Saturday, February 19, 2011

Arizona Needs Protests, Too

(Desert Shell by Shane Rickman)
As we watch the continuing protests in Madison, Wisconsin, I'm thinking that we need the same kind of public uprising here in Arizona. On the surface, the issues look different: the Wisconsin protests are about the rights of union workers; Arizona is a "right to work" state that has already effectively killed unionization. But in reality, there are underlying issues in both (and many other) states that are a result of the republican mindset of putting corporate interests ahead of the well being of ordinary people.
There is one major difference: In Wisconsin, they're trying to kill unions; in Arizona, they're trying to kill actual innocent people:
As ThinkProgress has reported, Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) and the GOP-controlled state House have turned a blind eye to the plight of 98 Arizona patients in desperate need of organ transplants. Since Brewer enacted painful cuts to the state’s Medicaid program in October, two Arizonans unable to pay for the transplants they needed passed away. After months of appeals and protests, it appears Brewer has finally agreed to set aside a $151 million “uncompensated-care pool to pay health-care providers for ‘life-saving’ procedures, including transplants.”

However, state House Republicans remain vigilant in their anti-human life campaign. They are refusing to let measures to restore funding for organ transplants advance because, as the state House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jon Kavanagh (R) explained, “not enough lives would be saved to warrant restoring millions in budget cuts” for the transplants.

But as Brewer and the GOP-led legislature waffle over the value of human lives, two more people — including 23-year-old leukemia patient Courtney Parham — join the 98 others standing before the Brewer death panel. Because the state has so far refused to pay for her transplant, Courtney’s family “must raise somewhere between $400-$800 thousand dollars for a transplant, or their daughter will die.”

Remember that whole "of the people, by the people, for the people" thing? How can we consider ourselves a decent, democratic society if we are willing to sanction the killing of the weak in favor of protecting the profits of the wealthy? Is cutting the taxes of the rich and the corporations so important that we cannot afford to help the most vulnerable amongst us?
In the coming week or so, I'm hoping to engage as many people as I can to try to organize a protest at the Arizona state capitol, because I don't think that I'm the only one outraged by a government that chooses to callously kill innocent people. Anyone interested in joining me? My email address is in my profile.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Always Happy to See Boobies

A nice pair of Boobies for Friday.

And a minor rant: I paid my electric bill this morning, which is no big deal. I kinda like having electricity, for all the fairly obvious reasons. But their reciept email states "Thank you for choosing (company name)". Um...I didn't "choose" you, except in the sense that my other option would be to live without electricity. I live in a small apartment, so I really can't set up my own solar panels and wind generators. Maybe I'm a stickler for semantics, but words should matter. If you want to thank me for paying my bill, fine. It's not like I've got a lot of choices.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

100 Madisons

This post may ramble a bit, so feel free to skip reading it. But some of your comments lead me to believe you might agree.

There is a reason that I'm paying so much attention to the events in Madison Wisconsin. It's possibly the start of something larger. Not so much because of the actual union busting, but the many states who've decided to balance their budgets on the backs of working people. The anger captured by the "Tea Party" movement may have been corporately manipulated, but that underlying anger was real. We see the rich getting richer, while we are getting royally screwed. While I support progressive ideals, this isn't as much about "progress" as it is about stopping "regress", which is a better word for what we're experiencing. In Madison the workers are showing that they are tired of being the victim.

Just as Tunisia was a small revolution in a small country, ripples expand. Most Americans couldn't find Tunisia on the globe, and most Americans aren't union workers in Madison. But then it spread to Egypt. OK, everybody made the "walk like an Egyptian" jokes, but most have a vague idea about pyramids and the sphinx. They may not know that there is a country called "Bahrain" but they've heard of Iran. So revolts can spread, even if it's different people in different places.

Imagine, if you will, a workers uprising in Ohio. Then, protests in Pennsylvania. Missouri follows. Heck, even Arizona could have a good protest (just not in summer. it's too hot) around health care death panels and the prison industry immigration laws. How about the coal states? I'm deliberately not picking cities, because I have no clue which would be next. But I want the next "Madison" and then another, and then...

The part that feels weird is that I'm really not revolting against Obama. He's stuck with the rather unpleasant job of being the front man for a failing ideal. But the failures are hitting, and he's not going to be able to fix it anytime soon enough. Too bad; I think Obama is a well intentioned guy. It's the corporations who are steam rolling him and us. After the "Citizens United" decision, they own the system. Which is why we cut taxes for the rich and wages for the rest.

So I believe: the only way to fix it is one city, one state, one community at a time. We need 100 "Madisons" around our country. When your state tries to balance its budget your back, will you fight back?

Wisconsin Getting Even More Interesting

The Wisconsin protests are getting even more interesting. Today's crowd appears to be even larger than yesterdays, and now lawmakers are reacting:
The weather in Wisconsin is cold this time of year-- but the budget fight is only getting hotter. Following a walkout by the state Senate Democrats, depriving Republicans of the three-fifths majority needed to pass the budget and its controversial anti-public union provisions, the NBC affiliate in Madison now reports that sources say the Dems have left the state entirely.

This comes after the state Senate majority leader said that the State Patrol could be called in to round up the Dems. However, leaving for another state would presumably place the legislators beyond the state's jurisdiction. (Fun fact: The state Senate leader and the Assembly Speaker are brothers -- and the new head of the State Patrol is their father.)

Communications director Graeme Zielinski was unable to confirm anything. "I know the whereabouts of not a single Democratic senator," said Zielinski. "I do not know what latitude they're on, or know what longitude they're on. I assume they're in this hemisphere, I'll say that."

It's a great tactic, but it remains to be seen if it's enough to get Gov. Walker to withdraw his draconian proposals.

WI Gov. Walker Ginned Up Budget Shortfall To Undercut Worker Rights

Paul Ryan On WI Protests:
'Cairo Has Moved To Madison'

I'm really hoping that this works in Wisconsin, because we really could use this type of direct action here in Arizona. And in so many other states. Let 100 other "Madisons" blossom across America.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More From Madison

Some more reports:

Protests Escalate Over WI Gov's Plan To Roll Back Union Rights

Wisconsin Gov. Walker Reiterates That The ‘National Guard’ Will Be Used Against A Worker ‘Walk-Off’

Wisconsin's Attack on Public Employees Could Lead to a Nationwide Campaign

Tens of Thousands Protest Move by Wisconsin's Governor to Destroy Public Sector Unions

We need 100 more Madisons' around this country. Really.

Protests in Madison

Well, this could get interesting. In Wisconsin, workers are standing up for their rights. Faced with draconian cuts and old fashioned union busting by governor Scott Walker (R-of course), 12,000 rallied in Madison.

In one of the largest protests in recent memory, thousands of angry union supporters gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday to oppose a bill by Gov. Scott Walker that would greatly weaken organized labor in Wisconsin.

More than 12,000 protesters gathered in two separate rallies outside the Capitol, many of them carrying signs and chanting "Recall Walker" or "Kill this bill." Thousands more crowded inside the rotunda and watched TV monitors broadcasting a public hearing on the governor's proposal.

Gov. Walker had previously threatened to call out the National Guard in the event of "unrest", but that doesn't appear to have happened yet.
Republican Governors around the country are using the "financial crisis" as an excuse to attack public workers benefits, attempting to balance budgets on the backs of the middle class while saving tax cuts for the rich.

Cheers erupted every time someone in the hearing voiced opposition to the governor's bill, aimed at erasing a $137 million deficit in the current budget. Unveiled Friday, Walker's plan would remove collective bargaining rights for most of the 175,000 state and local government employees.

On Tuesday, members of the firefighters union received a loud ovation from the crowd outside the Capitol as they marched through the rally, holding signs displaying solidarity with their fellow state and local employees.

Charles Franklin, UW-Madison political science professor, said Tuesday that the opposition that has erupted over Walker's proposals are more severe than he has seen in 19 years of following politics in Wisconsin.

It may not be Tahrir square, but it's good to see real Americans standing up for real American values.

Apparently, the Governor has decided to skip town to make an important appearance on Faux News (no link from me). And he's scheduled next weeks "State of the State" address on private business property to avoid potential protest at the capitol. More:

And also, significant cuts don't have to be made, if you'd stop giving tax breaks to every business like it's a goddamn fire sale at the toy store, using state pension funds to finance tax cuts for rich people, and gambling that economic growth would always continue because there isn't a third grader in this country couldn't have told you that was a bad bet. God, I hate when people ascribe to natural inevitability the results of their acting like morons for years.

Lots more at the link. Also, go to Blue Cheddar and Caffeinated Politics for more.
I really hope that Madison starts a trend. It really is time to stand up against the repubs and their corporate masters for the rights of working Americans. Also, good Lord people are morons. The schools have been shut down in Madison and protests are escalating in the state capital.
Added: A video of the demonstration is available here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011