Friday, March 25, 2011

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: "Repealing the Last Century"

On March 25, 1911, one hundred years ago, a tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory left 146 workers dead. The frightened victims were mostly young and Irish, Italian or Jewish immigrants. At least 120 of the victims were either burned alive or jumped to their deaths from the 8th, 9th and 10th floors. As many as forty young women threw themselves out of windows onto the streets of Washington Square in an effort to escape.  The stairways in the ten story building were padlocked by the owners, leaving the workers trapped by the devastating flames.

Although the fire was all over within thirty minutes,the tragic event was a turning point for the nation and an important factor in creating the labor movement. It paved the way for collective bargaining and the adoption of a number of fire, safety, and building codes.

Some  have forgotten the world without the union, but the recent events in Wisconsin under their new Republican Governor and the rising anti-union swell in states under Republican leadership should be cause for concern. Dust off your history books and refresh yourselves about the changes collective bagaining contributed to the welfare of our nation.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Sarah Palin Visits Israel

Sarah Palin in Savannah, Georgia, Dec 1, 2008 ...Image via Wikipedia

On Sunday, March 20, Sarah Palin and her husband Todd landed in Israel. Wearing a large Star of David around her neck, she prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, then spent two hours with guides in the Western Wall tunnel. Palin told her guides that she had flags of Israel "on my desk, in my home, all over the place".

What draws Palin and others to Israel, including Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour last month, and Mitt Romney in January? For the former Alaska governor, the trip offers a chance to distinguish herself as more pro-Israel than other American politicians and, perhaps, to make amends for her "blood libel" gaffe in January that angered many Jews. She expected to distance herself from the position of some fellow Tea Partiers—chiefly Congressman Rand Paul—in favor of cutting aid to Israel. Another reason is a chance to curry favor with a much larger constituency that follows the events in Israel no less fervently than Jews: Christian evangelicals. The evangelical community in America numbers tens of millions and votes overwhelmingly Republican. Finally, of course, there’s the matter of fundraising. While most Jews are liberal, many wealthy Jews support Republicans.

Dan Ephron, Newsweek’s Jerusalem bureau chief, reports the following:
For Palin, of course, Israel also offers a chance to burnish her famously weak foreign policy credentials. Palin traveled to Israel from India, where she gave a paid speech and warned about the rise of China—a matter that is certainly important to Americans. But the issues that Israel embodies—grappling with terrorism, relations with the Arab world, the potential for conflict with Iran—are the most burning foreign policy questions candidates will be addressing in the run-up to the 2012 race.
I didn't see the press coverage on the other GOP hopeful's visits to Israel, but as usual Palin got tons of free publicity and maybe a few contributions from rich donors. Way to go Aunt Sarah.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

American Values

ARLINGTON, VA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Judith Watters ...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Lindsay Lohan, 24, and Charlie Sheen, 45, are all over the media with the tales of their bad behavior.

Your haven't read a word about the names listed below:

Justin Allen 23,

Brett Linley 29,

Matthew Weikert 29,

Justus Bartett 27,

Dave Santos 21,

Jesse Reed 26,

Matthew Johnson 21,

Zachary Fisher 24,

Brandon King 23,

Christopher Goeke 23, and

Sheldon Tate 27..........

all Marines that gave their lives this week for you. There is no media for them; not even a mention of their names.

There's something wrong with this picture.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good-bye Evan Bayh

U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.Image via Wikipedia
As Senator, Evan Bayh sailed through his two terms representing Indiana without making waves. He, like his father before him, was a Democrat in a red state, but was re-elected both times he ran. He considered running for president in 2008, but decided against it.  When he decided not to run for another term in the Senate,  like many other politicans, he chose to go to work for the corporate interest he should have sponsored legislation to regulate.

Since his decision to leave the Senate, he suggested changes to senate rules that would control the partianship that adversely effect the body's performance. Since leaving politics, Bayh signed on as a partner at a law firm McGuire Woods.  Ezra Klein asks and answers a cogent question. "And who does McGuire Woods work for? “Principal clients served from our Washington office include national energy companies, foreign countries, international manufacturing companies, trade associations and local and national businesses,” reads the company’s Web site."

Bayh was appointed a senior adviser to private equity firm Apollo Global Management and in addition, will become a Fox News contributor. The related articles below provide some interesting comment on the subject of Bayh during and after his service to the U. S. Senate.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 03:  U.S. President Bara...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Barack Obama, said, “Elections have consequences.”

In the mid-term elections, folks said they were "tired" and "mad" about the country's economic situation and opted to elect large numbers of Republican to the House giving them a majority. In fact, it was the people that didn't vote that gave Republicans the victory.
Republicans ran on "no compromise",  tax cuts for the rich, smaller government, and free markets. The people wanted and needed jobs. They got healthcare reform repeal, union busting, abortion control, anti public broadcasting proposals, and congressional investigation of Muslims.  We asked for Republican "leadership" and got everything on their private agenda, but not jobs. The rich got richer and the middle class struggles against assaults on every side.

In 2012 there are 23 Democrats up for reelection and Republicans only need five or six seats to control the Senate. What a scary thought!

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rep. Kings Hearings Against Muslim Americans Discouraging

Rep. Keith Ellison address the Homeland Security Committee on the issue of Radicalization of the American Muslims. Ellison shared an emotional story of an American Muslim who sacrificed his life helping fellow Americans during 9/11. As Ellison related the story he was reduced to tears. It was some very emotional testimony.

Nevertheless, Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) rejected calls from nearly 100 Democratic members to cancel the highly controversial hearing as he carried out his attempt to explore whether the U.S. Muslim community is being radicalized.

King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the four-hour hearing was “successful” and announced plans to hold another in the next several months on the radicalization of Muslim Americans in the U.S. prison system.

“This was an extremely productive, worthwhile hearing,” King told reporters after it ended. “I am more convinced than ever that it was the appropriate hearing to hold. We broke down a wall of political correctness on an issue which has to be addressed.”

Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy couldn't have said it better as he conducted shameful hearing in the 1950's on Hollywood's ties to Communism.  History has not sided with McCarthy and I doubt if the world view will appreciate Peter King's savage attack on Muslim Americans. One must remember similiar efforts against various ethnic groups, i.e. Irish, Italians,  and Japanese, and against other religious groups, i.e. Catholics and Jews. When Rep. King finishes preaching hatred and fear against Muslims, who will be next? Is this America?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Democracy Subverted by Wisconsin's GOP

Republican Party (United States)Image via Wikipedia

Wisconsin Republicans effectively striped public-sector unions of the right to collectively bargain, but I wonder what price they'll pay.

Chris Cilliza, The Fix blog of the Washington Post, explains the night time maneuver:
"In essence, the Senate Republicans pared down Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget bill to include only measures -- including the collective bargaining provision -- that spend no money. Those provisions are able to be passed without a quorum of legislators present. That's exactly what the Senate Republicans did."
Initially, Walker said the ability to balance the budget relied on his exclusion of the collective bargaining provision.  After the unions agreed to make large monetary concessions to help balance the budget, Walker refused to give up his efforts to kill collective bargaining for Wisconsin's public sector employees.

It will be interesting to see if Republicans get away with this back door game plan to subvert the democratic process.  Shame on you Walker and company!

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Husband of Ensign's Mistress: "Resign Now!"

NV Senator John Ensign announced that he would not run for reelection in 2012, stating he did not want to put his family through a rough campaign.

Doug Hampton, former staffer for NV Senator John Ensign and husband of Ensign's mistress, wants the Senator to resign now. Since the Senate Ethics Committee is only concerns itself with sitting members of the Senate, Ensign's resignation would end the Committee's probe.

 Democrats better get a good candidate for this race since you never know who Nevada’s electorate will select in a primary. Could be that the chicken lady, Sue Lowden may run on the Republican ticket. Maybe Sharon Angle may run again, even after her epic loss, or someone just as extreme may come out of the Republican primary.
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Shades of McCarthyism

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, plans to hold controversial hearings Thursday on Islamic radicalism. King jokes that these hearings may make him famous "for a week," but he has already become well known for an assertion he once made that "80 to 85 percent" of the mosques in the United States are controlled by radical imams.

King now dismisses the comment as inconsequential.

"I don't think it matters that much" because, according to Islamic leaders King said he has spoken with, imams do not have as much influence among the faithful as do priests or rabbis and because a relatively small percentage of American Muslims attend mosques.

Since his initial statement, King correctly noted that there was a single source and that it dates back to 1999. But then he went on to say the "number seems accurate," lending credence to the figure and giving a misleading impression that there is more to back it up.

The Fact Checker was inclined to award King quite a few Pinocchios before he essentially took it back (his statement). But they noted that King "has a responsibility to clear the air and say that, in the absence of other evidence, he no longer thinks this 12-year-old "fact" has any relevance".

Factchecker finding:

Two Pinocchios

(Significant omissions and/or exaggerations.)

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to the House, said that while it's proper to investigate radicalization, he thinks it is wrong to single out a religious minority.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

A Newt Gingrich Presidential Run in 2012?

Newt GingrichImage via Wikipedia sums up Newt Gingrich's resume: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) has been in the public eye for so long that it is easy to focus mostly on his flaws, which are well known: two messy divorces, an admission of adultery, extravagantly harsh and divisive rhetoric toward his opponents, a capacity to be childish, turmoil often in his wake.

Fact: Gingrich was Speaker of the House when President Clinton was dropping his drawers in the White House. He attacked Clinton alleging immoral behavior while he himself cheated on his wife.

Fact: Gingrich resigned his position as Speaker under a cloud of wrong-doing and failure.

Without a doubt, Gingrich has the demonstrated intellectual capacity to be president. Yet, he raises serious questions: Does he have the temperament? Is he a unifier of the American people? Can he be the leading global diplomat? Does he know how to create jobs? Does he have compassion for American elderly and poor? makes this conclusion: "I think the answers come up mixed and frankly, his shortcomings take him off the table. He is not America’s Political Idol."

For my money, Newt is a crook and a charlatan.  He'd fit right into the Washington drama.  But, that doesn't mean he shoud be president, particularly at such a crucial time in history.  Given the choice between our current president and Newt Gingrich, I'll take Barack Obama everytime.

Continue reading at Newt Gingrich Resume
NowPublic News Coverage

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Huckabee Slams Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman at the premiere gala for Love ...Image via Wikipedia
It's interesting that Mike Huckabee's focus isn't the economy or jobs, but rather it's on social issues, as evidenced by his attack on recent Academy Award winner Natalie Portman.

Politico quotes Huckee as follows:

"And I think it gives a distorted image that yes, not everybody hires nannies, and caretakers, and nurses. Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can't get a job, and if it weren't for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that's the story that we're not seeing, and it's unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-wedlock children."
 "You know, right now, 75 percent of black kids in this country are born out of wedlock. 61 percent of Hispanic kids — across the board, 41 percent of all live births in America are out-of-wedlock births. And the cost of that is simply staggering."

While Huckabee didn't state the per cent of white births out of wedlock, I don't know if the per centages he quoted are true.  He might have "misspoke". Let's not forget the Republican anti-abortion position or that Bristol Palin is making a living based on her out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  But, The First Casualty blog makes a cogent economic point not to be missed.
For someone occupying the more extreme fringe of the conservative movement, it seems a bit ideologically blasphemous for Huckabee to concede that, without government, disadvantaged children would not only be malnourished but would also not receive health care. Even excluding the very poor families that are eligible for Medicaid, this leaves plenty of financially struggling families, often unemployed due to the recession, who would have no health care at all under the (Republican-approved) old system.

After Huckabee "misspoke" about President Obama's being raised in Kenya, once again he endears himself to the right wing fringe with his attack on Natalie Portman's pregnancy.  He makes me think of "The Wizard of Oz" and "The Wiz" where the scarecrow say "if I only had a brain".  If he had a brain, Huckabee could outline his plans to address the serious economic issues facing the country instead of talking himself into one hole after another.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Limbaugh Questions Obama's Blackness

President Barack Obama takes a phone call in h...Image via Wikipedia
Could the radical right be running out of things to say to demonize President Obama?  Of course not! Here's the latest from Rush Limbaugh:

 “Let me ask you a question. How many people really think of Obama as black? …One of Obama’s parents is black. Undeniable. But he was raised by a white mother, by white grandparents. He went to a highly exclusive private school in Hawaii with rich, white students and white teachers. He went to exclusive colleges that were practically lily-white. Barry Obama is from a very white, albeit radically left, cultural background. He’s not from the hood. He’s not from the movement…I’m telling you, there is a chip on this guy’s shoulder, and it is a factor in every policy decision that he makes.”

Limbaugh says no one really even sees Obama as black. So now what? Do people see Obama as "white"? Not!  Sound like the title of the movie "Dumb and Dumber".  Wonder what Rush will come up with next.
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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Misspoke" more Polite than Lied

Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, speak...Image via Wikipedia
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Hukabee is well aware of the misinformation and controversy surrounding  the president's birth and childhood.

Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and is widely expected to run in 2012, has in the past made clear he doesn't side with birthers on this issue, recently saying birthers are "wasting time and energy on the issue" and "nonsense." He says he believes if there was something amiss about Obama's past, it would have been uncovered.

In a recent interview, WOR radio host Steve Malzberg asked the former Arkansas governor to weigh in on the "birther" debate. Huckabee sidestepped, saying: "I would love to know more, but what I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up in Kenya, his view of the Brits, for example's very different than the average American."

Huckabee later stated that Obama's perspective was shaped by "growing up in Kenya with a Kenyan father and grandfather."

The president's father was Kenyan, but met Obama's mother in Hawaii where Obama was born. President Obama did spend a portion of his childhood in Indonesia before returning to Hawaii. Obama first visited Kenya as an adult.

After Huckabee's erroneous statement made headlines, his team issued a statement claiming that Huckabee misspoke.  "Governor Huckabee simply misspoke when he alluded to President Obama growing up in 'Kenya.' The Governor meant to say the President grew up in Indonesia," It's interesting to note that Huckabee himself did not address the issue.

"Misspoke" is more polite than lied.  Liar, Liar, pants on fire!

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