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Archive for March, 2011

Everyone should face down their demons at least once in life.

Have I ever mentioned that I despise bullies?  If not, you must have inferred.

Bullying can come in all forms–corporate corruption, abuse of power by wealthy elites,  or just your garden variety punks in the schoolyard.  I think the thing that bugs me most about bullying is that it’s not just done with a particular end in mind; often, the joy of dominating and subordinating the weak is as big a reward to the bully as whatever concrete gain they sustain as a result.

That’s why those who refuse to back down deserve our unending praise.

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Governor Rick Scott recently announced his new budget for the state of Florida. Don’t worry, socialism-haters, it does not “take from the rich and give to the poor.”

Instead, it takes from the kids and gives to the rich!

No, seriously.  The new budgets cuts over $1.7 Billion in education, and gives $1.6 billion of that to the rich in the form of tax breaks.

Thus, Rachel Maddow defines “The Rick Scott Test”:

A simple test for determining whether your quality of life and your share of the American Dream is going to shrivel significantly this year for a real economic reason or just because you have a bad governor.

We call this the Rick Scott Test because newly-elected Florida Governor Rick Scott didn’t just use a state budget deficit to justify cutting public education down to the bone… No, Rick Scott gets the bad governor test named after him because Rick Scott found a way to make huge devastating cuts to education in a way that does not help the state’s budget deficit at all.

Specifically, Governor Scott’s new Florida budget

takes more than $1.7 billion out of public schools. And instead of putting that money back into the budget, the budget gives it away in corporate and property tax breaks. So, K through 12 education gets absolutely eviscerated in the state of Florida and the money that is saved by the state no longer spending the money on the schools doesn’t close the state budget gap at all. It leaves it roughly exactly as is and instead gives the saved money away in the form of tax cuts. So, you get all of the pain and none of the gain.

Is your state about to become a much worse place to live because of an actual economic shortfall in your state? Or is your state about to become a much worse place to live because it`s just what your governor wants? It is the Rick Scott test. It`s empirical. Tax cut for dummies.

(Read the full transcript here).

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Dale Schultz

Wisconsin Republican Dale Schultz

Any politician who votes against the party line deserves credit.  Even if we don’t agree with their actual vote, we should least appreciate that by defying their own party they’ve taken a political risk, usually because their principles manage to survive their selfish interests.

Former Rhode Island Republican US Senator Lincoln Chafee’s opposition to the Iraq War comes to mind as one of the best examples of this in recent years.

Now, so too does Wisconsin State Sen. Dale Schultz’s lone dissenting vote the other night when his fellow-Republican colleagues successfully carried out a sneak attack on the middle class.

“Ultimately, I voted my conscience which I feel reflects the core beliefs of the majority of voters who sent me here to represent them,” Schultz said.

Protesters gathered in the state capitol in Madison chanting “Shame, shame, shame” after Republicans in the Wisconsin state Senate used a procedural loophole–and, some argue, broke the open meetings law–to pass a standalone bill restricting collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions.

The fourteen Democrats in the state’s Senate were absent, having fled Wisconsin three weeks ago to prevent a vote on legislation proposed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.  On its surface, Walker claimed the legislation was aimed at addressing the state’s $137 million budget deficit.  Even though it also contained provisions restricting collective bargaining, which many of the Governor’s critics saw as a direct attack on labor, Walker swore publicly that the impetus behind the legislation was budgetary.  As a budgetary matter, it required a quorum which Democrats blocked by leaving the state.

But, all the budgetary justifications turned out to be just a front after all.  The new version of the bill that the Republicans passed on Wednesday night separated the union provisions from any measures that spend money, thus eliminating the need for a quorum while achieving the legislation’s true intent—to punish Democrat-backing unions.

The legislation quickly moved out of committee and onto the floor of the Senate, where Republicans voted 18-1 to approve it, with only Schultz daring to push back against it on behalf of the working people of Wisconsin.

Mark Miller, the Democrats’ leader, said:

“In 30 minutes, 18 state Senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten.. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.”

Another Democrat, State Sen. Chris Larson, added:

“This is on the Republicans’ heads right now. If they decide to kill the middle class, it’s on them… This is a travesty is what it is…. I can’t sit by and let them kill the middle class.”

Wisconsin Protests of 2011
Wisconsin Protests of 2011

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