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The best (serious) April Fools’ Day video (seriously!)


“Introducing Anti-Unional, a new, long-lasting anti-worker suppository…”

The anti-union push by the wealthy elites, the corporations and the reichwing politicians who do the bidding of the highest bidders is shameful. As someone raised in a union household, what went down in Tennessee recently made me feel heartsick. Mike Elk’s epic article “The Battle for Chattanooga: Southern Masculinity and the Anti-Union Campaign at Volkswagen” is a must-read if you want to understand the depths these middle-management class-traitor assholes will sink to and the psychological warfare they engaged in vs. the workers. One word for it: Shameful. (This is an important piece of journalism, absolutely worth your time.)

Why not ask the Germans how they feel about union membership? They have a strong economy. They have LOTS of union members. Their unions prevent them from getting screwed over by the oligarchs. They have good wages and can raise their families without struggling. They even get a month or more of vacation. Coincidence? I should think not.

Can’t have that here, now, can we? The wealthy might not like it. Look at this chart, it tells the story of what’s happened in America rather succinctly and as the saying goes, numbers don’t lie.
 

 
Utterly brilliant work, this video speaks for itself, so I’m just going to get out of its way:

Ten out of ten CEOs recommend Anti-Unional to their workers!

Time-released effects ensure that the 1% continue to take in a greater share of the nation’s wealth!

Fast-acting formula decimates wages and benefits and a secure retirement!

Certified and approved by Koch Brothers Laboratories.

If you approve of this satire, SHARE IT. So far they’ve only had a handful of views, this needs to go viral stat.
 

 
Via AFSCME

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Well, when you put it THAT way: Capitalism in a nutshell!


 
Good question.

Although this has a few too many words to qualify as a Hemingway-esque six-word short story, this sign still gets its point across louder than dozens of articles on the American economy do each week…

And while we’re on the topic, you might enjoy this: Why you’re wrong about communism: 7 huge misconceptions about it (and capitalism)

And this, Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For: Guaranteed jobs, universal basic incomes, public finance and more.

And this, I’m a Member of the American ‘Used-to-Haves’.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Shakespeare & Russell Brand: Guantánamo Bay’s banned books are pretty random…


“Alas, poor Yorick!”

While right-wingers clamor on about the insidiousness of Sharia Law and the threat of imminent Islamofascism, our own government is pretty set on keeping certain books away from certain people. Last week, The Guardian published a seemingly random list of books that have been banned from Guantánamo Bay. The incomplete list was supplied by Clive Stafford Smith, who directs Reprieve, a legal charity the provides free legal support to particularly disenfranchised prisoners.

Now actual journalists have done an amazing job exposing Guantánamo, so I won’t go into the multitude of illegal procedures they regularly execute, much less point out the countless absurd incarcerations (okay, maybe that 15 year old Canadian kid). I would, however, like to go over this list and attempt to divine exactly what is so objectionable about each book, leaving out the explicitly anti-Guantánamo non-fiction.

Let’s take a crack at it, shall we?

Martin Amis, Money: Actually, the complete title of this 1984 novel, with the post-script, is Money: A Suicide Note. The protagonist is a vulgar British hedonist who comes to America and embraces it fully. He eventually has a psychotic break and loses everything, and thought the “suicide” in the book is metaphorical, the book pretty clearly condemns Western decadence and warns of its pitfalls. Not too much of a a stretch to imagine why they’d ban this one.

R. Beckett, The New Dinkum Aussie Dictionary: This is a humor book on Australian colloquialisms. No fuckin’ clue. Anybody know? Does it have a “Death to America” entry? 
 
Russell Brand, Booky Wook Two: I know Brand’s a leftist, but seriously?

Professor Alan Dershowitz, Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence: A weird choice, since Dershowitz is speaking out against religious extremism, and he’s probably now most famous as an Israeli apologist and Islamophobe. Isn’t that what the US government wants prisoners to internalize? Perhaps it’s the denouncement of Christian extremism they wish to censor?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime & Punishment: On the surface, it’s about a man who kills people, but it’s not really a pro-murder book. My only guess is that they read the title and panicked. 

Frederick Douglass, The African American Slave: Books about liberation probably raise a red flag. But seriously, if anti-slavery politics are too potentially subversive, you might not be running a wholesome operation.

Frederick Forsyth, The Kill List : This is a shitty suspense novel about top secret agents killing Muslim terrorists. It’s by a guy whose books are advertised on the subway. Again, don’t see why they don’ want to give them right-wing, Islamophobic propaganda.

John Grisham,The Innocent Man:Grisham’s first non-fiction book, about a man on death row for rape and murder, who was exonerated by DNA evidence after 11 years in prison. Grisham actually wrote an article in the New York Times and got this unbanned. I rarely have a chance to say this, but… hey, good job, John Grisham.

EM Naguib, Puss in Boots,  Cinderella, Jack & the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast: Can’t even find this, but Naguid is an Arabic name. Maybe they’re Arab interpretations of fairy tales?

Wilfred Owen, Futility: This is a 1918 poem about the death of a British soldier, and his fellow soldiers’ futile attempts to revive him. No idea on this one. If anything, this is a very “don’t get yourself killed for war” kind of poem. Is “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” banned on Guantánamo Bay’s in-house AM radio station?

Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice: Maybe because of Shylock, the Jewish moneylender? Not sure exactly where they’re going with this one.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago : A book about a Soviet forced labor camp, by a guy who was interned in a forced labor camp. Decidedly anti-forced labor camp. Maybe that’s it.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Again, the abolition of slavery was apparently too risky a political concept for the prisoners.

Scott Turow, Presumed Innocent: A novel about a man accused of killing his lover. It’s a crime thriller/courtroom drama. It was made into a movie with Harrison Ford. I have no damned idea why it would be banned.


So there you have it. What counts as potentially incendiary literature in Guantánamo Bay? Apparently absolutely fucking anything.

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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American democracy dies, murderers caught on video (or The Republicans pull a REALLY creepy move)


 
If you haven’t seen the video yet of Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) on the floor of the House asking for a clarification on the rules of the shutdown, believe me, it’s well worth watching.

There’s a compelling reason it’s been garnering hundreds of thousands of YouTube plays the past few days: Very simply it shows—beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt—that the Republicans not only planned the government shutdown in advance, but that they made damned good and sure that when their neanderthal putsch started, there would be new rules in place to prevent it from being voted on.

It’s astonishing. It’s not like I expect that this clip will be discussed on Fox News anytime soon, but a Republican with even a modicum of intelligence, honesty and decency would be obliged to see exactly same thing that the rest of us see when we watch this clip.

If you’re unclear of exactly what’s happening, under normal circumstances any Congressperson can call for a vote on any bill at any time.

Not anymore! Prior to the shutdown, the Republicans very quietly passed H.R. 368, a measure that only House Majority Leader Eric Cantor can call for an end to the shutdown.

That’s right Eric Cantor and ONLY Eric Cantor—not even Speaker of the House John Boehner or any other ranking Republican—unless Cantor gives his express permission for a designee to do it. Via Talking Points Memo:

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.

“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.’”

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

“It is absolutely true that House rules tend to not have any explicit parliamentary rights guaranteed and narrowed to explicit party leaders,” Sarah Binder, a congressional expert at the Brookings Institution, told TPM. “That’s not typically how the rules are written.”

The rule change was made to prevent a majority vote from becoming even a possibility without the expressed consent of ONE MAN! Fewer than 25% of Americans support the GOP’s shutdown and yet here we are

This is democracy? It’s thisclose to being fascism. The dummies are in charge. Minority moron rule. Joseph Stalin or Il Duce would laugh at what America has become. The whole thing is worth watching—and infuriating—but by around the 5:00 mark, the cat’s out of the bag thanks to Congressman Van Hollen.

Judging from the rapidly escalating number of YouTube views, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not going back in again. Please share with everyone, even, make that especially, your Uncle Ronnie the Teabagger. He’s never going to hear about this from Rush or see it on the Fox News, but Uncle Ronnie really needs to know about this…
 

And then there is this, an earlier, less dramatic, but in no way less revelatory confrontation that took place two weeks ago when Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) noticed something seemed fishy and asked some uncomfortable questions of the Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), who flat out admits that she’s right!

“That’s what I’m saying. We took that away.”

Sessions tells her of GOP “resolve” in the debt ceiling battle. Here’s her response:

“Oh, Mercy. It just gets deeper and deeper. I want to tell you the resolve that I think you’ve got. And despite the fact that every one of you said, over and over ad nauseam, that you didn’t want to shut the government down, we spent some time down in my office watching so many of your members — right after they were elected in 2010 — saying how much they would like to shut down the House to great applause.”

“I think it is really shortsighted, I think it is an atrocity to the Rules of the House. And I think you’re putting the whole country through this angst and this aggravation that we did not need to go. This one we could have done without.”

“And I must tell you that I’m more and more angry now that I understand what you have done is take away our ability is to really make a motion for that Senate vote.”

Guess what? The Tea party-led government shutdown came THE VERY NEXT DAY!

Go right to 1:20 and start from there. If this isn’t an admission of guilt, I don’t know what would be…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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(Real) Terrorism trading cards (for kids)

trading card
Is he smiling? Did they depict him smiling? Are they trying to teach children or haunt their dreams?
 
Millions of children all over the world are forced to learn about terrorism through first-hand experience, often before they’re old enough to grasp the geopolitical context of the violence. But what about those poor kids who grow up without that kind of hands-on education? What’s the best way to fill young minds with the horrors of war, colonialism, and oppression? Why, trading cards, of course! And that’s exactly what the Piedmont Candy Company did in 1987, with… somewhat problematic results.
 
trading card
 
Mussolini was a fascist dictator, and while he used terror tactics during his reign, “fascist dictator” is a higher, more historically relevant ranking. Plus, by 1987, he had been dead for over 40 years. He looks good on a card, but this is clearly phoned it. Try harder, Piedmont Candy Company.
 
trading card
 
“The Irish have been waging war against England for hundreds of years.” Really, Piedmont Candy Company? Really?!? That’s your read on anti-English sentiment among the Irish?
 
trading card
 
I feel like the fact that they mention the “safety” of bombs twice before telling kids how dangerous they are is a bit counterintuitive. (Really kids! Don’t make bombs yourself, but they’re super-safe, so if you happen to come across one, go to town!)
 
trading card
 
To answer your speculative question, no. No, they were not going to bomb the Statue of Liberty. You’re welcome.
 
trading card
 
Call me a snob, but I find it difficult to take your assessment of Iranian politics seriously when you can’t spell “Shiite” correctly.
 
trading cards
 
Jesus fucking Christ!
Lacing children’s candy with ahistoric, fear-mongering propaganda isn’t enough? You have to make them bloodthirsty, too? If you’re trying to turn them into little killing machines, why not just put angel dust, steroids, and bath salts in the chewing gum?
 
trading card
 
Wait, weren’t you just advocating for the liberal use of nuclear weapons?!? “No one is overly anxious to use them!” First of all, I’m quite sure you mean “overly eager,” not “overly anxious.” Second of all, you are overly eager to use them, Piedmont Candy Company! You are the terrifying example of nuke-happy psychos!

The insidious nature of sneaking ignorant, paranoid, violent nationalism into trading cards is baffling, and yet somehow simultaneously totally unsurprising. I wonder if the economic realities of 1987 Detroit didn’t add fuel to the panicked, reactionary fire—international politics have always been a convenient distraction from extreme poverty and wealth inequality. Regardless, I’m somewhat comforted that we’re not seeing anything quite this indoctrinating being lobbed at kids nowadays.

And if there is, please don’t tell me! Let me live in a world where candy is still sweet! 

Via Organic Mechanic

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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On the first anniversary of the Pussy Riot conviction, August 17


 
This is a guest editorial by Hunter Heaney, executive director of The Voice Project, a US-based NGO that has raised over $100,000 for support and safety monitoring efforts for the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot.

They were tired of their rights being stripped away. Tired of their government not representing them any more. Tired of ultra right-wing policies that seemed to be driven by oligarchs and secret concentrations of wealth divorced from the needs of everyday citizens and oppressive to those with less political power in the current plutocracy that seems and acts more and more intimidatingly, more authoritarian every day.

So they sing. In public. They raise their voices as a way to express the basic human right to be heard by those would purport to govern them. And for that they are arrested. Sounds familiar.

It’s not Pussy Riot.

It’s not Russia.

It’s America.

The Solidarity Singers and the Raging Grannies gather every weekday at the Wisconsin state house to sing. They are trying to express their feelings about Governor Scott Walker and the run amok right-wing policies their state seems to be implementing at ALEC’s behest. And the powers that be are having none of it. Not only are the singers being arrested, but so are the spectators, just for attending, just for watching, just for reporting on it. And remember this is all happening in the public space of the state capitol building, the people’s building, the people’s property.

Free speech? Free press? The right to peaceably assemble? Not so much in Russia, not so much in Wisconsin, not so much in a lot of places these days.

Welcome to the modern world, welcome to modern America. Bit by bit we’ve lost the things we held dear. We’ve slowly let the freedoms we were so proud of, that were associated with our dream of this country, be disappeared like an extraordinary rendition to Guantanamo.  No trial, no explanation, just a black bag over the head. Habeas corpus is just a thing we once had, or we thought we had. An effective free press, well, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert remind us every weeknight where that’s gone (and they help us laugh to keep us from sinking into a national depression).

We’re surveilled like something out of the pages of Orwell, propagandized like scenes from V for Vendetta with fear campaigns like The War on Terror, beaten and pepper sprayed for peaceful protests, resigned to our running jokes about how Congress seems to have now abandoned even the facade of representing the people in favor of the supranational corporations and the 1% who finance their campaigns and their lives.

And the poor, well, forget about them. At least that seems to be the hope anyway. How much have you personally heard about one in four kids in this country being on food stamps now? Pensions being stripped away from those who worked and saved for them, just like George Carlin predicted they would be? It happens now through “strategic municipal bankruptcies” and other financial and legal maneuvers. It starts with carefully planned campaigns hatched by conservative think-tanks that talk endlessly about “entitlements.” Isn’t that clever?

We are now a shadow of our former selves. The “Greatest Generation” are dying. My dad was one. There are a few left, but they must not be impressed by what they see, what we are doing with what they fought for. Some of them certainly know that in no universe of realistic thought does Scott Walker’s Wisconsin or our modern America respect the sentiments they held dear enough to defend. They’re codified in Wisconsin’s State Constitution as:

“Every person may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no laws shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press.”

and

“The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.”

No wonder the dystopian-future fantasies are so popular at the box office, they must ring true, or maybe they let us think it’s not quite so bad right now in comparison. But make no mistake, we’re there, welcome to Dystopia. You’re soaking in it. Sometimes I think we’ll wake up from it all—take the red pill.  It does seem to be happening in other places around the world, like Gezi Park and the streets of São Paulo, even if the dissent suppression machines seem stronger than ever.
 

 
Here in America though, I often think we’re just like slow boiling frogs, nodding off to sleep while the heat is steadily turned up, too late realizing what happened as things fade to black. Hopeless and specious tropes about how protest songs don’t matter anymore appear to have even some musicians convinced, and seem to signal our giving up. And that’s when I give thanks for Pussy Riot, for the Solidarity Singers, for the Raging Grannies. Let the armchair quarterbacks debate their musical quality or performance characteristics or predict the demise of protest singing. While they’re at it perhaps spoken and written words, literature, ideas and the rest of the humanities should be thrown in there too.

Of course there are ideas and words and performances that matter, like “I Have a Dream” or “We Shall Overcome” or “Redemption Song” or yes, “Punk Prayer” that will speak truth to power, that will inspire, that provide aid and succor to those who will resist. The Solidarity Sing-Alongs are to me without a doubt among the most important performances taking place today. Same with the 40-second performance that landed Pussy Riot in labor camps for two years.

Content matters. Ideas matter. So Pussy Riot is my band. The Raging Grannies are my band and the Solidarity Singers, too. They’ve inspired me to write this, and I’m going to go check and see if some friends want to join me in supporting these singers and what’s going on in Wisconsin.

When members of Pussy Riot were here in New York this past spring, they stayed over and we had some long talks. “Shaiba” said, “It feels like we’re building this great mafia around the world, friends everywhere.” I hope so. I think this is the way it’s going to need to work if we’re ever going to stage a comeback here. We’re going to need to look out for each other, work with each other in the face of great concentrations of power. Some say the key will be localism, a renewed reliance on our geographically proximate communities, but I sometimes worry an overzealous application of these ideas as a solution may lead to isolationism. I believe we’ll need to help each other, even across great distances and divides.

Helotism” is a word I learned from Pussy Riot. Worth checking out the etymology on that one. One of the many things I learned from the girls. These are the kinds of things I’m remembering today, that I’m thinking about on this anniversary. That we can learn from each other, help each other, that we can stick together, we can make songs matter and turn ideas into action, that we can inspire each other, and we can decide to lay down and take it… or not.

Hunter Heaney is executive director of The Voice Project, a US based NGO that has raised over $100,000 for support and safety monitoring efforts for the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot.

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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What Marx got right


 
This is a guest post from Charles Hugh Smith. His newest book is Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It

The crisis of capitalism has not been resolved; it’s simply been papered over.

First, a disclaimer: this is an interpretive discussion of some aspects of Marx’s analysis (which was based on the capitalism he observed in the late 19th century) applied to present-day cartel-state capitalism. It is not a scholarly or academic presentation.

The discussion covers a lot of ground, though, so please refill your beverage container and strap in….

That Marx’s prescription for a socialist/Communist alternative to capitalism failed does not necessarily negate his critique of capitalism. Marx spent hundreds of pages analyzing capital and capitalism and relatively few sketching out a pie-in-the-sky alternative that was not grounded in historical examples or working models.

So it is no surprise that his prescriptive work is an occasionally risible historical curiosity while his critique stands as a systemic analysis.

Marx got a number of things right, one of which appears to be playing out on a global scale. You probably know that Marx expected capitalism to experience a series of ever-larger boom-bust cycles that would eventually precipitate revolution and overthrow of the existing financial-political order.

One driver of these cycles was the interplay of increasing production and declining labor costs. In broad-brush, Marx recognized that industrial capital (as opposed to finance capital) could only increase profits and accumulate more capital by raising production and/or establishing a price-fixing cartel or monopoly.

Mechanization characterized industrial capitalism in the late 19th century, and Marx observed that as mechanization increased productivity, the marginal value of labor decreased on a per unit basis.

Here is a real-world example: When I first visited China in 2000, there was a massive glut of television production: the capacity to manufacture TVs had expanded far beyond China’s domestic demand for TVs. To wring out a profit in a highly competitive industry, manufacturers had to ramp up production while lowering the unit cost of labor and the unit cost of each TV to undercut the competition.

If an assembly line of 100 workers could produce 1,000 TVs a day, the only way to lower the price of the TV is to either lower the wages paid to the workers or invest capital in machinery that enables the same 100 workers to produce 2,000 TVs a day.

At 2,000 TVs a day, the per unit labor cost falls in half. For example, at 1,000 TVs a day, the labor cost per TV might be $40. At 2,000 TVs per day assembled by the same 100 workers, the labor cost per unit drops to $20.

The key point here is that labor’s share of the total production cost declines. If workers had taken home $1 million in pay to make 100,000 TVs at the old production rate of 1,000 TVs/day, they now take home $500,000 to make 100,000 TVs at the new production rate.

In other words, labor’s share of value creation constantly declines as mechanization boosts productivity. Marx described the impact of another factor: oversupply of labor. As rural agricultural workers flooded into cities for jobs that paid cash, there was an abundance of factory labor. Competition for jobs pushes wages lower, so workers faced a double-whammy: their share of production relentlessly declined as productivity rose, and the pressure on wages constantly rose as per unit labor costs declined.

The competition to outproduce industrial rivals with cheaper per-unit production costs and labor’s competition for jobs both generate a structural crisis in capitalism: as production of goods rises, both the cost per unit and the number of workers earning enough to buy the goods declines.

Keep reading ‘What Marx Got Right’ from Charles Hugh Smith after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Loathsome conservative billionaire wants to eliminate minimum wage to ‘help the poor’


 
Charles Koch, the ultra conservative billionaire has discovered the Orwellian Bizarro World secret to getting poor people back on their feet again: Do away with the minimum wage!

I mean, why do we need it, right, isn’t the minimum wage one of the major roadblocks holding back the US economy from competing in a global marketplace? At least this is what this obscenely wealthy son-of-a-bitch (net worth $25 billion) wants people—gullible people, the kind of people who tend to believe anything if they hear it enough times—to think.

Yesterday, Koch told the Wichita Eagle why he’s against the minimum wage:

We want to do a better job of raising up the disadvantaged and the poorest in this country, rather than saying ‘Oh, we’re just fine now.’ We’re not saying that at all. What we’re saying is, we need to analyze all these additional policies, these subsidies, this cronyism, this avalanche of regulations, all these things that are creating a culture of dependency. And like permitting, to start a business, in many cities, to drive a taxicab, to become a hairdresser. Anything that people with limited capital can do to raise themselves up, they keep throwing obstacles in their way. And so we’ve got to clear those out. Or the minimum wage. Or anything that reduces the mobility of labor.

Reduces the mobility of labor? And here I always thought it was shit like like lack of affordable healthcare that reduced all that fucking mobility Koch seems to want to grease up for us with these, er, penetrating insights…

But it gets even better! As Rebecca Leber writes on Think Progress, Koch’s political foundation is starting to run an ad in Kansas that aims to “start a conversation” about America’s future:

The Kansas ad does not specifically mention the minimum wage, but it does claim that Americans earning $34,000 a year should count themselves as lucky, because that puts them in the top 1 percent of the world. “That is the power of economic freedom,” the ad concluded. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch are the ones comfortably in the 1 percent, with a net worth of about 1 million times that figure.

Here’s the ad the Koch brothers hope will convince people who ride public transportation to fast food jobs to let folks like them kick the last slats of social support out from underneath them… for their own good and the good of the nation! The Charles Koch Foundation’s YouTube channel describes the one-minute spot like so:

How do we measure human happiness, well-being, and progress? There may be no more important question than how we strive for human progress and how we measure our path along the way. This video sparks a conversation about the conditions that can best create opportunities for earned success as well as compassion for the vulnerable. We hope you join the dialogue.

Many folks, as you might imagine, have joined the dialogue on YouTube, nearly all of it falling into the “fuck you and the vile propaganda your billions pay for, you loathsome piece of shit. When the revolution comes you’re gonna get yours,” etcetera, etcetera…

Won’t you join the dialogue, yourself and let Chuck know what you think?
 

 
Thank you, Steven Otero!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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MASKED, heavily-armed paramilitary rent-a-cops are freaking out Wisconsin


 
It cannot be said that the citizens of Wisconsin didn’t truly get what they asked for when they had a chance to shitcan Republican Governor Scott Walker, but for some inexplicable reason, opted not to oust the lickspittle Koch whore. Nope, Wisconsin voted this toady to the rich and powerful in twice and well, that clearly wasn’t an accident, now was it? By any metric, Gov. Walker’s tenure in the statehouse has been a disastrous and divisive few years for Wisconsin, near the bottom in job creation and with a host of other problems the Charlie Brown-ish Walker has done little to solve and much to exacerbate.

But now Wisconsinites are getting a bite from a brand new flavor of shit sandwich that results from having a Republican-controlled legislature: Masked mercenaries with semi-automatic weapons are guarding the site of a controversial mining project that is being established near Lake Superior and understandably, people are freaking out about it.

Although there were serious environmental concerns about the mine, in March the GOP legislature pushed it through anyway. Since then there have been steady events protesting the mine, which will be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Over the July 4th weekend, however, masked security guards wearing camouflaged uniforms and carrying multiple semi-automatic weapons started patrolling the future mine’s site. Forget about the firepower for a moment, why do these dudes require masks to do their jobs???

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall did a little digging into the background of Bulletproof Securities the rent-a-cop on steroids firm—or as they put it, the “No Compromise Security Force”—that is minding the mine:

Here’s the Bulletproof website which lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of. But apparently not without occasional help from Bulletproof.

Indeed, as the site notes, “BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”

If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.”

And they’ll do it all while wearing fucking masks!

Welcome to late period capitalism, baby! Which side of the fork do you reckon you’ll be on?

Worth mentioning that the Republicans who voted to push through the mine over community objections promised that Gogebic Taconite would be creating local jobs. So of course, the first thing, the very first thing that G-Tac did was import their paramilitary mercenaries from Scottsdale, AZ…

Something else worth mentioning? The land is actually open to the public and Bulletproof’s militarized rental cops do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually use the weaponry that they are openly carrying around for the purpose of protecting property. And again, this is property that they do not own!.

Here’s a news report on this highly disturbing development from WISC-TV:
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The (In)Dignity of Labor: Top Senate Republican wants to abolish minimum wage!


“Goldman Sachs 2020 Slave Labor Camp International” by Lee Harvey

Considering the appalling number of Americans these days who are paid as little as their bosses can possibly get away with paying them, you would think that citing opposition to the notion that hard work should, you know, pay a living wage and provide for some level of human dignity in the world’s richest country, would be perceived as a toxic issue by the elders of the Republican Party. Something you wouldn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole…

But you would be wrong.

During a hearing on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, Sen. Bernie Sanders got Lamar Alexander, the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee to admit that he wants to abolish the minimum wage.

It was remarkably easy—he wasn’t even trying—for Sanders to provoke a remarkable reaction to this statement:

“There are certain conservatives who do not believe in the concept of the minimum wage. The concept of the minimum wage. In other words, if the economy as such, and I offer you three dollars an hour.”

Alexander took the bait, interrupting Sanders (“Let me jump in. I do not believe in it” he says) and offering his two unsolicited cents:

Sanders: So you do not believe in the concept of the minimum wage?

Alexander: That’s correct.

Sanders: You would abolish the minimum wage?

Alexander: Correct.

Sanders: If someone had to work for two bucks an hour, they would work for two bucks an hour?

Senator Alexander is not a stupid man. He’s a graduate of Vanderbilt University and NYU’s law school. He’s been in government since the Nixon administration, he was the 45th Governor of Tennessee from 1979 to 1987 and he served as George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of Education. He’s run for president twice.

Alexander was not caught off guard and this was not exactly a trick question that Senator Sanders posed to him, either. He volunteered this information: Alexander really means this shit.

Oy vey. When will these Republicans ever learn?

The exchange between Sanders and Alexander starts (after Sanders lays the groundwork discussing the situation that fast food workers find themselves in making $7 bucks an hour) at the 5:48 mark. At the end of it, the asshole from the conservative Heritage Foundation asserts that the minimum wage hurts “the beneficiaries”!
 

 
Via Politics USA

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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