Everyday Erinyes #75

 Posted by at 12:19 pm  Politics
May 192017
 

(AKA Friday Furies – today)

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

After last week's focus on the Bradley Foundation (more fully, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation), I wanted to follow up a little, with articles that focus on specific things that the Foundation is doing, and articles that show that it is now getting attention from local media where it is getting most active.

Of course the Foundation is located in Milwaukee, WI, so it makes sense that Wisconsin media would be interested.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has zoomed in upon the Foundation's activities, including its ties to Scott Walker (gee, thanks, Bradley /S)

When Gov. Scott Walker laid out a plan in his state budget address urging people to take steps to avoid welfare, it mirrored a platform of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for greater personal responsibility and more stringent welfare requirements.

Documents hacked from the Bradley Foundation's computer server show the connection is not just philosophical — it's financial….

The foundation even awarded a $100,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to underwrite the commission itself — an unusual, if not unique, step in government. Neither the source of the commission's money nor the foundation's stake in the outcome was disclosed. The state spent about $62,000 of the grant before making its recommendation to the governor.

This excellent piece of reporting follows the money to show how deep the Bradley Foundation's tentacles go, and how they spread out into multiple areas of Winsoncin government.  Or maybe we should say "Fitzwalkerstan" government.  Personally, I think it's a pity Scotty didn't take a post with the Trump Administration before now, so that he could be taken down with it.  But, if he was too cunning to do so before, he's definitely too cunning to do so now.  Sad.

The Journal Sentinel is very much on the whole story; there are two other articles just this week on the Foundation.  One focuses on its funding of groups opposing climate regulation, and the other includes an interview with Marcus S. Owens, who ran the IRS's tax-exempt organizations division during the 1990's; he shows how closely they are skating to the exempt-non exempt line, and indeed going over it.

Other Wisconsin media are also discussing the Foundation, including the Wisconsin Independent and Urban Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, it has comne to the attention of Colorado Politics that the Bradley Foundation is putting a lot of money into Colorado, with a focus on union-busting.  Citing the CMD report, the article says:

Bradley has given the Colorado-based Independence Institute $1.45 million between 2004-2016, the documents indicate, including multiple grants some years. With the assistance of the Independence Institute, the right-wing Douglas County school board enacted a series of measures, including countywide school vouchers for private and religious schools (later struck down by the courts), plus an end to collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and automatic dues deductions for teachers unions. In 2013, the battle resulted in a high-dollar school board race where unions and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group spent heavily.

Bradley has been a big funder of this agenda. In 2015, Bradley gave a grant of $100,000 to Independence Institute for “aggressive education reform,” which Bradley says included “neutralizing the power of Colorado’s teachers’ unions by defunding them at the local school district level” (Independence Institute, Grant Proposal Record, 11/10/15).

The Independence Institute's response:

It’s no secret that the Independence Institute, the Denver-based libertarian-leaning think tank, takes on unions at every turn, and it depends on anonymous donors to do it.

“We never talk about our donors,” Independence Institute president and CEO Jon Caldara said in an e-mail. “But if Bradley gave us that much money to fight unions, I’d be living on some small island with that cash right now instead."

Oh my.  Well, it certainly is refreshing for a right wing/Libertarian operative admit he is an embezzler, even if only at heart.

Over in the State of Washington, The Stand ("News About Working People Standing Together in Washington State") also picked up the informmation about union-busting.

In Washington state, the Bradley Foundation granted $1.5 million over three years to the Freedom Foundation with the purpose of “defund[ing] Big Labor,” because “Washington State’s liberal labor laws have long allowed it to be a net exporter of union dollars to other parts of the country,” according to proposals regarding the grant.

Examples of the Freedom Foundation’s anti-union activities in Washington include canvassing, mailing, and phone banking union members to get them to opt out of their unions. They also hired a Santa Claus to leaflet state workers as they walked in and out of their workplace, encouraging them to stop paying full union dues.

The Stand also noted that, besides Wisconsin, Colorado, and Washington, the two states the Foundation targets most aggressively are North Carolina and Oregon.

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO said:

We’re not going to let the Bradley Foundation, the Freedom Foundation, or the other groups they fund get us down. More than ever, working people are coming together to raise wages, protect workers’ rights, and expand the right to organize in our state. We will continue to spotlight and expose the negative, destabilizing outside pressure from anti-union groups on state and local governments. We must ensure Washington politics put the priorities of Washington’s working families first.

Dear Furies, fighting this thing is like fighting the nine-headed Lernean Hydra, which grew two new heads every time one was cut off, at least until the immortal head in the middle was found.  Perhaps you need to enlist Heracles to deal with this – thing.  One version of the myth says that cauterizing the necks with a torch prevented their regeneration; if you are too busy to hold the torches, perhaps Iolaos, who originally served that function, would come along.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4053330

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Nov 252015
 

Hmmmmmmmmmmm . . . it was an ordinary day with nothing untoward happening.  Something must be wrong! Even the weather was great and no sibling rivalries from the feline side of the family!  I'll celebrate while I can!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:42 (average 4:41). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Daily Kos  While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his "Outstanding Contributions to Society." 

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay: 

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as 'Honest Mistakes' 

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America's greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent. The Heritage Foundation attempts to rationalize, saying "someone who simply has an accident by being slightly careless can hardly be said to have acted with a 'guilty mind.'" 

One must wonder, then, what extremes of evil, in the minds of conservatives, led to criminal charges against people apparently aware of their actions: the Ohio woman who took coins from a fountain to buy food; the California man who broke into a church kitchen to find something to eat; and the 90-year-old Florida activist who boldly tried to feed the homeless

Of course, even without the explicit protection of Congress, CEOs are rarely charged for their crimes. Not a single Wall Street executive faced prosecution for the fraud-ridden 2008 financial crisis. 

Click through for 4 more signs of a decaying society.  These bring to mind scenes in Detroit where water and sanitation was cut off to thousands because they couldn't pay for water etc, bills usually being a couple hundred dollars.  But some golf courses etc owned and used by the wealthy, with arrears in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, had no water cut offs.  It isn't hard to see who has their priorities screwed up.

Politicususa — Now, it appears that Fox News, the religious right, and conservative pundits have another “war on Christmas” enemy to add to their growing list of atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Wiccans, Heathens, and Muslims who they say hate Christmas. The newest combatant joining the fake war on Christmas went beyond opposing saying Merry Christmas or protesting against Christian Christmas displays on government property and actually assailed the holiday celebration as a farce; likely because he is the supreme leader of the Catholic Church and not involved in conservative America’s silly Christmas outrage.

Pope On War

During a Mass at Casa Santa Maria, Pope Francis quietly committed one of the most heinous sins to American conservatives and religious right fanatics. There have been a world of things this “progressive” Pope has said to incite Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals to abject anger and outrage, and each and every time it is because he talks like the Christian bible’s humanitarian Jesus. This latest incident is no different and is another signal that on a couple of important issues, Francis is a progressive pope; and an honest-to-dog humanitarian.

Click through for the rest.  I can hear Bill O'Reilly now, totally apoplectic, screaming that the Pope has no idea what he's talking about!  I am not a catholic, but I can definitely get behind him on some issues, and this is one.  I have felt for years that Christmas is about excessive and conspicuous consumption.  The real Christmas comes every day wrapped in plain, unadorned paper.  It is the extended hand to refugees, a kind word, volunteering in a soup kitchen or a food bank so others might have food, holding the hand of someone who is afraid, and many more.

Talking Points Memo — Writing for the 7th Circuit majority, Judge Richard Posner called the contention that the law would protect women's health "nonexistent." He said the law would put more women in danger by increasing the waiting times for abortions, which could push some procedures into the second trimester.

"What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women's health — and the abridgement challenged in this case would actually endanger women's health," he wrote.

He also said that a woman who experiences complications from an abortion will go to the nearest hospital, which will treat her regardless of whether her abortion doctor has admitting privileges there.

Click through to read the rest.  Of course the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a Texas case come spring which will affect all states.

My Universe h/t John Gray, Care2

At least this young lady got the kitten's bumb and not claws as was my misfortune when I was the trampoline 7 yearrs ago!

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Oct 182015
 

Well, it is Saturday night and all through the house not a creature is stirring, not even the cats!  That sounds like a somewhat familiar strain! Oh, I know . . . I did a bit of Christmas shopping today and it is rubbing off in my prose.  I hope you are having a great weekend.

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:53 (average 4:56). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes 

Huffington Post — For the past four years, Texas oil billionaire and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens has been suing the Liberal government in Ontario under NAFTA, arguing he has been the victim of "unfair" backroom deals involving the province’s green energy program.

A NAFTA tribunal is expected to rule on Pickens’ $700-million lawsuit this month,The New York Times reported Friday, describing the dispute as the 87-year-old tycoon’s “last big battle.” [emphasis mine]

There is another law suit by Lone Pine Resources, a Calgary company with corporate registration in Delaware, over the Québec government's moratorium on fracking within its jurisdiction.  Lone Pine wants to frack under the St Lawrence River and is suing Canada for $250 million under NAFTA.  Now Pickens!  As the article states, 70% of the law suits under NAFTA are against Canada.  And of course, now countries are looking to approve the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is pretty much NAFTA on steroids.  Anybody else see a problem with this.  It feels like good bye to national sovreignty over resources.

Think Progress — Two Wisconsin state lawmakers, Rep. Jesse Kremer (R) and Sen. Stephen Nass (R), have introduced legislation that would prohibit schools from accommodating transgender students who wish to use restroom and changing room facilities that match their gender. It would also empower anyone who notices a school respecting a transgender student as such to file a complaint and win damages against that school.

Read the article to get the full flavour of this Republican bigotry.

Raw Story — After interviewing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Friday, Real Time host Bill Maher explained how Republicans misunderstand Sanders almost totally.

“He’s the one who makes their heads explode when he talks,” Maher said …

Think Progress — On Thursday morning, Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Governor John Kasich will release a tax and spending plan that would give big boosts to the rich and the wealthy with severe cuts for everyone else.  

He would lower the top income tax rate paid by the richest from its current level of 39.6 percent to 28 percent, reducing it by nearly a third. While the campaign hasn’t released full details, nor has an analysis been done on his plan, a proposal from fellow Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush that would lower the top rate to the same level found that it would increase the incomes of the 1 percent by more than 11 percent.

And Rachel Maddow thought Kasich might be a Republican she could tolerate if she had to?  Following Kasich down into his rabbit hole might call into question anybody's sanity!  Could Kasich be anymore Republican?

My Universe — h/t Carol B & Ted W (Care2)

So much for the GREAT ESCAPE!!!!!

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