Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sen. Hillary Clinton dons boxing gloves while accepting the
AFSCME endorsement Wednesday.
Somehow I don’t think that this is what Joe Hill had in mind when he was fighting the bosses and their thugs:
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees endorsed Clinton for president. AFSCME’s nod is considered a major achievement for the Democratic senator from New York.
The union’s endorsement was one of the most sought after by the Democratic presidential hopefuls and, with another influential union—the Service Employees International Union—refraining from granting a national endorsement, AFSCME’s nod becomes even more of a prize.
The union is the largest for workers in the public sector, with 1.4 million members across the nation.
Clinton accepted AFSCME’s endorsement at an event in Washington Wednesday. Donning a pair of red boxing gloves, Clinton told the audience, "when it comes to fighting for America’s families, I’ll go 10 rounds with anybody."
Especially the base of the Donklephant party. People still think that the Clintons fought for people, despite NAFTA and welfare “reform” and media consolidation and ...
Why anybody votes for these people anymore I just can’t understand.
The union’s president, Gerald McEntee, told the crowd of AFSCME members “this is no time to take chances. We need someone who knows how to fight and indeed knows how to win.”
“Sen. Clinton is a seasoned fighter,” continued McEntee. “Believe me, she knows how to fight, and she knows how to win.”
AFSCME provides Clinton with another major union endorsement. She has already received the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, and Allied Craftworkers and the United Transportation Union, among others.
Union endorsements are important. They mean an infusion of support for the campaigns, especially ground troops to help get out the vote.
Joe Hill’s Funeral - 19 January 1915
Of course, it’s silly of me to be surprised by this. Like many of the rest of the institutions of this country, labor is concerned only with connections and continuity of some form of the status quo. Hell, the United Auto Workers are signing onto all of the same wrongheaded moves they agreed to when they were confronting Caterpillar back in the eighties (I know people who were left in the wake of both those strikes and the resulting surrenders. None of them, suffice to say, worked for Caterpillar for much longer).
“The UAW is a really strong union, and it may be the last really effective labor union in the United States, so if they give up the ghost this is really going to be a watershed moment,” Laszewski said. “If and when the UAW makes a deal with the auto companies there will be a template for all the rest, and it’s really over everywhere.”
However, a health care trust can run out of money, as happened to manufacturing giant Caterpillar in October 2004, leading to higher health care contributions for retirees. The level of funding for a GM trust, now under negotiation, is probably the current sticking point in talks, analysts say. The cash-strapped company can’t afford to go pay too much, while the battered union can’t sell its members on a funding level that’s too low.
Not to mention the effect of a two-tiered wage system on workers, their families and communities. Isn’t the whole POINT of a union solidarity as a counterweight to the overwhelming weight of capital?
On January 13, 1874 a workers’ demonstration
in Tompkins Square in New York City was broken up
when mounted police moved in, beating demonstrators with clubs.
Apparently not ... aging workers ally with management to sell out younger workers. Union leaders ally with politicians who champion free (for capital) trade instead of building coalitions. Connections maintained, backs scratched, table crumbs held onto while those left out have even less.
The only thing Clinton will fight for is Wall Street. Oh, and herself. Those gloves WILL NOT be lifted to fight for real healthcare reform, for real workplace protections, for a living wage, for a cleaner environment. She will fight for herself and the insiders in the cause of ever-increasingly bloated profits and eternal imperial war.
Shame on the unions. Shame on this country. How we betray the blood and bruises and stretched necks and broken bodies of workers who came before to get us the very comforts we now surrender.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Anybody with more self-respect, and spine, than the Donklephants would see this as an invitation to ramp up the pressure on the War Criminal in Chief:
"Congress is not getting it’s work done,” Bush said, flanked by members of the Republican House leadership. "The House of Representatives has wasted valuable time on a constant stream of investigations, and the Senate has wasted valuable time on an endless series of failed votes to pull our troops out of Iraq.”
Bush criticized Congress for not being able to send “a single appropriations bill” to him.
“They haven’t seen a bill they could not solve without shoving a tax hike into it,” he said.
Anybody who has been watching the theofascist imperialists over the last several years knows that the Republicans attack on the very points they fear the most.
Oh, how is a corporate Ass to respond?
Democrats quickly fired back. Jim Manley, senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said, “Taking advice from President Bush about fiscal responsibility and getting things done for the American people is like taking hunting lessons from Dick Cheney. Neither is a very good idea.”
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Illinois, issued a statement saying, “President Bush’s rally this morning reminds us that congressional Republicans remain ready and willing to rubber-stamp the Bush agenda: No to children’s health care; no to a new direction in Iraq; and no to investing in America’s future. The White House and congressional Republicans want to continue the status quo."
Dumb, lazy, stupid and clueless ... completely missing the point and playing into the petulant bully’s hand. What did Mme. Petain have to say?
"You would think that the President would take pride in the New Direction Congress’ bipartisan votes to make America safer by implementing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, give hard-working Americans a raise by increasing the minimum wage, make college more affordable for many more Americans, pass an Innovation Agenda to keep America number one, and uphold a high ethical standard by passing a sweeping lobbying and ethics reform bill. The President signed all these bipartisan bills; yet now he calls them a waste of time.
“And the President calls Congressional oversight that has uncovered tens of billions of dollars in waste, fraud, and abuse in Iraq a ‘waste of time.’ We call billions spent in no-bid contracts to Halliburton a waste of money.
“Instead of criticizing Congress, the President’s time would be better spent working in a bipartisan way to end this disastrous war in Iraq, keep our promises to our veterans by providing the largest veterans’ health care investment in history, and providing health care for 10 million children.”
Gee, the bully accuses you of passing more programs and raising taxes (after slapping at what he’s REALLY mad about), and you all respond by EMPHASIZING passing more programs.
Way to go. What about Steny, political genius and suckler at the corporate teat?
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, issued a statement calling Bush “the biggest obstacle” to extending health coverage to “10 million low-income, working-class American children.”
Hoyer said GOP House leaders need to “stop posing for pictures, and sit down with Democrats and Republicans in Congress who are working together to extend coverage to our children."
Grandma’s chicken soup in every child’s pot!
Not that I want to write anything in agreement with Crawford’s village idiot, but he’s right. The Vichy Donks are wasting time.
They will pass nothing of consequence until they make the rightist spin on government toxic, and they can’t do that until they show how empty and corrupt it is. They can’t matter until they show that the Republicans are truly dangerous to civil society and human life. Running down lists of vetoed bills and grand plans for more tinkering with what’s left of the social safety net for a narrow band of the shrinking middle class is playing right into the winger’s hands, reinforcing a narrative that they have sharpened and used repeatedly for decades now. Remember how well it worked for Kerry?
They can’t do anything WITHOUT launching more investigations, REAL investigations, investigations within the context of an impeachment trial.
Of course, none of that will happen. At best, Waxman will fire off more subpoenas that will be ignored and strung along.
In short, little more than cute little animals slapping their little paws about to little effect, until of course the right suddenly pops loose with their claws and sink the teeth that they have used to all-too-powerful effect into the Donklephants’ collective throats.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
"Extreme Makeover - Disaster Edition!"
Oh, how it turns my stomach, even as it manages to bring tears to my eyes, not that I try to watch. Sometimes, though, on a Sunday night after a football game, as I kill time before Dexter comes on, I’ll flip through Extreme Makeover - Home Edition and marvel at the perfect firestorm of maudlin Hallmark America, rampant consumerism and disaster capitalism. Or, I can just wait until something terrible happens to a large number of people and turn on CNN.
Go to PR Newswire and click on Today’s News. You’ll be treated to stories about plenty of compassionate Corps reaching out to folks who are suffering dislocations and loss due to the wildfires in CA, including cookie companies, pharmacies, wireless users and even the predatory lender Countrywide.
Oh, am I being too cynical? Let alone that every newsbreak repeats the name of a cell-phone provider and an NFL franchise, but increasingly we’re sold during disasters the idea that volunteers and public-minded companies are the go-to providers of aid when the world is afire, or drowned.
Firefighting helicopters refill in a small lake as they work to
protect homes during a wildfire burning in
Malibu, California October 21, 2007. - REUTERS/Phil Mccarten
A society demonstrates its values by what it funds publicly. During this disaster, with it’s pictures of primarily middle-class and wealthy refugees, we’re sold the consumer products industries as saviors. During Katrina, we were sold security contractors, militarism and fear. What products are packaged with a given disaster is driven by the victims of that disaster, so during the current trials we’re told about cell phones and cookies and how diligently we compassionate Americans take care of pets and other animals. During Katrina, with all those black faces (and as people in the fashion and magazine industry will tell you, black faces don’t sell), we were sold fear and Blackwater. The products are taylored to the pictures provided by newsmodels between ads for SUVs and non-habit forming sleep aids (because you’ll need the help after the endless diet of fearmongering and stress from an increasingly ruthless job market).
The company stores are back, and the owners will dig their hooks into us deeper and deeper, every chance they get, even over the dead floating bodies and burned-down American dreams.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Theoria continues to try and fix whatever broke.
Also, thanks to Nanette from the excellent
Human Beams for her help as well.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Not sure what, but we’ve got someone working on it.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
LSF Review: The Price of Sugar
There is a new documentary here in NYC that was quite a head trip. It’s called The Price of Sugar and deals with the horrendous situation of the sugar plantations in the Domican Republic. These plantations are mostly owned by four families and the workers are all illegal immigrants from Haiti. These poor people are snuck across the border and then stripped of their passports and identification papers and put in walled compounds that they are not allowed to leave on the plantations.
The health conditions are deplorable and most of the children are sick and have parasites and all must work in the sugar cane fields. These people earn 90 cents a day and have to buy all their goods in a company owned store that overcharges them. The work is backbreaking and they are not even treated by doctors for their work related injuries.
The documentary begins when a priest from Spain named Father Christopher Hartley begins to visit these workers who are hidden away from society. He is determined to help them and make sure they are given basic human rights. The wealthy families of course fight back and soon the death threats begin to arrive and government pressure is used to try and silence him. The media is owned by these same wealthy families and Hartley only has the power behind the Church to continue his work. Hartley is an amazing man, and it was refreshing to see someone of faith who walks the walk. His courage to fight and his genuine love for these unbelievably exploited people is heartening in a very bleak situation.
Paul Newman narrates this film and it is horrifying to think that not only is the US is the biggest customer of this sugar, we pay double the price on the world market giving them special status. This has been going on for many decades and shows that it is a corrupt US government that continually allows this to happen. It could be stopped so easily and yet it doesn’t.
The film ends with Hartley still fighting but he was finally transferred to Ethiopia last year as government pressure finally gave way and forced the church to relocate him. He returned several months ago with some US Congresspeople to show them what was happening. If anyone knows any more about this I would love to hear about it.
note: see higher-res versions of the photos above here