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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

Journal Archives

David Simon on Our Rigged Political System


David Simon, journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme, returns to talk with Bill Moyers about the triumph of capital over democracy.

“If I could concentrate and focus on one thing … and start to walk the nightmare back, it would be campaign finance reform” Simon says.

Simon warns that if we don’t fix our broken election system — by getting big money out of elections and ending gerrymandering — we will have reached “the end game for democracy.”


NYT: The Line at the ‘Super PAC’ Trough


If you need something out of Washington and want to give a satchel of cash to a political candidate, no need to give it directly to the candidate. Federal law limits those contributions to $2,600 anyway. The thing to do is to give the money to the candidate’s “super PAC,” where no limits apply, to pay for attack ads against the candidate’s opponent.

That’s the path chosen by John Childs, a private-equity investor, who gave $250,000 to Senator Mitch McConnell’s super PAC, Kentuckians for Strong Leadership. (Could it have anything to do with Mr. McConnell’s staunch opposition to a tax increase on hedge fund managers, favored by President Obama and Democrats?) Joseph Craft, a billionaire coal executive, gave $100,000, and Donald Trump gave $50,000 to the same group.


This election year will be the moment when individual candidate super PACs — a form of legalized bribery — become a truly toxic force in American politics. The giant ideological super PACs formed by political operatives like Karl Rove spent hundreds of millions in 2012, but didn’t produce the conservative revolution demanded by the big donors. So now the torrent of cash is heading toward smaller groups set up to promote a single candidate or, more often, to trash that candidate’s opponent.

Dozens of these groups have already been formed, and political professionals predict that virtually every Senate race this year, and many contested House races, will have one or more. They can accept unlimited contributions, and thanks to the Citizens United decision, such donations can come from unions and corporations, too. Strictly speaking, these groups can have no contact with the candidate, but that prohibition is a joke. Most of them use the same voter lists as the campaigns, make the same points in their ads, and often are run by cronies of the candidate.

And foreign-owned corporations, as we've seen just this past week.


Apparently we're slow learners.


What kind of non-profit pays its CEO $44 Million a year?

Oh, that kind. They really, really need to lose their tax-exempt status.


Sports Business Journal had the story on Goodell's haul. He made a $3.5 million salary and a $40.36 million bonus (!). Of that bonus, $5 million was earned the previous year. The league told SBJ that $9.1 million of that pay came from a deferred bonus and pension from the 2011 lockout period, and his "true pay" is only about $35 million. Again, Aaron Rodgers is the richest player ever at $22 million per year.

Goodell makes far more than any other commissioner, SBJ says. MLB commissioner Bud Selig's salary is unknown, but reports have it between $22 million to beyond $30 million.

Deadspin pointed out that Goodell's salary is increasing dramatically, from $11.6 million in the period ending in March of 2011, to $29.5 million the year after that to north of $44 million last year. And the NFL players had to get locked out and take a league-friendly deal just to get back to work in 2011.

Where is our democracy?

Violence and hatred are America's most popular pasttimes.

Micheal Sam a Packer? Green Bay Packers Coach: Our Team Welcomes All Players


Yesterday, during a scheduled media day in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told members of the press that any player, regardless of sexual orientation, is absolutely welcome on his team as long as he can play professional-level football.

Speaking about Michael Sam, the University of Missouri star defensive lineman and NFL draft prospect who came out as gay last weekend, McCarthy said: "I think you definitely have to feel that he's a courageous young man, but my understanding is that he's a talented player. We've always from day one talked about our program and our culture. Ted [Thompson, general manager] and I are going through the draft process right now, and at the end of the day it comes down to good football players. Any player that can come here and be a good teammate, follow the rules of our program which is one, be respectful and produce on the football field, we've got room for that guy."

Assistant coaches Winston Moss and Alex Van Pelt both echoed McCarthy's pledge that the Green Bay Packers are a team that does not discriminate. Said Van Pelt, "That's very courageous on his part, there's no question. If anybody can come in and help us win games and be successful -- black, white, yellow, straight, gay -- I don't think it matters. As long as you're a good person and you're respectful in the locker room to each other, then you can help us win on Sundays and are welcome."

Seeing these words brings a swell of hometown pride to this Green Bay native's heart. The Packers are a religion in my hometown -- and understandably so, because they're the best team in the NFL -- so inclusive, pro-LGBT statements like this from the team's head coach and staff will go along way towards both combating homophobia in football and reshaping the dialogue around LGBT equality in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: Legislators introduce bill to cut hourly wages for thousands of private-sector workers

Yes, Glenn is behind it. Shocking, I know.


Ridiculous political argument of the month: Glenn Grothman Edition

Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is at it again. The exurb legislator introduced a bill to prohibit municipalities from enforcing locally higher minimum wage laws when any state money is used to pay workers. This will create needed "uniformity" in minimum wage structures across the state, according to Kapenga and the business lobbyists who help shape his views. Yeah, Wisconsin minimum wages will be uniform all right -- uniformly crappy.

The immediate result of the bill, if it passes (and why wouldn't today's breed of heartless Republicans not pass it?) will be this: Thousands of private-sector workers in Milwaukee and Madison, cities which for 15 years have had living-wage ordinances, will suddenly face pay cuts of up to several dollars per hour.

Thanks, GOP, for "fixing" our economy by overcoming urban poverty -- or, actually, making it worse.
The whole sordid story of this latest assault on home rule and local government control is to be found at the links below, but I wanted to post here to focus on the often gyrating State Sen. Glenn Grothman. Arguing in favor of the bill, which he is co-sponsoring, the West Bend Republican made it sound like the rest of the state is bleeding money to support lavish lifestyles in in its most urbanized regions:

(Grothman) said the living wage laws are unfair to residents from areas without them because those people pay taxes for state programs that help fund some local jobs with living wages elsewhere... . "It's the other parts of the state that are just flooding money into Milwaukee," Grothman said. Barring local minimum wage laws when jobs are paid with state money is not an encroachment on local control, he said.

UAW following Volkswagen road map to organize at Mercedes U.S. plant


The United Auto Workers union is following the same road map at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama that it used to reach its historic vote to represent Volkswagen employees in Tennessee.
The UAW has been working with German union IG Metall and the Daimler works council, the labor group at Mercedes parent Daimler AG, to build support for the UAW among Mercedes workers in Vance, Alabama, according to the union and Alabama workers opposed to the UAW.

Since 2011, the UAW’s efforts have included IG Metall officials making house calls on Alabama employees and the collection of signed cards backing the American union. Mercedes workers in favor of the UAW also have handed out fliers in the plant, and last month the union quoted an employee saying the union has never had greater support in the plant.

The UAW took a similar approach to organizing VW’s 1,550 hourly workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Those workers are in the middle of a three-day secret ballot election on UAW representation. The union’s efforts at the VW plant were backed at different times by leaders at IG Metall and VW’s works council.

If it wins this week’s vote in Tennessee, industry observers and analysts expect the UAW to focus next on the 17-year-old Mercedes plant in Alabama and its 3,000 hourly workers. UAW President Bob King has said organizing the U.S. plants of foreign automakers is critical to the his union’s future. Daimler executives have repeatedly said that any decision regarding union representation at the Alabama plant is up to the employees.

Wisconsin: Republican donors charged with poisoning bald eagles

Surprised that Walker-backers are assholes?


A father and son who operate a large potato farm in northern Wisconsin have agreed to pay $100,000 in restitution in connection with the poisoning deaths of more than 70 wild animals, including at least two bald eagles.

Alvin C. Sowinski, 65, and Paul A. Sowinski, 46, of the Town of Sugar Camp in Oneida County, also face penalties of up to $100,000 each and up to a year in prison at their sentencing in May, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the western district in Madison.


It’s worth noting that Alvin and Paul Sowinski (along with their spouses) have donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and elected officials over the years, including Rep. Tom Tiffany, former State Rep. Scott Suder, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, and current Gov. Scott Walker (SOURCE).

Did Justice lull a bunch of criminals into complacency, only to start bringing the hammer down now?

After five years, the Obama administration does not have an illustrious track record when it comes to bringing corporations, crooked politicians and their crooked donors to justice. Eric Holder has come under heavy criticism for going soft on bankers and other white collar criminals, despite mountains of evidence of wrongdoing. There haven't been any huge Abscam-like stings of corrupt politicians.

Now, early in 2014, we see Christie, McRory, Walker and other powerful Republican politicians under investigation. We're seeing agreements with the Swiss and Caymanians for access to bank account information. We're even seeing the heat being turned up on Freedom Industries, Patriot Coal and other polluters. (What? No Star Spangled Frackers?)

Suddenly, pot is OK, and the focus seems to be shifting to politicians, PACs and their dirty money. The arrogance of the perpetrators is legendary. I can't believe they haven't left a trail that any competent investigator could follow.

Here's hoping Justice has been carefully building the cases and is ready to bring indictments, particularly against those who are undermining our democracy. I'd like to see them brought to justice, and the timing couldn't be better.
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