“He’s incapable of sympathizing with people who can’t pay their bills, because their condition is tied too closely in his mind with the question of how he made his enormous fortune: If you ask Romney to imagine what life is like for someone who’s broke, what he hears is you accusing him of making that happen. (In Romneyspeak, you’ve “attacked capitalism.”)”—Matt Taibbi,The Odd Couple: Romney vs. Gingrich. Perhaps the most succinct explanation of Romney’s worldview I’ve ever come across.
True, the federal government has avoided all-out austerity. But state and local governments, which must run more or less balanced budgets, have slashed spending and employment as federal aid runs out — and this has been a major drag on the overall economy. Without those spending cuts, we might already have been on the road to self-sustaining growth; as it is, recovery still hangs in the balance.
The infuriating thing about this tragedy is that it was completely unnecessary. Half a century ago, any economist — or for that matter any undergraduate who had read Paul Samuelson’s textbook “Economics” — could have told you that austerity in the face of depression was a very bad idea. But policy makers, pundits and, I’m sorry to say, many economists decided, largely for political reasons, to forget what they used to know. And millions of workers are paying the price for their willful amnesia.
The New York Times addresses Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s questionable ethics:
Justice Michael Gableman of the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced last week that he will not retroactively recuse himself by taking back his vote in one of the court’s highly divisive recent cases. The decision is indefensible.
In a 4-to-3, right-left vote last June, the court overturned a trial court’s stay of the Republican-backed state law curbing bargaining rights of public employees. A brave county prosecutor made a motion for the justice to recuse himself last month after The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, secretly and outrageously, the justice received free legal counsel for two years beginning in 2008 from the Wisconsin law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich, which represented the state in defending the law.
The justice has a blatant conflict of interest: He owes money to a firm that got his vote in this and other cases. He should have agreed not to sit on any case where the law firm is involved until he pays what he owes.
Federal law allows states to drop adults from health care programs if the state certifies that it has a budget deficit. So, despite spending months bragging about balancing the budget, Walker’s administration quietly told the federal government in December that Wisconsin actually has an undisclosed deficit.
By claiming to balance the budget, Walker wins political points, while claiming a budget deficit allows him to drop more than 53,000 adults from health care programs. And don’t forget that Walker recently rejected federal funding for health care implementation, which is reprehensible.
“This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.”—Justice Blackmun, Roe v. Wade. Roe was decided 39 years ago today.
“When a man has left a woman — the mother of his children — who is struggling with a life-threatening disease, he has forfeited the right forever to use the word ‘despicable.’”—DL Hughley, on Newt Gingrich calling questions about his affairs despicable.
Wisconsin lost private-sector jobs for the sixth consecutive month in December, the same period in which the nation added jobs.
According to data released Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development, the state lost an estimated 3,900 jobs in the private sector in December from November. The United States showed a gain of 212,000 for the month, outstripping expectations of most economists.
So where will Walker be when the final signature tally is announced? In the state capital or the governor’s mansion, standing his ground and defending his record? Nope. He’ll be in New York City at the world headquarters of the megabank Citigroup raising money for his recall defense effort.
“After all the pomp and fanfare have faded, the enduring thing that is left is the dedication to doing with our lives the very best we can to make the world a better place in which to live.”—Vince Lombardi.
“America is not, in fact, a corporation. Making good economic policy isn’t at all like maximizing corporate profits. And businessmen — even great businessmen — do not, in general, have any special insights into what it takes to achieve economic recovery.”—Paul Krugman, America Isn’t a Corporation.
Suppose your child is about to enter the fourth grade and has been assigned to an excellent teacher. Then the teacher decides to quit. What should you do?
The correct answer? Panic!
Well, not exactly. But a landmark new research paper underscores that the difference between a strong teacher and a weak teacher lasts a lifetime. Having a good fourth-grade teacher makes a student 1.25 percent more likely to go to college, the research suggests, and 1.25 percent less likely to get pregnant as a teenager. Each of the students will go on as an adult to earn, on average, $25,000 more over a lifetime — or about $700,000 in gains for an average size class — all attributable to that ace teacher back in the fourth grade. That’s right: A great teacher is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to each year’s students, just in the extra income they will earn.
It was one of the few — if not the only — coordinated efforts to attempt in-person voter fraud, and it was pulled off by affiliates of conservative activist (sleazebag) James O’Keefe at polling places in New Hampshire Tuesday night. All of it part of an attempt to prove the need for voter ID laws that voting rights experts say have a unfair impact on minority voters.
Now election law experts tell TPM that O’Keefe’s allies could face criminal charges on both the federal and state level for procuring ballots under false names, and that his undercover sting doesn’t demonstrate a need for voter ID laws at all.
Conservatives in New Hampshire commit voter fraud then say See? We told you voter fraud is a problem. Fail.
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”—Aldo Leopold, who was born on this date in 1887. Leopold was a professor at the University of Wisconsin, developer of the first U.S. soil conservation demonstration area in Coon Valley, Wisconsin, and author of A Sand County Almanac.
“The essence of the Progressive movement, as I see it, lies in its purpose to uphold the fundamental principles of representative government. It expresses the hopes and desires of millions of common men and women who are willing to fight for their ideals, to take defeat if necessary, and still go on fighting.”—Robert M. LaFollette
“I think, maybe, it’s time for the nation to rise up and point out to the Republican party that, root and branch, it is a racist embarrassment to democracy and a blight on this nation that all the world can see. Whether it’s N. Leroy Gingrich’s chirping about how all the black people are on food stamps, or Rick Santorum’s talking about the mysterious Blah People, or this clown whom the other clowns in the Kansas House elected to lead them, there is a steady, noxious river of bile flowing through the entire Republican party, and through the conservative “movement” that empowers it.”—Charles Pierce.
“Someone who really wanted equal opportunity would be very concerned about the inequality of our current system. He would support more nutritional aid for low-income mothers-to-be and young children. He would try to improve the quality of public schools. He would support aid to low-income college students. And he would support what every other advanced country has, a universal health care system, so that nobody need worry about untreated illness or crushing medical bills.”—Paul Krugman, America’s Unlevel Field
Unionized workers earn more and get more generous benefits. In 2010, wages of workers in unionized manufacturing companies in Indiana were 16 percent higher than in nonunion plants. One study concluded that the decline in unionization since the 1970s is responsible for one-fifth to one-third of the growth in inequality in this country. Voters, unionized or not, should recognize the new “right to work” push for what it is: bad economics and cynical politics.
Three individuals - including a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker - were charged Thursday with felonies as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker staffers.
Tim Russell, a longtime Walker campaign and county staffer, was charged with two felony and one misdemeanor counts of embezzlement. One source said the charges are tied to Operation Freedom, an annual military appreciation day held at the zoo.
In 2010, Walker’s county administration had asked prosecutors to investigate what had happened to $11,000 raised in 2007 for the event.
Also charged Thursday was Brian Pierick, Russell’s longtime partner and a staffer at the state Department of Public Instruction, and Kevin Kavanaugh, Walker’s appointee to the Milwaukee County Veteran Service Commission.
Kavanaugh is charged with five felonies for theft and fraudulent writings by a corporate officer. He was the treasurer of the Milwaukee Purple Heart chapter at the time of the dispute over the $11,000 for Operation Freedom.
Pierick, 48, was charged with two felonies counts for child enticement. He is an office operations assistant at DPI dealing with education for homeless children and youth, according to the agency’s website.
Walker spokesman Chris Schrimpf had no immediate comment on the news but said the office would provide one later in the day.
Meanwhile, Walker is hanging out in D.C. again, speaking at conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute.
Tim Russell, a former campaign and county aide to Gov. Scott Walker, was arrested by authorities on Thursday as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker staffers, sources said.
No details on the reason for the arrest were immediately available.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Thursday that his office would be making an announcement at noon about additional charges in the secret probe. Chisholm’s office has been overseeing the investigation for more than 1 1/2 years.