Sunday, February 25, 2007

And now, for your viewing puh-leasure

Our president, George W. Fucklewit:

Some things are easy, like grabbing low-hanging fruit off a tree. This is one of those things. But like grabbing low-hanging fruit off a tree, I enjoyed doing it, and I didn't strain my back.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Well good.

It's nice to see an industrial union win a strike every once in damn while. Harley-Davidson strikers got 12% increases in their new contract, no new payments on their health care, and they retained the pay and benefits structure for new employees.

Good for them.

Steve Jobs, you and I are in disagreement

I like Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. I think he makes a good product and has done a lot of good work as a philanthropist. But his recent tirade against teachers and their unions reveal that he doesn't have a clue about how public education unionism works.

He falls into the typical trap of CEO's who think that public schools should be run like private companies, when they are in fact not private companies. They're public schools.

See the difference?

Sure you do, and you aren't no fancy CEO of a big 'ol Fortune 500 company. Apple computers doesn't have to take in any computer user, regardless of their desire to use an Apple, their ability to use an Apple, or their own personal problems. If users of Apple computers fail in their use, no one at Apple is held to account. However, this is exactly the premise of public schooling, where allcomers are welcomed, regardless of personal situation, talent, intelligence, or willingness to learn. Public schools are totally unlike any other institution in society in this way.

And I'm sure it's just a coincidence that no aspect of Apple's production is unionized. I'm sure Jobs would freely allow his employees to choose union representation for themselves. Yep. I'm positive of it.

Jobs railed against due process for teachers and bemoaned the fact that principals can't just fire teachers whenever they please.

People have a false idea of what 'tenure' means for teachers. Tenure doesn't mean you can't be fired, it just means that your manager has to actually manage you--provide support if you need it, document your failings as an employee, and if you don't improve, then out you go. It's true that not many teachers are fired once they get tenure, but what is less known that many are simply forced out if they're bad teachers. The union encourages them to take early retirement, their districts encourage them to leave, and if there are serious problems, then an exit that's beneficial to everyone is negotiated.

That's it.

And don't give me the malarkey about how unions hold this process up. Everyone has worked in a non-union environment where the worthless employees are protected for one reason or another, and it's not the union that holds up their exit. It's poor management, people who don't want conflict, or are terrified of their own managerial shadows.

Although at least he didn't compare us to Al Qaeda, like Sean Hannity did.

Dump Roskam!

Man, now here's a blog I can get behind. Dedicated to tracking all of Pete's various positions, votes, and public comments, this should be a great resource for those of us in the reality-based community.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Al Franken is in

Al Franken is running for the Senate in Minnesota. Some of you may not know who is, some of you may have followed his show on Air America, and some of you may know him as Stuart Smalley, the character from Saturday Night Live.

I want you to watch his video announcing his candidacy. He's not your typical candidate. He comes across like an actual human being, more so even than on his syndicated radio show. The way he describes how government assistance has meant the difference in his family, and how his wife's family depended on good government to see them through the tough times. I know what that's like, and he gives it the most charitable possible face. The way he explains it, it's why I'm involved in politics.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day from Chicago

It's snowly. Very snowly.

I. Have. Had. It.

After two bloggers for John Edwards' campaign for president were forced out for mildly criticizing Catholic church doctrine, I thought that the silly season was upon us. I mean, criticizing church doctrine--how shocking!

As usual, I was wrong.

Apparently the treason season is upon us. Frank Gaffney is the kind of dangerous asshole who gets audiences among the most powerful people in the nation. He's not two, near-anomymous bloggers who say rude things, drop the f-bomb, and are part of the great unwashed masses. He has power. And he thinks that the Senators and members of Congress who are now challenging President Chuzzlenuts' completely screwed-up war should be hung. For treason. He's not being coy. He's saying they should be killed for articulating the position of the majority of Americans--namely that we should be bringing our troops home sooner rather than later.

So if that's how you feel, you should be hung too.

This morning I was thinking how I didn't know what was more upsetting--the fact that we're apparently gearing up for our third war in five years, or whether no one seems to give a shit.

I have seriously reflected upon whether or not my position on the war is the right one. I've prayed on it. I've read on it. And still, I'm not altogether sure--I mean, things could get worse if the troops come out of Iraq, right? How can I know these things? I have to take some kind of comfort in the fact that (finally) I'm not alone in my feelings.

How a man like Gaffney can act with such utter conviction--to the point where he wants people who disagree with him killed--is what makes him a truly dangerous man. Would that he were alone in the world, without access to the kinds of people who control bomb payloads and troop deployments. Would that he were merely content to write spy novels or something.

Instead, we're saddled with his bloviating. I'm an enemy. You're an enemy. Everyone's to blame except for the pricks like Gaffney who led (some of) us down this primrose path. The answer clearly isn't that war without end is the problem. The problem is that some of the dirty citizenry have woken up to the fact that these people are deeply disturbed and have pushed their elected representatives to act on this knowledge. That's the problem.

I need a drink, and it's not even noon.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Just in case you thought I was making up hyperbole about Iran:

"Some senior administration officials still relish the notion of a direct confrontation. One ambassador in Washington said he was taken aback when John Hannah, Vice President Cheney's national security adviser, said during a recent meeting that the administration considers 2007 "the year of Iran" and indicated that a U.S. attack was a real possibility. Hannah declined to be interviewed for this article."

In other news, the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west. Jesus, these people could not be more frightening.

Via thismodernworld.

Yesterday I saw the future.

And I wasn't dropping acid. Honestly.

Through a co-worker I snared some tickets to go watch Barack Obama be welcomed home from his whirlwind Springfield-to-Iowa tour. It was held at the UIC Pavillion in Chicago, and a crowd of thousands waited expectantly for hours while Barack arrived late.

The man is good, but one of the things that I noticed that impressed me was the way he handled a group of demonstrators who proceded a chant calling on him to cut off funding to the war. Without mocking or telling them to shut up, he gracefully let them know he was getting to the war (but first he had to finish his plea on healthcare). When they didn't stop, he just waited and halted his speech like I've seen teachers do when their students won't shut up. When the crowd started yelling "O-BA-MA!" the protestors got the point and allowed him to finish. He said "I'm glad those guys are up there, because this is an urgent issue that needs to be resolved."

He's a pretty classy guy, best as I can tell.

I've long stated my torrid political yearnings for John Edwards (and my heart still burns when I hear him talk about unions--it's not a punchline for him, it's a real feeling). He's a great candidate. But so is Barack Obama. In fact, for the first time in my memory, there are actually several candidates whom I wouldn't mind seeing elected. The only one I have strong feelings against is Hillary, for lots of reasons I don't have time to go into right now.

On the other hand, none of the Republican candidates scares me all that much. The air is running out of the McCain Balloon, Mitt Romney will not win over the Republican base, and neither will Rudolph Giuliani. Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback are also-rans.

It will actually be a good time to be a liberal running for office.

Las Vegas Nurses settle nasty strike

After a very nasty, long strike the SEIU has settled a three year agreement that protects nurses' right to organize, guarantees raises, and institutes a process for resolving nurse-to-patient ratios (an enormous problem for nurses everywhere).

So it's good news.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sweet, we're already at war with Iran!

Get this. According to Newsweek, we're already at war with Iran. I know what you're thinking "Hey, Iran hasn't attacked us or anything, what gives?" Well, friend, it's not exactly as though that's stopped us before.

So join in a little pre-war fun. Fire up the flag logo for your cable news station.

Watch as we blatantly and transparently try to provoke a war with Iran, a country whom we have surrounded on both borders with our armed forces (Iraq on the west, and Afghanistan on the east--remember Afghanistan?).

Sez Newsweek:
At least one former White House official contends that some Bush advisers secretly want an excuse to attack Iran. "They intend to be as provocative as possible and make the Iranians do something [America] would be forced to retaliate for," says Hillary Mann, the administration's former National Security Council director for Iran and Persian Gulf Affairs.
Sounds great! Let's focus on Nancy Pelosi's air travel habits and Anna Nicole week! Quick, look over there. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. There are far more important things for you to concern your pretty little head about.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Not to sound too much like a downer...

But twice in one week now, our furnace has gone out. And it's frickin' cold. It's been below zero all week. Grrr.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Some days...

It just doesn't feel worth it. First off, here's a story about how after reaching record profits ($1 billion) last year, Harley Davidson is locking out its employees who threatened to strike after the company pushed for slashing wages and benefits for new hires. And their shares went up by 49 cents yesterday, I guess for showing the workers a little tough love.

Harley, fuck you. Davidson, fuck you too.

Sorry, I'm just in a rude mood right now.

And here's a front-page story off of dailykos, which lays out the truly Dickensian state of our economy. More and more people are spendinig more than they make, and we're pushing Great Depression-era inability of people to catch themselves if they fall with new employment or income. But hey, Exxonmobil just posted record profits again! And while the Preznit is scolding Wall Street for excessive CEO pay, it's not like they actually want to do anything about it. Heavens, no. That would just be uncivil.

And here's an article about how black is white, up is down, and Right To Work Laws really protect union members, from um, well, move along.

And by the way, before we invade Iran, can we please check to make sure that the militias we're fighting in Iraq weren't trained by you know, us? Please? And if we are guilty of training the groups we're now fighting, does that mean we get to invade the White House and Congress?

Just wondering.