Scott Walker signs last year's bill eliminating collective bargaining. (Darren Hauck/Reuters)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is telling reporters that if he survives his June 5 recall election, he'll be more inclusive. Just not that much more inclusive, y'know?
"I still think people elected me before in November 2010 and they'll elect me again because they want me to fix things," Walker said. "They want me to keep the focus and attention on fixing things. We're just going to make sure we've got a more comprehensive and inclusive process to get there."What about further anti-union legislation, like a Right to Work (for Less) bill? Walker won't comment on whether he'd sign or veto such a bill if the legislature passed it.
So, basically, Scott Walker is saying that if he wins the recall he'd be kinder and gentler about doing the exact same stuff he's been doing. More like how he signed the repeal of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act in secret than how he introduced his anti-union budget repair bill by going to the press saying he was willing to call in the National Guard.
If you don't want Scott Walker signing any more bills, however inclusively, please give $3 to Tom Barrett to help defeat Walker on June 5.
If federal prosecutors get their way next week, an aging white supremacist who bragged about being a serial bomber and who was convicted earlier this year of sending explosives to a city office in Arizona will never see the outside world again.
A jury in Phoenix found Dennis Mahon guilty in February on three charges related to the 2004 bombing in Scottsdale that injured three city employees, including the director of the Office of Diversity and Dialogue.
Now, with Mahon's sentencing scheduled for Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Arizona, prosecutors are asking Judge David Campbell to send the 61-year-old bomber to prison for the next 63 years, which would effectively mean he would die behind bars.
"The amount of premeditation in this case is stunning," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Boyle wrote in his sentencing recommendation filed late Thursday. He said Mahon "bought generic parts from different locations, assembled the bomb, devised a method to insure the survival of a note, wrote and attached labels to lure the victim into a false sense of security, devised a switch and packing to insure the bomb was not detected before it detonated, and wrote a will to memorialize that his actions were in memory of Bob Mathews and Timothy McVeigh."
Mahon was tried alongside his twin brother Daniel Mahon, who prosecutors also alleged took part in the bombing. However, despite convicting Dennis on a conspiracy charge, the jury acquitted Daniel Mahon for the same count. He was set free and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
The investigation, led by special agent Tristan Moreland of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, took more than eight years and spanned several states. The back story sounds like something out of a movie script.
Investigators relied on a woman who went undercover and managed to get close to the brothers. She first met them when she and an undercover agent set up a camper in a trailer park in Catoosa, Okla., and hung a Confederate flag in the window. The brothers soon came over and introduced themselves to the woman.
After that, the woman, a civilian, acted as an informant for the feds and helped record audio and video of the brothers bragging about being behind numerous bombings throughout the nation.
Along the way, it became clear that the brothers were in close contact with and possibly inspired by Tom Metzger, one of the nation's best known white supremacist leaders. Metzger at the time ran an association called the White Aryan Resistance, or WAR, that investigators say promoted the idea of its followers carrying out acts of violence as lone wolves so as to avoid detection by law enforcement. Metzger has denied ever advocating violence.
In 2009 federal authorities had enough evidence to arrest the two brothers who by then were living at their parents' house in rural Illinois. On the same day, agents searched Metzger's home in Warsaw, Ind., but never arrested the racist leader.
In requesting the tough sentence for Dennis Mahon, the prosecutor described the bombing as nothing less than "terrorism."
He "did not merely speak in the abstract in favor of violence," the prosecutor wrote. "He conspired to and committed actual acts of violence. Rather than express remorse after the Scottsdale bombing, (Mahon) took pride in his actions."
This is a rhetorical question, but here it goes, anyway: Is there anything these Wall Street bastards won't pervert and destroy with their all-important profit motive? Is there any line they won't cross?
Isaac Gagnon stepped off the school bus sobbing last October and opened his mouth to show his mother where it hurt.
She saw steel crowns on two of the 4-year-old?s back teeth. A dentist?s statement in his backpack showed he had received two pulpotomies, or baby root canals, along with the crowns and 10 X-rays -- all while he was at school. Isaac, who suffers from seizures from a brain injury in infancy, didn?t need the work, according to his mother, Stacey Gagnon.
?I was absolutely horrified,? said Gagnon, of Camp Verde, Arizona. ?I never gave them permission to drill into my son?s mouth. They did it for profit.?
Isaac?s case and others like it are under scrutiny by federal lawmakers and state regulators trying to determine whether a popular business model fueled by Wall Street money is soaking taxpayers and having a malign influence on dentistry.
Isaac?s dentist was dispatched to his school by ReachOut Healthcare America, a dental management services company that?s in the portfolio of Morgan Stanley Private Equity, operates in 22 states and has dealt with 1.5 million patients. Management companies are at the center of a U.S. Senate inquiry, and audits, investigations and civil actions in six states over allegations of unnecessary procedures, low-quality treatment and the unlicensed practice of dentistry.
Allegations like Gagnon?s ?are not representative? of the more than 500 cases handled by ReachOut affiliates in Isaac?s school district, said Mickey Mandelbaum, a company spokesman.
ReachOut is one of at least 25 dental management-services companies bought or backed by private-equity firms in the last decade. Dentists contract with the companies for marketing, scheduling, staff recruitment, supplies and other services. The companies account for about 12,000, or 8 percent, of U.S. dentists, according to Thomas A. Climo, a Las Vegas dental consultant.
Some of them have been riding a boom in Medicaid outlays on dentistry, which rose 63 percent to $7.4 billion between 2007 and 2010, outstripping the 4.9 percent growth in other dental spending. ReachOut and several of its private equity-backed rivals seek patients like Isaac Gagnon, who are covered by Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor and disabled.
On May 2, All Smiles Dental Center Inc., a management company owned by Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, filed for bankruptcy protection. Its hand was forced in part by a Texas Medicaid action cutting off payment to some of its clinics because of allegedly ?excessive? and ?inappropriate? orthodontic care, according to an All Smiles executive?s affidavit included in the filing. All Smiles was part of a state audit in which 90 percent of Medicaid claims for orthodontic braces were found to be invalid because they weren?t medically needed, according to Christine Ellis, one of the auditors.
In North Carolina, Senate Bill 655 is under attack. Opponents say it will drive family dentists out of business, while supporters say the state is already underserved and that these new dental management companies will bring dental access to the rest of the state:
North Carolina law says only dentists can own, manage and control a dental practice. The question is what constitutes control. An increasing number of dentists are turning to management companies to operate the business side of the practice, from accounting and human resources to lab work. Others are asking management companies to help build offices and buy equipment.
About 50 dental practices in North Carolina, covering about 150,000 patients, use management companies in a state with 4,600 dentists. But industry trends suggest the number could grow, especially if the legislation is defeated or the current rules are weakened.
The state?s dental examiners board is charged with determining whether the management companies violate the law. It approves all contracts under rules established a decade ago, but the board?s attorney says loopholes give the companies too much latitude.
?What the board has seen over the years with these agreements is that they have morphed from true vendors of services to these really complicated, multiple-page agreements ... that would be considered de facto control and ownership,? said Ken Burgess with Poyner Spruill in Raleigh.
[...] The legislation would put the current rules into state law and add provisions to address these recent cases. Among other things, the law would prohibit management companies from owning all the equipment at a practice, determining patients and enforcing non-compete clauses on the dentists, and it would give the board broad authority to investigate management companies.
?Some very good, lawful management companies are doing business, but others are crossing that line,? said Dr. Ron Venezie, an Apex dentist and member of the Dentist Society, which is pushing the legislation. ?Only a dentist has the education and the training to make dental care decisions working with the patient.?
Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
We?ve heard a lot about Obama?s expression of his personal support for marriage equality, and a good bit about the growing number of Dems calling for a marriage equality plank. But what have Mitt and the Republicans been up to?
One good round-up of some recent GOP reactions to Queerdom comes from Think Progress, in GOP Doubles Down On Anti-Gay Agenda.
The list includes Romney?s 24 hour ?flip-flop? from support to non-support for same-gender couples adopting, and his speaking at conservative Liberty University. While not on this list, there was also the disclosure of Romney?s youthful days of what today would be called bullying ? the target was a student who was assumed to be gay. Romney didn?t defend the action, but he did talk about those days as when he played ?pranks.?
Other GOP-ers made their current anti-LGBT positions quite clear. Frank McNulty, Speaker of the Colorado House, ?killed? a civil union bill. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper had called a special session for the bill that had ?strong bipartisan support.?
Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) said that it should be OK to fire people just for being gay, because he says being gay is a choice … .
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made an anti-gay joke about the president that was too offensive for even anti-gay crusder (sic) Tony Perkins … .
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) denied that workplace discrimination against LGBT people, which is legal in 29 states, even exists … .
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), who voted against a bill to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination (ENDA), mistakenly claims that ENDA is already the law … .
Meanwhile, contrary to an earlier U.S. Senate passage of the Violence Against Women Act which included LGBT victims of domestic violence, and in face of a threatened veto by Obama, the House approved (221 to 205) a version which removed LGBTs, but retained the Senate addition of immigrants and Native Americans.
Prior to the vote, R. Clarke Cooper of Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement urging that the non-inclusive VAWA bill be rejected, noting.
… at least three Republican representatives tried to push for inclusion of LGBT provisions. They include Judy Biggert and Bob Dold of Illinois, and Tom Cole of Oklahoma. …
An indication of that change is seen in a memo circulated by Jan van Lohuizen, a respected Republican pollster. According to Politico, the memo was sent to ?Republican operatives,? including candidates. Lohuizen notes that ?support for same sex marriage has been growing? in the ?last few years … at an accelerated rate with no sign of slowing down.? He adds that the increasing support ?is taking place among all partisan groups.? The support is greater among Democrats, he says, but
… Polling conducted among Republicans show that majorities of Republicans and Republican leaning voters support extending basic legal protections to gays and lesbians.
That support includes protections related to employment, bullying and harassment, hospital visitation, ?legal protection of some form? for same-gender couples, and the repeal of DADT. The list is followed by a very interesting recommendation of how to express these developments:
?People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle … will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples … . People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.?
There?s more that points to the same thing. It?s slow, it?s far from all-encompassing, but there is what a McClatchy article terms a
… quiet transformation … taking place in the Republican Party, which has begun to embrace openly gay candidates – and among gay Republicans, who now feel more comfortable speaking out in a party that may have accepted them but didn?t always show it.
While differences still exist, the party is on the cusp of a generational shift in which the longtime foes of gay rights are replaced by younger party leaders who are more accepting.
?It?s an exponential change from a few years ago,? said former Republican Rep. Jim Kolbe. …
Kolbe, who represented the southeast corner of Arizona from 1985 to 2007, was one of only two openly gay Republicans ever to serve in Congress.
Kolbe predicts that ?at least one gay Republican for Congress? will be elected this year. One possibility is Richard Tisei, Massachusetts, running for the state?s 6th Congressional District. Tisei openly disagrees with the party platform, and supports marriage equality. In spite of that, the National Republican Congressional Committee ?has designated Tisei as a ?Young Gun,? meaning he?s on the national party?s radar and can expect to get more resources for his campaign. …?
The McClatchy piece correctly notes that Democratic Electeds don?t always vote in favor of LGBT rights. Fifteen House Democrats voted to keep DADT in place, while fifteen Republican House members and eight Republican members of the Senate voted to end DADT. Four Republican Representatives and three Senator ?are co-sponsors? of ENDA. And Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) supports repealing DOMA.
Of course, the 27 co-sponsors in the House of a federal constitutional marriage definition amendment are all Republicans.
The outcry regarding Obama?s profession of personal support for marriage equality was loudest from organizations like the Family Research Council. As the McClatchy articles notes, ?Republican leaders were more muted,? including Romney and House Speaker Boehner.
I?ve seen no one claiming that the Republican Party is ready to celebrate Pride next month. But changes are happening. One more time: hats off to the grassroots advocates who make such changes something people on Right and Left can believe in, even if gradually.
(Darwin Gradual Change poster via Laughing Squid)
I only ever had one conversation with Steny Hoyer. The Democrats had just won back the House and Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi was about to ascend to the Speakership. She didn't want a slimy corporatist whore like Hoyer as her top lieutenant and she picked Jack Murtha to take him on for the Majority Leader post. Someone on Hoyer's staff saw that I was less of a fan of Murtha than Mean Jean Schmidt later turned out to be and asked me if I would interview Hoyer. The only precondition was that I couldn't call him a shill during the interview. (Really, that's what the request was.) I liked Hoyer personally during the interview-- many sociopaths, and especially sociopathic politicians and business leaders are very charming-- but in the end I just said, in effect, "a pox on both your houses." Two horrible choices.
It may be recalled by a few that the week before the Hoyer-Murtha throwdown, Rahm Emanuel was trying to fulfill his obligations to Wall Street by grabbing the Whip. But he'd have to grab it away from Jim Clyburn, the only African-American in the caucus leadership. Pelosi headed that off at the pass by giving Emanuel some other undisclosed powers. But Clyburn got the Whip position, ostensibly the #3 job in the leadership. Now he says he's thinking about challenging Hoyer for the Speakership if Nancy decides to bow out-- as is widely rumored. Is Clyburn "better" than Hoyer? Maybe, but that depends on what better means to you. Personally, I find both completely inadequate for any job requiring integrity and a dedication to the welfare of the 99%. Sure Clyburn isn't as bad as Hoyer but that doesn't make him any good. In an interview this week with The Hill he sounded very old, very hackish, and nearly incoherent.
Asked whether he will seek a higher leadership post following the 2012 election, Clyburn told The Hill, ?I might-- sure. I?m not closing the door on anything.?
The highest-ranking African-American in Congress then detailed what could be his argument for a promotion: He has paid his dues, both literally and figuratively.
?The people who hold these leadership positions in the palms of their hands-- that?s our caucus-- they hold these positions,? he said. ?I think the extent to which I demonstrate that I?m deserving will determine whether or not I continue.?
Clyburn was quick to tout his credentials as a veteran dealmaker with a history of both getting things done and sacrificing for the party when need be. He related an episode early in his Capitol Hill tenure, for instance, when he stepped off the powerful Appropriations Committee to make room for a Republican who was promised a seat on the panel if he switched parties.
?I believe that every member will tell you that I paid significant dues, and I never, ever stepped on anybody along the way,? he said. ?People may say they?ll put the interest of the caucus before them. But I have demonstrated it.?
He also noted that he paid his full cycle dues to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As the No. 3 Democrat, Clyburn?s dues level is set at $600,000, which he met in January.
Hoyer, for his part, is not ceding any ground.
?Mr. Hoyer is focused on taking back the House and being the majority leader,? spokeswoman Katie Grant said Wednesday in an email.
Clyburn is not expected to challenge Pelosi, who has a firm grip on her caucus.
A new poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project finds that 63 percent of respondents in the U.S. “would turn to military force to prevent Iran from going nuclear.” But the pollsters questions contain unproven assumptions about the effectiveness of military strikes and suggest that failure to act militarily may hasten an Iranian nuclear weapon.
Respondents were asked to choose [PDF, page 27] between “preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action,” or “avoiding a military conflict with Iran, even if means Iran may develop nuclear weapons.” Built into these questions is the assumption that military action can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons or, conversely, that the lack of military action may ensure an Iranian nuclear weapon. Policy experts in Israel and the U.S. have consistently challenged this understanding of the Iranian nuclear showdown.
Last month, former Israeli internal security chief Yuval Diskin warned that :
[Israel's leadership] presents a false view to the public on the Iranian bomb, as though acting against Iran would prevent a nuclear bomb. But attacking Iran will encourage them to develop a bomb all the faster.
Indeed, the pollsters at Pew could take some lessons from Diskin about avoiding false trade-offs between bombing Iran and preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon. They could also have listened to Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor who observed that “an attack on Iran wouldn’t add anything to our security.” Or they could have watched former Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan’s warnings on 60 Minutes that an attack on Iran would “ignite regional war” and “there’s no military attack that can halt the Iranian nuclear project. It could only delay it.”
In the U.S., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized that “giving diplomacy a chance” is the best “way forward,” and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. (appointed by George H.W. Bush) Thomas Pickering warned that “[A military strike] has a very high propensity, in my view, of driving Iran in the direction of openly declaring and deciding [...] to make a nuclear weapon.”
Finally, and from perhaps the least political source, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) found that “an attack could have considerable regional and global security, political, and economic repercussions” but “it is unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be on the likelihood of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.”
This uncertainty was nowhere to be found in Pew’s questions which posed a clear tradeoff between taking military action to destroy Iran’s nuclear program and “avoiding a military conflict” at the expense of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. This tradeoff presented to poll respondents fails to take into account the overwhelming evidence that no such trade-off exists. President Obama has committed to ?preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon? and said it was ?unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.? But the willingness of politicians and pollsters to portray a tradeoff between military action and Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon promotes an inaccurate set of policy choices which, ultimately, may undermine efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.
The Pepperdine University School of Law has officially recognized the LGBT Legal Society, according to Thomas J. Stipanowich, the Academic Director of the school’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. Pepperdine, which is affiliated with the Churches of Christ, had previously refused to recognize a campus LGBT support group, Reach OUT, citing the school handbook’s prohibition on “conduct or lifestyles inconsistent with biblical teaching.” A petition asking the school to reconsider received 4,000 signatures by last January, but Pepperdine has not recognized that group. Stipanowich confirmed that the legal society would begin operation when classes resumed in August.
Mississippi state Rep. Andy Gipson (R) has attacked gays on his Facebook wall, calling homosexuality a sin and citing Leviticus 20:13, which calls for people who are gay to be put to death. In a follow-up post, he defended his remarks, adding claims that homosexuality is “unnatural behavior which results in disease,” harms children, and undermines marriage:
Been a lot of press on Obama?s opinion on ?homosexual marriage.? The only opinion that counts is God?s: see Romans 1:26-28 and Leviticus 20:13. Anyway you slice it, it is sin. Not to mention horrific social policy.
Sorry I?ve been busy and not had a chance to reply. David, in addition to the basic principal that it is morally wrong, here are three social reasons it?s horrific social policy: 1) Unnatural behavior which results in disease, not the least of which is its high association with the development and spread of HIV/AIDS; 2) Confusing behavior which is harmful to children who have a deep need to understand the proper role of men and women in society and the important differences between men and women, and fathers and mothers; and 3) Undermines the longstanding definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, a definition which has been key to all aspects of social order and prosperity. Anytime that definition is weakened our culture is also weakened. And yes, that is also true for other conduct which weakens marriage?s importance in society.
Gipson’s comments seem to suggest that he believes disease is actually the by-product of gay sex, as if even two monogamous gay men without STDs who have sex will still end up with an ailment or HIV. Not only are these remarks wholly offensive and ill-informed, but they contribute to the harmful stigma against gay men and lesbians and their families.
As ThinkProgress has noted, Facebook’s initial public offering will help both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company itself avoid billions of dollars in taxes. With Facebook’s offering now in the books, as Bloomberg’s Paula Dwyer wrote, the company is set to officially save $16 billion in taxes by deducting the cost of stock options granted to owners and employees. “The tax windfall will be the largest ever claimed by a company for stock option awards,” Dwyer wrote. “Facebook is an American success story. Its ability to use a stock option loophole to zero out its U.S. tax bill, despite ample profits, makes no sense. It also isn?t fair to the rest of American taxpayers who will have to pay more because Facebook pays nothing,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI).
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