Posts Tagged ‘Wisconsin’

An open letter to liberals—and liberals who call themselves progressives.

When the West Coast map lit up brilliantly, beautifully blue on Nov. 4, 2008, pushing Barack Obama over 270 electoral votes, millions of us experienced a wave of political euphoria the likes of which we never imagined we’d live to feel.

Especially giddy were those of us old enough to remember another, bleaker November night in 1980, when a Hollywood second-stringer named Ronald Reagan swept into the White House, ushering in decades of right-wing policies that carried us into wars; greased the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and working poor; empowered a Christian fundamentalist, social conservative revival that threatened to turn the entire country into Dayton, Tenn., circa 1925; and validated a Lee Atwater-Karl Rove politics of the Big Lie and personal destruction that transformed “liberal” into a synonym for weak and unpatriotic—even, paradoxically, to many who tightly embraced liberal programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Oh, we got  jazzed about Bill Clinton and Al Gore in ’92. But Clinton’s centrism—many feel he governed as a Republican—his genuine personal failings and the relentlessly witch-hunting Right would drain much of the promise from his presidency and leave many liberals disappointed.  With the Supreme Court’s election of George W. Bush in 2000, and the 9/11 attacks, liberal Democrats became more cowed than ever.

But with the Obama ascendancy—after eight endless, disastrous years of Bush-Cheney and three decades of Reaganism—it was our turn. A revival. The dawn of a new liberal/progressive era.

Or was it? Many liberals are driven to distraction by President Obama’s almost obsessive desire to rise above the fray, to be the adult in the room, to reach consensus. We’re pissed because he’s too cozy with Wall Street; we’re pissed about the Bush Tax Cut extension; we’re pissed about the lack of a public option in the Health care bill; we’re pissed about Afghanistan, and we’re pissed about Gitmo and Bradley Manning. We’re pissed that he didn’t do more to plug up the BP leak. We’re pissed that he hasn’t done more to back unions in the Midwest. And in the Mideast, we’re either pissed that Obama didn’t intervene quickly enough to help the Libyan opposition—or we’re pissed that he intervened at all.

Now we’re preparing to be pissed—with good reason, perhaps—that our “middle way” POTUS won’t stand up to the Right and its resolve to destroy Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and all other remnants of the New Deal—and transform the USA into Kochistan.

Personally I agree with some, though not all, of the above. I remain a strong supporter of the President; perhaps my innate realism/pessimism kept me from expecting—and fantasizing—too much. Maybe President Obama hasn’t been a liberal messiah. But he has been an enlightened leader who has accomplished more legislatively than any President since Lyndon Johnson. This while dealing with a dysfunctional Senate, a rightist-rigged Supreme Court and a conservative propaganda juggernaut that has a frightening percentage of the electorate convinced that he’s un-American—or not American, and therefore not legitimate, at all.

(For more on POTUS’ accomplishments , check out http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com.)

How many of us would trade Obama for the deepest, darkest days of Bush-Cheney. Or a return to Reagan? Or, even more terrifying, any of the rightist ideologues now driving the Republican Party, zealots against whom Reagan himself might well lose a GOP Primary.

Why are we saddled with these Koch-and-corporate backed Teabagging extremists? Why are wingnuts like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann given any legitimacy? Why do we see a GOP House trying to eviscerate women’s reproductive rights; why do we see right-wing governors like Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Rick Snyder Paul LePage and John Kasich wage war on workers, teachers, firefighters and the middle class, while big business and the wealthy get fatter and fatter? Why do we hear about rolling back child labor laws? Why the talk bout “shared sacrifice”—that is for all but the richest Americans, the ones who can afford it? Why are we threatened with the destruction of social safety nets we foolishly took for granted—and for which many of us have paid for many years?

Well, one huge reason was the “enthusiasm gap” in the 2010 midterms. When millions of Democrats and other moderates-to-liberals said “Meh”  and stayed home, while fired up Teabaggers and righty extremists turned out in droves—along with independents who fell for the bullshit they heard on Fox News, and the lies in Koch-Chamber of Commerce-Rove-funded attack ads.

Whatever the level of one’s disappointment with Obama, the experience of 2010 should be traumatizing enough for millions of stay-at-homes not to make the same mistake again. Especially while the GOP is using the “voter fraud” myth to disenfranchise as many young and minority voters—Democratic leaning voters—as possible.

I still believe that in a second term, with a restored Congressional majority, Barack Obama can accomplish even more than he has in the past 26 months. And even if you remain disillusioned, even it depresses you to vote “against” the GOP instead of “for” Obama, as you did in ’08—get over it.

Think of the havoc a Pawlenty, Romney, a Rubio or whoever else can wreak. On social programs and women’s rights. On the middle class and workers. On the already corrupt Supreme Court. On international affairs.

If you think 2010 was bad….


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The irony is inescapable.

Today, the President and First Lady are using their bully pulpit to host a special White House conference on bullying—specifically the bullying of youths, in school and in cyberspace. It is a worthy effort. Bullying is an evil that etches deep emotional scars in the souls and psyches of young people. In some cases it has led to suicide.

But adults can be bullies too, of course. And some of them are state governors.  In the Midwest (for now) Scott Walker and other Republicans are using strong arm tactics and fear-mongering rhetoric to commandeer American democracy, curb individual rights and turn middle class Americans against each other, while giving tax cuts to the wealthy, giving corporations a pass—and giving the Koch Brothers the first erections they’ve experienced in years.

Walker’s shifty power play in Wisconsin is undoing decades of civil rights, taking the state with arguably the most Progressive legacy in America, and transforming it into a right-wing corporate utopia.

In Michigan, Rick Snyder is assuming bogus, unilateral emergency powers that would enable him to

1) disincorporate entire municipal governments,

2) dismiss elected officials with no replacement election to follow,

3) seize control of local civil services,

4) hand taxpayer money, services and powers to private, for-profit firms.

And they call Obama a dictator. But of course, that’s classic Rovian politics—accuse your enemy of the very thing you’re guilty of.

Meanwhile, down the street from the anti-bullying conference at 1600 Penssy. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is hosting Congressional Hearings on the threat of homegrown Islamic radicalization. This is the same Peter King who opposed the 9/11 Commission and justified IRA terrorism in its fight against—are you listening Dinesh D’Souza and Mike Huckabee—British imperialism.

I live in NYC, I breathed the smoky death-filled air that choked the city in the days after Sept. 11, 2001. I was lucky—I didn’t lose any family member, friend or casual acquaintance in the terrorist attack. But I was on fire with rage.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, with the pain still raw, I wondered how many of the people who castigated FDR for the Japanese-American internment camps –liberal and conservative alike– would, at this moment, be perfectly okay with rounding up every Muslim of Mideast heritage.

To be sure, it would be childishly naïve to ignore the fact that Muslim extremism is a grave threat to this country—precisely the kind of  naivete that has, in some quarters, given liberalism a bad name. Whether the reasons are political, religious, cultural or all of the above, the Islamic radicals hate us, and the worst among them will gladly wreak death on our innocent citizens.

I am also of the opinion that many moderate Muslims, the ones who say constantly that Islam is a “peaceful religion,” haven’t been loud enough in their condemnation of their faith’s fanatical fringe.

But in his rhetoric and actions, Peter King is a fear-mongerer. A bully. He’s singling out and stigmatizing an entire religion—some of whose believers died in 9/11. By conducting a public pageant, he’s fanning the flames of Islamophobia, playing to his conservative base—and perhaps stirring up more anti-American passion.

It’s ironic indeed that while King saves America from Muslim terror, an alleged white supremacist—and Army veteran—named Kevin William Harpham has been charged in a foiled bombing attempt along a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade route in Spokane, Wash. He is charged with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of knowingly possessing an improvised explosive device.

That device, a backpack bomb, could have killed scores of innocent men women and children— one official said of it, “They haven’t seen anything like this in this country. This was the worst device, and most intentional device, I’ve ever seen.”

Harpham’s alleged bombing attempt is a classic example of homegrown terror—only an alert public and skilled law enforcement prevented another Oklahoma City. Consciously or not, however, Americans don’t always associate these acts—and others, like the murder of abortion providers—with terrorism. In 21st century America, Terrorism = Muslim. And that meme is reinforced constantly on talk radio, the internet and Fox News.

And in the halls of Congress, where Peter King’s grandstanding will serve no practical purpose.

Except one. Like everything else the GOP does, King’s hearings are all about defeating President Obama in 2012. A shocking percentage of the Republican electorate believes that the President is either a foreigner or a Muslim or both. Keeping the words “Muslim,” “Islam” and “terrorist” in the national zeitgeist is as essential to the GOP effort as busting unions, driving up gasoline prices, and sabotaging our economic recovery.

So while Barack Obama makes a worthy stand against child and adolescent bullies, he’d best keep one eye on the grownups.

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Scott Walker‘s end-run to enact union-busting in Wisconsin is appalling, sad, and reprehensible. But he backed himself into a corner–how could he ever kneel before the Kochs if he relented or compromised with Democrats? How could he risk quashing the Far Right‘s wet dream of transforming the entire government into a private corporation?

So, he won his battle, as predicted. But it was the very definition of a Pyrrhic victory. Labor has been re-energized, hand in hand with the Democratic base. The public revulsion at Walker’s “gangster government” was evident in his–and the GOP‘s–shrinking poll numbers.

Now, the shifty, deceitful way Republicans finagled this bill will stand as classic political maneuvering, worthy of the most corrupt machine politics. It’s on video—those GOP legislators parroting “aye” as Democrat Peter Barca exhorted them not to break the state’s open meetings law, and as protesters shouted “Shame!

Ideological zealot Walker has aligned the GOP against the middle class and against workers. Most of us knew that already, but he and his partisans have carved it in stone.

At this point, I have no sympathy for any worker, any member of the shrinking middle class, who falls for the tricks in the GOP playbook—social wedge issues like guns and abortion, trashing President Obama’s patriotism, gas-price gouging, cynical phony-patriotic claptrap about how Republicans are the only ones who preserve American values. All the gimmicks they employ to fool the “small people” into voting against their own interests—and for the Right’s corporate agenda.

As for the rest of us, remember this day. In November 2012–and all the years thereafter

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Viewers of MSNBC’s The Ed Show last night, likely saw a clip taken from this past weekend’s rally for public workers in Trenton, N.J., in which a middle-aged woman complains about the sweet deal she believes public schoolteachers enjoy—supposedly at her tax-paying expense.

JERSEY WOMAN:  Why do I have to make sure they have fabulous benefits and they have tenure and they have a great pension?  But they don‘t care that it‘s costing me money to give them that.  And it‘s taken away from me.  I don‘t have a fabulous pension.  I don‘t have—I have to pay for my health care.  It‘s not right that I make sure they get it but they‘re not making sure I get it.”

Of course, the woman had it all wrong, courtesy, no doubt, of the corporate Republican disinformation machine—Fox News, her own governor, Chris Christie, and lazy mainstream media who regurgitate talking points. Demonizing public workers—especially these days, teachers—is a favorite sport of the corporate Right. It is a classic divide and conquer strategy—pit the “small people” against one another, inciting a sense of grievance, of what someone else has that’s “taken away from me.”

We saw that on extravagant display during the debate over Health Care Reform. Ordinary Americans—either acting out Americans For Progress talking points or genuinely misinformed—foaming at the mouth at Astroturf rallies and town hall meetings, furious that in attempting to bring health insurance to 30 or 40 million uninsured low-and middle-income Americans, the Kenyan Muslim Socialist Hitler was taking something—anything—away from them.

Now, to be fair (and balanced) to Jersey Woman, how many of us private sector types—Democrat, Republican or otherwise—ever plumbed the nuances of public employee contracts before the recent upheavals in the Midwest? With or without the disinformation campaign?

To help out, Ed Schultz consulted David Cay Johnston, now of Tax.com, who won the Pulitzer Prize as a New York Times tax reporter.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST, TAX.COM:  Well, it‘s real troubling that this kind of basic economics people don‘t understand it.  Everybody who has a job who gets any kind of fringe benefits, that‘s part of their compensation.  And once you have performed the services, the money is yours.  And how the money is divvied up, whether the workers have it direct from the paycheck or its paid directly on behalf of the employee, which is the language in the labor contracts in Wisconsin—on behalf of the employee—they earned the money.  It‘s not the taxpayers‘.  The taxpayers bought their services. “

On that same theme, Johnston has written: “All of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the state workers. The fact is that the state workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions. Since the Wisconsin government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact…”

Again, the JERSEY WOMAN’S ignorance is perfectly understandable. But it’s something everyone interested in preserving civil rights and a middle class must vigilantly make every effort to correct. We live in a country where half the population doesn’t believe in evolution, and 51 percent of Republicans think President Obama is not an American citizen.

In all too many instances, reality is something that happens to other people.

Spread the word. Make everyone you know, every relative, friend, neighbor and colleague, aware of the GOP’s “divide and conquer” class war—pitting public workers against private, folks making $55,000 a year against folks making $52,000 a year—while the billionaires get tax breaks.

And, above all, while big corporations are paying little or no income taxes, sheltering profits in overseas havens, like the Cayman Islands.  In a new book titled Treasure Islands, Nicholas Shaxson, calls tax havens a crucial tool, that helps “wealthy and powerful elites take the benefits from society without paying for them.”

According to Congressional budget officials, such tax loopholes cost the U.S. more than $100 billion a year. And the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimates that combined budget gaps the 50 states adds up to somewhere between $102 billion and $148 billion.

The Koch Brothers, the GOP, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Boehner and McConnell, Fox News—they don’t want us to know this stuff.

Instead of getting pissed off at our cops, firefighters, sanitation workers and teachers—hard-working “ordinary” Americans, neighbors and friends, even family, who work for us, direct your anger to the fat cats. And think hard about the staggering income inequality that has exploded over the past 30 years.

The Right loves to raise the bogeyman “redistribution of wealth.” The idea that under Democrats or Kenyan Socialist Muslims, God forbid, those with craploads of money might part with some of it—money they’d never miss—to create a more equitable society. Meanwhile, the past 30 years has seen redistribution of wealth on a scale never seen in this country. But the wealth’s been redistributed upward.

Scott Walker told Faux David Koch, “this is our moment.” But maybe this is OUR moment, one that won’t come again. A moment when we turn our wrath away from our neighbors and toward the people who are actually screwing us. The people who, if they had their way, would have us working twice as long for half as much and if you don’t like it, there’s the door. A moment to push for the wealthy to pay their fair share.

As former Labor Secretary and now U-C Berkeley Professor Robert Reich writes:

“The bottom 90 percent of Americans now earn, on average, only about $280 more per year than they did thirty years ago. That’s less than a 1 percent gain over more than a third of a century. Families are doing somewhat better but that’s only because so many families now have to rely on two incomes. But wait. The American economy is more than twice as large now as it was thirty years ago. So where did the money go? To the top. The richest 1 percent’s share of national has doubled — from around 9 percent in 1977 to over 20 percent now. The richest one-tenth of 1 percent’s share has tripled. The 150,000 households that comprise the top one-tenth of one percent now earn as much as the bottom 120 million put together.”

At the same time. Reich points out, tax rates for the wealthy—income taxes, capital gains taxes, inheritance taxes—have shrunk. The rest of us? Not so much.

“[The middle class] tax burden had grown. They were paying a bigger chunk of their incomes in payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes than decades before.

Then came the Great Recession — and with it, lower tax revenues. That means all levels of government are squeezed. Obviously, the middle class can’t pay more in taxes. But because the Democrats seem to lack the intestinal fortitude to suggest the obvious – that taxes need to be raised on the super rich — we’re left with a mess.

Teachers are being fired, Pell grants for the poor are being slashed, energy assistance for the needy is disappearing, other vital public services shriveling. Regulatory agencies don’t have the budgets to pay the people they need to enforce the law…

Reich’s answer is to create new tax brackets for the super-rich. Not the $250,000 class, or even the $500,000 class. But the real big money.

Redistribution of wealth? Hell yeah. But just enough to get us back some of what we’ve lost, through no fault of our own—except complacency.

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Thousands of peaceful demonstrators, protesting for their rights and freedom.

A high-handed, hard-line conservative governor, determined to thwart them.

Virulent hate-mongers portraying them as dangerous radicals.

A charismatic young Democratic president, chided for offering them only tepid public support.

Wisconsin, 2011? Yes.

But it’s also Alabama, 1963.

It’s merely stating the obvious that slavery, the Confederacy, Jim Crow, and other grim milestones in the long, tortured battle for racial justice in America—a battle that continues—are the great stain on this nation’s history, the deep, ugly scar marring our supremely self-satisfied self-image.

1963—now remembered chiefly for the trauma of Nov. 22—also marked a climax in the civil rights struggle. That was the year Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace took office with a fiery inaugural speech vowing “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.”

On June 11, 1963 Wallace blocked the door of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama in a symbolic attempt to prevent two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from enrolling at the all-white school. And only after President Kennedy called in the National Guard, did Wallace step aside.

It was that same year when Birmingham, Ala., city commissioner Bull Connor turned police dogs and fire hoses on peaceful protesters, sparking a violent outburst that, when shown on national TV, shocked a complacent nation into condemning segregation and other racist atrocities.

During the course of those protests, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested; while behind bars he penned his influential “Letter from Birmingham Jail, explaining the civil rights movement those who had branded him a dangerous radical.

It was  in the summer of ‘63 that President Kennedy finally stepped up—Dixiecrats in his party be damned—and appeared on national TV to personally ask Congress to end segregation, and safeguard black voting rights—arguing that the US could not effectively fight oppression abroad if so many Americans lacked basic freedoms at home.

The year in racial justice culminated in August’s great March on Washington, when 200,00 Americans of all races converged on the capital, pressing Congress to enact JFK’s Civil Rights bill;

And, punctuating it all, Dr. King’s soaring “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The civil rights movement wasn’t all about water fountains, lunch counters and public bathrooms. It was about economic opportunity and equality.

It was about human dignity.

Which brings us to 20111. To Madison and Indianapolis and Columbus and beyond. To the civil rights struggle of our time.

It’s a different kind of struggle. Viewed from a distance, it’s subtler—literally, not black and white. Not as dramatic or repugnant as the subjugation of a race. Of centuries of hate, of beatings and whippings and lynchings. Of a cancer still evident in some of the worst attacks and threats against our first African-American president.

But what’s happening in Madison has everything to do with economic opportunity and human dignity.

Even I won’t equate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with a rabidly racist firebrand like George Wallace. But if he’s smoother— more weasel than gamecock—Walker is blocking the door just the same. In a sense, the Walkers are even more dangerous, more palatable on the surface—and therefore more insidious.

Walker, Ohio’s John Kasich, and a whole team of far-right GOP governors work at the behest of extremist corporate masters, like Charles and David Koch, the inherited billionaires who would like to see a world in which they pay no taxes, yield to no regulation, pollute all they want, and squash workers, keep them in their place. No doubt they envy the salary structures in China and Malaysia.

If this sounds like a lot of lefty conspiracy theorizing, the world’s most famous prank phone call, in which Walker believed for 20 minutes that he was speaking to David Koch, removed all doubt, and exposed the deceit, the cynicism, the corruption behind Walker’s feigned concern for Wisconsin’s “fiscal crisis.”

The call even included a chilling echo of 1963—or 2011 in Tahrir Square—that Walker actually considered infiltrating the peaceful Madison protests with “troublemakers.” Ginning up conflict, and potentially, violence among his citizens—police, firemen, teachers, students, nurses. And their children.

Bull Connor would be proud.

Walker’s unyielding effort to break public employee unions is part of a wider strategy in a 30 Years War on organized labor and the American worker. Some of it is simple political calculus. Unions flow enormous financial and organizational support into the Democratic Party. The Supreme Court’s execrable Citizens United decision allows unlimited corporate and union contributions to political campaigns. Corporate America overwhelmingly supports Republicans. Unions back Democrats. Starve or eliminate organized labor and….

But at bottom, this is about people. Human beings. Blue-collar workers. White collar workers. The middle class and the poor. Labor unions forged many of th e workplace rights we all take for granted.  The 40-hour workweek, decent wages, workplace safety, child labor laws. Collective bargaining has given workers a voice against abuse and exploitation—emotional, physical sexual and economic.

But since the days of Ronald Reagan—who famously fired illegally striking air traffic controllers—Big Business and the Right Wing have lived their dream, systematically weakening and wiping out trade unions.

And, not coincidentally, it has been during these same three decades of tax cuts for the rich and trickle down economics, that income inequality, the chasm between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, has grown vaster than at any time in our history.

Now, as Katrina Vanden Heuvel writes in The Washington Post, comes the final offensive.

“With unions representing less than 7 percent of the private workforce, the target is public employee unions. With Republicans now in control of 21 states, hundreds of bills have been introduced seeking to cripple unions, if not ban them completely. States that are considering either weakening or removing entirely the ability of public-sector workers to bargain collectively include not only Wisconsin but also Ohio, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire and Oklahoma

Unions…have been central to the rise and fall of the American middle class. There is a strong correlation between states with right-to-work laws that outlaw majority rule on unionization, a worse quality of life for workers and a more hostile climate to any progressive cause. The average worker in a right-to-work state earns $5,333 less than his or her counterpart in a pro-worker state. Twenty-one percent more people lack health insurance in right-to-work states. In a country which, by some measures, suffers greater inequality than Egypt or Tunisia, the stakes in Wisconsin are high.”

Damn right they are. As you watch these protests in your living room, know that these are ordinary Americans, fighting peacefully for a future in which wage-earners have rights, in which the nation still has a vibrant middle class.

You will hear the Governors and other political puppets, Walker, and the loutish chief executive of my native state, Chris Christie, braying on Sunday talk shows about how workers and other middle class Americans must “share sacrifice” to cure our longterm fiscal woes—sacrifices in benefits, in the loss of collective bargaining rights—this in the wake of top-bracket and corporate tax cuts that add hundreds of billions to our deficit.

You will hear grotesquely overpaid mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh ($50 million last year) and Glenn Beck ($32 million) lie, along with right-wing bottom feeders like Michelle Malkin, calling the protesters subversives, radicals, thugs. Enemies of the state.

Don’t buy into their bullshit. These are your neighbors, your friends. To paraphrase a wingnut serial GOP senate candidate, they’re not thugs. They’re you.

And they are fighting for our lives. The Walkers and the Kochs thought they’d just cave. That labor is all but dead. Like George Wallace and Bull Connor, they couldn’t imagine they’d have the guts, the unity, to make a stand.

They were wrong. This is a class war. A civil war. A peaceful one, yes.

A war we must win by any means—save violence—necessary.

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Wouldn’t you just know it.

For more than two years, millions of us on the left–and elsewhere–have dreamed about the day when Sarah Palin‘s every inflammatory non sequitur, her every belch of racially tinged reactionary rhetoric smearing the Obamas, spreading lies about “death panels,” inciting Islamophobia; her every petty, whiney swipe over every slight, real and imagined–we have dreamed of a day when none of these things pollute a news cycle.

A day when, despite her insatiable lust for wealth and celebrity, despite her willing enablers in a media she calls “lamestream” but cannot live without (thank you, Gina Gershon, for your brilliant satire on this subject); despite her admitted mastery of social media—the snotty Tweets, the snarky, self-serving Facebook posts; we have longed for the day when, despite Palin’s entire self-promotional arsenal—attention is not paid.

Last year, I started a little Facebook group of my own—the American Society For A Palin-Free Media. Many others have launched similar efforts, most recently and prominently The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, who has declared a Palin moratorium in February.

As I said—wouldn’t you just know it.

Wouldn’t you know that the  one time, the only time we actually WANT to hear about Sarah Palin—that’s when she’s become an  “in other news” afterthought, if mentioned at all.

Why on earth would any non-wingnut crave Palin news? I refer, of course, to Emailgate, correspondence leaked this week from an unpublished tell-all by ex-Palin aide Frank Bailey.  Emails that confirm, in SarahPac‘s own words, what many Alaskan pols and press, ex-McCain staffers and a whole lot of other folks know, or at least suspect:

That behind that winking  hockey mom, God & Flag, America By Heart horseshit, Sarah Palin is a lazy, greedy, pathologically vindictive, lying swine.

Lipstick, or no lipstick.

To be sure, these emails have received coverage. But an explosion of national and international news—revolutions sweeping the Mideast, the civil rights struggle of our time spreading across the Midwest—has elbowed Palin off the stage.

For the past two years of her vulgar circus, we’ve wanted only one thing more than to see Palin STFU: And that’s for her to get her comeuppance, to see Mama Grizzly‘s smirking mask ripped off, to reveal the corrupt, schemer underneath.

Palin actually unmasked herself in the wake of the Tucson massacre, with her grotesquely insensitive and narcissistic “Blood Libel” video, followed closely by her earthshatteringly sophomoric and stupid “WTF” interview after President Obama’s State of the Union address.

But these emails—if they’re the real deal—are the smoking gun’. And under most any circumstances, they would have dragged across several news cycles—kept alive by Palin’s inevitable retribution and character assassination, which would only further vindicate Bailey in the face of apparently airtight documentary evidence.

But when we finally want to talk about Palin—her dark side—nobody much cares. And of course, that’s as it should be, given turbulent current events, real history unfolding before our eyes.

It took a few revolutions to give Sarah Palin the hook, to drag her off center stage.

And so that comeuppance may have to wait for awhile.

But it will come.

How’s that “pressy-sendy” thing workin’ for ya?

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This as an open letter to workers, wage-earners, and other middle class Americans who voted Republican in the 2010 Midterms:

Not the hardcore, ideological right-wingers, knee-jerk Obamaphobes, Christian theocrats and Palin-Beck-Limbaugh zealots and billionaire brothers who vote GOP under any circumstances.

I mean everyone else, Independents, even Democrats who made the conscious decision, the choice, to pull that “R” lever.

What swayed you?

Was it an irrational fear of short-term government spending ginned up in the name of legitimate long-term deficit and debt concerns?

Was it Fox News-style demagoguery, the use of hot-button words and phrases like “socialism,” “death panels,” “pulling the plug on grandma?”

Was it a wedge issue like abortion—or did someone tell you “Obama’s gonna take your guns away?”

Was it that favorite GOP talking point, used to block things like the 9/11 First Responders Bill and unemployment extensions—“we can’t charge the bill to our children and grandchildren?”

Or the cynical way conservative politicians wrap themselves in the flag? And denigrate President Obama’s patriotism?

Whatever your reasons for voting Republican, do you know you’ve been tricked, scammed, snookered, victims of the old “bait and switch?”

Do you know that you unwittingly authorized a class war—against yourselves?  And that under the ruse of “fiscal responsibility” Republicans, like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, would pursue a radical agenda designed to crush labor, and place your workplace rights and economic future in dire jeopardy? All to undermine the middle class, fatten the coffers of billionaires, cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans—and then “balance” their budgets on your aching backs?

This is not an admonishment, meant to shame you for voting GOP. Two years into the Obama administration, Americans on all sides of the spectrum remain fearful and frustrated. Scared for their homes, their futures, scared for their children.  And as the punditocracy endlessly informs us, “there’s a lot of anger out there.”

But we already know that. Despite record corporate profits and a 12,000 Dow Jones Industrial Average, Main Street is still struggling out of the Bush recession, in a jobless recovery— unemployment is at 9 percent. Optimists say it may drop to 8 percent by 2012—still far too high. The decline of U.S. manufacturing, outsourcing, globalization and automation, among other factors, suggest it may be years before the jobless rate reaches any acceptable level.

And of course, we are amid a foreclosure crisis.

Even in good times, it is normal for the President’s party to lose seats in a Midterm election. Midterms are also, typically, low-turnout affairs, often dominated by energized anti-incumbents.  Indeed, a hell of lot of normally Democratic voters stayed home-—liberals, disenchanted that Obama hasn’t been the transformational progressive hero they thought he’d be; young people, who usually skip Midterms, along with otherwise disillusioned Dems.

The result, in Obama’s own words, was “a shellacking.” On the national level, in Congress, but perhaps even more crucially in the states—like Wisconsin and Ohio—where Republicans gained governorships and large legislative majorities.

When you empowered those GOP majorities, you may have thought you were voting for Jobs, God, Mother and Country. What you’re getting, in Wisconsin and across the nation, is an ideological agenda, cloaked in the guise of “getting our fiscal house in order.” Corporate interests, like the Koch Brothers and those outsourcing apostles at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are trying to create a world without rules, a free market on steroids wherein Big Business can operate as it pleases.

It’s really just an extension of a three-decade assault against wage earners. Since 1980, middle and working class incomes have remained flat while the wealthiest have prospered like magnates of the Gilded Age. Trickle down Reaganomics has only geysered up.

Crushing labor—and the Democratic Party—is crucial to the GOP’s class war.  Politically, of course, unions offer essential support to Democrats, financial and organizational. Getting out the vote, registering new voters.

But on a personal level, organized labor has battled for most of the workplace rights we take for granted—whether or not we’re in unions—the 40-hour week, the minimum wage, workplace safety, grievance procedures, equality for women, family leave.

I’ve seen the difference. Early on, I worked at a non-union shop, and while I was fortunate to be treated well, some colleagues—hard-working employees—had a horrible time of it. Verbal abuse, sexual harassment,  fired on a whim, without cause—one with a dying spouse.

I have also worked under union protection—and years of labor-management negotiations yielded excellent working conditions.

Now, as cops, nurses, teachers and firefighters, your neighbors—perhaps even you—fight peaceably for their rights in the Midwest, GOP politicians and Fox News hacks are calling them agitators, thugs, dangerous un-American radicals.

It’s anti-worker rhetoric straight out of the 1920s, or even the late 19th century. And if we let them get away with it, that’s just where the Scott Walkers, the John Kasiches and the corporate interests they serve—like the Kochs—would take this country. To boost profits and grease shareholders, they would have the rest of us at their mercy, working for as little as they can get away with paying us, slashing or eliminating benefits.

Their utopia is a “my way or the highway” world where employees have no rights, no recourse.

Was this what you had in mind when you pulled that “R” lever, or checked that box or punched that chad? If so, congratulations.

If not, remember that elections have consequences—sometimes unintended consequences. And next time, remember what happens when you elect Republicans.

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