Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wisconsin Republicans Order Arrest of 14 Democrats Who Fled State
Gov. Scott Walker has ordered the arrest of 14 Democratic legislators who fled Wisconsin in a bid to avoid voting on the governor's controversial budget bill.
The Republican majority in the state Senate passed a resolution Wednesday finding the AWOL Democrats guilty of contempt and disorderly conduct if they didn't make it back to Wisconsin by 4 p.m.
After the deadline passed there was no immediate word that any of the 14 returned.
"We simply cannot have democracy be held hostage because the minority wants to prove a point," Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said. "They have pushed us to the edge of a constitutional crisis."
The GOP actions may end up being simply symbolic, the Wisconsin State Journal reported, pointing out there are questions about whether the resolution is legal under state rules. The Wisconsin Constitution forbids the arrest of lawmakers while the Legislature is in session unless they're suspected of committing felonies, treason or breach of the peace, according to the newspaper.
Democrats have asked an attorney to look into whether the Republican tactic is legal.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans passed a resolution that would impose a $100-per-day fine for members absent without leave for two or more session days. It would also strip missing lawmakers of their expense accounts.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have been gathering for weeks outside the state Capitol to sound off against Walker's budget bill, which would strip the collective bargaining rights of unionized state workers. The measure is just one vote away from being sent to the governor for his signature.
THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2011
Cut Aid to the Poor, Not Israel
Republicans and Democrats Agree:
With the U.S. economy in the tank and governments at all levels facing massive budget shortfalls, politicians left and right are seeking ways to curb spending. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wants to eliminate collective bargaining rights and the decent pay that goes with them. President Barack Obama’s budget includes halving the home-heating oil subsidy poor households depend on.
As Republicans and Democrats propose cuts in programs that actually benefit their increasingly impoverished constituents, though, they agree there’s one area of the budget that’s not to be touched: the annual $3 billion subsidy U.S. taxpayers provide to the Israeli military.
One of the biggest defenders of the handout is House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “There will be no cuts to security assistance to the Jewish State of Israel,” her chief of staff declared in a recent letter to House Republicans. The rest of the U.S. foreign aid budget, including assistance for Iraqi refugees and food aid to the world’s poorest people, is fair game. But the Florida congresswoman insists we must help Israel maintain its “Qualitative Military Edge.”
And congressional Democrats have her back.
Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky, for instance – a leading member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus – has drafted a letter, cosigned by California Democrat Anna Eshoo, warning that the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia “have the potential to add to the very real security challenges faced by Israel.” Reducing or “otherwise endangering aid to our ally” would be “unproductive,” she adds, encouraging her colleagues to tell Obama they “strongly support … providing $3.075 billion in assistance to Israel.” (For those shivering at home, that’s more assistance than Obama is proposing to offer Americans trying to keep their houses warm.)
This liberal appeal for Israeli military aid, meanwhile, is being sent out under the auspices of J Street, a group that positions itself as a left-leaning answer to AIPAC. But J Street staff we spoke with at their recent conference were hard-pressed to explain why U.S. taxpayers should fund a right-wing Israeli government that continues to build settlements and maintains an inhumane siege of Gaza.
So it’s left to folks like libertarian Congressman Ron Paul and his son, Kentucky Senator and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, to call for ending aid to Israel. In a February 4 interview with ABC News, Rand Paul said of Israel, “I think that their per capita income is greater than probably three-fourths of the rest of the world. Should we be giving free money or welfare to a wealthy nation? I don’t think so.”
Indeed, Israel has the 24th largest economy in the world, and ranks 15th among 169 nations on the UN Human Development Index, which makes it a “very highly developed” nation.
Yet what thanks did Senator Paul get for his call to save the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars? A torrent of criticism, even from J Street, which called on Republicans – and their donors – “to repudiate his comments and ensure American leadership around the world is not threatened by this irresponsible proposal.”
Paul’s fellow Tea Partiers aren’t any better. Of the 87 freshmen House Republicans elected on platforms of cut-baby-cut, at least three-fourths have now signed a letter declaring that, “As Israel faces threats from escalating instability in Egypt” – where have we heard that line of argument before? – “security assistance to Israel … has never been more important.” Subsidies are for militaries, you see, not poor people.
But even without U.S. funding, Israel would still spend $11 billion-plus on its military, more than all but 20 other nations in the world spend on their armed forces – and hundreds of millions of dollars more than the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite having just 1/10th the population. Throw in a couple – as in, couple hundred – little things called nuclear weapons, and, for better or worse, the Jewish state’s “Qualitative Military Advantage” isn’t going anywhere.
But you wouldn’t know that listening to the folks at J Street or to liberals like Jan Schakowsky, who hysterically cite the specter of Arab democracy to advocate billions in subsidies for a government that openly flouts international law. So much for their concern about human rights. And so much for being progressive. Indeed, with liberals like these, the Netanyahu government and its allies at AIPAC are likely asking themselves: who needs the Tea Party?
March 3, 2011
The globalist Fareed Zakaria – a member of both the CFR and Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission – has penned an article for the one of the crown jewels of the CIA’s emasculation of the media – Henry Luce’s Time Magazine – where he predicts the end of America as we know it, or as some of us once knew it.
American’s problem, according to Zakaria, is political insularity and especially our failure to embrace “market-based” globalism. In addition, we cling to funny and antiquated ideas about natural rights and the Constitution. “I believe that the Constitution was one of the wonders of the world — in the 18th century. But today we face the reality of a system that has become creaky,” he writes.
Too many of us, Zakaria argues, believe “demigods who walked the earth in the late 18th century” handed down “perfect system of government.” Even the founders, he insists, “understood that it was a work in progress, an unfinished enterprise that would constantly be in need of change, adjustment and repair.”
In other words, if the founders were alive today, they would embrace globalism. Zakaria also seems to think they would support the sort of excessive taxation suffered by Europeans and also would approve of carbon taxes.
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