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Glenn Beck is a skidmark on the underwear of mankind.

(h/t Egalia at TGW)

This is an open thread.

Labor’s Heroes: Remembering Mother Jones

Mother Jones

“The elderly woman smoothed her black dress and touched the lace at her throat and wrists. Her snow-white hair was gathered into a knot at the nape of her neck, and a black hat, trimmed with lavender ribbons to lend a touch of color, shaded her finely wrinkled face. She was about five feet tall, but she exuded energy and enthusiasm. As she waited to speak, her bright blue eyes scanned the people grouped beyond the platform. Her kindly expression never altered as her voice broke over the audience: “I’m not a humanitarian,” she exclaimed. “‘I’m a hell-raiser.’

Her size and grandmotherly appearance belied her fiery nature. When she stepped on a stage, she became a dynamic speaker. She projected wide variations in emotion, sometimes striding about the stage in “a towering rage.” She could bring her audience to the verge of tears or have them clapping and “bursting with laughter.” She was a good story teller, and “she excelled in invective, pathos, and humor ranging from irony to ridicule.””  (Source)

Since today is Labor Day, I’d like to take this opportunity to remember this “hell-raiser,” Mary Harris Jones, more famously known as Mother Jones.

Mother Jones was born in Cork Ireland and she claims her birthday is May 1, 1830. I mention this because historians have noted that much of her persona is self-created and there is some belief that she chose May 1st May Day, because of its significance to the labor movement.  There is also some dispute over her age, making her birth year somewhere between 1830 and 1840.

She came from a long line of Irish Freedom fighters but the famine and violence of 19th Century Ireland caused her family to flee to America in 1835.  Employed as a dressmaker and school teacher, Mary met her husband-to-be, George E. Jones in 1861.  George was an active member of the Iron Molders’ Union and together they had 4 children.  Mary’s blissful wedded life was cut short however in 1867, just six short years after she’d wed, when yellow fever claimed the lives of her husband and all four of her children.  Her grief over this was still palpable 60 years later as she penned her autobiography.  She wrote:

“All about my house I could hear weeping and the cries of delirium.  One by one, my four little children sickened and died.  I washed their little bodies and got them ready for burial.  My husband caught the fever and died.  I sat alone through nights of grief.  No one came.  No one could”
(p. 1).

Continue reading

Moonbats for Moonbeam

From the Sacramento Bee:

The California attorney general’s office opened an investigation Thursday into allegations that the state’s largest health insurers were rejecting medical claims at alarming rates.

The inquiry was prompted by a report released Wednesday by the California Nurses Association. The report suggested that the insurers rejected a fifth of all claims received over the past seven years.

“The public is entitled to know whether wrongful business practices are involved,” Attorney General Jerry Brown said Thursday in a statement.


The nurses union said some of the companies had denial rates between 27 percent and 40 percent during the first six months of this year, with PacifiCare rejecting 39.6 percent of claims it received.

The CNA said Cigna rejected 32.7 percent, Health Net 30 percent, Kaiser Permanente 28.3 percent and Blue Cross 27.9 percent.

Jerry Brown is the right kind of crazy.  He is also a genuine liberal.

Born in 1938, Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown Jr. is the son of Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, California’s last old-school New Deal-style liberal governor. Pat and Jerry bookended Ronnie Raygun’s tenure in Sacramento.

Jerry Brown attended a Jesuit seminary with the intent to become a Catholic priest but he left the seminary to attend UC Berkeley instead. After graduating from Cal with degrees in Latin and Greek he attended Yale Law School. As a young lawyer he worked as a community organizer working with migrant workers and anti-Vietnam war groups. In 1969 he entered his first political campaign when he ran for and won a spot on the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees.

Continue reading

The State of Labor

Every now and then, someone will sum up a concept so clearly and elegantly that truth cannot be missed.  I only wish Dean Baker had written it last year when Chris Bowers and the rest of Whole Foods Nation were in the “You like me!  You really LIKE me!” stage as the Obama campaign was fluffing them.  Here it is, all you need to know about the working class:

“Most of us work for a living; the rest are bankers.”

If you are not a banker or someone who owns a huge chunk of an international corporation, you are working class.  You depend on a banker of a corporate owner for your livelihood.

And you are incredibly vulnerable.

Rich people are not like you and me.  Wait, I think someone else said that.  Well, he’s dead now, he won’t mind.  He was right, of course, the very wealthy and well connected are Jet Setters.  They think globally, not locally.  That whole citizenship/patriotism/pride in country thing is soooo outre.  Everyone knows that labor is cheap everywhere else in the world and people are swappable like new widgets.  And if your own workers are too expensive or still covered by a bothersome union, have no fear!  You only have to shutdown your American research facilities and with the money you save, you can buy up some struggling little companies with  good ideas.  Buy them up!  Drink their milkshake!  Corner the market on innovation.  Never think beyond the next resort season.

It’s all about power and accumulation and not having to answer to anyone and a huge, global game of Monopoly where you can charge rent on everything from St. Charles to Park Place.  Don’t worry about the proles getting in a high dudgeon about it.  Hire a bunch of mindf$^&ers who will convince the gullible to vote against their own interests.  Or tell them that losing their jobs is a sacrifice for the greater good.  Keep them from associating with each other.  Make them call each other racists and teabaggers.  Sit back and watch the fun.

But seriously, folks, when the mindf%*(ers convinced the Whole Foods crowd to vote for Obama, the neofeudalists won.  It is going to be very, very hard to work our way out of the predicament we are in.  Unless we can wake up the working class in the next couple of years, we will not be able to turn this around.  We will have turned ourselves into a highy stratified society consisting of the superrich and everyone else.  We won’t mix.  There will be no equality.  No innovation.  We’ll have our own caste system.  Even higher education will be pointless.  There will be no jobs.  It will only be the masters and their servants like Jane Austen’s England. And don’t think that Sonia Sotomayor is going to make a bean’s worth of difference on the USSC.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she were just the kind of justice the bankers (and their bonuses) love.  We shall see.

We Clintonistas were the canaries in the coal mine, last year.  We saw where the working class was headed when the Democratic party abandoned us.  And we tried, desperately, to get the attention of the Whole Foods crowd, to no avail.  But the truth is, the self-identified “creative class” were *always* one of us.  They just didn’t know it until now.  And until they accept us as their equals and join with us in solidarity, we will have no power as a Union.

Happy Labor Day.

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Monday News Blast

Fighting over Frida Kahlo

In Mexico, the emergence of work said to be made by the artist has led to a very public debate about its girls-reading-newspaperauthenticity. The Times’ art critic has seen the pieces.

I don’t quite get how you have a “signature issue” and yet only now are ready to “draw some lines in the sand” — but, hey! I’m not the president:

Obama Readies Reform Specifics

Until now, Obama has resisted taking firm positions on specific elements of a broad health-care bill, instead expressing openness to many ideas. But the approach has left lawmakers divided over contentious elements, such as how to rein in costs. And with a growing chorus in favor of a slower, less ambitious approach, Obama is inching toward a proposal that would bear his name and carry the political risks of sponsorship.

The president returned from Camp David on Sunday and spent part of the day working on his address, some of which may be tested Monday in a Labor Day appearance in Cincinnati, aides said.

“People will leave [Wednesday’s] speech knowing where he stands,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “And if it takes doing whatever to get health care done, the president is ready, willing and able to go do that.”

Obama is not inclined to make veto threats, as President Bill Clinton did on the issue of universal health care, Gibbs added, “but I’m sure he will draw some lines in the sand.”

New Fee on Health Insurance Companies Is Proposed to Help Expand Coverage

The proposal by Mr. Baucus does not include a public option, or a government-run insurance plan, to compete with private insurers, as many Democrats want.

The separate new fee on insurance companies would help raise money to pay for the plan. The fee would raise $6 billion a year starting in 2010, and it would be allocated among insurance companies according to their market shares.

Mr. Schumer said, “The health insurance industry should pay its fair share of the cost because it stands to gain over 40 million new consumers under health care reform legislation.”

Mr. Rockefeller said the fees were justified because insurance companies were “rapaciously, greedily and unstoppably making money by underpaying the patient, by underpaying the provider and by overpaying themselves.”

Another section of Mr. Baucus’s proposal would help pay insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles for people with incomes less than 300 percent of the poverty level ($66,150 for a family of four). It would also provide some protection for people with incomes from 300 percent to 400 percent of the poverty level (up to $88,200 for a family of four), so they would generally not have to pay more than 13 percent of their income in premiums.

Mr. Baucus’s proposal does not include a “trigger mechanism” of the type recommended by Ms. Snowe, who would offer a public insurance plan in any state where fewer than 95 percent of the people had access to affordable coverage.

. . . . Are you kidding me? It’s going to take 20 years to close Medicare D’s donut hole????
Questions from readers about healthcare debate

What specific cost and benefit changes to Medicare are included in healthcare reform plans?

The House is considering a change to the Medicare prescription drug benefit that would raise premium costs while lowering beneficiaries’ total spending on prescription drugs. The 20-year plan to close the “doughnut hole” — the gap in coverage that occurs when a patient has reached the coverage limit of $826 but not the catastrophic limit of $4,350 — is estimated to result in higher premiums for Part D plans, but lower average drug spending. For patients who spend small amounts on prescription drugs, this change would raise premiums more than it would lower out-of-pocket costs. For patients who require a lot of expensive drugs, buying prescriptions would become more affordable.

Ah, now we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty:
Axelrod: Firm on public option

Axelrod disputed that interpretation in an e-mail.

“In no way did I back off our position,” he wrote. “I must have said half a dozen times that he thinks the public option is an important tool to bring about competition and choice that will help consumers. To say that it is not the whole of health insurance reform, in a country where 160 million people have employer-sponsored health insurance and would not even be affected by this, does not mean I am backing off!”

Gadget Makers Can Find Thief, but Don’t Ask

Amazon’s policy is that it will help locate a missing Kindle only if the company is contacted by a police officer bearing a subpoena. Mr. Borgese, who lives in Manhattan, questions whether hunting down a $300 e-book reader would rank as a priority for the New York Police Department.

He began to see ulterior motives when he twice sent e-mail messages to Amazon seeking an address to send a police report and got no reply.

“I finally concluded,” Mr. Borgese said, “that Amazon knew the device was being used and preferred to sell content to anyone who possessed the device, rather than assist in returning it to its rightful owner.”

And in a related story: Amazon.com Offers to Replace Copies of Orwell Book

Scientists hail breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research
Scientists working in seven countries announced on Sunday they had uncovered variants of three genes which play a role in Alzheimer’s, a discovery that should throw open many new avenues for tackling this tragic, mind-killing disease.

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