Monthly Archives: February 2011

Jane Russell Dead at 89

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell (June 21, 1921 – February 28, 2011) was an American film actress and was one of Hollywood‘s leading sex symbols in the 1940s and 1950s. She became a star with the 1943 release of “The Outlaw,” Howard Hughes’ challenge to the Hollywood production code. At age 89, she has died.

Russell played Calamity Jane opposite Bob Hope in “The Paleface” (1948), and she starred with Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 musical “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” She appeared in two movies opposite Robert Mitchum, His Kind of Woman (1951) and Macao (1952). Other co-stars include Frank Sinatra and Groucho Marx in the comedy Double Dynamite (1951); Victor Mature, Vincent Price and Hoagy Carmichael in The Las Vegas Story (1952); Jeff Chandler in Foxfire (1955); and Clark Gable and Robert Ryan in The Tall Men (1955).

Daughter-in-law Etta Waterfield said that Russell was a “pillar of health” but caught a bad cold and died of respiratory difficulties.


While we are thinking about Unions…Look at all we’ve forgotten (I don’t think Scott Walker ever knew)…

PBS is running a new American Experience documentary this evening on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City in 1911. It is an interesting and historically powerful story of the beginnings of the American Union movement… the conflict between the rich and the poor… and the use of strikes to get Union-only shops in the garment industry.

The fact that Triangle workers got some concessions in 1909 and 1910 in terms of wages and shift times, there was no change in working conditions and no collective bargaining. When the Triangle fire occurred in 1911, the ladies who worked there were inside locked doors (to keep workers from sneaking out with product when managers weren’t looking.) The 200 sewing machine workers were not alerted to the fire which began on the floor below… they were trapped. Some died in the fire… some jumped from windows, very few made it to a back alley fire escape. Many were trapped on an elevator that jammed after the first trip.

Labor was not considered the equal to management… but without that labor, the garment manufacturers would not have become wealthy. Isn’t it similar to how the citizens of Wisconsin benefit from Public Employees… teachers, firefighters, police, EMTs? While we don’t have the devastating tragedy of the Shirtwaist Fire in Wisconsin, we have people who are accused of being at fault due to their pension fund contributions…their own money…for the dismal economy. Not the bankers who overmortgaged and blew out the economy. Not the politicians who made sure the rich were not taxed on their incomes so that they could invest in those banks and stock brokerages that literally stole money from the pension funds of laborers.

In the 100 years since the Shirtwaist Fire and the major changes in Union organization and management/labor relationships it brought, we have forgotten the importance of workers and, as has been a conventional attitude of politicians from the right wing who oppose Unionism and negotiations, we are further away from the management changes that occurred over the next 4 decades.

We are back where we started from.

Just by insisting that he will not negotiate with the Public Employee unions, Governor Walker might as well be saying “your lives are meaningless.” Even when the employees WANT to take pay reductions and are willing to cooperate… but want collective bargaining, the thing that has made America from FDR to the present the symbol of the middle class glory, to remain a union option.

So now, on the Centennial of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, let us not tolerate the destruction of unions by overwhelming management policy.

Just watching all this tonight has gotten my hackles up… I hope it has gotten to you, too.

Dr. Oz helps a woman confront her Phobia

Wow… can you believe it?!

Oh, Wait… it’s a doctored video… the original is at Dr. Oz’s site ( …she’s really afraid of spiders.

Digging his own Grave…

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Poll: Wisconsin Voters Wouldn’t Elect Gov. Walker In Do-Over

Wisconsin voters already have buyers remorse about electing Gov. Scott Walker (R). 

In a PPP poll released Monday, a majority of registered Wisconsin voters say that in a hypothetical re-do of last year’s gubernatorial election, they would vote for Democrat Tom Barrett, whom Walker defeated in November. That finding comes as Walker continues to stand firm on his budget proposals that would strip most state public employees of long-held collective bargaining rights.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they would vote for Barrett if the election were held today, while 45% said they would vote for Walker. That’s almost exactly the opposite of what happened in the election, when Walker won the governorship with 52% of the vote to Barrett’s 47%.
The huge shift comes, not surprisingly, from union members.

The results are the latest findings to show Walker losing support as the stalemate wears on.
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Perhaps this is happening everywhere that Republicans got in last November as they ignore the people and go for firming up the rich…

Frank Buckles, America’s Last WWI Veteran Dies

He was 110 years old and lived here in Jefferson County, WV (Charles Town, actually). Frank Buckles was the last surviving WWI Vet in the USA.

Buckles said he had lied about his age in 1917 when he was 16 so he could enlist. The Army sent him to France, where he drove ambulances and motorcycles. After the armistice, he helped return German prisoners of war to their country.
In 1941, he was working in Manila for the American President Line, a shipping company. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II, Buckles was captured and spent 3 1/2 years in a prisoner-of-war camp before he was rescued by American forces when they retook the Island nation.
David DeJonge, a Michigan filmmaker, is producing a documentary on Buckles’ life titled “Pershing’s Last Patriot: The Story of Frank Woodruff Buckles, America’s Last Veteran of World War I.” It will be narrated by actor Richard Thomas.

Blogosphere News: Andrew Sullivan is Moving!

Wow! I wonder what the financial gain was for this event. Do Tina Brown and her buddies know about Andrew’s vacation habits?
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Andrew Sullivan is leaving The Atlantic and taking his blog, The Daily Dish, with him. The blog will find a new home on The Daily Beast in April, and Sullivan will also become a contributor to Newsweek. His two destinations are really one — the media outlets are merging together under editor in chief Tina Brown.
In a post on his (soon-to-be) old site, Sullivan has a lot of nice things to say about his bosses — both old and new — and assures his readers not to expect changes in content:

I also want to assure you that, as for the past ten years, through, Time and the Atlantic, I will retain total editorial responsibility for what appears in this column... You don’t even have to change your bookmark, since you’ll be automatically redirected, once April arrives. If you want to make sure you don’t lose track, bookmark us now and you will be automatically redirected when April 4 comes around.

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Scott Walker says that Wisconsin Public Employees do not currently pay their pension funds…but this is a LIE.

Look at this article quote from Forbes Magazine:

If the Wisconsin governor and state legislature were to be honest, they would correctly frame this issue. They are not, in fact, asking state employees to make a larger contribution to their pension and benefits programs as that would not be possible- the employees are already paying 100% of the contributions.

What they are actually asking is that the employees take a pay cut.

This is Forbes that says this. A Conservative business magazine. Go HERE and read the whole article. The article was written by Rick Ungar. Here’s his Bio:

I am an attorney in Southern California, and a frequent writer, speaker and consultant on health care policy and politics. To that end, I am active member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Based in beautiful Santa Monica, California, I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to be a contributor to Forbes. I’ve recently finished a book designed to make the health care debate understandable to the average reader, and expect it to be out in the next five months or earlier.

Quote of the Day

From Barry Ritholtz:

Someone I spoke with claimed that Ailes was scheduled to speak at their event in March, but canceled. It appears that Roger’s people, ostensibly using a clause in his contract, said he “cannot appear for legal reasons.”

I asked “What, precisely, does that mean?”

The response: “Roger Ailes will be indicted — probably this week, maybe even Monday.”

If this is true, it will be a huge story. Only last week was it revealed that Judith Regan has a tape of Ailes instructing her to lie about Bernie Kerick in 2004 when Giuliani‘s buddy was being investigated for a Federal position.

Of course “indicted” doesn’t mean “convicted”… Ailes, through Rupert Murdock and News Corp has a lot of money and press power to play with. Wait and see, wait and see.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Wisconsin and the Economy

Hard decisions this week… there were so many good cartoons and so many important news stories to comment on. Anyway, here are my finals:

Signe Wilkinson in the Philadelphia Daily News:

So Democracy for Workers costs more than an Arm and a Leg!

– and –

Tony Auth in the Philadelphia Inquirer (big week for Philly):

It’s all about Organizing…

– and –

Joel Pett in the Lexington Herald-Reader:

It’s helping us become one big country again…

– and –

Ben Sargent of the Austin American-Statesman:

The attention to detail is what makes everything work…

– and –

Mike Luckovich in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

At least they’ve given us someone to blame…US!

I’m Saluting the Democratic National Committee…

Current Chair, Barbara Lee

DNC Chair Barbara Lee

The DNC adopted a resolution yesterday to goose Obama in his getout from Afghanistan and to change the focus to job creation with results BY JULY! More power to them. Now that we have national polling results of over 70% of Americans wanting us out of Afghanistan ASAP, the DNC As such, they are joining the new majority.

The DNC also expressed support for the Unions and the Wisconsin Demonstrators. It’s clear that they have their ear to the ground as they plan the 2012 campaigns.

Anyway, here’s the transcript of yesterday’s resolution:

Resolution Supporting Ending the War in Afghanistan Now and Transferring the Funding to Job Creation, other Crucial Domestic Priorities and Deficit Reduction

Submitted by: Hon. Barbara Lee, California
Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair/District of Columbia
Hon. Mike Honda, DNC Vice Chair/California
Alice Germond, DNC Secretary/West Virginia

WHEREAS, the United States has been involved in war in Afghanistan for almost a decade and remains militarily engaged in what has become the longest war in American history; and

WHEREAS, the mounting costs of the war in Afghanistan, now totaling over $100 billion a year, have constrained efforts to invest in job creation and in strengthening our country and our economy; and

WHEREAS, according to a Gallup Poll released February 2, 2011, 72% of Americans favor action to “speed up the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan”; and

WHEREAS, President Obama supports a transition to an Afghan-led security arrangement in Afghanistan “because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people‘s”; and

WHEREAS, a diplomatic solution in Afghanistan that emphasizes economic development, political reconciliation and inclusion, the engagement of regional and global stakeholders, and the safeguarding of basic human rights is essential to ensure long-term stability in Afghanistan and the surrounding region; and

WHEREAS, military and intelligence officials agree that the situation in Afghanistan will not ultimately be resolved by a military solution; and

WHEREAS, the national and economic security of the United States depend upon a national defense strategy which addresses the modern threat of global terrorism in an effective, sustainable, and comprehensive manner; and

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the Democratic Party recognizes the enormous strain placed on the U.S. military servicemembers, and their families since 2001 as a result of continuing engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains committed to ensuring that our troops have the support that they require when deployed as well as the care that they and their families need and deserve when they return home;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Democratic Party supports prioritizing job creation and a swift withdrawal of U.S. armed forces and military contractors in Afghanistan which must include a significant and sizable reduction no later than July 2011.

Yesterday saw largest crowds since Vietnam War march in Wisconsin

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A crowd estimated at more than 70,000 people on Saturday waved American flags, sang the national anthem and called for the defeat of a Wisconsin plan to curb public sector unions that has galvanized opposition from the American labor movement.
In one of the biggest rallies at the state Capitol since the Vietnam War, union members and their supporters braved frigid temperatures and a light snowfall to show their displeasure.
The mood was upbeat despite the setback their cause suffered earlier this week when the state Assembly approved the Republican-backed restrictions on union collective bargaining rights over fierce Democratic objections.
Unlike previous protests, the rally on Saturday brought out thousands of union workers not directly affected by the bill, including the state’s firefighters, exempted along with police from the Republican proposal. Dozens of private sector unions were represented as well at the event.
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Picked this up from Reuters via Yahoo News… I was amazed that there was so little television coverage of this yesterday, although sick old me looked for it all day. The after-day press, however implies that it was a pretty big thing. 

Tells us who is controlling television, doesn’t it.

OK, I’m back.

Sorry about yesterday. I was so down with flu and fever that I went on a NyQuil sleep-a-thon and didn’t get to the blog. But, coughing and sneezing, I’m back today and just starting to go through HuffPo, the NY Times and my other News Sources (while watching Charles Osgood on TV) to find this morning’s big issues. Come back in a little while…

– Bill

Rachel Maddow’s comments last night on Scott Walker

You go Rachel!

The Wisconsin Koch Monopoly



This from:

Dear Social Justice Warrior,

It’s time to expose the Koch Brothers and their power grab in Wisconsin.

That’s why we wanted you to be the first to see our brand new Koch Monopoly infographic:

When did Republicans change from favoring Labor over Corporations?

Back at its roots (Lincoln) Republicans had a view of labor that was positive and a view of Capitalism that was negative.

When did they reverse their views? When did they put greed ahead of people?

Another seizure last week…and I wait every day for another.

This is getting scary.

The other night while looking up an e-mail address I felt a little snap in my head and the next thing I knew my wife was asking me questions. They were the usual… my daughters’ names, my dogs’ names… and, as usual in one of these, I couldn’t remember them.

To me it took about 20 minutes to snap out of it and start remembering names. Elly says it was more like fifty minutes and I spent a long time just staring straight ahead until I started speaking again. I do not remember this.

Now, for the last couple of days, I sit in fear that this will happen again while Elly is at work and I won’t remember any of it. Or, it will happen and I won’t snap out of it at all.

A week from this Saturday they’ve scheduled me for more tests. It’s a long time to wait.

Indiana Dems: This Is Our Moment And We’re Seizing It

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Indiana Governor Mitchell Daniels delivers his...
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) changed his tune on Wednesday, after Democrats said they’re staying put in Urbana, IL rather than letting the GOP majority push through Daniels’ education reform agenda. Gone was Daniels’ conciliatory tone from Tuesday, when he told his party to drop the right-to-work bill that sent House Democrats across the border to Illinois. In its place a was a pledge to wait out the Democrats and keep the Indiana legislature open as long as he has to in order for votes to take place.

Color Indiana Democrats unimpressed.
“At first we thought the Governor was being the good cop and [House] Speaker [Brian Bosma] was being the bad cop,” state Rep. Scott Pelath (D) told TPM in a phone interview from his Illinois hotel room. “Now it looks like the governor is taking both of those roles in his own person.”
Democrats are also upset over Daniels statewide school voucher plan, which would let public school students use state money to attend private schools if they chose.
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State Democratic Party chair Dan Parker said his party is seizing a political moment. 

“Is there a certain political benefit? That’s yet to be determined,” Parker told TPM. “But I can tell you the base of the Democratic party is pretty riled up in the state of Indiana right now.”

“We may not have a lot of numbers right now,” he added. “But this shows…we’re not just going to roll over and play dead.”

Quote of the Day – Russ Feingold, former Wisconsin Senator, to Scott Walker, Wisconsin Governor

“This is not about the budget at all… this is about trying to destroy people’s right to collectively bargain. If you begin with a dishonest approach…and begin making threats…it’s a really an assault on Wisconsin‘s traditions. It’s really something a new governor shouldn’t be doing.”

“I call on him tonight to pull back, to drop this issue of collective bargaining and get back to budgeting

Wednesday Morning Entertainment: Cleary and Harding “We No Speak Americano”

My Cousin Bob turned me onto this… it’s called “hand dancing” and it’s brilliant (they’ve also made a (brief) McDonald’s coffee commercial.

Now go back to work.

From Wisconsin Radio Network yesterday…

Mike Tate kicks off Democratic Party of Wiscon...

Image by barrett4wi via Flickr

If you saw or heard this yesterday it probably got your dander up. For those of us who depend on wi-fi to maintain a connection with the thinking world, this should be seriously looked into. From WRN:

Anyone logging on at the state capitol’s wi-fi connection as a guest could not access for a time Monday. Sachen Chheda, a former capitol tech worker and current Chairman of the Milwaukee County Dems, says the screenshot looked like an intentional blockage used by an older program with which he was familiar.

He along with State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate finds it suspicious that the website was functioning fine last week but shut down later on.

The site serves as a focal point for the protesters and those opposing Governor Walker’s budget repair bill.

Also on the Democratic conference call this morning was a former assistant state Attorney General. Charles Hoornstra says if the activity was deliberate it opens up those responsible to lawsuits either at the state or federal level.

Walker’s office calls the claim by Democrats “lies.” In a statement, Spokesman Cullen Werwie says the Department of Administration blocks all new websites shortly after they are created, until they go through a software approval program that unblocks them.  He notes within 30 minutes of being notified this website was blocked, DOA immediately made the website accessible.

Cullen adds the Governor believes in protesters right to voice their opinions as evident by capitol hours being changed to allow them extensive access.

I am a member of the Middle Class and recognize that Republicans want to destroy my world…

What does it mean to take away bargaining rights from public employee’s unions? As we watch the Republicans in Wisconsin, it might be worth it to look at Indiana where, 5 years ago upon being elected, Republican Governor Mitch Daniels eliminated collective bargaining for public unions in that state. Now their state legislature is carrying things a step further…it’s going after the PRIVATE UNIONS (just what the Wisconsin Republicans are denying will ever happen). And, according to Politico, their getting the same kind of response that is occurring in Wisconsin now:

“The Indiana bill bars unions from negotiating contracts and requires that non-union members pay fees. In response to the Indiana bill, just two of the 40 House Democrats showed up in the state legislature Tuesday.”

It is not going to be enough, however, for Democrats to just avoid showing up to prevent votes from happening. We have to get to the point where Republicans agree to the Democratic principle of COMPROMISE… something that has distinguished this country since it was formed in the eighteenth century. Yet, Scott Walker is insisting he will not compromise on the matter of collective bargaining, even though the Unions have agreed on salary cuts and just about every other request…wanting only to retain their major human right to negotiate and compromise.

Governor Daniels in Indiana, probably because he is heading for a presidential primary run and doesn’t want to appear offensive to anyone, has now come out publicly to have his Republican legislative majority to stop campaigning to eliminate bargaining rights for all unions.

Of course, Republican Governor Kasich, to make sure managers maintain control of public unions…especially teachers…has steered the Ohio General Assembly to consider a proposal similar to legislation introduced by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin that would roll back collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers. While saying that this move is not meant to destroy unions, how can it be looked at any other way given the occurances in Indiana and Wisconsin?

Republicans nationally, led by John Boehner in the House, have publicly come out opposed to compromise, especially with Democratic workers. Leslie Stahl caught him on 60 Minutes on Sunday:

STAHL: But governing means compromising.

BOEHNER: It means working together.

STAHL: It also means compromising.

BOEHNER: It means finding common ground.

STAHL: Okay, is that compromising?

BOEHNER: I made it clear I am not going to compromise on my principles, nor am I going to compromise the will of the American people.

STAHL: What are you saying? You’re saying, “I want common ground, but I’m not gonna compromise.” I don’t understand that. I really don’t.

BOEHNER: When you say the word “compromise,” a lot of Americans look up and go, “Uh oh, they’re gonna sell me out.” And so finding common ground, I think, makes more sense.

Then, Stahl noted that Boehner compromised his position on the Bush tax cuts to get a deal with Obama last week, noting that he had wanted the all the Bush-era tax cuts extended permanently but only got a two-year extension. Boehner again said it wasn’t a compromise. “Why won’t you say you’re afraid of the word,” Stahl asked. “I reject the word,” Boehner said.

OK. My wife is a community college teacher who works for the State of Maryland. I am a retired Social Security recipient who must start Medicare and Medicaid in May. If we are anything we are, and have always been, Middle Class. And we see the Republicans coming directly at us… and we are prepared to do something about it. We will campaign for candidates who will refuse to send this country back to the days of Herbert Hoover. I will make this blog a source for truth and information protesting the Middle Class destruction that the 1% rich, like the Koch Brothers, are investing their assets in. Together we will continue to fight for the Middle Class and try to make the members of that Class who voted for Republicans in the last elections realize how they were..and still are…being used.

I advise all my readers not to give up…and not to give in

AFL-CIO Poll shows Wisconsin Voters Back Protestors, Not Walker

Even allowing for the fact that this is a Union financed poll (could be off as much as 3%), this doesn’t look very good for Scott Walker. He is still, however, holding out for NO NEGOTIATIONS on his reform bill… and Democratic Senators are still out of town.

Happy President’s Day… a few quotes from Presidential History which we might apply today…

If only Mount Rushmore could talk! Think what thoughts these great and former Presidents might have on the anti-Union aggression of Gov. Scott Walker and his minions…

“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”

George Washington

“The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”

Thomas Jefferson

“These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert, to fleece the people”

Abraham Lincoln

“Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.”

Theodore Roosevelt

A Quote from Yesterday – Wisconsin, the Labor Battle and Obama

Obama‘s outspokenness about the labor battle in
Wisconsin offers a glimmer of hope that he might lead
the fight for what many Americans, not just Democrats,
care about – from job creation to an energy plan to an
attack on the deficit that brackets the high-end Bush-
era tax cuts with serious Medicare/Medicaid reform and
further strengthening of the health care law. Will he
do so? The answer to that question is at least as
mysterious as the identity of whatever candidate the
desperate G.O.P. finds to run against him. ‘

– Frank Rich in the NY Times.

Cartoon(s) of the Week – What we do with our money…

Dan Wasserman in the Boston Globe:

As we budget, let’s not forget what we’re wasting on the military…

– and –

Pat Oliphant of Universal Press Syndicate:

… of course, it’s the example we set for armies in the Middle East

– and –

Mr. Fish at Truthdig:

…then again, maybe peace and freedom will eventually triumph over military might.

But I doubt it.