Category Archives: Labor Movement

Hot Air

Ch-Ch-Changes

Okay, you wanna know what’s wrong with today’s Democratic Party? I’ll tell you. David Plouffe was Barack Obama’s campaign manager in 2012. Today, Plouffe is the attorney for Uber, the freelance taxi service.

Plouffe, on behalf of his bosses, is fighting a Seattle city council ordinance calling for Uber to turn its list of drivers over to union organizers. This is a routine step, generally required by federal labor law, a precious government protection for workers thinking of organizing.

Now, the reason the Seattle city council had to get into the act is Uber claims its drivers are “independent contractors” which is corporate-speak for Get your own goddamn health insurance.

Uber, with Plouffe leading the charge, is sure to appeal the council’s action in federal court.

In other words, he’s fighting against unions.

Overpass.37

Union Busters

Unions, I might remind you, used to be the very spine of Democratic support in this holy land.

That is, before the party learned its bread was buttered far more generously by Wall Street banksters and pirate captains of industry.

Water Works

Monroe County Council member Geoff McKim tells us the US Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of adopting its first revised master plan for Lake Monroe in nearly 50 years. To that end, the Corps is hosting an open house where the plan, developed by the Woolpert, Inc. engineering firm of Dayton, Ohio, will be on display.

Woolpert must deliver a version of the plan by the middle of next month. That submission, acc’d’g to McKim, must be accompanied by public comment.

Considering that’s our pool of drinking, bathing, and cooking water, you’d figure many of us would have something to say about how the reservoir is used over the next half century.

McKim points out that a preliminary version of the plan he’s eyeballed specifically states the city of Indianapolis reserves the right to draw water from the lake. Indy’s not sucking up all our water just yet but may feel compelled to do so in the future. A future, I might add, that potentially includes water shortages due to climate change.

Anyway, outgoing water czar Pat Murphy always has stressed that anything done on, in, or near the lake affects water quality. I don’t know about you, but I like the taste of my Bloomington water — especially when mixed with a smooth bourbon. The upcoming master plan will undoubtedly affect that taste.

woodford

The Highest And Best Use

The open house is from 3-7pm today at the Corps’ Middle Wabash Area Office, 1620 Monroe Dam Court.

 

How Does Your Brain Work?

How cool is this? Independent UK publisher Nobrow Press offers a super-cool graphic novel about the workings of the human brain called Neurocomic.

If you’ve followed these ramblings and screeds for any length of time, you know I’m a huge advocate of using the graphic novel as a teaching tool — yes, even in our public schools. Especially in our public schools.

The state’s schools of late have become enthralled with distributing expensive electronic devices to students, devices that the kids and their parents would have to reimburse the school for should said students lose or wreck them. But — silly me! — everyone knows school kids never lose or wreck things, so don’t worry about a thing.

These cyber toys, teachers tell me, really are of value only to the big corporations that manufacture and peddle them. No one I know believes the latest MacBook Air will make your kid learn her lessons any faster or more efficiently.

Books, on the other hand….

Here are some panels from the Neurocomic. They look fun and informative — and what better way is there to learn?

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Images: ©Nobrow Press, 2014

Anyway, Neurocomix appears to be as needed a title in my personal core library as the graphic novels Logicomix, Maus I & II, the Complete Persepolis, Feynman, and a few others..

Uptown Funk Mashup

Have you seen this yet? If not, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy!

Your Hot Air Today

Labor Day.

Celebrate it.

Why?

Simple.

Labor Day

According to a recent study released by Oxfam America, one of every four working Americans earns less than $10 and hour.

$10 an hour! That’s $400 a week. $20,800 a year. You’d better be living alone if you make that kind of scratch. And I do mean scratch. If you have kids, you’re screwed.

At least a quarter of this holy land’s population lives, therefore, in poverty. As Oxfam America concludes, the United States is “The most unequal rich country in the world.”

Need any more reason to support organized labor?

The Limits Of Evil

This nation commits its share of crimes, both great and minor, against humanity. There is no argument. It is in the nature of empire to steamroll individuals and even other nations. If you don’t like it and wish it to change, then you must be prepared to give up cheap gas, air conditioning every single enclosed space you enter, filling your refrigerator enough to feed a small Bangladeshi town, and paying a first baseman $25 million a year.

Gas Europe

I don’t like much of what the Earth’s only superpower does in the name of god and country and I’m not afraid to say so. That’s what this space has been all about for the last five years (we moved from The Third City to The Electron Pencil a couple of years back.)

On the other hand, are we really all that bad? Is America as evil as, say, the old Soviet Union or even, as some on both ends of the spectrum love to shout, Nazi Germany?

Hell no.

To say so is to identify one’s self as a boob.

Tea Party Rally

Our most heinous evils, I daresay, are behind us. The Indian Holocaust and slavery are history and although we still have economic Jim Crow and we relegate Native Americans to sports mascots, the leaders of America are not ordering their mass killing.

An example. I’m reading the book Six Months in 1945, by Michael Dobbs. It covers the endgame of World War II when the leaders of the USSR, the United Kingdom, and America carved up the post-war world. In February of that year, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin met at Yalta, a spectacularly gorgeous stretch of waterfront on the Black Sea in Crimea.

Yalta

“You Take This; I’ll Take That.”

The victors of “The Good War” were gathering in a place that was surrounded by desolation. The Crimea had been ravaged by invading German armies. In fact, as Roosevelt rode through the countryside on his way to the Livadia Palace, where he’d stay during the talks, he watched the passing lifeless landscape and remarked that he must suggest to Stalin that he re-forest the great Crimean plateau. He also said that the scorched and empty lands made him want to visit revenge upon the Nazis more than ever.

The only problem was, as much as the invading Wehrmacht devastated the Crimea, the Soviet Union itself, under orders from Stalin, had destroyed, killed, and razed in the countryside as efficiently and happily as the Nazis had. See, a few Tatars had more or less cooperated with the invading Germans. Therefore, in Stalin’s mind, every Tatar was guilty (at least potentially so) of collaboration.

Stalin

Man Of Steel

In Stalin’s mind, even the possibility that an individual or group might commit treason was the equivalent of guilt. A few Tatars flipping to the enemy was the same as all of them doing so.

Stalin ordered the relocation of the Tatars from their centuries-old homeland to a desert in Uzbekistan. That is, some 190,000 civilians were forced into train cars, locked in without water or waste disposal facilities, and sent off on a days-long journey. Nearly one in five died. While this was going on, the Soviet security forces flattened the land from which they’d come.

This happened in 1944. Anyone who is 69 years old or older was alive when it happened. My mother was 23. George H.W. Bush was 20. Warren Buffet, George Soros, Clint Eastwood, Rupert Murdoch, and Vin Scully all were alive.

The incident is within the lifetime memory of thousands, hundreds of thousands — hell, millions — still alive today.

That didn’t happen here. Nor did the mass killings in Cambodia in the late 1970s. The East Pakistan politicide of 1971. The almost countless genocides of sub-Saharan Africa since the 1950s. The +40 million killings in Mao-ist China.

Cambodian Genocide

Cambodia

The United States often is a bad player. But our evil of late has been finite.

That’s something to remember. Even if we are the the most unequal rich country in the world.

What’s Going On

The full album, right here.

Your Daily Hot Air

Hey kids, just a few quick hits today because I’m in a hurry.

Union Now!

How cool is it that fast food workers in selected cities are going out on a series of one-day strikes this week?

The Big Mike answer and Official Pencil Policy Statement? Very cool.

Chase Guttman photo

NYC McDonald’s Workers On Strike Yesterday

Ever since Saint Ronald Reagan institutionalized this holy land’s policy of crushing labor unions by decertifying PATCO back in 1981, the labor movement has slid inexorably nearer to irrelevance. Dig: by general acclamation, the single most powerful workers group in the United States is the Major League Baseball Players Association. That is, a group of workers whose entry-level annual base pay is for the 2013 season is $490,000. That comes out to cool $30,625 per two-week pay period for the newest, rawest, and, perhaps, least productive worker in the business. Try to find a currency exchange that’ll cash that check.

But the MLBPA has consistently beaten the major league baseball owners at the bargaining table for the last 40 years. Baseball is the only major pro sports operation that doesn’t have a hard salary cap and big league ballplayers are entitled to the most liberal free agency system in all sports. Oh, and all contracts are guaranteed, meaning if a player is cut by a team, the team still owes him all the money due through the end on his contract. Pretty sweet, eh?

Of course, most things are pretty sweet for the 1% in this great nation.

Baseball & Money

Pretty Sweet

Then there’s the poor slob who’s pouring your cup of McDonald’s coffee, maybe even as we speak. He earns minimum wage. Which, as any kindergartner can calculate, is not enough to support a family of one, much less two, three, or more.

The big cheeses at Mickey Ds, Burger King, Wendy’s, and all those other salt-and-fat emporia are wringing their hands and dabbing at their eyes with their Kleenexes [boxes of which they purchased at drug-and-convenience stores that also pay their “valued associates” that same princely minimum wage], trying to convey to us through their subs that their businesses will crumble if they have to pay out a penny more in wages.

Bullshit.

I for one would be more than happy to pay a dollar extra per Big Mac just so’s the single mom flipping the horsemeat over a hot griddle can buy her kid[s] some shoes.

And if you wouldn’t, let me be the first to inform you that you are a jerk.

The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling

This needs to be said and I’ll be the first: Annie Corrigan of WFIU carries the best set of pipes in all of Indiana broadcasting.

Bernard Gordillo Brockmann photo

The Voice Of Bloomington

She is the consummate professional and her joyous, dulcet lilt wakes me in the morning like the call of the cardinal.

My only fear is she’ll soon follow the scent of real b-casting money to a larger market, a reward of which she’s more than deserving. Oh, Annie girl…!

Not So Fast

Pope Frankie made a big splash yesterday by holding an impromptu press conference on the airplane as his entourage high-tailed it out of Brazil.

Sinatra/Pope

Idols

Among other things, the new Vatican princeps said he wasn’t about to judge anyone for being a homosexual and that women ought to play a larger role within the Church.

Now, before we all start throwing huzzahs around, let’s remember it is still the policy of the of the Roman Catholic executive committee that homosexual acts are sins and women shall never be priests.

Here’s my Latin response to the putative groundbreaking pronouncements by the Pontiff: Facta, non verba.*

[* In English, Actions, not words.]

America Grows Up

Back to coolness. How cool is it that John Kerry is the 68th Secretary of State of the United States of America?

Kerry/VVAW

Kerry, The Antiwar Protester

Honestly! Kerry was one of the faces of the anti-war movement back when this nation was debasing itself and committing crimes against humanity in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1960s and ’70s. In April, 1971, Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the atrocities and general wrongheadedness of our excellent adventure in Southeast Asia. Later, he and other vets marched to the US Capitol and threw their service decorations at the place. At the time, Kerry said, “I’m not doing this for any violent reasons, but for peace and justice, and to try and make this country wake up once and for all.”

President Nixon and his gang of gasbags would have thrown a party had Kerry, then one of the leaders of Vietnam Veterans against the War, been run over by a bus. It’s a shocker that one of the rat-fuckers didn’t get that bright idea and try to recruit a down-on-his-luck bus driver to carry out the contract.

And now, Kerry is in charge of US foreign policy. We’ve still got a lot to be ashamed of and apologetic for in America, but we’ve come a long way, baby.

[BTW: Speaking of cool once again, imagine that a national talk show would have a civilized, rational, intellectual debate between representatives of opposing sides of a hot-button issue. The Dick Cavett Show was analogous to, say, today’s Conan or Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. I don’t want to slip into that old Things-were-better-in-my-day routine but, jeez, at least some of TV acknowledged that the average American had an organ in her or his skull.]

The Electron Pencil:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“I doubt if a single individual could be found from the whole of mankind free from some form of insanity. The only difference is one of degree. A man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people.” — Erasmus

LOCAL WARMING

Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t these buds popping out on my front yard bushes?

MR. CLOSET SEES NO CLASSES

I’m not all that mercurial on these pages. That which I espouse or despise in November very likely will be the same in June.

But I have given the thumb to Michele Bachmann as my bete noir du jour. (Is that the French idiom equivalent of mixing metaphors?)

Anyway, Bachmann’s out and Rick Santorum’s in.

Mr. Closet (my new nickname for Santorum) justified my faith in him when he said these words during a weekend debate among candidates for the Republican nomination for president: “There are no classes in America.”

This is the socio-political analog to declaring that the world is flat. My god, Rick (or, more accurately, your god, Rick), have you visited a criminal courtroom lately? A jail? An unemployment office? A business school graduation ceremony?

I don’t think even Michele Bachmann would have had the balls to say those words (after all, somebody in her marriage has to have balls). Yes, she’s a loon. But — shock of shocks — she might not be as psycho as Mr. Closet.

I’d hate it if Ricky-girl did so poorly in tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary that he’d no longer be taken seriously as a contender. For a smart-ass like me, he’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Bloomington author extraordinaire Joy Shayne Laughter has nailed it. The other day she wrote to me: “Does anybody else get the feeling that the GOP nomination race has become little more than a Las Vegas lounge act? You have to have a pretty guy and a funny guy. Think Martin & Lewis.”

Martin & Lewis (Or Is It Romney &…?)

JSL says Mitt Romney is the Dean Martin guy — handsome, good hair, can carry a tune. But she thinks Ron Paul is the Jerry-like buffoon. Nah. It’s Mr. Closet.

Speaking of the man who swears he would never, ever, ever, ever kiss a man full on the lips, gently, with slightly open mouth so he might savor the taste, running his fingers through the man’s hair, feeling his heart begin to pound, sensing warmth in his…, um, oh, I mean Rick Santorum, blogger Kris Broughton on Big Think goes all Big-Mike on the not-so-cuddly Jesus-lover and gay-basher.

Broughton writes: “If these utterly myopic conservatives of the Republican Party decide to hitch their wagon to Santorum, this will be the culmination of the last three years that began with Anybody But Obama, devolved to Anybody But Romney, and is now flirting heavily with the latest Republican theme for the 2012 election season, Any Christian White Man With a Suit.”

ROMNEY’S RELIGIONS

One of the things about Mitt Romney that scares the poo out of the paleozoic wing of the Republican Party is his Mormonism.

The Mormon God, Or Gods, Or What The Hell Ever They Believe In

By the way, if you don’t know all that much about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, pick up a copy of Jon Krakauer‘s terrific book, “Under the Banner of Heaven.” Krakauer, who has taken on the Pat Tillman killing and cover up in Afghanistan, his passion for mountaineering, and that “Three Cups of Tea” baloney peddler Greg Mortenson in his books, exposes the tyrannical and even homicidal side of America’s fastest growing religion.

Anyway, Roger Ebert — my hero du jour — reveals that Romney’s favorite novel is the execrable “Battlefield Earth” by L. Ron Hubbard.

“Battlefield Earth,” The Movie

Who knows? Maybe Romney wants the world to to think Mormonism is not so bad, if only in comparison to Hubbard’s Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard Made Joseph Smith Look Sane

OCCUPY BLOOMINGTON GOES TO WORK

This was the scene at People’s Park Saturday at noon.

No more tents. No more signs. No more Occupiers.

Occupy Bloomington may have been evicted but that doesn’t mean the revolution’s over in South Central Indiana. Stone sculptor Amy Brier points out that OB is now working with the striking limestone workers in Bedford.

We Do Facebook So You Don’t Have To

CRAZY

Yup. Patsy Cline does her bit on the Willie Nelson-penned classic.

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