Given the passionate defenses of Spin, we’ll do that next. Are folks ready to start reading this week? Or should we give everyone a few days to get their hands on it and start next week?
Today, Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich (R) delivered his State of the State address, celebrating the successful passage of his ill-conceived JobsOhio program and for securing Cleveland, OH as the setting for an upcoming movie. But when Kasich began touting the state GOP’s assault on the collective bargaining rights of 350,000 public workers, a hail of boos descended from the gallery, derailing his stream of self-promotion. Youngstown Vindicator reporter Mark Kovac noted that this was “the first time I’ve ever heard heckling” during the State of the State address.
While Kasich painted a rosy picture inside the chamber, thousands of protesters filled the capitol, chanting slogans like “kill the bill” and “we won’t quit” in an attempt to “drown out” Kasich. The Columbus Dispatch captured the pandemonium outside, as teachers, firefighters, policemen, librarians, and other public servants fought to be heard. One of those workers, a 58-year-old teacher Portia Boulger from Chillicothe, OH, broke down in tears over Kasich’s treatment of public employees:
BOULGER: When he says he respects us, it’s a lie. He doesn’t respect me I’m 58 years old. I’ve been working since I was 13 and he wants to take my retirement away from me. Is that respect? Is that respect? No it’s not. He cares nothing about me. He cares about the Koch brothers and the money they put in his pocket. And I’m extremely angry and upset. And I’m not greedy. I am a hard worker and he doesn’t care about me or any of my kind.
While Kasich’s seemingly off-the-cuff speech was light on the details, Kasich previewed a budget proposal that would balance the budget on the backs of the less fortunate. While he reiterated his no-taxes pledge, Kasich “will look to save money” by, among other things, “administering the Medicaid insurance program differently.” Given his party’s stated goals this fall, that plan could include cutting Medicaid eligibility in half. Kasich also foreshadowed cuts to Ohio’s school systems. The total damage Kasich plans to inflict, however, will not be known until he releases his budget proposal on March 15. But if precedent serves any guide, Kasich will surely sacrifice the welfare of the majority of Ohioans to pad the pockets of the wealthy few.
Let’s dance while we’re waiting:
— Semi-recommended by Paul Krugman.
— Democrats touting Wisconsin recall signatures.
— Conservatives succeeding in disenfranchising college students.
— Rick Santorum won’t judge Newt Gingrich over infidelity.
— Sweden’s (privatized) postal service says goodbye ot stamps.
Lykke Li, “Love Out Of Lust”.
Mayor Of City With Largest American Muslim Population Says King’s Views On Muslims Are ‘Just Not True’
On Thursday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Pete King (R-NY) will begin his hearings on “the Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community.” Clinging to his McCarthy-esque paranoia in the face of backlash, King continues to lob “demonstrably spurious assertions” to salvage some credibility, such as his claims that “80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams,” that Muslims’ “ideology of extremism has been spread to the youth,” and that Muslims “won’t come forward and cooperate with the police.”
But those who actually have “direct experience” with Islam in America, like Dearborn, MI Mayor Jack O’Reilly Jr. (D), know that King’s fear-mongering is “just not true.” With Dearborn possessing a population that is 30 percent Arab American and “the largest mosque in North America,” O’Reilly notes that the community is uniquely positioned to offer “a pretty good perspective on what it is that Islam represents because we see it through the actions and behaviors of our neighbors.” And it is this perspective from which O’Reilly sees King’s hearings for what they are: “When someone goes into what is supposed to be fact finding but they’ve already determined the outcome, then that fact-finding process is flawed”:
CHETRY: Is [King] exaggerating this threat?
O’REILLY: Yeah, I’m very concerned. Now you’ve heard from some good experts so I’m going to focus on our local community. You know, when someone goes into what is supposed to be fact-finding but they’ve already determined the outcome, then that fact-finding process is flawed. For us, we’ve lived for 80 years with Muslims as an active part of our community. We have direct experience — many of our young people are 4th and 5th generation Americans. Therefore, we have a pretty good perspective on what it is that Islam represents because we see it through the actions and behaviors of our neighbors. The thing it represents is that they want to be fully American, they believe in America, they want to be part of our community. I think that’s something that’s been misrepresented and misunderstood throughout the country by certain groups. [...]
You can find people who point out extreme conditions. But if we base decisions, if we base policy on extreme decisions, we’re going to make the same mistakes we’ve made over in the past where we’ve infringed on people’s constitutional rights because we’ve presupposed that their disposed to doing something wrong. Our experience and our community says that that’s just not true.
O’Reilly also points out that if King were actually to talk to law enforcement, he’d find that both state and federal law enforcement and the Muslim community are continuously working together to root out extremism. He notes that through the program called “Bridges” — or Building Bridges to Strengthen America — the “CIA and FBI” are actively working with Muslims to “forge an effective counterterrorism enterprise.” This “extraordinary” level of cooperation and participation, of course, is not just happening in Dearborn, but in cities across the country — all which seem to fall squarely into King’s blindspot.
O’Reilly further pointed out that King’s myopia ignores the fact that dangerous extremism is not limited to Muslims, but to those with emotional or psychological issues “whether their Muslim or belong to any other group.” Indeed, the last extremist threat to Dearborn came from a Vietnam veteran who plotted to bomb a Dearborn mosque. By agitating racial and religious prejudice rather than focusing on dangers posed by behavior rather than ethnicity, King whole-heartedly rejects the wisdom garnered from a very vital — and very American — perspective.
A lot of attention has, deservedly, been focused upon the Republican governors — including Govs. Scott Walker (WI), John Kasich (OH), and Terry Branstad (IA) — who are trying to legislatively bust unions by removing the right of public sector workers to collectively bargain. But Republicans in Congress are by no means staying out of the union-busting game.
– TAKING THE DEMOCRACY OUT OF UNION ELECTIONS: Last year, the National Mediation Board did away with an absurd rule that, for union elections under the Railway Labor Act, counted workers who didn’t vote as having voted against unionization. House Republicans are using legislation that reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to try and reverse the board’s ruling, once against counting absent workers as votes against the union.
– CUTTING THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD: The continuing resolution passed by House Republicans includes a $50 million reduction in the National Labor Relations Board’s budget. The NLRB is tasked with overseeing management-labor relations under the National Labor Relations Act, and with issuing rulings regarding labor-related law and regulations. If the House GOP’s spending cuts are enacted, all NLRB staff members will have to be furloughed for 55 days, causing a backlog of cases to pile up.
– KEEPING FEDEX DRIVERS DOWN: Last year’s FAA reauthorization bill (which never passed) corrected an inequity in labor law that allows FedEx to prevent its drivers from unionizing. FedEx CEO Fred Smith — who was George W. Bush’s fraternity brother and has said that “I don’t intend to recognize any unions at Federal Express” — intensely lobbied against the provision, and House Republicans dutifully stripped it from this year’s FAA bill.
– PREVENTING TSA FROM UNIONIZING: Senate Republicans, during the debate over the Senate’s version of the FAA bill, attempted to attach an amendment that would block workers at the Transportation Security Administration from unionizing. That amendment was defeated and TSA employees begin voting in their unionization campaign tomorrow.
– NATIONAL “RIGHT TO WORK”: Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), joined by seven other Republican senators, introduced legislation today implementing so-called “right to work” at the federal level. Right to work laws allow workers to free-ride on union contracts without supporting the union, and weaken the bargaining rights of all workers, preventing them from receiving their fair share of productivity gains.
– CRANKING ABOUT CRAIG BECKER: President Obama last month renominated Craig Becker to the NLRB, prompting an outcry from all Senate Republicans. Becker is currently serving on the NLRB as a recess appointment, after Senate Republicans blocked his original nomination on the grounds that Becker once worked for labor unions.
At the state level, legislative union-busting has prompted a Main Street Movement to come together and stand up for workers and the middle-class. But will Republicans at the federal level take heed?
After all, failure to do so doesn’t seem to have endeared her to Maine conservatives:
It’s been clear for a long time now that Maine Republicans want to swap out Olympia Snowe for someone more conservative. Our newest poll in the state finds that hasn’t changed: only 33% of primary voters in the state say they would support Snowe next year to 58% who prefer a generic ‘more conservative candidate.’
The gripe with Snowe is pretty straight forward. 58% of primary voters think she’s too liberal to 37% who think she’s ideologically where she should be. Most GOP voters don’t really think Snowe belongs in their party- 34% think she ought to be an independent, 33% think she should be a Democrat, and only 27% feel that the GOP is indeed her rightful place.
A “yes” vote would have positioned her for a timely party switch, or a move to become an independent and hope the Democrats don’t mount a serious candidate against her. But as things stand, she’s mired in a kind of no-man’s land—she voted, in committee, for a tyrannical individual health care mandate but at the end of the day she stood against Barack Obama’s signature initiative. What’s keeping her alive right now is there’s no really solid conservative candidate in the field against her, but that may not be enough and it may not hold up.
Last week, ThinkProgress reported on a highly unusual move in the Ohio state Senate in which the GOP leadership yanked Republican Sen. Bill Seitz off the Labor Committee just a half hour before a key vote on a GOP anti-union bill there. Seitz didn’t support the bill, so he was replaced with another Republican who did in order to ensure the measure passed. Today, Ohio progressive blog Plunderbund reports that Republicans in the state House have now taken a page from their Senate colleagues and are abruptly replacing a Republican on the House Labor Committee in order to game the outcome of a vote on the same anti-union bill:
According to a house source, Republicans have on the first day of hearings replaced a member of the Commerce and Labor Committee in order to ensure passage of SB5. The makeup of the committee is 9-6 Republican. There are two freshman on the committee and what they are apparently doing is letting one freshman vote no to avoid electoral fallout, but they can’t let two people vote no or SB5 will not make it out.
Ross W. McGregor (OH-72) is being replaced by William P. Coley, II (OH-55).
Indeed, the committee’s website has already been updated to show the change. “This is now the third committee that the GOP has had to rig in order to get SB5 to pass,” Plunderbund notes. “If that’s what can happen to a sitting state senator,” Seitz told ThinkProgress of his abrupt dismissal, “what’s going to happen to you if you’re a nervous firefighter, teacher, or policeman…if this bill passes?”
Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA), with some of the climate science literature.
This morning, top representatives of the scientific community tried in vain to reach fossil-fueled Republicans with the facts about the threat of global warming. In a hearing convened by the energy committee’s subcommittee on energy and power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), climate scientists clearly explained how years of research involving thousands of scientists in dozens of fields of expertise have come to the ineluctable conclusion that fossil-fuel pollution is threatening humanity.
Dr. Christopher Field, the co-chair of IPCC Working Group 2, detailed how observed increases in temperature and changes in climate have already begun to decrease crop yields, with much worse to come as temperatures rise. Dr. Richard Somerville, an IPCC coordinating lead author, explained that “urgent action is needed if global warming is to be limited to moderate levels.” Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer, director of the University of Michigan Biological Station, described the disturbing changes to the Great Lakes and Arctic regions that are happening now. Dr. Francis Zwiers, another IPCC coordinating lead author, explained that it is very likely that human influence has doubled risks in extreme flooding events.
The response from the majority party was an embarrassment to the institution of Congress and to the American people. As if the hearing were a drinking game of debunked global warming myths, the Republicans on the committee uniformly pretended they were wading into some grand scientific debate, whose proponents just wanted to take America’s energy away. Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE) took a brave stand against the secret plot to ban nitrogen. Whitfield cited the canards of the Minoan warming period, the Medieval warming period, and growing Antarctic ice. Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) competed with Whitfield, spinning tales of Vikings, global warming on Mars, and global cooling.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) baldly asserted, “There is dispute whether man is the cause of global warming.” However, not even the conservative climate scientists the Republicans called — Dr. John Christy and Dr. Roger Pielke, Sr. — dispute human influence on global warming. Their testimony consisted of misrepresenting the IPCC and making dire warnings of the economic consequences of reducing the United States’ dependence on coal and oil.
At the end of the hearing, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) gave Whitfield a chance to go back from the precipice of science denial. He asked Whitfield to delay consideration of the Upton-Inhofe bill to overturn the EPA climate rules, including the scientific finding that global warming pollution is a threat to public health. Whitfield rejected Waxman’s offer, saying that his subcommittee will markup the science-prevention act on Thursday.
Anne Applebaum gets this right on Libya:
It’s nice to be on the right side of history, and I’m not surprised that George W. Bush’s remaining supporters now feel good about the “freedom agenda” that he sometimes advocated and sometimes forgot while in office. But being right, even morally right, isn’t everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It’s important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It’s important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist. Let’s not repeat past mistakes: Before sending in the 101st Airborne, we should find out what people on the ground want and need. Because right now, I don’t hear them clamoring for us to come. They are afraid of what American “assistance” might do to their country.
This is the “ethic of responsibility” approach. What’s wanted on Libya aren’t bold ideas to fix things that are as likely as not to end up creating some new horrible problems, it’s modest ideas that we can be reasonably certain will actually help. Of course it sounds good to write articles decrying someone else’s fecklessness, but we should be very reluctant to initiate military actions just because nobody can think up a better lead for a column.
Sandia Labs study: “It is the uncertainty associated with climate change that validates the need to act protectively and proactively.”
Rainfall uncertainty imperils $1 trillion in U.S. GDP and 7 million American jobs by 2050 alone
We want to reemphasize that the methods of this study reveal how compelling risk derives from uncertainty, not certainty. The greater the uncertainty, the greater the risk. It is the uncertainty associated with climate change that validates the need to act protectively and proactively.
That’s from the conclusion of a 259-page study last year by Sandia National Laboratories, “Assessing the Near-Term Risk of Climate Uncertainty: Interdependencies among the U.S. States.” The lead author, Dr. George Backus, works in Sandia’s Discrete Mathematics & Complex Systems Department. He explains the results in this Science Progress cross-post. Interspersed are some of my comments.
What we don’t know about climate science can really hurt us. So says a study conducted by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.