Friday, December 29, 2006

Okay John Edwards, stop it.

I was at a hotel, en route from NC back to ill-annoys (IL--I'm not that funny), when I observed an interview on CNN betwixt a news anchor and the Golden Boy Himself. What struck me was the complete inanity about the interviewer who posited that since John Edwards has a big house in North Carolina, he's not really serious about talking about poverty, is he? I mean seriously, who ever heard of a rich white man, running for the Presidency? Seriously, folks, come on.

So of course, Edwards has made his announcement--he's in.

And I'm seriously thinking about sticking with him this time out. For one thing, he announces in the Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans. Which says a lot about his intentions of at least talking about the ways that our government screws over poor people.

And whom does he pick to run his campaign? David Bonior. For those of you who've never heard of him, no Congressman (past or present) is more connected to labor and its issues than David Bonior. He is working people. Since he left office, he's been directing American Rights At Work, the union-backed organization dedicated to reforming labor laws and giving back people the right to organize.

And when asked directly about cutting the deficit, or spending on healthcare and education, Edwards doesn't duck, he says that given the choice, the only serious option for America is a serious investment in our healthcare and education. In other words, Edwards is rejecting corporate-Democrat style 'thinking' in favor of a commitment to the middle class and working people.

I'm heartened.

USW strike is settled.

I hadn't been able to ferret out many details of the fallout from the Goodyear strike. This AP story however, lays a bit more details open. It sounds like the USW got the business end from Goodyear--that's my verdict, at least. And I'm sorry to see it happen, but I base my judgment on the following:
  • They weren't able to keep open the Tyler, Texas plant beyond 2007;

  • They suffered a two-tier pay system--that means wage givebacks for new employees only. This is the kiss of death for any union because new guys have to work alongside more senior guys, knowing all the while they'll never reach their pay grade. It kills any sense of solidarity among workers;

  • Goodyear initially offered $660 million for an employee retiree health care fund. They ended up settling for $1 billion, but the union wanted double that, so it looks like management got the better end of the deal.
Look, I could be wrong, but I just don't see how the USW comes out on top after this.

But hey, Goodyear's stock shares went up by 10 cents, so that's good, right?

Cavalcade of the absurd

Media Matters for America documents the worst atrocities of 2006. And speaking of absurd, the missus and I watched Little Miss Sunshine last night, which was at turns, hilarious and disturbing. Especially the ending.

Wobblies can't catch a break.

Workers at E-Z supply voted in a union, had settled on a contract, and then the employer fired all of them. Granted, it usually doesn't happen in that order, but these events are sadly very common.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Keith Ellison, a much bigger man than he has to be.

You might have heard about the comments of one Virgil Goode (R-East Bumblefuck, VA), who proclaims that if Keith Ellison is allowed to swear in on the Q'uran, then, well, soon, we'll have muslims breaking down the doors to get in!

No. Seriously. He did it in writing, in a letter to his constituents, no less.

Well, Mr. Ellison has taken the high road in dealing with this piece of poo-poo:
“I’m looking forward to making friends with Representative Goode, or at least getting to know him. I want to let him know that there’s nothing to fear. The fact that there are many different faiths, many different colors and many different cultures in America is a great strength.”
Whatta guy. Look, we're going out of town for several days over the holidays. If I post anything, it will be infrequently.


how would you like some good news?

Me too. Let's start with this; the courts have actually helped out struggling unionized works at Delphi. The company and the union have been at loggerheads ever since Delphi entered into bankruptcy negotiations. So the deadline is purportedly going to put some kind of pressure on the company to come to terms with its bargaining employees. But what's weird is that the exact same story in the New York Times is being spun such that the buyout offer with the deadline is working against the union. I admit it, I'm totally baffled.

So maybe that wasn't good news after all.

Well how about this? It's totally good news--if your name is Lloyd Blankenfein. He just got a $55 million dollar bonus from Goldman Sachs, which posted some kind of stupid quarterly profit growth. After of course, Goldman Sachs extorted over a billion dollars in tax breaks from NYC, using 9/11 as a billy club to truncheon the tax payers. Stay classy, Goldman Sachs!

Now, about that exploding demand for food at food pantries and homeless centers...I'm sure there's totally no correlation there at all. Nope. Totally unrelated topics.

Now, about that cake...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Stick a little musical on my b-l-o-g

The Asylum Street Spankers used to play at the Brewery a lot in Raleigh NC, when I was in college. I always assumed them to be some kind of jam band. I didn't know they were a funny band. To wit:

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Something a little less silly

It looks like after a nationwide day of action against Goodyear Tires,the striking Steelworkers and management are returning to the bargaining table. Does this mean that the union is caving, or that management knows they're on the ropes? Who knows, although in the Christmas season, I remain ever hopeful that we're looking at the dawn of the day when workers and their organizations are on the rebound.

In other news, after a close election, the man who led New York City's transit workers on that illegal strike has been reelected. This AP article claims mixed results for the strike, but the only downsides I can find in the article are the costs of the fines imposed on the strikers and their leadership. Otherwise, they walked away with a solid deal after shutting the city down for days.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm in a silly mood...

You know those cute cat posters you see, where a lovable kitty is about to fall out of a tree or something, and there's text at the bottom that says "Oh, no!". You know what I'm talking about?

These are not that. They are far superior in terms of funniness-hahaha.

via. I love the jazz hands!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

the most insightful read on the 2008 Presidential Race I've so far read...and other unnecessarily long titles

The Editors lay it all down for you. Starting with:
Hillary is so so so annoying. Please please please do not nominate Hillary.
Yes. And what else should I know about this quadrennial clusterfuck that is American Democracy In Action (TM)? What say you on that young man, Barack Obama?
Further, Obama is a black Yankee who is way smarter than you, more charming than you, nicer than you, better looking than you, and could probably seduce your wife, you daughter, and your mom, in front of you, at Christmas dinner, in five minutes flat. Obama is approximately one pair of assless chaps away from being the Sum of All Cracker Fears, which means you can forget about winning the South at least.
Yikes! That's an image. I also think he has seduced my mom*, though it wasn't in front of me. What are your conclusions, Editors?
Edwards isn’t going to win. Goddammit, it’s Hillary, isn’t it? Goddammit.
Pretty much sums up how I feel on the subject.

*Just kidding, mom! But really, if it happens, put in a good word for me with the man.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More on Pinochet...

Marc Cooper has more on what his death means for the healing of the South American continent. My favorite part is this:

"Encouraged by a Reagan administration in Washington and rising Thatcherism in Europe, these military regimes instituted a savage free-market capitalism, in many cases reversing decades of carefully constructed social welfare reforms. At gunpoint unions were outlawed, labor laws were abolished, universities were stifled, tuition was hiked, national health care and social security programs were privatized and these already unequal societies were rigidly stratified into rich and poor, strong and weak, the favored and the invisible."
"Burying Pinochet this week in itself won’t make this task any easier. In some odd ways it might make even make it more difficult. As long as he was alive, even in a gargoyle state, he was a grotesque reminder of all that has haunted the continent, all that has been left unresolved. Good, let’s bury him now and post an armed guard at his gravesite, making sure he again never rises. And then back to the work of healing what he has wrought."


A very bad man

Augusto Pinochet is now dead. Who was he? The author of the deaths of 3,000 people in Chile. His was the hallmark of awful American foreign policy in Latin America. It was the kind of presidency you think of when you think of malicious, cruel, and narrowly self-interested Cold War disasters.

He came to power in a coup, overthrowing the democratically elected Salvador Allende, a socialist doctor, who was elected by Chileans after years of military oppression. Allende committed suicide with a submachine gun as troops surrounded his presidential palace.

The coup even started on September 11, 1973. How's that for irony?

We'll forever be linked to this blot on humanity, because we aided and abetted his rise and empowered his hostile takeover. We never once reined in his most violent excesses, and, as the quote below reveals, never apologized for our support for this murderous thug:
MOTRON HALPERIN: I think every word of that was argued over for a very long time. There were some of us who thought we owed them a straightforward apology. And there were others who thought it* went as far as it should and there were many others who thought that went much too far. I think it does make clear the US government understands its actions contributed to the disruption of the democratic process.
*Halperin is referring to a decision by Bill Clinton to release thousands of documents that shed light on exactly what and how we enabled Pinochet to do. It's not a pretty sight. It's pretty revealing however that significant parts of our government thought that releasing these documents, years after the Cold War was over was 'too much' information for our democracy to sustain.

When people talk about 'missing the Cold War', this is the kind of stuff they miss. They are fools.

A new week

Last week was a nice week, and it was capped off by the Dr. and I throwing a Christmas party for our friends, which was a success. A good time was had by all, and I hope we do it again next year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Me thinkee I likee this guy...

Keith Ellison broke a lot of firsts for Minnesota. Its first black Representative in Congress, he's also the first ever Muslim elected to Congress.

A minor blow-up occurred when he revealed he'd have his picture taken being sworn-in on the Q'uran and not the Bible. Turns out lots of Congressmen don't swear in on the Bible, but the clod who started all the fuss isn't backing down.

Well that's not the only reason he's caused a stir. He blew off a reception with President Bush to go to an AFL-CIO reception instead. And why? I'll let the man speak for himself:
"It was not a close choice; it was easy to make,” Ellison said, adding quickly that he would have attended the reception had there not been a conflict. “The intent was not to disrespect the presidency,” Ellison said. “Would it have been better for me to say ‘screw you’ to the AFL-CIO? To tell the organization that represents people who work so hard in this country every day on low wages with either no insurance, or expensive insurance that they can barely afford, who are sending their kids to die in a war that we don’t know why we're fighting? I’m suppose to tell them no, I’ve got to go hobnob with Mr. Bush? No."
But he's not a gloomy naysayer about America. I think this sums up what's to love about this land:
“America is an 'overcomer' nation. Nobody’s born perfect. All we can ever do is overcome. And America overcomes every time … You can talk about how racist, sexist, homophobic and all that America is, but the noblest ideals of this country shine through consistently. What could be better than that?”
I like this guy. I'm going to keep my eye on him.

Be still my beating heart...

Nancy Pelosi is going to move on the Employee Free Choice Act in the early sessions of congress. Thank Gawd.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The derider

I guess he just doesn't listen to any kinds of briefings.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Starkly different responses to the urged boycott of Smithfield Pork

If you read this site with any regularity, you know we've been following closely the plight of the Smithfield Foods slaughter workers, who have some of the most dire working conditions (and some of the most reactionary management types). So I was reading this article on the situation from the Raleigh News & Observer, and I came across this bit:

Harris Teeter shopper Bob Silver, a business professor at a local community college, said Saturday's protest may be counterproductive.

First, Silver said, the demonstrators' signs urged solidarity with Smithfield workers but didn't specifically call for a boycott of their products. He had to ask to figure out what the demonstrators wanted him to do.

Second, he said, exploitation of workers is a global issue that needs a comprehensive solution to keep corporations from simply moving to less-regulated states or overseas to avoid costly upgrades.

"They're probably just going to drive them [Smithfield] out of the state," Silver said of the union.

But Sonnya Quinn of Raleigh was happy to see the demonstration.

"It certainly is refreshing to me to see people upset about something," said Quinn, a retired journalist who called herself an old liberal. "There's so many injustices in this country that people are just too busy to think about, I guess."

Now that first guy just strikes me as a tool, and I'm not surprised he's a business professor from Wake Tech or whatever. The response that if you can't improve conditions in Belize, then it's pointless to try and improve things here is philosophically self-serving and lazy. It's hard to change things, and besides if you do, other things may happen that are also bad is a good reason to never get out of bed and do anything.

The second woman seems kind of oblivious, but in a friendly and supportive way, so God Bless her, I guess. It's really not that hard to find people who are outraged about the way things are, if you do a bit of searching, like say, anywhere.


And then there's this article in the Wilmington press which actually interviewed the people involved to get their take on it, and we come away with the following perspective from the clergy supporting the workers:
The Rev. Hudson Barksdale, pastor of Gregory United Church of Christ in Wilmington, signed the coalition's original letter of protest to Harris Teeter.

"This is not, 'Don't shop at Harris Teeter.' This is not 'Don't buy Smithfield products,'" he said. "We say don't buy products from the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel."

He said it was especially important for pastors to protest because "Christ was about justice, and if we sit idly by when our brothers and sisters are suffering . . . then we are not Christians."
It's good to see clergy getting in the act. They've been an enormous boon of support to the workers and are probably the only reason the union is even still in the running in Tar Heel.

Wal-Mart to find new ways of kicking its employees in the family jewels

Wal-Mart: Sure, you've worked here twenty years, and we just capped your wages, and cut your hours, and you have no set schedule, and if your child gets sick, that's an unexcused absence, and if that happens four times you get fired. Sure, all of that is true. But you know what?

Worker: What?

Wal-Mart: We're going to give you a polo shirt if you stick it out for twenty years, and on top of that, on top of THAT! We're going to give you a 10% discount on one (1) item, on top of the 10% discount you already get.

Worker: And unions are awful, why exactly again?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thanksgiving, and it snowed

Thanksgiving was good, thanks for asking. We went down to North Carolina, which was warm and gorgeous, and we did the requisite eating ourselves sick. It was great. Below is a picture of a ferry ride we took to a few small towns down east.

<----- Note the happy seagulls.

We also did some decorating for Christmas at both of our parents' houses, and I snapped a pic of someone's Santa Collection. It's like a lineup in Law & Order: Christmas Intent.

Also, we got our first snowstorm of the year, canceling a trip to Springfield for me. I got a neat picture of some oddly melted snow on my car today. The snow actually melted away from the car, but didn't fall off.