Friday, June 30, 2006

That's one bad boss.

Working America recently ran a campaign to get people to send in their 'bad boss' stories. The winner is a doozy.

To wit:

"He paints by the number," was the excuse I was given when I wanted to okay a psychiatric hospital stay for a patient who was out of state.

My patient was a veteran suffering from trauma triggered by watching news coverage of the war in Iraq. He had been taken to emergency and when they called for authorization, my boss said they cost too much. I tried to get the hopsital to bring the price down. So, they discharged my patient after making him put $5000 on his credit card. I tried to get the money back for him and get my boss to okay paying the hospital. It went back and forth for too long.

The patient committed suicide. He shot himself in the head.

I couldn't quit crying when I heard and took the rest of the day off. I used my personal time to do it.

My boss complained to my supervisor . He said, "I don't know why she had to take the day off. People commit suicide everyday."

I no longer work there. I'm in therapy now.

Shit, I'd be in therapy too.

Do you really need another reason why unions kick ass?

Okay, here's one more reason. Even a very small local shop can win things for people they wouldn't have otherwise had. Like severance pay when the employer folds up.

Threatened Wal-Mart Strike Pays Off

The GMB and ASDA (British general workers' union and Wal-Mart owned grocery chain) have reached agreement this morning at 3:30 a.m. to govern how employees will be represented by the union, as well as creating a kind of joint council which will have certain limited powers to deal with disputes and training. In addition, the union gets access to corporate leaders twice a year in formal meetings designed to promote cooperation between the parties.

Not bad.

Evidence of Spinal Material in Democrats

Some random guy at Dailykos has the rundown. On a completely unrelated note, did anyone listen to Bush at the press conference yesterday, trying to get across that he and Japanese Prime Minister were headed to Graceland?

He could barely get out the words 'hound dog.' What a sad sack. You're southern white male in the 50-60 age range who can't recite the name of an Elvis Presley song. What good are you?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why did I never put the internet to this use before?

Glorious whiskey.

Good news.

Kuwaiti women rock the vote.

For rizzle.

Note: Does it make me lazy that I do very little on this blog other than post to other people's hard-won reporting? Answer: I do not care.

Center for Union Facts

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (poor fools) ran a number on the Center for Union Facts, and their founder Richard Berman. Apparently he's a scam artist in deep with Bush folks. You knew that.

But what was funny was that I found this on Youtube. This is what's known as 'astroturfing', when a corporate-backed entity parades itself as coming from the people.

It's a pretty funny video. Then watch this one with footage which includes footage of peaceful labor assemblies being busted. Tell me which one you find more powerful.

This will be no joke.

The New York NEA affiliate and New York State United Teachers are merging to form a 600,000 member union.

No joke. That's bigger than some national unions.

An hour and forty-five minutes in traffic.

I am whomped.

On another note, you're planning your lastest trip. Would you take into account a hotel's labor relationship before you book your room?

I would.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More poor folks' issues

God Bless Harry Reid for putting a halt on Senate pay raises while the minimum wage remains criminally low. And the Democrats are doing the right thing here.

Well, I'll be damned.

Apparently the pension crisis in the private sector is mainly a creation of CEO pay packages. In other words, working people who are too old to work are having their pensions robbed from them so that CEO's can tack on another $500 million or so. Must be nice. I wonder how they sleep.

On a nice pile of money.

Poor women kick ass and take names

Exhibit A. Congrats to the SEIU, ACORN and their affiliated fellow travelers. And governor Pataki, how does it feel to kick poor women where the sun don't shine? Good? Does it make you feel like a better person to deny them the right to bargain collectively?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What's your going rate?

George's is running about $100k an hour. Not bad.

Home sweet home.

Howie Klein over at Firedoglake has a great profile of two competitive congressional races in my home state, against the miserable Robin Hayes and contemptible Charles Taylor.

One great story about Hayes I had forgotten about was how he was forced (at Congressional gunpoint) to vote for CAFTA and break a 214-214 tie. This is bad, because his home district had been the heart of NC's textile industry. Sayeth Klein:
Hayes is most famous for breaking down and weeping like a baby after DeLay, Blunt and other Republicans forced him, on the floor of the House, to vote against his constituents interests to break a 214-214 tie for some hideous trade policies that wreaked further havoc and despair on North Carolina’s textile industry.
Taylor is famous for his world-wide gallavanting and self-enrichment project:
Two counties in his district threatened to garnish his congressional salary because he refused to pay his property taxes, and he owns a bank that loans cronies money that never gets paid back and gets written off (after portions, some observers allege, are kicked back to the slippery congressman).
Good stuff. They have two interesting opponents in NFL star Heath Schuler (vs. Taylor) and Larry Kissell (vs. Hayes). My old buddy Rahm hand-picked Schuler, so I don't have much to say about that. Kissell on the other hand does appear to have his act together and would make a worthy point of support for anyone looking to drop a few dimes into a burgeoning-copetitve race. That's not a subtle hint.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


The Bush Department of Labor (the entity tasked with enforcing labor lawand working with the National Labor Relations Board) is connected with the horrible Center for Union Facts.

In other words, George Bush has created an anti-worker DOL. And the sun rose in the east this morning. And pizza tastes good. And other obvious statements.

This just in...wal-Mart is a bunch of sucka-ass fools.

First, their British workforce (under their subsidiary ASDA) is striking for 5 days, then they sue Maryland over the so-called 'Wal-Mart Law' which mandates that Maryland employers with a workforce of 10,000 or more to spend 8% of their profits on health care.

When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?

I'm going to give Hillary Clinton Credit for something.

Last week she attempted to introduce a privacy bill of rights for consumers which would cover identity theft, cell phone information, health and medical information, etc. This is one of those times where doing so would make good policy and good politics. This is the second time I've had to write this post, and I'm afraid to add links, because blogger is apparently mad at me this morning. Do a google search. Or take my word for it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

All in a day's work

Today, I had a good day. One of my employers approached the union about making this permenant substitute a regular full-time employee. This will entitle him to about a $4.00 raise per hour, as well as health coverage. Especially dental.

I say 'epsecially dental' because the gentleman is slightly mentally retarded, and he's so desparately poor, he tried extracting some of his own teeth. With pliers. So he gets dental. Which is good.

True story.

I remember another time several years ago, I was organizing part-time faculty at the City Colleges of Chicago and I met this woman with two master's degrees. Biology and math. I remember her name and everything. This happened to be a competitive election with another union, and my colleague and I were giving her the rundown on why our union was clearly better, etc. etc. She said, and I'll never forget this, "You guys have probaby noticed my teeth. I just want the union that will get me more money for my teeth." She had three teeth. Three.

One more than her advanced graduate degrees.

True story.

We did win, and I hope that she did end up getting enough money to get some of her teeth fixed.

One more thing to be grateful for.

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that a Tennessee woman had the right to sue her employer for retaliation when they transferred her to the graveyard shift to a job with less duties--after she complained about sexual harassment. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? The company actually argued that since she was awarded all the pay she lost, there was no retaliation. How did she get her pay back? Through her union.

Ode to things I like.

Hey man, it's Friday, I'm recovering from a week of hardcore bargaining, grievance resolutions and potential Unfair Labor Practices, and I've got something positive to say. So listen up, dammit.

In what will become a regular series, I will take the time to not complain and bitch and moan, but to pay homage to those things in life that make me say 'yeah, that's nice.'

So here goes.

First off: Tofu! I know what you're thinking, 'Jesus, what kind of loser makes the first thing he's grateful for--tofu?'. Well, this kind of low-life loser, that's who. I love tofu. Plain, pre-flavored, grilled or fried, it makes me happy to know this delicious slab of soy will give me the nutrients I need without harming innocent animals. Love it.

<-----Lovely tofu. Yummy in my tummy.

Second this week, my basset hound, Petunia. Petunia, you are unfailingly the most positive being that me and Dr. Mrsinallmyyears come into contact with on a daily basis. Thank you for being your shit-eating self. You never fail to put a smile on my face unless it's 6:10 a.m. and you're feeling like you have to wake up and greet the day, paws wide open and you must take us along for the ride. Then, while I still love you, I'm a little frustrated. But not for long.

<----How could I be, with a face like this?

Third, Dr. Mrsinallmyyears. Thanks for being you. You make my life worthwhile. I cannot imagine life without you. You are the best. I am not that articulate.

Next week: Blue Skies! Pro or con?

God, I'm retarded.

Huffington Post

The Huffington Post is a weird site. It has lots of good and obscure useful stories like this one, about the Bush administration reviewing bank records without a warrant, but lots of trash stories like this one about Andy Warhol's toupee selling for 10K. It's high politics and low culture strung together like pearls around Arianna Huffington's neck. She's a weird bird too, given that she has a pedigree as a former staunch conservative who has turned into a liberal commentator and blog-mother.

Nothing to add more profound than that.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Every Republican in America should hang their head in shame.

Somehow, I doubt they will.

On the other hand, it is good to see their priorities so out in the open. Was it just two weeks ago they were pushing to change the constitution to ban same-sex marraige? And this week they can hardly be bothered to extend the singlemost important piece of civil rights legislation in the nation's history?


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Here's an interesting story

Chicago-area hospitals conspired with each other to oppress wages. They call this 'whip-sawing' when unions do it to raise wages on employers. Let's hope that the suit prevails and these nurses prevail.


I failed to notice that there apparently the union filed suit all over the country, including against HCA the hospital chain that kitty-killer Bill Frist owns.

Speaking of conspiring, work is conspiring to kick my ass right now. And I have no counter-conspiracy in place.

Update on Smithfield's Justice Rally

The Washington Post has the rundown. It's nice to see the tie-in to the immigrant rights rallies. Guess which populations the slaughter industry is heavily reliant on, primarily to keep working conditions awful and pay meager? Guess. Go ahead.
"The union organized the Chicago rally in conjunction with the same immigrants' rights groups responsible for the March 10 and May 1 marches attended by hundreds of thousands. Meatpacking jobs are a chief reason Mexican and Central American immigrants have flocked to the South in the past decade -- North Carolina had the country's largest increase in immigrant population between 1990 and 2000. More than half of Smithfield's workforce are immigrants, and about 40 percent are African American."

Depravity defined.

So, after being told Abu Zubydah was mentally ill, even possibly schizophrenic, George W. Bush had him tortured and paraded this information to save his own ass.

Sometimes, you're just speechless.

Rahm is out after Nov. 8

I don't know how I feel about the news that Rahm Emanuel will retire as head of the DCCC after the November elections. Mostly I'm glad. I've made it pretty clear here how I feel about his role in the 6th and elsewhere in recruiting good, progressive candidates.

So why did he do it? He has said that the reason he's quitting is to spend more time with his family. Right. Maybe he senses that Democrats can't pull it off this time around and doesn't want his name sullied with the albatross of an '06 loss, the time that we all know the Democrats should have won. That leaves me with a sense of forboding.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Justice for Smithfield Slaughter Workers

I've posted about this issue specifically, and the larger issue generally, before. What would a vegetarian care about the welfare of people whose sole job is to slice and dice innocent animals (or disassemble, in the parlance of the industry)?

Quite simply, because what the company is doing is unconscionable. What it's been found guilty of is bad enough. Who knows what it's gotten away with. The bright light of public scrutiny should be focused like a laser on these people, where they live and breathe. They should not know a moment's peace until they quit treating their workers like their animals.

Human liberation is animal liberation, in this case.

So, if you have the time, dear national audience, go to one of these events. It will be worth your time, I swear. Hopefully you'll be changed. More importantly, hopefully the company will. If not, at least go here and read. Be amazed that this is not the 18th century that you're reading about.

Tuesday, June 20th
Rally in Chicago, IL
Rally in New York, NY
Learn More

Wednesday, June 21st
Rally in Boston, MA
Learn More

Thursday, June 22nd
Rally in Atlanta, GA
Rally in Washington DC
Rally in Raleigh, NC
Learn More

**More here. A small, black Wilmington paper does a better job investigating and writing about this issue than any other piece I've seen. The internets are wonderful.

In da House.

I'm back in the house. I'll have some extended stuff coming down about a book I just finished that really kicked me in the pants. For now, marvel at two things:

Tom Delay's (admittedly fake) myspace page. Note especially the message from Jesus.

This quote from Donald Rumsfeld. He's actually in charge of our military, in case you didn't know.
The topic was the largest defense procurement scandal in recent decades, and the two investigators for the Pentagon's inspector general in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office on April 1, 2005, asked the secretary to raise his hand and swear to tell the truth.

Rumsfeld agreed but complained. "I find it strange," he said to the investigators, on the grounds that as a government official "the laws apply to me" anyway.
I find it strange too. I guess it's just one of those things that's true about officials in a democracy rather than say, kings and feudal lords. It's weird, I know.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Like you care.

Inallmyyears will go dark as together, Dr. Mrsinallmyyears and I explore the mysteries of her high school reunion in Eastern North Carolina.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Oh, snap!

Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon: If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well.
I'm a vegetarian, and I'd have to agree. I don't even know what boeuf bourguignon is. I imagine it involves a substance called boeuf. Or beef.

The larger point, is however, a good one. Government is anathema to conservatives. Except for the fact that they use it to sustain the corporate model. And keep tabs on citizen movements opposed to concentrations of power.

Other than that, it's right on.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

If this doesn't make you violently ill, you're simply fucked up.

Here's how the Republicans plan on getting re-elected.

They're going to pull the 9/11 chain until the voting public sees the following equation in startling clarity:

People who don't likey Iraq war=Surrendering french fags.

This is so 2002. And 2003. And 2004. Nevermind, it probably will work.

I import, you decide

Sez White House Press Flack Tony Snow to White House Advisor Dan Bartlett:

"So people really do this for a living, eh?"

"Yeah, I think I have a steel beam up my ass."

"When do we get the air conditioning again?"

"I dunno. I really hope this pulls his approval ratings up out of the low 30's."

"Anything's possible."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Delay's last Day

I would be remiss not to point out that Friday was Tom Delay's last day in Congress. Kevin Drum has a decidedly vintage Uncle Tom quote (on the Columbine shootings):
Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence. The causes of youth violence are working parents who put their kids into daycare, the teaching of evolution in the schools, and working mothers who take birth control pills.
Tom, you'll be missed. Like a bad case of tapeworms.

Your Republican Party at work

When they're not pushing bans on gay marraige, amendments against political speech, or running insane deficits, the Republican Congress kicks back and unwinds by proving every conspiracy theorist on the Iraq War dead right:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional Republicans killed a provision in an Iraq war funding bill that would have put the United States on record against the permanent basing of U.S. military facilities in that country, a lawmaker and congressional aides said on Friday.

Oh. That's interesting. Because I know I've heard somewhere that we don't want permanent bases in Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Mar 12 (AFP): US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said Saturday that his country did not want permanent military bases in Iraq and that he was willing to talk to Iran about the war-torn country's future.
"We want Iraq to stand on its own feet, we have no goal of establishing permanent bases here," he said in an interview with Iraq's Ash-Sharqiya television, according to a transcript obtained by AFP.
"Our goal is a working, a workable government, so that we can leave Iraq and let Iraqis handle all their circumstance themselves. That's our goal, and were very serious about this, we mean it," he said.

Hmm, where else have I heard it? I just can't remember:
A year ago, President Bush boldly said: "Iraqis do not support an indefinite occupation and neither does America."
Well, that must be because permanent bases in Muslim country would never be perceived as indefinite occupation.

Well maybe this is the explanation:
And Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Barry Venable said, "We're building permanent bases in Iraq for Iraqis."
Oh! I'm so confusiated
. Blearrgh!

Officials use slippery formulations such as:

“at the moment, there are no plans for long-term bases”

“we do not intend to have any permanent bases”

“we want to bring our people home as soon as possible”

“no goal of establishing permanent bases in Iraq”

“it would be premature for me to predict”

“the policy on long term presence in Iraq hasn't been formulated”

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Union Dissidents

This Detroit News article lays out the struggle within the United Auto Workers as they battle Delphi for the wages and benefits of 50,000 workers. The piece lays out the voices of folks who see the UAW as corporate unionists, freeloaders off the members dues who put their own relationships with management ahead of key member concerns.

My own feeling on this group within the UAW (and groups like Teamsters for a Democratic Union) is that their fight is a necessary one. This kind of pressure does more to keep unions honest than any legislative oversight ever could. Warts and all, unions are susceptible to internal pressure from organized constituencies. I've seen it myself within my own union.

Now, whether the UAW could really do anything about the decline of its membership--that I don't know. Car companies are using bankruptcy and trade agreements to stuff it down union members' throats, and it's ugly. But would national strikes solve the problem? At the end of the day Ford and General Motors are still horribly-run companies. Not because of their labor pacts, but despite them. They continue to make horrible long-term choices and will face challenges that are due to circumstances beyond Ron Gettelfinger's control.

Finally, I'll say this. As a union representative I've seen both sides of this coin. I've seen members struggle with leadership who doesn't want to, or doesn't know how to represent its folks. They often have asked me what to do about it, but as a staffer, I can only tell them about what they're entitled to, and what the consequences of any of their actions might be. I can't tell them to overthrow their leadership. That could get me fired, on the spot.

The other side of the coin is that you have people with a little knowledge, who think that the leadership is selling them down the drain, when in fact the leadership is fighting like hell to push the group in a more positive direction, one that will put them in a stronger place in the long run.

The difference between the two? Just my opinion, based on my experiences. So take these dissident battles with a grain of salt. Union politics are nastier than anything I've ever seen. People who have worked with each other for twenty or more years know all the reasons why they hate each other. It can be quite unpleasant. That said, these groups can do more than any other force to keep unions honest.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Good news--a twofer

First, AFSME and the SEIU are joining forces to form one union for Houston public employees. Historically, they're rivals, and this is a good signal for progressive unionism in the south.

Second, the United Steelworkers of America and the Sierra Club have united in a 'blue-green' coalition to fight for tougher standards on steel and industry.

One strategy I've always wanted to see get pushed by the national unions and the national environmental movement might go like this:

Unions and the greens push--hard--for government investment in clean-energy industry. They would work with communities and their faith leaders as a job development and education iniative. The industries are established, their workers are organized. The progressive movement then gains more allies who have reaped (hopefully) lifetime employment from the efforts of labor and the greens. Labor and greens win more respect, connections (and this is very important) real victories that can change people's lives. I'd love to see this effort bring these jobs where they're needed the most--our cities. I can just imagine then brining more folks of color into labor's ranks and into the environmental movement as a consequence, thus cementing a long-term 'blue-green-brown' alliance that could change the face of movement building.

Ahh, I'm smart.

Terrorist plot foiled. You never heard about it.

That's because the terrorist in question was a pro-life firebomber in Maryland. As opposed to you know, swarthy Muslim dudes.

Now that's interesting.

Christian lobbying groups are split down the middle of a proposed law that would allow consumers to pick and choose their cable channels--cafeteria style. Some support it, on the basis that parents should not be forced to 'accept' channels in their homes that they find objectionable. OK. Although I have to 'accept' all the crappy corporate alternative radio stations on my car stereo, even there is very little that is redeemable about them. On the other hand, Christian broadcasters have come to depend on this 'forced entry' into people's cable boxes, knowing that few Americans would likely choose the Trinity Broadcasting Network, or the Pat Robertson's awful dreck. This impacts their ability to both proselytize and raise money. One wonders which upsets them more.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Short, Violent Life of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

I don't know if that title will get me picked up by the NSA or not, (but hey, I always welcome new readers) but this article in the Atlantic Monthly is well worth 30 minutes of your time. I learned more about the role of the terrorist movements in Iraq from this than I have from anything the President has said in the past 5 years.


I'm glad that he's been dealt with. He seemed like kind of a prick.

One down, roughly one or so million more to go.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sir, you should just be ashamed of yourself.

But somehow, I doubt you are. I bring you Senator James Inhofe (R-Motherfucker) who proudly declares:

'There's Never Been a Homoxesual Relationship in the Recorded History of Our Family'.

Man, if I was gay and I was in his family, I'd sure as hell never tell that asshole. I'm pretty sure his quote is something Jesus would say. Probably.

The value of a strike

There is much to admire about the way this strategic strike played out for the Chicago Laborers' union. This article lays out the case.

What? I'm supposed to be at work now, you know.

Good Lord.

I don't know that Jesus would have been a union organizer, but I'm pretty sure how he would exhort his flock to treat workers. This ain't it.

The short version is that a black megachurch in Inglewood, CA owns the LA Forum which is (or had been staffed) by union stagehands and electricians. The managing company has moved to lockout workers, give them a shitty contract, the usual. The union agreed not to picket the church on Easter in return for some leverage on the managing company. The union honored its end of the deal but the church did not.

Nice. Stay classy.


Tutti Frutti Summerlove indeed. I want me some of those glasses.

I feel so dirty.

Rush Limbaugh says I just gang raped the entire military. So did you. Which begs the question, why did our military let 160 lb., little old me gang rape them?

Oh nevermind, he just made shit up:
This Haditha story, this Haditha incident, whatever, this is it folks, this is the final big push on behalf of the Democratic Party, the American left, and the Drive-By Media to destroy our effort to win the war in Iraq. That's what Haditha represents -- and they are going about it gleefully. They are ecstatic about it... Folks, let me just put it in graphic terms. It is going to be a gang rape. There is going to be a gang rape by the Democratic Party, the American left and the Drive-By Media, to finally take us out in the war against Iraq. Make no bones about it. - Rush Limbaugh
This will be the start of the Rambo narrative-- if only those pantywaist politicians who weren't so concerned with crispifying all those civilians hadn't held us back, and really let us cut loose! Why then we'd win!

De Wikipedia:

Nothing is over! NOTHING! You just don't turn it off! It wasn't my war! You asked me, I didn't ask you! And I did what I had to do to win! But somebody wouldn't let us win!"

Meatpacking horror.

I don't have to work in a meatpacking plant to know what bloody, dangerous work it is.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I am a union organizer again.

For the past two years, I have served in the capacity as union representative. This has meant that I dealt with school districts on behalf of my members, represented them, bargained with them, tried to figure out what was happening with them, been there when shit went down, and a lot of other things. I learned a lot, and I can say that the men and women who make up local leaders in unions are tremendously hardworking individuals, who for (typically) no extra money try and take on the problems that their members and their employers create. They literally do it out of the goodness of their hearts, and they typically don't get much thanks in return. I did things I never thought I had it in me to do. I witnessed things I wished I could forget. The bottom line is that the job doesn't suit my personality as much as organizing does, so when the opportunity presented itself, I had to go.

The chief difference between the organizer and the representative type is that the organizer focuses on organizing new union locals where they don't exist and the represenative services them, that is, provides the services that allow them to function.

I can't wait to get started organizing. I'll be like Adrian Brody in Bread and Roses, but without that big shnozz. And without the sleeping with the people I'm trying to organize.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Retrospective on FLOC's success with farmworkers

CBS news in North Carolina has a two-year review on life since the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) won the right to represent farmworkers in the cucumber fields of my home state. The news is mixed. Lots of employers are choosing not to do business with the North Carolina Growers Association, the employer group who bargains with the union. There's been an influx of Southeast Asian farmworkers and an overall decline in the number of people employed in that capacity. On the upside, working conditions have improved greatly, and union farmhands earn $3 more an hour than their non-union counterparts.

Blog post #315

Hard to believe, yes, but it's true. I had an interesting discussion this morning with the rector of my church about WWJBAWASAW: The game. He had an interesting take on it, which was that people are attracted to those kinds of religious expressions because they seeks something easily mechanized, religion that rolls like clockwork and pistons in your motor. No room for actual people mind you, just automatons waiting to react to the latest proclamation.

I don't know, I hadn't thought about it that specific way. I still like my 'Lord-Porn' theory.

At any rate, FireDogLake has a very interesting take on the recent pops from the blogsophere on mainstream media 'analysis' of progressives and their issues. I'll quote generously, but go and read it all.

What the right seems to want is a pliant media will to spread "the good news" as they and the Administration see it. What we on the left want is not the same — what we simply want is for them to present the truth. Unvarnished, painful though it may be — just the facts, the truth, the heart of the matter. No more tabloid fluff. No one really cares about whether Britney Spears is driving in a convertible with her baby — but we do care about the world in which that baby and all our babies will grow up.

The American public must make decisions at every election which require them to be informed — fully informed. We rely on our press corps to dig out the facts, the truth, the things that the powerful are trying to keep hidden away. Some journalists do this very, very well — and we try to highlight that when we see a good example here on FDL. But for the folks who would rather hang back on the cocktail weenie circuit, let this serve as your notice: the American public is hungry for some truth. And if you don’t provide it — real, honest to God truth, they will pass you by in favor of something else. If the choice is Pravda or Edward R. Murrow, I’d pick Murrow every time.

That sounds about right.


I know I wrote on this earlier, but I thought I'd lay out some more aspects of this that concern me.

I'm not going to pretend that all my time on the internet in pursuit of such lofty goals and information, but I found the neatest groupsite called Talk2action, which is focused on combating the religious right from a religious left perspective. I've added them to the links bar.

So, via Talk2action, (and the Huffpost) and I learned about "Eternal Forces: Left Behind." It's a video game in which Christians gun down heathens and false Christians in the streets of NYC. You either convert the heathens, or blow them away, while shouting 'praise the Lord.' I could not make this up. It's from the good folks who brought you the 'Left Behind' Series.


What to do about this?

Several things come to mind.

First off, as someone who probably qualifies as a 'false christian', and therefore is a suitable candidate for being blown away, I'm a little frightened. Let me just get that out there. I never thought that I'd fall into line with those who cite video game violence as a cause for real-life violence. Playing Civilizations or Rise of Nations has never caused me to found my own empire, alhtought those of you who regularly read this page know my empire would be a rockin' empire. For shizzle.

Secondly, Talk2Action details the way in which the game will be marketed, first by associating it with Rick Warren, author of the best-selling 'Purpose driven Life', and also with the twin giants of Lord-porn, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. 'Lord-Porn may sound harsh, but any series that delights in telling its readers exactly who and who will not be saved come Judgement Day, falls squarely in that category. It's moral titillation for people who need to be told they're still on the side of the angels. They'll push the game through the same mega-churches that Rick Warren is plugged in to, and which were responsible for a lot of the 2004 voter turnout to get so many gay marraige bans shoved through.

Jonathan Hutson gives the lowdown on some of the game specifics, and it ain't pretty:
How about this nifty game feature: the bodies of slain New Yorkers don't disappear after a battle, and no one gives them a decent burial. Instead, the festering corpses just keep piling up: left behind. Is that "Christian" or "cool"? Or how about this: The game portrays the United Nations - hello again, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Catholics, and Jews - as the headquarters of the demonic forces of the AntiChrist, who is spawned by DNA from two gay lovers (hello, Greenwich Village!). So nice to see you all, my errant, resisting brothers and sisters. BLAM! BLAM! "Praise the Lord!"
Third, what these groups and these authors have picked up is that by using corporate marketing skills, they can bring their message to a much wider audience.

Thus, the circle is closed. The same creepy philosophy that believes your consent must be manufactured before you'll buy their wars or their toothpaste is being brought to bear on the last, literally, sacred space. Your God is up for sale. Maybe it always has been, and they're just refining a rough science to a precise laser message, honing in on us like a dog whistle perks those ears up. The same hideous ideology that specializes in atomizing us by our purchasing habits, our living habits, our listening and music habits, that caused me to shave my hair into a mohawk and start some small active resistances every day, that same philosophy is being brought to my God.

This has to be called out for what it is. A frighteningly effective attempt to convince Christians that brutality against non-believers or the unsufficiently zealous is not only OK, but a divine commandment. One apparently more important than 'Thou shalt Not Kill.' If in the future, we wonder how good Christians got desensitized to the notion of Christian on Christians violence, we can point back to the release of this game as one step in that direction.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I've had it all wrong...

I had thought that Iraq reminded me of Vietnam. I mean, purely in terms of its complete catastrophic failure of planning, execution of mind-numbingly bad strategy, and waste of human life, you could see where I'd come to that conclusion.

And hey, I'm not alone.

But what Iraq really reminds me of--and I can't believe I didn't see it sooner--is Mad Max.

Below (via BoingBoing) are pictures from Marines of jacked-up trucks and SUV's that serve as military assault vehicles. Below that, stills from Mad Max. All you'd need is a ego-manical villain holing up in the desert ready to take on the steely-eyed protagonist. Nope, no similarities at all.

We report, you decide.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Some not-Gunther related Bad News (TM)

When you hear some blowhard try and rationalize massacres like Haditha and Ishaqi, bear in mind the story of guys like Josh Key, who's 27 and from Oklahoma:
"We was going along the Euphrates River," says Joshua Key, a 27-year-old former U.S. soldier from Oklahoma, detailing a recurring nightmare -- a scene he stumbled on shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. "It's a road right in the city of Ramadi. We turned a real sharp right and all I seen was decapitated bodies. The heads laying over here and the bodies over here and U.S. troops in between them. I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, what in the hell happened here? What's caused this? Why in the hell did this happen?' We get out and somebody was screaming, 'We fucking lost it here!' I'm thinking, 'Oh, yes, somebody definitely lost it here.'

Joshua says he was ordered to look around for evidence of a firefight, for something to rationalize the beheaded Iraqis. "I look around just for a few seconds and I don't see anything." But then he noticed the sight that now triggers his nightmares. "I see two soldiers kicking the heads around like a soccer ball. I just shut my mouth, walked back, got inside the tank, shut the door, and it was like, I can't be no part of this. This is crazy. I came here to fight and be prepared for war but this is outrageous. Why did it happen? That's just my question: Why did that happen?"
I don't know Josh, and I'm sorry to hell you had to see it. I have no explanation for why it happened. I doubt anyone ever will give you an explanation that will help you sleep at night. It bothered Josh so bad that he fled the country and sought asylum in Canada. I'll leave you with this:
Joshua rejects the U.S. government line that the Iraqis fighting the occupation are terrorists. "I'm thinking: What the hell? I mean, that's not a terrorist. That's the man's home we killed. That's his son, that's the father, that's the mother, that's the sister. Houses are destroyed. Husbands are detained and wives don't even know where they're at. I mean, them are pissed-off people, and they have a reason to be pissed off. I would never wish this upon myself or my family, so why would I do it upon them?"

More Gunther!

I couldn't resist!

Man, it pains me to move Gunther's picture off the top of the page. But I must.

Global warming discussions got ya down? Do you the feel emissions for major polluters getting ready to be curbed? Do you too, feel like Al Gore's movie will be the new Silent Spring? Well, cheer up. Host a Global Warming Beach Party.

But what if someone who knows things, shows up to make you look foolish. Why, that's ok. According to the National College Republican Party, you can just invite Dr. Jay Lehr, from the Heartland Institute. He's available to speak.

Dr. Lehr is sporting what we in the Chicago area refer to as 'a classic midwestern winter tan.' He's obviously benefitted from our legendary mild and sunny months. He's probably looking forward to more sunshine and warmth to help maintain his obviously natural and youthful appearance.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Merciful Christ, I beg your forgiveness.

I was in Best Buy today, perusing (I bought the new NOFX and 'On a Wire' from the Get Up Kids), I came across this guy:

I thought to myself, "Self, this is one of those times you'll want to remember this so you can google this guy to see if it's a hoax or not." Turns out not.

Is Gunther a global citizen? Glad you asked:
Günther is a 29 years old gentleman style 2000 in his best years. Günther is a true European, his origin is Sweden but he sees himself as a global citizen.
Ah, yes.

Is Gunther into the sexualizing the world? Glad you asked:
Günther wants to change the worlds look at the sexual way of thinking, so he have started a new trend to sexualise it more in the world. "A Günther trend". He has only started his mission to go out in the world and spread the message of Love.
What are the four main things in Gunther's life? Glad you asked:
The four main things in Günthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Sex and Respect!
True, that. True, that. How many times has Dr. Mrsinallmyyears said the same thing to me? Too many to count. About her life, not Gunther's.

I thought that surely, this must be some kind of 'me first and the gimme gimmes' kind of joke, but no. Let's just say that not everything about the European approach needs to be replicated here. But I bet that instead of aping their labor laws or health care system, the US instead copies this guy. Naturally.3

*Update: I seriously will need to beg the forgiveness of God for viewing this.

Scraper, Meet The Bottom of the Barrel

So this is officially, as low as it can go. It's things like this that keep one from wanting to run for public office.

By the by...

I'm trying to remember if I was in Brad Miller's district when I lived in Raleigh, or David Price. Seems like it was Price.

It's ladies day...

Via the wonderful women of Pandagon, I bring you this thing:

It's essentially a national map of reproductive and gay/lesbian rights. Pretty interesting stuff.

Good idea

Here's a good idea--a clearinghouse (tee-hee) if you will, for impeachment information and action.

Sign it, it will make you feel better.

Thank you Feministing!

For pointing me in the direction of this:

The Abstinence Clearinghouse.

This raises all kinds of questions. What's in the abstinence clearinghouse? By definition, I'd think it would be empty. They claim to network people 'for abstinence', but if you know the way the flesh works, wouldn't you kind of want to avoid that? I mean, you get a bunch of abstinence people together, they start talking about the fleshiness of the world, debauchery, sin, oh sin, oh, they start getting worked up, pretty soon, you're looking for a new crop of abstinence activists.

But I digress.

They're holding a conference! Of course! How cute.

Two questions come to mind: do people at this conference get drunk at the bar and hook up like at most other conferences (ATTENTION DR. MRSINALLMYYEARS, I CLEARLY MEAN OTHER PEOPLE, NOT ME)? And does the kind of repressed 'networking' I described above play out on a mass scale, or merely in lots and lots of small groups? And if so, does it turn from an abstinence conference into a safe sex conference?

Inquiring minds wanna know.