May 16, 2011 archive

An Executive Order to Stop Union Busting?

Posted earlier at both Progressive Blue and DailyKos.

The headline on this video page that has a transcript is White House could use power of federal contracting to enforce labor laws, but has no plans to do so. The Executive Order in question that would force large corporations into behaving responsibly toward workers is about laws that already exist but are not enforced, about an executive order that was signed by President Bill Clinton and then squashed by George W. Bush.

ELK: So there are currently laws on the book that say that if a company breaks the law, they can be debarred from bidding on federal contracts, meaning they can’t get federal contracts. It’s currently in this country illegal to fire a worker from their job for joining a union, but 20,000 workers a year are either fired or disciplined for trying to join a union, both of which are illegal. One-third of all, you know, union organizing drives, somebody gets fired from their job. Over 130,000 companies are federal contractors. All the big companies get some type of federal contract. If you say–if you enforce these laws, these laws about how to debar companies, these companies wouldn’t get contracts anymore.

It is the type of executive order that could get Union workers back in the mood for volunteering and getting active in supporting all the other Democrats who will be running in 2012.  

The interview came after Tuesday May 10 when Mike Elk wrote Obama Has Power to Stop Unionbusting With a Stroke of His Pen  

In the last part of the Clinton administration, when Podesta was White House Chief of Staff, the government issued executive orders to implement “high road” contracting practices that would have enforced laws on the books barring companies that broke labor, safety, and environmental laws from receiving federal contracts. President Bill Clinton’s “contractor responsibility rule” would have created guidelines, a centralized database and data standards to prevent bad actor corporations from receiving government contracts. (The George W. Bush administration ended up blocking implementation of the orders.)

But just a few days later and the enthusiasm seems to be already gone. How can you support such an executive order?

The Donald Fires Himself

Cross posted at The Stars Hollow Gazette

I know there were a few people who actually believed that Donald Trump was a legitimate candidate who will be disappointed by his decision to pull out before he was actually in the race. Most never took this ploy as anything but a publicity stunt by low class, wealthy charlatan. Lawrence O’Donnell was betting he would withdraw as the contract for his NBC show, “The Apprentice” was up for renewal. O’Donnell called it a fake campaign, he was absolutely right. It’s May 16th and The Donald is just fired himself as a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Trump Ditches Prez Race

Donald Trump Is Not Running For President

Donald Trump has announced that he is not running for president in 2012. “This decision does not come easily or without regret,” Trump said in a statement, “especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

“I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run,” he said, “I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election.”

Right to Rent – S02E13

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This week, we look at an interesting proposal to help victims of the foreclosure crisis. H.R. 1548, the Right to Rent Act sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva essentially gives homeowners facing foreclosure the opportunity to continue living in their home as a renter. The idea behind this being that companies would want to avoid becoming landlords, and would thus work harder with homeowners to find a reasonable agreement.

Six In The Morning

Cathay Pacific Airbus 330 makes emergency landing in Singapore

‘God, save our flight! Give us your protection!’ passengers pray news services

Terrified passengers aboard a blazing jetliner prayed together before the plane made an emergency landing on Monday.

An engine on a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 caught fire in midair.

Cathay Pacific said the jet, bound for Jakarta with 136 passengers on board, landed back in Singapore “without incident” just before 2 a.m. It said the crew shut down the engine after receiving a “stall warning.”

Reuters photographer Beawiharta was aboard the aircraft with his wife, two sons and daughter. About 20 minutes after take-off, there were two sharp bangs, sending cabin staff scurrying to retrieve the meals they had only just begun serving.


A Star is Bored

What do you mean ‘We’ Kimosabe?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Photobucket(h/t vastleft @ Corrente)

The L-Word

Liberals have been failing to live up to their ideals for centuries, but we mustn’t give up on liberalism.

By Peter Clarke, Slate

Posted Saturday, May 14, 2011, at 7:54 AM ET

George Washington himself, that unillusioned soldier and great patriot, extolled “the benefits of a wise and liberal Government” and advocated “a liberal system of policy”. There was not only political principle but political expediency in proclaiming oneself motivated by liberal ideas in that era. The fact that the American Revolution was made in terms of this political prospectus helps explain its ultimate success. There were simply too many Britons who felt that the colonists actually had the better of the argument-they were the better liberals. For British Whigs, too, looked back reverently on canons of government that extolled liberty in thought, speech, religion, government and trade alike. It was part of the heritage of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Indeed, for some more incendiary spirits on both sides of the Atlantic, the Good Old Cause of republican virtue was at stake.

Coalition is, of course, a current problem for Liberals. It could be said that every successful political party is itself a coalition, the broader-based the better. This was what gave the Liberal party such traction in British politics in the Gladstonian era; and what sustained the New Liberals of the succeeding generation, with comparable electoral triumphs in the era of Herbert Henry Asquith and Lloyd George, was again the party’s ability to adapt itself to new social forces. The tacit electoral alliance with the early Labour party was not actually called a coalition, though in some ways it served as such. The point was that, in all but a few constituencies, Liberals and Labour did not oppose each other; and in the House of Commons a Liberal government was sustained by what contemporaries called a Progressive Alliance, including both Liberals and Labour. This is an instructive formula: almost the opposite of the current arrangements, which simultaneously implicate Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats in a basically Tory government while permitting their partners in Westminster to undermine them in the country. The current failure of this strategy could not have been clearer when, in a referendum held less than a week before the two parties marked a year in coalition on May 11, British voters overwhelmingly rejected the more [proportional voting system that Lib-Dems had hoped would be one of their chief rewards.

What has Losurdo got against liberalism? He resolutely exposes the internal contradictions of a doctrine that ostensibly upheld freedom, autonomy and self-government, yet failed in practice to universalise its own ethic. The presence of Calhoun in his canon alerts us early on to one important dimension. For Calhoun, steeped in the political culture of the antebellum American south, simultaneously coupled his liberal defence of individual and states rights with an explicit defence of slavery, which excluded blacks from the exercise of these great principles. Was this just the same old one-eyed hypocrisy that we expect of politicians?

There is, in fact, more to the book than this. It shows how slavery was legitimised within the liberal canon all the way back to Locke. And it gets worse. Once slavery could no longer be defended, the same liberals who now made a big deal out of its abolition promptly turned to excluding and repressing former slaves in slightly more subtle ways, such as indentured labour. And not just across the colour line, but also countenancing the oppression of workers closer to home when they, too, got uppity. It was the liberal economists, from Smith onwards, so Losurdo assures us, who shackled the working class by demonising early trade unions and who then turned their hard faces on some of the consequences of their inviolable free market, whether in the form of pauperism in Britain or famine across the Irish sea.

Did these great liberal thinkers really have no answers to the social problems of their day? Well, Locke thought compulsory churchgoing for the poor might be one remedy. So the best defence of the liberals against the charge of racism might be their willingness to inflict on their own kith and kin most of the indignities normally visited on slaves. But “master-race democracy”, excluding blacks or Arabs alike, remains a significant indictment. Chapter by chapter, one liberal after another is knocked off his plinth. “Compared with the liberal tradition,” Losurdo writes, “Nietzsche proved more lucid and consistent.”

Conservatives will enjoy reading this book as a demolition job. They will turn to it in hopes of finding an intellectual arsenal with which to bombard their opponents. They will take advantage of a moment when the historic political affiliation of many liberals in the Anglosphere has become a love that dare not speak its name. But liberals, too, should read this book as part of the task of reconstruction. This task, of course, cannot be accomplished simply in intellectual terms but the message that liberalism needs to be inclusive in its claims and its constituency alike is one with a current significance that is truly international.

The Era of Republican Big Government is Already Here

It is far too soon to make sweeping pronouncements of any sort, but one of the most persistent issues of next year’s Presidential Election may well be a grand debate on the size of government.  Republicans have considered this their meat-and-potatoes issue since 1980, but in many ways, it is far less applicable today.  Even so, now that a substantial federal deficit exists, Republican Presidential candidates will be sure to keep bringing up that fact in debates, television ads, flyers, e-mail blasts, Tweets, and solicitations for contributions.  If only they knew that the era of Big Government has long been over.  Their paranoia about the evils of contagious socialism is a mere specter now.  But so far as myths go, this is one of the more persistent, and has gone unchallenged for so many years that it might as well be gospel in the minds of many believers.  

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die in one life before we can enter into another.

–Anatole France

Ornament  6

Arab Revolutions


This kid has a lot of attitude and an English-language t-shirt. What else does it take to make a revolution?  

Late Night Karaoke

The Arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn

The rape allegations against Strauss-Kahn, seemed pretty cut and dried at first. Personally, I was even enjoying (to an extent)  a prominent person  in the IMF being brought down so low.

I mean it could be a still right out of Law And Order, right?

But then I found out about how this will likely turn France’s next election to the far right, & I got to thinking about the allegations attempting to bring down Assange, which are totally nonsense & a setup, and  even the (true) allegations against the former governor of NY having sex (not rape) with a prostitute.

And then I read this:

Well before Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s arrest there had been reports that Mr. Sarkozy was gathering information to discredit Mr. Strauss-Kahn should he run for president. In a famous incident, reported by the news magazine Le Point, Mr. Strauss-Kahn confronted Mr. Sarkozy in the men’s room at the Group of 20 summit meeting in Pittsburgh in September 2009, saying: “I’ve had more than enough of this continued gossip about my private life and about supposed dossiers and photos that could come out against me. I know that this is coming from the Élysée. Tell your guys to stop or I’ll go to the courts.”


Before this, the Times had all sorts of innuendo in there about Strauss-Kahn’s dealing’s with women, none verifiable, and much more to the point — true or not, none that amounted to rape.

Now, I have no idea what happened in that hotel room, but it certainly is bizarre– I mean a guy that could be the next president of France, and who already knows that Sarkozy / right wing is after him using sexual innuendo,  rapes an African immigrant maid in New York?  And then runs to the airport– leaving his phone behind.

Who knows for sure.

But, I think we should be very wary of the right wing finding / setting up ways of using our innate wish to champion women, blacks-any underdog really, against , well whoever they want to.  

Pique the Geek 20110515: Yams and Oral Contraceptives

Yams have served as staple foodstuffs in Africa for millenia, having been under cultivation for over 8000 years according to some authorities.  There are dozens of species, but only a relative few are suitable for agriculture.  Yams are members of family Dioscoreaceae and are all of the genus Dioscorea.  Most of them are tropical, but there is one North American species, Dioscorea villosa, aptly called Wild Yam.

Whilst a staple in many tropical areas, yams are not eaten very much in the United States.  What we call a yam is in almost all cases a sweet potato, not closely related to real yams.  It gets even more interesting, since the sweet potato is not a potato at all!  After the fold we shall discuss a different use for yams not involving food.  Since today is 5/15, I though we might start with a bit of music of that name.

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