Sunday, November 27, 2005
This however, is quite freaky. The thing about our nation that I understood was better than say, Chile or Burma is civilian control over the military. We don't have a junta, our troops follow policies set forth by politicians, which makes us different than most countries on the face of the Earth.
Apparently, the military brass have been pushing to break down that wall between civilian life and military intelligence, aching to bring the FBI into their intelligence community. That means that the military could spy on American Citizens.
Not just funny-looking immigrants with weird, hard to spell last names, but American citizens.
They can spy on you if you're deemed a threat to national security.
Who makes that determination?
What happens if they think you're a threat and you're not?
What happens when they change the rules from case to case?
What the hell has happened to our country? This goes only to a very dark and strange place. But then, that's the Bush Administration for you, bringing the transparency and efficacy of the FBI, and combining with the forthrightness of the military.
Via Atrios and Demvet.
Update: It looks like 'they' have been keeping an eye on Jesus' General. Who knew?
Saturday, November 26, 2005
A while back, the Onion had an article on the ominous start of 'phase two' of Starbucks global plan for whatever it is they plan for globally.
Apparently three Manhattan Starbucks' stores and 15 officials have been found by the National Labor Relations Board to be guilty several counts of illegal anti-union activity.
They told workers they couldn't wear union pins, they dinged workers down on their evaluations for their support of a union. They even fired two workers for joining the International Workers of the World.
A friend and I were talking about this effort by the IWW (really a tiny, tiny, union without much clout) to organize Starbucks Baristas. He concluded that if Starbucks were smart (in addition to being merely sinister) they'd simply co-opt the union and use it for marketing purposes. The IWW probably wouldn't know what to do with itself, finding its logo, culture and history being used to market lattes to soccer moms.
I mean, that must be because the company is beset by problems, broke, and without any other recourse except to raid money from working families. Right? Clearly that can be the only explanation.
Except that as Jonathan Tasini points out, Delphi executives have already bargained their own golden parachutes worth $500 million dollars. The kicker--those parachutes open AFTER Delphi emerges from bankruptcy court. The same bankruptcy court that the union and the company in right now, trying to figure out what to do with worker pensions.
So, to summarize: Company cries poor, demands wage concessions from working class folks, tries to gut pensions in bankruptcy court, and top executives ream workers and company out of more than $500 million on compensation packages for themselves.
Can there be a clearer case of class warfare? I mean, obviously this isn't blood in the streets kind of stuff, but in terms of the interests of the wealthy and the powerful vs. the rest of America's working core, this is a pretty stark example of open warfare.
And the only thing standing in the way of Delphi getting their way?
The United Auto Workers, an organization not without its faults. Thus is the worth of the labor movement.
Friday, November 25, 2005
Who the hell is Adam Kidan? He's the long-time business partner of a guy named Jack Abramoff. They were both indicted this summer for fraud in the purchase of the casino of the dead guy.
Who the hell is Jack Abramoff? He's literally the gravy train of corporate bribe money for the Republican controlled House of Reprehensibles. He's also under investigation for bribery, being a fuck, etc.
He's also Tom Delay's right-hand guy in the lobbying world.
So, to run this back again: Business partner of the right hand guy of the right hand guy of the guy who controls congress is implicated in the gangland slaying of a casino founder. It's like you're watching Casino or something, except these people run the country.
I wonder if Pesci will play the part of Fat Tony, or if they'll spring high and go for Tony Soprano.
Case in Point: Amanda Marcotte has a great post up at Pandagon about the New York Times' obsession with the downful of upper-middle class feminism. This is nothing new, nor is it confined to gender issues.
There are frequent articles in the Home & Garden, Fashion & Style, or even the National news sections of the Times that focus on--you guessed it--lifestyles of the well to do and merely filthy rich.
This particular article focuses on career women--what Marcotte refers to as the Strawfeminist--who have given up their mannish business ways to care for elderly parents. Marcotte raises the most salient point--that most people don't have 'careers' to give up. They work for a check because it's what they have to do, and when the time to take care of their folks comes, they simply do that, raise their families and work themselves to death.
I guess it's just that those kinds of situations don't make for good feminist backlash stories because they're a: too depressing, and b: about poor and working folks, whom the corporate media generally doesn't have too much use for anyway.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
And on the 9th or so day, God made Tofurky, and it was goooooood.
And we made macaroni, and we added four or so pounds of cheese, and frankly, it left a lot to be desired. But the gravy was gravy.
And we made strawberry pie (from scratch, biznatches) and we have yet to enjoy it, but it looks good.
And this was our place setting, and our wine, and they too were good. And that so far, has been our thanksgiving. And I am truly, deeply, madly, thankful.
Do you like John McCain? Do you think that he's fair to a fault? Open to admitting mistakes and bucking the party leadership? A man of principle? Not a tool of the far right?
And as Atrios has dug up, McCain is endorsing George Wallace Jr., who has given four speeches to a hate group in Alabama.
We're nothing like Saddam Hussein! That guy used chemical weapons on his own people!
We don't torture!
My head won't explode from obvious lies!
This is posibly one of the best things about being a vegetarian. Tofurky has a special place in my food heart, among foods I never would have tried in a million years if I were still omnivorous.
So here it is, my heartfelt, not cynical, too sincere to be believed, giving of thanks list.
- I'm thankful for my job.
- I'm thankful for my health.
- I'm thankful for my family.
- I'm thankful that I'm alive.
- I'm thankful to be living in a situation that allows me to blog my thanks to the Almighty.
- I'm thankful, so thankful, to have a wife that loves me and whom I love very deeply.
And, I'm thankful my name isn't Bob Ney.
There is much discussion among people who do what I do about the value of 'traditional' bargaining versus 'win-win' bargaining or 'interest based bargaining'.
I know the basic precepts behind win-win and interest based bargaining, but they seem more like cults, complete with devotees who Wouldn't Do It Any Other Way (TM).
This is my first time at the table. I'm proud to say that over the course of the negotiations, we've been able to build a scene, where we are bargaining traditionally, but the conversation is professional, concerned for the well-being of the whole district, even warm at times. This has allowed us to be very frank about pressing issues on our side, and I believe that the district has been honest about their pressing issues as well. Most importantly, it has built up the leadership of this particular union to a level that has never been accomplished. The district finally, really, believes they want the best for the whole of the district, and it makes all the difference in the world.
It's something I never thought I'd be doing, but here I am, two sessions away from closing my first union contract. When I was an organizer in another office in the state, I used to watch my colleagues do the same job I'm doing now, and I used to tell myself, 'I could never, never do what they do for a living. No way.'
Now I'm doing it, and at least in these circumstances, I'm doing it well.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Bonus pic: If you blur your eyes, you can see the shamrock on the head of the beer. The pic is from when Dr. Mrsinallmyyears, myself, and her parents went to Ireland. We had stopped in at the Guiness brewery in Dublin.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
The film itself was pretty good, but I think that they left out an important part of the picture, which is the way Wal-Mart squeezes its suppliers (the folks who manufacture the shit Wal-Mart sells) to keep their prices down. This in turn insures that the suppliers keep their wage and benefits packages low so they can match Wal-Mart's prices.
It also didn't focus on Wal-Mart's anti-union practices in Texas and in Quebec. When 11 meat cutters voted to join a union, Wal-Mart quit cutting meat in all of its national stores in response. When Quebecois Wal-Mart workers voted to affiliate with a union last year (this time the entire store) Wal-Mart simply shut the store down.
Still, these are minor quibbles. The film effectively focused on telling the individual stories of workers, small business owners, and the communities affected by the Beast from Bentonville.
I think that the folks who came got something out of it, and it was exciting to see lots of people that I didn't know.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
I can't believe Muggsy Bogues didn't even get on the list. One of the commenters on Huffington Post suggests former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, and another suggests Danny DeVito.
Good folks, all told.
Next up, Razorcake with the exclusive on the Plame Investigation.
Friday, November 18, 2005
- Impeach the Secretary of Defense and all other responsible parties for incompetence and criminal negligence in the prosecution of the war in Iraq
- A Constitutional Right to Privacy
- A Higher Minimum Wage
- Universal Health Care
- Universal Free University Education
- National Mass Transit
- Full Corporate Governance Reform to End Corporate Corruption
- National Free Internet Access and Copyright Reform
We do get this choice quote from Todd Akin, a Missouri conservative. It's revealing of Republican attempts to pass the damn thing.
Apparently, W. spent his busy time aboard Air Force One to phone reluctant Congresspersons to vote for the bill. When speaking with Representative Akin, the shizzle went down thusly:
…Bush was on the phone aboard Air Force One on the way back, still scrambling for votes. But he wasn’t having much success. He failed to persuade at least five GOP members who had voted for an earlier version of the bill to back the measure headed to the floor.
One of them was Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a staunch conservative who was elected along with the president in 2000. Akin explained his concerns to Bush about the bill’s cost, adding: “I’m sorry, Mr. President. It’s a vote of conscience.”
A testy Bush shot back: “Are you saying I don’t have a conscience?”
Ahem, well if the shoe fits, it's a duck. Right?
One question, Colin: If you knew our pre-war planning wasn't going to get the job done, why did you unequivocally support the war? Didn't you know how it was going to go down? If you did, did you not have a duty to let us know?
Thursday, November 17, 2005
The difference between .org and .com
I would have never knowingly linked to those assholes had I known. Their entire purpose appears to be making fun of pedantic feminists. We all know they're really the ones running the country, not the folks who actually control the media, congress and the White House.
It's kind of funny that the stereotypes of the pedantic feminist and vegan are so close. Except that the pedantic vegan isn't bent on deyning you lovin'. Just veal.
The reason this happened is that (for once) every Democrat made a principled stand and voted no(!) , and they managed to peel off 20 or so centrist (read: Not Certifiably Insane) Republicans.
The result was an overwhelming loss for House Republican leader Roy Blunt. His job is to count noses and see if his legislation will pass or not. It didn't, which begs the question: is it that he can't lead, or that he can't count?
Josh Marshall reminds us not to go and get all happy and excited and shit because they'll likely just reintroduce everything that was just voted down in some huge-ass omnibus bill that no one can vote against because it funds the national Motherhood and Apple Pie Iniative.
Still, any day that's bad for Roy Blount has to be good for me.
Lakshmi Chaudry says more, and more eloquently than I can, about why the film falls short of its potential.
I think she's right, but I suppose I was impressed because the film was so much better than most war movies (or for that matter, movies in general) and I liked Sam Mendes' American Beauty.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Back when he was begging us to consider him a war president, he wanted all the credit. Now, it's somehow the opposition's fault.
Your modern party of personal responsibility. It's my doing if it's going well, and if not, you're just as much to blame as me.
The movie has been getting pretty good press so far (two thumbs up from Ebert and Roeper), and there are reports that people are burning the trailer to DVD's and playing them in Wal-Mart. Rascals.
I'll post on Saturday about how things go Friday night.
Swingin' Utters have been around for years. This was their second release on Fat Wreck Chords, and one of my all-time favorite punk records. This was the first time I got exposed to the Pogues and folk sound that other bands would also develop (Especially Flogging Molly, a standout band and Against Me! who are really folk singers) and at that time, it really blew me away. The songwriting is profoundly antagonistic to dumb young punks and 'the scene'. Much of it is catchy, and Johnny 'peebucks' Bonnel's scratchy vocals perfectly compliment the worldly music. I'll leave you with these lyrics:
Which is the punk-as-fuck ethos summed up nicely.The fascists and their many guises
Anarchists and their fantasizing
seems sometimes they're sailing the same boat
Politicians mesmerizing throngs of automated souls
As some similar pyscho's screwing on a scope
There may be many ways of reaching the same plateau
I'll take the road less traveled if it looks like it ain't been sold
The chains around my neck won't break
But at least they're made of solid gold.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Monday, November 14, 2005
It's nice to know that so many people hold the man and his policies in the same low regard that I do.
A thought crossed my mind this morning as well, one that I'll share with you, dear readers. Every day I get to get up, wish my wife good morning (and mean it!) head off to a job that, while often depressing, does mean something. I get to work with dedicated people every day. Sometimes I even get to help them.
I get to help out in local politics, where you can actually see the most difference from your efforts. I get to make ethical purchasing choices on a regular basis.
Making these kinds of choices aren't burdens and commitments, they're expressions of love for myself and my family, and the folks I've never met.
Sometimes these things are profound to me, and sometimes they disappear into the background noise.
Here's to making sure they remain profound.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
They tend to run personality-driven campaigns, so tying the ultimate political personality around their necks like a flaming tire seems fitting.
The only point with which I would disagree with Chris is whether attempting to push his numbers even lower would be counerproductive. I think there's always utility in getting more people to realize the complete failure that is George W. Bush.
While that can't be the totality of our push to change the country, it is a useful piece of political jujitsu.
But what do I know? I always back the loser. Here's a bonus pic of our kids from a road trip we took back in September.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Even where protections for workers are worked into the deals, their implementation is often underfunded, undermined, and underutilized.
Case in point: Trade Adjustment Assistance. The short version is that this was supposed to be extra unemployment security for those who can show that their jobs were lost due to corporate controlled globalization. Sounds nice. The problem is that Bush has frozen its implementation.
And where are Democrats on this issue? Nowheresville, man. Nowheresville.
That's the responsible position to take. Anything else and you're firmly in left-wing lunacy territory.
One other point that these 'liberals' always seem to miss: if this kind of trade is so great and wonderful and shiny and tasty, and inevitable and unstoppable then why must union leaders be jailed, shot, and disappeared to make it work?
Why can't working people have their say without the threat of violence hanging over their heads?
Oh, then there's the kids.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
They say there are two kinds of political power--people power and money power.
The CNA, the California Teachers Association, the firefighters and police unions showed that smart use of their financial resoures and effective mobilizing of their members are a force to be recokned with.
Make no mistake, the issue was not paycheck protection or any such issue.
What Arnold wanted was to cripple a key source of funding of his political enemies, while making no attempt whatever to limit right-wing and corporate contributions.
You can dress that up in any fancy language you like, but it's another assault on the one voice that working people have--their union.
And what's really funny about that particular episode is Bill Frist's complete inability to perform the most basic functions of hackery. I mean, you leak the talking points to Drudge, then we all know O'Reilly picks up on it (it's not like he's ever had an original thought in his head) and from there the mainstream media is forced to pay attention to it.
I mean, jeez, I'm not even a Republican and I know how this game works.
Welcome to Amateur Hour in the Senate. Pass the popcorn.
Unfortunately, on a day-t0-day basis I don't see many of them. We say in this line of work that we work in 'silos', or narrow worlds where we don't often interact with others like us. And that can be damn depressing and isolating at times. Very rarely is anyone else around when you have to deliver bad news, make hard decisions, or deal with a shitty situation.
So seeing these folks is a very big treat for me. They're my friends, and they're also my union brothers and sisters.
In other news, here's a list from the People for the American Way (and what other way is there?) of recent examples of voter suppression. It's sobering stuff (hat tip dailykos).
How about them returns from election night? Lookin' good, lookin' real good (statement not valid in Ohio).
Oh, and Republicans were arguing whether or not oil executives actually had to swear to tell the truth in Senate hearings on record oil profits. No shite.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
'Wait', I can hear you saying, 'but Dan, what on earth have you done to deserve such an honor?' I have a hard time figuring it myself.
I suppose that all of the old ladies I've helped cross the street, all the kids I've helped feed, all the lives I've touched and saved, all these wonderful, fulfilling deeds have finally come home to roost.
On the upside, I will get to see of my comrades-in-arms that I rarely get to due to geography and work load issues. So that should be fun. I will also not have to traverse the tri-state tollway, so that should be a treat.
On the downside, I will have to spend an evening away from the foxy and talented Dr. Mrsinallyyears.
Hey, a victory for working folks today! They'll actually get paid for the work they do!
Oh, and the candidate that the article applies to?
Yesterday was not fun. I had to bargain all day, but after I got home, Dr. Mrsinallmyyears and I went to go see Jarhead, which was a great film. I thought it really showed the tedium I always imagined war to be.
Oh, and Wal-Mart knew it was hiring illegal immigrants to clean its stores! I wonder why that didn't show up in the commercials I see on the teevee?
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Once indifferent to politics, Wal-Mart's founding family has learned the value of having - and supporting - friends in high places.
One such friend is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. Last year he vetoed a bill that would have forbidden employers to lock workers inside businesses, a practice Wal-Mart has used. Last month he vetoed a bill that would have required California to identify the employers of people who are paid so little that they qualify for government health services. Again, Wal-Mart is the No. 1 example.
While the governor was vetoing, heirs to Sam Walton were busy writing six-figure checks to his political causes. It began after Mr. Schwarzenegger vetoed the lock-in bill. John T. Walton, a Wal-Mart director who died four months ago, gave $200,000 to his political committee, the California Recovery Team, according to The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.
On the day Mr. Schwarzenegger vetoed the latest bill, Christy Walton, John's widow, wrote a $250,000 check to the governor's committee. Three weeks later, Wal-Mart's chairman, Rob Walton, gave $250,000 to the governor's campaign to limit the political activities of labor unions. (Wal-Mart itself, which is famously allergic to unions, chipped in $100,000 of its own.)
Because Arnold's sensibilities towards workers and Wal-Mart's dovetail so very nicely...
Really, to think that major party organizations are not going to get caught at this in this day and age is just silly. It might be construed as an insult to our intelligence.
Just like barkers at the carnival, you can hear them say "and remember to vote Democratic, on Wednesday, November the 9th!"
I especially like the workplace violations hitmeter on their website.
So, there's two new link sections, one for my other love (sorry, Dr. Mrsinallmyyears) the labor movement and another for good folks who write a lot.
Also, I'm working getting a site to host a viewing of Wal-Mart the Movie.
Does Robert Greenwald ever rest? Inquiring minds wanna know.
"I'm wide awake, it's morning" is a great album. Connor Oberst's lyrics and songwriting ability work like this: summon all the angst, sorrow, rage, and joy you can and boil those feelings down into the most piercing words and notes you can collect. Record.
Whether he's imploring us to stare into the face of the criminals we kill, relating the story of a joyous day spent rioting against the Bush regime, or his own insecurities as a musician (I could be a famous singer, if I had someone else's voice, but failure's always sounded better, fuck it up boys, make some noise!) Oberst evokes my own emotions and I'm not ashamed when I'm caught up in the winds of one of his songs. His tirades seem like my own personal howlings.
Do yourself a favor. Buy this.
Man, that's so proletarian. Hippie. That kind of thinking went out, like in the 30's.
NARAL and the National Organization of Women of course think Alito should be stopped because of his stance on women's issues. Of course, they would, being uppity 'wimmin' and everything. If they were attractive and docile, they'd quit worrying about their rights.
I would mention his stances on civil rights issues, but we all know that's just code for black folks' issues, and we're way past giving a crap about that.
But if all else fails (and the country decides that workers, minorities and women don't count for anything) then perhaps this will stick.
Now, dear readers I know you might be surprised to find out that prominent and powerful political and legal cheeses might use their power and influence toward their own ends, but it actually does happen. And right now, the Republicans seem to enjoy market domination. Not that this lets Democrats off the hook, but don't the folks actually running the country carry a little more responsibility?
Which brings us back to Sammy "Vanguard" Alito.
I'm sure he'll make a fine justice. Just dandy.
Seriously, if you don't use your rights, will you notice them when they're gone?
Saturday, November 05, 2005
You're a torturer.
This guy Larry Wilkerson blew the shit up last week by claiming that small, secretive cabal of insiders basically has taken over our foreign policy apparatus.
Which you might expect to hear from some craaaaazy lefty.
Except that he was Colin Powell's top assistant, and might be in a position to know such things.
He continues to hammer at Herr Cheney, and I say God Bless 'im. Dick Cheney's been hammering away at us for far too damn long.
At least Mr. Cheney's folks gave a vigorous denial, saying no way in hell would he countenance torture under the American Flag.
"A Cheney spokeswoman, Jennifer Mayfield, said: "The vice president's office has no response."You can just imagine the crickets chirping, can't you?
Media Matters for America has the rundown.
It's worth noting that of course, it's not like the President got a blowjob from a consenting adult. That'd be criminal or something.
And Dick the ball and Cheney?
Clockin' in at 19% approval baby. That's actually two points less popular than cheating on your wife. I shit you not.
If the goal were for America to find out how many of pathologically Support the President No Matter What (TM), then we have arrived at the answer . Apparently 19% of the nation is certifiably batshit insane in love with the vice-president. As Bob Harris rightly notes, 20-30% of all Americans will reliably believe any nutty theory you put out there. So there.
The party in power would rather cut food stamps, funding for the only health care system the poor will ever see, student loans, agriculture conservation spending, and payments to farmers.
I'll put this way, Archer Daniels Midland need not worry. A measure to trim spending on rich farmers failed.
Farmer Brown on the other hand, worry.
Oh, and the kicker? They're planning to introduce another round of $70 billion dollars in tax cuts.
I'll leave you with this:
"From a beneficiary's perspective, [the changes] are hugely significant," said Jocelyn Guyer, senior program director at Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, who estimated that 6 million children will be affected by the changes.
For the first time, poor children and pregnant women -- currently shielded from any out-of-pocket payments -- could be billed for some medications or hospital visits for non-emergency care."