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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Daily Drift

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A Big Win For Workers As Obama’s New Pro-Union Rule Is Set To Take Effect

A new Obama administration rule that will speed up the process for workers to unionize will take effect, and it could have a big impact on unionization.
An Obama administration rule that speeds up the process by which employees can unionize will take effect Tuesday after Republicans last month failed to block the measure.
Under the new National Labor Relations Board rules, employees could potentially organize a union in less than two weeks, compared to the previous average of 38 days between the time a petition is filed and the election is held.
Labor groups say this will prevent management from needlessly delaying union elections. But Republicans and business groups contend it will not give companies enough time to prepare for union elections.
Outraged Republicans and business groups are accusing the Obama administration of promoting ambush union organization, but the reality is that the new NLRB rule was put into place to address a serious problem. Anti-union businesses have used the period between elections to foot drag, delay, and mount campaigns filled with thinly veiled threats of job loss in order to discourage unionization.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, unionized workers earn $200 a week more than non-union workers. When benefits are included unionized employees earn $425 a week more than non-union employees. Increasing private sector unionization rates is an essential component to any plan to grow the middle-class. Any change that makes it easier for workers to unionize is a positive development.
Over the last three decades, the deck has been stacked by Republicans against unions. President Obama’s new rule is an important step towards unions finally being able to fight back.

White House Rips Republicans As Obama Vows Veto of $3 Million Tax Cut For Millionaires

In a strongly worded veto threat, the White House shredded Republicans for a bill that would give millionaires and billionaires a tax cut that averages $3 million each.
The White House issued a stern veto threat of the latest Republican attempt to repeal the Estate Tax:
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1105, which would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit to provide large tax cuts exclusively to the very wealthiest Americans.

Repealing the estate tax exclusively benefits just the wealthiest one or two estates out of every thousand—which would receive a tax cut averaging more than $3 million each—because current law already exempts more than $5 million of wealth for individuals and more than $10 million of wealth for couples from the tax. Given these large exemptions, well over 99 percent of Americans, including virtually all small businesses and family farms, do not pay any estate tax. H.R. 1105 would also shift a greater share of the tax burden onto working Americans at a time when the top one percent already holds more than 40 percent of the Nation’s wealth and wealth disparities have risen to levels not seen since the 1930s.

H.R. 1105 is fiscally irresponsible and, if enacted, would add $269 billion to the deficit over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The bill would worsen the Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, jeopardizing programs and investments important to the middle class and national security. In addition, H.R. 1105, which was reported by the House Ways and Means Committee on March 25, is inconsistent with the budget resolution passed by the House of Representatives that same day, which depends on current law estate tax revenues to meet its purported fiscal goals.
H.R. 1105 is even more extreme than the temporary estate tax repeal enacted in 2001. That legislation provided for a “carryover basis” regime to prevent large amounts of accumulated wealth from escaping both income and estate tax. H.R. 1105 contains no such provision. Instead, it leaves in place the largest capital gains loophole in the tax code by retaining “stepped-up basis” rules that exempt capital gains on assets held until death from income taxes. The wealthiest Americans can often afford to hold onto assets until death, which lets them use the stepped-up basis loophole to avoid ever having to pay income tax on capital gains. By retaining stepped-up basis even after repealing the estate tax, enactment of H.R. 1105 would not only add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit to provide huge tax cuts to the most fortunate, it would endorse the principle that the wealthiest Americans should not have to pay tax on certain forms of income at all. By contrast, the President’s Budget would repeal the stepped-up basis loophole.
The Administration has consistently supported tax relief for middle-class and working families. The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposes tax credits that allow paychecks to go further in covering the cost of child care, college, and a secure retirement, and would create and expand tax credits that support and reward work. In addition, it would invest in accelerating and sharing economic growth through education, research, infrastructure, and help for working families. The President’s proposals are fully paid for, primarily by closing tax loopholes for the highest-income Americans. The Administration wants to work with the Congress on fiscally responsible tax relief for middle-class and working Americans. However, H.R. 1105 represents the wrong approach to the Nation’s fiscal and economic challenges. If the President were presented with H.R. 1105, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

The latest gift for millionaires and billionaires is a classic example of what Republicans mean fiscal responsibility. Boehner and McConnell see nothing wrong with adding $269 billion to the deficit as long as the money is going to the people who need it the least. All of the Republican budgets cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires while raising taxes on the poor and middle class because that is how the Republican economic ideology operates.
The GOP continues to be guided by fantasies like “job creators,” and the myths that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs and trickle-down economics works. If it weren’t for President Obama, some or all of these horrible policies would be the law of the land.
As the media looks towards 2016, President Obama continues to fight for the middle-class and serve as the last line of defense against Republican economic failure.

Obama Attacked for Announcing Cuba is No Longer a State Sponsor of Terror

The resultant Republican freakout is not unexpected, as it violates not only the status quo but further silences the drums of war…
Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon 
Now that president Obama has followed up his normalization of relations with Cuba with being the first president since 1958 to formally meet with Cuba (Saturday, at the Summit of the Americas), As the White House blog explains, he has decided as of Tuesday to remove Cuba from the State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
In a statement, the White House said,
After a careful review of Cuba’s record, which was informed by the intelligence community, as well as assurances provided by the Cuban government, the Secretary of State concluded that Cuba met the conditions for rescinding its designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
The hapless Speaker of the House, John Boehner, had to see this coming. It was insisted on by Raul Castro, Obama had forecast his intentions, and the United States could hardly go forward befriending a country it considers a state sponsor of terror.
The White House blog relates:
President Obama and President Castro discussed our shared histories, and the significant change in policy and the relationship between our two countries. Both leaders agreed that the majorities of the American people and Cuban people had responded positively to the thaw in relations.
And this is true. Despite all the horrified reactions of Republican champions of the Cold War status quo, Obama received high approval ratings for his Cuba initiative. The blog goes on to state,
President Obama announced that both Cuba and America were working on the next step in normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, and were working to open embassies in both Havana and Washington, D.C.
This is bad enough, but saying that Cuba is, in essence, no longer wearing a black hat, violates the GOP’s either/or paradigm.
John Boehner’s reaction to anybody actually DOING anything was predictable. It shakes the status quo and makes Congress look bad when the president does things, like try to keep the country running, and affects GOP INC’s bottom line when he works to reduce tensions in the world.
Obama saying, “I think what we have both concluded is that we can disagree with the spirit of respect and civility, and that over time it is possible for us to turn the page and develop a new relationship in our two countries,” is not what they want to hear.
Such talk silences the drums along the Potomac.
So Boehner released this ridiculous statement in response, which to be fair, is about as well-thought-out as anything else Boehner has said or done since 2009:
I am disappointed that the White House seems determined to reward the Castro regime, which has a clear record of repression at home and exporting violence throughout the region. Not even a week has passed since the brutal attacks on Cuban democracy protestors in Panama City during the Summit for the Americas. Those attacks – and the Castros’ long history of human rights violations — demonstrate the folly of revisiting diplomatic relations with this communist dictatorship and removing it from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror.
Cozying up to the oppressive regime in Cuba is a blow to all who long for liberty and dignity. And it’s just one more example of this administration focusing more on befriending our enemies than helping our allies. The United States has a responsibility to stand strong for all those who struggle for freedom, and the House of Representatives is committed to doing its part.
It is rather amusing to see Boehner accuse the Castro regime of repression when you consider our own history of repression, not only in the most well-known case of blacks during the Civil Rights era, but of anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War (Kent State anyone?), of the Occupy Movement, and most recently, Ferguson protestors and those championing the radical idea that Black Lives Matter – not to mention the routine gunning down of black men by police for no justifiable reason in the first place.
We might mention South Carolina Republicans telling the Supreme Court that it’s okay to discriminate not only against gays but against women.
Boehner attacks Cuba for human rights violations even as Guantanamo continues to function, even though Boehner’s own party endorsed – and continues to endorse – torture in violation of international law.
And he calls Cuba a repressive regime when some of our allies are at least as repressive, if not more so – like Saudi Arabia.
The White House said,
We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria that is relevant to whether to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
And Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said on April 10,
Well, I think in terms of differences between our government, we have been very clear that we’re going to continue to speak up for human rights, and we’re going to continue to have differences as it relates to the nature of Cuba’s political system — just as I would fully anticipate the Cuban government to make clear its opposition to the United States’ ongoing presence at Guantanamo Bay, for instance.
Bernie Sanders agreed:
View image on Twitter
It's time for a new relationship with Cuba.

And the Obama administration and Bernie Sanders are right. Cuba’s alleged sponsorship of terror has nothing to do with repressive domestic policies, despite Boehner’s attempt to tie them all together in a blanket condemnation.
Boehner’s refusal to take a good, hard, pragmatic look at the nature of our long history with Cuba is the problem, not Obama’s insistence that we take cognizance of the facts, both historic and current.
John Boehner talks of those who struggle for freedom even while fighting to deny his fellow citizens freedom. His words are, as always, empty, dishonest, and hypocritical.

David Letterman: the Republican cabal must decide which candidate ‘can lead Republicans to another crushing defeat’

David Letterman (YouTube/CBS)

A Broken Record ...


Scott Walker: Ich Bin Ein Dummkopf

Scott Walker: Ich Bin Ein Dummkopf 
The man can't speak English so why would he even try foreign languages?
Editor's Note: Just in case you are unfamiliar with the German language "Ich Bin Ein Dummkopf" translates as 'I am a fool'. (Literal translation - I am one fool)
But if you so desire the word fool can be substituted with, idiot, moron, cretin, lack-wit, buffoon, etc.

Fox and Ann Coulter prep for 2016: Bring back ‘literacy tests’ so voting is ‘a little more difficult’

Terrified 'Teabagger Patriot' realizes he could lose Obamacare if Republican cabal wins in 2016

WATCH: Terrified 'Teabagger Patriot' realizes he could lose Obamacare if Republican cabal wins in 2016

Hillary Clinton Rocks The Kochs By Announcing Support For Overturning Citizens United

At a campaign event in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton came out in support of a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.
During a roundtable with students in Iowa, Clinton said:
I want to be the champion who goes to bat for Americans in four big areas, four big fights that I think we have to take on because there are those who don’t agree with what I think we should be doing, and they’re pretty powerful forces.
We need build the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday. We need to strengthen families and communities because that’s where it all starts. We need to fix our dysfunctional political system, and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all, even if it takes a constitutional amendment, and we need to protect our country from the threats that we see and the ones that are on the horizon.
Clinton’s answer represents a strengthening of her position against Citizens United. Last year, she answered a question on Citizens United by saying, “I would consider supporting an amendment among these lines that would prevent the abuse of our political system by excessive amounts of money if there is no other way to deal with the Citizen’s United decision.”
It is interesting that out of the four areas that she deemed the big fights getting the dark money out of politics was the one with the most detail. Those who were worried about whether Hillary Clinton would be progressive enough to represent the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party are seeing their concerns addressed quickly by former Sec. Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton’s support for a constitutional amendment to repeal Citizens United is a big deal. Clinton looks like a vastly different candidate compared to her 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Early on, it appears that Clinton has been listening to where the Democratic Party has shifted.
The issue of the wealthy and corporations being able to buy our democracy through unlimited and unaccountable campaign contributions is the biggest current threat to our electoral and political systems. The impact of Citizens United can be witnessed in the behavior the current Republican-controlled Congress. Republicans only care about their big donors, which is why they pursue an agenda that is the opposite of the priorities of the vast majority of the American people.
Hillary Clinton is hitting the campaign trail running, and her support for repealing Citizens United means that if she is elected to serve as the next President Of The United States, those who want to see Citizens United repealed will have a champion in the White House.

Republicans Try To Distract Women With Shiny Objects Instead of Real Paycheck Fairness

Republicans oppose equal pay for equal work.  Senate Republicans blocked three times.
Last week, Republicans Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) and Susan Collins (ME) joined Deb Fischer (R-NB) and Shelly Moore Capito (W. VA) introduced a shiny object substitute for equal pay called The Workplace Advancement Act.
The GOP’s poor imitation of the Paycheck Fairness Act, is more about optics than about substance, as reflected in Deb Fischer’s statement on the proposed law.
Any legislator – Republican or Democrat – who is seriously interested in making progress on this issue for women and moving past electioneering and scoring political points should step up and support the proposal.  For the first time in over half a century, we have the opportunity to update the Equal Pay Act with a bill that actually provides needed changes and can realistically pass.
The fact is if Republicans were serious about paycheck fairness, they would have either voted for the Paycheck Fairness Act or at least offered a bill that offers real solutions.
This bill doesn’t even recognize that gender-based pay discrimination is a fact at all income levels and in all job categories.  It merely states, “surveys suggest there is a concern among American women that gender-based pay discrimination still exists.”
The fact is while we can try to explain pay discrimination away because women took time off to care for children and family members, or we just gravitate to low paying jobs, when women hold the same title and job experience as a man, a wage gap persists. The gap narrows as you go further up the corporate ladder, but it continues to exist even at the top of that ladder.
A recent study on pay discrimination against women executives showed that
  1. Women in executive positions receive less incentive pay than men. That accounts for roughly 93% of the gender pay gap.
  2. Compensation for women in executive positions has “lower pay-performance sensitive” compared to males.
  3. Compensation for female executives is more exposed to declines in the firm’s value and less exposed to increases in the firm’s value than that of male executives.”
The Republican version of an equal pay bill falls way short of the Democrat’s Paycheck Fairness Act. That bill contained several important features.  It mandated employers to provide the Federal government with wage data broken down by gender.  It called for programs to help women with negotiation skills.  It also provided assistance to help women sue to get back pay they were denied exclusively because they were discriminated against by their employers.
The one feature the Republican version holds in common with the Paycheck Fairness Act, is the language that makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for talking about their salaries.
The thing is, this bill doesn’t allow any legal recourse for women to sue their boss upon finding out they were paid less than male counterparts.  After all, giving women the ability to sue to rectify the situation would just be “bait” for trial lawyers and we certainly can’t have that!
The bill allows pay disparities based on “merit” or “any factor other than sex”.  As we saw in Ellen Pao’s case, that’s a pretty difficult, if not outright impossible thing to argue against.  In other words, between the lack of enforceability and the legal cover that employers can use to continue gender-based discriminatory pay practices, the Republican bill preserves the very unfairness they say they are trying to address.
The Republicans are hoping that women will fall for shiny object equality.  They’re fine with us finding the proof that we are paid lower than male counterparts; they just have a problem with us using the law to do anything about it.
The politics of this are even more sinister, though consistent with the Republican Party’s playbook.
They are trying to bait Democrats into voting for a bill that does nothing to address gender-based pay discrimination.  If they do, Republicans will claim credit for letting us talk to our co-workers about salary, as a solution to gender-based pay discrimination.  If they don’t, Republicans will do what they usually do – project their opposition to paycheck fairness onto the Democrats.
The reality is; women know the difference between shiny object pay equality and the real thing.

'Women Should Be Barred From Presidency Because Of Hormones And the bible'

Image via Screenshot
As wingnuts race to derail Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency, it’s clear that their main strategy is to use her gender as the reason why she shouldn’t be the leader of the free world.

‘Accidents are gonna happen’ anyway

Republicans strip rail safety money from North Dakota budget: ‘Accidents are gonna happen’ anyway

Here’s What Happened In Indiana As Soon As The Media Stopped Paying Attention

Here’s What Happened In Indiana As Soon As The Media Stopped Paying Attention

The Truth Be Told


'Drug Squad Stole Cash, Planted Drugs Too Many Times To Count'

Ammosexuals Furious Tim McGraw Has The Audacity To Play At Sandy Hook Benefit Concert

Ammosexuals Furious Tim McGraw Has The Audacity To Play At Sandy Hook Benefit Concert Sinking to a new level of “having absolutely no class” ammosexuals, or as they like to be called, “pro-gun rights”gun nuts.

Sean Hannity: Jon Stewart’s Mockery To Blame For Spring Break Rape

Sean Hannity: ‘Smug Cretin’ Jon Stewart’s Mockery To Blame For Spring Break Rape (VIDEO) Sean Hannity took to his throne toilet over in the delusional echo chamber of misogyny that is Fox News to opine on the one thing wingnuts really should...

‘ISIL Hit List’ Targeting Law Enforcement Actually Made By Religio-Wingnut 'Christians'

‘ISIS Hit List’ Targeting Law Enforcement Actually Made By Right-Wing Christians (SCREENSHOTS) Ideologically, America’s wingnuts identify quite well with ISIL, whether they admit it or not. Both groups hate gay people, support extreme levels...

Denver TSA Agents Fired Over Coordinated Groping Scheme

The lead of this story from Denver's CBS affiliate pretty much says it all:.
    A CBS4 investigation has learned that two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers.
The details: TSA supervisors, acting on an anonymous tip, found that a female agent running a body scanner would intentionally misidentify attractive male passengers as females within the scanner's operating system. The scanner would then identify an "anomaly" in those passengers' genital areas-seemingly because they had, well, more bulk in the groin region than would be expected from a woman. The male agent would then have an excuse to pat down those male passengers' groins.
The male agent was said to "alert" the female agent when he wanted a specific man targeted, presumably by using whichever American Sign Language symbol means "let's both get fired for the stupidest possible reason."