Sunday, 06 March 2011

WISCONSIN PROTESTERS: THE DESPERATION PHASE

Ken Berwitz

How would you know theyre getting desperate in Wisconsin?  

 

You would know if they trot out a hugely wealthy millionaire-many-times-over to rail against the wealthy, and a pandering politician who equates collective bargaining for workers whose salaries and benefits are significantly more than the average US worker to Black peoples struggle for basic civil rights.

 

With that in mind, please read the following excerpt from a Reuters article:

 

Reuters) - Thousands of union supporters protested Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposals on Saturday at the state capital, a day after the state's chief executive followed through on his threat to issue layoff warning notices to unions representing state workers.

Joining the crowd was liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, who praised the protesters gathered in the battle over union bargaining rights as joining the history of the American labor movement.

Moore told the crowd, which was smaller than it has been the last two weekends of the ongoing protests, that the nation was awash in wealth, concentrated in the hands of a few, but the public has been cowed into not standing up for itself.

"Madison is only the beginning," Moore said. "The rich have overplayed their hand.

"There was no revolt, until now here in Wisconsin," he added.

The crowd estimate was put at about 12,000 people, smaller than previous crowds that numbered in the tens of thousands.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin reminded the rally of the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

"What they did was change the course of history," she said. "That is what you are doing today." 

 

Why are they getting desperate?  Here are a few likely reasons: 

-Dwindling crowds;

 

-Weariness of the protests and protesters;

 

-Increasing frustration with the Democrats who left the state three weeks ago rather than allow democracy to proceed;

 

-And revelations (with a major hat tip to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) that the union members are not, for the most part, downtrodden exploited workers, but people being paid much more in wages and benefits than most other workers in Wisconsin, who demand that those other workers continue to subsidize their higher wages and benefits (remember, the unions offers of concessions came only after Governor Walkers budget appeared to be a fait accompli, not one moment before). 

Much of the media, based in no small part on a few very carefully, artfully worded polls,   have spent considerable effort trying to convince us that the people are with the Democrats and protesters, not with the Republicans and Governor Walker.

 

In my opinion?  If that were so wed never be hearing fatcat Michael Moore complaining about fatcats, or Tammy Baldwin trying to convince anyone that $100,000+ a year schoolteachers (the average salary and benefits in Milwaukee and surrounding areas) are somehow equivalent to Black citizens prevented from voting, or going to a state University, or sitting at a lunch counter.

 

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, desperate is as desperate does.


SAUDI ARABIA - WHAT WOULD A SUNNI-SHI'ITE UPRISING MEAN TO US?

Ken Berwitz

The Saudi ruling family is running scared.  And if this report from Reuters is any indication, they should be:

Saudi Arabia said Saturday it would ban all protests and marches after minority Shiites staged small protests in the oil-producing eastern province.

Security forces would use all measures to prevent any attempt to disrupt public order, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by state Television.

The ban follows a series of protests by Saudi Shiites in the kingdom's east in the past weeks mainly to demand the release of prisoners they say are long held without trial.

Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority mostly live in the east, which holds much of the oil wealth of the world's top crude exporter and is near Bahrain, scene of protests by majority Shiites against their Sunni rulers.

Saudi Shiites complain they struggle to get senior government jobs and other benefits like other citizens.

The government of Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy without an elected parliament that usually does not tolerate public dissent, denies these charges.

Last week, King Abdullah returned to Riyadh after a three-month medical absence and unveiled $37 billion in benefits for citizens in an apparent bid to insulate the kingdom from protests spreading in several Arab countries.

Is Sauda Arabia on the verge of boiling over because the people want more freedom and democracy?  Maybe, for some of them, the  answer is yes. 

But, like other Muslim countries where the unrest is growing exponentially, the most significant reason appears to be the inter-Islamic hatred that exists between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. 

Does Abdullah really think that handing out $37 billion dollars is going to bribe these people into forgetting the whole thing?  Isn't it at least somewhat likely that it would enrage them instead, knowing that this money was available but only given out under these circumstances?

And what are the implications for us?  Well, when it comes to oil, none of them are good.  If there is civil war in Saudi Arabia oil production may slow down or stop altogether.  And there is certainly a likelihood that if the house of Saud falls, the new rulers are not going to be as "friendly" (if you can call it that) when it comes to accommodating our oil needs.

Anyone out there still think that it was a good idea for us to forgo using our own vast oil assets, and rely on other countries instead?  Like Saudi Arabia, for example?

Zeke ... This is a national emergency. ..... As soon as Obama finishes his golf game, he has to jump onto Air Force One so he can BOW DOWN again to the Saudi King. ..... ..... Oh, and cancel that ONE permit for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. .... .... One square of toilet paper, two kilowats per person, Chevy Volt (less than a thousand sold, in two months). .... Yep, The One has a firm grip on our nation's needs. (03/06/11)


PRESIDENT OBAMA: USING HIS TIME APPROPRIATELY & SETTING THE RIGHT EXAMPLE

Ken Berwitz

Libya is exploding.  So is much of the rest of the middle east, with Saudi Arabia on the cusp of an Islamic war between Sunnis and Shi'ites.  The joblessness rate is still way over where it was when the so-called "stimulus package" was enacted.  Wisconsin protests have spread across the country.  ObamaCare is in a legal state of suspended animation.  And our soldiers are needlessly dying in Afghanistan for no good reason - certainly no good reason articulated by the Obama administration.

What to do, what to do......

Well, here is the answer, excerpted from Keith Koffler's blog at whitehousedossier.com:

Well, the mercury has crept back up above 60 degrees here in Washington, and so its time once again for President Obama to head out to the golf course.

This is the presidents 60th time golfing as president, meaning Obama has spent two months of his presidency on the golf course.

The rounds usually take about five hours, including motorcading back an forth to the course.

According to statistics compiled by CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, who keeps close tabs on the presidents activities, Obama played 30 rounds in 2010, 28 rounds in 2009, and two this year, including today.

George W. Bush gave up golfing in 2003, explaining why he did it in a 2008 interview with POLITICO.

I dont want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf, he said. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.

What if it were President Bush?   What if it were Mr. Bush who thought this weekend would be a great time to spend a liesurely 18 holes on the links?  What would the media say?  What did they say about those working - repeat, working - "vacations" at his ranch in Crawford, Texas?

But if you're waiting for them to chastise President Obama for playing golf this weekend?  In the words of Tony Soprano and his pals, fuggedaboudit.

And, yes, these are the same people who squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


UNION "CIVILITY" (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

Earlier, I blogged about the hate signs that are being marched around by protesters in Madison, Wisconsin, but barely reported by our wonderful "neutral" media.

Here is one I hadn't seen before, presumably a newer one, which I picked up at www.hotair.com:

Now that's "civility" for you.  None of that "heated rhetoric" the media were so up in arms about....until it came from the side they love most.

Then they wonder why people call them biased.....


MITT ROMNEY ON OBAMACARE

Ken Berwitz

Mitt Romney is a likely Republican candidate for President, the former Governor of Massachusetts, and the prime mover behind Massachusetts' state health care system - which ranges from being either a successful program or a hopeless money pit depending on who you are talking to.

So what does Mr. Romney have to say about it, and about ObamaCare?  Here's your answer:

Living in New Hampshire, youve heard of our healthcare program next door in Massachusetts. You may have noticed that the President and his people spend more time talking about me and Massachusetts healthcare than Entertainment Tonight spends talking about Charlie Sheen.

Our approach was a state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts. What we did was what the Constitution intended for states to dowe were one of the laboratories of democracy.

Our experiment wasnt perfectsome things worked, some didnt, and some things Id change. One thing I would never do is to usurp the constitutional power of states with a one-size-fits-all federal takeover.

I would repeal Obamacare, if I were ever in a position to do so. My experience has taught me that states are where healthcare programs for the uninsured should be crafted, just as the Constitution provides. Obamacare is bad law, bad policy, and it is bad for Americas families.

The federal government isnt the answer for running healthcare any more than its the answer for running Amtrak or the Post Office. An economy run by the federal government doesnt work for Europe and it wont work here.

Is Mitt Romney making sense?  Is he being candid?  Consistent? 

The answers to those questions might determine whether or not he can be a viable candidate next year. 

You decide.

WisOldMan It's my contention that Romneycare is an asset to Mitt's campaign, in part because everytime President Wonderful tries ribbing Romney, Mitt can respond by pointing out that MA citizens wanted Romneycare...unlike Obamacare. Not to mention, it passed here with bi-partisan support, and not a single bribe. It's a states rights issue, to boot. States get to do these things...the fed. gov. does not and should not. Another door it opens is the illegal immigration debate, because Romneycare wasn't supposed to cover those here in MA illegally. Once he was out of office, Democrats made sure that would no longer be a problem, which helped plunge the program into the red. (03/06/11)

Ken Berwitz WIs - you make excellent points. Going after Mitt Romney on MA health care versus ObamaCare is a real third rail for Democrats. (03/06/11)


THE OBAMACARE WAIVERS

Ken Berwitz

So how are the FOB's (friends of Obama) making out on that ObamaCare waiver thingy?

Excerpted from Jason Millman's article at thehill.com:

Number of healthcare reform law waivers climbs above 1,000

 

The number of temporary healthcare reform waivers granted by the Obama administration to organizations climbed to more than 1,000, according to new numbers disclosed by the Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS posted 126 new waivers on Friday, bringing the total to 1,040 organizations that have been granted a one-year exemption from a new coverage requirement included in the healthcare reform law enacted almost a year ago. Waivers have become a hot-button issue for Republicans, eager to expose any vulnerabilities in the reform law.

In order to avoid disruption in the insurance market, the healthcare overhaul gives HHS the power to grant waivers to firms that cannot meet new annual coverage limits in 2011. The waivers have typically been granted to so-called "mini-med" plans that offer limited annual coverage as low as $2,000 that would fall short of meeting the new annual coverage floor of $750,000 in 2011.

"We don't want to take away people's health insurance before they have some realistic other choices, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in an interview with The Hill earlier this year.

Republican lawmakers have seized on the waivers as proof that the law they want to see repealed is flawed, and they have accused the administration of giving them waivers as gifts to union allies. The administration has rejected both claims as Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have asked HHS for in-depth details about every waiver decision and request.

 The waivers are meant as a stopgap measure until new state-run insurance exchanges open in 2014. Annual dollar limits will also be abolished by then.

Over 1,000 waivers?  For such a great system that we all should be begging for it to start yesterday?

And they're temporary, huh?  Sez who?  The Obama administration? 

Are there still a disproportionate number of FOB's - especially among union health care plans - being given these waivers? 

I will be kind and assume that Jason Millman is a very, vary naive writer.  I hope I'm right, too, because everything else I can think of is far less complimentary.

The 2012 elections cannot come fast enough.

=======================================================================

UPDATE:  New information out:  269 of those waivers are for unions.  That is 26% of the entire total. 

It sure is good to be an FOB....


SHEDDING MORE LIGHT ON THE DOWNTRODDEN TEACHERS OF WISCONSIN

Ken Berwitz

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and politifact.com have examined claims by the MacIver institute that the average Milwaukee teacher now makes over $100,000 a year in pay and benefits. 

The verdict?  It is true.

And if you think that puts Milwaukee public school teachers at the top of the list, think again.  Here is an excerpt from the article that should bring you up to speed:

We wanted to compare the $101,091 for MPS teachers to other teachers, but the latest figures compiled by the state Department of Public Instruction are for 2009-2010, two years earlier.

Those figures show for 2009-2010, MPS teachers earned, on average, $56,095 in salary plus $30,202 in benefits, for a total of $86,297.

That was lower than eight other school districts in Milwaukee County, including Greendale, Greenfield, Shorewood, Cudahy, Fox Point, South Milwaukee, Franklin and Nicolet, which was highest at just over $103,000.

In other words, Milwaukee's teachers not only average $101,091 this year, but that represents a $15,000 raise over what they got jsut two years ago  Helluva recession.

And, two years ago (maybe still), at least 8 other school districts within the county had teachers earning even more.

I wonder how the teachers are making out in Madison, where the state capital is inundated by protesters crying over their lot in life and how put upon they would be to contribute a tiny fraction of their own pension and health care.

I also wonder if mainstream media will bother to report this, or if they will file it under "B" for "Bury", the way so many of them have filed those ugly hate signs comparing Governor Walker to hitler and wishing him death, along with the footage of those violent union-related incidents their viewers are being prevented from seeing.


AN ARGUMENT FOR THE DEATH PENALTY

Ken Berwitz

I almost never support the death penalty.  But on this one, I would pull the effing switch myself.

From WFTV-9, Orlando Florida:

Bail Denied For Mom Who Ate Pizza While Her Son Was Dying

Posted: 2:14 pm EST March 5, 2011

 

ORLANDO, Fla. -- An Orange County judge has denied bond for the mother who is accused of beating her 3-year-old son because he wet his pants.

 

Officials say Robin Greinke, 26, and her boyfriend Steven Neil, 33, beat the young child to death. They both face charges of aggravated child abuse, child neglect and first-degree murder.

 

WFTV was there when they were taken to jail on first degree murder charges.

 

Greinke was supposed to appear in court Friday but because she was on suicide watch she did not appear until Saturday morning.

 

Neil was also denied bond at his first court appearance Friday.

 

Investigators say Greinke and Neil ate pizza after kicking and beating the boy into the floor and wooden sofa frame.

 

Once questioned by investigators the two admitted to beating the boy because he wet his pants

I oppose the death penalty in almost all cases, because of its finality.  What if it turns out to be a wrongful conviction?

But these two monsters admit to beating a defenseless child to death.  And why?  For the crime of doing what just about every 3 year old does - having an accident and wetting his pants  - not that a 3 year old could do anything to justify a beating of any kind.

Every day that these two subhuman creatures live is an affront to humanity.

BOBW TWO THOUGHTS 1- THE PUNISMENT SHOULD EQUAL THE CRIME. 2-AN EYE FOR AN EYE WHY SHOULD THESE PEOPLE, IF YOU CAN CALL THEM THAT, GET A 50 YEAR IR LIFE SENTANCE AND GET OUT OF JAIL IN A FEW YEARS- IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. A LETHAL INJECTION CAN SAVE THE TAX PAYERS FROM KEEPING THESE ANIMALS IN JAIL AND IT CAN FOREVER INSURE THAT THESE CREEPS WILL NEVER, EVER GET LOOSE ON OUR STREETS AGAIN FROM THE TITLE OF A OF CLINT EASTWOOD'S MOVIE---"HANG 'EM HIGH" (03/07/11)


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