Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum announced Wednesday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run. His slogan was, and remains on his website, “Fighting to make America America again.”
On Thursday, the left-wing website ThinkProgress noticed the connection between Santorum’s slogan and Hughes’ poem. They caught up with Santorum at a New Hampshire event Thursday. Reporter Lee Fang asked Santorum about his use of the phrase:
FANG: Today, you unveiled your new campaign slogan, “Fighting to make America America again.” But was it intentional that this line was borrowed from the pro-union poem by the gay poet Langston Hughes?
SANTORUM: No, because I had nothing to do with that so …
FANG: Oh, alright thanks. Wait, did you have a clarification there? Was it just a coincidence?
SANTORUM: I didn’t know that. The folks who worked on that slogan for me didn’t inform me that that’s where it came from, if in fact it came from that.
Santorum he has read some of Langston Hughes poems, and the one he borrowed from is pretty well known. But Santorum claims he had “nothing to do with” choosing his own Campaign slogan! Watch the video (h/t Think Progress)
I knew Santorum was stupid, but this is really amazing. Langston Hughes was sympathetic to the Communist Party, although he never officially became a member. He was also initially opposed to African Americans fighting in WWII because of the way they were treated in the U.S. He was also gay, as Lee Fang told Santorum. Please follow me below the fold.
It’s the end of the work week for those of you that still have jobs. Also, it’s the ides of April. Have you filed your taxes yet with the IRS? Better yet, do you actually have a job and can you report income this year? If so, you’re running against the wind these days. It’s not like most of our elected officials any where notice these days. Jobs, unemployment, and collective bargaining rights appear to the farthest things from their little minds. They’re still trying to figure out whose ass or fist is tightest. A few fighters remain. I’m going to start out with a 12 pack salute to those who still care for the working guy and gal.
Is a picture worth a 1000 words or can words make a picture too? NY Congressman Bob Crowley copied Bob Dylan’s famous “Don’t Look Back” short film to make a few points.
Politico reports on the purpose of Crowley’s show of words.
The video prompted MSNBC’s Luke Russert to tweet, “Rep. Joe Crowley channels his own Bob Dylan “Don’t Look Back” on the House floor.”
But Crowley Communications Director Courtney Gidner says that wasn’t the point of the exercise.
“While my boss is certainly a huge fan of Bob Dylan, the inspiration behind his ‘speechless’ speech was the GOP’s failure to produce a jobs-focused bill.”
I posted this in a down thread conversation but wanted to make sure you read this analysis from USA Today just in case you missed it. Huge numbers of Americans are leaving the work force. This is really worrisome.
The share of the population that is working fell to its lowest level last year since women started entering the workforce in large numbers three decades ago, a USA TODAY analysis finds.
Only 45.4% of Americans had jobs in 2010, the lowest rate since 1983 and down from a peak of 49.3% in 2000. Last year, just 66.8% of men had jobs, the lowest on record.
The bad economy, an aging population and a plateau in women working are contributing to changes that pose serious challenges for financing the nation’s social programs.
Over half of the the population is not working. Working-age men are dropping out like flies. This is not good for maintenance of programs like social security that rely on an increase in workers to fund current benefits. It’s also a game change from 30-40 years ago. I’ll be waiting to see what labor economists have to say about this.
Meanwhile, 1000s of workers protested the roll back of worker rights and budget cuts in Michigan. Working men and women in states all over the country have taken to the streets to protect their rights to participate in determining their work environment and compensation.
Thousands of people rallied at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing on Wednesday to protest Republican proposals to roll back labor rights and cut government services. Organizers put attendance at more than 10,000. Herb Sanders of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees urged the crowd to begin recall campaigns against Gov. Rick Snyder and other top Republicans.
Herb Sanders: “We will recall the scoundrels one by one. If their agenda is keeping money in the pocket of fat-cat corporate CEOs, as opposed to keeping working Americans employed in fair wages with decent healthcare and decent schools in our neighborhoods, they’ve got to go.”
It appears that many voters have remorse over sending Tea Party candidates to elected office. Florida is a stand out case.
Only three months removed from Governor Rick Scott’s (R) inauguration, a majority of Florida voters now say the state is headed in the wrong direction and that, if they could do it all over again, they wouldn’t have elected Scott in the first place, according to a new Suffolk University poll.
In the poll, 54% of voters said the state was headed in the wrong direction, compared to 30% who said it was going the right way. Further, just under half (49%) of all voters said they disapproved of Scott’s job performance, versus only 28% who said they approved.
Scott’s approval rating is so bad that the poll found him losing a hypothetical do-over election to Democrat Alex Sink by a ten-point margin, 41% to 31%.
Previous polls have also found Scott’s job approval deep underwater, including a Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month that pegged his approval to disapproval split at 35% to 48%. A March PPP poll showed Scott with an even worse 32%-55% split, and found him losing a do-over election — by a 20-point margin.
Scott was one of several freshman GOP governors swept into office last year amid the Republican wave nationwide. But since taking office, voters have rapidly soured on Scott as he’s pursued some drastic — and deeply unpopular — policies.
Labor leaders are none too happy with the President or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Neither of the legacy parties have workers’ interests in mind these days.
“Now, not only are we getting screwed by the Republicans but the Democrats are doing it too,” said one union official, characterizing the mood at a summit of labor leaders who are worried that Democrats seem unlikely to go to the mat for them as an election year approaches.
Presidents of several unions and an AFL-CIO spokesman declined to repeat their private criticism to a reporter Tuesday, a sign that labor feels it must still try to maintain a relationship with the Democratic Party, even if it’s deeply troubled . With Republicans increasingly shifting from private antagonism toward open war with organized labor, unreliable Democratic allies are the only allies the movement has, and it remains unclear whether disappointments will dampen enthusiasm among union activists and voters in the 2012 elections.
I’ll tell you that I have no idea where to go any more. I’m torn between ‘throw the bums out’ and ‘none of the above’. I’m beginning to think my dog knows more about economics than any one in the District beltway these days.
A lot of folks are arguing that the retirement age in developed nations should be raised to 70. They want to work us until we drop dead, folks! Here’s some on that from The Economist.
Yet too many people see longer working lives as a worry rather than an opportunity—and not just because they are going to be chained to their desks. Some fret that there will not be enough jobs to go around. This misapprehension, known to economists as the “lump of labour fallacy”, was once used to argue that women should stay at home and leave all the jobs for breadwinning males. Now lump-of-labourites say that keeping the old at work would deprive the young of employment. The idea that society can become more prosperous by paying more of its citizens to be idle is clearly nonsensical. On that reasoning, if the retirement age came down to 25 we would all be as rich as Croesus.
Raising the official retirement age is only part of the solution, for many workers retire before the official age. Martin Baily and Jacob Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute in Washington, DC, reckon that raising actual EU retirement ages to the official age would offset the impact of an ageing population over the next 20 years.
For that to happen, working practices and attitudes need to change. Western managers worry too much about the quality of older workers (see Schumpeter). In physically demanding occupations, it is true, some may be unable to work into their late 60s. The incapacitated will need disability benefits. Others will need to find a different job. But this should be less of a problem than it used to be now that economies are based on services not manufacturing. In knowledge-based jobs, age is less of a disadvantage. Although older people reason more slowly, they have more experience and, by and large, better personal skills. Even so, most people’s productivity does eventually decline with age; and pay needs to reflect this falling-off. Traditional seniority systems, under which people get promoted and paid more as they age, therefore need to change.
So, they’re going to work us until we drop and PAY us less for being old. What a deal!!! I frequently joke with my students that I will die at the podium and the administration will have to pry my cold, dead fingers off. I have to admit that this is a melodramatic image, however, to die standing at a podium is better than being chained to a desk in the private sector again. There’s only so many bad senior management decisions that one person should be forced to join in on in one life time. I’ve been party to opening too many of their eyes to their short roads to bankruptcy to do the private sector stupidity again. They all get away with those bad decisions too since they get to leave with good severance packages. I’d rather die poor than die inflicting pain and stupidity on people just because some guy went to seminar and got a wild hair.
Not that any of these old dudes ever pay for their bad mistakes or their lies. Here’s a good example via Naked Capitalism and Yves: Senator Levin Claims Goldman Execs Perjured Themselves Before Congress on Mortgage Testimony.
Senator Carl Levin, in releasing the report, took aim at Goldman’s truthiness in its testimony before Congress and called on Federal prosecutors to examine whether Goldman committed perjury. Two issues are at stake. First it the Goldman claim that it lost money on its housing bets and was not net short housing (or at least not for long). Second is the notion that the firm was acting merely as a market marker, which basically means caveat emptor, if clients made bad bets, Goldman was merely acting as a neutral middleman.
While Goldman made the usual pious denials, the evidence in the report supports the Levin charges. It notes:
Overall in 2007, its net short position produced record profits totaling $3.7
billion for Goldman’s Structured Products Group, which when combined with other mortgage
losses, produced record net revenues of $1.2 billion for the Mortgage Department as a whole.
2007 was the critical year when the market turned decisively south and all dealers were dumping mortgage-related inventory. Goldman had been further ahead in the process and appears to be the only firm to put on very sizeable short positions. The magnitude of the profits on the short side lend credence to the charge that Goldman was substantially and successfully net short.
This would basically mean that Goldman Sachs was not acting as a ‘market-maker’. This was the claim made by GS executives during the hearing. I was some what appalled by the inability of the congress critters on the committee to fully comprehend what market makers do and ask intelligent questions. Now that we’ve got the details, it’s pretty clear GS was not acting as an intermediary for client orders. They were basically speculating and the report is evidently full of aggressive marketing and sales pushes to move CDOs and other highly risky financial instruments on which they had an offsetting corporate position. This should be investigated by the DOJ. However, given the cozy relationship between shadow banking and Timothy Geithner, I doubt Obama will move on it at all.
Meanwhile, “Food, Gas And Rent Push Consumer Prices Higher” so ordinary working people are feeling the pinch from both lower incomes and higher prices. I’m thinking we’re seeing those bubbles I’ve been warning about frankly. Rich people have a tremendous amount of money right now and they’re taxes are way down so they’re not investing in businesses but looking for quick arbitrage profits by trading paper back and forth. Unfortunately, the real world is under that paper some where.
Excluding the volatile food and gas categories, the so-called core index rose 0.1 percent and it is up only 1.2 percent in the past year.
But steep food and gas prices are hitting consumers hard.
Gasoline jumped 5.6 percent last month and has risen nearly 28 percent in the past year. Consumers paid an average price of $3.81 a gallon nationwide on Friday according to the travel group AAA.
Food prices rose 0.8 percent last month, the largest increase in almost three years. Prices for fruits and vegetables, dairy products, chicken and beef all increased. Coffee costs rose 3.5 percent.
So, anyway, I continue to be amazed at how much labor is getting screwed compared to how many breaks capital gets these days. I seriously think that the elected officials are trying to completely remove taxes from capital owners and load it solidly on to the backs of working men and women. The time to sharpen pitchforks nears. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows …
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good evening everyone, I thought I would post a few new links to catch up on the nights news. At the end of the post check out the link to an episode of American Experience about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Perfect timing for this episode in that this year is the 100 year anniversary of the fire, which occurred on March 25th, 1911….perfect timing in that there is a union fight going on right now in Wisconsin. We will get to this later.
First off, it looks like a poll was done and what do you know…the voters in Wisconsin would have voted for the Democrat if they could have a do over. Can I mention that saying about hindsight being 20/20?
We’ll have our full poll on the Wisconsin conflict out tomorrow but here’s the most interesting finding: if voters in the state could do it over today they’d support defeated Democratic nominee Tom Barrett over Scott Walker by a a 52-45 margin.
The difference between how folks would vote now and how they voted in November can almost all be attributed to shifts within union households. Voters who are not part of union households have barely shifted at all- they report having voted for Walker by 7 points last fall and they still say they would vote for Walker by a 4 point margin. But in households where there is a union member voters now say they’d go for Barrett by a 31 point margin, up quite a bit from the 14 point advantage they report having given him in November.
It’s actually Republicans, more so than Democrats or independents, whose shifting away from Walker would allow Barrett to win a rematch if there was one today. Only 3% of the Republicans we surveyed said they voted for Barrett last fall but now 10% say they would if they could do it over again. That’s an instance of Republican union voters who might have voted for the GOP based on social issues or something else last fall trending back toward Democrats because they’re putting pocketbook concerns back at the forefront and see their party as at odds with them on those because of what’s happened in the last month.
This next link is also about the above poll, however it is going to Keith Olbermann’s new website, FOK News: February 28, 2011 | FOK News Channel Just thought I would send you over to check it out, I had completely forgotten that he was launching it.
Okay the next few links are to recent articles about Unions that you might have missed.
Earlier today Dakinikat wrote a post on the Republican war on nearly everybody. If you did not see it, please check it out. There is a new report out that discusses the problems with the GOP plans for spending cuts. Seems to me that a loss of jobs in not the direction we should be going in….I do not know how accurate this Moody’s report is, I will leave that up to Dak to explain. It just seems the GOP is out to get everyone who isn’t filthy rich or a crazy religious nut case. Why are they going after women, unions, and the working class? Anyway, here is an article from the Washington Post, GOP spending plan would cost 700,000 jobs, new report says.
A Republican plan to sharply cut federal spending this year would destroy 700,000 jobs through 2012, according to an independent economic analysis set for release Monday.
The report, by Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, offers fresh ammunition to Democrats seeking block the Republican plan, which would terminate dozens of programs and slash federal appropriations by $61 billion over the next seven months.
Zandi, an architect of the 2009 stimulus package who has advised both political parties, predicts that the GOP package would reduce economic growth by 0.5 percentage points this year, and by 0.2 percentage points in 2012, resulting in 700,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year.
So, on to the American Experience that aired tonight. It was damn good. To see actual photos and hear accounts of the fire and stories from the families read out loud really makes a statement. Chilling is all I can say about this episode. Here is a review of it from the New York Times. Triangle Fire Remembered on PBS and HBO – NYTimes.com
As demonstrations in support of Wisconsin’s public-employee unions proliferate, PBS can pat itself on the back for scheduling the documentary “Triangle Fire” on Monday night — more than three weeks before the 100th anniversary of the New York garment-factory blaze it details, which figures so strongly in the imagination of the American labor movement.
…it’s the images of corpses stacked on the Greenwich Village sidewalks where they fell, as a crowd of thousands helplessly watched, that get to you, as dreadful now as they were a century ago, when they inspired a wave of workplace reform in New York State.
I think that is exactly what made this documentary an emotionally charged examination of what led up to the fire, and the heart-wrenching details from actual interviews with survivors and the families of those who lost their lives.
“Triangle Fire,” a presentation of “American Experience” on PBS, takes a more straightforward, strictly chronological approach and spends much more time on the progress of the labor movement in organizing garment workers, a tumultuous process that actually took place several years before the fire. This allows for the inclusion of piquant facts like the hiring of prostitutes to assault female pickets.
Here is the link to the website for American Experience on PBS. There is a wealth of information on the site, photos and even lesson plans. Please take a look and remember what Labor Unions did for workers, and how we are now going backwards when it comes to worker’s rights. WGBH American Experience . Triangle Fire . Introduction | PBS
So what are you finding tonight? Go ahead and post some links.
Its Wednesday Morning, the last Wednesday in February, can you believe it? The news in Libya is changing fast. So I will link to a few things below. Look for Live Blog Post to find any updates as events warrant.
In Chicago, they have a new mayor: Emanuel Wins in Chicago, A.P. Projects – NYTimes.com
Rahm Emanuel, a former congressman who worked for two presidents, was elected mayor of Chicago on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, a victory that would mark a new path for a city that has, for 22 years, been led by a singular, powerful force, Richard M. Daley.
Mr. Emanuel, who will take office in May, had 55 percent of the vote against five other candidates with 86 percent of the precincts reporting.
Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio…who is next?
Republican lawmakers in the nation’s heartland might be feeling a case of heartburn after their budget bills spawned demonstrations in at least three states over what protesters view as an attack on workers’ rights.
Crowds in Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana gathered Tuesday in a series of budgetary showdowns that challenge long-standing rights and benefits afforded to unionized labor while raising questions about the fiscal health of state and local governments.
Indiana Democratic lawmakers Tuesday boycotted legislative sessions to deny Republicans a quorum needed to pass a bill that would restrict union rights in the state, following the lead of Democrats from Wisconsin who used a similar strategy.
Protests also grew Tuesday in Ohio, where more than 10,000 union supporters flooded the capitol in Columbus to demonstrate outside a hearing on a state Senate bill that would strip most collective-bargaining rights from the state’s 400,000 public employees. Republican Gov. John Kasich supports the bill.
Look for more updates on the US Labor Union protest in the comments below. For recent Sky Dancing post about the Union protest, click here.
Recently Sima wrote a blog post about the effect of GM crops on bee colonies. Aside from Genetically Modified crops, which can negatively affect other strains of seed they come in contact with, and can also affect the behavior of bees that harvest the pollen from GM crops; there are many environmental hazards in pesticides which are used on crops that also negatively impact the environment and animals that come in contact with them. Frogs are some of the best indicators of these poisonous chemical treatments. Yesterday this article was published in the Guardian. Solving the mystery of the bizarre deformed frogs | Environment | guardian.co.uk
For the last two decades, strange things have been happening to frogs. Some frog populations have high rates of limb deformities, while others have high incidences of what is known as “intersex” — traits associated with both males and females, such as male frogs whose testes contain eggs.
David K. Skelly, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, set out to discover what was causing these deformities, which some researchers were attributing to the use of an agricultural pesticide called atrazine. Skelly launched an experiment in ponds throughout Connecticut, studying frogs in four landscapes: forests, agricultural areas, suburbs, and cities. And what he found was surprising — the highest rates of deformities were not occurring in and around farmlands, but in cities and suburbs.
In an interview with Yale Environment 360 contributing writer Carl Zimmer, Skelly described what chemicals may be causing these abnormalities in frog populations, and explained why this phenomena may have troubling implications not only for amphibians, but for other vertebrates, including humans. One thing seems clear: The deformities showing up in frogs are almost certainly not caused by a single chemical, but rather by a whole suite of substances — including medicines excreted by humans into the environment — that act in concert to mimic hormones like estrogen or cause other ill effects.
These cocktail of pesticides and various chemicals can wreak havoc on the environment. Please read the interview with Dr. Skelly in the link above. Some truly interesting stuff.
Many of our readers may remember this incident. When a letter of protest was written to The New Yorker magazine regarding the lack of content written by female writers. Why women hit the media glass ceiling | Megan Carpentier | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
The writer and editor Anne Hays recently penned an open letter to the New Yorker on Facebook, demanding her money back for the most recent issue. Why? The New Yorker contained only two pieces by women – and it wasn’t the first time. The letter went viral and was republished by publications such as Ms. and the website Jezebel – which used it to note how few other submission-based magazines have a regular number of women writers. Naturally it had its detractors as well, including Donald Douglas, who declared it an example of “feminist schizophrenia”.
The letter sparked a broader discussion about how to raise the number of women represented on some of America’s most prestigious mastheads. A consensus of sorts emerged: that editors play a huge role in which pitches get accepted and to whom assignments go. Ann Friedman, a former editor at AlterNet and the American Prospect, wrote that getting more women published would require editors to take concrete steps to solicit pieces from women writers and to be constantly vigilant in their efforts to bring parity, lest the slots inevitably go to the squeakist freelancer wheel (the person that pitches the most, and the most hard) or to only a few recognisable names. The Nation’s Katha Pollitt wrote that women atop the masthead can ameliorate the problem but wouldn’t be enough to bring parity of access, even as their presence in the pool of potentials start to overwhelm that of men.
As an editor, I sympathise with The Awl editor Choire Sicha, who went from working for others to being his own boss and suffered the slings and arrows of having a liberal site that doesn’t quite achieve gender parity. In the media, as in my earlier career as a lobbyist, one comes to sadly realise that most applications come from men – even supremely unqualified ones. It’s difficult to constantly try to beg certain writers to provide you with their work when others are imploring you for an opportunity, but it’s no different in any industry: you promote the person asking for the promotion that they seemingly deserve more often than the utility player who fails to sell his or her work – and women are inevitably schooled in modesty while their male peers are schooled in self-promotion.
Meagan Carpentier goes on to discuss the rise of the woman in conservative media outlets, which do not have difficulty in employing and promoting women, when the left media has such difficulty in finding women writers and journalist as their ratio of female to male employees suggest. We mentioned the lack of women voices in the US main stream media coverage of the Egyptian protest here on Sky Dancing. I must reiterate my pleasure of watching the AJE coverage of the day Mubarak left the presidency. Their live feed coverage featured many women journalist, and it was wonderful to hear these women’s voices describing the events as they happened.
Speaking of Al Jazeera, it seems they are in talks to finally get their broadcast available on US Cable channels. (Hope satellite is next.)
Al Jazeera is in discussions with Comcast about bringing the network’s English-language channel to millions of U.S. homes via the nation’s largest cable operator. It would be a major breakthrough, capitalizing on the network’s growing reputation here as a honest and steadfast provider of news from an increasingly tumultuous Middle East.
“We’re very grateful for all the support and appreciation we’ve been receiving,” Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey said in a statement. “Clearly the demand is there for Al Jazeera, and people want to see us on their screens.”
Anstey arrived in New York City on Tuesday to lead the talks, the network said. The Comcast meeting was the first gambit in a new push by Al Jazeera to get on U.S. cable systems, which have been reluctant to carry the Qatar-based news network.
This next article from the NYT has a personal connection to me. When we lived in Manhattan, I loved going to Little Italy, to a restaurant called Vincent’s. They made the best Eggplant Parmigiano, and believe me I am one tough customer to please when it comes to Italian cooking. That was over 10 years ago, and at the time I became aware of the encroachment of China Town on Mulberry Street. Even then the site of duck hanging in shop windows could be seen as you walked along the cross streets of Mulberry.
In 1950, nearly half of the more than 10,000 New Yorkers living in the heart of Little Italy identified as Italian-American. The narrow streets teemed with children and resonated with melodic exchanges in Italian among the one in five residents born in Italy and their second- and third-generation neighbors.
Little Italy is becoming Littler Italy. The encroachment that began decades ago as Chinatown bulged north, SoHo expanded from the west, and other tracts were rebranded more fashionably as NoLIta (for north of Little Italy) and NoHo seems almost complete.
The Little Italy that was once the heart of Italian-American life in the city exists mostly as a nostalgic memory or in the minds of tourists who still make it a must-see on their New York itinerary.
The only streets that really feel like they belong to Little Italy, Mulberry and Grand, are still crammed with venerable Italian restaurants and shops. But Chinese-language advertisements for reflexology spas pepper the sidewalk, a poster announces the Lunar New Year celebration, and a “for rent” sign hangs on a new seven-story condominium building at 182 Mulberry.
I will end with a couple of links to movies that deal with Labor Union disputes. I know there are many more, so hopefully you will post some others in the comments below.
Norma Rae (1979) – IMDb – Whenever this movie comes on TV, I try to catch it. I just love it. Sally Field climbing on the table with the Union sign has to be such an iconic scene in film history.
The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) – IMDb From what I understand, there was a porno with a similar title…but this film from 1941 has great dialogue…it is about a group of department store workers that are trying to form a union. The store owner goes undercover to find out who is leading the workers, but realizes that the workers are actually correct in their demands. (Like this will ever happen in real life.) Anyway, it is fun to watch, and they usually play it on TCM when they celebrate Jean Arthur’s birthday.
So what are you reading today, hit it!
I had a productive day yesterday for a change and I hope you did too! Dare I go shop for plumbing stuff today? I was bemoaning a shortage of headlines on Sunday. I should be a bit more careful about wishing for things because today’s list of reads will be long.
The other good news for me is that we’re going from hard freeze warnings to weather in the 70s this weekend. It sounds like it’s going to be a fun New Year’s Eve here in New Orleans! That should explain the picture! I also wanted to give you a bit of New Orleans News before I moved on to other things.
First, if you haven’t had a chance to read Sandy Rosenthal’s piece at HuffPo on the failure of the Levees during Hurricane Katrina, please do so. There are still folks out there that think our devastation was from Hurricane Katrina and that just isn’t so. I was on the edge of the bowl. I know. My house experienced very little actual damage because my house was on high ground and above the waters. A failure of engineering devastated my city. It was not an act of nature. I signed the petition. Will you?
Last week, I wrote to the New York Times asking them to please resist using fast and easy “Katrina shorthand.” Forty-eight hours passed and we heard no response, so we decided to let our supporters step in. We urged our followers to sign our petition to the NY Times urging the paper to be more specific when referencing the flood disaster.
Over 1,000 people all across the nation signed our petition in under 48 hours. This immediate huge response – during the holiday no less – will hopefully show the New York Times that informed citizens understand that “Katrina” did not flood New Orleans. Civil engineering mistakes did.
Saying Katrina flooded the city protects the human beings responsible for the levee/floodwall failures. It is also dangerous since 55% of the American people lives in counties protected by levees.
If you haven’t yet, please sign our petition. We will keep it live until Jan 4, 2011.
In a similar vein, I would like to shout out HAPPY BIRTHDAY HARRY!!! to fellow New Orleans Blogger, neighbor, actor, musician, and polymath Harry Shearer (12/23/49) who made his film debut in the great epic ‘Abbott and Costello Go To Mars’ in 1953. There’s another New Orleans connection in that movie. The Abbot and Costello characters–Lester and Orville–accidentally launch a rocket that should’ve been Mars bound. They land in New Orleans for Mardi Gras instead. Harry plays an uncredited “Boy”.
I also want to offer up a plug for Shearer’s wonderful documentary on the Levee Failure called ‘The Big Uneasy’ that was released last August on our 5th Katrina Anniversary. It’s going to be re-released in 2011. I’m including an interview with him by local radio show host Kat (not me). You’ll learn that the Golden Globes are a simple piece of business and that Harry’s songstress wife is spoonable. Who knew? Also there seems that there’s a chance his documentary will be shown on PBS so you may get to see it there. I wonder if we can help encourage that situation.
I’d like to take another chance to remind you that we’re still living with the results of the BP Oil Gusher here on the Gulf Coast. There also appears to be covered-up as well as forgotten stories down here. You may want to take a look at this from Open Channel on MSNBC.com: ‘ Is dispersant still being used in the Gulf?” This story reports on pictures and samples take in early August that are being investigated now. I’d written about some of these reports earlier.
Kaltofen is among the scientists retained by New Orleans attorney Stuart Smith to conduct independent environmental testing data from the Gulf on behalf of clients who are seeking damages from BP. (Click here to read about their effort.)
An independent marine chemist who reviewed the data said that their conclusion stands up.
“The analytical techniques are correct and well accepted,” said Ted Van Vleet, a professor at the College of Marine Science at the University of South Florida. “Based on their data, it does appear that dispersant is present.”
Why responders would continue to use chemical dispersants after the government announced a halt is a mystery. If the oil was gone or already dispersed, as the federal government and BP have said, what would be the point? And, because dispersants don’t work very well on oil that has been “weathered” by the elements over long periods of times, there would be little point in spraying it that situation.
I wanted to share a New Orleans and indeed a Southern New Year’s eve tradition. We serve a concoction of black eyed peas, cabbage and sausage/ham called ‘Hoppin’ John’ to bring us luck and wealth in the New Year. I evidently didn’t make enough of it last year, so I’m planning to cook more this year. The pea’s black eyes represent coins, the cabbage represents cash, and the sausage or ham is meat that always symbolizes luxury to hungry, poor people.
Here’s Emeril’s ‘Hoppin’ John’ recipe provided courtesy the Food Network:
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time:50 min Serves: 10
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large ham hock
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
Salt, black pepper, and cayenne
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
3 cups steamed white rice
Heat oil in a large soup pot, add the ham hock and sear on all sides for 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic, cook for 4 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, stock, bay leaves, thyme, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the peas are creamy and tender, stir occasionally. If the liquid evaporates, add more water or stock. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve over rice.
Okay, so enough about my home town.
The AFL-CIO wants to talk unions this holiday season because there is so much misinformation about these days. It’s a nice list of myths and facts that you may want to arm yourself with when talking to those right wing nattering nabobs of negativism.
MYTH: Unions only care about their members.
FACT: Unions are fighting to improve the lives of all workers.
- It’s easy to forget that we have unions to thank for a lot of things we take for granted today in today’s workplaces: the minimum wage, the eight-hour work day, child labor laws, health and safety standards, and even the weekend.
- Today, unions across the country are on the frontlines advocating for basic workplace reforms like increases in the minimum wage, and pushing lawmakers to require paid sick leave.
- Studies show that a large union presence in an industry or region can raise wages even for non-union workers. That means more consumer spending, and a stronger economy for us all.
- So it’s no wonder that most Americans (61 percent) believe that “labor unions are necessary to protect the working person,” according to Pew’s most recent values survey.
Here’s a gift that keeps on giving er… taking from FT: “AIG secures $4.3bn in credit lines“.
AIG, took a step closer to independence from government as it said it had secured $4.3bn in credit facilities.
The US insurer bailed out by Washington during the financial crisis is is in the process of repaying the $95bn the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York lent following its disastrous decision to insure billions of dollars worth of securities backed by mortgages.
Under the facilities arranged by 36 banks and administered by JPMorgan Chase, AIG can borrow $1.5bn over three years and an additional $1.5bn over 364 days, according to a regulatory filing. Separately, Chartis, an AIG division, obtained a $1.3bn credit line.
Let’s just hope they clean up their act this time. I’m not holding my breath or any stock offers that may come up. Notice one of the usual suspects is ‘facilitating’ the arrangements. Cue ‘The Godfather’ music, please.
There’s an item from Slate that you may want to check out. It’s “A selection of gaffes from the 2010 campaign we should forgive”. Here’s one from Pelosi that gave me a chuckle.
Nancy Pelosi: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”
On March 9, the Speaker of the House spoke to the National Association of Counties about the health care bill that was days away from final passage. This was the phrase that launched a thousand campaign ads. Nine months later, this is remembered as Pelosi admitting what Tea Partiers had feared: that Democrats were ramming through bad bills without reading them.
BostonBoomer sent me to Glenn Greenwald’s latest which really is a must read: ‘ The worsening journalistic disgrace at Wired’. Greenwald’s work on behalf of massacre leaker Bradley Manning is Nobel Peace Prize worthy. I don’t mean aspirational prizes either.
For more than six months, Wired‘s Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed — but refuses to publish — the key evidence in one of the year’s most significant political stories: the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks’ source. In late May, Adrian Lamo — at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning — gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs: Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.
We’re waiting for a response from Wired since vacation seem to preempt media responsibility these days. Will we find out that there’s been some active media suppression of the truth regard Manning’s accusations today? This morning, Greenwald continued his admonition to fellow journalists in the excellent article “The merger of journalists and government officials”.
From the start of the WikiLeaks controversy, the most striking aspect for me has been that the ones who are leading the crusade against the transparency brought about by WikiLeaks — the ones most enraged about the leaks and the subversion of government secrecy — have been . . . America’s intrepid Watchdog journalists. What illustrates how warped our political and media culture is as potently as that? It just never seems to dawn on them — even when you explain it — that the transparency and undermining of the secrecy regime against which they are angrily railing is supposed to be . . . what they do.
There’s another economics story covered on The New Yorker‘s The Financial Page headlined: ‘The Jobs Crisis’ by James Surowiecki. It’s a good explanation of a debate between economists and politicians right now. Guess which one knows best on this?
Why have new jobs been so hard to come by? One view blames cyclical economic factors: at times when everyone is cautious about spending, companies are slow to expand capacity and take on more workers. But another, more skeptical account has emerged, which argues that a big part of the problem is a mismatch between the jobs that are available and the skills that people have. According to this view, many of the jobs that existed before the recession (in home building, for example) are gone for good, and the people who held those jobs don’t have the skills needed to work in other fields. A big chunk of current unemployment, the argument goes, is therefore structural, not cyclical: resurgent demand won’t make it go away.
Though this may sound like an academic argument, its consequences are all too real. If the problem is a lack of demand, policies that boost demand—fiscal stimulus, aggressive monetary policy—will help. But if unemployment is mainly structural there’s little we can do about it: we just need to wait for the market to sort things out, which is going to take a while.
The structural argument sounds plausible: it fits our sense that there’s a price to be paid for the excesses of the past decade; that the U.S. economy was profoundly out of whack before the recession hit; and that we need major changes in the kind of work people do. But there’s surprisingly little evidence for it. If the problems with the job market really were structural, you’d expect job losses to be heavily concentrated in a few industries, the ones that are disappearing as a result of the bursting of the bubble. And if there were industries that were having trouble finding enough qualified workers, you’d expect them to have lots of job vacancies, and to be paying their existing workers more and working them longer hours.
No one exemplifies that streak more than Ron Paul—unless you count his son Rand. When Rand Paul strolled onstage in May 2010, the newly declared Republican nominee for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat, he entered to the strains of Rush, the boomer rock band famous for its allegiance to libertarianism and Ayn Rand. It was a dog whistle—a wink to free-marketers and classic-rock fans savvy enough to get the reference, but likely to sail over the heads of most Republicans. Paul’s campaign was full of such goodies. He name-dropped Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek’s seminal The Road to Serfdom. He cut a YouTube video denying that he was named after Ayn Rand but professing to have read all of her novels. He spoke in the stark black-and-white terms of libertarian purism. “Do we believe in the individual, or do we believe in the state?” he asked the crowd in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Election Night.
It’s clear why he played coy. For all the talk about casting off government shackles, libertarianism is still considered the crazy uncle of American politics: loud and cocky and occasionally profound but always a bit unhinged. And Rand Paul’s dad is the craziest uncle of all. Ron Paul wants to “end the Fed,” as the title of his book proclaims, and return the country to the gold standard—stances that have made him a tea-party icon. Now, as incoming chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the Fed, he’ll have an even bigger platform. Paul Sr. says there’s not much daylight between him and his son. “I can’t think of anything we grossly disagree on,” he says.
Well, they must have both been impacted by the same disease or environmental catastrophe to share so many views so out of the mainstream and be so far removed from experience, data, and science. I can’t help but believe the more the media shines a bright light on them, the more the warts and the brain damage will become noticeable.
So, one more suggested read comes via Lambert and Corrente. It’s really interesting piece from The Atlantic on ‘The Hazards of Nerd Supremacy: The Case of WikiLeaks’. It talks about Hackers, Assange, and the Hacker code of conduct. Any one who as read Assange’s manifest can see the connect and disconnect that simultaneously occur in the ideas. BB and had discussed that Assange might have a form of Aspergers disease about a month ago and I was also interested to see that Lambert, Valhalla, and some others had similar thoughts. It frequently runs in brilliant people who can decode a lot of things with the exception of other people. Anyway, here’s a taste of Jaron Lanier.
The strategy of Wikileaks, as explained in an essay by Julian Assange, is to make the world transparent, so that closed organizations are disabled, and open ones aren’t hurt. But he’s wrong. Actually, a free flow of digital information enables two diametrically opposed patterns: low-commitment anarchy on the one hand and absolute secrecy married to total ambition on the other.
While many individuals in Wikileaks would probably protest that they don’t personally advocate radical ideas about transparency for everybody but hackers, architecture can force all our hands. This is exactly what happens in current online culture. Either everything is utterly out in the open, like a music file copied a thousand times or a light weight hagiography on Facebook, or it is perfectly protected, like the commercially valuable dossiers on each of us held by Facebook or the files saved for blackmail by Wikileaks.
The Wikileaks method punishes a nation – or any human undertaking – that falls short of absolute, total transparency, which is all human undertakings, but perversely rewards an absolute lack of transparency. Thus an iron-shut government doesn’t have leaks to the site, but a mostly-open government does.
I’m still fascinated by the sideshow that is driving ad hominem attacks on Assange and the women involved with the charges. Still, that does not cloud my appreciation of what’s being released by Wikileaks. We’ll definitely have more coming. I’m personally waiting for the BOA stuff as that’s the stuff that I can personally decode. I’m glad we’re extending the Front Page Team to include more and more people that can tackle some of the other technical stuff from their vantage points. Stay tuned for more on all of this.
Just ONE MORE NAWLINS THANG: New Orleans Saints 17 – Atlanta Falcons 14. My home town continues to be the Great American Comeback Story.