Weekly Address

The President's Weekly Address

White House: "In this week’s address, the President reflected on the significant progress made by this country in 2014, and in the nearly six years since he took office":

The Ledes

Saturday, December 20, 2014.

Reuters: "Dozens of protesters were arrested on Friday in Milwaukee when they blocked rush-hour traffic on a major highway to protest the killing of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white police officer this year. The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department took at least 73 adults and one minor into custody during the protest that blocked Interstate 43, which runs through the city, according to the department's Twitter feed."

The Wires

The Ledes

Friday, December 19, 2014.

Los Angeles Times: "Lowell Steward, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who flew more than 100 missions during World War II, died Wednesday, according to Ron Brewington, former national public relations officer for the Tuskegee Airmen. Steward was 95."

NBC News: "The Army has concluded its lengthy investigation into the disappearance of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan and must now decide whether Bergdahl should face criminal charges. Bergdahl reportedly walked away from his base into the hands of the Taliban and was held hostage for five years. Based on the investigation, the Army must now decide whether Bergdahl should be charged with desertion or a lesser charge of being 'absent without leave,' AWOL."

New York Times: "The Pakistani military said on Friday that it had killed 62 militants in clashes near the border with Afghanistan, stepping up operations against insurgents after the Pakistani Taliban carried out an attack at a school that left 148 students and staff members dead."

New York Times: "Mandy Rice-Davies, a nightclub dancer and model who achieved notoriety in 1963 in one of Britain’s most spectacular Cold War sex scandals, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer, her publicist said on Friday. She was 70."

Denver Post: "James Holmes, the man who killed 12 people inside an Aurora movie theater two years ago, is 'a human being gripped by a severe mental illness,' his parents write in a letter that pleads for him to be spared from execution.'" The letter is here.

Public Service Announcement

Surprise! December 19: Dr. Oz is a quack.

Washington Post, November 21: Learn how to use your thermostat & save $$$.

New York Times, November 17: "For the first time since statins have been regularly used, a large study has found that another type of cholesterol-lowering drug can protect people from heart attacks and strokes."

White House Live Video
December 19

1:30 pm ET: President Obama holds a press briefing

If you don't see the livefeed here, go to WhiteHouse.gov/live.

***********************************************

A former resident of Somerville, Massachusetts, calls into outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick's last regular monthly radio call-in show:

Sixteen times Stephen Colbert broke character on his show. With videos. ...

... Winger John Hinderaker of Powerline has never seen Colbert's show, but he's pretty sure it was an hour-long ad for the Democratic party. "I am not in favor of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but if federal law is going to bar a businessman from contributing enough to buy more than a minimal amount of television time on behalf of his party or his candidates, why shouldn’t Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central be prohibited from airing millions of dollars worth of pro-Democratic Party propaganda?" CW: Evidently, Hinderaker has not heard of Fox "News."

Los Angeles Times: "A hashtag about asking police officers questions for a CNN panel turned extremely negative almost as soon as it was posted Tuesday. #AskACop was meant to be used by viewers who wanted to tweet questions to officers for the town hall segment "Cops Under Fire,” hosted by Don Lemon. There was an overwhelming response -- most of which were criticisms toward police." CW: Apparently CNN had no idea people were pissed at the police.

Bill Carter of the New York Times: "For nine years, Stephen Colbert has relentlessly maintained his pompous, deeply ridiculous but consistently appealing conservative blowhard character on his late-night show, 'The Colbert Report' — so much so that when he puts the character to rest for good on Thursday night, he may have to resort to comicide. The Grim Reaper is his last guest."

New York Times: "Life on Mars? Today? The notion may not be so far-fetched after all. A year after reporting that NASA’s Curiosity rover had found no evidence of methane gas on Mars, all but dashing hopes that organisms might be living there now, scientists reversed themselves on Tuesday. Curiosity has now recorded a burst of methane that lasted at least two months. For now, scientists have just two possible explanations for the methane. One is that it is the waste product of certain living microbes.... It could have been created by a geological process known as serpentinization, which requires both heat and liquid water. Or it could be a product of life in the form of microbes known as methanogens, which release methane as a waste product.... The scientists also reported that for the first time, they had confirmed the presence of carbon-based organic molecules in a rock sample. The so-called organics are not direct signs of life, past or present, but they lend weight to the possibility that Mars had the ingredients required for life, and may even still have them."

"Oh, God, It's Mom." Kelly Faircloth of Jezebel: "Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit":


Escape from Alcatraz. Live Science: "... on the night of June 11, 1962, three inmates left Alcatraz in one of the most mysterious prison breaks in American history. John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris tucked dummy heads into their bed sheets and snuck into an unused utility corridor through holes they had crudely drilled through their cells. Then, from the prison roof, they shimmied down the bakery smoke stack and climbed over the fence. From the northeast shore of the island, they floated away from the prison on a small raft made from more than 50 stolen raincoats that were inflated with a musical instrument that was converted into a pump. Even the FBI still calls the plan 'ingenious' on its website. After a 17-year investigation, federal authorities concluded that the men most likely drowned during the escape...."

... BUT ...

... The linked story above has a better video, but it's not embeddable.

Rolling Stone: "David Letterman will retire from late-night television on Wednesday, May 20th. The Late Show host's production company Worldwide Pants announced the news, according to Deadline, with CBS Corp. President and CEO Leslie Moonves praising Letterman’s 'remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance [which] will never be forgotten.'"

Washington Post: "New information from NASA's Curiosity Rover suggests that Mars may once have had large, long-lasting lakes above ground. That would challenge the more popular theory that water on the planet was only underground, or only appeared in a few areas for a short amount of time. The key to this latest theory is Mount Sharp, which stands 3 miles tall and sits in the red planet's Gale Crater. But Mount Sharp is a curious formation: The layered mountain is made of different kinds of sediment. Some layers were probably deposited by a surrounding lake bed, and other seem more likely to be the result of river or wind deposits." CW: Yeah, there was probably once a really well-developed life on Mars with flora & fauna & -- eventually -- little green men who didn't believe in climate change.

New York Times: "After weeks of planning, New York City welcomed the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Sunday for a three-day visit, greeting Prince William and his wife, Catherine, with the blend of enthusiasm, sarcasm and bemusing antagonism that tends to tail the urban celebrity tourist."

The Wrap: "Longtime CNN political anchor Candy Crowley is leaving the network."

December 6: Max Fisher of Vox: So two white guys -- guys who will have no trouble finding other jobs -- get fired, & half the New Republic staff walks out in protest. Where was the outrage when Marty Peretz was editor & writing racist screeds? The contrasting reactions speak "to a larger problem of how we think about racism in American society and particularly in the elite media institutions that have badly lagged in employing people of color." ...

... Scott Lemieux in LG&M: "For all its sins [of the past], I don’t see how turning the magazine into another traffic-chaser under the aegis of a CEO who speaks Meaningless Buzzword and apparently lacks the attention span to read more than 500 words at a time is a good thing." ...

... Charles Pierce: "... contra Chait, and even though the magazine unquestionably has regained a lot of its lost quality, especially in its actual reporting, I think the notion that The New Republic is 'an essential foundation of American progressive thought' is a ship that sailed a long time ago." ...

... Zandar in Balloon Juice: " The number of damns I give about TNR as a going concern at this point equals approximately the number of black voices writing for the magazine, which is to say zero, but YMMV."

... December 4 & 5: Dylan Byers of Politico: "Franklin Foer and Leon Wieseltier, the top two editors at The New Republic, quit on Thursday amid a shakeup that will relocate the Washington-based magazine to New York City, sources there told Politico on Thursday. Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who previously served at The Atlantic Wire, has been tapped to replace Foer as editor. The magazine will also reduce its print schedule to 10 issues a year, down from 20." ...

     ... New York Times Update: "More than two dozen members of the staff of The New Republic, including several contributing editors, resigned on Friday morning, angered by an abrupt change of editors and what they saw as a series of management missteps. The resignations include the senior editors Alec MacGillis, Julia Ioffe and Isaac Chotiner, and the contributing editors Sean Wilentz and William Deresiewicz, according to several staff members who are leaving. A list compiling the names of those resigning was obtained by The New York Times." ...

     ... AND more from Jessica Roy of New York. ...

... Jonathan Chait: The New Republic has lost its way. ...

... Ezra Klein: "It's a bit early, I think, to write The New Republic's eulogy. Gabriel Snyder, the magazine's new editor, is a smart and web-savvy guy." ...

... Leah Finnegan of Gawker: "Indeed, an entire magazine is now doomed to fail because a white man has been fired and — gasp — an internet-savvy white man has been brought in to replace him! In TNR's 100-year history, I never would have imagined such a triage of injustice. It's clear that the new leadership of the magazine—with all their greasy Facebook money—is dead set on ruining a (historically racist) publication no one ever read in the first place, and was on the slow road to Irrelevance City. What will Chris Hughes do next? Perhaps the publication might even become interesting. Scream!"

Charles Pierce is completely taken with Ed Snowden. He's brave, credible & intelligent, blah-blah, & the film "Citizenfour" is bee-youtiful. For an antidote to starry-eyed Charles, see this review by Fred Kaplan of Slate.

This is quite cool:

 

Washington Post: "Scientists are 99.999 percent sure, in their most conservative estimate, that remains found in 2012 really do belong to King Richard III. These results, published Tuesday in Nature Communications, put a 529-year-old cold case to rest -- all thanks to some intense genetic detective work." CW: Let's hope one of the expert detectives wasn't Shaun Parcells. You may weigh in, Dr. Schwalb. ...

Welcome to Gramercy Park! -- "one of the most forbidden places in Manhattan." New York Times: Woody Allen couldn't get in to film, Robert De Niro couldn't get in, but Shawn Christopher, who was honeymooning in Manhattan, borrowed a key and "took three 360-degree panoramas using Photo Sphere, a Google app, and then uploaded them to the company’s ubiquitous Maps site. He had gotten into the park using another of his favorite technologies, Airbnb, where the room he rented included not only fresh linens and Wi-Fi but also one of the 383 coveted keys to the park. Mr. Christopher was unaware at the time that guests had to be accompanied by key holders on their visits and that commercial photography was prohibited." So take an insider's view of the park.

Contact the Constant Weader

Click on this link to e-mail the Constant Weader.

Sunday
Sep022012

The Commentariat -- Sept. 3, 2012

My column in the New York Times eXaminer is a follow-up to Akhilleus' post in yesterday's Comments on Ross Douthat's attempt to show that Mitt Romney is an F.D.R. clone. The NYTX front page is here. BTW, commenting on NYTX is open to everyone.

Some of the panels of a 36-foot-long mural depicting icons of the U.S. labor movement, painted by Judy Taylor for Maine's Department of Labor. Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage had the panels removed.Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post: "The primary plight of U.S. workers isn’t their lack of skills. It's their lack of power. With the collapse of unions, which represented a third of the private-sector workforce in the mid-20th century but just 7 percent today, workers simply have no capacity to bargain for their share of the revenue they produce.... If the war that business and Republicans are waging on labor isn't defeated, good jobs will continue to dwindle and work in America will grow steadily less rewarding. And a happy Labor Day to you." ...

... At Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration (3 years ago), on Woody Guthrie's 100th birth year, "Union Maid," by Guthrie, performed by Billy Bragg, Mike & Ruthy Merenda, Dar Williams & the New York City Labor Chorus. (Think I've embedded this before; the exuberance of the artists & the audience is infectious):

David Sanger & Eric Schmitt of the New York Times: "With Israel openly debating whether to strike at Iran's nuclear facilities in the coming months, the Obama administration is moving ahead with a range of steps short of war that it hopes will forestall an Israeli attack, while forcing the Iranians to take more seriously negotiations that are all but stalemated." CW:somebody should put a muzzle on Mitt Friend-of-Bibi Romney.

Presidential Race

Ben Feller & Calvin Woodward of the AP: President "Obama addresses a United Auto Workers Labor Day rally in Toledo on Monday before getting his first look at the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac in a stricken parish outside New Orleans."

Jackie Calmes of the New York Times: "As President Obama heads into his convention this week, he is seizing on the just-concluded Republican presidential convention to ramp up his re-election argument that Mitt Romney and his party are stuck in policies of the past and afraid to spell out the details of their plans." ...

Here's a clip from President Obama's remarks in Colorado Sunday. In the clip, he addresses his differences with Romney on Afghanistan.

Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker writes a long piece on the rapprochement between Barack Obama & Bill Clinton: "Obama, who rose to the Oval Office in part by pitching himself as the antidote to Clintonism, is now presenting himself as its heir apparent. It's a shrewd, even Clintonian, tactical maneuver."

Matt Williams of the Guardian: "Democrats opened a fresh offensive on Mitt Romney's foreign policy Sunday, painting the Republican White House hopeful as a war-monger looking to take the US into further Middle East conflicts. Campaigning in Pennsylvania, vice president Joe Biden attacked Mr Romney's international agenda as laid out in last week's convention address, suggesting that it put him out of step with the US's priorities overseas."

New York magazine's cover story, by John Heilemann, is a long feature on Vice President Joe Biden.

... President Obama speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday:

Susan Page of USA Today: "President Obama wants to make it clear that..., 'I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan. He is a great actor, and an even better director," the president said in an interview with USA TODAY aboard Air Force One, on his way to campaign rallies in Iowa Saturday.... However, Obama seemed less eager to review Eastwood's latest performance.... 'One thing about being president or running for president -- if you're easily offended, you should probably choose another profession.' Obama said with a smile. He said there would be no effort to counter with a similar stunt at the Democratic National Convention, which opens in Charlotte Tuesday." ...

... Maybe Obama should say, "Thanks, Clint." Sahil Kapur of TPM: "President Obama's response to Clint Eastwood's speech to an empty chair was the most re-tweeted tweet of the Republican convention, according to a Twitter spokesperson":

... Juan Cole of Informed Comment on the top ten things Clint Eastwood got wrong in his empty-chair routine. (Link fixed.)

AP: "President Barack Obama's campaign is running a new television ad claiming Republican Mitt Romney's policies would 'hit the middle class harder.' The ad is running in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, key battleground states":

Thomas Catan of the Wall Street Journal: "President Barack Obama's campaign said Sunday that this week's Democratic National Convention would feature plans to revive the economy, promising a contrast to what it described as a policy-free Republican gathering last week. 'What you're going to hear this week in Charlotte is a president who's going to present a clear agenda for the future, that talks about how we build a sound economy that lifts the middle class in this country,' Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said on 'Fox News Sunday.'"

NBC News: "About 800 people chanting and carrying signs (among them, 'Banks got bailed out. We got sold out') marched Sunday through the central business district in Charlotte, N.C., ahead of the Democratic National Convention to protest what they said was seedy corporate influence on politics."

Steve Holland of Reuters: "President Barack Obama enters an important campaign week tied with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Sunday, leaving the incumbent an opportunity to edge ahead of his opponent at the Democratic National Convention." ...

... Frank Newport of Gallup: "Last week's Republican National Convention had a minimal impact on Americans' self-reported voting intentions, with just about as many saying the convention made them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney as say it made them more likely to vote for him."

"Unbecoming of a President." Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: Mitt Romney "was able to take advantage of tax benefits in innovative ways open only to a narrow slice of extremely affluent people -- mostly those who work in private-equity firms and other investment partnerships.... Some tax experts worry that the arrangements Romney benefits from set a bad precedent for a president. 'He looks for every tax angle to a degree that is unbecoming in someone who would be the executive in command of the administrative apparatus that enforces the tax law,' said Lee Sheppard, a tax lawyer and contributing editor for Tax Analysts, a publication for accounting and legal professionals." CW: not really news, but it's good to see the press is still hammering this nail.

Gerry Mullany of the New York Times: "Representative Paul D. Ryan has taken back his claim that he had run a marathon in under three hours, an assertion that had drawn great skepticism in the running community and one that came after his convention speech faced scrutiny for some questionable and misleading statements." CW: I was glad to see this story made whatever national newscast my husband watched Sunday night. This is the kind of lie that any dope can understand. ...

... AND Paul Krugman riffs off Lyin' Ryan's marathon whopper to argue, persuasively, that what's on the line in this election is the truth. (It was in 2010, too, IMHO.) CW: Sometimes, my blue-eyed Altar Boy, it's the venial sins that getcha.

"Hendrik Hertzberg and Philip Gourevitch join Dorothy Wickenden [of the New Yorker] to discuss the role of culture wars in Republican politics":

News Ledes

New York Times: "Michael Clarke Duncan, who rose from working as a ditch digger to employ his booming bass voice and immense physical presence in many movie roles, most notably a tragic prisoner with a healing touch in the 1999 film "The Green Mile," died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 54."

Guardian: "Hillary Clinton is calling on south-east Asian states to present a united front to the Chinese in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The US secretary of state will be in Indonesia's capital on Monday to offer support for a regionally endorsed code of conduct for all claimants to disputed islands. Jakarta is the headquarters of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and Clinton will press the group to insist that China agree to a formal mechanism to reduce short-term risks of conflict and ultimately come to final settlements over sovereignty."

AP: "Britain's Prince Andrew has rappelled 785 feet (239 meters) down the side of Europe's tallest building to raise money for charity. The 52-year-old's stunt began on London skyscraper The Shard's 87th floor and finished on the 20th, and took him 30 minutes. Following the descent Monday morning, the prince said: 'I will never do it again.'"

Reader Comments (14)

Two comments on two NYTimes posts, the Krugman and the Ryan retraction of his three-hour marathon claim (funny how the retractions always come in a written statement, while the lies are literally bald-faced (a term I'm only now learning the origin of...)

On Krugman's post:

When virtually every true thing one can say about the current national and world economy, the state of our environment and what remains of the Christian ethos (all those aphorisms about loving one's neighbor, turning the other cheek and being your brother's keeper that were once at its heart) contradict a political party's every principle, there is nothing left for that party but to inspire fear and resentment--and since none of their so-called principles--their wish list-- matches reality, they have to lie to do it.

And BTW, there's nothing mysterious about Pete Peterson's adulation of Paul Ryan either. Peterson is simply greedy.


On Ryan's retracted claim about his three hour marathon:

And he also claimed his budget would "protect" the Medicare he wants to eliminate and balance a budget (sotto voce: in only twenty years...) This Right Wing numbers wonk is flat innumerate. Must be, poor thing, because we all know he'd never tell a lie.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

As the Democratic Convention (and the election) draw nearer, I find myself wanting to scream on every street corner and supermarket aisle: REMEMBER THE SUPREMES!

I think I am obsessed. (-:

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison

From a speech by Martin Luther King, December, 1961:

“Negroes in the United States read the history of labor and find it mirrors their own experience. We are confronted by powerful forces telling us to rely on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us [...] They are shocked that action organizations, sit-ins, civil disobedience and protests are becoming our everyday tools, just as strikes, demonstrations and union organization became yours to insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table [...] Our needs are identical to labor's needs: decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures [...] That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin-headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.”

Is anyone surprised that right-wing racists are also haters of organized labor, of unions of any kind? Or that haters of unions are often equal opportunity haters of people of other races as well?

One of the reasons the right is so intent on privatizing education and has been sending its minions out to try to control what is taught in American schools is the very real possibility of jettisoning decent education and replacing it with right-wing propaganda. To teach only the kind of history and science (if it’s taught at all) acceptable to the oligarchs, the fundamentalists, and the teabaggers.

Needless to say, the history of labor in this country, the struggles to, as Dr. King says “…insure that bargaining power genuinely existed on both sides of the table” has no place in a right-wing educational plan. Because to teach children about the imbalance of power would be to deny corporations and their money men every opportunity to break the backs of workers; such teaching might encourage children to think that they had rights too.

This is anathema to the right. Only the Kochs and the Romneys and Ryans and Bushes and white fundamentalist Christian men have rights.

So thanks, Marie, for posting Woody Guthrie’s song, Union Maid. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie sing it a number of times. There’s a famous photograph of Woody holding a guitar with a piece of paper taped to it that said “This machine kills fascists”.

The modern GOP are trying like hell to make sure that doesn’t happen. If it did, there wouldn’t be enough of them left to steal an election for dog catcher.

But they’re also trying like hell to make sure no one else hears about the struggles for fair pay and decent working conditions. The Kochs wouldn’t stand for it. How else would they be able to put workers back in harness and beat them like rented mules?

Up Labor! Down fascists.

Happy Labor Day to us all.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Saw a Facebook post from a friend today. I know that he's liberal, but his message attacked all political posts on Facebook. I know that he has a bunch of nice right-wing ladies who like to communicate with him, and perhaps he's just trying to spare their feelings, but pretending that the lies and distortions he decries don't come primarily from one source is a weakness that has been preyed upon by demagogues for at least the span of my lifetime. Those who wish to establish totalitarian rule will always warn the populace to fear the threat of totalitarianism in their opponents.

Demagogues and political liars take advantage of the inherent politeness of the American public. We express our civility by not pointing out the mote in our neighbor's eye because we've been indoctrinated that there certainly is a beam in our own, even if we can't feel it. We try to impress people with our good behavior in the face of cruelty and manipulation. We pointedly ignore sociopathic behavior from those like Paul Ryan who seem sincere and look just a little like those movie stars in the magazines by the checkout counter in the supermarket. "Ryan Admits Marathon Time Incorrect." Reaction in Aisle 5: "Isn't it wonderful that he's so honest?"

I guess religion has taught us that the truth is what you choose to believe. Certainly, we can't speak critically of people's religions, even when the tenets of the disparate religions are so clearly in conflict that at least one, if not all, must be grievously wrong, and if so, people have wasted entire lifetimes believing in nonsense and, meanwhile, ignoring the magical reality that surrounds them.

So, why not approach politics the same way? Yes, Romney believes in (a) a planet Kolob, where his 6'2" deity lives; and (b) a budget wherein one lowers taxes on the wealthy and pours more money into the "Defense" budget, thus reversing decades of deficit spending. Is it polite to dispute one and impolite to dispute the other? I submit that it's not considered polite to dispute either. This is a reason why those of us who pay attention are so deeply frustrated by an electorate that seems split between a flawed but somewhat realistic approach to modern life (Democrats) and an approach that summons magic, believes in unlimited and unending war, and is willing to ignore inconvenient portions of the population (Old Testament, er, Republicans).

So, in order not to offend the crazy ladies who think the President is a Socialist Fascist (a first for anyone, to my knowledge), my friend has asked that everyone stand down. When everyone stands down, Ryan's claims make the front page, but an account of his lies show up, if we're lucky, on the Opinion page, where the terminally polite fear to tread.

Thanks. I'd like to say that I feel better, but that would be a lie.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJack Mahoney

Fine post Jack. Well said and too true, too true.

As for Labor Day, this appeared in the local paper yesterday:

"For too many, Labor Day is the day we confuse with Memorial Day, one of those near-summer holidays that is not the 4th of July

Few know that Labor Day began here in the Northwest, when Oregon became the first state to designate a special day to honor workers (the Ninety-Nine Percenters of their day) in 1887. Four other states soon followed Oregon’s lead.

But it was only in 1894, following the Pullman (railroad) car strike earlier that year which left thirteen workers dead and fifty-seven wounded that Labor Day became a national holiday.

After decades of strife, the Great Depression and two world wars, American labor was at the height of its power. More than one third of the nation’s workers were union members and the economy was booming. By the 1960’s American workers were winners.

Today they are not. With union membership in private employment at a mere seven per cent, the lowest since the beginning of the Great Depression, Labor’s cause and accomplishments are frequently forgotten.

Today the middle class that coalesced around union workers is under siege. In the last thirty years, wages have stagnated, occasional increases barely keeping pace with inflation. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the national minimum wage is lower than it was in 1968. More new jobs are part-time with no benefits. In short, more and more people are working harder and harder for less and less.

Those who live on the remnants of Labor’s struggle should remember the sacrifice and solidarity that gave workers sufficient strength to bargain for wages and benefits we can no longer take for granted.

As we mark this year’s Labor Day, let us reflect on our forebears’ commitment. Because of them we have a day for workers, not a Corporation Day or Outsourcing Day. Yet."

I had one phone call thanking me. Maybe there's some glimmering out there, some hope. Now that workers are pitted against one another world-wide, I know unions are beginning to reach out internationally. An IWW revival in a shape Bill Haywood could never have foreseen? We'll see.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

This business of Ryan not being able to remember his exact time in the only marathon he's ever run is simply unbelievable. I've never run a marathon but at one point I trained for one. I ran a half marathon as a training exercise and I can tell you my exact time. And that was 15 years ago. I can tell you my fastest time on a bike riding a century and my quickest ascent up various mountains. Anyone engaging in sports remembers this stuff. It's how you measure your performance. If you've ever lifted weights, you remember your best squat or bench press. You don't say, oh, I think I squatted around 300. You say I once tried for 300 but the best I could do was 275 and 1/2.

But a marathon is a big, big deal. Especially if it was your only one. Races are highly organized and they hand you a printout at the end of the race with your time down to tenths or hundreds of a second. You don't remember that time give or take an hour. Only someone with brain damage or a liar does that.

But this isn't much different than the Rat "not remembering" plotting against a fellow student, collecting a posse, running that student to ground then holding him down and cutting his hair while he screamed for help, an event remembered with stark and somber clarity by everyone else involved.

But Mittens doesn't remember?

Fucking liars, both of them. And I don't care how sociopathic that prick is, he must have considered his shearing of a student he considered gay one of his greatest physical accomplishments, seeing as he, like Dubya, couldn't cut it on a real athletic field and instead hopped around on the sidelines as a cheerleader. And not the kind that do those amazing athletic jumps and choreographed routines. The kind that hold a megaphone and shout "Go get 'em boys. Rah Rah Rah, kick 'em in the knee."

Prick.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

An good NYTimes article with historical context of the "good old days" when at least some capitalist entrepreneurs understood that the workers were not easily discarded and replaceable cogs, but individuals contributing to the overall corporate success, both by their labor and their ability to grow the economy with discretionary earnings that stimulate economic growth.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/03/opinion/henry-ford-when-capitalists-cared.html?ref=opinion

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTrish Ramey, Louisville, KY

Ken,

Nice article. Thanks for sharing it.

I only have one correction. The writer is wrong about one thing.

EVERY day is "Corporation Day" (even weekends: money never sleeps) and at least once a week they celebrate by enjoying an "Outsourcing Day".

The Romneys of this country would prefer there never be a day devoted to the contributions of the 99%. They might get their wish.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Sometimes we could all use a little break from this campaign, from all the angst, sturm und drang, scary weltanschauungs, fabricated bildungsromans, and other horrible Germanic sounding things.

Time for a bit more Gemütlichkeit. Chuckles and one or two near knee slappers:


"Mitt Romney is worth half a billion dollars and he's saying he pays 13 percent annually in taxes. Al Capone paid more than 13 percent in taxes, ladies and gentlemen." –David Letterman

"Mitt Romney says he's never paid less than 13% in taxes, which I think is fair because only 13% of his money is in this country." –Jay Leno

"Paul Ryan just released his tax returns for the last two years, and it turns out he and his wife had a combined income of over $323,000 last year. To which Mitt Romney said, 'See, I do reach out to poor people." –Jay Leno

"Republicans like Paul Ryan because they say he's a fiscal conservative, and that's a perfect balance for Romney who's a guy that has an elevator for his Cadillacs." –David Letterman


"In college Paul Ryan drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. So he and Romney have something in common. Both have the experience of driving a car with a dog on the roof." –David Letterman


"Mitt Romney's search for a vice president continues As you know, one of Mitt Romney's problems is that he's never hired an American for a job before, so this is new." –Jay Leno

"This Facebook fiasco is one of the biggest clusterf**ks ever on Wall Street. Regular people got screwed and the banks and the insiders did okay. Or as Mitt Romney calls it, 'The American Dream.'" –Bill Maher



"Mitt Romney was attacking Obama about our failing education system. He has a point. We are graduating millions of people in this country who are so lacking in basic analytical skills, they are considering voting for Mitt Romney." –Bill Maher



"A new biography came out that says that in high school Obama was a huge pothead … Mitt Romney had to respond to this and said, ‘It is appalling that Obama spent his teenage years goofing around and smoking pot when he should have been pinning down gay kids and cutting their hair." –Bill Maher

"Mitt Romney believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman. Which is better than his grandfather, who believed that it should be between one man and five women." -Jimmy Kimmel

"Today Mitt Romney visited a firehouse here in New York City. Of course, he was disappointed when he learned that the firehouse is not where you get to fire people." –Jimmy Fallon

"Mitt Romney, who is on record saying that he would not waste money going after bin Laden, on record saying he would not violate Pakistan's border to get bin Laden, this week said, 'Of course I would have gotten bin Laden.' Even his Etch-A-Sketch went, seriously?" –Bill Maher

"Republicans are now starting to accept the fact that Mitt Romney will be their nominee for president. But you know, they're not that excited about it. It's kind of like starting to accept that you're going to prom with your sister." –Jay Leno

"That Mitt Romney, he is a master campaigner. This week he was introducing his wife, and he said, ‘She is the heavyweight champion of my life.” Which may explain why on the ride home, he was strapped to the roof of the car." –Bill Maher

"Mitt Romney just barely won the Republican primary in Ohio by 1%. Then Romney made the mistake of saying, 'Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is a victory for the 1%!'" –Conan O'Brien

"First Mitt won Iowa, then he lost Iowa? That's a classic Romney flip-flop." –Stephen Colbert

"Mitt Romney is saying his comments about liking to fire people were taken out of context. Yeah, what he actually said was he likes to set poor people on fire." –Conan O'Brien

"Mitt Romney says he understands the middle class, and that he knows it's not easy keeping a roof over your family's heads — as well as vacation roofs in San Diego, New Hampshire, and Park City, Utah." –Jay Leno

"How about Mitt Romney? Now there's a guy who looks like you would see his picture on a package of men's briefs." –David Letterman

"I'm having trouble warming up to Mitt Romney. He looks like the guy in the restaurant that comes to your table to make sure everything's all right." –David Letterman

"Apparently a large branch of Mitt Romney’s family lives in Mexico. ... His grandfather in the late 1800s moved his whole family to Mexico to avoid being prosecuted for polygamy. ... Mitt can use that to show that he’s tough on immigration. His family kicked themselves out of the country." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Mitt Romney has come under fire for his pledge to eliminate federal funding for PBS. Romney said, 'When I'm president, the only operated puppet speaking to kids will be me." –Conan O'Brien

"Political analysts are saying that Mitt Romney is having trouble generating enthusiasm among Iowa voters. Now, ladies and gentlemen, you know you have a problem when people in Iowa find you dull." –Conan O'Brien

"Mitt Romney’s wife says her husband loves caffeine free Diet Coke. Or as it's known in the Mormon community, the ultimate gateway drug." –Conan O'Brien


"Many voters feel that Mitt Romney is out of touch with real Americans after he tried to make a bet with Rick Perry for $10,000. When asked to comment, Mitt said, 'I'm sorry, but that's all I had in my pocket at the time.'" –Conan O'Brien

"Mitt Romney admitted in an interview, 'I tasted a beer and tried a cigarette once as a wayward teenager and never did it again. This has the makings of the lamest 'Behind the Music' special yet." –Jimmy Kimmel

"Hookers in Times Square, God bless 'em, are offering a Mitt Romney Special. For an extra $20 they'll change positions." –David Letterman

"In an interview last night, Rick Perry criticized Mitt Romney for flip-flopping on the issues. Romney said that Perry has no idea what he's talking about. Then he added, 'But he does know what he's talking about.'" –Jimmy Fallon

‎"Almost all of Rick Perry's support appears to have gone to Herman Cain because, again, and I cannot stress this enough, nobody likes Mitt Romney." –Jon Stewart

"You got to feel bad for poor Mitt Romney. He's in their plugging every week, and every week somebody gets ahead of him. The people who have led Mitt so far: Donald Trump, then Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, now Herman Cain. He's been led by a reality show star, a crazy lady, a stuttering cowboy, and the guy who brings the pizza. That's gotta hurt a little." –Bill Maher

"Mitt Romney was sitting down with some unemployed workers the other day. Mitt is worth a quarter of a billion dollars, and he said, 'Hey, I'm unemployed too.' That is the famous Mormon sense of humor. A little tip Mitt, your people are only funny when the 'South Park' guys write your jokes. " —Bill Maher

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus, thanks for taking the time to compile all the jokes ~ they are, indeed, a great break from all the right wing garbage we have to endure every day.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

Mushiba,

You are most welcome. Comedy's lens gives us a chance to view those who prance and primp and preen about the massiveness of things they claim to erect as little more than delusional sufferers of chronic and debilitating erectile dysfunction.

Members of the "Limp Dicks R Us" (W. Romney & R. Ryan, proprietors") salute you.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Akhilleus,

You are a true wordsmith ~ reading your comments is a continual source of Lightheartedness for me.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMushiba

AP NEWS: A WOMAN WAS SIGHTED IN THE NORTHWEST RUNNING THROUGH THE STREETS AND IN AND OUT OF SUPER MARKETS SHOUTING, "remember the Supremes!" WHILE ANOTHER WOMAN ON THE EAST COAST WAS DOING THE SAME THING BUT SHOUTING, "fascist pigs" AND HOLDING UP A PICTURE OF R&R. BOTH WOMEN WE UNDERSTAND ORIGINATE FROM WISCONSIN AND WE CONCLUDE IT MUST BE EARLY INGESTION OF ALL THAT MILK AND CHEESE.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Belch, burp, guzzle, nosh............... I am so dairied up I cannot move! And I forget which supermarket I am running through--much less which street corner. But, please, REMEMBER THE SUPREMES!

Roger. Over and Out, PD! The FACIST PIGS are calling!

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKate Madison
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.