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Two for Tuesday

Hello everyone. My interest in politics and political blogging has gone way down. But I’m still a big fan of music and I’d like to move this little series here. It has never gotten much interest anywhere else but I’m hope you can enjoy it as much as I do.  

This failed series is about my many memories of many Tuesdays listening to back to back songs by the same band on WNEW-FM “Where rock lived.” The station is long gone now and as far as my music taste goes those favorite DeeJays have mostly been replaced by a man named John Schaefer.

If you listen to John Schaefer long enough you will hear this same named mentioned over and over as the man who was the direct link between “Rhythm & Blues” and “Rock & Roll.” The last time I heard John Schaefer mention this familiar Blues Man as a Father of Rock & Roll was on August 19th during the fascinating interview about Traveling the Chitlin’ Circuit.

People to Remember on Labor Day

A diary from 2007, cross-posted at Daily Kos and Progressive Blue.

On this holiday there are so many Americans who deserve a moment of our time, the people who fought and died for the simplest benefits in an attempt to end a new form of American slavery. This relentless oppression is nothing new but it does seem to thrive in a country with the bloodiest history of labor of any industrialized nation. The Matewan Journals places the whole present day struggle in perspective.

Those of us at the bottom of the income scale are involved in a war. It is not a war of bullets, mortar shells, bombs and tanks, but it is a war just the same, and people are dying. We didn’t start this war. It is not a war with us but a war on us. We didn’t ask for it, we don’t want it, and if we could we’d sue for peace. It is not a war we can win in any final way, ever. We are outgunned, overmatched, and trapped in a swamp. The enemy controls our food, our shelter, our health, and our livelihoods. He rarely shows pity, breaks every truce within hours, and chips away at us every day as if we were emotionless blocks of ice he is hoping to whittle down until we just melt away.

The only advantage we the workers ever had was our numbers, there are far more of us then them. Most of the other advantages that Americans fought for seem to be gone now.

Becoming a Friendly Voice at Congressional Offices

Cross-posted at DailyKos.

This is an action diary. A surprisingly simple action that the biggest sunrise is the fact that progressive groups have not been exploring this method for years. Not the statement of being arrested to be heard but a connected method that could lead to a little less lobbyist and a little more people in the lives of our elected Democrats.

The action is not “in your face” going against the elected but promoting Democratic talking points, outside of their own offices. Friendly activist greeting visitors to the offices of the members of Congress while handing out printed information about our social safety that does not seem to be getting out to the general public.

This is not an action for one single person. You will need a group and you will need to convince others in that group to participate. Then the group will need to agree on the bullet points for the handout and the proper way to address the people coming and going. Really, at least for me, that is the hard part but the group can be as small as two. After that, my limited experience with this sort day, exchanging ideas out in the fresh air has been a very good one.

With just under two weeks before Congress returns to Washington perhaps this is a bit late but this could be the sort of action that we should be promoting and discussing while Congress is at recess. Perhaps this is not for you but it is hard to imagine anyone thinking of this as being counterproductive or being unworthy of the time it would take to promote. Please read what I have in this diary and consider the positive effects of engaging others in the campaign to protect our social safety net.

The Quote of the Day

Posted, in a slightly different form, at Daily Kos.

This morning on Brian Lerher the topic was Deductions and Loopholes. Peter in Armonk called in and said;

I’m a small business owner and have been one for thirty-five years, employed between eighty-five and one hundred and ten people at various points in time. I never understood why, some of the deductions that I was allowed to take, I take a customer to play golf, I get a fifty percent deduction. And the number of deductions as a business person that I can take compared to an individual or an individual wage earner is just, to me, extraordinary.

I also want to say that during all those years when I was, I guess a so called job creator, I never once, once considered taxes or the tax rate in a decision to hire or fire a person.  

We either had so much business that we needed more employees to do the business or we didn’t have enough business and we needed to make cutbacks or cutback through attrition. But I never said “Oh my God, taxes are going up. I’m going to fire people.” Never.

David Cay Johnston, author of the forthcoming book The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” and Other Tricks to Rob You Blind, had this answer.  

Oh I think it’s incredibly common and you know I’m chairman of the board of a little company with twenty-five workers. I agree exactly. We hire more workers when we have demand for our services and that’s the only reason we do so. Every business person I know operates on a different theory than you’re hearing from people on Capital Hill. You have customers, you need work done, you hire people. You don’t make these decisions based on taxes.

Now, here we are the lowly wage earners getting the squeeze for decades and now our social safety net and our basic tax deductions are on the table? As pointed out “Every business person I know operates on a different theory than you’re hearing from people on Capital Hill.” But that is more like every small and large business person in the nation. Still we keep hearing Republican claiming that the business owners who can get away with deducting almost everything, those business owners need the assistance of government, with little to no reality coming from the Democrats. Still they get away with claiming that almost all business owners file individual claims with little to no reality from the Democrats.

And still so many Democratic supporters continue to try to blame the Republicans for owning the debate or the media for not stepping up where the Democrats should. It’s like being forced to watch a really bad movie over and over. But while the Democrats continue to hide Peter in Armonk called in and said what the President of the United States should have been saying for years.

I also want to say that during all those years when I was, I guess a so called job creator, I never once, once considered taxes or the tax rate in a decision to hire or fire a person.  

We either had so much business that we needed more employees to do the business or we didn’t have enough business and we needed to make cutbacks or cutback through attrition. But I never said “Oh my God, taxes are going up. I’m going to fire people.” Never.

You can listen to the entire interview here.  


Note: There is a Washington Post review on this movie that opens today in major cities. The positive review points out the government’s treatment of small farms and begins with a question “Why is it so easy to buy cigarettes but so difficult to purchase raw, unpasteurized milk?

Yesterday on the The Leonard Lopate Show there was a very disturbing interview. It was another story of government being in bed with big business, this time making our food unsafe in the process. Three people try to explain why the government is turning a blind eye to the large corporations that are making us sick while raiding small farms and food co-ops to address problems that don’t even exist.

The outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in recent years, the salmonella in peanut butter and E. coli in bagged spinach have led to concerns about the way the FDA has been enforcing its food safety regulations. Each of those outbreaks has been traced to a factory farm or large processing plants but small farmers who have had little connection to them are bearing the brunt of government raids, searches and product confiscation. A new documentary called Farmageddon investigates the increasingly tenuous standing of small farms in our food system. It opens this Friday at Cinema Village and joining us today are Kristin Canty, the director and co-producer, Linda Failace, the co-owner of Three Shephard’s Cheese in Vermont and Gary Cox, the General Counsel for the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Welcome to our show….

You can listen here. You should be outraged by those three stories, everyone should.  I have a few details below.  

A Coney Island Greeting on the Fourth of July

Cross-posted several places but the Daily Kos post could use some support.

This started out as a gray day in New York City. Instead of a view if the Palisades and an armada of small boats slowly making their way down river for the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks, my windows seemed like very large glasses of milk. it looked like a perfect day to enjoy a second viewing of John Adams on HBO and remembering what politics was once like in America.

Two years back I worked on the Fourth so I made a photo diary out of my lunch break. It was a celebration of the local farmers who also worked that day, The Lincoln Center Farmer’s Market on the Fourth of July. Ron Binaghi, a 6th generation farmer who really knows his product, explained the importance of being able to “Eat it raw.”

Last year on this date, I think it was about 98° and way too sunny. Because I was too busy enjoying the crowd and fun at the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, I did not write a Fourth of July diary. So on this day, as I enjoyed John Adams, I found some of those photos and put together a Coney Island view of the Fourth of July.    

“Hot Coffee” the real “True Blood” on HBO

HBO is on tonight!

What is Hot Coffee? It is a feature documentary by Susan Saladoff about “what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s.” Apparently after listening to her interview on the Leonard Lopate Show, I decided that the documentary is about much more than that.

Filmmaker Susan Saladoff, a former public interest lawyer, talks about her documentary “Hot Coffee,” about the McDonald’s coffee case, which continues to be cited as a prime example of how citizens use “frivolous” lawsuits to take unfair advantage of America’s legal system. But is that an accurate portrayal of the facts? The movie looks at the infamous legal battle that began with a spilled cup of McDonald’s coffee and investigates America’s zeal for tort reform, which, Saladoff argues, could restrict the legal rights of everyday citizens and undermine the entire civil justice system.  

You can listen to the interview here. Why don’t you come back here for for a Hot Coffee Open Thread? But right now why don’t you use the time to get friends who never found out the root of tort reform propaganda in America interested in the documentary that will be on HBO at 9 p.m. eastern and pacific and 8 o’clock in central time zones.

While you are helping to create an informed constituency, I’ll give a few details about Susan Saladoff’s discussion with Leonard Lopate below.  

The Nation’s Most Ambitious Energy Efficiency Program

It is not easy finding good news or working government information anymore. So seeing “New York can now claim the nation’s most ambitious energy efficiency program” in a letter from the Working Families Party was thrilling!

Below the fold, check out “Green Jobs/Green New York.” Check out a little bit of progress.

“Public employees have become targets of anger and criticism.”

Cross-posted at Daily Kos.

The quote “Public employees have become targets of anger and criticism” that was followed by “and that’s leading to a growing number of them calling it quits,” came from Lester Holt last night on NBC Nightly News.

John Yang reported from New Jersey where public worker retirement jumped 60% and nearly doubled for teachers in 2010. But it is not just Governor Chris Christie “mocking teacher benefits” who deserves all the credit. The report shows many states where politicians downgrading the value of public workers has become too much for the good government workers to continue. In 2010 California and Colorado each reported a 20% rise in retirees from the public sector. This year Ohio has reported a 34% increase and after the assault from Scott Walker public worker retirement in Wisconsin is up 96%.

One New Jersey teacher was the focus of the segment. Judy Cinnamond who has decided to give up teaching. This highly respected educator sums up the situation with “All of the sudden the teachers are the enemy and I don’t want to feel that way. Having dedicated my life to this job, I just don’t want to feel that way.”  

Memories of an Artistic Watering Hole

Cross-posted at DailyKos.  

I have some fond memories to share. After reliving the experience of seeing The Dizzy Gillespie Dream Band, thoughts drummed up about another aspect of Lincoln Center. The nostalgia for a once famous bar that was across the street on 63rd and Amsterdam, a place where I once helped make the music and sang along for many years, came on strong.

Let me start out where Alvie Singer ended because it is a good way to set the stage. In the background during the final scene from Annie Hall you can see the concert hall where Dizzy Gillespie blew me away but in the foreground, the camera was set up in a bar and restaurant that was once called “O’Neals’ Baloon.”

The view is for you. I need no reminders of what O’Neils Balloon looked like and this in not a story about me.  Perhaps this is a story about a forgotten era that might just be making a comeback after of the success of the movie Black Swan. Well not really, more popularity and higher ticket prices can never take up the slack where the National Endowment for the Arts left off.

This is a story of a painting getting its act together and taking it on the road, a story of ballet at the barre and a recollection of times gone by. Just memories of a social gathering spot that was name “balloon” because it was illegal to call a bar a “saloon” in New York City. Those Blue Laws have been changed now. So much has changed now. So much has been forgotten.  

House Bill to authorize War anywhere in the world, including inside US borders!

Cross-posted at DailyKos and Progressive Blue.

With the House of Representatives at recess it can’t happen this week but Sec. 1034 of National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was marked up by members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) last Wednesday is very disturbing. The Bill has the potential to set up Army on American street scenes from the movie “The Siege” and, with a little massaged intelligence, U.S. Armed Forces suppressing nurses planning to protest for single payer health care.  

Last week at the ACLU blog there was Unchecked Executive War Power Could Slip Through the House

Tucked inside the National Defense Authorization Act, being marked  up by the House Armed Services Committee this week, is a hugely important  provision that hasn’t been getting a lot of attention – a brand new  authorization for a worldwide war.

This week there is House Gets Ready to Vote on New Worldwide War

A couple of  minutes past midnight, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to  strike Sec. 1034 – the new authorization for worldwide  war provision – from the NDAA. Visibly angry that such a large sweeping provision  had not yet had any public hearing whatsoever, he vigorously characterized it  as a very broad declaration of war.

That amendment debate ended quickly (about ten minutes) and Rep. Garamendi’s plans to introduce it again on the House floor where he expects more results. But this bill has the potential for the Chief Executive to use military force anywhere in the world (including your back yard) in search of terrorists.

Though it is a very troubling expansion of war authority, it has been lingering for more than three years as a “sleeper provision,” and it is finally getting the attention of some members of Congress. We hope that further debate in Congress in the weeks ahead will allow for a more in-depth examination of unchecked authority to wage worldwide war, and what the outcomes of such a provision will yield.

We Hope? Feel like contacting your Congressperson to express your thought on Posse Comitatus before it slips through?  

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?

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