Let’s Get Out In Front Of This Parade

President Obama has made some mild noises recently in favor of government workers and the right of collective bargaining. Nice. Not that he has done much to hearten the hard working Americans who have been on the picket lines in Wisconsin the last several weeks. Send them a Pizza?? Guess he has more important things to do.

Likewise to the Democratic establishment. No major elected Democrat has gone out on a limb to support Wisconsin’s workers.  Not one has addressed a rally or shown up on the picket line..

Did I say out on a limb? Maybe not. The latest NYT Poll shows that Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them.

Those surveyed also said they opposed, 56 percent to 37 percent, cutting the pay or benefits of public employees to reduce deficits, breaking down along similar party lines.

A majority of respondents who have no union members living in their households opposed both cuts in pay or benefits and taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees.

Funny.   If a Democratic politician were to take a real stand on any issue,  whether or not it is popular, this is the issue.  Bargaining rights are as basic to the Democratic Party as is corporate greed to the GOOP. Bedrock, basic and fundamental. It should be the party mantra, especially in these times when unemployment is hovering at 9 percent and the GOOP has announced it thinks that is OK.

Now, it is certain that, in addition to being fundamental Democratic Party doctrine, this issue has legs with real Americans. Even the dumb ass independents, whose views are cherished by the party elite far more than my own, are already backing up the Wisconsin public employees.  Here the GOOP is clearly on the wrong side of history. And the Party of Change?  sort of in favor, I guess….(Give you two nickels for a pair of dimes…)


Take a moment, if you are so inclined, to listen and watch this always incredible footage of Jimi Hendrix performing our National Anthem at Woodstock in 1969. Just watch this brilliant performance.

I appreciate this performance more the older I get. It is simultaneously hyperbolic and yet strangely understated, mostly due to the cool of the dude who’s grasping the guitar. Yet, there is nothing ambiguous regarding the intent here. Jimi’s rendition is a savage protest and a damning indictment. If you don’t get it by the time he belts out “Taps,” then you’ve got mushrooms in your head. This performance is a big FU to militarism and to fucked up stupid dirty war.

So. It is somewhat bizarre to me to see Ted Nugent take on the ol’ Star Spangled Banner during an appearance on the Huckaboo show. And to watch Huckaboo stand there with his hand over his heart. My dear sweet gravity, conservatives are weird.

First, please allow me to attack Nugent’s strange assertion: “Name me a cool rock and roll song from France.” This is just bloody strange, and where should I start?

No, Ted. No good music ever came from France. Hector Berlioz wasn’t French, and nor was Claude Debussy. Maurice Ravel, Georges Bizet, Pierre Boulez? No? Right. Ignorant rednecks have no use for these fellows, I reckon.

Not to mention the fact that, perhaps, not much French rock music—which does exist, actually—gets to us because, well, they speak FRENCH in France…do I really need to mention this? Really?

The weird gist of Nugent’s assertion really reveals itself when you embark on a countdown of the greatest rock bands of all time. No, they’re not from France. But guess where else they aren’t from?

The Beatles. Led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd. The Who. The Rolling Stones. All. European. Bands. And, as far as Jimi goes…guess where he had to succeed first before he hit it big in these Untied States? That’s right. England.

Ignorant rednecks.

But what’s most offensively weird about this tape is seeing all of these conservagoats standing around and watching this guy play a mediocre rendition of this thing on his guitar and acting like they’re watching Betty Buckley. Does it get any more uncool than this spectacle? What a humiliation.

I’m embarrassed for Ted, for Huckaboobie, for Fox, for America, for hunters, and for rock and roll. Ted. You should have stopped at Cat Scratch Fever.

Today We Are All Wisconsinites

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.
(Abraham Lincoln, from his message to the U.S. Congress of Dec. 3, 1861)

Are you aware that today Madison, Wis., looks sort of like Cairo did last week?

Thousands and thousands—estimates run from 10,000 to 30,000—of people are in the streets this week in protest of a proposed bill to elminate most collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.

Have you seen a bunch of press coverage on this wonderful mess? Noes?

Labor in these Untied States of America has been so successfully marginalized that you don’t even hear about it unless you specifically go out to look for it. Lookit your local newspaper sometime. Here’s the “business” section. Where’s the “labor” section? Why don’t major strikes make the news here anymore?

Even the Huffington Post has remained mum on this story. In fact, the only media guy who’s spent any kind of time on Wisconsin is Ed Schultz. Matter of fact, Eddie will report from Madison on his show this evening (10 p.m. eastern on MSNBC).

Labor has been so marginalized that it isn’t even newsworthy anymore. Believe it or not, once upon a time if there was a major strike here in these Untied States, it was in the newspaper and on the TV. This thing in Wisconsin has been going on a week, and it’s barely registered a blip.

Allow me for a moment to explain something to you about organized labor: The primary objective of organized labor is to tighten supply.

You think labor fought for a 40-hour work week because labor likes puppies and really gives a crap about you having a weekend? You think they wanted child labor laws because they cared whether Johnny was free to go study his algebra? No. They wanted these things because organized labor’s primary objective is to tighten the labor market.

Why? Because a tighter labor market boosts the value of labor and drives wages.

If Wisconsin blows up the right of its public sector employees to bargain collectively, it also blows their ability to tighten supply. Wages can freeze and shrink; 40-hour weeks can become a thing of the past. The net result of whatever comes of such a combustion is that the value of work takes a hit.

Unless you can go longer than a year without a paycheck, you should have your antenna trained on Madison, and you should be rooting for those people in the streets. They are not just fighting for their own jobs. They’re fighting for yours, too.

Never Say Never

Until today, I have had not much use for the phenomena known as Justin Bieber.

Until today.

“You guys are evil. Canada’s the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard’s baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby’s premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home.”

This is a quote from Bieber in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone.

But remember: People come from all over to benefit from the best health care system in the world.

President of the World

If you watch the same general news programming nightly that we do here at the imaginary think-tank Crack Whores for Good Government, you’ve seen the promos for the latest Chris Matthews joint, “President of the World,” a piece that looks like it’s going to be a flattering portrait of one William “J.J.” Jefferson Clinton.

It looks as if the special will tack toward focusing on Clinton’s post-presidency, which has, one must admit, elevated the art. Clinton works on global causes and strives to rise above meager politics on the ground, raising billions of dollars among NGOs annually.

As the current president might say, now, look. I adored the Clinton presidency, but I know that Clinton didn’t always do the right thing. And I’m not talking about the BJ; I could give a rat’s ass about that. I’m talking about “THE ERA OF BIG GOVERNMENT IS OVER.” I’m talking about signing DOMA. I’m talking about free trade agreements. And so on, and so on, and so forth.

You can argue all you like about the policies perpetrated by that administration. But. There is one thing with which you cannot argue: Bill Clinton Is Awesome.

I’ve shaken the man’s hand. True story. He spoke at an event I attended for my day job a few years ago. I got to sit in the front row. It was awesome. When our executives were up on stage yentering it up, you can bet that every word was prompted on a screen. When Clinton spoke, friends, the prompter went dark. He spoke off the top of his head. And it was genuinely extemporaneous. He spoke specifically to our industry. Specifically. With numbers and examples as to how it fit in to the grander scheme of things. He was not just brilliant. He was brilliance. And only the most jaded, un-objective partisan would have thought otherwise.

Of course, immediately after, one of the most outspoken Republigoats on our staff spoke up and suggested otherwise. Said Clinton didn’t really have anything new to say. Said it was a pretty mediocre speech.

It was as if we were in different cities.

We have just suffered through yet another salvo in the considerable effort being made to to deify, rehabilitate, and appropriate the history of one Ronald Reagan. A hell of a fuck of a lot of work has gone into that effort. And it’s been quite necessary. Reagan was certainly not nearly this beloved when he exited his post.

Bill Clinton’s story has not required such an effort. It doesn’t need it. Clinton is as awesome as they would like Reagan to have been. He doesn’t need the whitewashing. We don’t need to chant his name throughout presidential debates, and we do not need to attempt to name every building, street, mountain and light pole after him. He is just is that damned good.

And right wangers, like my friend there, they hate that. They despise it. They hate it so much that it makes their teeth clench and the hockey-dad vein in their foreheads bulge purple. Bill Clinton is awesome. And right wangers despise this fact.

And that makes me very happy.

“President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon” airs on MSNBC at 10 p.m. Monday, February 21.

Small Justice for Brisenia

I have been a little more than shocked at the dearth of press coverage of the murder of 9-year old Brisenia Flores by a gang of right wing thugs in her Arizona home.

Remember the story, a bunch of Minute Men, part of a right wing militia dedicated to anti-immigrant violence, believed the Flores family had drug money (which they did not) in their home and plotted to rob them. The plan made in advance was to leave no witnesses, even though the gang knew a 9-year-old girl lived there. The gang shot her mother, the father and finally, without mercy or hesitation, the child.  She was weeping for her parents and begging for her life. They did not know that the mother was only wounded and would survive to tell the tale.

The good news is that there is some justice in Arizona. Yesterday, an Arizona jury convicted the ring leader of the cadre that did the killing, a woman named Shawna Ford.

The bad news is there is has been no outrage, and no concern that the organization that spawned this evil is still operating in Arizona and other border areas. Compare that with the outrage that followed the phony news stories about ACORN or Shirley Sherrod, or the non-existent beheaded people in the Arizona desert, or the many other fake rants and lies that pass for news in the right wing hysterical media. It is just sad. If they had any humanity at all they would be somewhat concerned that the people who fostered the murder of an innocent child are still on the job.

Out In the Truck. Where Do You Want Them?

Shingles sounds like a bitch of a disease.

Also known as herpes zoster, it is a “blistering skin rash due to the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox.

You are likely to get it (and one in three are at risk) if you had chickenpox at a young age. The virus has remained dormant in your body all these years, and now, at age 50 or 60, it goes bonkers in your body. It puts debilitating, beet-red rashes all over your body and has all kinds of other fun symptoms.

There’s a vaccine. And the Centers for Disease Control says that at a certain age, you oughtta get said vaccine so you can avoid all of that mess (clinical trials showed Zostavax effective to 55 percent).

But good luck getting it.

Merck says it won’t be able to fill many orders until April, says USA Today today. Merck says it has to “prioritize” who gets the vaccine and that it must make chickenpox vaccine (both are made of the same gunk) available to children first.

Now. Repeat after me:

“The United States has the best health care system in the world. Canadians always have to wait, but that never happens in the United States. A free market system is a much more effective way to manage care than any other model, many of which would just lead to rationing and, at worst, ‘death panels.’ The free market is the only truly moral system and the only acceptable way to distribute care in any free society.”


The Bizarre Deification of Ronald Wilson Reagan

Well, Papa Bonk has covered a lot of material this morning regarding today’s commemoration of the 100th birthday of one Ronald Reagan. I don’t know about you, but I find the whole thing to be, well, bizarre.

Doesn’t it smack a little of “Weekend at Bernie’s” to you?

Except that instead, while propping up Bernie’s corpse through a number of madcap situations, Larry and Richard wax on about how Bernie single-handedly defeated the Soviet Union and made government smaller and cut taxes and all sorts of other fabrications.

Something like that.

When it comes to Reagan, it’s easy to get lost in all the parsing. Some of us approach it by seeming to try to claim him as one of our own: See? Reagan wanted to rid the world of nukes! He wasn’t all that “conservative!” Others choose to swim against the Reagan renovation tide, working in detail at debunking the man, his era, and his record.

That’s nice. But we could be here through Easter. And. As noted. PB already did a bunch of that.

For me, the issue is more simple. Everything this country is experiencing right now, the economic downturn, the dwindling middle class, the culture of deregulation, any and all of it can be laid at the feet off the Reagan era. Before Reagan, most Americans looked at the notion that free-wheeling economics was a moral imperative that could do magick as a crazy, outrageous notion that even H.W. called “voodoo economics.”

After Reagan, it’s apparently common wisdom.

There was a revolution, all right. And boy, was it a steaming pile of crap.

That Jackass Raygun

Here we are celebrating yet another milestone in the canonization of the Great Traitor Ron Raygun. He was the second most profoundly ignorant man ever to serve in the Oval Office, a traitor to his nation. The puppet of wealthy industrialists, enemy of the environment, working people and good government.

The Raygunner would be 100 years old  if modern science had not had its limits and his followers had been able to turn him into the cyborg forever puppet they so longed for. They… the millionaire mythmakers and their sycophant hirelings… with the full cooperation of the puppet media and a dim witted public… have had to settle instead for secular saint hood.

Let me remind you of his many crimes:

While serving as President of the Screen Actors Guild, he used the position to spy on fellow activists and report them to the House Un-American Activities Committee, causing many to be blackballed from the entertainment industry.

To get elected to the Presidency, he cut a deal with the Iranian Ayatollah to continue the imprisonment of U.S. Embassy staff until January 20, 1981.  (There is some reason to believe that his agents sabotaged President Carter’s brave, but desperate mission to rescue the hostages.)  In exchange, Raygun guaranteed the Iranians would get weapons from the USA. (Which it effected through our agents in Central America… The Iran-Contra scandal).

He destroyed the labor movement by shutting out the air traffic controllers, and in the process endangered the lives of all Americans by substantially reducing the quality of traffic control at major American airports… a problem that persists to this day.

He pledged to raise no taxes, and presided over the largest tax increase in history. His spending programs still out stripped his tax increases, as he jump started the economy with massive spending programs, grew the government by millions of workers and clamed all along to be doing the opposite. Most American still think it was entirely what it was not, and to this day we are saddled with the myth of Raygunonomics… which dominates what passes for thinking in the GOOP.

He invaded Panama and Grenada, destroyed the duly elected government of El Salvadore, and sanctioned the massacre of innocents by American-funded Salvadorian death squads. He supported numerous brutal dictatorships throughout the Southern Hemisphere, including Augusto Pinochet and Baby Doc Duvalier.

He believed that trees caused pollution and set back the cause of a clean economy and oil independence by 20 years. His failure to support the fight against AIDS condemned many to death.

While often credited with ending the cold war, he did no more than stand aside and let history do its work. The Soviet Union was a poorly managed economy waiting to collapse under its own weight. Raygun did little more than stand in place and make threatening speeches while its economy collapsed. Bad government, whether run by Leonid Brezhnev or George Busch, will ultimately reap its own rewards. The guy marching in front of the parade will often get credit for its success.