Thursday, March 24, 2011

250,000 Jobs Where?

According to information provided by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, (link) the following companies have announced their intentions to close and/or layoff workers since Governor Scott Walker has taken office, as well as the number of employees who will lose their jobs as a result:

1/5/11 - Kmart Store #7100, Sheboygan; Retail store; Closing: 62 employees
1/11/11 - Patrick Cudahy Inc.; Cudahy; Layoff: 388 employees
1/13/11 - US Bancorp; Milwaukee; Banking; Layoff: 64 employees
1/13/11 - NewPage Corporation; Whiting; Paper Mills; Closing: 366 employees
1/14/11 - Robin Manufacturing USA Inc.; Hudson; Engine Mfg; Closing: 29 employees
1/14/11 - Unified Solutions, Inc.; Pleasant Prairie; Packaging Services; Layoff: 228 employees
1/24/11 - Federal-Mogul Corporation; Schofield; Piston Ring Mfg; Closing: 183 employees
1/27/11 - Wisconsin Food Gift Company; Sun Prairie; Closing: 102 employees
1/27/11 - Quillin's Village; La Crosse; Grocery Store; Closing: 99 employees
1/31/11 - Aerial Company, Inc.; Marinette; Service; Layoffs: 77 employees
1/31/11 - Everbrite LLC; La Crosse; Sign Mfg; Closing: 9 employees
1/31/11 - Ruan Logistics Corporation; Eau Claire; Freight Trucking; Closing: 63 employees
2/16/11 - Portage Daily Register Div.; Madison; Newspaper; Layoff: 33 employees
2/25/11 - Zalk Josephs Fabricators; Stoughton; Fabricated Structural Metal Mfg; Layoff: 20 employees
3/3/11 - West Asset Management; Wausau; Collection Agencies; Layoff: 163 employees
3/3/11 - Ultra Mart Foods, dba Pick n' Save Foods; West Bend; Grocery Store; Closing: 96 employees
3/10/11 - JCPenney - Asset Recovery Center; Milwaukee; Mail Order Houses; Closing: 52 employees
3/14/11 - CSM Bakery Products; Oak Creek; Commercial Bakery; Closing: 100 employees
3/17/11 - Nice-Pak Products, Inc.; Green Bay; Sanitary Paper Product Mfg; Closing: 68 employees

The total of that list thus far is just over 2,200 jobs lost since the start of this year…

Keep in mind first that this list only includes companies that employ more than 100 workers, as those are the only ones that are legally required to notify the state of layoffs/closings in advance.  Second, remember that this list does NOT include all the jobs that will be lost due to both Talgo (the train manufacturer - link) and Invenergy (wind farm developer - link) who have both announced their plans to pull numerous jobs out of Wisconsin as a direct result of the policies/positions of Governor Scott Walker, not to even mention all the other rail-related employment (both construction and maintenance) that we lost when he rejected the $810 million in federal rail funding.  It also does not include the potential jobs that will be lost due to his planned school closings/mergings as well as the shutting down of public transit systems in various Wisconsin cities (such as my own, Sheboygan, which will likely be losing its bus lines, putting numerous drivers and other employees out of work - link.)  And we can't even begin to calculate the impact on those who depend on public transit to get to their jobs. Nor does it consider the planned $32 million cut in funds to statewide recycling programs (link) which will not only damage the environment but could potentially cost several thousand more jobs.

Hell…they’re even trying to abolish the positions of State Treasurer and Secretary of State here in Wisconsin (link). But then…those last two aren’t jobs they actually want to eliminate, they just want to get rid of the current citizen oversight (via election) on these two positions.

Treasurer Kurt Schuller summed up his reasons for theoretically wishing to abolish his own job, while he does admit that the work done by his office is important, "We don't elect a president of the DMV. There are many, many offices that are just handled administerally, and are serving the people of Wisconsin. This is one of those offices that can continue to do the good work that it does and does not need an elected constitutional officer to run it." (link) (Also, please note that "administerally" is not a word [see dictionary]- but then, I guess we should be used to republicans making up words by now, right?)

When he was candidate for the Governor’s office Walker often talked about the importance of “creating jobs”…who else assumed (apparently wrongly) that he meant here?

“When Scott Walker promised to create 250,000 jobs, I mistakenly assumed he meant in Wisconsin.  He’s certainly turning out to be a great neighbour.” ~ Illinois Senate President John Cullerton

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hopper Doesn't Live Here Anymore...

Republican Randy Hopper was elected to represent District 18 in the Wisconsin State Senate back in 2008, by a margin of only 163 votes. This week, like every other Republican (but one, thank you Senator Schultz), Senator Hopper sided with Governor Scott Walker and voted “yes” on his polarizing “Budget Repair Bill”. As a result, he is one of those against whom there is currently a recall effort to try to remove him from office.

When a crowd of angry protestors showed up outside his Fond du Lac home in order to voice their displeasure at his vote and their support of the efforts to recall him, they were met by Hopper’s estranged wife, Alysia.

The soon-to-be-ex Mrs. Hopper informed the crowd that her estranged husband was no longer living in his former home with her and their two children in the district, but rather had moved into an apartment in Madison with his 25 year old mistress, Valerie Cass.  Ms. Cass, who now has a state job, had formerly worked as a lobbyist for a right-wing political consulting firm called “Persuasion Partners”, ( which coincidentally works with the Koch brothers funded “Americans for Prosperity”.  However, Cass left the firm when the news of her relationship with Hopper broke, and the company has since removed her name from their web site, but there was a screen shot of her bio taken before the site was scrubbed of all references to her...

Randy Hopper, (who served on the Senate Economic Development Committee, on which Cass did staff work for the ranking member), filed for divorce from his wife last August.  Sources say that the Hopper family maid has already signed the petition to recall Hopper and that his soon-to-be-ex-wife would be willing to sign the petition as well.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wisconsin Lost

Needless to say, I'm disgusted about what has happened in my state and the way that it was brought about.  I'm sure that after the initial shock wears off, I'll have more to say on the subject, but for right now, I just wanted to post two things, this video look at what the last few weeks in Wisconsin looked like...

And then this chart, which shows what this "budget crisis" is really all about...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Backup DNA?

See, this is the problem with Fox & Friends...

They're idiots.  Watch this video of them (falsely) reporting that the TSA is planning to start doing DNA testing on airline passengers.  Especially pay attention at around the 2:14 mark where you can hear this doofus Steve Doocy point out that swab DNA testing would be "easy to fake" because “all you gotta do is put someone else’s DNA in your mouth.”

I don't really want to think about how Mr. Doocy intends to get "someone else's DNA" inside his mouth, and I certainly don't want to think about what form that DNA might take.  The one clear thing is that this guy has absolutely NO understanding whatsoever how DNA works.  In fact, it is SUCH a ridiculous statement that even the amazingly silly blond bimbo on the set even uttered a shocked, "huh??" at the comment. 

Apparently, "fair and balanced" Fox News HAS since issued an apology for incorrectly reporting that the TSA was even considering actually doing this DNA testing, rather than for the idiocy of saying that you can "fake" a DNA test by having "someone else's DNA in your mouth". 

Is there no end to the idiocy of these fools?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Demands of Society

Recently I saw two opposing viewpoints that made me once again consider the strangeness of all the things that are happening here in my state and in the country as a whole. The first basically pointed out the incongruity that is plaguing our society when someone mentioned how completely bizarre it is that people who make over a million dollars a year have managed to convince people who make under $30,000 a year that the real problem in the country is because of people making $60,000 a year, rather than those making $60,000,000.

Somehow these billionaires have managed to convince the middle class (what’s left of it anyway) that since other workers aren’t getting screwed quite as badly as they are, that those fairing just a bit better are the enemy, rather than those doing the screwing (with solid gold screwdrivers).  The enemy isn't the fat's the nurses, and the teachers, the folks working on the garbage trucks and the snow plows, the EMTs and the clerical staff at government offices.  The problem is the children in need of education and the elderly and disabled in need of health care.

Someone I know recently wrote the following…
“To highlight the offensiveness to liberty that democracy and majority rule is, just ask yourself how many decisions in your life would you like to be made democratically. How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement?”
In my opinion what this person fails to understand is that those decisions are already generally made by a majority rule (of sorts), UNLESS one either leads a solitary existence or already lives in tyranny. The decisions about what kind of car to drive, where to live, what to have for Thanksgiving dinner (or whether or not to even celebrate “Thanksgiving” for that matter) are generally made as a JOINT decision BY THOSE WHO WILL BE AFFECTED…so the questions in those examples would likely be decided by family consensus (between the husband and wife, parents and children, etc.), unless of course one lives in some sort of tyrannical household where only one person’s word is law (be that patriarchal or matriarchal) and other viewpoints are not considered…if that is the case, I’m so sorry for you. The decision about whom to marry is also generally made of consensus of varying sorts as well, first of all the couple themselves (we don’t have forced marriages after all, not anymore anyway)…the parents of both the bride and the groom are usually considered, as are any children the potential groom or bride may already have, or siblings and other family members and even friends in some cases are often consulted…again…THOSE WHO WILL BE AFFECTED.

When it comes to the question of health care and retirement, our society is far too compassionate and DECENT to just allow someone to simply die in the streets because they were foolish enough to NOT buy health insurance or properly prepare for their old age (or were somehow unable to do so). Therefore, since that society WILL end up footing the bill to care for you even if you didn’t care for yourself, this is a decision in which society as a whole WILL BE AFFECTED, so yeah…they get a say.

If folks don’t want to participate in a society in which people care for one another, but rather somehow believe that we're all just on our own and people SHOULD just be allowed to die in the streets if they didn’t properly prepare for their retirement, or didn’t have the means with which to pay exorbitant amounts of money to the multi-billion dollar insurance industry so they can get needed health care, then perhaps they should try moving to one of the third world states or some banana republic(an)…but I want America to be better than that.

Personally, I’m rather fond of civilization and want us to move forward to a better world and if folks are going to come along (which they just automatically WILL unless they choose to physically leave our society), I believe that society gets to demand a certain level of participation.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Quorum Denied

In the Illinois State Legislature in 1839 the Democrats had sponsored a bill requiring the state’s central bank to “make payments in gold or silver, rather than paper money.” The members of the Whig Party (the precursor of today’s Republicans) were strongly opposed to this measure (my…how things change…now it is the hard right folks like Beck calling for a return to the gold standard).

The chosen strategy of the Whigs to block the bill, as they did not have the votes to actually defeat the measure, was to stage a walkout in order to deny the Democrats the quorum necessary to vote on the bill. With the numeric breakdown of the Illinois Legislature at the time, two of the Whig members were able to be present and there still be no quorum, so two stayed in order to officially point out that there was no quorum.

However, the Democrats had managed to secretly bring in another Whig, thereby creating the necessary quorum. One of the two that had originally stayed actually literally jumped out the window of the state house in an attempt to block the vote.

That individual was to eventually become the first Republican President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Now that it is Democrats that are attempting to essentially do the exact same thing to the modern day “Party of Lincoln” here in Wisconsin (deny them a quorum) that Lincoln himself did to the Democrats in 1839, the Republicans want them literally arrested. I guess that means that they believe that Lincoln should have been dragged into the Illinois State house in handcuffs back then, as they would like to see with the “Wisconsin 14”?

Time and time again, the Republicans prove that hypocrisy is what they’re best at.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Citizens United

Back in January 2010, President Obama spoke in his State of the Union address about the damage that he believed the “Citizens United” ruling would do to our country and our democracy, to which most of the members of the Supreme Court just stoically listened. But one, Samuel Alito (whom I call “Scalito”…a miniaturized version of Scalia) had the nerve to shake his head in denial and mouth the words “that’s not true”…

Now, over a year later, it’s even starting to look like the Citizens United ruling may have actually been literally BOUGHT…

This corrupt ruling, which does EXACTLY what President Obama said that it would, has allowed the multi-billionaire Koch brothers and others like them, such as Peter G. Peterson – (who I write about here) and Ira Rennert (whom I discuss in this article - read it here), and numerous others like them to use fake organizations like “Americans for Prosperity”, “Club For Growth” “Tea Party Express” and “Freedom Works” to buy the most recent midterm election cycle. The obscene amounts of money that they pumped into the elections allowed their “Tea Party” crazies to take over state houses from Wisconsin to Ohio, from New Jersey to Minnesota.

Nationally, their deep pockets also allowed the GoP to take over the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing us to this place where they have defunded NPR, PBS, Planned Parenthood…basically any organization that anyone with a “(D)” after their name might think is doing good work, but whom republicans have notoriously hated. Currently the nation is still operating under threat of them shutting down our government completely (just like Gingrich and the rest of the republicans did back in 1995, which didn’t work out so well), though we have apparently bought a couple more weeks.

And on local levels their bought-and-paid-for Governors are now ready to do what their multi-billionaire financiers have always wanted, the destruction of organized labor, so that even MORE of the country’s wealth gets funneled to them as the middle class is even further decimated.  After all, it was the rise of organized labor that created the middle class in the first place, against the wishes of the robber-barons.  The unions are the very soul of the middle class and their decline is directly related to the rise of the earnings of the super-rich as everyone else's income flat-lines...see this article from CNN Money

The official propaganda mouthpiece of the Repubillionaires (my term for republican billionaires, sort of like “Brangelina” and “Benifer”, etc.), Faux...errr...FOX News even ran footage of a protest that they pretended was in Wisconsin when the footage clearly depicts palm trees and an obvious lack of the snow that currently blankets Madison, Wisconsin…

As this fight wages on, the Kochs and the other hard right Repubillionaires (along with the “Republican Governor’s Association” which is running a particularly dishonest ad, which I was unable to find video for) are still utilizing the Citizens United ruling to dump massive amounts of money into the matter as they currently blanket Wisconsin with a lot of completely inaccurate commercials in support of Scott Walker’s union destruction plan, like this pack of lies…

This spot calls the protestors “labor union mobs led by Barack Obama’s Organizing for America” and claims that they “are trying to intimidate and harass Governor Walker and lawmakers in Madison” when quite to the contrary, President Obama has pretty much stayed out of this matter (much to my chagrin, see my post On Wisconsin) and far from being “mobs” the City of Madison has publically thanked the protestors for their good behavior.  The police are even down on the line with the other protestors. In fact, a friend of mine who attended one day of the Madison protests told a story about meeting an older woman (old enough to have been protesting in the 60’s) who commented, “It’s incredible, after all my years of protesting, for the first time, me and the police are on the same side!”

The commercial then goes on to say that the president and public employee unions need to “grow up” and “knock off your selfish campaign of intimidation”. SELFISH?? Multi-billionaires who are hoarding almost all our nation’s wealth actually have the NERVE to call our nurses, teachers, EMTs, snow-plow drivers and other state workers SELFISH?

Kettle…have you met pot?

The FACT of the matter is that the “selfish” ones in this equation are the big money interests that want to make sure that they keep everything and we just keep quiet about having nothing. They use their big money to buy commercials to brainwash the common people into believing that making sure that the rich get richer and the rest get poorer is what’s best for the country, when in fact, that's only what is best for them. They’re cutting transportation funds, because the rich don’t need busses, and they’re cutting education funds, because they don’t want us educated, nor do they want us unionized…because ignorant and standing alone…? Well…we work cheaper that way.

Former Senator Russ Feingold (who I personally believe is the finest Senator I’ve seen in my adult lifetime), who had his Senate seat taken from him by one of those “Tea Party” candidates (a millionaire named Ron Johnson, who is now unfortunately my state’s Junior Senator), has written a wonderful piece called “The Second Gilded Age” which clearly spells out what is happening in Wisconsin (and the country) in relation to the current assault on worker’s rights, which he published at the website of an organization he founded called “Progressives United”…read it here.

I firmly believe that the Citizens United ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court was probably the most dangerous decision that has ever been handed down in the history of our nation…

…and I also believe that the surfacing evidence that certain members of the Court accepted money and other gifts/favors from the Repubillionaires (and therefore SHOULD have recused themselves) should get the matter reheard and overturned.

Here's hoping anyway...