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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Sunday: It’s not Republicans I’m worried about

Premature empoppulation?

Paul Krugman writes a post about the Republican party, which seems to be churning out more and more unorthodox candidates as it searches desperately for the magic bullet.  He mocks Pawlenty’s opposition to fiat currencies.  In general, the post sounds like a lot of left blogosphere types who are counting on Republicans to be so messed up that they turn off the electorate.

But that’s because lefties tend to ignore human nature, including their own.

There is a lot of economic pressure on Americans right now and I’m betting that many of them will swap something they hold dear for immediate relief of stress.  By the time the 2012 election rolls around, the Great Recession will be four years old and many families will be ruined by joblessness, no health benefits and foreclosure.  I have no doubt that Republicans WANT it that way.  They are going to keep Obama’s minimal accomplishments to even more of a minimum.  Obama, in turn, is cooperating because as the master strategist he was reported to be, he isn’t.  And he doesn’t use the bully pulpit well either.  Oh, and he hasn’t ended the wars, created a jobs program, truly reformed health care, equalized pay between the sexes, enforced the suspension of DADT or any of the other things he said he did that he really didn’t but thinks we aren’t paying attention to call him on it.

We’re paying attention.

Nevertheless, Republicans have a weird way of rallying the troops.  I wouldn’t count them out. My gut feeling is that voters who tend to go Republican are itching for an alternative to Obama.  What I see happening is that the coalition that Obama cobbled together in 2008 isn’t going to hold together.  I’ve read many posts on  the web that suggest that AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka was just bluffing on Friday when he promised to create an independent labor movement.  It was more of the “where else are you going to go?” crap.  If I were Democrats, I’d take Trumka’s threat more seriously because there are a lot of working people who are disgusted with both parties right now.  And Democrats only have to look to Canada to see how the next election may play out if Democrats continue to leave so many voters on the table.

Democrats have learned nothing from Jon Corzine’s defeat to Chris Christie, Martha Coakley’s defeat by Scott Brown  and Blanche Lincoln’s primary struggle.  It wasn’t a sudden last minute increase in the number of Republicans to the polls that did these lukewarm Democrats in.  It was adherence to a party line that didn’t accommodate the base.  Republicans didn’t turn out so much as Democrats stayed home.  Those elections were warnings to Democrats that they are not heeding.

If I were the Democrats, I wouldn’t be nuking the popcorn yet.

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Independent Labor Movement? Sign me up

Think before you kick

Richard Trumka announced yesterday that labor in this country is tired of being taken for granted and that it would fight for its own priorities, not those of either party in 2012.  In a speech at the National Press Club yesterday, Trumka said excoriated Republicans for pursuing their agenda to take down the working class but he also didn’t left Democrats off the hook:

And here’s the bottom line:

Powerful political forces are seeking to silence working people—to drive us out of the national conversation.  I can think of no greater proof of the moral decay in our public life than that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker would dare give a Martin Luther King Day speech hailing Dr. King at the same time that he drafted a bill to take away collective bargaining rights from sanitation workers in Wisconsin.

The ultimate goal of those who blame workers for Wall Street’s economic crisis is to unravel the fabric of our common life in pursuit of greed and power.

In this environment, working people and our unions must do more than just protect our own right to a voice in the life of our nation.  We must raise our voice to win a better future for all working families here in America and around the globe.

Here’s what we are going to do. First, we are going to use that voice to end the Scott Walker agenda as a viable political strategy by winning recall elections in Wisconsin and citizen vetoes of destructive legislation in other states and retaking state houses.

Then we will spend the summer holding elected leaders in Congress as well as the states accountable on one measure: Are they improving or degrading life for working families?

And moving forward, we are looking hard at how we work in the nation’s political arena.  We have listened hard, and what workers want is an independent labor movement that builds the power of working people—in the workplace and in political life.

Working people want a labor movement strong enough to help return balance to our economy, fairness to our tax system, security to our families and moral and economic standing to our nation. Our role is not to build the power of a political party or a candidate. It is to improve the lives of working families and strengthen our country.

It doesn’t matter if candidates and parties are controlling the wrecking ball or simply standing aside—the outcome is the same either way. If leaders aren’t blocking the wrecking ball and advancing working families’ interests, working people will not support them. This is where our focus will be—now, in 2012 and beyond.

We will uphold the dignity of work and restore respect for working people. In this season’s political battles, teachers, nurses and firefighters have been vilified. Decent jobs with economic security have been cast as more than America’s workers deserve. Low-wage, part-time, temporary, no-benefit work is being sold as the “new normal” for our economy.

We know that only a dynamic, effective movement of working people working together can reclaim the value of work. Our unions must reach out to every working person in America—to those whose jobs have been outsourced and down-sized, to carwash workers in Los Angeles, to domestic workers who have few legal rights, to freelancers and young people who have “gigs” rather than jobs. And together with the AFL-CIO’s construction and manufacturing workers, pilots and painters, plumbers and public employees, bakers and others, we will be heard.

The stakes are so high, for working families, for America. Will we be a country ruled by greed, by people who would cut or take pensions away from first responders, people who would take away the fundamental human rights of our workers, who would choose tax breaks for the richest among us over a future for all of us? Or will we be a country where we choose the future, where we look out for each other, where all of us have a voice?

Trumka got it.  You can’t support people whose only interest in you is your canvassers at election time and your vote without expecting something in return.  Democrats who unions as their cheap electoral labor take union support for granted and then quickly give in to the agenda of their party, which doesn’t include labor’s needs.  It’s time to stop doing that.

Most of the Mainstream coverage of Trumka’s speech sounds like he’s only blustering.  This is what the unions always do before an election but when it comes time to actually go to the polls, they usually give in and help the Democrats.  I’m not so sure about that this time.  For one thing, the unions are engaged in some serious battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, NJ and other states.  They’re probably wondering why they’re in such dire straits after they helped elect solid Democratic majorities in 2008.  In retrospect, they gave too much of themselves and didn’t hold out for more.

Secondly, the recent Canadian election should be a big red flag to the Democrats.  Their Canadian counterparts, the Liberals, suffered a crushing defeat for capitulating too much to the Conservatives.  The New Democratic Party, a party a lot more left and a lot less accomodating, raced passed the Liberals and are now in second place.  The Conservatives won a majority government, but just barely.  Now, Canada is ideologically split, the haves agains the have nots.  And the bipartisan centrists are no where to be seen.  They negotiated themselves into political oblivion.  That must have been a shock to such an entrenched party.  Critics might say it could never happen here but I wouldn’t be too sure about that.  If Trumka decides to use the power of the unions and his un-unionized working class allies, he could start an independent labor movement and recruit movement candidates to primary challenge incumbents.  The time is right.  Even the well-educated researchers are tired of fearing layoffs, unemployment and low paying, insecure contract work while their less educated MBA brethren run around in their Lexus SUVs like the crash never happened.

It’s pretty risky.  But since neither party seems to want to help us, we have to help ourselves.  If that means one party loses its power after 2012, well, maybe a couple of rebuilding years in isolation will help them readjust their priorities.  Power is pretty potent stuff.  Going Cold Turkey could be harsh.  But at least labor won’t have the Democrats running interference any more.  Labor can deal with the bastards directly and if Democrats want back in again, they can make a choice.

The situation for labor is already pretty dire.  It makes no sense to save some other party’s life if they aren’t going to do the same for you.

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

It’s time, Richard Trumka.  Where do we sign up?

And now, for a little musical interlude for all our labor brothers and sisters engaged in a class(ic) struggle with the forces of evil…

Friday: Disturbing Sistah Souljah Union Defecting Hippy Punching

It started early this morning when Brook (deliberately) missed the bus for school.  My mom’s car was blocking me in so I borrowed her keys and drove Brook to school.  On the way back, I turned up the volume on mom’s radio to hear some conservative talk show infotainers yucking it up about a recent survey that showed that the vast majority of Americans wanted the government to do something to help them economically.  Damn, I have to track down who these guys were so I can get a transcript to check the survey source and their exact words because what came next just defies logic.

So, these guys concluded that because the vast majority of Americans wanted the government to help them economically, that really means we want the government to give us money, money taken from rich people (there’s that class envy thing again) and given it to us because we don’t want to work for it ourselves.  In other words, these two jerks just told everyone who is struggling in this economy who is hoping for New Deal type programs to get them back to work that they were lazy good-for-nothings who didn’t want to do the hard work to succeed.  No, we just want some more deserving rich person to give us handouts.  This is what conservative voters are exposed to every day.  And I, one of the many thousands of recently laid-off R&D professionals who worked my ass off, along with the rest of my stressed out coworkers, could come to only one conclusion after this disturbing and completely unrealistic commentary: If you are struggling, unemployed and still a Republican, you need professional help.  Seriously.

Then I checked my email, tried to establish some relationships with friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, answered email from people I had met at recent conferences and looked for rejection emails to my last job applications.  No rejections this morning but it’s still early.  I cruised over to the Daily Show site and found Samantha Bee. redefine a Sistah Souljah moment as an opportunity by both parties to bash the left.  Apparently, the Daily Show doesn’t know that the new term is “Hippy Punching”.

Sistah Souljah from both sides now

Then, I found some stuff at Greg Sargent’s Plum Line on Campaign 2012.  He linked to two articles that are somewhat at odds with each other.  One of them is about Richard Trumka throwing in the towel with the Obama Administration and the Democrats, which I found encouraging.  Trumka is going to outline his plans for an independent labor movement at a speech at the National Press Club today.  The other was about how the Obama Administration Campaign supporters were already planning strategies to take out its opposition starting with Mitt Romney.  See Richard Trumka and Samantha Bee’s Sistah Souljah moment for some guesses as to who their future targets may be.  After all, the Democratic Party’s primary opposition isn’t really the Republican candidate in 2012.  Heck, even the Republicans don’t like their candidates (yet) and are allowing the Tea Party to purge the ones who don’t toe the line while the more pragmatic Washington GOP crowd is getting a little nervous.  No, the Democratic Party’s real opposition are other Democrats, those annoying voters who want the party to represent the principles of the Democratic Party.  You know, the ones who won’t make excuses for Obama’s abandonment of the unemployed?  The ones who don’t praise him for even the slightest, and I do mean “slight”, (teensy-tiny airquotes) of efforts?  The ones who insist that “You can’t buff a turd“?

Like Paul Krugman who praised Obama this morning for saving GM’s ass last year.  Um, wouldn’t it have been irresponsible NOT to save GM’s ass last year?  But wait!  There’s more.  Not only did Obama save GM’s ass last year, he did it by breaking the contracts negotiated in good faith with the people who actually did the work for GM while he didn’t require any sacrifices from the bankers he lobbied to bailout in 2008.  Which just goes to show that the public that so desperately wants the government to help them get back to economic prosperity is completely out in left field- and will be getting a Sistah Souljah moment shortly.

As much as I love, Krugman, (and I do, Paul, really I do, your eyes are so dreamy), it’s not the first time he’s been “off” lately.  A couple weeks ago I postulated that the fear based strategy Republicans used to get their voters to the polls was based on terrorism and threats to personal safety while Democrats used terrorism of economic/safety net catastrophes to get their voters to the polls. Well, abortion isn’t going to work in 2012 after “This is what a feminist looks like” NOW spokes model Barack Obama sold women out on just about everything that is important to them from the egregious limitations on abortion coverage in the healthcare reform bill to NOT rescinding the Conscience Clause, not to mention touting the Lilly Ledbetter bill as the same as the equal pay bills that have been stalled in Congress during the run up to the midterm elections last fall.  (Jeez, Obama people must think women are stupid and not paying attention or can’t trust their lying eyes when they can’t find a job but their well-connected male colleagues can by tapping into the well established old boy’s network.  Ok, Obama women really are stupid if they didn’t recognize that Obama was the BMOC in the uber Old Boys Network, but I digress.)

So, Paul writes this post called Seniors, Guns and Money making fun of the authentically risible Republican congresscritters who criticized the Democrats for scaring seniors  about Medicare.  But Paul is missing the donkey in the corner.  Democrats aren’t trying to scare seniors, they’re trying to scare their own base.  Seniors are actually somewhat ambivalent about the Medicare debacle.  That’s because Republicans are engaging in generational warfare.  Seniors know that they’re safe.  It’s people under 55 that have to worry and seniors aren’t staying up nights fretting over us.  Oh, sure, they have compassion but it only goes so far.  If there’s only so much money to go around, they expect to get it first because they paid for it.  Never mind that people my age paid more and will get worthless vouchers.

Democrats set the bait, lefties fall into line.

Atrios can’t understand why Manhattan needs another parking garage and wonders why rich people are so stupid.  I agree.  I used to take the train to Manhattan once a week when Brook was 11 so she could take art lessons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was $18 round trip.  Brook rode free during Saturday’s off-peak hours.  Sure, it was a pain in the ass transferring at Newark, the WTC or Penn Station for local Metro subway lines that always seemed to be out of service, have poor signage or rerouted.  Now that Christie has raised the rates to $28.00 round trip and there are no discounts for off-peak and Brook is too old to ride free, a trip to the museum to use our family membership is out of the question on NJTransit.  I’d rather drive and park the car for $35.  That saves us money for kebabs at the halal stand.  Not that unemployed people have a lot of money to waste on family memberships to the Met or trips to Manhattan.  Oh, well, I’m sure the rich will make up the slack.  Besides, Brook got her culture in early in life and there’s always the internet.

Of course, if we changed the incentives for taking mass transit…

And in my humble unsolicited opinion, Maria Shriver knew.  Yep, she gave up her career for Ahnold.  Why would she do that if she knew something was up?  Easy.  She wanted her share of political influence that many of the Kennedy’s feel entitled to.  Let’s not forget who was one of Obama’s biggest fans in California before the primary.  Hillary still won the state but it was Maria Shriver, erstwhile heiress of a liberal Democratic dynasty, married to a Republican governor (that right there should have set off alarm bells and pinned her in a new and different Democratic cohort), who relentlessly banged the drum for Obama.  So what if she ran some conferences on empowering women?  We know now that Obama women are not sticklers for adherence to former Democratic principles of gender equity.  I would hate to be accused of blaming the victim but it seems to me that Maria Shriver made a shrewd calculation.  Neither Shriver or Schwarznegger should be held up as paragons of virtue.  One of them sold out  family, the other sold out women and the state of California.  I feel sorry for the kids, all five of them (and counting).