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Protestor Bares Slightly More Than His “Soul” — At the White House!

By Robert Preston –A protestor set a new high bar for personal commitment to an issue at the White House gates — when he was arrested for –– among other things — stripping down to his birthday suit in  what can only be described as the first “au natural” protest at the White House gates in some time.

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Whether the protestor, identified as one Michel Bechard, did it for the  simple shock value — or just as a slightly more news-worthy way of calling attention to his “issue du jour” is not, of course, known yet.  Nor has it been determined that the physical assets of the protesting individual were note-worthy to such a degree that it added “tour de force” value to his protest — but  for certain no one is questioning his commitment and “verve” in the immediate aftermath of his arrest.

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Police arrested the man, who stripped down and then fought with officers after initially being denied access to the White House grounds.  The Secret Service identified the man — and said he was charged with assault and indecent exposure — although only the man himself seemed to have suffered scrapes and bruises in the tussle over admission to the White House grounds.  Neither the Secret Service, the White House, the police, nor the media bothered — apparently — to find out what the man was so fervently protesting that he felt compelled to disrobe to further emphasize the point he was trying to make.

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On a side note, Reuters had a brief report on the event, stating that “Officers subdued the man, covered him and sent to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries suffered in the “tussle”.  A reporter for the Daily Caller website, who was entering the White House through the same checkpoint, said the man had told the Secret Service officers that he had a 3pm appointment with President Barack Obama and presented his identification.  The reporter said the ID was rejected because it was from a foreign country and the man began undressing while insisting that he had to keep his appointment with Obama.

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The President apparently had no comment on the aforementioned, presumed,  3pm appointment with the “nudie” protestor.  Sometimes it takes a lot of hard work, time, and devotion to draw attention to the issues of import to oneself — but in this case — whether or not the issue was heard — Michel Bechard must certainly be declared a success when it comes to drawing attention to at least some parts of the “presentation”!

 

Court Rules South Carolina Governor — Nikki Haley — Violated Constitutional Rights of “Occupy Columbia” Protestors!

By Peter Le Force — Tea Party crazies are famous for saying they just want to “live by the constitution”,  “uphold the constitution”,  and most of all –– “restore the constitution”.  In reality, what they mean is that the just want to “have things their way” — and everything else be damned — including the constitution.

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Point in case, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Lousiana,  historically and hysterically tried to subvert the Constitution when MoveOn opposed and exposed his “deadly and pathetic” refusal to expand Medicaid, which would have provided — for the first and only time — to hundreds of thousands of poor and working poor people in his state. That banal abuse of good governance backfired on Jindal when a court sided with MoveOn and Jindal had to face political consequences of not just being a murderer, but a sourpuss Governor who can’t take criticism.

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And another Tea Party Republican governor has just been “busted”.  A federal appeals court ruled last Monday that South Carolina’s own Governor Nikki Haley can be sued for violating the civil rights of Occupy Columbia protesters who she had removed from the Statehouse grounds and arrested back in 2011.

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The Columbia protesters were annoying Mrs. Haley, so she issued an order for the Bureau of Protective Services in South Carolina to arrest the Occupy members at their camp sight who were on Statehouse property past 6p.m.  The officers, on direct orders from Haley, bound the protestors with zip ties on their wrists, arrested them and subsequently took them to Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

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Circuit Judge Stephanie D Thacker declared in her written decision that:

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“In light of the case law from this circuit and from the Supreme Court, it was clearly established on November 16, 2011, that arresting Occupy Columbia for protesting on State House grounds after 6:00 p.m. was a First Amendment violation.” 

“It is not disputed that South Carolina and its state officials could have restricted the time when the State House grounds are open to the public with a valid time, place, and manner restriction. However, as explained above, at the time of Occupy Columbia’s arrest, no such restrictions existed.”

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The judge ruled against Governor Haley —  because the court found that civil rights violations occurred — in that there was no regulation in place preventing camping on the Statehouse grounds.  In other words, there was no law on the books saying what protestors could do and not do on the Statehouse grounds.  Haley just didn’t like them and their opinions, so she did what any good, Constitution-loving Tea party Republican would do — and had them arrested.
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Haley politicized her interactions with the Occupy Columbia protestors right from the start, dissing and criticizing the gathered protestor —  saying:

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“We go by the rule of law. We are not California, we are not New York, we are South Carolina and we believe in the respect of property and citizens.”

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But the courts determined otherwise.  There was no law on the books, and the court determined that. Haley, not surprisingly, makes up her own rules when it benefits her. Typical Republican — typical Tea Party Republican, at least.  And as far as “respect of property and citizens” — I guess Nikki Haley respects the citizens — until she has them arrested, blatantly preempting their civil liberties — because she and her clown car Tea Party “crazies” don’t think people disagreeing with them is permitted by the Constitution.

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We encourage the Occupiers who were arrested, to sue the Governor, and hammer her administration into submission. She broke the law, oh Constitutional lover that she is — and she violated your civil liberties. Stand up to her and bully tactics, and “whack-a-mole” her back under her rock.  And maybe — make her resign.

Voter ID Law Champion — Asa Hutchinson — Snared In Voter ID Check!

By Thurmond Leopold –– Asa Hutchinson, GOP 2014 candidate for Arkansas Governor, was turned away from the polling booth on Tuesday for lack of a Photo ID, violating a strict Arkansas “Voter ID Law” that he supported.  Hutchinson was already in line waiting vote when he realized that he did not have his photo ID in his possession.  He nevertheless progressed to the front of the line and attempted to vote — but was turned away — in that the Arkansas vote ID law requires that every voter present his/her voter photo ID to prove that they are who they say they are — past and present Congress people not excluded.

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Fortunately for the privileged Mr. Hutchinson, however, all he had to do was all his office on his cell phone and request that one of his tax payer financed staff members play “gopher” — and get his photo ID from his office and run it down to the polling station.  I wonder how many other people across the country attempting to vote on Tuesday were turned away for lack of a photo ID — and simply called their offices and had an employee (paid for by the American tax-payers) jump up and run the photo ID down to them at the voting booth.  I’m guessing not many.  And most of them that were turned away probably didn’t even have a photo ID to run and get — and were turned away — even if, prior to passage of this most recent voter photo ID law they had voted at that polling station since the Civil War.

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Let’s face it — vote ID laws are really “voter suppression” laws which take the old “literacy tests”, property requirements, and other Jim Crow laws and modernize them under the guise of protecting the country from virtually non-existent voter fraud.  It’s simply another attempt by a tired, old, out of touch political party trying to minimize the negative effect of years of disparaging women, minority, and poorer voters and catering almost exclusively to the rich — such that suddenly Republicans find themselves appealing to an ever smaller number of wealthy, special interest groups that it is harder and harder for them to have a chance to sin national elections.

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Republicans have ceased to believe in or support the basic principles and values of America — since about the time Newt Gingrich came to power in the 1990’s –– and have become fanatically right wing and totalitarian in mindset since the wealthy and politically active got together, invented, funded, and championed the Tea Party crazies as an anti-government “phony grassroots movement” that hated the demise of the Bush/Cheney neo-con political agenda and couldn’t stand that thought of a black man — an “other” — in the heretofore ever so white — “White House.”

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When are Americans going to wise up and quit electing these “knuckle-dragging troglodytes” to public office and then watch them make a total “cluster” and debauchery of the attempts at governance in the United States Congress and half the state legislatures across the country.  They have — and continue to — do irreparable harm to our country’s political system — and thus its future —  and to the prospects for an on-going, healthy, thriving democracy in this country.

 

Not Much Market For Tea Party Candidates in Republican Primaries!

By Tony Petramonico — Mainstream Republicans had a good day around the United States on Tuesday — soundly defeating their Tea Party challengers in GOP primaries around the country.  Potentially problematic for Republicans, though, is that they way the mainstreamers beat the Tea Party candidates.  In many cases the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business group alliances expressed their frustration with Tea Party inspired politics and policies ideas by lining up soundly behind mainstreamers and rather generously opening their wallets (and PACs, one would presume), to put their money where there interests were.

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In many cases mainstream Republicans initially deployed classic and proven incumbent campaign strategies — getting out early –– “firstest with the mostest” — in terms of money raised — and spent generously early on to “define”, limit, and box in their Tea Party challengers.  Another strategy deployed, however — which would have made Bill Clinton proud — was they “triangulated” their Tea Party opponents.  In other words,  they adopted the philosophies and ideas of their Tea Party rivals that seemed to resonate the most with the right wing  base of the party.  Like Clinton, they stole the ideas of the Tea Partiers and that left very little political turf for Tea Partiers to differentiate themselves from the incumbents — and   thus having neutralized the “outsider” appeal of the Tea Party candidates — were able — with the help of significant money from the Chamber and other mainstream GOP and business interests — to runs campaigns once again that benefited from the perks and trappings of incumbency.

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It has been a necessary political strategy for Republican Presidential candidates for years   — to tact way to the right  in the primaries in order to get the GOP nomination — and then tact back to the center in order to have a chance in the general election.  In the 2012 Presidential election, however, Mitt Romney had to tact so far to the right that he either found it difficult to tact smoothly back to the center for the general election without raising the “ire” and cat-calls for the GOP base — that he got trapped into seeming too far right for some — and too muddled and unsubstantial and “flip-floppy” to others to be taken seriously — or even trusted.

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And now the predicament for Republican candidates in November may turn out to be that the Mitt Romney effect may have “trickled down” into the Congressional and gubernatorial races.  In triangulating away the potent right wing grass roots ideas, positions, and policies — that is to say, co-opting them — the GOP candidates may have painted themselves into a “right-wing corner” that Democrats will have a “hay day” with in the general elections. It shall be interesting to see!

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We will be doing a more in-depth race by race breakdown and analysis a little later.

Maybe It’s American Fastfood Workers Who Will Save American Business — and Democracy — In the End!

By Bifford Caulfied — It was  heartening to see Fast Food workers and their allies across the United States out protesting for a $15 an hour minimum wage. There were even solidarity protests in numerous countries a round the world. And let’s face it, the middle class in America have never had a chance against big business unless they unionized and fought together with the  threat to business to bring their money making efforts to a halt if they did not concede on some quality of life — and in some cases — survival issues.

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Henry Ford had his short-comings like any other person at the head of an enormous money making empire — but he got economics 101 down cold:  the idea that if you want to create a viable business or industry — you must have customers  who are ready, willing and able to buy the products you make. The operative word is “able”.  Henry Ford got the “able” part.  Henry Ford at an early point in his creation of the modern automobile business model, made the realization that the only way a “good” business could turn into a “great” business, was that over time  his workers had to make enough money to be able to afford to buy a car. And part of the model began — or at least was dramatically influenced by Lee Iacoca’s “56-for-56” marketing campaign launched in Ford’s Philadelphia region in 1956.  You pay $56 dollars down and $56 dollars a month and you could buy a Ford in 1956.  That was essentially the beginning of the finance a car business that spread car ownership in America to anyone who basically had a job, starting with Ford Motors  employees.

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There was a time in America when good corporate executive compensation was around 50 times what the average skilled assembly line worker made. But Boards of Directors and corporate executives over time came up with the wild idea that if they good get executive compensation –– base pay, stock options, and bonuses — somehow tied to quarterly sales and earnings results — they could not only increase their pay — they could spike it into the stratosphere, and — not only get wealthy, but could get “super” rich.   Over time that connection between quarterly performance reports and the concomitant income statements and overall corporate compensation resulted in a somewhat myopic view of the operation of major American corporations.  Because compensation for executives was ever more closely tied to quarterly profits, the focus on efficiency and profitability in American firms became ever more riveted on short-terms results. The focus on short-terms results caused company executives to begin to make decisions that offered short term benefits in terms of profits — with sometimes long-term consequences in the form of corner-cutting, or  ignoring manufacturing problems that might temporarily drive down quarterly profits to fix — but which became public relations and business threatening in the long-term.

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Research into long-term improvements in fuel efficiency were sacrificed for profits now.  Short-cuts in quality of construction were sacrificed on the altar of bigger short-term profits.  Plans for shorter life cycles on car models and faster turn-over necessitated by cars wearing out faster and breaking down a little sooner were implemented because the ten-year and five-year plans became annual — and then “quarterly” plans — and strategies to maximum profits — and compensation, stock options, and bonuses for Board members, executives, and managers.  It is now not uncommon for executives to make hundreds  of times what the average worker makes annually — sometimes even a thousand times or more.

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Over time, trimming back pensions and retirement programs, benefit programs being leveraged against actual hourly compensation of workers became part of the focus on maximizing profits in order to maximize base compensation, stock options and bonuses for Board members, executives, and managers.  In many ways, companies like Walmart did something similar.  Programs were put in place to have “nearly” full-time employees  who just missed the cut-offs for healthcare and other benefits, such that employees began to be able to qualify for food stamps and other public assistance — to make up for being underpaid.  With the advent of the surge in oil prices in the 70’s combined with foreign manufacturers making more fuel efficient cars — the American automobile industry eventually found itself struggling to be competitive in the American and world markets, and still get the quarterly results that would pay big bonuses and stock options.  In many cases, companies like Walmart were perplexed to find sales decreasing — partly because they had driven small local companies out of business to such an extent in some of their smaller markets — that employees  who lost their jobs because their companies were driven out of business –were forced to move away to try and find jobs in  other areas — and the optimum target market universe of customers shrunk — in some areas — to the point where the once profitable stores like Walmart were no long profitable — 0r only marginally so.  In some cases, management was perplexed to discover that employees at their own Walmart stores could not afford to shop at Walmart stores.

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So now businesses are stuck with a “consumer driven” economy — in which consumers do not make enough money to “drive” the economy.  In an oddly mentally challenged way, businesses have not — due to the emphasis on short-term profits — allowed themselves to recognize the obvious contradiction between the viability of keeping “worker” pay and benefits low — and the viabiliy of their employees as “customers” —  with enough purchasing power left to allow their businesses to continue to be viable.

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It’s like the auto executive who lays off employees because business slows down, then business declines a little more because he has fewer employees who can afford to buy a car because they are unemployed. Because business declines yet further, he lays off a few more employees — who then cannot afford to purchase autos, so sales decline yet further.  And finally the automobile executive lays off the final employee, and as the employee walks to his car, the executive yells after him, “Hey, you want to buy a car?”  And the employee looks back at him, shakes his head, and keeps walking.

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American businesses are in a death-spiral.  They are stuck in a consumer-driven economy with a business model that preys upon its customers and destroys their purchasing power.  They see the livelihoods of their employees as a threat to their profitability — when it is actually their own predatory practices toward the very customers they need — that threatens their profitability.    The only hope for them now — is that they can make things cheaply enough in China, Mexico, Vietnam, India, etc. that they can sell the cheap products to the people in the emerging middle-classes in the countries where they are manufacturing things.  But in the long term businesses will end up right back where they are in the United States.  Seeing their employees as a class to be exploited financially Monday thru Friday — and then sell their products to them on the week-end.  And in the short term, they hope to pay workers 30 cents an hour to make an inhaler at a cost of 15 cents, and then sell it to their workerswho made it, for $75 dollars apiece.  Odd strategy, indeed!  Strangely dysfunctional seeming.

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And the biggest irony of all — is that the workers get it.  They are out protesting for wages that would allow them to be viable financially — so they would have enough money to purchase the necessities of life — which is the kind of prosp0ective customers American businesses need — and businesses are fighting with everything they’ve got — to keep their consumers from trying to save their businesses by providing them viable customers.

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The real question is:  Are American businesses just too dumb — and too short-sighted — to survive in this short-term profit based, globalized, free-market world economy they have created — and championed?  Maybe the workers  out protesting for  $15 an hour or higher minimum wage —  is the only thing that can save businesses.

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The “Old” Indiana Pacers Returned On Sunday! But Was It Just A “Cameo” Appearance?

By Ritchie Totten — For most of the regular season this year, the Indiana Pacers were clearly the best team in the East — and maybe in the entire NBA.  They were rolling.  Players even compared the way they played defense to the way the World Champion Seattle Seahawks in the NFL played defense in the Super Bowl.  It was their “schtick”.  Their particular excellence!  Then came the Danny Granger trade.

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Now all things considered, Danny Granger had a pretty tough early part of the season with the Pacers.  He was injured for most of the first half of the season — but he was nevertheless considered to be an important part of the Pacers teams and mentality.  He was supposedly a team member who provided veteran stability.  He was talked about as being a locker-room leader — a force.  And — he was a force to reckoned with on the court — when he was healthy.  But when he went — and Even Turner came in — the Pacers went south.  I’m not saying that trade was the cause — necessarily.  Sometimes it gets to be a long season — and teams who are winning big — and steadily — lose focus a little and get tired of waiting for their “real season”.  Their play gets a little sloppy — the intensity and motivation for individual games drops off a little.  Then time goes on and playing that way kind of becomes a habit.  They fall into the “waiting for the play-offs” state of mind — and uninspired, unmotivated style of play becomes a habit — and it becomes a hard habit to break.

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It seemed at times that that was what happened to the Pacers.  Then the play-0ffs came, and it was a little like the Pacers thought playing that great Pacer style of defense-driven basketball would just return again — because it was the play-offs.  The  result was that the Pacers would look pretty good in one game — and lackluster and unmotivated the next game.  Roy Hibbard was criticized –then cat-called — and finally benched for inexplicable and extended minutes in key stretches  of play-off games.  Long story short, the Indiana Pacers did just enough in their first two series to get by — and move on.

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And then came the Miami Heat.  Even though the Pacers suffered a late season collapse, they had enough built-up mojo from the early part of the season to end up the Eastern Conference top seed.  So Miami rolls into Indiana and the “old” Pacers re-appear.  They absolutely “maul” the Heat. — winning 107-95 in a game that was never that close.  All the Pacer stars — young and old  — showed up and played like it was last November – December all over again.  Roy Hibbert dominates.  Indiana ended up winning by nine points — but the game, like I said, was never really that close.  The Heat’s best efforts by their “big three” could never get closer than eight points as the game rolled into the home stretch.  And for most of the game, the Pacer lead was in the high double-digits.  The Miami Heat had no answers — and no response.

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As Miami Heat coach, Eric Spoelstra, said after the game on Sunday,  “We’re just going to have to figure this out.”  My question is — is this just another flash in the Indiana Pacer’s pan — or has the part of the season Indiana has been waiting for all year finally arrived — and they are fully engaged again?  Or have they satisfied themselves that they can beat the  Heat now — and they can just relax again — Mission accomplished?

Swiss Vote to “Work For Less” in Sunday National Referendum!

By Frank Byronn Glenn — I was wrong.  I was very wrong.  I said in an article a few days ago that the American people should follow the lead of the Swiss, and use a national referendum to vote in a $25 an  hour minimum wage.  I both “denouce and reject” that headline.

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In one of the more puzzling event in the world Sunday, the Swiss people voted overwhelmingly  — by a 76% – 24% margin to defeat their national Minimum Wage Initiative.  In most countries, just getting such an initiative on a national ballot would have been a  modern day political miracle — but to get it on the ballot and then stomp it to death with such gusto defies the intellect.

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Why, I ask, “Once you have the corporate over-lords clearly in your sights — would you ever back away and let the opportunity slip away?”  I mean, the initiative going down to such a huge defeat is tantamount to the Swiss people saying, “No, we don’t want a significantly  higher standard of living.  We’re just not worth it.”

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As I said  in my earlier article, I talked to everyday Americans that shocked me by saying that $25 an hour was just too much money for entry-level workers to make.  Where, I ask you, would they ever get that idea?  I could (almost) understand a person making $18 to $25 per  hour in a low-end,  semi- professional  or white collar job worrying that suddenly a fast-food worker, a household domestic or nanny — or an agriculture field worker — would be earning as much per hour as they were — and that they might not like — or even feel a little threatened about their status in society because of it — but to outright resoundingly reject defies logic.  They have got to believe that because of the type of work they perform — they just are not worth it.  And it’s pretty hard to imagine that they just deductive came up with that opinion all by themselves.

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There was even a story circulating  about a Swiss citizen working as a household domestic making approximately  $3250 per month saying that she was going to vote against the initiative because if her employer was forced by law to increase her monthly pay from $3250 per month to $4300 per month, she would most certainly lose her job.  What could possibly have made her think that unless her employer had told her on no uncertain terms — that that was the case?

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But I can tell you one thing.  If a nation’s citizens, when given the chance, soundly reject an opportunity to take control of their own destinies and create a better life for themselves and their countrymen — an opportunity which is rare enough in and of itself — then the odds of their duly elected representatives in government — beholding, as they generally are, to financial contributions by corporations and wealthy individuals — ever passing significant, standard of living changes upwards in the minimum wage and closing the income inequality  gap — are probably “slim-to-none”.

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So — Americans — don’t do it.  Don’t take my advice.  Do not — under any circumstances — follow the lead of the Swiss.  Keep fighting for a minimum wage upwards of $15 per hour!  And if the opportunity comes  — seize it — and never look back!

 

Americans Should Follow The Swiss Example and Demand a $25 An Hour Minimum Wage!

By Frank Byronn Glenn –– The Swiss vote in a national referendum on Sunday, May 18, 2014 on whether to raise the national minimum wage to $25 an hour or not.  Meanwhile the American Congress diddles and dithers in angst — mostly over whether or not their corporate overlords will disown them if they raise the minimum wage to $10 dollars an hour in the United States.   Congress people who make around $90 an hour for a forty hour week — plus another amount equal to that in perks, franking privileges, expenses and other political largesse.  And we’d be lucky if  Congress worked even a 20 hour work week, so their pay is actually closer to $200 an hour for actual time worked. And they are worried they will anger their masters, like Sheldon Adelson  and other billionaires, who could spend $100,000 per day until the end of time and never deplete a dollar of their starting capital.  And the politicians, primarily Republicans — are so dug in that raising the minimum wage can’t even be debated on the floor of the House, much less voted on.  It is political anathema –and political poison for them to even acknowledge the issue would warrant an honest debate.

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And then there is progressive  old “left coast” Seattle, which has the gall to talk about the possibility and viability of a $15 dollar per hour minimum wage — an idea that right wingers predict would be the beginning of the end of the modern era —  as we know it.  It will “kill jobs” they say.  It will collapse the economy — increase unemployment.  Like they even cared about that.  These “out-sourcing” kings, queens, princes and princesses and their political lackeys have already sent every job minimum wage or above that they possibly can — out of the country —  where they are paying 30 cents to 2.50 an hour to make things like an inhaler at a cost of 15 cents that they turn around and sell to chronically ill people  in the U.S. for $75 dollars a pop.

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Help in easing the income discrepancy and the wealth inequality for the working poor and middle class in the United States will never originate or come from the House of Representative or the Senate in these United States.  Politicians are too dependent on donations and financing from the rich to further their careers and maintain their life-styles to ever do anything meaningful on behalf of the American people. In Switzerland, the $25 minimum wage increase applies to entry level jobs like house-keepers, nannies, fast-food workers, agriculture laborers, and other entry level and menial jobs.  The Swiss have a really stream-lined method of getting good ideas, programs, and policies onto the ballots so the whole country can vote on them as a national referendum.  Americans should learn from the Swiss.  If average, working-class Americans are going to ever improve their lot economically in this country, it is not going to come from the House of Representatives or the Senate — and probably not even the Presidency.  It is going to come because Americans have taken to the streets by the millions — demanding fairness —  and suddenly politicians are more afraid of losing their jobs — and maybe their heads — than they are of disappointing or displeasing their corporate and individual wealthy “sugar-daddies” and “over-lords”.  Anybody that thinks the politicians in the House and the Senate will — of their own volition — do anything significant to improve the lives of everyday Americans are smoking one too many of those funny cigarettes you hear about.  It just is not going to happen.  The politicians have too much of a vested interest in placating the rich people who finance their campaigns — and ultimately — their cushy jobs and luxurious life-styles.  Most of them are in the same economic class as the rich people they fall all over themselves to pass laws, policies and programs to benefits anyway.  So it’s win-win for them.

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And the weirdest part,  is  that corporations, rich individuals, their PR men, corporate-owned media, and their political “yes men” have been so successful in pushing the idea that only the rich are entitled to have a decent life-style — that I have even heard working class people say they think $25 per hour would be just “too much” for everyday working poor and middle-class Americans to get paid.  Too much for what, I ask?  It’s like the abused house-wife syndrome — where an abused spouse thinks that the beating she gets from her husband is her fault.  Is what she deserves.  And that what she should do is just try and work to harder not displease him — not rile or upset him so often.  The sad plight of Americans –economically — will not improve  — until everyday Americans value themselves highly enough to do  what the Swiss have done — demand to be paid enough money for their labor that they can live a reasonable worthwhile and secure life.  Raise their children — send them to college, take vacations once in a while — enjoy affordable, available quality health care — and retire with a modicum of dignity and security at the end of a long working life of dedicated and committed service in their country — and in their communities! Good for the Swiss!  You deserve it, too — Americans!

OKC Thunder Project Power and Depth — Eliminate The Clippers!

By Ritchie Totten — On a night when the Oklahoma City Thunder’s dynamic duo were off their game early — their tenacity — and the contributions of their big men bench when Serge Ibaca left the game revealed why the Thunder just might be the team to be reckoned in this years NBA Finals.  On a night when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook weren’t hitting early — they showed their tenacity and basketball savvy — just kept moving the ball — and grinding — and pushed thru to victory late in the game.  It was almost an act of basketball will and tenacity not basketball savoir faire that won the night for the Thunder in  the end.  And, of course, the sleeping dragon – Durant — reared its  head when it was “money” time in game six of the Western Conference Semifinals and pushed the Thunder up, over, and thru the Clippers — and to victory.

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And once again the Thunder, playing in their fourth Western Conference Finals in five years — meet their old nemesis – the San Antonio Spurs — for the opportunity to play for all the marbles in the NBA Finals — yet again. The Spurs — who can play with tempo — play big — play half court grind it out basketball —  shoot you out of the game from three-land — or just beat you with slash, opportunism, hustle, and finesse — await the Thunder now.  Something does seem to have changed in the dynamic between the Thunder and the Spurs this year.  The Thunder went 4-0 against the Spurs int regular season — and ever since the Spurs went up on the Thunder 2 – 0 in the Western Conference Finals a couple of years ago — only to lose the series 4-2 to the Thunder — the Thunder has seemed to have had the edge against perhaps the best-coached, most solidly fundamental basketball team in the NBA.

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In their games in the regular season — it did look like something was different between these two teams this year.  I think it is partly the match-ups.  The Thunder bigs — particularly rookie Stephen Adams and the aging warrior Nick Collison –are not only wider, nastier, and more bone-jarring in the paint — but Serge Ibaka  has added a reliable mid-range jumper and power and authority in the paint close in — that was lacking in prior years.  Ibaca, drawing attention from defenses when he sets up in mid-range jumper territory — has shown a new facet to his game — the power dribble-drive to the bucket from anywhere on the court.  And whether it is that the Thunder bigs are a touch faster — a touch nastier — good, quick passers and reliable as scorers around the rim, it seems like the Thunder wears San Antonio down as the game progresses.  And in several cases this year the well-coached, savvy, opportunistic Spurs succumbed to the high energy, high octane, up-tempo play of the Thunder dynamic duo — and their supporting cast.

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The entire play-offs this year has been one for the ages — and the Western Conference Finals — on paper — looks like it will be no exception.  The well-coached and savvy Spurs — representing old age and treachery — will test their will and aging bodies against the exuberantly high octane and athletic youth and dynamism of the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder.  The Western Conference Finals between these two “best of the West” teams — should, past predictive of future, be one for the ages, also!  Bring the pop-corn and let’s get it going!

 

Donald Sterling Insults “Magic Johnson” As A Way To Say What He Did Was “Not So Bad”!

By Ritchie Totten — Poor Donald Sterling.  He just doesn’t get it.  Maybe his mind is gone to the point he no longer gets it.  Or maybe — he just never did get it — his entire life.

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In a nationally televised interview this week, Donald Sterling attempted to apologize.  By the time he finished up, however, he had unleashed another wild round of calls for his removal as an owner of an NBA team.  After a half-hearted and seemingly begrudging admission that maybe he had done something he should not have done, he launched into what a horrible role model Magic Johnson was —  for children, you know.  And how Magic had had sex with every woman in every state in the country.  And what a bad example he sat.  And why wasn’t everybody mad at him like they were at poor old Donald Sterling.

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Now, Donald Sterling is 80 years old  — or some such.  He probably isn’t as sharp as he once was — however sharp that might have been, anyway.  But he also is enough of a loose cannon in the NBA that they have to get him out of there as soon as possible.    LaBron James has even let it leak out that he might refuse to play next year if the Sterling(s) still own the Clippers when the seas0n starts. And James doesn’t play, many other NBA players will not play either, I can promise you that.

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It’s possible that if he wasn’t so rich, Donald Sterling might have already been put out to pasture.  It’s also possible that if he wasn’t so rich, no one would have taped his conversations with them, and no one would now know just what an enormous creep Donald Sterling is.  It wouldn’t matter to  most of us what he did — or said.  But it is a little shocking that a guy like this — rich or not — can act, talk, and think the way he does and have it go unchallenged by the NBA officials and the NBA players for all this long, despicable time.  It’s a little hard to feel sorrow for the old curmudgeon, however, if his worst nightmare is that now he is forced to take a team he bought eons ago for $12 million dollars and sell it for somewhere between $550 million and a billion dollars.

 

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And once he is forced to do that — and spend the rest of his ridiculously rich life nursing  his poor little wounded psyche and feelings —  having made an enormous fortune while dancing through the poppy fields  — living and enjoying the insanely racist life of a molly-coddled bigot — until his dilapidated old racist body gives up the ghost.  Or, as I prefer to call it — “hallelujah!– day.