Friday Reads

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Good Morning!!!

Since it’s the beginning of the Labor Day weekend, I thought I’d start out with some Labor News.  There are so many jobs these days that don’t really pay a living wage in the US that it’s really astounding.  Fast Food Workers are among the lowest paid in the country.

Fast-food workers went on strike and protested outside McDonald’s, Burger King and other restaurants in 60 U.S. cities on Thursday, in the largest protest of an almost year-long campaign to raise service sector wages.

Rallies were held in cities from New York to Oakland and stretched into the South, historically difficult territory for organized labor.

The striking workers say they want to unionize without retaliation in order to collectively bargain for a “living wage.”

They are demanding $15 an hour, more than twice the federal minimum of $7.25. The median wage for front-line fast-food workers is $8.94 per hour, according to an analysis of government data by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), an advocacy group for lower-wage workers.

“It’s almost impossible to get by (alone),” said McDonald’s worker Rita Jennings, 37, who was among about 100 protesters who marched in downtown Detroit Thursday. “You have to live with somebody to make it.”

Rush Limbaugh was all agog and demagogue about the striking workers

LIMBAUGH: If you want a “living wage,” if you don’t like what fast food restaurants pay, then do something else. It’s just that simple. Go to a trade school. Go to another business. Start your own business. Maybe the work that you are capable of isn’t yet worth $15 an hour at a fast-food restaurant. Maybe the consumer doesn’t want to pay $10 for a Big Mac so that people working at McDonald’s make $15 an hour. It’s not just a one-way strata.

You don’t just sit there and double what the employees at McDonald’s make and keep the prices the same. Now, you may think this is obvious, folks, and you may think, “Come on, Rush,” you’d be amazed at how many people do not understand the push-pull in economics. You’d be amazed at the number of people who have taken economics courses who think that the truth about headaches is that the boss is a cheap skinflint and wants his employees to starve and wants to screw his customers.

That’s the basis of their understanding, and they go from there, and they are applauded by left-wing Democrat politicians for holding that belief, and they’re encouraged to have it. Now, to those of you who, like Sean from San Diego, are sympathetic to this demand for the minimum wage at Mickey D’s to go from $7.15 or $7.25 an hour to $15, let me ask you this: When you buy a meal, do you make sure that you’re paying a fair price for it?

When you walk in there, do you ask the employee, “Look, am I paying enough here so that you can get a livable wage? When you go in and buy a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder with cheese or a double Quarter Pounder with cheese, do you look at the price is and say, “Are you sure that this costs enough that you can make a livable wage?” Or do you just get a little upset when you think it’s a little too expensive?

Limbaugh was lecturing fast workers on getting a better job as he sat in his mansion with no clue what it is like to work and survive on minimum wage. Limbaugh’s lecture was centered around a couple of the Republicans favorite falsehoods. Rush was pretending that there are better jobs out there for minimum wage workers.

Some happy news for married GLBT workers!  The IRS and the US Treasury will recognize your marriage.  You get the standard marriage deduction!!

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26th Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” said Secretary Jacob J. Lew. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

Under the ruling, same sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

I joined the Sisterhood of the Pink Shoes this weekend.  Meanwhile, the real sister with the pink shoes is doing really well in the fundraising arena.

In the six weeks following her headline-grabbing filibuster, Wendy Davis raised $1.2 million — nearly 40 percent of it from outside Texas. Davis drew national attention following the filibuster against an abortion-restriction bill that helped shut down the Texas Senate and prompted Gov. Rick Perry to call lawmakers back into another special session. In the wake of Davis’ new-found fame, Davis has been urged by some Democrats to run for governor next year. She says she will announce her political plans — whether to run for reelection as a senator from Fort Worth or as a Democrat for governor — in a few weeks.

Martin Luther King was fighting for working folks when he was assassinated.  We’ve already said that no Republicans showed up to commemorate the March on Washington.  Where were they?  

So what was did they do instead? Well, Boehner was in Jackson Hole, Wyo., and had no public events scheduled, but he has been headlining GOP fundraisers all this month, so it’s a fairly safe to assume that he was raising cash at the time. Cantor, meanwhile was touring an oil field in North Dakota. The Grand Forks Herald reports:

Cantor, hosted by Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., met with energy industry and community leaders at a crew camp in Williston, toured a drilling site and other oilfield locations in the Bakken and met with North Dakota Petroleum Council members in Watford City.

Cantor praised North Dakota’s approach to energy development and said the country needs to follow the state’s example and adopt a national energy policy.

“I hope to be able to tell the president that there’s a lot for him to learn here as far as energy production here in America,” Cantor said. “North Dakota seems to have gotten it right.”

The North Dakota Petroleum Council, by the way, is a lobby group that represents the state’s oil and gas industry. That’s what Cantor was doing on the day of the march.

Here’s a little bit of News on New Orleans 8 years after Katrina.

Now optimism is rising as a rebounding city approaches the 300th anniversary of its 1718 founding.

“The city is a much better place than it was eight years ago. The biggest challenge we have is blight,” Landrieu said, adding that 10,000 blighted properties have been removed from the cityscape.

A thriving downtown and newly vibrant neighborhoods contrast starkly with the city’s appearance eight years ago. When Katrina hit, thousands of people who couldn’t escape New Orleans in time were trapped in homes as levees broke and floodwaters rose. Helicopters plucked the desperate from rooftops as chaos spread. The damaged Superdome became a refuge of misery for thousands as tempatures and tempers soared.

Days afterward then-President George W. Bush promised the nation’s full attention. But federal authorities were sharply criticized for their early response and local and state authorities as well. And though billions of federal dollars have helped to rebuild a strengthened levee system, many locals remain bitter with the Army Corps of Engineers for the failure of the levees.

Landrieu said he’s intent on moving forward.

“I think that we have successfully done the most important thing, which was to think about building the city back the way she should have always been and not the way she was,” he said.

Landrieu said rebuilding has even meant re-organizing government operations, streamlining finances, curbing waste and fraud and reorganizing the city’s education system – even adding new fire and police stations, parks and libraries.

The weird thing about the blight is that it’s in areas that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have ramshackled buildings and over grown lots.  Every time I go from my home near the Mississippi River towards the Lake I see blight on the way.  It pops up in the newer suburban areas as well as older neighborhoods.  There are still a lot of eye sores and it appears it’s going to take a long time for many of them to be torn down or restored.  Thankfully, the historic parts of the city appear to be well on the mend.  Unfortunately, the infrastructure is so gone in many areas that the blight will remain for some time.

That’s my offering today!  What’s on your reading and blogging list?


Video: Secretary Clinton’s Human Rights Day Speech

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Human Rights Day Speech via Still4Hill


More progress expected for Women and Gay Rights from US Partners

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton used Clinton’s visit to Belarus and an appearance in Geneva to emphasis the need for countries to respect the rights of women, gays, and human rights in general.  President Obama instructed US officials to indicate that US support and aid depends on tolerance and recognition of the rights of GLBT citizens.

President Barack Obama has told US officials to consider how countries treat their gay and lesbian populations when making decisions about allocating foreign aid.

In the first ever US government strategy to deal with human rights abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens abroad, a presidential memo issued on Tuesday instructs agencies using foreign aid to promote such rights.

Gay and lesbian lobby groups have reported an increase in human rights abuses across Africa and parts of the Middle East.

President Obama is among international leaders who have condemned a bill proposed in Uganda which would make some homosexual acts a crime punishable by death. The Ugandan parliament has recently re-opened the debate on the bill, which had been abandoned after an international outcry.

In the memo, Obama said: “I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world, whether it is passing laws that criminalise LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation.”

He said that the struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons was central to America’s commitment to promoting human rights.

Clinton’s speech was characterized as containing “unusually strong language” to an audience of diplomats from nations where being gay is crime.  These included nations in the African continent and in the Arab world.

In unusually strong language, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton compared the struggle for gay equality to difficult passages toward women’s rights and racial equality, and she said a country’s cultural or religious traditions are no excuse for discrimination.

“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” she said.

Clinton’s audience included diplomats from Arab, African and other nations where homosexuality is criminalized or where brutality and discrimination against gay people is tolerated or encouraged.

She said nothing about consequences or penalties the U.S. might apply to nations it judges poor protectors of gay rights, but she spoke shortly after President Barack Obama directed the State Department and other agencies to make sure U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote gay rights.

Clinton named no countries with specifically poor records on gay rights, although the U.S. has already pointed to abuses against gays by such friends as Saudi Arabia.

“It should never be a crime to be gay,” Clinton declared.

Clinton also introduced a Global Equality Fund that will partner with women’s and other groups trying to achieve human equality around the globe.

I am also pleased to announce that we are launching a new Global Equlity Fund that will support the work of civil society organizations working on these issues around the world. This fund will help them record facts so they can target their advocacy, learn how to use the law as a tool, manage their budgets, train their staffs, and forge partnerships with women’s organizations and other human rights groups. We have committed more than $3 million to start this fund, and we have hope that others will join us in supporting it.


Lesbian Couple Told Not to Hold Hands in Museum

Photo of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein, by Man Ray

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Jane Levikow went to the Contemporary Jewish Museum Sunday afternoon to look at art. She ended up with a refresher course in San Francisco civil rights.

Levikow was in the gallery with her partner when she noticed a young lesbian couple in heated conversation with a security guard.

“They were holding hands,” Levikow said, “and he told them they couldn’t hold hands in the museum.”

The couple argued with the guard and people began to gather around to see what was happening. The guard then tried to escort the couple out, but they refused to leave and demanded to talk to museum officials.

Daryl Carr, museum spokesman, says museum officials are active in supporting the LBGT community and that they have asked that the guard, who works for a private security company, be reprimanded.

Ironically, when the guard accosted them, the couple were viewing an exhibit about the life of Gertrude Stein, who was also a lesbian.


Michele and Marcus Bachmann and Cher’s Gaydar


GOP Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann and her potential “first dude” Marcus Bachmann have been campaigning together since her recent announcement that she is running for President. At a rally on June 28, in Myrtle Beach, NC, Michele gave a rousing stump speech and then the happy couple danced together onstage to the strains of “Wabash Cannonball”

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In 2010, Marcus Bachmann explained to a “christian” radio host that homosexuals are “barbarians” who “need to be educated.” Now that the Bachmanns are in the spotlight, their attitudes about homosexuals are beginning to be noted by the corporate media.

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After Cher saw the above MSNBC segment, she tweeted the following to her followers:

“Just heard Michele Bachmann’s OH SO CHRISTIAN husband talk about ‘Gays’ in the most UNCHRISTIAN way WTF!”

“But Boys please utube this asshole & tell me what u think … Cause My Gay-Dar is GOING OFF!!!”

More of her tweets are posted at the above link.

Here’s another radio interview of Marcus discussing his advice to his daughter about choosing her prom dress and how that process relates to identity.

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These two are just a bundle of contradictions. Now check this out:

After a long hard day of wingnutting, what does the family of crazy-eyed Minnesota congresswoman Michele do to kick back? Well, of course, they watch Glee! Are the anti-gay Michele Bachmann and her “Christian counselor” husband Marcus hypocrites, stupid or all of these things?

Justin Bieber disappointed U.S. representative and potential presidential candidate Michele Bachmann at last night’s Time 100 by not showing up — she’d brought copies of his book to sign for one of her older sons, who is a special-ed teacher. But she did delight her other, younger children (she’s taken care of 23 foster kids over the years) by meeting another popular teen icon and singer. At the event last night, at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Bachmann and her husband posed with Glee star Darren Criss and e-mailed the pictures to their children. “We looked for Chris Colfer,” she said, but they didn’t find him. “We don’t watch TV, generally speaking. But the kids were thrilled. What kids don’t watch Glee?” Well, maybe the children of potential presidential candidates who think God sent them to stop gay people from having equal rights? Maybe Bachmann doesn’t know that the main message of the popular teen hit is tolerance, respect, and equal treatment — particularly for gay people. She doesn’t watch TV, after all.

My head is spinning!

NOTE: Videos taken from Youtube orginally posted by the Dump Bachman blog, and indispensible source for information on Michele and Marcus Bachmann.