Jul 172014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, day 87.  It’s largely a rest day for me, except for cooking, cleaning and the many hours I spend in research and writing.  I am tired from being unable to sleep this morning.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:11 (average 4:42).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: One Quote From Abraham Lincoln Might Just Surprise You

0717lincolnLaborQuote

It’s hard to believe that once, Republicans were the liberal party, not the class warriors for the greediest billionaires that they are today.

From Daily Kos: Boy, Dick Cheney really is determined to caricature himself:

During an event sponsored by Politico, Cheney said the next president needs to "turn around the whole trend" of cutting defense dollars.

"That ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else," Cheney said. "Your No. 1 responsibility as president is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. [Obama] is the commander-in-chief and he’s absolutely devastating the United States military today.”

War always was ChickenHawk Cheney’s highest priority, except when he was hiding behind five deferments.

From The New Yorker: A new study released Tuesday indicates that wearing glasses does not make a person look smarter, but standing next to Texas Governor Rick Perry does.

In the study, when participants were shown photos of a person with and without glasses, they registered little or no change in their view of the person’s intelligence.

However, when the photo of the same person was juxtaposed with a photo of Governor Perry, participants suddenly said that the person looked “much smarter” or “brilliant,” with some participants even using the phrase “like a genius.”

While Andy is certainly correct, wouldn’t comparing folks to Crawford Caligula have an even greater effect?

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Jul 012014
 

The Republican Party won a victory in their War on Workers, because the Fascist Five Injustices of SCROTUS (Republican Constitutional VD) ruled against labor in Harris v. Quinn.  They determined that it violates the free speech of home health care workers to have to either join a Union or pay a fee to a union for their collective bargaining representation.  In so doing they violated precedent and ignored the Constitution, because this an economic issue, not a speech issue.

0701Workers

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday dealt a setback to unions by ruling that in-home care workers in Illinois who are paid by the state are not similar enough to full-fledged government employees to be compelled to pay union dues.

The case gathered national attention because it questioned the ability of unions to collect dues from public sector workers. The court said in-home care workers are not full-fledged public employees, thus narrowing the decision to these particular workers.

The question stems from Harris v. Quinn, an Illinois case involving in-home care workers. Illinois and other states have long used Medicaid funds to pay their salaries to assist disabled adults who otherwise might have to be placed in state institutions. The jobs were poorly paid, and turnover was high.

A Chicago chapter for the Service Employees International Union began organizing the workers and pushing the state for higher wages. In 2003, an executive order by then. Gov. Rod Blagojevich designated them as “public employees,” allowing the union to collectively bargain with the state over their benefits and wages. Gov. Pat Quinn later expanded the designation to include personal assistants in the state’s disabilities program.

In 2010, the National Right to Work Foundation, an anti-union advocacy group, sued Quinn and the union, accusing the state and union of conspiring to relabel private care providers so the union could collect union fees…

Inserted from <Chicago Tribune>

Although the five goose-steppers claim that the decision is a narrow one, they lied.  It breaks new ground and sets a precedent that is sure to spawn future similar lawsuits.  Effectively this allows home health care workers to benefit from union representation for free, greatly reducing the incentive workers have to join the union.

What the above article neglected, perhaps intentionally, to report is that the SEIU has done a damn fine job for home healthcare workers, increasing their wages from $7.00 per hour in 2003 to $11.65 today to $13.00 later this year.  The point is, paying a small fee for so much more pay was a boon, not a hardship to workers who chose not to join the Union.

I’m sure I’ll have more video coverage of this to post later this week, but the only response I could find that didn’t goose-step comes from Oregon’s SEIU Local 533.

This issue will need close watching in future, because you can be cure this will not be the end of it.

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Mar 312014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and it’s hard to believe that this month has gone so quickly.  I’ll continue to be scarce in April.  My schedule makes this month’s seem tame, by comparison.  Please pardon my brevity, lest I run out ofday, before running out of tasks.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:12 (average 5:01).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: When Chuck Herrin, who runs a large farm labor contracting company, looks out at the hundreds of workers he hires each year to tend to the countless rows of asparagus, grapes, tomatoes, peaches and plums, he often seethes in frustration.

It is not that he has any trouble with the laborers. It is that he, like many others in agriculture here, is increasingly fed up with immigration laws that he says prevent him from fielding a steady, reliable work force.

“What we have going on now is a farce — a waste of time and money,” said Mr. Herrin, a lifelong Republican who grew up in central California, adding that the country should be considering ways to bring workers in, not keep them out. “We need these people to get our food to market.”

Even Republicans recognize the need to enact comprehensive immigration reform, but the Republican Party continues to sabotage it. To intentionally harm our economy for political gain, however ineptly done, is sedition.

From Think Progress: Last month, Uganda made international headlines when President Yoweri Museveni signed the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act, calling for the imprisonment of gay citizens. But one religious leader refuses to discriminate against people for their sexual orientation, and has become a hero to the country’s gay community.

In defiance of the legislation, commonly referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill, Rev. Christopher Senyonjo hosts weekly prayer sessions and counseling services to LGBT worshipers and supporters. He also critiques fellow clerics’ “healing” approach to addressing the gay community, whereby church leaders attempt to fix people through prayer. “They said I should condemn the homosexuals,” he said, referring to Anglican leaders in Uganda. “I can’t do that, because I was called to serve all people, including the marginalized. But they say I am inhibited until I recant. I am still a member of the Anglican church.”

Citing questionable evidence provided by Ugandan scientists, the President justified signing the Anti-Homosexuality Act in February by arguing that being gay is a choice. According to the harsh law, first-time offenders can spend at least 14 years in jail, while others can serve lifelong sentences. As a result, LGBT people are ostracized and subjected to violence.

Reverend Senyonio aptly illustrates the difference between authentic Christians and Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christians, like the members of the US Congress, who coined this legislation, and even intended it to include capital punishment for gay people.

From Daily Kos: Mississippi has not been what you’d call a pro-union state, but it’s really hammering that point home this week, with the state Senate passing not one, not two, but THREE anti-union bills and sending them to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature:

Senate Bill 2473 would make it illegal to coerce a business into staying neutral in a union drive or to allow workers to choose union representation by signing cards instead of by secret ballot. It’s not clear what would constitute coercion, but businesses could sue anyone they believed engaged in it. [...]

Senate Bill 2653 tries to restrict mass picketing of a residence or place of business. It says pickets would be legal as long as they weren’t violent and didn’t block entrances. But it also makes getting a court stop order against picketing easier.

Senate Bill 2797 says the Legislature would have to pass a law to allow any state or local government to make an agreement to use unionized workers on a project. Such a project labor agreement was used to build the Toyota Motor Corp. plant in Blue Springs.

So basically, "unions GTFO. We will sue you for breathing."

The Republican Party is dedicated to create slave labor that the 1% can exploit without having to build in the third world.  You’re it.

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Mar 302014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and feel sufficiently recovered from my volunteer work to function.  At Thursday’s meeting my guys were planning their annual banquet.  I had arranged to bring in a woman from another local organization, who is working on a pamphlet to assist prisoners prepare to meet the parole board, into our meeting in the prison.  She had no experience in that area, so I took her into a side-room to meet with around thirty of the men who have appeared before the board.  It was a tough facilitating job, because a couple of my guys, who felt they had been treated unfairly (and one had been), wanted to dominate the session with complaints.  However valid, that did not relate to her project.   I managed to make that point (several times) and keep it on track, for the most part.  The woman came away satisfied that she had gleaned the raw material she needs. One critically important thing to do before the board is to be real.  As always, I was proud of my guys.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:42 (average 4:51).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy:

I have a hard time watching this and not getting terribly angry. Those 123 young women and 23 men who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, deserve to be remembered. But we're watching it happen all over again in developing countries that supply Walmart, Gap, and other marketing and retail giants.

Sorry/not sorry, I’m mad as hell, and I wish we could live in a world where we didn’t have to take this anymore.

Warning: some violent images.

 

It's hard to add anything to this, except that the Republican Party is fighting to prevent such legislation.

Daily KosConnecticut has become the first state to pass legislation raising its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. The bill was passed with strong margins in the state Senate and House and Gov. Dannel Malloy plans to sign it Thursday evening

Here's good news for a change. Kudos to CT!!

From Bill Moyers: Single moms are the problem. Only 9 percent of low-income, urban moms have been single throughout their child’s first five years. Thirty-five percent were married to, or in a relationship with, the child’s father for that entire time.

In the article, the author debunks ten of Republicans' favorite lies about poverty. Click through for the other nine.

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Mar 122014
 

I could have entitled this the Republican War on the Constitution, because that is the tactic Republicans in several states are using do deny workers their freedom of speech and their freedom of assembly.  Republicans want to make certain that, when workers have grievances, there is no inconvenience to the companies, and that YOU don’t get to see it.

0312GOPWarIn moves that pro-labor legal scholars warn may violate the U.S. Constitution, Mississippi, Michigan and Tennessee Republicans have introduced bills that would strengthen the hands of bosses faced with protesting employees.

“The language is so broad, the potential is so destructive, that what they’re basically doing is outlawing strikes …” University of Texas labor law professor Julius Getman told Salon. “Or they’re doing their best to limit strikes or picketing to situations where you have two or three people standing still. The idea of the union manifesting concerted power of workers is something that they’re seeking to prohibit.”

“People have a right to free speech, but they don’t have a right to keep someone from going to work,” countered state Rep. Jeremy Durham, who introduced that state’s anti-picketing bill.

All three state bills would lower the bar for businesses to seek and secure judicial injunctions against labor picketing – a form of protest long used by workers seeking to dissuade customers or strikebreakers, attract reporters or supporters, and spotlight alleged abuses. In addition to changing injunction rules, the proposal in Mississippi’s House would ban picketing that “has or intends the effect of violence or intimidation, near or contiguous to the business’ customers”; Tennessee’s would ban picketing that is “preventing the pursuit of any lawful work or employment by means of disturbance or nuisance.”

At a private home (say, a CEO’s mansion), Mississippi’s and Tennessee’s bills would make disrupting “the resident’s right to quiet enjoyment” grounds for convicting picketers of a crime. The bill in Michigan’s House would remove current language making certain picketing a misdemeanor, but add language imposing a $1,000 a day fine for a person (including an individual protesting worker, not just an organization or a union official) repeatedly found to have picketed illegally. And the bill passed by Mississippi’s Senate would allow an individual picketer to be thrown in jail for six months… [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Salon.com>

These are the very same Republicans, who insisted that it was their Constitutional right to physically accost women seeking abortion services and threaten bodily harm to abortion providers at their homes.

I remember how Republicans in Congress used to wave little paper Constitutions, while falsely claiming that they are supporting it.  In reality, they would trash the Constitution for the 0.1%

Support Labor against these injustices!

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Feb 232014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow, and this will be the only article, because I cut my search for material short.  Although I spent more time in research than usual, I did not find much that grabbed me, and I didn’t want to keep pushing, because I’ll be quite busy for the next couple days.  On Monday, I’ll be hosting a Board Meeting of my prison volunteer organization here in the Cat Box, including dinner, so I’ll have a lot of cleaning and food prep to do for the next couple days.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:52 (average 5:34).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: If what he said in 1996 is any guide, House Speaker John Boehner really, really does not plan to allow a vote on raising the minimum wage:

“I’ll commit suicide before I vote on a clean minimum-wage bill,” Boehner, then the head of the House Republican Conference, said at the time.

How’s that for an extreme position? He wouldn’t just die before doing it, he’d actually kill himself. Take his own life rather than lift hundreds of thousands out of poverty by requiring businesses to pay a minimum wage that a small family can come somewhere close to living on. It’s almost like he’s not the moderate figure trying to balance the demands of his party’s teabagger extremists with responsible governance that so many political reporters have painted him as.

What better reason could there for Democrats to circulate a discharge petition on this issue, Not only would it me a major victory against vulture capitalists and their Republican lackeys, but also, the fringe benefit is fantastic!! ;-)

From NY Times: The phony budget games finally came to an end this week. After years of trying to entice Republicans into serious negotiations over a fiscal deal — years of instant rejection and painful austerity — the White House announced it was giving up.

In President Obama’s 2015 budget, scheduled to be unveiled next month, there will be no more proposals to cut entitlement programs. Instead, the president will demand what the country needs the most: new investments in education, in energy efficiency, in job training. When Republicans turn away, as they will, they will have to explain to voters why they prefer tax loopholes for the rich over programs to create jobs and rebuild the economy.
Mr. Obama will not include an offer that marred his 2014 budget plan: reducing the cost-of-living increase for Social Security in exchange for higher spending and the end of some of those loopholes. The Social Security cut, known as a “chained” Consumer Price Index, was never a good idea. It was likely to hurt vulnerable retirees, but had been long advocated by the right. Nonetheless, Republicans refused to consider that change if it meant touching the tax breaks of their wealthiest donors, so they passed up a chance to achieve their stated goal of reducing entitlement spending.

In my opinion, the authors have this wrong in one key way. I trust you remember that, at the time, I said that the only reason Obama was offering chained CPI was the certainty that Republicans would refuse it, because it came paired with cuts in welfare for the 1%. Now, in my opinion, Obama is making no such offer, because Republicans have become so desperate to appear reasonable in an e3lection year, that they might accept it, if he did.

From TPM: The United Auto Workers union is appealing a union representation election for Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen workers citing interference from Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and other groups and lawmakers in the state.

The UAW announced its appeal with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday.

The appeal argues that Corker, Tennessee Gov. William Haslam and State House Speaker Beth Harwell, among others, "conducted what appears to have been a coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign. They worked, in concert with their staffs and others, to deprive" Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. "workers of their federally-protected right, through the Election, to support and select the UAW as their exclusive representation under Section 9(a) of the National Labor Relations Act (the "Act"), free of coercion, intimidation, threats and interference."…

…Read the appeal here.

Having read the appeal myself, as I strongly recommend that you do too, I agree that the UAW complaint is accurate, and that the NLRB should set aside the election and order a new one.

Cartoon:

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This effectively makes any Voter ID laws that require voter expense, either for the ID, or for the documents needed to obtain it, unconstitutional.

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Feb 222014
 

I’m writing for tomorrow and feeling slightly improved from yesterday.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:42 (average 6:35).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Upworthy: Here’s an amazing video that clearly explains why welfare doesn’t work how you think it works. At 6:38, we find out the obvious about who the biggest welfare user in the country is.

 

I was correct in my estimation of who America’s biggest welfare user is, and I fully agree with the premise of this video.

From The New Yorker: Citing the scandals embroiling Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Republican Governors Association today ordered its members to discontinue the use of e-mail, “effective immediately.”

According to a memo sent to all Republican governors, “Any plots, schemes, conspiracies, or violations of campaign-finance laws should be conducted using pay phones or easily disposable cell phones such as the ones used on ‘The Wire.’ ” The governors were instructed to read the memo once and then either burn or eat it.

LOL Andy!! I bet PIGnocchio ate his!!

From Reuters (H/T Daily Kos): Volkswagen’s top labor representative threatened on Wednesday to try to block further investments by the German carmaker in the southern United States if its workers there are not unionized.

Workers at VW’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last Friday voted against representation by the United Auto Workers union (UAW), rejecting efforts by VW representatives to set up a German-style works council at the plant.

German workers enjoy considerable influence over company decisions under the legally enshrined "co-determination" principle which is anathema to many politicians in the U.S. who see organized labor as a threat to profits and job growth.

Chattanooga is VW’s only factory in the U.S. and one of the company’s few in the world without a works council.

"I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again," said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council.

"If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor" of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW’s supervisory board, said.

Kudos to VW’s works council. If Republicans insist on blocking the way the company wants to deal fairly with workers, those jobs should go to states that Republicans do not control.

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