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“De-Koched”: Scott Walker’s Anti-Union Law Struck Down As Unconstitutional

A Dane County judge has ruled that the anti-collective bargaining law championed by Governor Scott Walker—legislation that would ultimately lead to the failed effort to recall the controversial Wisconsin governor—is unconstitutional under both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions.

While the news will, no doubt, bolster the spirits of Wisconsin unions fighting to regain their collective bargaining rights, they should not allow their hopes to get too high.

The case will, inevitably, end up in the Wisconsin Supreme Court where that highly partisan and political body—with the majority firmly in the camp of Governor Walker—is almost a sure bet to overrule the lower rule’s decision.

In the meantime, the impact of the ruling on existing union agreements remains unclear.

While the unions will seek to have the court’s decision take effect immediately, thus clearing the way to a return to the collective bargaining table in the state, the Walker administration will surely seek a stay pending review by the highest court in the state.

In response to the ruling, Governor Scott Walker issued a statement accusing Judge Juan Colas of being a “liberal activist” who “wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process.”

Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader, Peter Barca responded by saying, “This decision will help re-establish the balance between employees and their employers.”

We’ll see.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 14, 2012

September 15, 2012 Posted by | Collective Bargaining | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Sad And Pathetic”: The Lost Soul Of Mitt Romney

The nation has suffered a death in the family.

This morning we learn that our Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was among four Americans killed yesterday in a violent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. It was an attack carried out by a mob deeply upset by a film made by an American-Israeli, California-based real estate developer that ridicules Mohammed, the central figure in Islamic religious belief.

While the Romney campaign chose to turn yesterday’s events in Cairo and Benghazi into a political opportunity by criticizing the Obama Administration for a statement issued by our embassy in Cairo earlier in the day (more on that in a moment), a check of Twitter and other communications sources reveals that, as of the time of publication of this piece, Governor Romney has not yet seen fit to so much as express his condolences to the families of Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans who lost their lives in service to their country. Now, if I’ve somehow missed Romney’ issuance of condolences, I’m sure that there are many readers who will gladly point this out. I, in turn, will be more than willing to correct the record if this is the case—however a close search of all sources reveals that no such statement has been forthcoming from the Romney camp.

The Romney condemnation—issued prior to official confirmation of Ambassador Steven’s death—stated, “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

These words were uttered at the time when the families of our fellow countrymen were being notified of the terrible fate that had befallen their loved ones.

Is this really how leadership works?

A leader waits until all the facts are available and the impact of one’s words can be more fully assessed. In speaking out before he was fully aware of the situation on the ground, Governor Romney chose the path of the impulsive politician rather that the road taken by a measured leader—and all in the quest of political gain.

And then there is the Twitter posted by GOP Chairman, Reince Priebus, which simply says, “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”

Apparently, there is nothing sufficiently sad and pathetic about the violent loss of American lives to merit so much as a follow-up Tweet from Chairman Priebus mourning these terrible deaths.

What was the transgression that led the GOP candidate and party chairman to attack the President for ‘sympathizing’ with the protestors or— as many right-wing voices are today saying—“apologizing” (a favorite trigger word of the right these days) to the protestors?

It was a statement issued earlier yesterday by staffers at the American embassy in Cairo—a statement containing words that sought to defuse a situation quickly getting out of hand as Muslims protested the offending film outside the embassy gates. That statement, issued without the prior approval of either the State Department or the White House, was one that we can reasonably assume was the result of frightened embassy employees—employees under siege and attempting to keep a bad situation from getting dangerously out of control.

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Maybe I’m experiencing another one of those hemorrhages in that pesky left-side of my brain, but it’s a real struggle to find anything approaching an apology in those words.

What I do see is a reminder to the Muslim protestors that the United States of America, while defending the right of free speech even when that speech is deeply offensive to some, is not a nation that stands for anyone disrespecting the religious beliefs of another. Indeed, as the communiqué noted, this religious tolerance is a cornerstone of American democracy.

At least it used to be.

Governor Romney should understand this better than most as the founder of Romney’s own LDS religion, Joseph Smith, was murdered by a violent mob whose own religious beliefs had been offended by Smith. Ironically, that mob violently stormed the jail in which Smith was being detained and killed the man in cold blood.

I’m sure the irony of our Ambassador’s death at the hands of such a mob is completely lost on Governor Romney who has now cashed in the decency I have always ascribed to the man in exchange for his willingness to do anything—and say anything—if it helps him capture the prize he so intensely seeks. No doubt, the Romney campaign tells itself that trading their souls is the price they must pay for the greater good. No doubt, they convince themselves of some wisdom they find in speaking first and thinking later if that is what must be done to save the American people from themselves.

Yet, I think all Americans know how that storyline ends.

In point of actual fact—not that the facts have ever stood in the way of Romney campaign rhetoric—President Obama has condemned the actions of the mob in the harshest possible terms— as has Secretary Clinton.

Indeed, the only apologizing I can find is the apology issued today by Libya’s interim president, Mohammed el-Megarif, who said on behalf of his country, “We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world.”

I suppose this will now put the leader of the Libyan government at risk with the extremists in his own country as, apparently, apologies are offensive to extremists everywhere.

While there is certainly nothing that has been said or done that would suggest that any American official has apologized for the heinous behavior of the mob—at least, not here in the real world—there is an apology that I would like to offer.

On behalf of a few of my fellow Americans who have behaved in an insensitive and inappropriate manner, I would like to apologize to the families and friends of my countrymen who died so tragically in Benghazi. I’m sure that if a presidential campaign was not clouding their judgment, they would have shown a bit more consideration, compassion and class.

At least I’d like to believe that this would be the case.


By: Rick Ungar, Contributor, Forbes, September 12, 2012

September 15, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Indisputably Clear”: We Can’t Trust Mitt Romney With Our National Security

The events of the last 48 hours have made it indisputably clear: America cannot trust Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan with our national security.

This morning’s Huffington Post headline summarized what it called, “The Verdict: Most Craven and Ill-Advised Move…Not Worthy of A President… Bungle… Utter Disaster… Not Presidential… Lehman Moment… Over the Top… Desperate… Awesomely Awful.”

Notwithstanding the horrible reviews, Romney and his campaign tripled down on their criticism of President Obama and the American diplomats who were on the ground and about to come under attack.

Romney’s neocon foreign policy adviser, Richard Williamson, told the Washington Post that, “There is a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation.” He’s right about that. We’d be in a very different — and dangerous — situation if Mitt Romney were in charge of American national security. There are at least five reasons why every American should be frightened at the prospect of Mitt Romney as Commander-in-Chief.

1). Mitt Romney has no guiding principles when it comes to foreign policy — or anything else for that matter — but one: his own personal ambition. Tuesday night Romney demonstrated once again that he would take any cheap shot that he thought would serve his ambition to be president, regardless of its impact on American national security or our people on the ground.

Of course this is nothing new. Romney has demonstrated time and time again that he has no lasting commitment to principle whatsoever. He has gone from being pro-choice to ardently anti-abortion; morphed from a Massachusetts moderate to a “severe conservative”; demonstrated his willingness to buy companies, load them with debt, bleed them dry and destroy the lives of workers and communities all to make money for himself and his investors.

After favoring immigration reform in the past, Romney became the most anti-immigrant major presidential candidate in modern history.

Romney drafted and passed RomneyCare and then promised to repeal a similar bill when one was passed by President Obama and a Democratic Congress. Why? Because that’s what the thought was necessary to get the Republican nomination for president.

Romney has no North Star guiding his behavior except his desire to enhance his own personal wealth and his own driving ambition.

Someone like that is the last guy you want to trust to make the tough decisions to protect American national security. Great statesmen are people who think more about the next generation than the next election. They are people who are willing to take the political heat because they are committed to doing what is right to protect the American people. They are heroes of John Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage, not the men described in John Dean’s book on the Nixon White House, Blind Ambition.

2). Mitt Romney has no vision. In his acceptance speech to the Republican Convention he made fun of President Obama’s concern for global climate change and his commitment toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Romney actually opposed passage of the START II Treaty with Russia that reduced nuclear weapons to their current levels.

Romney flat-out opposes — makes fun of — investments in renewable energy sources that would begin the process of freeing us from the tyranny of Big Oil — and oil dictators — and addresses the problem of climate change.

Rather than support movements to limit the exploding growth in the world’s population, Romney actually opposes support for birth control.

Have you ever heard word one from Romney about protecting our natural resources, or investment in de-salinization, or strengthening the international co-operation needed to deal with cyber-security, or frankly any of these critical issues?

Mitt Romney seems to have absolutely no interest in or knowledge of history or the forces that are changing the world. And he certainly has never expressed a long-term view of how he might hope to shape the world as president of the United States. Let’s face it, the guy is shallow.

Voters correctly want leaders with vision, because as the great baseball player Yogi Berra used to say: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”

3). The Romney-Ryan team has less experience in foreign policy than any two candidates for America’s top offices since World War II.

Barry Goldwater may have scared the bejesus out of many Americans, but at least he was a Lt. Colonel in the Army Air Corp during World War II and had served on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate.

When Senator Barack Obama ran for president, he chose the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, as his running mate.

Collectively Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have zero foreign policy experience. And it shows.

4). Romney has demonstrated he has no capacity to empathize with other people. He has no idea how to put himself in their shoes — or even to understand how they hear the things he is saying. That’s one of the main reasons why, as Senator Kerry said at the Democratic Convention, Romney’s “foreign policy tour” earlier this summer was more like a “blooper reel.” It’s why, when it comes to foreign affairs, Romney is a bull in the china closet.

Romney seems incapable of understanding that when you’re asked about your opinion of preparations for the London Olympics in London days before the event, the Brits might be offended when (presumably to demonstrate how much he knew about running Olympic games) he questioned their readiness. He apparently had no clue that Palestinians might take offense when he said he thought that their economic problems stemmed from their “culture.”

Romney is typical of wealthy people who think they are very “cosmopolitan” because they can jet around the world and stay in first-class hotels, but don’t have a clue how normal people — or other cultures — experience the world. He is upper-class parochial. He thinks everyone thinks and talks and believes the same way as his classmates at prep school or colleagues in the Bain boardroom.

5). Romney has surrounded himself with many of the same neocon foreign policy advisers that got America into the horrific war in Iraq. One of those advisers, Richard Williamson, actually had the audacity to argue that “respect for America has gone down” under President Obama. Maybe in some parallel universe.

In fact, every international poll showed that George Bush, Dick Cheney and their neocon crew caused respect for the United States to plummet to new lows. And under President Obama respect for America and its values has massively increased. But then again, as the Romney campaign has made clear, they won’t allow their campaign to be governed by “fact checkers.”

If we needed reminding, this week made indelibly clear that a guy with no principles except his own ambition, and no vision whatsoever, will allow himself to be led around by the nose by the passionate Neo-Cons who want a restoration of the Bush-Cheney years. Romney’s performance should serve as a warning to all Americans: If you liked the Iraq War, you’ll love Mitt Romney’s foreign policy.


By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post, September 14, 2012

September 15, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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