 11:30 AM. Organizers “have estimated that as many as 25,000 will attend the rally,” which would surpass “the 20,000 union members who protested at the Statehouse in 1995 in what, possibly until now, has been the largest rally in state history.”

 

PHOTOS: Thousands gather at Indiana Statehouse for labor rally

[Here’s just one:]

 

WEDGE ISSUES

 

Peter King’s modern-day witch hunt

Eugene Robinson:

If King is looking for threats to our freedoms and values, a mirror would be the place to start.

Here’s why. Imagine a young man, a Muslim, who changes in troubling ways. His two best friends become concerned, then alarmed, as the young man abandons Western dress, displays a newfound religiosity and begins to echo jihadist rhetoric about the decadence of American society. Both friends suspect that the young man has become radicalized and might even attempt some kind of terrorist attack.

One friend is Muslim, the other Christian. Does the Muslim friend have a greater responsibility than the Christian to contact the authorities? By the logic of King’s witch hunt, he does.

The Homeland Security Committee hearings that King has convened are billed as an inquiry into “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community’s Response.” In other words, King suspects that the Muslim community is somehow complicit. Individuals of one faith are implicated; individuals of another faith are not.

[…]

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca testified in opposition to King’s premise, citing figures demonstrating that radical, extremist acts of crime are committed by non-Muslims as well, and that seven of the past 10 known terrorist plots involving al-Qaeda have been foiled in part by information provided by Muslim Americans. Baca said his officers have good, productive relationships with Muslim leaders and citizens. Law enforcement officials from other jurisdictions where there are large Muslim communities could have given similar testimony, had they been invited.

 

AND IN OTHER NEWS…

 

Rachel Maddow Show, March 10, 2011

Rachel Maddow demonstrates that middle class Americans and union supporters have caught on to the Republican plan to roll back civil rights and squeeze the middle class for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans, and are rallying in opposition, even as Beltway media misses the big picture.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around encouraging young things to grow.”

- Thorton Wilder

 

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    I just wanted you all to know that The Daily Planet now has its own piece of real estate on PlanetPOV! Due to the housing bubble and consequent collapse of the market, I was able to secure that little piece of heaven at a fabulous price. ;-) It is located in the Category menu above (the green bar at the top of the pages which begins with Arts & Entertainment).

    All you need to do to access all the editions of The Daily Planet is to hover your cursor over the PlanetPOV category and you’ll see The Daily Planet in the dropdown box. Click on it and you’ll be presented with a list of all past and current volumes. The current edition will also be seen on the usual sidebar.

    Many thanks to AdLib for making it possible for me to get a piece of the American Dream! (And for being so encouraging and so supportive of The Daily Planet and to me personally as a contributor to our great Planet.)

  2. I’m just watching Rachel Maddow. I really, honestly, truly can’t believe that Republicans want to take away the money from the elderly and from the poor to merely shift it to corporations, without the slightest impact on the budget!!! How can something like this be? This is soooooo sick! I’m glad people finally take to the streets and that too all over America!

    I assume most of you have seen it already, but for those who have not, this is really an absolutely outstanding special show from Rachel Maddow.

    • Yes -- I learned this from folks in OH first who have something similar brewing. Not quite as crass as this though. The idea of soaking the frail first bubbled up in 2006 when Schwarzenegger crowed that we had to make the CA tax system more “fair” with the middle class paying more. This was said to over 200 reporters and policy people, and NO one made a peep. I would have, but the folks at my table were holding me down. Seriously! It was beyond disgusting! That is the new GOP meme -- and you see it in everythng they say from Allan Sumpson’s screed at the “300 million tits” of Social Security to the Michigan tax to be given to poor corporations that have been sooooo exploited.

      Where is the Tea Party now? THEY are part of the ones that will be taxed -- retirees!!!! When will their hate against working people give way to the realization they’ve been totally exploited by this movement?????

      • C’Lady:

        Bowles And Simpson To Suckle At Petersen Teat

        http://www.tnr.com/blog/jonathan-chait/85053/bowles-and-simpson-suckle-petersen-teat

        This is the whole problem with the Bowles-Simpson approach. The dilemma is that we need to figure out some things that government is spending money on that it should no longer spend money on, and we need to identify some people who need to pay higher taxes. Doing that is really unpopular and really hard. That’s why they created a commission. But all the commission did was throw the problem back at Congress and say, “you have to spend less and raise more revenue” without identifying who would be paying more taxes and what services or benefits would no longer be provided.
        […]
        Bendavid also straightforwardly reports the hilarious detail that Pete Peterson might set up Bowles and Simpson in their own deficit reduction group:

      • Yes, c’lady, and they’re attacking on all fronts simultaneously, so that it’s hard to keep track of all the skullduggery.

        Our wonderful (not) Ohio governor would like to rip open all the state parks for oil and gas drilling. Think those profits will go in to providing a safety net for the most vulnerable among us? Me neither. And, of course, the loss of those beautiful sanctuaries (forever) is not even on his radar screen. Frack Kasich!

    • Truth, that Maddow show was both chilling and blood-boiling at the same time. I am totally enraged. She has documented this well, and we need to get very determined and serious about stopping these treasonous Repubs. It’s odd, but when she does these kinds of reports I don’t get demoralized as much as motivated to fight!

  3. Congratulations, Cher! I just came to know that the Daily Planet now has it’s own drop down menu (in the top bar called Planet POV) so I can go back in time easier and read up some of the stuff that I’ve missed before! You really do an outstanding job in presenting us information that I for one otherwise never ever would detect! And what is more, as I’ve said before, I like that you present us a lot of those news which give us a feeling that something can be done and doesn’t leave us back feeling hopeless. Thank you.



    Flower Scraps, Pictures, Graphics and Images

  4. Cher, to continue our discussion (I left you another reply on OT, about the timid Dems and your question what else to do, don’t know if you saw it), I understand Dems do need to go the way as described in the Oregon story. So great that you posted this right now!
    If Dems have a stable foundation, they can speak not only more freely, they can SHAPE the discussions. Currently, mostly the Republicans give the ever same narrow frame, and try to narrow it down even more.

    From the “Walk-the-Walk”-article you posted above:

    (…) Once elected officials take office, an ongoing relationship with grassroots community and labor activists has an important effect. A connection with everyday realities helps prevent political leaders from being seduced by political rhetoric that suggests that the public wants to “starve the beast” of government. Instead, progressive movements create the space for elected officials to be able to vote their consciences, changing the tone in the state legislature and opening the discussion to allow for solutions to tight budgets beyond fixes like brutal austerity. (…)

    (…) When we allow Republicans on the national level to set up the debate as one of saving money versus spending money, we lose. Drawing from the Oregon example, we must approach the discussion in a different way, creating a conversation about what is really worth paying for.

    Furthermore, we must deliberately endeavor to learn from our successes, examining and holding up situations like Oregon’s. As Towers argues, “Learning needs to be built into the DNA, or our organizations, so that we can learn from others that are enjoying success, and so that we export it to other places. States are laboratories that can be replicated nationally.”

  5. First and ONLY concern -- is Kalima OK has ANYONE heard? I don’t know how many others of us are in Japan, but I do hear that power is out for 4 million people. If anyone has word, please let all of us know. She and the people of Japan are in our hearts.

    Those living near the coast in CA and elsewhere -- take high ground. The tsunami is coming ashore around 8 am and waves throughout the day. Please be careful! Sacramento will also get hit but not seriously -- we are the upper part of the San Francisco Bay on a tidal river, but it is not expected we will see actual flooding.

    All news, gratefully received. Thank you. Be safe all who are at risk.