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NLRB on Walmart: It’s Complicated.

10:17 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

I really, really wish I were not so consistently correct about just how little Barack Obama and his corporatist cronies care about the working class.

Walmart workers protest in October. More worker walkouts and protests are expected on Black Friday.

Alas, as I foreshadowed in the comments here yesterday, it’s looking more today as if the Obama-appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is trying to give itself room to grant an injunction to Walmart, stopping (theoretically, at least) what any scholar of the American Labor Movement (yes, boys and girls, there actually was one, once upon a time…) - which is exactly what members of the NLRB claim to be – can instantly recognize as the completely legal (and quite necessary) job actions planned for Friday (you know, the BLACK one) at Wals across the country.

ABC News is now reporting that the NLRB is calling a decision on Walmart’s request “complex”:

“The legal issues — including questions about what constitutes picketing and whether the activity was aimed at gaining recognition for the union — are complex,” the labor board said. “Also, there are many distinct factual circumstances at stores across the country to consider.”

While the rose-colored-glasses, in-the-tank-for-Barack set will doubtless try to put a positive spin on this clearly negative turn of events, I’ve seen this M.O. too often in the past four years. Barack makes a statement favoring something (say, a public health insurance option), even as (or worse, after) he is engineering a result he considers much more favorable to “the economy.” (Read: the rich.)

Walmart’s request should have already been tossed based on the principles of the NLRB’s founding: To investigate and settle charges of unfair labor practice.

Few decisions in life are starkly black and white, but this is one of those decisions. The fact that the NLRB is claiming otherwise does not bode well for  Walmart’s clearly victimized workforce.

Anthony Noel is a facilitator of the New Progressive Alliance.

Photo by Neon Tommy under a Creative Commons Share-Alike License.

Walmart to NLRB: “Whaaaaaaaa!”

11:31 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

We’re about to find out exactly how little Barack Obama cares about working men and women.

Walmart workers at an October protest

We already know the answer is “not much,” but a job action planned by employees of the world’s largest retailer on the biggest shopping day of the year – Black Friday, just three days away - may bring into sharp relief just how far down the river this president is willing to sell the working class.

Walmart – that destroyer of small-town Main Streets, receiver of corporate welfare, and beneficiary of third-world slave-labor - has gone crying to a government watchdog which, if it holds true to the principles of its founding, should not merely toss the Walton clan out on its ear but laugh heartily as it does so.

Though you, dear reader, may not yet have heard about it, the WalMucketeyMucks have gotten wind of plans by their “associates” (hah!) across the country to walk off the job this Friday in protest of crappy wages, non-existent benefits, intimidation, and management stifling of attempts to organize themselves into a what Walmart should already be treating them as: A force that can force the planet-raping retailer to its knees.

Walmart workers would likely have unionized many months ago if this White House – at the urging of the Clintonite now-mayor of Chicago - hadn’t backed down on EFCA (that’s said with tongue firmly in cheek, of course - since this White House never really got its back up over it).

And now Walmart - the world’s best-known purveyor of goods produced in offshore sweatshops, and considered by many to have gone into groceries so its American workers could “spend” the food stamps those workers still require to make ends meet in Walmart stores - is asking the National Labor Relations Board, a body charged in 1935 with enabling the union movement and ending unfair labor practices, to protect it? Really?!

Let’s see the silver-tounged leader of the free world talk his way around this one.

Photo by Neon Tommy under a Creative Commons Share-Alike License on Flickr

UPDATED: They Went Out to Gather Wood and Food

7:12 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

Yup. “Change you can Believe In.” Big time.

I wonder if the victims felt “more carefully targeted” as the drone buzzed nearer.

UPDATE, 1:22 P.M. EASTERN: Funny how this is the lead story on BBC but not on “our” media. No, at this writing, CNN is featuring Pentagon spin all about the “brazen insurgents.” Whose spouses we are killing as they try to subsist.

Reminds me of something my friend Alan always says:

“How is Barack Obama’s Wall Street War economy working for you?”

Of course, no one ever asks the locals.

Obama Won’t Stand With Teachers? JILL WILL!!

9:21 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

I got a note yesterday from the Stein campaign by email, one I assume many here did as well, asking for information about high-profile events for the candidate to attend. I responded, thinking I’d never get a response, just hoping to put it out there: “Jill needs to go to Chicago! NOW!”

Much to my surprise, the coordinator mailed me back within hours: “She’ll be picketing with teachers Thursday morning.”

THIS is what supporting workers looks like!

Any questions, Mr. President?

Maybe Firepups Will Stop Ignoring This – Now

3:35 pm in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

As Al Jazeera, the Jill Stein campaign and The Times of India are reporting (and even much-less-trustworthy corporate mouthpieces like CNN and the NYT are confirming), the democratically elected president of Maldives has been forced to resign in a coup, and warrants have been issued for his arrest.

As Stein noted in a separate statement referenced near the end of her campaign office’s press release (linked above):

“This week, as Obama was embracing corporate money [a reference to the U.S. president trying to explain away his SuperPAC], his State Department welcomed the military coup in the Maldives, which removed from office democratically-elected President Nasheed, one of world’s most vocal critics of climate change. Big oil is happy to see him gone. First Honduras, now the Maldives. So much for a foreign policy that promotes democracy and human rights.”

Alert Firepups knew this was coming two days ago, thanks to this diary. The petition it references is still up at the web site. I urge you to sign it and get this administration’s silent partnership in this travesty more widely publicized.

Thank you.

Another Primary Challenger

8:20 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

It seems like just a few weeks ago that many were lamenting the lack of prospective primary election challengers to Barack Obama. (Probably because it was just a few weeks ago!)

How quickly things change – well, things outside Washington, at least.

As summer lurched toward fall, we’ve seen the Mike Gravel announcement, the Nader/West sideshow effort, and most recently Aldous Tyler’s candidacy.

Another candidate announced much earlier, and largely escaped notice ’round these parts (save this, near as I can tell), so I thought it prudent to introduce him to Firepups. His name is Harry Braun.

Independent labor organizer Alan Maki alerted me to Braun’s candidacy a few days ago. He has already received some favorable notice in The Daily Iowan.

Braun’s web site is here.

(Anthony Noel is facilitator of the New Progressive Alliance.)

A Progressive Octogenarian Responds

9:40 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

"Writing to reach you"

"Writing to reach you" by Wim Mulder on flickr

(Note: This was originally posted in the comments of Jane’s diary here.)

Jake Terpstra is an octogenarian who has led the fight for child welfare as a career administrator in both Michigan and Washington. He is widely known as an authority on the subject and his counsel is still sought by civic leaders and government officials – and the foregoing only begins to touch on his diverse career and staunch activism for old-line Progressivism.

Jake just forwarded me this letter, which he sent to the President:

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

Even though you are the president, you have NO RIGHT to dismantle parts of Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. These are the peoples’ programs, well established for many years, and are life and death issues for many of us. They also affect EVERY American who attains eligibility age. Read the rest of this entry →

Time Washington Elites Learn to Make Some Sacrifices of Their Own

12:34 pm in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

Most firepups know by now that when it comes to diaries perpetuating the ”Republicans are bad, Democrats are always better” kabuki, my shit meter runneth over.

I am, however, more than happy to use useless Democrats to prove the point.

Yesterday a sound bite from Mitch McConnell made the rounds on radio and TV. Apparently news directors (and trust me, you have no idea how apt that title really is, unless you are a refugee from corporate media as I am) found the real nugget in this diatribe to be :

It’s time Washington learn[ed] to make some sacrifices of its own.

From the moment Ronald Reagan first began fertilizing the fascist fields with such trickle-down hokum thirty years back, Democrats relentlessly attacked the premise that keeping taxes on the rich lower creates jobs. I mean, they were ruthless.

But despite the softball McConnell lobbed with this widely broadcast (and telecast and podcast) piece of fear-the-government red meat, this time there was no rebuttal from the oh-so-much-better alternative across the aisle. Why?

Well, even as lesser-of-two-evils enablers complain that Blue Dogs and Lieberman Pincers are the reasons Barack Obama and his party are unable to truly lead, it would serve us well to remember an old adage. It’s one even the most viscious dog will eventually learn, and it goes like this: “Never bite the hand that feeds you.”

A little over two years into the Obama Regime, it seems what remained of his party’s attack dogs are on a short leash indeed.

After all, next year they’ve got another election to “win.”

Cross posted at

EFCA: If Not Now, When, Mr. President?

2:57 pm in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

Amidst all the righteous indignation from labor unions and the administration over the Mess in Madison, one thing is glaringly missing: The straight line any truly-for-the-workingperson Democrat should have long-since drawn between the assault on unions and the fact that EFCA – The Employee Free Choice Act – remains nothing more than a good idea.

Mr. Obama made passage of EFCA a priority during the 2008 campaign and after his inauguration, but last year declared it “dead.” If ever there was a time to revive it, Mr. President, isn’t that time right now?

Of course it is. So what have we learned?

For starters, EFCA not even being mentioned (let alone revived) is further evidence of the extent to which the national leadership of the major unions is in thrall to the Democrats, despite ample proof that Democrats – at least this Executive and his legislators – don’t give a shit about them.

Strategically, even a failed attempt to bring EFCA to the House or Senate floor at this moment – when Democratic caucuses in two states have walked out to prevent union-busting votes – would be a great thing for the labor movement. If one still existed. Were that the case, the leaders of the most prominent unions – that means you, James P. Hoffa, and you, Richard Trumka – would, right now, be ascending their nearest-by rooftops to begin screaming: “WE TOLD YOU SO, MR. PRESIDENT.”

But I’m not holding my breath.

The Great Triangulator

7:59 am in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

And finally, the question must be asked:

Was it worth it, Mr. President?

Was the repeal of DADT, passage of new START, and 13 more months of unemployment compensation worth it?

Much has been made of these achievements in the past few days, and even as one of your strongest supporters in 2008 – who since, like all other self-respecting Lefties, has become one of your biggest opponents for 2012 – I must admit they are valuable in varying degrees:

DADT: Just flat-out good news.
START: Ditto.
13 months: A half-victory.

Still, in the context of what you gave up who you sold out, Mr. President, each of these victories is bittersweet at best.

The fix is clearly in. Thanks to your deal with the Devil John Boehner, your carefully negotiated, one-after-the-other rolling-out of these three wins in recent days feels a lot like your last hurrah. Then again…

Next month, the GOP takes control of the House (as if they didn’t control it already). And then – in the long, dark days following this Season of Lights – reality will set in.

The rich will go on getting richer.

The poor will become poorer still.

All because you swallowed that Right-wing malarkey about how “the American People sent a clear message in November.”

For how long are you willing to deny the truth, Mr. President?

For how long will you profess disbelief that November’s losses had everything to do with your lack of spine since Inauguration Day, 2009? For how long will you continue to engage in trashing your base for pointing this out, and in tossing away the Hope you so repeatedly touted to a new generation of voters on the way to your victory in 2008?

These, sir, are rhetorical questions of course.

Your real agenda is now clear, your Bill Clinton-on-steroids selling out for a second term all too obvious.

But on the off-chance that a decent bone still remains in your body, Mr. President, please:

- Spare us the great Social Security/Medicare Reform Waltz of 2011 and tell us now, since it is clear that you already know: Which of our most rudimentary retirement benefits of any developed country have you already dealt away?

- Tell us, was omitting wireless from the Net Neutrality deal a bone you threw to the Right to ensure that the underclass, which largely lacks web access except on mobile devices, cannot easily organize against the draconian immigration “reform” that is sure to be floated by the Right on or about – oh, January 3?

- And last but not least, sir, enlighten us: How will economic recovery that reaches wide and deep throughout the American electorate – upon which you are apparently confident enough to stake your re-election – actually occur, based on the economic policies you have followed up to now and outlined for the future?

Or have your discussions with Mr. Boehner perhaps assured you – based on future deals, of course – that a broad-based recovery won’t be necessary in securing your re-election?

(Edited 12/22/10 at 9:22 EST to remove erroneous reference to DREAM Act passage.)