February 19th, 2011


Union Busting 101: How Scott Walker Will Save the Starving Rich from The Evil Unions

What's Happening in Wisconsin: Explained

If you need to know the basics of what's going on in Wisconsin, read on. If you're already up to speed, you can follow the action on Twitter or jump straight to today's updates from our reporter on the ground in Madison.

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House approves dramatic cuts in federal spending

In a rare early morning weekend vote, the House approved an aggressive plan Saturday to eliminate dozens of federal programs and offices while slashing agency budgets by as much as 40 percent, drawing out more than $60 billion in deficit savings.

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Related from WaPo:
What budget cutting amendments has the House passed this week?
What might a government shutdown look like?
Boehner rules out short term extension of current government funding levels. This one's from the 17th, and I don't know if he's changed his position since then.

1. I don't want a government shutdown. The last one sucked.
2. This bill includes an amendment that smacked down Boehner's pet project, a second engine for the F-35 that the Pentagon didn't want but which provided roughly 1,000 jobs in a town near his district. He has to be frightened by the 40-some freshmen GOP representatives who joined Democrats and the amendment's sponsor in voting to eliminate his program.
3. The tags refer to a number of groups or issues that stand to lose funding if this gets passed. They seem to be attempting to defund the EPA. They also don't want funding for the enforcement of net neutrality rules, money for the UN headquarters, money for urban poor, etc.
4. They do not seem to be attempting to create jobs.

Emergency News: More Imaginary People Leaving the Army in Droves!

Pentagon to Draft Imaginary Friends to Fill Gap...

Harshest Critic Of DADT Repeal: No Indication Of Troops Leaving Services Over Policy Change

Last year, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos became the face of the opposition to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, going so far as to argue that if Congress lifted the ban against open service and allowed gays to serve without hiding their sexual orientation, the Marines could be so distracted that they would die in the line of duty. But since President Obama signed repeal legislation on December 22, Amos has moderated his rhetoric and has even taken part in a video asking Marines to respect and accommodate the policy change.

Yesterday, AOL’s Andrea Stone reports that Amos is further distancing himself from his past criticisms, telling reporters that repeal has not created the kind of disruptions that he (and many Republicans) had predicted:
I haven’t had any indication yet at all, not at all,” Gen. James Amos told reporters when asked if he expected the mass exodus of troops that Sen. John McCain and other critics predicted if the ban was lifted.

Amos was visiting troops in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when President Barack Obama signed the repeal in late December. He said he addressed some 12,000 Marines about the change and “everyone said, ‘Sir, we got it. We’re going to do this thing.‘”
Amos also said that the Marines have already started preparing the force for implementing repeal. The “training of military lawyers, counselors and chaplains began Feb. 7,” he said, noting that “the service’s three-star generals and their spouses underwent a training session recently in New Orleans.” He “expects all leaders down to company commanders and platoon sergeants to have been briefed by the middle of next month.”

Amos’s comments about the rather smooth process following repeal undermines the warnings of McCain and other Republicans, who cherry picked statistics from the Pentagon’s study of the policy to argue that hundreds of thousands would leave the force if the policy is lifted. McCain, for instance, urged against a “rush to repeal” and said that 12 percent of the military would leave the service if the policy were changed.

Cross-posted on Wonk Room.

Gov't to fund free entry to China's art galleries, libraries

 BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's government has announced it will finance public libraries, art galleries and cultural centers to allow them to open for free to visitors.

The government would allocate 1.8 billion yuan (274 million U.S. dollars) from the central budget this year to allow institutions to have free entry, said Zhang Shaochun, Vice Minister of Finance, at a national videophone conference of central and local government culture officials, Friday.

The budget would help libraries, art galleries and cultural centers to pay staff and carry out basic public cultural programs, Zhang said.

The central government would also subsidize basic public services by local culture organizations, including those in cities and counties in less developed central and western areas, he said.

City-level culture organizations would get 500,000 yuan in subsidies this year, and those at county level 200,000 yuan.

Public libraries, art galleries and cultural centers at provincial level would get funding from provincial financial authorities, he said.

By the end of this year, there will be no charge for visitors to enter public art galleries at state and provincial level. By the end of 2012, all public art galleries will also have free entry, said a joint statement by the ministries of culture and finance last week.

All the public libraries and cultural centers across the country will be open to visitors for free this year too, the statement said.

The move came after the government offered free access to museums and memorial halls in 2008

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Job market changing D.C.'s income and racial makeup

Job market changing D.C.'s income and racial makeup

The population of the District is becoming wealthier and whiter, according to research by the Brookings Institution, a reflection of an economic gap attributed in part to a job market that is creating tens of thousands of high-paid and high-skilled positions but hemorrhaging lower level ones.

From 2000 to 2009, the District gained 39,000 households with incomes of $75,000 and higher, according to a Brookings analysis of Census data. During that same period, the city lost 37,600 households with incomes of $50,000 or less.

At the same time, the city's proportion of black residents dropped to 52.7 percent from 59.4 percent, while its share of white residents rose to 33.3 percent from 27.8 percent.

As the city struggles to fill a $440 million budget deficit, experts say, the increase in affluent households should bring more tax revenue, more retail sales and eventually a healthier housing market. Indeed, restaurants, shops and even banks in recent months have been expanding their payrolls to fulfill growing consumer demand.

Aba Bonney Kwawu, president of the Aba Agency, a D.C.-based public relations and marketing firm that specializes in the luxury market, said the trend also can be seen in the arrival of new high-end clothing stores, such as Rag & Bone, which is opening a shop in Georgetown soon.

For the retailer "to choose D.C. is significant," Kwawu said. "It says a lot about the availability of money to spend in this market but also about the taste level."

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An unemployment rate of 18.9 percent for blacks but 2.5 percent for whites?!

MISC - moustache

(no subject)


Law Enforcement Praises Protesters' Conduct

On behalf of all the law enforcement agencies that helped keep the peace on the Capitol Square Saturday, a very sincere thank you to all of those who showed up to exercise their First Amendment rights. You conducted yourselves with great decorum and civility, and if the eyes of the nation were upon Wisconsin, then you have shown how democracy can flourish even amongst those who passionately disagree. As of 5:00 p.m., no major incidents had been reported. There have been no arrests. However, discourse and discussion was - at times - loud and heated. That was to be expected. As previously indicated, the goal of law enforcement has been to provide a safe environment for democracy to take place. That goal has been realized for yet another day.

Like Weekends? Thank Wisconsin Unions.

link to MSNBC player
Watch this video.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Moral Combat

Moral Combat - Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?

Simulated Monica's troubles began as soon as I hit play. She could never work her way past an entry-level job on the graveyard shift. No one in her family could cook, which left them all to subsist on a diet of takeout pizza. One day, Sim Monica's husband moved out and was gone forever, leaving Sim Monica a single mom. Their son was never entertained, sated, or well rested enough to study, and he earned F's until he was shipped off to military school. Sim Monica, alone and penniless, eventually died of starvation and neglect because I never figured out that a misplaced kitchen cabinet was blocking her access to the refrigerator.

I eventually got the hang of The Sims, the best-selling computer game in history, and my Sim self became productive and happy. She always reached the top of her career, her children always did well in school, and she always had enough money for a comfortable simulated life. Another pattern emerged as well, one that I feel powerless to stop: My Sims are conservative. I'm in complete control of them, but for some reason their lives aren't anything like the life I consider ideal in the real world. I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home. By contrast, my Sims rarely remain single long into adulthood. My wives always take their husbands' last names. They don't just have children; they bear lots of them. And they leave their careers to take on the lion's share of care-giving duties.

In fact, all of the video games I play tend to have a decidedly anti-liberal tilt. From the seemingly innocuous Sims to more obviously hawkish games like Call of Duty, many video and computer games seem to have a built-in conservative worldview. After all, they have to sell in the heartland as well as on the coasts. It's always difficult for liberals to figure out how much they should enjoy pop culture that contradicts their values. Skipping Fox's 24 because it promotes torture, for example, would have meant missing out on a tense and exciting drama--and missing out on the water-cooler talk about it the next day. But liberals who enjoyed it did so while making our criticisms known. Jack Bauer, we pointed out, might have been a less threatening protagonist if there hadn't been a real-life Vice President Dick Cheney. Video games are just the newest medium through which our social mores are expressed, and questioning whether they do so accurately and responsibly is a natural corollary to their ascendancy.

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