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Member since: Tue Jan 6, 2004, 01:46 PM
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DA asks Wis. Supreme Court to reopen union lawsuit, citing justice’s conflict of interest


A prosecutor asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday to reopen his lawsuit challenging Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious collective bargaining law, contending a justice who voted to dismiss the suit earlier this year got free legal help from the firm defending the law.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne argued in filings with the court that it should vacate its earlier decision, reconsider the case and disqualify Justice Michael Gableman from participating if he won’t recuse himself.

Wisconsin’s ethics code prohibits state officials from accepting free gifts, and the judicial ethics code bars judges from accepting gifts from anyone who is likely to appear before them.

“Reasonable, well-informed people would reasonably question Justice Gableman’s ability to be impartial under the facts presented here,” Ozanne wrote. “Respectfully, any litigant in any case deserves to have his case heard by a judge who has not secretly received a valuable gift from the other side’s lawyer.”

Citing Gableman legal work, DA asks justices to reopen bargaining case
Earlier this month, the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich disclosed for the first time that Gableman did not have to pay for two years of legal work the firm did when it represented Gableman in an ethics case. Eric McLeod, the Michael Best attorney who performed the work, also served as an attorney for Walker's administration in the collective bargaining case.

Michael Moore: 75 Years Ago Today, the First Occupy


On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days. My uncle was one of them.

The workers couldn't take the abuse from the corporation any longer. Their working conditions, the slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime -- it was do as you're told or get tossed onto the curb.

So on the day before New Year's Eve, emboldened by the recent re-election of Franklin Roosevelt, they sat down on the job and refused to leave.

They began their Occupation in the dead of winter. GM cut off the heat and water to the buildings. The police tried to raid the factories several times, to no avail. Even the National Guard was called in.

But the workers held their ground, and after 44 days, the corporation gave in and recognized the UAW as the representative of the workers. It was a monumental historical moment as no other major company had ever been brought to its knees by their employees. Workers were given a raise to a dollar an hour -- and successful strikes and occupations spread like wildfire across the country. Finally, the working class would be able to do things like own their own homes, send their children to college, have time off and see a doctor without having to worry about paying. In Flint, Michigan, on this day in 1936, the middle class was born.

more at link

Occupy's Rose Parade float: 70-foot octopus of corporate greed


Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags.

The octopus, said activist Mark Lipman of Los Angeles, represents Wall Street's stranglehold on political, cultural and social life, with tentacles "that reach into your pocket to get your money and a tentacle to get your house."

"This is the real Rose Parade, and the other is the Rose Charade," said Pete Thottam, 40, an Occupy activist.

During the rehearsal Thursday, activists were assigned roles, such as working with an Occupy peacekeeping team or carrying the plastic pipes that will support two large replicas of the preamble to the Constitution. Each replica — one with the words "We the People," one with "We the Corporations" — requires dozens of people to hold up. Maneuvering the octopus "human float" took some practice in coordination. Protesters spun in circles, moving it through the park. Each tentacle will have several protesters lifting it.

video at link

Mitt Romney Used Poll To Determine His Abortion Stance In 1994 Campaign


When he challenged Ted Kennedy in the 1994 U.S. Senate race, Mitt Romney used polling data to determine that he would run as a pro-choice candidate while remaining personally pro-life, according to a new book by Boston journalist Ronald Scott.

The Washington Examiner revealed the moment in Scott's book:

According to Scott, Romney revealed that polling from Richard Wirthlin, Ronald Reagan's former pollster whom Romney had hired for the '94 campaign, showed it would be impossible for a pro-life candidate to win statewide office in Massachusetts. In light of that, Romney decided to run as a pro-choice candidate, pledging to support Roe v. Wade, while remaining personally pro-life.

Sen. Kennedy seized on his stance: "On the question of the choice issue, I have supported the Roe v. Wade. I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple choice."

video at link

In early book,Ron Paul criticized AIDS patients, minority rights and sexual harassment

In early book, Rep. Ron Paul criticized AIDS patients, minority rights and sexual harassment victims

Texas Rep. Ron Paul has distanced himself from a series of controversial newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s that bore his name and included inflammatory and racially charged language.

As the newsletters burst into view, first during his 2008 presidential bid and again in recent weeks after he climbed to the front of the Republican race in Iowa, Paul has blamed the writings on ghostwriters. He said he was not aware of the "bad stuff," as he described it.

But one of Paul's own books, published solely under his name, contains several passages that could be problematic as he attempts to push his libertarian message into the political mainstream.

In his 1987 manifesto "Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution after 200-Plus Years," Paul wrote that AIDS patients were victims of their own lifestyle, questioned the rights of minorities and argued that people who are sexually harassed at work should quit their jobs.

Ron Paul Claimed An AIDS Patient Is ‘A Victim Of His Own Lifestyle’ In 1987 Book
despite his denials, CNN’s Peter Hamby reports that Paul included many of the controversial ideas in his 1987 book, “Freedom Under Siege: The U.S. Constitution after 200-Plus Years.” That work — published under Paul’s name — attributed AIDS to the gay “lifestyle” and suggested that victims of sexual harassment should simply quit their jobs:


Ron Paul: Newsletters haven’t hurt me politically
“It never hurt me politically, and right now I think it is the same case, but people are desperate to find something,” the GOP presidential contender said during an in-studio interview at WHO Radio in Des Moines.

CEO stock options give companies tax windfall

Quirk in tax law means CEOs benefit and companies benefit. Uncle Sam? Not so much

The stock market’s rebound from the financial crisis three years ago has created a potential windfall for hundreds of executives who were granted unusually large packages of stock options shortly after the market collapsed.

Now, the corporations that gave those generous awards are beginning to benefit, too, in the form of tax savings.

Thanks to a quirk in tax law, companies can claim a tax deduction in future years that is much bigger than the value of the stock options when they were granted to executives. This tax break will deprive the federal government of tens of billions of dollars in revenue over the next decade. And it is one of the many obscure provisions buried in the tax code that together enable most American companies to pay far less than the top corporate tax rate of 35 percent — in some cases, virtually nothing even in very profitable years.

Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has tried for nearly a decade to eliminate the tax break, which affects the most commonly granted stock options. He has introduced a bill that would limit a company’s tax deduction for options to the same amount declared on its financial books. His proposal would also count options toward the maximum of $1 million that companies can deduct for an executive’s pay each year (outside of performance-based bonuses).

Mitt Romney's Marie Antoinette Charge 'Laughable' Coming From 'Quarter-Billion-Dollar

Mitt Romney's Marie Antoinette Charge 'Laughable' Coming From 'Quarter-Billion-Dollar Man': DNC

Barack Obama's re-election campaign and the allied Democratic National Committee swiftly responded to Mitt Romney's latest personal attack on the president with character-related attacks of their own.

In an interview with The Huffington Post's Jon Ward on Thursday, Romney charged the president with woeful insensitivity for suggesting that people were too pessimistic about economic conditions as is, considering where they could have been. It was, he asserted, a line reminiscent of one of history's haughtiest figures.

"When the president's characterization of our economy was, 'It could be worse,' it reminded me of Marie Antoinette: 'Let them eat cake,'" said Romney

"It is actually laughable that the 'Quarter-Billion-Dollar Man' would call President Obama out of touch -- and use the example of a French monarch to make the point," DNC spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said in a statement to The Huffington Post on Thursday evening. "This is the same guy who joked that he was 'unemployed,' offered a $10,000 bet as casually as one might buy a cup of coffee, and said 'corporations are people.' He's also the same person who, as a former corporate buyout specialist for Bain Capital, made his fortune firing thousands of workers, cutting benefits, bankrupting American companies and outsourcing jobs overseas. He's the one who won't release his tax returns -- most likely because we would all learn that he pays a lower tax rate than middle class wage-earners. Laughable."

Facing Tough Race, Brown Complains About Warren’s Treatment In the Media


Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is suddenly facing a very tough race against former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren.

And so Brown sat down for a friendly interview with the Boston Herald, a conservative paper, to complain about the coverage his likely rival is getting.

“And it would help if you guys would ask her some tough questions, too,” Brown commented. “Ask her how she would vote on things, and why. It’s all fluff, it’s all fluff. Give me a break.”

He also added: “I just think that if your’e gonna find out where people stand, you’ve gotta ask them tough questions like you guys ask me every single day.”

video at link

Somebody call the wahhhhmbulance:

Alan Grayson: Romney's Religion

Yesterday was a federal holiday honoring a religious celebration; if there is a War on Christmas, Christmas is winning. So this is as good a time as any to discuss Mitt Romney’s religion, and the separation of church and state.

One of the unwritten rules of American politics is that you should never express disappointment with the voters. They can express their disappointment with you, each time you’re on the ballot. But it’s strictly a one-way street.

Nevertheless, I was disappointed to read last Thursday that a Mason-Dixon poll found that 26% of all American voters would be “uncomfortable” with a Mormon as President. Last month, a Public Religion Research Institute poll put that figure at more than 40%. In June, a Quinnipiac poll put the figure at 36%. And a Gallup Poll in June found that 22% of all voters would not support any Presidential candidate who is an active Mormon.

The Constitution could not possibly be clearer on this point. The penultimate sentence of the Constitution states: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Note that this was in the original Constitution; the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights came later.

In fact, the Founding Fathers had very strong views on this subject. This is reflected in the inscription on Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone, which Jefferson wrote himself. The tombstone identifies Jefferson’s three proudest accomplishments – interestingly, his being President for eight years didn’t make the cut. Instead, Jefferson’s tombstone recognizes Jefferson as (1) the author of the Declaration of Independence, (2) founder of the University of Virginia, and (3) author of the “Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom.” That statute eliminated the Anglican Church as the official state religion of Virginia, and opened state government to all religions.

Perhaps this is one of those times when people need to be reminded of what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.” Bigotry is wrong, whether it’s directed against African-Americans, gays, Jews or Mormons.

Mitt Romney got this right, in a speech during his 2008 campaign. He said: “I am an American running for President. I do not define my candidacy by my religion. A person should not be elected because of his faith, nor should he be rejected because of his faith.”

Amen to that, Brother.

It’s not that I’m soft on Romney. When Newsweek asked me about Mitt Romney a couple of weeks ago, the only good thing that I could say about him is that “he would be less bad than some of the other candidates who are running for the Republican nomination.” Mark Shields said that Romney has “more positions than the Kama Sutra.” When I watch Romney, I see someone so conflicted that he can’t make up his mind whether to flip or flop. And I never got to see the Republican Presidential debate that I really wanted to see: Romney 2006 vs. Romney 2011.

But here’s the thing: we need a President who will find jobs for the 24 million Americans who can’t find full-time work. We need a President who will find health care for the 50 million Americans who can’t see a doctor when they are sick. We need a President who will find food for the 48 million Americans who need government assistance to feed themselves.

You find me a President like that, and I don’t care if she is a left-handed, gay, differently-abled, Latino Mormon. Or a Moslem, Buddhist, atheist, Protestant, Catholic or Jew.

I just want someone who can do the job.


Alan Grayson

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Proposed Guantanamo rule change sparks backlash


The new commander of the Guantanamo Bay prison is seeking to impose significant changes to communications allowed between lawyers and prisoners facing war- crimes charges at the U.S. base in Cuba, The Associated Press has learned.

Lawyers for the Sept. 11 prisoners received the draft order from the commander, Navy rear Adm. David Woods, on Dec. 22 and were told to sign an agreement to abide by the rules within 48 hours.

Instead, they sent a written response contending that requiring them to abide by such rules in order to see their clients was illegal.

"This requirement, as a precursor to engaging in client communications, interferes with the attorney-client relationship, compels counsel to violate ethical obligations, and therefore renders it impossible for counsel to effectively represent our clients," they wrote, appealing for more time to review the proposed order.

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