By Jueseppi B.
The GOP’s Misguided Crusade Against Susan Rice
Nearly 100 House Republicans sent a letter to President Obama on Monday urging him not to name Susan Rice as Hillary Clinton‘s successor at the State Department. Its tortured reasoning exposes the flimsiness of the GOP‘s crusade to make Rice a scapegoat for the Benghazi tragedy.
The letter’s signatories, led by South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan, are among the many Republicans angry and suspicious over the the way Rice characterized the deadly September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in multiple television appearances five days after it occurred. To be sure, some important unanswered questions linger here, including why security was so inadequate and why the White House was slow to acknowledge that a premeditated terrorist attack had occurred.
But Rice’s role isn’t an especially interesting or important one. In her Sept. 16 television appearances Rice contended that the attacks seemed related to worldwide protests against an infamous anti-Islamic video, protests that we now know never occurred in Benghazi. Judging by the outrage of some Republicans, you would think Rice had left the consulate’s front gate unlocked. Far from arguing that Rice knowingly did anything wrong, the letter’s Republican signatories complain that she has been perceived, by non-specified actors, as having lost “credibility” in the affair. Here’s the meat of the letter, obtained by the Hill:
Though Ambassador Rice has been our representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world….
Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter. Her actions plausibly give U.S. allies (and rivals) abroad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed. Thus, we believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy in your second term would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world and continue to build trust with the American people
The problem here is that no one has offered evidence that Rice distorted or concealed any facts known to her. To the contrary, we know that Rice, quite responsibly, spoke from talking points crafted by the U.S. intelligence community. Those talking points have since been shown to be seriously flawed. But that’s not Rice’s fault. As one clever Washington Post reader put it: “Since she presumably does not operate a private intelligence agency, sensible people will wonder what else she could have said.”
What happens when vulture capitalism ruins a great American company?
The vultures blame the workers.
The vultures blame the union.
And vapid media outlets report the lie as “news.”
That’s what’s happening with the meltdown of Hostess Brands Inc.
Americans are being told that they won’t get their Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos because the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union ran the company into the ground.
But the union and the 5,600 Hostess workers represented by the union did not create the crisis that led the company’s incompetent managers to announce plans to shutter it.
The BCTGM workers did not ask for more pay.
The BCTGM workers did not ask for more benefits.
The BCTGM workers did not ask for better pensions.
The union and its members had a long history of working with the company to try to keep it viable. They had made wage and benefit concessions to keep the company viable. They adjusted to new technologies, new demands.
They took deep layoffs—20 percent of the workforce—and kept showing up for work even as plants were closed.
They kept working even as the company stopped making payment to their pension fund more than a year ago.
The workers did not squeeze the filling out of Hostess.
Hostess was smashed by vulture capitalists—“a management team that,” in the words of economist Dean Baker, “shows little competence and is rapidly stuffing its pockets at the company’s expense.”
Even as the company struggled, the ten top Hostes executives pocketed increasingly lavish compensation packages. The Hostess CEO who demanded some of the deepest cuts from workers engineered a 300 percent increase in his compensation package.
“Wall Street investors first came onto the scene with Hostess about a decade ago, purchasing the company and then loading it with debt. All the while, its executives talked of investments in new equipment, new research and new delivery trucks, but those improvements never materialized,” explains AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.
“Instead, the executives planned to give themselves bonuses and demanded pay cuts and benefit cuts from the workers, who haven’t had a raise in eight years,” said the AFL-CIO head. “In 2011, Hostess earned profits of more than $2.5 billion but ended the year with a loss of $341 million as it struggled to pay the interest on $1 billion in debt. This year, the company sought bankruptcy protection, the second time in eight years. Still, the CEO who brought on the latest bankruptcy got a raise while Hostess demanded that its workers accept a 30 percent pay and benefits cut.”
When BCTGM workers struck Hostess, they did not do so casually.
They were challenging Bain-style abuses by a private-equity group—Ripplewood Holdings—that had proven its incompetence and yet continued to demand more money from the workers.
“When a highly respected financial consultant, hired by Hostess, determined earlier this year that the company’s business plan to exit bankruptcy was guaranteed to fail because it left the company with unsustainable debt levels, our members knew that the massive wage and benefit concessions the company was demanding would go straight to Wall Street investors and not back into the company,” recalled BCTGM president Frank Hunt, who described why the union struck Hostess rather than accept a demand from management for more pay and benefit cuts.
“Our members decided they were not going to take any more abuse from a company they have given so much to for so many years,” Hunt explained. “They decided that they were not going to agree to another round of outrageous wage and benefit cuts and give up their pension only to see yet another management team fail and Wall Street vulture capitalists and ‘restructuring specialists’ walk away with untold millions of dollars.”
On November 6, American voters rejected Mitt Romney and Bain Capitalism.
But that didn’t end the abusive business practices that made Romney rich. They’re still wrecking American companies, like Hostess.
Instead of blaming workers, we should be holding the incompetent managers to account and cheering on any and every effort to rescue Hostess from the clutches of the vulture capitalists.
Hostess isn’t the only company squeezing American workers. Check out Josh Eidelson’s coverage of the Walmart workers’ nationwide strike.
—By Tim Murphy
Predictably, the last person to realize that Rep. Allen West’s political career is over—for now, anyway—seems to be Allen West himself.
The Florida congressman famous for instructing a Muslim Republican to quit trying to “blow sunshine up my butt,” asking his supporters to “grab your muskets,” and suggesting that the Bureau of Labor statistics had fabricated the October jobs report, trailed Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy by 2,500 votes when the dust settled on November 7. For two weeks, though, West challenged the results, refusing to concede while charging that there had been “a willful attempt to steal the election” by St. Lucie County elections supervisor Gertrude Walker.
West’s request for a full recount in St. Lucie County was officially rejected by a judge, and because his margin of defeat exceeded 0.5 percent, he had no grounds to demand a recount under Florida law. But the county went along with one anyway, and over the course of two days, double-checked their math, after which point West found himself trailing by an additional 274 votes. Womp womp. Despite conservative howls of voter fraud and West’s pledge to fight on, it’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario in which Murphy isn’t seated come January.
Here are some of the highlights from West’s one term in Congress:
- The time he alleged that “78 or 81″ members of the House Progressive Caucus—as well as former President Woodrow Wilson—were secretly members of the Communist Party.
- “It ain’t happenin’, that dog don’t hunt, take your pro-Hamas butt and get the hell out of my country!”
- His aforementioned request to the South Florida director of the Council on America-Islamic Relations not to “blow sunshine up my butt and tell me it’s warm and fuzzy.”
- The suggestion that Planned Parenthood and Code Pink had “neutered” the once-proud American male.
- His insinuation that the country’s first Muslim congressman represents “the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”
- His lamentation, in the wake of a critical Broward-Palm Beach New Times blog post, that “next time I will put on a tie-dyed shirt and jeans, dance around singing anti-war, anti-American songs, and burn a flag.”
- The time he asked Democratic leaders to flee the country: “You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America.”
The good news for West is that 2,500 votes is not an especially large margin in a presidential election year in which Democrats dominated the ground game in the Sunshine State. So maybe he’ll be back in two years to take back the seat.
Well, that or he’ll land a cushy job at Fox News.
By Scott Keyes on Nov 19, 2012
Two weeks after Barack Obama and Sen.-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) carried the state of Wisconsin with the support of minorities and young voters, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced one of his major policy proposals for the upcoming session: ending the state’s 40-year old law that allows citizens to register to vote on Election Day.
And with Republicans now back in control of the Wisconsin state legislature, Walker may well get his way next year.
In 2008, Wisconsin enjoyed the second highest turnout of any state in the nation (72.4 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot), due largely to the fact the Badger State law allows residents who aren’t registered or have recently moved to register at the polls. That year, approximately 460,000 people used Election Day Registration, 15 percent of all Wisconsinites who cast a ballot.
Walker pressed his case for ending same-day registration during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Library in California on Friday:
“States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems because the vast majority of their states have poll workers who are wonderful volunteers, who work 13 hour days and who in most cases are retirees,” Walker said. “It’s difficult for them to handle the volume of people who come at the last minute.It’d be much better if registration was done in advance of election day. It’d be easier for our clerks to handle that. All that needs to be done.“
Wisconsin was the first state to enact Election Day Registration in 1971, followed soon by states like Minnesota and Maine. Today, eleven states have laws allowing citizens to register at the polls. These states enjoy the highest turnout in the nation not by chance, but because Election Day Registration boosts turnout by 7 to 14 percentage points. In addition, studies show that minorities, poorer voters, and students benefit the most from being permitted to register on Election Day.
Republican legislators in Maine attempted a similar move last year, repealing the state’s 40-year-old Election Day Registration law. However, a citizen backlasherupted, sending the matter to a statewide referendum where voters rebuked the legislature and restored the law by a 2-to-1 margin.
The last time Walker and his Republican allies won complete control of the legislature in 2010, they immediately passed a discriminatory voter ID law that would have disenfranchised people like 84-year-old Ruthelle Frank had it not been blocked by a state judge.
Now, with Wisconsin State Republicans riding high, they appear to again be setting their sights on chipping away at voting rights.
Just some Stuff you might be interested in knowing…..