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1  Messages / Causes & Activism / Wisconsin Democrats Launch Recall Effort Against GOP Senators on: March 02, 2011, 04:53:44 pm
Wisconsin Democrats Launch Recall Effort Against GOP Senators


WASHINGTON -- The Wisconsin Democratic Party has launched a fundraising campaign to recall state Senate Republicans who have supported the budget bill by Gov. Scott Walker (R) that would strip collective bargaining rights from the state's public employee unions.

The email the party sent out on Wednesday afternoon is excerpted below:
In 60 days you can take Wisconsin back. It's that simple.
 
 
This morning citizens from around the state took the first steps by filing recall papers against key Republican Senators who have stood with Scott Walker and pushed his partisan power grab that will strip thousands of middle class teachers, nurses, librarians and other workers of their right to collective bargaining. And we learned just last night that their disastrous budget that will cut millions from our schools and universities.
In 60 days you can take Wisconsin back by recalling the Republican Senators who have decided to push Scott Walker's divisive attack on the rights of workers and his assault on schools, universities and local communities. Can you contribute $60 today to support the Democratic Party's recall efforts?
 
Make no mistake, these Republican Senators are vulnerable to recall for their radical partisan overreach. Senator Randy Hopper won his last election by just 184 votes. And Alberta Darling won her last race by only 1,007. By recalling just three of the eight Senators we are targeting, we can regain control of the Senate.
 
But we need your help today. The clock is ticking and we have just 60 days to collect the signatures we need to force a recall. Every day and every dollar counts.
 

[snip]
If we can recall at least three Senators and regain control of the Senate, we can end the ugly games Republicans in the legislature have played in the last few days -- unplugging phone lines, bolting windows inside the Capitol shut, and withholding the paychecks of Democratic legislators.
 
The state party's formal involvement in a recall effort, an idea previously bandied about only by labor officials and activists, represents a new stage in the high-stakes battle between Walker and the state's public unions.
Gerald McEntee, who heads the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, told The Huffington Post several weeks ago that his union would be launching a recall effort against Walker himself. But even beginning that attempt would take many months, as lawmakers cannot be booted from office until they have served for at least a year.
Though recall efforts are rarely successful, the threat of a recall can be a powerful incentive -- Walker himself assumed the post of county executive after his predecessor stepped down over a recall threat. And while Wisconsin Democrats are likely to raise good money from the drive, Democratic lawmakers in the state also have been warned that if they return from their quorum break without the governor's bill shelved, they too might face recall threats

If you want to contribute money, go to http://www­.wisdems.o­rg/. Don't forget to support your local state Democratic Party as well. Just google your state plus "democrati­c party", for example, go to google and enter "az democratic party" without the quotes.
Finally, The Democrats are growing a set!!!!!

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2  Messages / Causes & Activism / Wisconsin GOP Senators Look To Take Control Of Absent Democrats' Staffers on: March 02, 2011, 04:53:00 pm

Wisconsin GOP Senators Look To Take Control Of Absent Democrats' Staffers

First Posted: 03/ 2/11 04:18 PM Updated: 03/ 2/11 04:27 PM


WASHINGTON -- Wisconsin's Republican state senators are attempting to commandeer the staffs of the 14 Democrats who have been camped out in nearby Illinois for nearly two weeks, the latest effort to convince their colleagues to return and move forward on Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill.
A resolution proposed on Wednesday would allow Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) to "assign supervision over any employee appointed by a Senator who is absent without leave for 2 or more session days." The absent senator would retain control of the office's data, however, presumably meaning that Republican senators would not be allowed to access the Democrats' electronic or paper files.
The measure is almost certain to pass, as the state Committee on Senate Organization, which has jurisdiction over such measures, is composedd of three Republicans and two Democrats. Fitzgerald's office could not be reached for comment.
The resolution has Democratic staffers spooked and unsure of what is coming next. One scenario worrying Democrats that if their new supervisor decides they're not adequately performing their duties and fires them.
"We have to figure out what it means to have a supervisor that is not our appointing authority," one Democratic aide told The Huffington Post. "We have been talking over possible scenarios in which we remain employed, and none of them look that good."
A senator in the minority typically has two to three staffers, according to state party officials. There is no precedent for such a measure, Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said.
""They frequently threaten people with unemployment," said Zielinski. "But never has it been done to staff with regard to the capital as far as we know. But it is real. These are real people who do real jobs."
Story continues below
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Zielinski also relayed that Democratic staffers at the capital were worried about the implications of such a measure though he said he did not know if the party had a contingency plan in place should scores of them end up unemployed.
Democratic State Sen. Chris Larson said that he had heard from nervous staff members about the resolution and planned to talk to each one individually about what would happen should they actually receive a new Republican supervisor.
"I want to make sure they are alright and that they are not going to be fired because the Republican governor doesn't want them sending a press release or reaching out to constituents," he told The Huffington Post, calling the GOP's latest gambit "quite disgusting."
"This is a full-on assault of workers rights. They are trying to reshape the way Wisconsin works," Larson added. "I keep joking that the next thing they are going to do is take away our lunch and shove us on the playground. They are becoming petty on this stuff."
State Sen. Jim Holperin (D) said he believes his GOP colleagues are growing increasingly uncomfortable in the national spotlight, especially in support of a bill that would strip collective bargaining rights for the state's public employees.
"I think this is something they never thought the governor would require of them, and many in that Republican caucus probably feel very strongly that workers' rights should not be completely eliminated in Wisconsin," Holperin said. "Their discomfort is frankly being taken out on their Democratic colleagues."
In another resolution passed on Wednesday, Senate Democrats will now face a fine of $100 for every day they are out of state.
According to the resolution, "a senator who is absent without leave from two or more session days is subject to a penalty equal to $100 for each day that the senator is absent without leave. In addition, the senator must reimburse the senate for the actual costs incurred to compel his or her attendance." If a senator does not pay the penalties within 30 days, the chief clerk may simply withdraw it from his or her per diem, travel expenses or other matters.
The resolution also authorizes the sergeant at arms to "request the assistance of any law enforcement officer in this state to find and return any senator who is absent without leave."
On Monday, Republicans introduced another resolution aimed at staffers, one which rolled back access codes to the copy machines in the statehouse. Staffers for absent senators must also get the majority leader's office to sign off on their timesheets.
And under a rule adopted last week, absent senators can no longer to receive their paychecks via direct deposit. They have to go and pick them up in person on the Senate floor during a session.
On Wednesday afternoon, MoveOn.org blasted an email to its members asking them to sign an "emergency statement of support" for Wisconsin's Democratic state senators that urges them to remain out of state.
"These senators have been away from their homes and families for almost two weeks now, at great personal cost," reads the email. "Their bravery has made this whole fight possible, and it can't be easy. That's why we need to show them that they have the support of millions of progressives nationwide -- and that as long as they stay strong, we'll stand with them."
The resolution that would put missing senators' staffers to work elsewhere has been reproduced below:
TO: Members of the Committee on Senate Organization FROM: Senator Scott Fitzgerald, Chair DATE: March 2, 2011 SUBJECT: Ballot 11-033 Policy Change Relating to Senators Absent Without Leave
[MOTION] Pursuant to Senate Rule 88 (1), the Majority Leader may assign supervision over any employee appointed by a Senator who is absent without leave for 2 or more session days. If the Majority Leader assigns supervision to a Senator other than the employee's appointing authority, the appointing authority remains the custodian of records for the office.
The following members are assigned to supervise the employees appointed by senators who are absent without leave:
Sen. Cowles is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Hansen
Sen. Darling is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Erpenbach
Sen. Fitzgerald is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Miller
Sen. Galloway is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Jauch
Sen. Harsdorf is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Lassa
Sen. Hopper is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Taylor
Sen. Kapanke is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Vinehout
Sen. Kedzie is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Larson
Sen. Leibham is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Carpenter
Sen. Moulton is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Holperin
Sen. Olsen is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Coggs
Sen. Schultz is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Risser
Sen. Wanggaard is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Wirch
Sen. Zipperer is assigned to supervise the staff of Sen. Cullen
Please review the motion and record your vote below by signing your name, inserting the date, and circling "aye" or "no." Thank you.
[If this ballot is not returned to the Majority Leader's office by Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 12:45 p.m., you will be designated as not voting.]
3  Messages / Causes & Activism / Re: First Amendment remedies: How working Wisconsinites took their constitution back on: February 18, 2011, 11:32:40 am
http://host.madison.com/wsj/collection_8aeb4dee-3a13-11e0-92df-001cc4c03286.html

Photos: 3rd day of protests at Capitol
4  Messages / Causes & Activism / Re: First Amendment remedies: How working Wisconsinites took their constitution back on: February 18, 2011, 11:31:57 am
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/collection_8071c71a-3ac9-11e0-9ff7-001cc4c03286.html

Photos: Thursday protests at Capitol
5  Messages / Causes & Activism / First Amendment remedies: How working Wisconsinites took their constitution back on: February 18, 2011, 11:29:53 am
First Amendment remedies: How working Wisconsinites took their constitution backStory Discussion Font Size: Default font size Larger font size First Amendment remedies: How working Wisconsinites took their constitution back
Cap Times editorial madison.com | (18) Comments | Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011 7:15 am


 
Firefighters march on West Washington Avenue toward the State Capitol, protesting a bill that would strip state workers of their collective bargaining rights.
 M.P. KING — State Journal


Related Links
Related: Full coverage of Gov. Walker's budget repair bill and protests
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David Vines, a University of Wisconsin student, joined the mass protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights on Monday. The political science student marched on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. He slept overnight in the Capitol to make sure that the Legislature did not approve Walker’s plan without a fight.

Why? “This is what the founders intended,” says Vines.

And he is right.

When Democratic members of the state Senate walked out of the Capitol on Thursday — denying the Republican majority the quorum necessary to pass the legislation — they were attacked by Walker and his cronies. The governor called the boycott a “stunt” and claimed the Democrats were disrespecting democracy.

After all, Walker’s backers noted, the governor and his Republican allies won an election last November.

That is true.

But Wisconsin’s greatest governor, Robert M. La Follette, declared: “We have long rested comfortably in this country upon the assumption that because our form of government was democratic, it was therefore automatically producing democratic results. Now, there is nothing mysteriously potent about the forms and names of democratic institutions that should make them self-operative. Tyranny and oppression are just as possible under democratic forms as under any other. We are slow to realize that democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle. It is only as those of every generation who love democracy resist with all their might the encroachments of its enemies that the ideals of representative government can even be nearly approximated.”

La Follette’s point, apparently lost on Walker, is that democracy does not end on Election Day. That’s when it begins. Citizens do not elect officials to rule them from one election to the next. Citizens elect officials to represent them, to respond to the will of the people as it evolves.

While conservative zealots talk about “Second Amendment remedies” for the challenges faced by civil society, the Wisconsinites who took to the streets to protest an assault on labor rights opted for another amendment to the founding document that the right tries so very hard to claim as the property of a single ideology.

The sign that David Vines carried as he marched Thursday declared for: “First Amendment remedies!”

What did he mean? Read the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The founders, fresh from a revolution against an imperial monarch and his crown corporations, did not outline a right of the people peaceably to assemble so that folks could get together to attend a baseball game — or even to see the Green Bay Packers win a Super Bowl.

The founders did not guarantee a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances so that Americans could gripe about the cold in winter.

The purpose of the First Amendment — the essential amendment for those who believe in a real and robust democracy — was to detail the rights of citizens to object when wrongheaded and dangerous policies are proposed by their elected officials.

That is what happened in Wisconsin this week.

State senators, the elected representatives of the people, looked out the windows of the Capitol and saw tens of thousands of their constituents assembling peaceably to petition for the redress of grievances. “Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites were demanding to be heard,” explained state Sen. Mark Miller, the Democratic minority leader in the chamber. “We hear them.”

And they responded.

At the rally Thursday night where those tens of thousands of Wisconsinites celebrated the walkout by the Democratic senators, they chanted: “This is what democracy looks like.”

They were right.

And David Vines is right.

Wisconsinites are employing “First Amendment remedies.” And it is working, just as the founders intended.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

 http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/editorial/article_adcacc1a-b0d6-5026-b142-d41f0a69be7c.html

6  Messages / Causes & Activism / Analysis: Despite budget woes, state less in crisis now than two years ago on: February 18, 2011, 11:26:29 am
Analysis: Despite budget woes, state less in crisis now than two years ago


Story Discussion Font Size: Default font size Larger font size Analysis: Despite budget woes, state less in crisis now than two years ago
MIKE IVEY | The Capital Times | mivey@madison.com madison.com | (39) Comments | Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011 7:45 am


 
 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks to the media Thursday at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis., in response to 14 state Senators leaving the state to block his bill that would eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state workers.
 Andy Manis/Associated Press


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Sweeping governmental changes are needed, Gov. Scott Walker and his backers claim, because the state is a facing money problems like never before.

"We cannot ignore the fact that Wisconsin is in a fiscal crisis," Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Robin Vos, co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee said following passage of the budget repair bill by that committee Wednesday. "Our state is $137 million in the red. While some people are content with doing nothing, the consequences of inaction are dire."

The bill curtails collective bargaining rights for all public employees in the state, with the exception of firefighters and most police officers, and requires some 350,000 participants in the Wisconsin Retirement System to begin contributing toward their pension. Public workers must also pick up a larger share of health insurance premiums.

But are state finances really "in crisis?" Budget figures can be moving targets, of course, depending on who is spinning the numbers, but a closer look at the state's finances suggests that while there are major problems to be addressed, the situation is better now than it was two years ago.

A Jan. 31 memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the state will actually finish the fiscal year on June 30 with a $56 million surplus. That is $54 million more than state administrators estimated and far more than the $137 million in red ink that Darling and Vos refer to.

Neither Vos, R-Rochester, nor Darling, R-River Hills, responded to requests for comment for this report, but those accounting differences have Democrats claiming Republicans are overstating the depth of the problem to push a hard-right agenda and break public worker unions.

"In our conversations with the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, it has become blatantly evident Governor Walker has manifested this fiscal crisis as a Trojan horse in order to enact unfair public policy in the name of fixing the budget," says state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison.

Scot Ross of the left-leaning group One Wisconsin Now went a step further, calling the Walker plan a "handout in special interest spending to his corporate pals."

Ross was referring to $117.2 million in tax breaks approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature in January. Those items making health savings accounts tax deductible, tax deductions for businesses that relocate and tax exclusions for hiring new employees.

Ross and others have said those tax breaks alone have created the shortfall through the end of this budget cycle that Darling and Vos have cited. But the $117.2 million figure cited by the Fiscal Bureau refers to the cost of those tax breaks over the next 2.5 years, not just the next few months.

Going forward, it is clear Wisconsin has some serious budget issues to face. Estimates say the state is facing anywhere from a $3.1 billion to $3.6 billion deficit in the upcoming two-year budget cycle.

That amount represents about 13 percent of total annual state spending, according to Andrew Reschovsky, professor of public affairs and applied economics at UW-Madison.

"The short answer is that we are arguably in a crisis ... but the crisis is the large size of the fiscal 2012 and 2013 budget gap, not the 2011 gap, which is relatively modest," he says.

Reschovsky says states like California, Nevada and Arizona are in far worse shape than Wisconsin, although he didn't want to underplay the problems here.

"I'd put Wisconsin somewhere in the middle of all the states, maybe a little worse," he says.

Still, Reschovsky agrees that Wisconsin is arguably in better shape financially than it was two years ago when the state was facing an estimated $6 billion deficit for the 2009-2011 budget cycle.

Former Gov. Jim Doyle was able to reduce the deficit then through a combination of furloughs for state workers, increases to the cigarette tax, a move to combined reporting for corporate tax collections and a boost in income taxes for those in the upper bracket. The state was also helped by $1.3 billion in one-time federal stimulus funding.

Moreover, state tax collections have continued to rise as the economy recovers. In January, the state collected $1.46 billion in revenue, up 7.1 percent from a year ago.

And Wisconsin's unemployment rate of 7.5 percent is better than the 9 percent for the U.S. as a whole. While the state has lost thousands of manufacturing jobs, the recession has not hit as hard here as other places.

Wisconsin is also in far better shape than other states when it comes to funding pensions for its retired public workers. The $72 billion Wisconsin Retirement System is over 97 percent funded, according to the Center of Retirement Research, a non-partisan think tank.

By comparison, the Illinois teachers fund, for example, is only 52 percent funded. Other states from California to New Jersey are facing tremendous liabilities in their public pension systems going forward.

Walker's plan to have public employees cover half of their pension costs and pay more for health insurance is designed to save $30 million through the end of the current fiscal year and $300 million over the next two years.

The $300 million in savings from the pension and health plan changes amounts to about 8 percent of the current budget deficit estimates, meaning there's a lot more cutting that would need to happen to close the gap.

Pocan says Walker's calculation of the state's budget problem is skewed by the fact that a significant portion of the gap in the next biennium is driven by agency budget requests, which always come in higher than what the actual funding turns out to be.

For example, in 2009-2011, agencies requested a 9.7 percent increase in general purpose revenue dollars, but were actually given a 2.6 percent reduction. That amounted to a $3.5 billion difference between the budget request and actual spending, although $1.3 billion of that reduction was due to the federal stimulus money.

A better comparison might be the 2007-2009 budget, when agency requests were reduced by 2.1 percent for a $1.6 billion difference between requests and actual spending.

In either case, Pocan maintains Walker has manufactured a crisis to push a hard right-wing agenda that will raise his national profile among conservatives.

"The only way you can slip a bunch of bad policy into law in Wisconsin is to disguise it as something else," he says. "You create a crisis, claim you are the sole path to solving it, enact whatever measures are necessary and be a hero to the people."

Ross took special aim at the recently enacted $48 million in tax breaks for health savings accounts or HSAs, which he says primarily benefit upper-income earners. According to a 2008 report from the federal Government Accountability Office, the average annual income of HSA participants was $139,000, at least in 2005. Nearly half of participants then reported withdrawing nothing from their accounts the previous year.

"This is evidence that HSAs are serving as tax shelters for the wealthy," says Ross.

He also rapped the $67 million in tax breaks for companies that add workers.

"This tax shift is so ill-conceived at best the benefit provided to job creators would be less $1 a day per now job," he says, quoting figures from the Associated Press.

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_90196216-3b66-11e0-a327-001cc4c03286.html
7  Media & Film / Entertainment News / Will Mel Gibson's alleged behavior keep you from seeing his movies? on: July 14, 2010, 01:25:17 pm
Will Mel Gibson's alleged behavior keep you from seeing his movies?.
By Lisa Schwarzbaum, EW.com
July 13, 2010 7:45 p.m. EDT




The Mel Gibson audiotape scandal grows as more audio alleging to reveal the actor's behavior reportedly emerges.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Writer asks do we benefit from knowing who the private Mel Gibson may be?

Does what we know about artists' characters influence our appreciation for their work?

Movie-goers could boycott Gibson's work, or be curious to see what he does next
(EW.com) -- A second purported audiotape has emerged in which Mel Gibson allegedly heaps disgusting verbal abuse and threats on the ex-girlfriend who is the mother of his baby daughter.

You're on your own if you want to find the tape and eavesdrop; I'll skip it, thanks. Instead, I'm here to wrestle with how what we know about an artist's character and personal life influences our appreciation for that artist's work. And whether it should. (I'm leaving the private lives of politicians and others who work in the public trust out of this conversation.)

The truth is, I wish I didn't know anything at all about Mel Gibson. Nothing. Lucky for me, the man has no effect on my daily existence, and I make no dent in his.

I'm curious about Gibson only insofar as he is an interesting actor and filmmaker ("interesting" -- how's that for a deliberately neutral term?) whose projects suggest a complicated, angry interior that, in turn, makes his projects so...interesting. (I assume you enjoy dabbling in cheap, dime-store psychoanalysis as part of your moviegoing enjoyment as much as I do.) The public Mel Gibson's movies tell me plenty.



Video: Defending Mel Gibson?

Video: Did Mel Gibson make death threat?

Video: Mel Gibson's alleged racist rant
RELATED TOPICS
Mel Gibson
Oksana Grigorieva
In a piece on her web site The Daily Beast, Tina Brown declares that ours is a "culture of destructive transparency." Then she applauds the release of those tapes, arguing that listening in provides a kind of vindication on behalf of "every frightened woman ... living in fear of a man who has all the financial cards."

My question: How? Do you really benefit from knowing that, if this leaked evidence is to be believed, the private Mel Gibson is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, a person unraveling in hate? His sins (to put his actions in terms that he, a religious man, would understand) certainly matter to his unfortunate ex-girlfriend, to anyone he has insulted in person, and to his God.

But to put the matter in terms the godless marketplace understands, will what you know affect whether you buy a ticket to Mel Gibson's next movie? Will you boycott his work? (I won't.) Or will you be even more curious to see what he does next?

His talent agency just announced that he has been dropped as a client. But he is a very rich man, with money enough to finance his own productions. What should our public response be to Mel Gibson's alleged private bad behavior?
http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/celebrity.news.gossip/07/13/mel.gibson.negative.box.office.effect.ew/index.html?hpt=Sbin
8  Literature / Book Reviews / The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness [Hardcover] on: June 14, 2010, 11:13:55 am
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness [Hardcover]
By Michelle Alexander
BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
From Publishers Weekly:


"Starred Review. Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that."

“Alarming, provocative and convincing.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“After reading The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander's stunning work of scholarship, one gains the terrible realization that, for people of color, the American criminal justice system resembles the Soviet Union's gulag---the latter punished ideas, the former punishes a condition.”
—David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer-prize winning historian at NYU and author of W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963

"Thirty years ago, fewer than 350,000 people were held in prisons and jails in the United States. Today, the number of inmates in the United States exceeds 2,000,000. In this book, Alexander argues that this system of mass incarceration "operates as a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race." The War on Drugs, the book contends, has created "a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society." Mass incarceration, and the disabilities that come with the label "felon," serve, metaphorically, as the new Jim Crow."

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9  Literature / Book Reviews / The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street Americ on: June 14, 2010, 11:13:13 am
The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America (Paperback)
By William Kleinknecht

BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
From the Nation:

The myth of Ronald Reagan's greatness has reached epic proportions. The public rates him as one of the most popular presidents, and Republicans everywhere seek to cast themselves in his image. But award-winning journalist William Kleinknecht shows in this penetrating analysis of his presidency that the Reagan legacy has been devastating for the country—especially for the ordinary Americans he claimed to represent.

So much that has gone wrong in America—including the subprime mortgage crisis and the meltdown of the financial sector—can be traced directly to Reagan's policies. The financial deregulation launched in the 1980s freed banks and securities firms to squander hundreds of billions of dollars and make a shambles of the economy. Boom-and-bust cycles, obscene CEO salaries, blackouts, drug-company scandals, collapsing bridges, plummeting wages for working people, the flight of U.S. manufacturing abroad—these are all products of Reagan's free-market zealotry and his gutting of the public sector. Reagan pioneered the use of wedge issues like race and the war on drugs to distract America while his administration empowered corporations to lay waste to our traditional ways of life.

In the spirit of Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas?, Kleinknecht takes us to Reagan's hometown of Dixon, Illinois, to show that he was anything but a friend to Main Street America. Relying on detailed factual analysis rather than opinion, The Man Who Sold the World is the first major work to explode the Reagan myth.

This book is a great companion to Will Bunch's Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future (Hardcover)

"A seasoned crime reporter of the old school, William Kleinknecht has penetrated the showbiz curtain to expose the venality and cynicism of the Reagan era—and tells us why the crimes of that time still matter so much today."

-—Joe Conason, best-selling author, Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth and It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush

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William Kleinknecht is a veteran reporter and crime correspondent for the Newark Star-Ledger. He has previously covered the crime beat for the New York Daily News. He has won awards from the Associated Press and the American Society of Professional Journalists, and has contributed to American Journalism Review, National Law Journal and the Boston Phoenix. The author of New Ethnic Mobs: The Changing Face of Organized Crime in America, he lives in Glen Rock, New Jersey.
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10  the Arts / Music / The Grateful Dead, Live Philadelphia Concert on: June 14, 2010, 11:12:14 am
The Grateful Dead, Live Philadelphia Concert Remastered and Packaged in a Commemorative Edition (3CD/1DVD) [Box set] "Crimson, White & Indigo"
The Grateful Dead
BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)

"The Grateful Dead were enjoying a late-career renaissance in 1989 when the band steamed into Philadelphia on one of the hottest days of the summer to play the last concert ever at John F. Kennedy Stadium. The July 7 show in the City of Brotherly Love highlights the band's exuberant resurgence, a peak that rivals any that came before it.

Rhino salutes life, liberty, and the pursuit of 'hippieness' with a collection that includes every note from this epic show on three CD's and one DVD. The DVD captures the entire concert, shot from an amazing multi-camera perspective."

Playlist:

Disc: 1
1. Hell In A Bucket [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
2. Iko Iko [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
3. Little Red Rooster [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
4. Ramble On Rose [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
5. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7,
Disc: 2
1. Box of Rain [Live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
2. Scarlet Begonias [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
3. Fire On The Mountain [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
4. Estimated Prophet [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
5. Standing On The Moon [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
Disc: 3
1. Space [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
2. The Other One [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
3. Wharf Rat [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
4. Turn On Your Lovelight [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
5. Knockin' On Heaven's Door [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989]
Disc: 4 (DVD)
1. Hell In A Bucket [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989] (DVD)
2. Iko Iko [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989] (DVD)
3. Little Red Rooster [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989] (DVD)
4. Ramble On Rose [live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, 1989] (DVD)
5. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again [Live at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA, July 7, (DVD)


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11  Media & Film / Television / Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series on: June 14, 2010, 11:11:19 am
30% Off! Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Granada Television Series (12 DVDs) Megaset. The Best Sherlock Holmes Ever. 2580 minutes.
Based on the Novels of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)

Of 111 reviewers on Amazon.com, 101 gave this 5 stars!

The ultimate collection for Sherlock Holmes lovers, with 12 DVDS and 2580 minutes of viewing pleasure.

"He is known as the Greatest Detective Who Never Lived. Written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and transferred from the original negatives, Sherlock Holmes comes alive on film in this landmark 1980s television series starring Jeremy Brett.

All the classic tales are here, as the Great Detective and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, tangle with the terrifying Hound of the Baskervilles, the beautiful adventuress Irene Adler, and the dastardly villains Colonel Sebastian Moran, Charles Augustus Milverton, and the Napoleon of Crime himself, Professor James Moriarty.

Disc 1
A SCANDAL IN BOHEMIA, THE DANCING MEN, THE NAVAL TREATY, THE SOLITARY CYCLIST

DISC 2
THE CROOKED MAN, THE SPECKLED BAND, THE BLUE CARBUNCLE, THE COPPER BEECHES

DISC 3
THE GREEK INTERPRETER, THE NORWOOD BUILDER, THE RESIDENT PATIENT, THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE

DISC 4
THE FINAL PROBLEM, THE EMPTY HOUSE, THE ABBEY GRANGE, THE MUSGRAVE RITUAL

DISC 5
THE SECOND STAIN, THE MAN WITH THE TWISTED LIP, THE PRIORY SCHOOL, THE SIX NAPOLEONS

DISC 6
THE DEVIL'S FOOT, SILVER BLAZE, WISTERIA LODGE, THE BRUCE-PARTINGTON PLANS

DISC 7
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF LADY FRANCES CARFAX, THE SIGN OF FOUR

DISC 8
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, THE PROBLEM OF THOR BRIDGE, THE BOSCOMBE VALLEY MYSTERY

DISC 9
THE ILLUSTRIOUS CLIENT, SHOSCOMBE OLD PLACE, THE MASTER BLACKMAILER

DISC 10
THE LAST VAMPYRE, THE ELIGIBLE BACHELOR

DISC 11
THE THREE GABLES, THE CREEPING MAN, THE DYING DETECTIVE, THE GOLDEN PINCE-NEZ

DISC 12
THE RED CIRCLE, THE MAZARIN STONE, THE CARDBOARD BOX"

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12  Literature / Book Reviews / Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle on: June 14, 2010, 11:10:14 am
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (Hardcover) "Chris Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. In this 'other society,' serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins."
Chris Hedges
BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
This is a must read about our current culture, particularly the ubiquitous role of corporate television. We have come to a point that spectacle and entertainment have become indistinguishable from news, facts and the truth. Even politics has become just another form of entertainment: just look at Sarah Palin.

Chris Hedges has written a vitally important book that serves as an excellent companion to "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free."

"A culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion dies. And we are dying now. We will either wake from our state of induced childishness, one where trivia and gossip pass for news and information, one where our goal is not justice but an elusive and unattainable happiness, to confront the stark limitations before us, or we will continue our headlong retreat into fantasy.

The New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Fascists and the NBCC finalist for War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning travels in Empire...to chronicle our terrifying flight as a culture into a state of illusion. He exposes the mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political, and moral collapse around us.

The more we sever ourselves from a literate, print-based world, a world of complexity and nuance, a world of ideas, for one informed by comforting, reassuring images, fantasies, slogans and a celebration of violence the more we implode."


"More than that, though, Hedges explores the ways in which reason & literacy -- the humanities -- are shunted to the margins in favor of a utilitarian mindset, one that boils down to, "What's in it for me, right now, and how can I get the most of it as quickly as possible?" And that "most" is wealth, status, power, and the illusion of importance -- a humanity measured in things, rather than in being.

From that point, we're shown how these personal illusions contribute to & help sustain a national, even global, illusion of power, self-righteousness, corruption & control. It's bread & circuses for the masses, with digital soma mainlined at every waking moment. Meanwhile, the real elites, the corporate masters of our world, do whatever their insatiable appetites demand. This invariably requires bloodshed & suffering inflicted upon those least able to resist it. .

Is Hedges overwrought? Is he exaggerating the crisis at hand? If so, it's not by very much. As a war correspondent of some 20 years, he's seen the brutal results of illusionary thinking first-hand. This book is born of bitter experience, as Hedges bears witness to the ongoing destruction of the human soul, which is lost in a world of glittering superficiality which can't conceal its innate cruelty, ugliness & emptiness."

"The worse reality becomes, the more a beleaguered population distracts itself with pseudo-events of celebrity breakdowns, gossip and trivia. These are the debauched revels of a dying culture."

"Hedges argues that consumerism and celebrity culture have a powerful political function. "The whole fantasy of celebrity culture is not designed simply to entertain," Hedges says, but to make us politically passive."

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About the Author:

Chris Hedges, the author of the bestselling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and writes for many publications including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones. He is also a columnist for Truthdig.com. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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13  Philosophy / Philosophy / Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization on: June 10, 2010, 01:27:44 pm
Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization (Hardcover): Featured on Jon Stewart on June 9th
By Spencer Wells

BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
"Spencer Wells's writing combines a deep knowledge of the history of human evolution with a most engaging and lively manner of making that story come alive. Pandora’s Seed draws upon compelling anecdotes and moving personal narratives to crystallize a crucial turning point in the history of our species, the point at which modern human beings stop and look back at our long evolutionary trajectory, and confront squarely its dark side, its cost. With this knowledge, Wells deeply believes, we can take the necessary steps to chart a common, humane future over the crucial next half century. Pandora’s Seed reflects Wells’s deep learning, and his deep love of our all too human community."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University and author of Tradition and the Black Atlantic

"Spencer Wells has a provocative and timely message. He argues that we are at a critical juncture where our culture could destroy the very essence of what it means to be human. His closely argued and thoughtful essay gives us hope and a blueprint for the future that relies in part on lessons from peoples who still retain links with the distant part. Everyone with a stake in humanity’s future should read this book."—Brian Fagan, author of The Great Warming and Cro-Magnon

"Nowadays, Wells contends, we are both stultified and overstimulated, cut off from the land and alienated from one other, resulting in mental illness and violent fundamentalism. Wells gives readers an engaging rundown of the science that reconstructs the prehistoric past."

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14  Messages / Upcoming Releases / Bill Press's "Toxic Talk: How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America's Airwaves" on: June 10, 2010, 01:25:02 pm
Bill Press's "Toxic Talk: How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America's Airwaves" [Hardcover]
By Bill Press

BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)
"For far too long, conservatives were the only voices heard on talk radio. But no longer. Now there-s a whole community of strong and dynamic progressive voices on the airwaves. As Bill Press shows, progressive radio is alive, well, and growing!"
--Congressman James E. Clyburn, House Majority Whip

Good for Bill Press! Finally, somebody exposes that gang of right-wing talk show hosts for the hate-mongers they are. If you want to know how much damage Rush Limbaugh and his clones have done to free speech, read this book!
--Ed Schultz, host of The Ed Schultz Show

"I poke fun at the -right-wing world- on my own radio show every day. But Bill Press shows us that the world of right-wing talk is not only stupid, it-s dangerous. I dare Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity to read this book. If they ever did, they would immediately resign in shame!"
--Stephanie Miller, host of The Stephanie Miller Show


"Finally, a bare knuckled challenge to those bullies on talk radio who invent their own truths. Bill Press is a progressive breath of fresh air."
--Senator Byron Dorgan

"For too long, talk radio was the exclusive playhouse of right-wing extremists. No longer. Now, we see them exposed for what Bill Press rightly calls them, toxic talkers. We also see the promise, from a progressive perspective, of more and more strong truth-tellers."
--Senator Bernie Sanders

*****

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15  Media & Film / the History of Film / Tennessee Williams Classic Film Collection on: June 10, 2010, 01:23:00 pm
Tennessee Williams Classic Film Collection, 7 DVDs, 685 Minutes
Classic Films Based on the Works of Tennessee Williams
BuzzFlash.com's Review (excerpt)

"One of America's greatest playwrights, Tennessee Williams transformed his personal sorrows into artistic triumphs, writing many of the 20th century's most memorable stage dramas. Williams's homosexuality, his difficult childhood, and his wrenching relationship with his mentally ill sister informed his work throughout his career. Little wonder that he displayed an affinity for bringing emotionally fragile characters and expressive women to life. Hollywood was quickly drawn to Williams's high drama, but some film adaptations, including Suddenly Last Summer, watered down the dicier aspects of his morally skewed fables.

"This deluxe box set collects six of the films based more faithfully on Williams's works. Baby Doll (1956) stars Carroll Baker as a manipulative child bride caught in a bizarre power struggle between Karl Malden and Eli Wallach. Another southern domestic epic, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof(1958), the riveting tale of a family's greed and mendacity, features powerful performances from Burl Ives, Paul Newman, and Elizabeth Taylor. Director John Huston draws impressive work from Richard Burton as a defrocked clergyman befriended by sultry Ava Gardner in Night of the Iguana(1964). Two films here deal with a favorite Williams theme: the push-pull relationship between a self-deceiving older woman and a callow younger man. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (1961) features Vivien Leigh as a faded actress entangled with narcissistic lothario Warren Beatty, while Sweet Bird of Youth (1962) stars Paul Newman as a dirt-poor drifter who attaches himself to former film star Geraldine Page. And then there's A Streetcar Named Desire: Flawlessly directed by Elia Kazan, this landmark 1951 film stars a young Marlon Brando as the feral Stanley Kowalski and Vivien Leigh as the delicate, neurotic Blanche Dubois."

"Still as powerful in its depiction of seething sexuality as it was upon its initial release, Streetcar remains the definitive Williams adaptation to date, as well as one of the monumental Hollywood classics of the era. For superb entertainment and mature storytelling, it's hard to beat this sensational collection -- even the less successful films are more powerful than most of what passes for serious drama today."

Lots of Extras!

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"Closed Caption; Making-of documentaries; Expert commentaries; Extensive stage-to-screen Streetcar chronicles with film/audio outtakes, spotlights on Marlon Brando, vintage radio show and the feature-length Elia Kazan: A Director's Journey; Rare screen tests and more"
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