Saturday, December 24, 2005

Anti labor liberals

I have well educated friends that on most issues are liberal or progressive Democrats, but when it comes to labor and particularly strikes or other job actions, they almost always line up on the anti side. They resent it when workers are able to negotiate favorable contracts from a position of strength instead of accepting gratefully whatever is offered. When it comes to talking about tenured teachers they become apoplectic.

Anti labor liberals resent it when working people without college degrees earn good wages, have good benefits and job security. In truth, they want a compliant working class that oozes gratitude, knows its place, values the leadership of company owners (especially liberal ones), willingly and bravely fight wars that further enrich the rich and never challenge the covert boundaries of class and race.

The very best (and passionate) coverage of the Transit Workers’ Strike came from Steve Gilliard. Go here and root around and you will find clear, bluntly reported truths unavailable anywhere else.

Atrios, today, also takes a big step toward pulling the truth about pensions out of the swampy ignorance that obscures the issues.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Court gesture

Dec 23, 2005 — MILAN (Reuters) - A Milan court has issued a European arrest warrant for 22 CIA agents suspected of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric from the city in 2003, a judicial source said on Friday.

Milan magistrates suspect that a team of 22 CIA agents grabbed Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr off a Milan street and flew him for interrogation to Egypt, where he was reportedly tortured.
This is the entire bulletin, but here is the link.

It’s not likely that we will ever see the 22 lined up in front of the judge. But it’s a nice holiday gesture on the part of the Milan court.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nothing sticks

In case you harbored hopes that being caught illegally spying on us would bring Bush down here's some sobering thoughts on what is likely to happen:

The story starts blending into a long string of administration scandals, and through skillful use of scandal fatigue, Bush weathers the storm and moves on, further demoralizing his opponents and cementing the press narrative about his 'resolve' and toughness. Congressional hearings might revive the issue momentarily, and bloggers will hammer away at it, but the initial hype is all the Democrat leadership and the media can muster, and anyway, it's never as juicy the second time around...

Rinse and repeat.

It's a battle of attrition that Bush and his team have mastered. Short of a major Dem initiative to alter the cycle, to throw a wrench into the system, to go after the media institutionally, this cycle will continue for the foreseeable future.
Link via Atrios.

The cycle continues because Americans will swallow anything so long as it comes from the right and the rich.

Will oil shale save the day?

Some of us keep the vague recollection of trillions of tons of oil shale, waiting in Colorado to be exploited, tucked away in our minds as a kind of happy place retreat when the realities of peak oil intrude and frighten us. The truth may be that ounce for ounce coal shale may contain less energy than a pop tart.

Here’s the last three paragraph from this article, “Oil shale may be fool's gold” by Randy Udall and Steve Andrews:

Americans love panaceas. We want thinner thighs in 30 days, a pill to cure baldness, an ultrasonic carburetor that will double our mileage. A magic wand would be nice, because the nation faces serious energy challenges. Since domestic oil production peaked 30 years ago, the need for energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy has been obvious. Instead, like an addict on a binge, we continue to pursue a policy of "strength through exhaustion." Drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before improving our woeful vehicle efficiency is one example of this brain-dead approach.

What contribution can oil shale make to energy security? Producing 100,000 barrels per day of shale oil does not violate the laws of physics. But the nation currently consumes that much oil every seven minutes. Improving the efficiency of our automobiles by 2 miles per gallon would save 10 times as much fuel, saving consumers $100 billion at the pump. The National Academy of Sciences has stated that cars, trucks and SUVs that get 30, 40 or 50 miles per gallon are doable. An aggressive national commitment to fuel efficiency is not optional, it's inevitable. In time, a more efficient fleet could save 20 times as much petroleum as oil shale is likely to ever provide.

All hype aside, oil shale is the poorest of the fossil fuels, containing far less energy than crude oil, much less even than hog manure, peat moss or Cap'n Crunch. A meager amount of energy, tightly bound up in an enormous volume of rock, oil shale seems destined to remain an elusive bonanza, the petroleum equivalent of fool's gold.

Bears drowning

Scientists have for the first time found evidence that polar bears are drowning because climate change is melting the Arctic ice shelf.
From 3 Quarks Daily via noutopia.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A brave, small union holds the line alone for all of us

I support the striking New York City transit workers and denounce the unfair coverage of the strike by the mainstream media. I am appalled by some Democrats, including the always politically expedient Hillary Clinton, who have chosen to remain “neutral” instead of courageously supporting the strikers.

Once Democrats were proud to be pro labor.

People who work should be unanimous in their support of this brave and traditionally militant union. They have chosen to hold the line on protecting pensions and healthcare for workers and have refused to cave in and accept a contract that will deliver more profits to a tiny, fantastically privileged minority. Everyone but the ultra rich should recognize that a strong union standing up for wages and benefits protects the well being of all of us; sets a comparative standard that strengthens labor bargaining positions as well as wage standards for those not organized.

In coverage of the strike it is especially disgusting to see billionaire leaders, like Bloomberg, denouncing the “greed” of workers who start at $34,000 a year. Try living in NYC on $34,000.

You can’t find fair coverage of the strike in the New York media. For a refreshing, pro worker view, try this article, “New York City transit workers defy threats and strike” from the World Socialist Web Site. When you've read it draw your own conclusions about which coverage is more credible.

Here are a few paragraphs:
...The walkout represents the biggest class confrontation in the US in a generation. The issues at stake are not peculiar to transport workers or public employees, but reflect the general drive to destroy wages, working conditions and benefits of workers throughout the economy, from the airlines to the auto industry.

This strike was by no means something the union bureaucracy wanted. It has been provoked by the MTA as part of a wider strategy to slash spending on public employee compensation. Within New York’s ruling establishment, a conscious decision has been taken to make an example of the TWU.

On the part of transit workers, however, frustration over declining living standards in what is one of the world’s most expensive cities and anger at systematic disciplinary abuse by the MTA have been joined by a deep-felt resistance to the agency’s attempts to wipe out gains won by workers through decades of struggle.

The key issue that has forced the strike is management’s demand for a roll-back of pension rights, forcing newly hired workers to stay on the job until age 62, instead of the current 55, before collecting a pension. No similar demand for pension givebacks has been made against any other public employee union in the city, and the ultimatum has provoked particular anger among transit workers, whose life expectancy is among the lowest of any section of the workforce.

This confrontation has laid bare the immense class divide in New York City, the center of world finance capital. In the run-up to the walkout, the public has been subjected to the spectacle of various billionaires—from Michael Bloomberg, who bought his way into City Hall, to MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow, a prominent real estate mogul, to Rupert Murdoch, owner of the New York Post—denouncing workers who start at salaries of $34,000 for their “greed.”

Bloomberg demanded that transit workers face a “new world” in which pensions and health care costs are to be paid by the workers themselves, so that the savings can be funneled into the immense profits and incomes of the social class that he personifies....

Personal note: My own union, Local 333, a New York boatmen’s independent affiliate of the International Longshoremen, was brought to its knees by tactics later shown to be illegal, in a strike in 1985. Throughout my career, tugboat men I met in ports everywhere said 333 set the wage standard for all ports and that it was fear of our union that kept their wages, union and non union, higher than they would be without us. The companies knew this and knew how important it was to break us so wages and benefits could be made lower throughout the industry.

If you are inconvenienced by this strike, I urge you to look beyond personal difficulty and support these brave working people.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Setting the stage for 06 vote fraud

Alter has a Newsweek article excerpted below that suggests how important the 2006 congressional elections will be.

Bush’s Snoopgate

The president was so desperate to kill The New York Times’ eavesdropping story, he summoned the paper’s editor and publisher to the Oval Office. But it wasn’t just out of concern about national security...

Then, down near the end of the article there is this paragraph which underscores the importance of the 2006 elections.
...This will all play out eventually in congressional committees and in the United States Supreme Court. If the Democrats regain control of Congress, there may even be articles of impeachment introduced. Similar abuse of power was part of the impeachment charge brought against Richard Nixon in 1974.

To ensure there is no impeachment, you can be sure the right wing vote fraud engine will be going full force in key congressional elections throughout the country.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Still king

From Josh Marshall:
According to the original Times article and subsequent reports, the president's authority to override statute law comes from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing the force to destroy al Qaida.

By that reasoning the president must also be empowered to override the new law banning the use of torture, thus making the McCain Amendment truly a meaningless piece of paper.