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It's not secret that much of labor is not happy with Hilary Clinton, and are even considering sitting out the 2016 Presidential race if she gets the nomination without taking a strong stance against the TPP.

Yesterday, the Executive Board of the United Electrical Workers union (UE) dropped another bomb coming out in support of Bernie, while attacking Clinton.

The UE General Executive Board welcomes the entrance of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont into the presidential race. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, will compete in the Democratic primaries for the Democratic nomination. In his 35-year career in elected office, including 25 years in Congress, Bernie Sanders has been a strong friend and ally to UE members and to workers generally.... At his official campaign kickoff rally on May 25 in Burlington, VT, Sanders threw down the gauntlet to the corporate elite. “This campaign is going to send a message to the billionaire class. And that is: You can’t have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities.”

We are pleased with the way Senator Sanders frames these issues and the worker-based set of policies he is offering, in contrast to the pro-corporate policies of the other Democratic and Republican candidates. We encourage his campaign to offers (sic) a stronger critique of the interventionist foreign policy that is offered both by Hillary Clinton and the Republicans.

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In an interview with USA Today published this morning, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka said:

that it would cost Clinton the enthusiasm of organized labor if she backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated by the Obama administration.

He then said it was not inevitable that the AFL-CIO will endorse whoever wins the Democratic nomination...  “If we are convinced that neither candidate has that, I think we would spend our money elsewhere, probably on Senate candidates and congressional candidates and governors and state houses and things of that sort where we'd have a much greater effect.”

I'll go one step further than Trumka.  HRC should not only personally voice opposition to the TPP, she should call upon the members of Congress who endorsed her campaign to do the same.
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Inevitability of the lifeblood of political nepotism in our country.  If you've got the right name, you don't have to make a valid argument.  You just have to call on family friends, and make the argument having been in power is evidence that you should be in power. The fact that Bernie Sanders can't fall back on nepotism, or on political cronyism, is cited as evidence.

That. He. Just. Can't. Win.

Here's the thing.  If that in fact is the case, why is it that Bernie is now coming under attack by Koch surrogates?  Rob Roper, president of the Ethan Allen Institute, has been writing poison pen letters to papers throughout Vermont, arguing that putting Bernie's ideas into action in Vermont has led to increase income inequality.  Idiotic, yes.  Coming soon to a state near you?  Probably.  

See the Ethan Allen Institute is an affiliate of the State Policy Network, the Koch-funded policy propaganda apparatus in the states intended to coordinate with ALEC to push the Brothers politics onto an unwilling public by manufacturing consent.

If it's really the case, that Bernie.  Just. Can't. Win. Why is it that he merits an attack from Koch surrogates?  ... might it be that they realize that Bernie's ideas are the antidote to their poisonous bullshit.  

Want to tell the Koch Brothers that you're through buying their bullshit?

Sign up for the campaign.

Sign on to the movement.

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Last Saturday, I wrote about how 2016 Democratic candidate for Governor John Gregg was a member of ALEC while Speaker of the Indiana House. John Gregg's campaign just released a statement on this:

"When ALEC was started up decades ago it was a bi-partisan group that focused on balancing state budgets. John along with other members of the General Assembly from both parties were members. John left the General Assembly and therefore all memberships that came along with his position. Since that time ALEC morphed into what it is today. He has repeatedly asked ALEC to stop using his name - but like other Democrats who are still in politics from that time (Democratic State Sen. Frank Mrvan for instance) they refuse. They try to appear bi-partisan by using people's names without their permission - knowing those folks were never really members. John never attended a conference or anything of the sort. Please help us spread the word about ALEC's misuse of John's name and others and stop their attempt to divide us."
Let me briefly chronicle the reasons this is a ridiculous response.  ALEC has had a radical right-wing agenda since day one. One of it's founders famously declared: "I don't want everybody to vote ... As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."  Guess photo id and other voter suppression measures were a forseeable possibility. Just a few of the model bills in ALEC's 1995 Sourcebook, actually dedicated to the Koch Brothers:  Right To Work Act, Prevailing Wage Repeal Act,  Privatization Initiative Panel Act, Prison Industries Act, Charter Schools Act, Educational Enterprise Zone Act, Rent Control Preemption Act, Asbestos in Educational Facilities/or Public Buildings Act, Resolution to Restore State Sovereignty.  

Last, but not least.  Let us remember also the ALEC declared: the homosexual world is pedophilia, the fetish for young children.”  If that's not sick enough, consider this.  ALEC actually opposed divestment ordinances targeting Apartheid South Africa. Well, I guess we know now who it is that ALEC didn't want to vote, and John Gregg was associating with these people. I know John Gregg.  I don't think he's a homophobe, or a racist ... but I question whether he has the spine to actually take a stand against the people who are, given his unwillingness to own the fact that ALEC was even more vile when he was a member than it is today.  

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It's a measure of the failure of Mike Pence as Governor of Indiana that he is suddenly vulnerable to defeat in the 2016 elections.

People from outside the state have this idea of Indiana as an unrepentantly Republican.  Yet in the last 25 years, Democrats controlled the House for 17 years, and the Governor's office for 14 years. With the exception of the Senate, Indiana has been a competitive state for Democrats at the state and local level.  Which is why the "unexpected" vulnerability of Governor Mike Pence feels all but that to people who've followed Indiana politics for long enough.

Which is why news the former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg is running has been greeted with considerably more enthusiasm nationally than in the Hoosier state.  Mike Pence's relationship with the Koch Brothers political network is well know.  His willingness to front for awful ALEC model legislation has been making progressive Hoosier facepalm since long before this RFRA mess caught the rest of the country's attention.

The problem is that Pence's prospective opponent John Gregg has a Koch problem, or more to the point ALEC problem too.

If John Gregg wants to prove that he's not PWNED by the Koch Brothers/ALEC, he's got to own up to the fact that he has this ALEC connection.  He hasn't.  Forgive me if my enthusiasm for replacing Pence with another Koch pawn is lacking.

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Should John Gregg issue a statement acknowledging his ties to ALEC?

89%17 votes
5%1 votes
5%1 votes

| 19 votes | Vote | Results

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The Heartland Institute (@HeartlandInst) is preparing to picket Pope Francis. Yes, you read that right. They are actually going to Rome in order to picket the Pope.

These are the same people who put up a billboard comparing climate change scientists to the Unabomber, so I'm sure that this picket will be super tasteful.

Actual Heartland Billboard

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It seems that the rest of the world is just now catching on to something I could have told them in 2002.  Mike Pence is super sketchy.  The present scandal about RFRA doesn't even touch the full extent to which this man is prone to hypocrisy and pandering to the lowest common denominator.  I know Mike Pence.  Back in 2002, I worked on the campaign of the woman who ran against him for Congress.  Because the rest of the campaign was based in Greensburg, and I was in Muncie, I got tasked with opposition research/tracking for Pence.  Up close, and personal, I got to see just how sketchy the man was.  

How sketchy is Mike Pence?  Let me count the ways.

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There's a diary on the recommended list right now lauding Angie's List for their threat to halt expansion in the state.  A lot of people are jumping on this as a reason to support the company.  Folks, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Sometimes people do the "right" thing for the wrong reason, and this isn't something for which they should be praised.

Let me explain.  Angie's List may be threatening to pull out of Indiana now, but it's highly likely this has nothing to do with opposing RFRA.  It's far more likely that Angie's List is speaking up up now in order to coerce taxpayers into forking over the cash to fund their corporate expansion.

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Tell me.  Does this tweet strike you as the least bit racist?

Much to my surprise, I opened Facebook this morning to find this on my feed from a friend involved in Democratic politics in Indiana.  And, much to my disappointment, I found "liberal" folks questioning how this could possibly be racist.

If you follow me past the curlicue, I think that you'll agree that it perpetuates a racially pernicious stereotype of African American women.

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Earlier this week, a report came out from ProPublica, describing the destruction of the worker's compensation in this country.  As I wrote at that time this system emerged as a compromise, whereby workers surrendered the right to sue in exchange for the relative certainty of compensation when injured on the job. This compromise has been broken, and the consequences are only now being truly accounted for.

On the heels of Propublica's report, OSHA released one of its own.  Linking rampant worker misclassification,and general evasion of responsibility by employers, to increasing economic inequality in this country. Most emblematic of this risk shift from those who benefit from the wealth of out nation, to those who worked to create it, is the fact that worker's comp currently covers little more than 1/5th the cost of on the job injures, as laid out in the pie graph below.

 

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Thu Mar 05, 2015 at 07:41 AM PST

The Satanic Mills Rise Again

by ManfromMiddletown

By this time next week, Wisconsin will likely have joined the ranks of "right to work" states.  In the wake of similar transformations in Indiana and Michigan, this movement takes on the appearance of a wave threatening to overtake the nation. Washing away what remains of the legacy of worker protections instituted in a different time when more than 1 in 3 American workers had the benefit of union representation.

Despite the calamitous decline of labor in this country, at present fewer than 1 in 15 private sector workers have union representation, we are told that everything is ok.  There was a time for unions, and now that time has passed, a sentiment aptly expressed in this recent letter to the editor from the Chicago Tribune:

Many letter writers have written to the Tribune’s Voice of the People in favor of unions. I agree that in much earlier times, unions were beneficial to correct wrongs such as low wages, no benefits and sweatshop conditions. But in more recent times, the pendulum has swung too far.

This sentiment, while prevalent, could not be further from the truth.  We all know that low wages, and no benefits, are a serious problem in this country, however I'd gather that few of us fully understand the extent to which the most egregious violations against workers as fellow human beings have reemerged.  That is, unless we've had the misfortune to learn the truth.

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Necessity is the narrative that austerity dictates. Or, so the story goes.  Despite improving economic fortunes, in states across the country the cry for further budget cuts is ringing out.

At least 16 states are projected to run budget shortfalls in the next year or two, according to an informal count maintained by State Budget Solutions, a watchdog group. Those gaps range from lows of $17 million in Vermont and $34 million in Rhode Island to $4 billion in Washington State over the next two years and $2.2 billion in Wisconsin next year alone.
In their latest report State Budget Solutions counts nearly $21 billion in state budget shortfalls.  From this, they have drawn up a list of budget savings strategies for states: rejecting Medicare expansion, raiding state workers pensions, and privatization.

The mantra is simple: There is no alternative. Necessity dictates further austerity. But ... what if real alternatives, really exist? What if necessity is only a narrative?

Sure, you say, but show me the money.

Dollar, dollar bill y'all.

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