Sunday, July 30, 2006

Please, please Lord, please let this be an untrue statement.

[Israeli]Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the United States that the US would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria.
Jesus Christ.

I swear these events are unrelated...

But, In These Times has an amazing article deatiling life inside the concrete slaughter slab known as Smithfield Foods. Aaron Sarver interviews Quincy Harvey, a worker who had been stabbed, put on disability, fired, and now is a spokesperson for their effort to organize.

Check this piece out:

Did you ever see anyone get hurt on the job?

Yes, I’ve seen people get hurt. I have been hurt on the job several times. When I was in the back in livestock I got stuck through the hand with a knife while I was shackling the hogs.

One day, we were working and the hog came down the chute, but he turned sideways. The guy over there is suppose to stick the hog in the throat and let them bleed out. When I grabbed the shackle, he was trying to stick him from across the table, and when he stuck the hog, he stuck me through my hand. You can still see the line in my hand right here.

What happened after you were hurt?

It took them about 45 minutes to take me to the hospital. They got one of the guards to take me. But they took a urine sample before they would even take me.

They were trying to see if you were drunk?

Yeah, and I was hurting bad. They took me from Tar Heel to Fayetteville— that’s about 25 to 30 minute ride, and I had already waited 45 minutes. They never called an ambulance. They just told one of the guards, “Take him to the hospital.”

When were you back to work?

I was back to work the next day so it wouldn’t be considered workman’s comp. And they don’t let you stay out of work on that. Even though I was taking pain pills they put me up there and I was counting hogs. Well, really, counting gaps, because they didn’t want gaps in the line.

I'm surprised, because you would expect a pork-processing plant to be a class act.

Democrats do right.

It's not a headline you'll often read, but only one Dem out of the 200 or so in Congress voted for the sham minimum wage bill which tied raising the minimum (its first raise in a decade) to extending the Paris Hilton Tax Cut.

I'm really hoping that mentioning Paris Hilton will up my traffic from google hits.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Via Tom Tomorrow, check this out. I have no idea how long this will remain the top link on his site, so check it out soon.

Man, this is far more effective a piece of satire than I could ever conceive of.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I know I already said it...

But you should really read Jordan Barab. He had the same take I did on the travails of pork slaughter workers.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More on our favorite pork processing plant.

You know it's gonna be good, when it starts out...

Dateline, Red Springs, NC.

The article focuses on the improving relations between the black and latino slaughter workers, and the role the union is playing in bringing these groups together.
When she finished eating dinner at the party, Lenora Bruce Bailey sat for a spell on a little wood porch facing Main Street. Two years ago, she had one of the best jobs around: boxing scraps of hog meat at the nearby packing plant. Then she got sick. "They terminated me," she said. "Took away my health insurance."

In a nearby room, Raphael Abrego held up his purple and swollen right hand and wondered whether the same might happen to him. He was one of the better cutters on the fast-moving butcher line, but he slipped one day and injured his hand. "I can't close it," he said in Spanish, trying to clench bloated fingers.

Bailey is a black, native-born American. Abrego is a Latino immigrant. At Smithfield Packing Co., the largest meat-processing facility in the world, the two think of themselves as being in the same boat.

Recently, they attended a potluck to try to do something that is rare for African Americans and Latino immigrants: come together to fight for workers' rights.

It just makes you feel good, don't it?

There are apparently TWO kinds of online predators.

Or more likely, way more than two. But here's one more.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The end of Reconstruction

I swear this is the last of it.

As seen below:

Another casualty in the Reconstruction

Petunia, who went into battle with the Paint Monsters with a heart full of patriotism and young fervor. Long will you be remembered.

That squarish rectangle of missing fur is just another scar from her battles with the rocks and assort debris that she's consumed, which usually lands her a trip to the vet's.

Now Frankenstein on the other hand is clearly a draft-dodging hippie:

Blogging the reconstruction, day 2.

Note, these pictures are a day behind. All this stuff was done yesterday.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The blogging of the reconstruction

No, not that recontstruction.

This one:

Basically, where we once had a dining room which served only as a narrow walkthrough from the garage to the kitchen, we've opened it up into our living room, which should allow for a lot more light, and a lot better feng shui.

Plaster dust is everywhere.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Do you read Firedoglake?

You really should.

Jordan Barab of confinedspace has a great guest post on the Hotel Workers Rising summer campaign. One thing I hadn't seen before was a full accounting of how many workers are in the industry vs. how many are unionized. The union represents about 17% of the national hospitality industry, so they really have some work cut out to dominate it in the way they're seeking to. UNITE HERE is running a great national campaign, where they have essentially all of their major union contracts coming up at once all across the nation. That means that they can threaten a national strike over issues like health care and union organizing--and of course, wages.

This is why management has fought back so hard in so many cities to prevent these contracts from coming up all at once.

And check out the following comments that Barab received:
I’m a career motel maid, currently out of work with a largely-unrelated disability. Every word is true, and it’s worse than that.

You can spend easily an hour every day folding your own linens because the hotels are so understocked that you have to grab it right out of the dryer to make up rooms you’ve already done and didn’t have any washcloths to put in.

And then there are the days where they drag you to mandatory staff meetings that have nothing to do with housekeeping, and are generally not in a language housekeeping speaks, and then you still have to get the same amount of work done in less time.

Injuries and illness are common, breathing the chemicals can actually kill you, and your supervisor will do anything to keep you from filing an accident report or getting workman’s comp, including threatening employees with legal work permits with deportation. It works, too.

A surprising number of hotel maids are in their fifties and sixties and beyond, and will work till they drop. Second (and third) jobs are not uncommon, either. It’s a minimum wage driven industry.

In the summer you can expect to work two or three weeks in a row with no time off. Off-the-clock work is common. It’s almost always classed as part time regardless of how many hours you work, so no benefits, and forget overtime. In fact, an increasing number of hotels play a cute little game where they pay you by the room–that is, you get your assigned list, and you have fifteen-to-forty minutes to do each room. You clock out when that time is up, and if you’re still not done with your rooms, you keep working off the clock. The quoted hourly wage is often inflated by weird assumptions about how many rooms you can do in an hour. Lunch breaks are virtually unheard of, and even the stated lunch break is generally no more than twenty minutes because of the “part time” schedule and the fact that your employers know you don’t know your rights.

I was once fired, a long time ago, for trying to unionize, which isn’t easy in the first place when you don’t all speak the same language and the rest of the staff is cowed with threats of deportation, but mostly I didn’t try because I was aware that my co-workers couldn’t take the risk of losing their jobs. There wasn’t a lot of support for maids trying to unionize back then, either.

This is nice to see, and I wish them success.
Me too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Here's something I'd never do to one of my secretaries

Yikes. Not only is he completely clueless about the current armageddon in the middle east, but he's a creep as well:

Note the look on the Chancellor of Germany's face. Not pleased. I wonder what Laura has to say.

Monday, July 17, 2006

How was your weekend?

Mine was good. Wonderful in fact. Well, I'm off today to unveil to a local union the new contract we've negotiated for them and explain the details of the changes.

I'm exceedlingly proud of this one, it includes a two-year ban on subcontracting, a new salary schedule with much higher starting salaries (by the end of the agreement teaching assistants can start at $23,000, as compared with an average of $15,000 for years of service in my other school district), and lots of other goodies. So I can't wait to show it to people.

This whole net neutrality thing is important. How do I know this? I'm really smart, that's how. Plus, Jello Biafra says so, rightly comparing it the 1996 Telecommunications Act which gutted meaningful TV regulation.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Lighter Side of the End Times

According to Jonathan Schwartz.

How it started.

If the start of the most recent Israeli-Lebanese war turns out to be the beginnings of the end of the world, it will be good to know how and why it started. We know that two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by the loathsome Hezbollah, and that Israel has responded by bombing every square inch of Lebanese infrastructure in an attempt to get them back.

But why?

Already, conservative consensus is (naturally) forming around Syria and Iran as the grand puppeteers pulling all of these strings. Be sure that this consensus will likely be used in any future wars against those two nations (and with Bush in charge, there will be a war against one of those two nations).

But were they really responsible?

Mark Perry runs an organization that promotes dialogue between former Senior American and British foreign affairs officials and Hezbollah. He's someone who is likely to know, in other words, how this started. And he has the the following to say:

We’ve been hearing the theory that the timing of Hezbollah’s Tuesday kidnapping of the two Israeli Defense Force soldiers was planned well in advance and with coordination from Tehran or Damascus. Can you speak to that?

Oy vey. There are a lot of people in Washington trying to walk that story back right now, because it’s not true.

Hezbollah and Israel stand along this border every day observing each other through binoculars and waiting for an opportunity to kill each other. They are at war. They have been for 25 years, no one ever declared a cease-fire between them. … They stand on the border every day and just wait for an opportunity. And on Tuesday morning there were two Humvees full of Israeli soldiers, not under observation from the Israeli side, not under covering fire, sitting out there all alone. The Hezbollah militia commander just couldn’t believe it -- so he went and got them.

The Israeli captain in charge of that unit knew he had really screwed up, so he sent an armored personnel carrier to go get them in hot pursuit, and Hezbollah led them right through a minefield.

Now if you’re sitting in Tehran or Damascus or Beirut, and you are part of the terrorist Politburo so to speak, you have a choice. With your head sunk in your hands, thinking "Oh my God," you can either give [the kidnapped soldiers] back and say "Oops, sorry, wrong time" or you can say, "Hey, this is war."

It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that the Hezbollah commander on the ground said Tuesday morning, "Go get two Israeli soldiers, would you please?”

But, you make it sound like a dog with a squirrel, like there’s no free will. Like the temptation for Hezbollah to kidnap the Israeli soldiers because there was an opportunity suddenly on Tuesday was somehow irresistible. Why did they have to go get them?

They are at war. Israel says they want to go get and destroy Hezbollah every day. Israel occupied their country for how many years?

Just read the whole interview.

Friday, July 14, 2006

At least some Republicans hung their heads in shame.

So I was wrong. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last time, but I'm happy to have been proven wrong.

Yesterday the Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. It's good to see them take time out from flag burning amendments and bans on gay folks committing to each other to get the small things taken care of.

Next stop, minimum wage hike.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Where the silliness of intra-union squabbles eventually leads you.

Apparently the wobblies just weren't proletarian enough for this guy (who has a job at a food co-op, mind you) so he started his own union. Man, I can just hear the break-room banter now:
"Your union isn't sufficiently committed enough to the anarcho-syndicalist ideal!"

"Is too! Our 100-year history clearly reflects bottom-up organization focused on decentralized, worker-planned militant unionism!"

"Pass the organic hemp bar, man."

"Is is fair trade, or not? I"m not eating it if it's not."
And I say this as a fan of Wobblies, organic hemp bars, and food co-ops. But sometimes, these things reach a stage of ridiculousness where satire loses its meaning.

Happy Blogoversary.

We're one year old.

Things have not gotten better in the world in the past year.

RIP, Frank Zeidler

Who? The last Socialist mayor of Milwaukee, who had the following to say about why he was a socialist:

Frank Zeidler said he chose his political affiliation in 1933 after, characteristically, undertaking a study of ideologies.

"I particularly picked socialism," he said in an interview years later, "because of several things in its philosophy. One was the brotherhood of people all over the world. Another was its struggle for peace. Another was the equal distribution of economic goods. Another was the idea of cooperation. A fifth was the idea of democratic planning in order to achieve your goals. Those were pretty good ideas."

Indeed, they still are.

RIP sir.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Now that's interesting.

Nathan Newman makes the case that Ulysses S. Grant was a great liberal hero. I only remember that my arch-conservative high school history teacher kept harping on his corrupted administration. Something about contracts being given out to friends...well, it's good that we've certainly moved past that, right? Newman is right about one thing, the election of 1872 was certainly the first of any 'free' elections in the South, which is something that history has largely forgotten. And if not history, then certainly most people. I can't remember who, but I once read a quote to the effect that after the civil war, America tried democracy for 10 years. That person was referring to Reconstruction, which any student of history from the south will tell you has something to do with carpetbaggers. And corruption. Things that never existed before or after Reconstruction, you know.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July, hope you don't mind being accosted.

Today I went gathering petitions for DAWN to get a non-binding resolution on the November ballot which would ask voters whether they support withdrawing troops from Iraq.

It went well. I got nearly 20 signatures in an hour.

But that's not the remarkable thing. The remarkable thing is that a total stranger ripped my clipboard from my hands and threw it first in some bushes, where he retrieved it. He then threw it in a busy street, which I had to retrieve. He screamed at me for a good while, and then his son did. His wife looked on, encouraging him. I asked him why he was acting this way, since I hadn't done anything to him. He huffed and puffed and stormed off on his way.

This all occurred after the village trustees told us we couldn't be at the festival we were at, because we didn't have the proper permits. They didn't oppose what we were doing doncha know. I know, I have heard that one before. A member of the Jaycees told one of my comrades that the Taste of Lombard is a family affair and in no way a political event. So, the 4th of July is not a political event. Got it. This same woman was forcibly removed from the Taste of Lombard (which is held in a public park) over the weekend, and her lawyer had to straighten it out with the Deputy Chief of Police. The Trustees were outraged that the Deputy Chief of Police actually decided to respect the laws of the land.

It wasn't all bad news. A woman and her husband signed, even after admitting their ambivalent feelings about the war. They have sons in the Air Force and the Navy. I understand ow they feel, my whole family is military. I'm the first male in my family to not serve. We had a good talk. Lots of others signed too. So it's not all bad news. But that incident reminded me I am definitely not dealing entirely with people who view issues of national importance rationally.

So, that was my afternoon. Happy 4th of July. I really felt like I should have been spending the day in a way that wasn't totally self-absorbed or involving alcohol. And look where it got me. On the other hand, fuck those people. I'm going to the Taste of Westmont in two weeks to gather more signatures there, so it's not like I'm giving up.

Check this out.

We finally have a chance to win one for minimum wage workers. Some dude at Dailykos has an inciteful, funny, very well written post on it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

One of the cool things about Dailykos

Is the diary community. It's an open format, like blogger, but since Dailykos gets 500,000 or so hits a day, just posting your diary can get a story like this lots of access. It's a detailed report on how San Francisco is about to extend health care near-universally, and some of the challenges facing the city.

And it's a marvel of the kind dogged research done by individual citizens who have (generally) no real connections to power. It's just them doing their thing. It's very punk rock in a sense, because the 'right credentials' aren't required to produce somthing meaningful.

I want me some of the Dailykos glory, so I set up a diary there.

Do you read This Modern World?

You should.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Shameless aping of others' hard work.

It's what I'm best at. On the recent revelations that Ahnold Schwaaaartzenager (that's the phonetic respelling) used California State Police to spy on lawful protesters Digby has the following to say:
And people wonder why some of us are so darned suspicious about the government using its illegal, extra-constitutional claimed powers to spy on Americans who dissent from the government instead of being used strictly to track the movements and communications of suspected islamic terrorists.

I keep saying, if we build it, they will use it. This massive amount of federal homeland security money has been doled out to the states and the practical effect is to stimulate the economy by building a police state.

This is what freedom looks like under Republicans. Shitty standstill economy except for the very rich, cops and preachers in your face 24/7, a constant state of war and everybody in the world hating our guts. Welcome to the new American dream. Enjoy your Walmart experience.
Yup. I only have the following to add from the Bloomberg News Service (via Tom Tomorrow and John Aravosis):
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. National Security Agency asked AT&T Inc. to help it set up a domestic call monitoring site seven months before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, lawyers claimed June 23 in court papers filed in New York federal court.

The allegation is part of a court filing adding AT&T, the nation's largest telephone company, as a defendant in a breach of privacy case filed earlier this month on behalf of Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp. customers. The suit alleges that the three carriers, the NSA and President George W. Bush violated the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the U.S. Constitution, and seeks money damages.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

He's probably right, too.

Grover Norquist is bragging that with 60 Republican Senators, Social Security will be just a memory. Sorry, Mom. I know your old-age security is important, but by God, these people need to offload a massive amount of the public treasury to Wall Street. You undersand, I'm sure. Sorry Aunt T, I know your Social Security checks are all that keeps you out of the county nursing home and in your own house, but hey, George Bush's buddies need to feed their corporate masters, and their untold billions in tax breaks aren't enough. Grandma? I apologize that your Social Security checks help keep food on your table, but, well, there's really not much else to say, is there?