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Thursday, 24 February 2011 07:05

Scott Walker is All Koched up

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Scott Walker is all Koched up, and has no place to go.

Based on Walker's statements on a call in which he thought he was chatting confidentially with right-wing billionaire backer, David Koch, the Wisconsin governor is facing charges of unethical and perhaps illegal behavior.

The police chief of Madison is concerned that Walker admitted to considering using disruptive infiltrators to discredit tens of thousands of peaceful protesters.

Police Chief Noble Wray bluntly stated:

"I spent a good deal of time overnight thinking about Governor Walker's response, during his news conference yesterday (Wednesday), to the suggestion that his administration 'thought about' planting troublemakers among those who are peacefully protesting his bill," Wray said in a statement issued this morning...."

"I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers. Our department works hard dialoging with those who are exercising their First Amendment right, those from both sides of the issue, to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they can demonstrate safely.

"I am concerned that anyone would try to undermine these relationships."

Adding to the eroding credibility of Walker, a former Wisconsin attorney general (AG) believes that the governor should be investigated for possible ethical, labor and legal violations. "There clearly are potential ethics violations, and there are potential election law violations and there are a lot of what look to me like labor law violations," said former AG Peg Lautenschlager, who also served many years as a US attorney.

That's what happens when you get all Koched on funding from right-wing billionaires who are out to reinstitute something akin to indentured servitude.

According to Ian Murphy, who made the successful 20-minute prank call to Walker, the governor is clearly jacked up on something - even if ideological - and "delusional."

Sniffing all that Koch campaign money is what they call a Republican high.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

"One of the most elemental human rights [is] the right to belong to a free trade union." -- Ronald Reagan


Question?

In this Ronald Reagan Presidential address on October 19th, 1982, is President Reagan rebuking the Soviet government of Poland or Scott Walker? Read it and honestly decide if Republican "Saint" Reagan's condemning words equally apply to Scott Walker. They do:

Yesterday the Polish Government, a military dictatorship, took another far-reaching step in their persecution of their own people. They declared Solidarity, the organization of the working men and women of Poland, their free union, illegal.

Yes, I know Poland is a faraway country in Eastern Europe. Still, this action is a matter of profound concern to all the American people and to the free world.

Ever since martial law was brutally imposed last December, Polish authorities have been assuring the world that they're interested in a genuine reconciliation with the Polish people. But the Polish regime's action yesterday reveals the hollowness of its promises. By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union.

The so-called new trade union legislation under which this contrary and backward step has been taken claims to substitute a structure and framework for the establishment of free trade unions in Poland. But the free world can see this is only a sham. It is clear that such unions, if formed, will be mere extensions of the Polish Communist Party.

BuzzFlash repeats: this is from a Ronald Reagan presidential address, the transcript which you can read here. BuzzFlash repeats this statement from Reagan's address (we bolded): "They [the Soviet Polish government] have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union."

In suppressing trade unionism and collective bargaining,  threatening to use the national guard to suppress the tens of thousands trade union protesters in Wisconsin, in sending out the state police to pursue Democrats who are standing up for Ronald Regan's words in defense of trade unionism, and threatening to fire workers if the unions don't agree to give up collective bargaining -- among other backslaps to Reagan's words -- Scott Walker is committing the number one unforgivable Republican crime: He's defiling the legacy of Ronald Reagan.

In fact, in this 1981 television presidential address (which begins with some warm and fuzzy words about Christmas) Reagan championed the Solidarity trade union and its rights in the most vigorous of words.

In fact, in his 1982 statement, Reagan even discussed how the Solidarity Union sought God-given rights.

So is Walker not only throwing mud at Ronald Reagan, but also defying God?

If you don't think so, don't take it up with BuzzFlash at Truthout. Take it up with Ronald Reagan, because he's the one who said it.


Read here and watch the Christmas/Solidarity Union address here.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

BuzzFlash has been writing a series of articles exposing the Manchurian candidate that Scott Walker is, a man who costs taxpayers more than he saves, and whose goal is to be the errand master for his rich funders for crushing unions and privatizing public property in fire sales.

Kudos to Rachel Maddow for uncovering just one in many of Walker's wasteful stunts that left the taxpayers paying the bill.  In essence, Maddow charges that Walker -- the then executive of the Milwaukee County Board -- did what he is doing now: claiming a fiscal emergency and taking action detrimental to people who pick up the tab; that is you and me.

It involves an unsavory private security company, Wachkenhut, that Greg Palast has exposed as an infamous union busting, low wage, low quality favorite of Republican privatizers (not to mention some Democrats too).  Despite being prohibited by the Milwaukee County Board from firing public security staff employees, Walker unilaterally abolished a union contract and terminated the employment of security guards for the Milwaukee County Court House and two other buildings.

Walker replaced the guards with non-union Wackenhut, a division based in the UK. Walker claimed that there was a fiscal emergency and so he could do what he pleased.  But, as Maddow reported, last month an arbitrator ruled that the county did not have a sufficient fiscal crisis at the time that would have allowed Walker to bypass the county board and cancel a union contract.

What should be more alarming to people who voted for Walker because they thought that he would save them money (which would never happen anyway, because whatever he "cuts" is going to show up in a rise in local or county flat taxes), but he overestimated the "savings" of busting the union by more than $300,000.

As Maddow notes, that's not all of the Walker damage to the taxpayer. The arbitrator ruled that the union security guards must be rehired and be paid a half a million dollars in lost wages, financed, of course, with taxpayer money. That's on top of the money already paid out to Wackenhut.

And who supervised the Wackenhut non-union employees? A man with a criminal record, who had done jail time, was appointed the security chief for Walker's replacement guards.

Those Wisconsinites who are concerned about how their taxpayer dollars are being misspent -- and their security endangered -- by Scott Walker better join the general uprising for democracy, because this is only one example of the privatized world of corporate sham artists, profiteers, and criminal supervisors, according to Maddow, that Walker has prepared for the people of Wisconsin.

Published in EditorBlog
Tuesday, 22 February 2011 05:09

Scott Walker Would Have Jailed Lech Walesa

MARK KARLIN FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker expected opposition to his union busting from the Democratic minority in the legislature, but what he didn't anticipate was a general uprising.

Walker, who is a Koch brothers Manchurian candidate, felt comfortable that a partisan battle would lead to an easy Republican victory.  His wealthy oligarchical backers saw Wisconsin as easy pickings for leading a national wave of states crushing organized labor and collective bargaining.

Although the White House and the national Democratic Party have been giving lip support to the revolt in Wisconsin, they haven't been showing full-throttle backing for what is a major skirmish over who controls American government: corporations or people.

What is most uplifting about this moment in Madison is that progressives, young people, union members and working class citizens have created a movement on their own to fight back against the corporatists that the national Democratic Party and the White House have so frequently accommodated. (Needless to say, the corporatists completely control the Republican Party.)

This is a progressive populist moment, a battle for the middle class, and while the legislative battle is Republican vs. Democrat, the estimated 80,000 people who came to Madison this past weekend are not fighting for a party; they are battling for economic justice.

National Republicans and Democrats cheered on the union solidarity movement in Poland led by Lech Walesa, why should it be any different for union members in Wisconsin?

Published in EditorBlog
Friday, 18 February 2011 02:42

A Roaring Rotunda of Hope in Wisconsin

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

The latest diversionary tactic of the corporate/GOP oligarchy has been to divide union members by attacking public unions as leeches, while going softer on trade unions - although only by a relative standard of vitriol.

The war on public unions and public workers has gained full steam, even pushing the White House to basically acquiesce to the slander.

But if what we are witnessing in Wisconsin is the beginning of a workers' revolt, the Republican assault on the working class may have finally hit a brick wall of outrage and push back.

The Tea Party governor of Wisconsin is going to probably get a bill passed eliminating public union collective bargaining rights - and unions across the board, as well as students and progressives are turning out in droves to oppose the measure.

Protesters filled the Madison State Capitol rotunda on February 16, and held rallies around the state. Today, defiance is accelerating and approaching a full-scale union and progressive revolt in the Badger State.

We don't know the temperature off-hand for turning kindling wood into a full raging fire, but the fury, breadth and vigor of worker protests in Wisconsin are reaching that point.

It's winter here in the north, and the chants of "the people united will never be defeated" echoing across Wisconsin make for a cozy fireplace of hope.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

In its latest of many articles on the increasing threat of Monsanto to world agricultural production, Truthout once again points out that the multinational corporation is in the process of privatizing much of our food supply through the patenting and aggressive marketing of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops.

In "Feds Approve Monsanto Herbicide-Resistant Crops", Truthout writer Mike Ludwig notes that the US has approved three Monsanto GE products in the last few weeks.

The dangers Monsanto poses to societies worldwide are numerous: potential privatization and monopolization of the world's agricultural food supply; a long history of creating toxic chemicals and pesticides; a company with so much money that it pulls the strings of nation states - including the US - as if they were marionettes. And the list goes on.

Corporations such as Monsanto are so cash rich that they are quickly superseding the role of individual nations in determining policies that directly affect our lives.

BuzzFlash highly recommends the DVD about Monsanto's nefarious and dangerous practices and goals, "The World According to Monsanto: From Agent Orange to Genetically Modified Crops." It is a damning and well-researched documentary by Marie-Monique Robin and available as a gift premium from Truthout/BuzzFlash.

Monsanto is patenting seeds so that they can own and profit from the food on our table and demand a high price from farmers for just planting seeds.

What's wrong with the farm-fresh food grown for tens of thousands of years? The answer is that Monsanto can only make an unprecedented windfall by creating new genetically engineered seeds - coupled with toxic pesticides - that they own the rights to.

It's a chilling prospect, but it is happening right now.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

As a role model for conflicts of interest while casting votes on cases before the Supreme Court, it would be hard to beat Clarence Thomas - except for Antonin Scalia.

The New York Times has been following Common Cause's accusation that Clarence Thomas' involvement with the oligarchical strategy of the Koch Brothers and other right-wing players and organizations should be cause for him to have recused himself from many cases, most notably Citizens United.

Of course, there was a far greater reason for Thomas to sit out the Citizens United Case: his wife was heading a Tea Party-style organization that benefited from the pro-corporate political decision.

Thomas might plead ignorance about his wife's work for the corporate right wing, given that he "forgot" to report her hundreds of thousands of dollars in income over several years in his Supreme Court financial disclosure statements.

And maybe he didn't know that his wife was assisting the Bush team when he ruled in favor of anointing Bush the president of the United States in 2000.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis warned that, "Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen."

Justice Thomas isn't saying much about his clear conflicts of interest. But that's consistent with his not having said one word in Supreme Court oral arguments for the last five years.

Clarence Thomas has abided by an unethical self-indulgent form of judicial behavior that is a supreme injustice.

If you'd like to receive these commentaries daily from Truthout/BuzzFlash, click here. You'll get our choice headlines and articles too!

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

When America's top business organization does its commerce out of a cesspool of dirty tricks and character assassination, it's another sign of the nation's moral corruption at the top of the "trickle down" ladder.

But that is what the Chamber of Commerce was apparently planning to do, in addition to its past dirty tricks. Indeed, ThinkProgress has run a series of investigative pieces exposing the character assassination plans of the Commerce's "subcontractors." In short, the chamber appeared to be planning to use the details of the personal lives of those involved in organizations that challenged it - and to blemish the characters of opponents and their friends and family members.

Brad Friedman of the Brad Blog was one of those whose life and that of his significant other were "investigated," including home address, phone and personal details. There is little question that the chamber was about to embark upon a campaign of personal attack, intimidation and discrediting.

But in a telephone conversation with Friedman this morning, he, for one, was not going to be bullied. He told BuzzFlash:

No matter how powerful the thugs and foes are, it is worth standing up to power and speaking the truth - if not you and me, then who? As I have always said, these are not matters of right and left, but matters of right and wrong.

What we are seeing now cuts across all party lines in being deplorable, and is just plain wrong.

Perhaps if more groups and individuals like those under attack by the chamber would have the fortitude and courage of those who put their lives on the line in Egypt for democracy, we would drive the Chamber of Commerce into retreat.

One positive sign is how fearful the Chamber of Commerce is at being exposed for what it is.

People like Brad Friedman need all of us to stand up to the chamber.

Remember, the chamber can be defeated, but it will take an army of advocates for democracy to hold firm against Nixonian dirty tricks.

Published in EditorBlog

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

It is fascinating to read about the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) cloud of delusion.

If any annual gathering symbolizes the fringe fanaticism associated with advocates of "American exceptionalism," it is CPAC, the yearly gathering of the American Conservative Union Foundation.

Long held out by the press to be a trial run for GOP presidential candidates seeking support of the right wing, this year the conference was dominated by a libertarian Tea-Party shift to the father and son team of Ron and Rand Paul.

But CPAC is really sort of a political version of the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It's a triumph of imagination over reality, a delusional dinosaur in an age of global corporations and wealthy elitists who owe no loyalty to any individual nation, only to the accumulation of money and global power.

Buzzflash has covered this topic before - and is struck by the almost quaint fantasy world of CPAC. CPAC is immune to the evolution of technology, economics, and the growing subservience of sovereign states to global financial entities.

A February Atlantic Monthy article, "The Rise of the New Global Elite," cuts to the chase. The emerging global super-rich have little allegiance to the nations of which they are citizens: "They are becoming a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today's super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves."

And the "pro-business" CPAC has an antiquated vision as to the nationalist loyalties of US big business, according to the Atlantic Monthly:

At last summer's Aspen Ideas Festival, Michael Splinter, CEO of the Silicon Valley green-tech firm Applied Materials, said that if he were starting from scratch, only 20 percent of his workforce would be domestic. "This year, almost 90 percent of our sales will be outside the U.S.," he explained. "The pull to be close to the customers - most of them in Asia - is enormous." Speaking at the same conference, Thomas Wilson, CEO of Allstate, also lamented this global reality: "I can get [workers] anywhere in the world. It is a problem for America, but it is not necessarily a problem for American business ... American businesses will adapt."

"Adapting," of course, means that the American worker and middle class will continue to be left behind. This hardly seems of any concern to the multi-national corporations who pull the strings on Capitol Hill.

As the Atlantic Monthly article concludes, "The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth." The former explains the furious effort of the elites to destroy WikiLeaks, and preventing the latter is the top priority effort by Republicans to increase entrenched wealth, even if it destroys the middle and working class of America.

CPAC ought to hold its next conference in the Creation Museum. It would be the perfect match of fantasies disconnected from the realities of the world in 2011.

Published in EditorBlog
Saturday, 12 February 2011 08:52

Things Don't Go Better With the Koch Brothers

MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT

Things don't go better with the Koch brothers.

It's amazing that many middle-class Americans fall for the siren song that government is the source of all evil when many global corporations are putting US citizens out of work; sitting on profits generated by gullible consumers; and polluting our air, water and food.

That's why the Koch brothers are the latest in a long line of ultra-wealthy, right-wing investors in running the federal government through owning politicians and financing propaganda that diverts attention from corporate misdeeds.

Koch Industries will have to spend a lot - billions of dollars, perhaps - if climate change laws are passed or regulations put into effect. Not to mention that the Koch brothers represent a whole wing of billion-dollar corporate polluters who want the EPA to be defanged.

As a result, the Republicans, particularly in the House, have marked the EPA as one key target in budget reduction - and vigorously oppose protecting us from global warming.

The Republican strategy of attacking the deficit is a shrewd move to reduce positive restraints on corporations. In the financial sector, for instance, this means Republican proposals to cut the budgets of agencies that regulate banks and Wall Street.

The Koch brothers know how to fund front organizations to stir up Americans who feel displaced by inciting them with emotional diversions. It's a magic trick, of sorts, to distract our eyes while our pockets are picked and our lungs are filled with toxins.

No, things don't go better with the Koch brothers. In fact, they will get a whole lot worse.

Published in EditorBlog
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