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No Sale

1:44 pm in Uncategorized by Anthony Noel

At some point, we must say, “No.”

At some point, we must recognize that every member of Al Queda or ISIL we kill comes back to haunt us – in the form of five more recruits. Five more people who hate us. Who are determined to pay us back. Who will not rest until they have.

So often we hear that we are a Judeo-Christian nation. I don’t buy it, but let’s play along.

Confession is a key component of both systems of belief. So at what point do we confess to our mistakes? Does anyone reading this really think our leaders – ANY of them – will ever stand at a podium and admit that there is one thing and one only (fossil fuel) that keeps us meddling in the Mideast, supporting an apartheid regime in Israel, and killing brown people?

I am ashamed of our inability to fess up. Great nations can, you know. Great nations – and we are not one of them – use the rearview and the information it provides to gauge and adjust the effectiveness of their policies going forward. By what measure does our behavior and history in the Mideast amount to anything other than colossal failure, let alone proof positive that renewing our efforts to kill brown people is the informed course?

“Better to fight terrorists there than here.” Or we could stop giving them a reason to fight.

A mere fraction of the billions upon billions spent on making war in the Mideast – applied instead to border security – would have solved this problem. Without bloodshed.

Instead we ignored the first WTC bombing in 1993. We left our borders porous. We didn’t put hardened, 24/7/365 security on the roofs and in the parking garages of every iconic American property.

In short, in the face of evidence that bad people were trying to make a bold statement like the one they made 13 years ago today (and 21 years after that first attack) we failed to do what we twist ourselves into pretzels claiming we are doing in the Mideast: Defend the homeland.

What might we have learned, had we inquired about what was behind that first attack? If introspection had taken the place of hubris? Could we have worked proactively to stop using the Mideast as our gas station and mothballed our weapons plants?

Of course.

But that’s not what we’re interested in.

We want to impose our will all across the world. And that means killing people. Doing it keeps the engines (jet engines, specifcially) turning. It keeps the munitions lines rolling. It keeps the Offense Industry – can we please start calling it what it actually is? – humming. From drone manufacturers to casket makers.

And all across the world, we are hated – deeply – for it.

We (and by “we” I mean our military leaders) are addicted to oil and gas and to destroying lives and the planet to get them. But it’s more than that. We go and get and continue to use oil and gas because we can, with absolute impunity. You know it and I know it.

But what U.S. official has ever stood up and said so, let alone expressed appropriate shame over it? Or admitted something else we all know: Had we put the same effort and resources into developing alternatives to oil and gas that we did getting to the moon, hundreds of thousands of lives would have been spared, we would not be hated, and CO2 levels would have remained safe.

And maybe – just maybe – the “Peace Dividend” we heard so much about when the Cold War ended would have actually materialized.

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 350.org 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 NewProgs.org

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.