Category Archives: AFL-CIO

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” — Frederick Douglass

DIBS ON DEBS

Wow.

That’s all I have to say.

Wow.

The Indy Star today ran a front pager on radical labor leader and committed socialist Eugene V. Debs in honor of Labor Day, natch.

Debs In Canton, Ohio

Now, the Star is not to be confused with the old Daily Worker newspaper or even Mother Jones magazine. In fact, the Star pretty much reflects the rocked-ribbed Republican base in Indiana. For pete’s sake, the paper was started by an industrialist, George F. McCulloch, back in 1903.

Industrialists don’t generally start up papers — or television stations or websites, for that matter — in order that the sweating classes might be whipped into rebellion.

That’s what Eugene V. Debs did all his adult life. He was deemed such a threat to the good order of the nation that he was thrown in prison twice for being, essentially, too charismatic.

And by the way, that good order of the nation? It’s still the same today — those that have, fight like tigers to keep it; those that don’t and make noises about it are called traitors, terrorists or, even worse, liberals.

Debs was born in Terre Haute, which partially explains why the Star might deign to write about him on Labor Day. He was so popular that when he was sprung from the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, a crowd of 50,000 greeted him when he returned home to Terre Haute.

Anyone who wonders why he was imprisoned twice in his life need look no further than than for a reason. Guys who can draw crowds of 50,000 are either top-flight quarterbacks or dangers to the nation.

Debs Before A Crowd

Anyway, Debs is one of the most important Americans in history. He’s generally seen by the Far Right as something akin to a child molester. The thankfully-almost-forgotten Glenn Beck once described Debs as a racist/communist.

So, cool, the Indy Star gives the home-state boy his due. Maybe — just maybe — things aren’t all as lost as they sometimes seem.

Here are some good reads on Debs and the American labor movement:

TEACHERS UNION RALLY

For my Chicago friends, get on over to the Daley Center Plaza today at 10:30 for a rally in support of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Meet Here

Chicago Public School teachers may go on strike a week from today because contract negotiations have bogged down. School starts tomorrow.

Here’s an irony: the billionaires who own the Chicago Cubs want the city and the state to pick up several hundred million dollars of the cost for a proposed massive refurbishment of Wrigley Field. If the city screws its school teachers out of nickels and dimes but then throws a pile of cash at the Ricketts family and the cash cow that is the Cubs, I wouldn’t blame a soul for taking to the streets.

THANKS

The AFL-CIO presents 36 Reasons Why You Should Thank A Union. Here are a few:

  • Weekends without work
  • All breaks, including lunch
  • Paid vacation
  • Sick leave
  • Minimum wage

  • Overtime pay
  • 8-hour day
  • 40-hour week
  • Pensions
  • Workplace safety standards
  • Holiday pay
  • Equal pay for men and women doing the same jobs

Just in case you were wondering what we were celebrating today.

LIVING FROM CHECK TO CHECK

Finally, speaking of nickels and dimes, make it your business this week to buy Barbara Ehrenreich’s fabulous book on the working poor, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.”

It’s worth ten academic treatises on labor for illustrating the lives of people for whom a five dollar bill is an important thing.

Here’s how I waste my time. How about you? Share your fave sites with us via the comments section. Just type in the name of the site, not the url; we’ll find them. If we like them, we’ll include them — if not, we’ll ignore them.

I Love ChartsLife as seen through charts.

XKCD — “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.”

SkepchickWomen scientists look at the world and the universe.

IndexedAll the answers in graph form, on index cards.

I Fucking Love ScienceA Facebook community of science geeks.

Present/&/CorrectFun, compelling, gorgeous and/or scary graphic designs and visual creations throughout the years and from all over the world.

Flip Flop Fly BallBaseball as seen through infographics, haikus, song lyrics, and other odd communications devices.

Mental FlossFacts.

SodaplayCreate your own models or play with other people’s models.

Eat Sleep DrawAn endless stream of artwork submitted by an endless stream of people.

Big ThinkTapping the brains of notable intellectuals for their opinions, predictions, and diagnoses.

The Daily PuppySo shoot me.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The BishopMusic: Jens Lekman Listening Party; 9pm

ONGOING

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • “40 Years of Artists from Pygmalion’s”; through September 1st

◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th

  • Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th

  • Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th

  • “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th

  • David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st

  • Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012

  • Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 30th

  • “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 30th

  • “Workers of the World, Unite!”; through December 30th

◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibits:

  • “Media Life,” drawings and animation by Miek von Dongen; through September 15th

  • “Axe of Vengeance: Ghanaian Film Posters and Film Viewing Culture”; through September 15th

◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery“Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st

◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st

◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Reopens Tuesday, August 21st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.” — Thomas Merton

THE FUTURE KING OF THE UNITED STATES SPEAKS

I played hooky from these precincts yesterday. It felt deliciously bad to be irresponsible.

On the other hand, it wasn’t as though I lolled on a beach. The Loved One had invited a pal over to watch movies last night and had asked me to clean the house. So I had a perfect excuse for not posting.

Cleaning the house reminds me: when I become King of the United States (a position last held by Garfield Goose), I will issue an edict that everybody must scrub their own toilets.

Humbling

This isn’t as fatuous as you might think. I know of no sane human being who enjoys scrubbing the toilet but it’s a task that must be done. It’s one of the most humbling chores we have to do. Maybe the only thing more humbling is emptying bedpans at a hospital or nursing home. I did that when I was in and out of college in the late ’70s. It took me months to learn how to eat dinner without mentally flashing on what I’d done at work that day.

Anyway, emptying bedpans and scrubbing toilets remind us that, honestly, we as a species ain’t anything special, kids.

Now, we have to assume people like Donald Trump and Oprah do not scrub their own toilets. They have, after all, far more important things to do.

“I Certainly Will Not Scrub My Own Toilet!”

But the truth is there’s very little in life more important than scrubbing the toilet. On a practical level, we have to do it or else our bathrooms will essentially become oversized Petri dishes for the cultivation of dangerous microbes. And psychologically, it makes us feel invigorated to do our business in a relatively clean cube.

Perhaps most important of all, though, the simple but awkward task of sprinkling cleanser, brushing, and rinsing reminds us we’re no better than any other human being on this planet.

A lesson, I’m sure, that might benefit someone like Donald Trump.

THE BREAST CANCER RACKET

Lousy news the other day about the Susan G Komen gang and Planned Parenthood, no?

(An update: the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has reversed its earlier decision to cut off Planned Parenthood funding.)

I have a confession to make. I became sick of the color pink long ago. In fact, this whole breast cancer thing is getting to me.

Pink Baseball Bats At The Louisville Slugger Factory

Now don’t get me wrong — I realize breast cancer is a horrible problem and I hope nobody gets it and all the rest. I know a number of women who’ve suffered from it. For them I hope a cure is found by five this afternoon.

Early Detection

But years ago it occurred to me that the “battle” against the disease was becoming more of a cottage industry than something people wanted to see won and finished.

The cure walks and the swathing of everything up to and including the Sears/Willis Tower in pink seem more like in-group partying than anything else. Perhaps I’m wrong, wrong, wrong but I suspect that if breast cancer were suddenly and magically wiped off the face of the earth tomorrow morning, a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on “battling” it would be, well, bummed.

Anyway, if the Komen mob’s decision to cut off funding PP is any indication, preventing and curing breast cancer is less important than making sure women stop their nasty habit of having sex.

For a brief moment I was hesitant to write this screed. Surely, I thought, somebody’s gonna rake me over the coals for not genuflecting in the direction of those who walk or race for the cure. But then last night I caught a Facebook post from sexologist Susie Bright and I decided, hell, I’m gonna go with it.

Susie Bright wrote: “Am I the only one who’s thought Komen is full of shit since day one? They’ve always been nauseating, a pink GOP branding machine.” Bright then links to a fascinating bring-down of the Komen myth that ran on a website called Butter Believer.

Susie Bright Reading From Her Book, “Big Sex, Little Death”

The article’s author looked over Komen’s annual report and discovered that the organization spends fully 60 percent of its money on public health education, fund-raising costs, and administrative costs. And while that public education line might seem noble, it’s really mostly the tab for their pink-washing and self-congratulatory events.

Those things are, for all intents and purposes, advertising.

The author also charges that only a penny of every dollar spent on Komen’s licensed pink products actually goes to research to find a cure for breast cancer.

And, by the way, don’t try to start any kind of charitable organization using the word “cure” in its title. The Komen-ites likely will sue your ass off. “Did you know,” the author writes, “that Susan G. Komen for the Cure spends nearly a million dollars annually suing small charities over the use of the word ‘cure’…?”

The Real Cure

There is a silver lining to this story. Donations to Planned Parenthood have gone through the roof since the Komen cut-off was announced.

THE FIENDS

What’s the worst crime you can commit in these United States? Arson? Kidnapping a child for nefarious purposes? Robbing a bank?

Nope. The answer is messing with the Super Bowl.

WRTV Channel 6 in Indy breathlessly reported Thursday that union members unhappy over the Indiana State Legislature’s passing of its union-busting bill are threatening to disrupt the Super Bowl Sunday.

Sunday Service

The Super Bowl, of course, is this holy land’s holiest event. I’ve long endorsed the idea that Super Bowl Sunday should be declared a national holiday. Football is a game that is run by men, involves violence, employs strippers disguised as cheerleaders, and rakes in literally billions of dollars a year for teams, television, bookies, athletes, anthem singers, halftime entertainers, orthopedic surgeons, criminal defense attorneys, and many more.

What’s more American than that?

Game day coverage of the Super Bowl this year begins at eight o’clock in the morning — kickoff is scheduled for ten and a half hours later.

Guaranteed, more people know the name of the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots than can identify the current Secretary of State of the United States.

As for the aggrieved unionistas, they’ve been overruled by their higher-ups. Indiana AFL-CIO chief Nancy Guyott promised union members will not blaspheme Sunday’s sacred rite at the Lucas Oil cathedral.

House Of God

She probably figures union membership has suffered enough in recent years and Super Bowl security forces likely will shoot to kill anyone who messes with the event.

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