Tuesday, September 03, 2013

If you want to send a message, call Western Union

Conservatives among the general public are about to learn something liberals and progressives have known for well over ten years now: when it comes to opposing military intervention, nobody cares what you think.

Two top Republicans warned Monday of catastrophic consequences if Congress votes against striking Syria and suggested the White House may be mulling a more robust military intervention.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Republican hawks who have long advocated deeper US involvement in Syria's civil war, met President Barack Obama as part of his efforts to sell US lawmakers on military action.

McCain emerged from the meeting with a stern warning for fellow Republicans who may be considering voting against military action purely to damage the Democratic president.
"A vote against that resolution by Congress I think would be catastrophic," said McCain.  "It would undermine the credibility of the United States of America and the president of the United States. None of us want that."

Cover your ears and brace yourself for the "McCain is a RINO" caterwauling from the right.  The New Pacifists have a point; they just haven't connected all the dots yet.  Perhaps a cartoon will help.
Please note that the cartoon is a deep azure blue, and that the fellow portrayed is wearing large earrings.  In other words he's a classic Neoliberal, supporting the president in whatever he does... as Britney Spears once helpfully suggested.  He might have marched in an antiwar protest in the last decade or so, maybe even made the pilgrimage to Crawford and Camp Casey.  (Update: Yes, I understand the cartoonist possibly drew his subject with bifurcated ears and excessive lobes.)

But Obama inherited Bush's mess, you see, and besides Congress has completely obstructed everything he's tried to do in the past 5 1/2 years.  So bombing Syria is really not (going to be) his fault.

This is the part where I write, again: if you need an example of what non-voters mean when they say "both parties are just alike", this would be it.

But we're peering into the conservative hive mind here, so let's get back to that.  For some fairly horrifying anecdotal evidence, read this Facebook post by Rep. Ted Poe -- who represents both the Montrose and Kingwood -- but most certainly read some of the comments.  As many as your toxicity meter will allow.

Poe was already going to vote 'no', as will many other Republicans in the House, but that really isn't the point.  As previously posted, Obama is going to launch Tomahawks no matter what Congress decides.  And maybe something more, if you believe John Lindsey McGraham.

Graham, who is facing a tough primary fight from his right for the Republican Senate nomination in South Carolina, warned of the wider consequences of a failure to back military action.

"I can't sell another Iraq or Afghanistan, because I don't want to," Graham said.

"It weighs on the president's mind strongly about the signals we send," Graham said.

"(What) I can sell to the people of South Carolina (is) that if we don't get Syria right, Iran is surely going to take the signals that we don't care about the nuclear program.

See, it's clearly about what a Republican hawk with a Tea Party challenger can sell to South Carolina Republicans. Oh, and Iran.  And also Russia.  Which is to say, Putin.  Because he's been disrespectful to Obama.

So that message is going to get sent. (Some of us dirty hippies have seen this movie before.)

Update: Poll: 2/3 Of Britons Don’t Care If Rejecting Syria Action Damages Relations With U.S. Who's going to start calling the English "crumpet-eating surrender monkeys", and call for a boycott of spotted dick? The Neoliberals or the Republican hawks?

Update: When the WSJ is busting Robert Taft and isolationism on ya, GOP peaceniks, you've already lost the battle to not fight a war.

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle

On this Labor Day, the Texas Progressive Alliance stands with fast-food workers in their fight for economic equality as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff covers the decision by Harris County Judge Ed Emmett to reject the petitions submitted by pre-kindergarten advocates to get a referendum on the ballot this November.

We don't just need jobs, we need -- as Theodore Roosevelt advocated -- jobs that pay a living wage. WCNews at Eye on Williamson says that no matter what Cong. John Carter says, a living wage is not a "dumb decision".

Horwitz at Texpatriate notes that Fox26's allegations of exuberant pay raises for Annise Parker's inner circle are a bunch of poppycock, and analysis by the Houston Chronicle article proves it.

The ride-sharing service called Uber is coming to Houston, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs explored both the pros (Part I) and the cons (Part II).

Neil at All People Have Value made some more posts on his new blog. Please look around and offer your comment. All People Have Value is part of Neil Aquino.com. Please consider checking out the full website.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows Republicans don't care about the uninsured or about Latinos. That's why Hidalgo and Maverick Counties in South Texas have the highest numbers of uninsured Texans in the state.


And here are some other posts of interest by Texas bloggers.

Offcite interviews HISD Superintendent Terry Grier about the design philosophy behind the construction of their new schools.

Flavia Isabel compares Amazon and Tesla.

Better Texas Blog goes on the road for Obamacare education.

Concerned Citizens liveblogs Rep. Joaquin Castro's town hall on immigration.

Equality Texas celebrates the effect that the demise of DOMA had on one bi-national couple.

Greg Wythe published a guide to Texas election code for the Kindle.

Harold Cook is not voting for Harvey Hilderbran.

The TSTA blog chastises George P. Bush for attacking teachers.

Texas Living Waters expresses ambivalence about the water infrastructure referendum.

Juanita Jean documents the lies of True The Vote.

Lastly, BOR keeps track of the abortion battle as it transitions to the regulatory agencies.

Thank a union thug today

After a new Funny and an excerpt from EJ Dionne's "New Life for Labor" at Truthdig -- on the state of play this year -- my Labor Day Facts and Funnies from a year ago. (Has it only been 12 months since we had Mitt Romney to kick around?)

Be sure and thank a union thug today for your holiday. And your vacation time, and your healthcare -- especially if you still have all those. And like Neil says, tip time and a half while you're at it. (Actually I think holiday pay is double time, but I never quarrel with my brother when he's got his Zen on.)

Could this Labor Day mark the comeback of movements for workers’ rights and a turn toward innovation and a new militancy on behalf of wage-earners?

Suggesting this is not the same as a foolish and romantic optimism that foresees an instant union revival. What’s actually happening is more interesting.

Precisely because no one in organized labor expects the proportion of private-sector workers in their ranks to rise sharply anytime soon, unions, workers themselves and others who believe that too many Americans receive low wages are finding new ways to address long-standing grievances.

At play here is “Stein’s Law,” named after the late conservative economist Herb Stein who shrewdly declared: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” The steadily declining share of our economy that goes to wages is one of those things.

As New York Times labor writer Steve Greenhouse has noted, until 1975, “wages nearly always accounted for more than 50 percent of our nation’s GDP.” But in 2012 they fell to a record low of 43.5 percent. Those who make the economic engine run are receiving less of what they produce. And it’s not because employees aren’t working harder, or smarter. From 1973 to 2011, according to the Economic Policy Institute, employee productivity grew by 80.4 percent while median hourly compensation after inflation grew by just 10.7 percent.

Last Thursday’s one-day strike of fast-food workers in dozens of cities is one of the new forms of labor creativity aimed at doing something about this. The folks who serve your burgers are demanding that instead of an average fast-food wage of $8.94 an hour, they ought to be paid $15. Assuming two weeks of unpaid vacation, this works out to $30,000 a year, hardly a Ronald McDonald’s ransom.

The protests have the benefit of putting low-wage workers in the media spotlight, a place they’re almost never found in a world more interested in the antics of Miley Cyrus and Donald Trump. “They want a raise with those fries,” the New York Daily News cheekily led its story on the strike.


The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday a year later, on September 5th, 1883.

On September 5th, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. After marching from City Hall, past reviewing stands in Union Square, and then uptown to 42nd Street, the workers and their families gathered in Wendel’s Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches.

Labor Day parade, Main Street, Buffalo, NY, ca. 1900.

This first Labor Day celebration was eagerly organized and executed by New York’s Central Labor Union, an umbrella group made up of representatives from many local unions. Debate continues to this day as to who originated the idea of a workers’ holiday, but it definitely emerged from the ranks of organized labor at a time when they wanted to demonstrate the strength of their burgeoning movement and inspire improvements in their working conditions.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Here are some quick tips on how to celebrate labor the union way:
  • Fire up your Weber grill, made by the International Union of Allied Novelty and Production Workers.
  • Grill some all-beef Butterball patties. If you are in the mood for hot dogs and brats, Oscar Meyer, Nathan’s and Johnsonville have what you are looking for.
  • Add some Heinz Ketchup, Gulden’s Mustard and Vlasic pickles.
  • Throw it all on a Wonder Bread bun.
  • Funyuns, Fritos and Doritos are good side options.
  • Wash it all down with a cold Budweiser or any other union-made brew. And there’s Minute Maid juices for the younger set.

Update: The Agonist has some good reading about Eugene V. Debs, who ran for president in 1920 from his prison cell.

When Republican Warren Harding was elected, he commuted Debs' sentence and invited him to the White House. The day after leaving the Atlanta Penitentiary, Harding greeted Debs at the White House with these words: "Well, I've heard so damned much about you, Mr. Debs, that I am now glad to meet you personally." It was a different time.