Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31 - Monday Quote

Sister Chittister, telling it like it is.  If only conservatives were listening.

monday quote:   I do not believe that just because you are opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life.  In fact, in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed.  And why would I think you don't?  Because you don't want any tax money to go there.  That's not pro-life.  That's pro-birth.  We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.
(Sister Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun, 1936-     )

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Quick Note: Chris Christie Self-Exonerates, Renews His Presidential Availability

So, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie personally chooses and hires a law firm--with taxpayer money--to perform an internal investigation on last September's closing of the George Washington bridge and the law firm finds Mr. Christie totally innocent of any wrongdoing.
Bridget Kelly chose not to talk to Mr. Christie's handpicked investigators, so any information that could have been gleaned from such a central figure in the scandal was not considered.

David Wildstein did speak to the investigating team telling them that he spoke to Mr. Christie about the traffic problems when they met at a public event and while the problems were still going on.  Mr. Christie said he did not recall this.  The investigating team conceded that Mr. Wildstein seemed to hold "bizarre political and personal animus" toward a variety of people.  They also concluded that, Mr. Christie, being the concerned leader that he is, would surely have remembered such a conversation.

With the release of the report, Mr. Christie proclaimed himself totally innocent and a victim. 
No explanation was offered for why people he had personally chosen and placed in high paying jobs would wake up one day and suddenly decide to victimize him.
And then Mr. Christie flew his self-exonerated personage to Las Vegas where he reminded the Republican Jewish Coalition that he is, indeed, still available to run for President of the United States. 

Mr. Christie spoke for 45 minutes, telling the meeting of GOP donors that the country needs his "direct" style of governing.    "In New Jersey, no one has to wonder whether I'm for them or against them.  There is never really a cloud of indecision around what I say and what I do."
His claim of no one being "unsure" of where he stands seems a bit questionable when you consider how quickly he dropped his support for staff members when the bridge scandal first erupted.  The same people he publicly held in high esteem--like David Wildstein who he had characterized as a high school buddy--suddenly became someone he barely remembered--albeit a barely remembered someone for whom he created a brand new Port Authority post out of whole cloth.
Is he innocent?  I don't know; but personally, I prefer waiting for a more independent panel to decide.  Until then, I just wish he'd shut up.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dear Rand: Have You Hugged Your Sheep Today?

what eye thynk:  I looked it up.  The latest record I could find was dated July 2013.  At that time there were no laws governing beastiality, (legally known as "zoophilia") in Kentucky.  

There are also no laws governing zoophilia in my home state of Ohio.  

In the U.S., zoophilia is a felony in 17 states, another 19 states consider it a misdemeanor and 14 have no laws against it.   Other than a mention in the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice, there are no federal prohibitions.

Shortly after the Supreme Court's ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act in June of 2013, Rand Paul met with Glenn Beck to discuss gay marriage and what he saw as the inevitable decaying of moral society without DOMA.  It was during this interview that Mr. Paul said,  "It is difficult, because if we have no laws on this, people will take it to one extension further--does it have to be humans?"

I know this is old news, but I came across the picture and was reminded of how offensive I find people like Rand Paul--a man who aspires to become President of the United States--and his ilk.  Talk about societal decay...

Friday, March 28, 2014

Quick Note Digest: GOP Likes Money--As Long As It's Theirs

1.  Bi-partisan Senate Agreement Advances Unemployment Package. Boehner Shrugs

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate advanced a bi-partisan extension of emergency unemployment benefits.  The extension, which had been filibustered into silence several times since the beginning of the year, was moved on with ten Republicans joining Democrats to approve the extension.  The bill will now go to the House where its outcome is cloudy at best.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had this to say about the new Senate bill:  " I made (it) clear that if we're going to consider dealing with unemployment--emergency unemployment--we ought to do something about creating better jobs in America, higher wages in America...It's time for the Senate to work with the House to help get the economy moving again.  That's the real issue."

Mr. Boehner thinks we, (meaning Congress, I assume) should be doing something about "creating better jobs" and "higher wages."  I wonder how he justifies that need with the Republican fight against raising the minimum wage.  Which brings be me to...
2.  Giving Up on Republicans, Others Step Up to Raise Pay

A January Gallup poll found that seven out of ten Americans support raising the minimum wage, including 54 percent of those identifying themselves as conservative.  President Obama and Democrats continue to call for the raise. Republicans continue to refuse to consider it.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) recently explained he was concerned that raising the minimum wage would hurt young workers. "The majority of these workers are younger people just getting into the workforce.  What we don't want to do is support ideas (that will) reduce the availability of jobs from the very people we want to get into jobs so they can start climbing that ladder of life, so they can get in and start working their way up and get the skills they need to earn a better job." 

The facts that Mr. Ryan and his ilk continue to ignore are that 84 percent of minimum wage workers are over the age of 20, and 47 percent are over 30.  These are not teenagers looking for a part-time job to support their iTunes habit; these are adults trying to raise families.

Other Republicans, led by Karl Rove and Fox News, are claiming that the actual number of minimum wage workers is so small that raising their hourly rate would do nothing to help the economy. Mr. Rove called the Democrat's focus on minimum wage workers "theatrics."

Fortunately, there are others who refuse to follow the Republican lead on this issue.  The Gap announced last month that it would raise the minimum wage for all its workers to $9.00/hour by June and to $10.00/hour next year.  

Several states, including conservative strongholds like West Virginia, Montana and Arizona already have passed bills raising the minimum wage in their states.  On Wednesday, Connecticut voted to raise their minimum wage to $10.10/hour, the same rate President Obama is pushing Congress to approve.

President Obama, by executive order, raised the minimum wage for all government contract workers.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Boehner and the rest of the GOP saw this move as an example of the President over-stepping his rights. 
So, which is it Mr. Boehner, do you want to create "better jobs" with "higher wages" or do you want to complain when the President, the states or employers like The Gap do exactly that? You can't have it both ways.
And, Mr. Rove, if the number of minimum wage workers is so small, why are you fighting so hard against it? 

3.  Texas, Where Equal Pay for Equal Work is "Nonsense"

Last week, I wrote about how the Republican Party in Texas was having a little trouble explaining their antipathy for equal pay for women.  They're excuses ranged from "women are very busy" to women need to "become better negotiators."

This week, soon to be ex-Governor Rick Perry appeared on MSNBC and gave his own take on the issue, which has become a hot-topic in the Texas Governor's race. He called the back and forth jibes between Greg Abbott, Republican candidate for Governor and Wendy Davis, the Democrat's candidate, "nonsense" saying that Democrats should focus on more "substantive issues."  When asked about a bill that would have guaranteed equal pay for women--a bill which passed the Texas legislature last year but which he vetoed--Mr. Perry replied, "Why do we need to muddle up our statutes when we already have laws on the books that clearly take care of this?"

If these statutes already exist, why are most of the female assistants in Attorney General Greg Abbott's office paid less than their male counterparts?  And why did Mr. Abbott go to court in defense of a Texas state college that was sued by a female professor who was being paid less than her male colleagues?  Surely, Mr. Abbott as Attorney General would be aware of these existing statutes?
I'd say, the real "nonsense" here is that Texas Republicans still see women as too unimportant to qualify as "substantive," no matter the issue.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Quick Note Digest: Republicans Still Having Trouble With the Truth

1.  Scott Brown Anti-ACA Media Oops

Ex-senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown (R) is now running for the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire where he apparently believes he has a better chance of returning to Washington.  He recently purchased a house there to up his NH bona fides.

The focus of his campaign is, no surprise here, the ACA-must-go.  With this in mind, his campaign organized a media event that included New Hampshire State Representative Herb Richardson (R).  At the meeting, Mr. Brown enthusiastically espoused his anti-ACA message, calling the law a "monstrosity."

Mrs. Richardson silenced him by exclaiming "Thank God for Obamacare!"

Mr. Richardson, explained that the law which Brown says he abhors, has proven to be a "financial lifesaver" for his family.  It turns out that Mr. Richardson had been injured on the job, forcing him and his family to live on $2000 a month in workers' comp payments and ultimately costing them their home.  Under the federal COBRA law, they had to pay $1100/month in order to keep their health coverage.  Thanks to being eligible for a subsidy under the ACA, they now will pay only $136 for their family plan.

Candidate Brown, the media noted, had no rebuttal and quickly moved on to other topics. 
In my head, I can hear Jack Nicholson in A FEW GOOD MEN: "You can't handle the truth!"

2.  The Horror Stories That Weren't

By now, we all have seen the ads paid for by the Koch brothers featuring people who have been "victimized" by the Affordable Care Act.  They decry the loss of a much loved health care policy and weep over the high cost of purchasing a new plan under the ACA.

Story after story has been debunked by fact-checkers--stories like the one from the Michigan woman who has leukemia.  She not only appeared in TV ads, but participated in a Republican National Committee event and was a guest at the State of the Union address in January.  The Washington Post investigated her story and found that, under her new ACA policy, she would actually save $1200 this year and will be able to keep her doctor.  When these facts were pointed out to her, she replied "I personally don't believe that."  
She didn't notice that the doctor she was seeing was the same?
Then there was the mother of three in Texas with multiple sclerosis who claimed her new ACA plan would cost $1000 a month, an amount she could not afford.  Turns out her plan actually costs $350/month.
 No one on the right seemed able to explain the discrepancy. 
Or another woman in Texas who quoted her high premium, again saying it was unaffordable, but never bothered to mention that she qualified for a subsidy that would cut her cost significantly or that she had refused to apply for it.

Or the California woman who was paying $293 for a catastrophic coverage only plan.  She was limited to two doctor visits a year; anything over that she paid fully on her own.  The plan required her to pay $5000 a year in deductible payments before the actual catastrophic coverage kicked in. When a media fact-checker looked closer, they found this woman could get ACA silver level coverage, which was better than that of her old plan, for $333/month and with only $2000 a year in deductible payments.

Republicans replied to the media scrutiny of these misleading ads by saying that the media should not investigate these people because they are private citizens with private problems.  The media's response was, if they choose to make their lives public by appearing on TV ads and at public events, then they should expect fact checkers to, well, fact check.

The result of all this scutiny is a new type of anti-ACA ad.  One of the latest features a woman in Arkansas who is upset that her existing plan has been canceled.  It doesn't say she is in any health danger or that she is being forced to pay more for coverage, only that her policy is being canceled. The Wall Street Journal checked out this story and found that, as a result of the ACA, exactly zero insurance plans have been canceled in her state.   The Arkansas Insurance Department issued a bulletin explaining that non-compliant insurance plans could be kept through 2017--a fact the ACA hating ad writers chose not to mention.  
By 2017, it is expected that any ACA shortcomings would be ironed out and people with plans like the ones deemed "non-compliant" would realize they could do better by signing up for government sponsored health care.
It should also be noted, that if anyone was trying to cancel existing health insurance policies it was Americans for Prosperity, the Koch backed group that paid for many of these ads, including the latest one in Arkansas.

Americans for Prosperity fought hard against Arkansas' expansion of Medicaid under the ACA.   After 100,000 people in Arkansas signed up under the state's new Medicaid expansion, they continued to push the legislature there to reverse it--to take coverage away, to cancel the policies of those 100,000 citizens.  Their efforts were unsuccessful.

As one pundit put it, in light of their own failed fight to disenfranchise 100,000 Arkansas citizens, their newest ads are an act of "incredible chutzpah."
If the ACA is so horrible, why are Republicans running a campaign based on lies? Where are the true horror stories? 

3.  Another Republican Candidate with a Foot-in-mouth Problem 

U.S. Representative Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) is running for the U.S. Senate.  

He recently spoke at a Louisiana Oil and Gas Association annual meeting where he explained that he supported a scaled-down alternative to the ACA, saying that it just isn't possible to cover everyone and that the problem lies, not with the insurance industry, but with the uninsured themselves.  He blamed the "reality of who the uninsured are: relatively less sophisticated, less comfortable with forms, less educated."

Democrats immediately jumped at his comments comparing them to just another attack on the poor, much like Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)'s recent remarks blaming inner city culture (which he claims was not meant to be racist) for poverty.

Republicans pushed back by suggesting that Mr. Cassidy's points just may be right.  They argued that if uninsured Americans who lack health insurance really are "less sophisticated" or "less comfortable with forms" or "less educated" and are often "illiterate", then he shouldn't be criticized for speaking the truth. 
That's a lot of "ifs."
There are so many things wrong with this that I'm not even going to try to address them all.  I will limit myself to this:  House Speaker John Boehner had a much publicized problem with signing up for health insurance and eventually asked for assistance to complete his application.  I have to assume that his fellow Republicans would not call Mr. Boehner "less sophisticated" or "less educated," but he still needed assistance--the same assistance that would be available to all those uninsured people who unfortunately live in Republican led states where such assistance has been outlawed.
Wouldn't it then, be more truthful to blame Republicans instead of the uninsured for the problem?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The NRA, Creating a New Wild West, One State at a Time

On Thursday, the last day of their session, the Georgia legislature passed what opponents are calling the "guns everywhere" bill.  Representative Alan Powell, celebrated with his fellow Republicans.

The National Rifle Association, which lobbied for the bill, is calling it "the most comprehensive pro-gun" bill in recent state history, and the vote "a historic victory for the Second Amendment." The bill now goes to Governor Nathan Deal (R) who is expected to sign it into law. 

what eye thynk:  Since the tragedy in Newtown, states in this country have passed 39 laws to tighten gun regulations.  This sounds like progress until you find out that, in that same time period, 70 laws were passed that loosened them.  

Last week, Georgia took their we-love-guns attitude several steps beyond common sense. 

If Gov. Deal signs the bill as expected, it will become legal to carry a loaded firearm:

  1. In restaurants and bars (Drunks and firearms, I see no safety issue here.)
  2. In airports (This sounds safe too.)
  3. In church with the pastor's approval (Because God loves a good gun fight.)
  4. In all public schools, K-12 (And they think this is a good idea because...?)
  5. In locked cars on college campuses (College shopping checklist:  laptop, textbooks, TV, iPod...ammunition?)
  6. In most government buildings, but not the state capitol (We wouldn't want to put these hard-working legislators at risk; but for your average government clerk...Anti-government enthusiasts, come on down!)
  7. In polling places (A guy with a loaded gun, hidden behind a curtain. What could go wrong?)
Other parts of the bill are equally appalling:

  1. Anyone caught trying to carry a gun onto an airplane will no longer have to worry about being charged with a felony. In Georgia, helpful airport security personnel will confiscate your gun, then send you on your way with just an easy-peasy misdemeanor. (Ooops!  My bad.-- That's okay, buddy.  Enjoy your trip.)
  2. Georgia adds their own twist to the Stand Your Ground model.  If you're a convicted felon, (which would make it illegal for you to possess a firearm of any kind), Georgia's new gun law will still give you a pass if you kill someone, (with that illegally carried firearm), as long as you say you were frightened.
  3. The National Guard will be prohibited from disarming anyone during a state of emergency. A Georgia citizen will be allowed to sue the federal government if this should occur.  (Will members of the National Guard be protected by the Stand Your Ground law if some gun waving nut case refuses to stop looting his local electronics store when asked politely?)
  4. Fingerprints will no longer be required to renew a gun license. (Because it's not that important to know the identity of the person carrying a gun.)
  5. The creation of a Weapons Carry License data base is prohibited. (See #4.)
  6. The use of hunting silencers is legalized. (So the deer won't hear the kill shot coming?)
  7. State agencies are prevented from regulating gun shows.  (Maybe the NRA could step in and fill this gap?)
While the Republican dominated legislature was busy writing and passing these new non-regulations, a bill introduced by Representative Roger Bruce (D) that would require four hours of training for anyone applying for a concealed weapon carry permit has yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing.  

I was looking for citizen responses to the new law when I came across an Atlanta newspaper report about a bar fight in a suburban Atlanta bar.     It happened on the same evening that the new bill was sent to the Governor.  The fight spread to the parking lot, three guns were drawn and a bystander was wounded.   

Less than a year ago, another patron, Tekilum Terrell, was killed in this same bar by another customer who was carrying a (not yet legal) 9-millimeter gun. When questioned about her state's proposed new gun law, Mr. Terrell's mother said "Without that gun, we'd still have him here.  Do we need more guns in bars?  After this?  Seriously?"

Yes, Georgia...seriously?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Crying Wolf on Religious Liberty

CRYING WOLF ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, by The New York Times editorial board --
Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case brought by two private companies who are asking for a religious exemption that would allow them to deny their employees access to free contraception.  Last Sunday, the New York Times ran this editorial.  It is dead-on.  (Any underlines are mine.)
"This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees--by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.

The Supreme Court has consistently resisted claims for religious exemptions from laws that are neutral and apply broadly when the exemptions would significantly harm other people, as this one would.  To approve it would flout the First Amendment, which forbids government from favoring one religion over another--or over nonbelievers.

The showdown will take place (today) when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act.  The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations.  But the owners say they are victims of an assault on religious liberty because they personally disapprove of certain contraceptives."
Hobby Lobby, for example, says they are fine with birth control pills, but do not want to pay for IUDs.  (I wonder in which book of the Bible they found the verse where Jesus taught that birth control pills are good but IUDs are forbidden?) 
"They are wrong, and the Supreme Court's task is to issue a decisive ruling saying so.  The real threat to religious liberty comes from the owners trying to impose their religious beliefs on thousands of employees...

...The claim that the contraception coverage rules put a 'substantial burden' on religious exercise is very weak.  The companies' owners remain free to worship as they choose and to argue (incorrectly) as much as they want that some of the contraceptive drugs and devices on the F.D.A.'s list actually induce abortions.  If an employee decides to use an insurance plan for such contraceptives, that would be a personal decision.  It does not burden religious exercise."
The editorial goes on to explain several legal points and notes that exemptions have been granted to religious organizations.  I have no problem with that.  If you apply to work for a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a Buddhist temple, you already know their religious restrictions and it would be an intelligent assumption that you, as an employee, would be expected to respect them.  (If you insist that a pork sandwich be a part of your lunch, working for a synagogue, mosque or Buddhist temple would not be a good choice.)
The same cannot be said for a business with no religious affiliation beyond that of the owner's personal choice.  If the Supreme Court allows these two businesses to force the owner's religious beliefs on their employees, where do we stop?  If you attend a Lutheran church, will your employer be able to require that you go instead to a Catholic mass?  Can you be fired if you fail to go to confession?  Will your employer be able to deny your son a blood transfusion if his church favors prayer over modern medicine?  Can the owner of a Jewish company require that all male employees be circumcised?  (And who checks?)  How about if we reverse this--would an employee who is a follower of Islam be able to require that all women work in a separate office, or that his female boss cover her head in his presence?
Ever since the Bill of Rights was passed in 1791 and Thomas Jefferson wrote that the First Amendment erects a "wall of separation" between the church and the state, that partition has been regarded by all to be a basic American right. Distilled to its simplest form, this case is a question of whether we will turn our back on two-hundred-twenty-three years of respecting that each of us has the right to believe (or not) as each of us sees fit or whether we let the wolf loose and grant some people religious superiority over the rest of us.
Let's hope the Supreme Court gets this one right--or a lack of money will not be the only road to second class citizenship. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24 - Monday Quote

Today's quote is from Joss Whedon, writer of The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Alien Ressurection, and Serenity as he spoke at an Equality Now event.  It is a great answer to an oft repeated question. 

monday quote:  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

States Begin Following New Food Stamp Rules -- Republicans Crying "Fraud"

Last month, the U.S. Congress finally passed the farm bill.  Originally, Republicans had demanded that $40 billion be cut from the food stamp program.  Democrats wheedled and argued until they came up with a much smaller cut of $8 billion which was to come from saving on the heat-and-eat program.

The heat-and-eat program is designed to help families who face overly-large heating bills--and who hasn't had that problem this past Winter?  The idea is, that if a family qualifies for state heating assistance--assistance that pays only a small portion of their heating bill--then their monthly federal food stamp amount is increased by something around $90 so they don't have to choose between heating their home and eating.  

In the past, some states have paid a token $1 toward a family's heating bill and the federal government has then increased their food stamp amount.  Congressional Republicans thought they had found a way to stop what they saw as a greedy money grab.  They negotiated the heating bill requirement so that a state must provide at least $20 in heating assistance before a family qualified for additional food stamp money. Their reasoning was that states would not want to pay $20 per family.  Democrats went along with it, (after all, an $8 billion cut is a lot better than the $40 Republicans originally sought.)

what eye thynk:   Republicans were feeling pretty smug that they had managed to keep food stamps out of the hands of hungry families--until several states called their bluff.

So far, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Oregon, Massachusetts, Vermont and Montana have started providing a minimum of $20/month in heating assistance to poor families.  To the shock and dismay of Washington Republicans, even Governor Tom Corbett (R) agreed to the program.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) described the turn of events this way, "Since the passage of the farm bill, states have found ways to cheat once again on signing up people for food stamps.  And so I would hope that the House would act to try to stop this cheating and this fraud from continuing."

I'm not sure how Mr. Boehner thinks these states' actions qualifies as "cheating" or "fraud."  The states are doing exactly what the farm bill--which Mr. Boehner and his fellow Republicans supported and helped to pass--requires of them.  

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy responded that Mr. Boehner's assessment of the states' efforts to provide for the poor was "shameful."  In a letter to Mr. Boehner, he wrote: "Your demonization of states that have elected to provide this benefit impugns the children, the elderly, the disabled, the low-wage workers and veterans who receive such aid by implying that they are a party to something criminal."

As the New York Times suggested last week:  "If Mr. Boehner really wants to crack down on cheating, he might look to the carried-interest tax loophole, which allows hedge fund managers to mischaracterize their income as capital gains and costs the Treasure $11 billion a year--far more than extra dollars for food stamps.  In his world, fraud occurs only when the government helps those who need it the most."

Mr. Boehner sounds an awful lot like a bullying adolescent brat who just found out that the kid he thought he stomped into the ground last week is actually alive and well and going to DisneyWorld.  What's next, stamping his feet and crying?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Quick Note: Idaho Representative Thinks He's a Constitutional Scholar, Wants to Ban EPA Regulations

An Idaho House committee has advanced a bill nullifying all Environmental Protection Agency regulations in that state.  HB 473, which declares the EPA's regulations "null and void and of no force and effect in this state," will now move to the full House for debate where the outcome is uncertain.

The bill was introduced by Representative Paul Shepherd (R) in response to concerns from suction dredge miners who are upset that a new EPA regulation requires them to acquire a permit.

Idaho State Attorney General Lawrence G. Wasden (R) said the bill is unconstitutional.  Mr. Shepherd replied "I say to the attorney general, even though he's a lawyer and I'm not, that I'm right--because the laymen wrote the Constitution."
Interesting concept, Mr. Shepherd.  How much are those suction dredge mining people paying you for this ridiculous, time and money wasting piece of legislation?   
I'm not sure whether I should laugh or cry. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Quick Note Digest: Anti-Equal Pay in Texas, Anti-Medicaid in Georgia and Pro-Gun in Indiana

1.  Equal Pay in Texas
These days Texas Republicans are struggling to explain their antipathy towards the women who are fighting for equal pay for equal work.  

Last weekend, Cari Christman, executive director of a Republican PAC for women told a television interviewer that women don't need the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act because "women are extremely busy."  
When Ms. Christman's response was met with confusion, Beth Cubriel, executive director of the Texas Republican Party, appeared on YNN, a Time Warner Cable news station, and attempted to "explain the explanation."  "Men are better negotiators. I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators."
So, Republicans want women to believe that if they are paid less than a man for the same work, it is their own fault?  The company that knowingly underpaid them is innocent of any underhandedness?
And these opinions--incoherent as they are--are voiced by two Republican women! Looking at Republican attitudes toward women, I am constantly amazed that there are any females in that party at all.  
2.  Medicaid in Georgia
Roughly one in five Georgians do not have health insurance and rural hospitals across the state are closing for lack of funds.  The answer, of course, is to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act--650,000 low income people would be covered and Medicaid money could save many of these hospitals.

Governor Nathan Deal (R) has been a fierce opponent of the ACA.  Recently, however, he admitted that the Republican fight against the ACA is a failing effort and it was been rumored that he would support expanding Medicaid if he wins re-election.  Up until yesterday, according to Georgia law, that decision was entirely his to make.

But yesterday, the Republican dominated Georgia legislature responded to the rumor and passed a new law removing the decision from the Governors office and putting it squarely within their own jurisdiction.  Then, just to make sure they got their point across I guess, they passed House Bill 943 which bars the state from creating a state health care exchange and prohibits any state organization from assisting anyone in negotiating the federal exchange site. The University of Georgia was specifically named in the second prohibition, I imagine because students there were recently in the news regarding the success of student efforts in assisting Georgia citizens in signing up for health care through the federal exchange. 

In case anyone still missed the Georgia legislature's anti-ACA sentiment, House Bill 943 also bars any state or local government, agency or employee from advocating for Medicaid expansion.  That's right, if you work for the government, you aren't even allowed to publicly say you think ACA-paid Medicaid expansion is a good idea.
Georgia needs a new motto.  Colloquially known as the "Peachtree State", their official state motto is "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation"; but I say we forget both of those.  Instead, I propose they remake their license plates to read "Peaches Instead of Prescriptions" and re-write their state motto to be a more truthful, "Georgia, Where Everyone is Free to Voice An Opinion--As Long As It's Ours."

3. Guns in Indiana
While Texas was trying to explain why women are worth less in the workplace and Georgia was deciding to keep 650,000 citizens from having health care, the Indiana legislature was focusing its efforts on gun legislation--and not in what I consider a good way.  

A new gun bill has been sent to Governor Mike Pence (R) for his signature.  The bill gives the people of Indiana the right to carry firearms onto school property.   The new gun-toting right is extended to parents, school bus drivers and even students who will now be permitted to lock a gun in their car if they receive permission from their school principal.

Governor Pence has not indicated whether he will sign the bill; but he has previously been supportive of gun laws that loosened gun restrictions.  

The NRA supported the bill, saying it was needed in order to protect parents who are picking up their children from being charged with a felony if they "inadvertently" bring a gun with them.
In my eyes, if someone is carrying a gun "inadvertently", then they need a few classes in gun safety. But, oh yeah, the NRA hates gun safety classes too.
While all parts of this new law are distasteful, the part allowing a student, with a school administer's permission, to keep a gun in his car is the most questionable.  Did no one in the Indiana legislature see this as a teen-age, hormone driven disaster just waiting to happen?
Anti-gun parents were not given any kind of consideration in the bill.  How does a parent who is trying to protect a child from gun violence stand any chance of doing that if Johnny's school bus driver is carrying, if the parent in the car behind them in the pick-up queue is carrying and Johnny's school mate, who is ticked off that Johnny talked to his girlfriend at lunch time, has a handgun tucked away in his glove box? 
Where is the common sense here?  Where is the responsibility to keep our children safe? Apparently that has been usurped by the need to keep NRA money flowing into Republican coffers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

NRA Wants to Choose Our Next Surgeon General

The post of U.S. Surgeon General has been empty since July of last year.  President Obama has nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy.  

Dr. Murthy has medical and business degrees from Yale and is an attending physician and an instructor at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

what eye thynk:   This confirmation would seem to be as simple as any confirmation can be; but Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and the National Rifle Association are running a loud and proud campaign against him. 

Why?  Because Dr. Murthy supports a ban on assault weapons, (which the NRA hates because you never know when you're going to need an AK-47 to save yourself from a rampaging duck),  mandatory safety training (which the NRA hates because safety is so over-rated) and limits on ammunition (which the NRA hates because no one wants to run out of ammunition when they're trying to kill as many 6 year olds as possible before the police show up and ruin all the fun.) 

The NRA has made it clear that they will be grading Senators on the way they vote on Dr. Murthy.  Support the NRA and vote "No," you get a gold star.  Vote "yes" for the qualified candidate who dares to support common sense gun regulations--the same regulations that are supported by a majority of the Americans you were elected to represent--and you will be targeted in your next re-election effort.   This isn't "lobbying"; this is blackmail dressed up in a three piece suit, and Senator Rand Paul is apparently happy to walk the runway dressed in the latest NRA couture.

Gun violence, including suicide by gun, kills 30,000 Americans every year.  The American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have all called for stronger gun laws.  Given the opinion espoused by these major medical organizations, I don't see how it would be possible to find a doctor, any doctor, in this country who wouldn't draw the NRA's ire because of his or her support of stricter gun regulations. 

Which brings me to my biggest problem with the NRA's interference in this confirmation: Why is the NRA involved in the vetting of a U.S. Surgeon General candidate in the first place?  Did Wayne LaPierre add an M.D. to his name when no one was looking?

I have a suggestion.  When members of the American Medical Association get to vote for the next president of the NRA, then the NRA can put itself into the middle of the confirmation hearing on the Surgeon General.  Until then...butt out!

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17 - Monday Quote

With all the news about GM and their botched handling of a serious safety issue on their cars, it reminded me of this quote...

monday quote:   If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1000 MPG.  (Bill Gates, businessman, 1955-    )

And, just because it's St. Patrick's Day, I'd like to remind everyone that I am the proud and loving "Mom" of this Irish beauty:

Catagoir 5 Hairicin Fiona Claire
(translation - Catagory 5 Hurricane Fiona Claire)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Quick Note(s): Friday Was a Good Day for the LGBT Community

1.  On Friday, the Obama administration announced that beginning in 2015, legally married same-sex couples will be eligible for family health care policies under the Affordable Care Act.

This seems like a no brainer since the law requires both partners to have coverage anyway, but, of course, Republicans are all in a lather about it. 
Dear Republicans:  Find a new tune.  Really, you're putting me to sleep here.

2.  Also on Friday, U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger ruled in the case of three Tennessee couples who brought suit against the state to have their marriages recognized.  All three couples were married in states where same-sex marriages are legal and later moved to Tennessee.  The decision applies only to these three couples and does not take on the broader issue of Tennessee's ban on same-sex marriage, an issue which is currently pending in the court.

In her decision, Judge Trauger wrote, "At this point, all signs indicate that, in the eyes of the United States Constitution, the plantiffs' marriages will be placed on an equal footing with those of heterosexual couples and that proscriptions against same-sex marriage will soon become a footnote in the annals of American history."

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Domestic Violence is Funny...and Women Like It

New Hampshire State Representative Kyle Tasker

Last week, Representative Tasker posted a picture on his Facebook page of a cartoon man performing oral sex on a cartoon woman with the title "50,000 battered women and I still eat mine plain."

He shared the post with:
New Hampshire State Representative Mark Warden

Last year, Representative Warden argued in support of proposed N.H. legislation that would have reduced the charge of domestic assault from a misdemeanor crime to a violation, by saying that "a lot of people like being in abusive relationships."  
One man thinks domestic abuse is funny and the other says people are happy with it. What in the hell are they putting in the Republican drinking fountain?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Living in the Land of Nazis

Tea Party favorite Ben Carson spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week and said that Americans today are living in "a gestapo age."  He described those who don't agree with his political positions as Nazis who are attempting to intimidate conservative Americans into giving up their right to free speech.

When Breitbart News asked him to explain what he meant by "gestapo age," Mr. Carson replied, "I mean, very much like Nazi Germany--and I know you're not supposed to say Nazi Germany but I don't care about political correctness--you know, you had a government using its tools to intimidate the population."

what eye thynk:   Before Mr. Carson starts ranting about liberals trying to stifle free speech, he might want to take a look in his own backyard.  He could start in Louisiana where Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is attempting to have billboards taken down because they (truthfully) say his decision to not expand Medicaid in his state is depriving 242,000 Louisiana residents of health care. 

Why is it that conservatives see disagreement as intimidation? Isn't agreeing to peacefully disagree the cornerstone of a Democracy?  Even name calling from people like Ben Carson, while unsavory, is still an example of democracy in action. Attempting to silence an opposing voice, (a la Bobby Jindal) is not.

Or do conservatives like Mr. Carson believe that free speech is a right due only to those on his side of the political spectrum?  Perhaps Mr. Carson and Mr. Jindal would be happier living in a place where dissent is dangerous and lockstep agreement is a requirement for full Nazi Germany.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Update(s): 1. Methodist Anti-Gay Marriage Trial Halted 2. Republican ACA Fight Continues to Crumble

Update:  Methodist Anti-Gay Marriage Trial Halted
A few weeks ago I wrote about the de-frocking of a popular Methodist minister after he performed a same-sex marriage for his gay son and his partner.
At that time, Methodist church hierarchy seemed to expect the same results in similar cases that were awaiting judgement.  

Turns out, there are some Methodist bishops who won't be joining the same-sex marriage witch hunt.  Bishop Martin McLee, who heads the United Methodist Church's New York district announced he will not pursue the trial of Reverend Dr. Thomas Ogletree, who, like the ex-Reverend Frank Schaefer, was also charged with performing a same-sex marriage ceremony for his son and his partner.  Bishop McLee made the announcement at a news conference, saying that trials over this issue would immediately cease in New York and calling on church officials across the country to stop similar prosecutions.

A spokesman for Rev. Ogletree said, "There's no talk of guilt or wrongdoing or any penalty. It's just the case goes away."

Mr. Schaefer is continuing his fight for LGBT members of the church.  This is from Mr. Schaefer's closing statement to the Methodist church court that defrocked him:
He has since been welcomed as a guest speaker at Fopundry UMC in Washington C.C. and will be speaking and meeting with members of the church in Boulder, Colorado later this month.
Too bad the powers that be in Pennsylvania weren't brave enough to take the same stand in the trial of Frank Schaefer; but Bishop McLee's decision is one step, one very welcome step.

Update:  Republican ACA Fight Continues to Crumble
Next week is looking to bring a victory of sorts for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act.

While Tea Party Republicans were focused on the Conservative Political Action Conference--where tired calls to continue the fight for full repeal of the ACA were the theme--establishment Republicans in Washington were putting the finishing touches on three bills that signal (finally!) a public, and in writing, Republican acknowledgement of the ACA as the law of the land.  The bills, introduced by House Speaker John Boehner (R) on Friday, tackle elements of the law that both parties agree need to be improved: drafting errors, oversights and unintended consequences of the law.

Mr. Boehner has gotten a number of Republicans to join with Democrats so that the bills will be considered under a suspension of usual House rules, a sign that both parties do not expect much debate.
Tea Party-ers will undoubtedly continue to rant about the need to repeal the ACA while railing against party leadership for giving in to that "socialist in the White House."  I expect there will be many Republicans who continue to promise a full repeal of the health care act "if I am elected;" but as more and more people sign up for health care and realize its benefits far outweigh its faults there will be fewer and fewer who buy into the Obamacare-must-go argument.   
It will be a slow but welcome death.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Quick Note: Bobby Jindal, Champion of Free Speech--Unless You Disagree With Him

Remember last December when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) defended Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and his bigoted GQ tirade?  When A&E temporarily suspended Mr. Robertson, Mr. Jindal jumped to his defense calling the network's actions a violation of the First Amendment.  "The politically correct crowd is tolerant of all viewpoints, except those they disagree with.  This is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views."

Now skip forward to the current month.  MoveOn, a liberal political advocacy organization, has recently put up billboards in Louisiana that mimic that state's "Pick your passion" tourism slogan.  A billboard in Baton Rouge reads "Louisiana!  Pick your passion!  But hope your don't love your health.  Gov. Jindal is denying Medicaid to 242,000 people."

Mr. Jindal, who has, in fact, refused to expand Medicaid to the poor in his state, (and who do, also in fact, total approximately 242,000), is fighting to have those billboards taken down. 

As one pundit put it, "As the Jindal administration sees it, when a television network suspends an employee, it's an outrageous First Amendment violation, but when the government tries to restrict political speech on a billboard, that's fine."
 "This is a free country and everyone is entitled to express their views" must mean something different in Louisiana.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Republicans in Ohio Attempting to Help Themselves to Election Results

From the Associated Press:  "Two Libertarian candidates were tossed from Ohio's primary ballot on Friday by Secretary of State John Husted in a ruling that sparked immediate plans for a legal challenge."

what eye thynk:  Late last year, I wrote about how Republicans saw secondary political parties like the Libertarians and the Green Party as weakening their chances for victory in the ballot box and how Republican led state legislatures were passing bills to limit those influences.

Ohio's Republican led legislature, fearing that Libertarian or Green Party candidates would siphon off votes that otherwise would go to Republican candidates, passed a bill that all but eliminated the chance for third party candidates to be represented on state ballots.  Opponents of Governor John Kasich (R) called it the "John Kasich Re-election Protection Act."  

Several parts of the new bill were struck down by a federal judge in January of this year; but that hasn't stopped Republicans from continuing the fight to keep candidates they see as a threat off the ballot.

It should be noted that Mr. Husted (R) has made controversial election rulings in the past only to have them struck down by federal courts. During the 2012 election, he attempted to limit early voting hours at Board of Election offices in Ohio's urban areas.  He also attempted to eliminate Sunday-before-election special voting hours which are popular with minority church goers who board buses after services and go to the Board of Elections together to record their votes. These rulings were overturned by federal judges who saw the restrictions as attempts to prohibit mostly Democratic minorities in the Northeast part of the state from voting. 

In his latest challenge to Ohio's voting process, Mr. Husted removed Libertarian candidates Charlie Earl, who is running for governor, and Steven Linnabary, a challenger for his own office.  He stated that their signature gatherers did not comply with Ohio law that says signature gatherers must be Independent or a member of their proposed candidate's party.  He also noted that some signature gatherers did not name their employer when they filed their paperwork.

I'm of two minds on the first challenge:  1. Yes, it is possible that Democrats could attempt to get third party candidates on the ballot in the hope that they would take votes from Republicans; but those same candidates could also easily take votes from Democrats. 2. On the other hand, why should the party affiliation of the signature gatherer make any difference at all?  Party affiliation is not a factor in who actually signs the petition, so why should the gatherer's party be a factor?   If you're a Republican and you don't want to sign a petition supporting a Green Party candidate, then don't sign it.  Personally, I would be happy to sign a Green Party's petition because I think every party should be represented.  At the same time, I wouldn't vote for one because I find their party platform too narrow.   However, this party affiliation requirement is Ohio law and even though I may not agree with it, the court would have to strike down the law before Mr. Husted could be stopped from using the requirement to challenge third party candidates.  In the meantime, Mr. Husted better be able to prove his allegations.

Mr. Husted's second challenge--that signature takers name their employer--makes little sense outside of Republican paranoia that Democrats are out to sabotage them.  There is no state requirement that a signature gatherer--or, for that matter, a candidate--be employed at all; so why should a lack of employer information be a reason to discard a petition for candidacy?

Matthew Borges, Ohio Republican Party state chairman, told reporters that Republican Party officials had helped "to mount the challenge to Mr. Earl's signature-gathering effort" beginning with the claim that he may have been assisted by registered Democrats.

The Republican argument seems to be that Democrats are attempting to influence elections--unlike Republicans who see nothing wrong with attempting to influence election outcomes by eliminating voting opportunities in highly Democratic districts.  Or by helping to "mount the challenge to Mr. Earl's signature-gathering effort."

Mark Brown, a lawyer for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the ballot protests are nothing more than an extension of Republican efforts to keep third party candidates off the ballot in order to protect Gov. Kasich's re-election bid. An appeal to Mr. Husted's decision is planned.

The one question I'd really like to ask a Republican--any Republican--is "When did you stop believing in the efficacy of our democratic electoral system?"

If Republicans see their chances of winning an election as so weak that they need to create new ways to keep opposing candidates off the ballot or opposing voters away from the polls, then they must also admit that they are not the popular choice and should--if they believe in our Democratic system--deserve to be defeated.  

So, Republicans, what are you afraid of--that you'll lose or that the people will win?

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10 - Monday Quote

This seems a lot of responsibility to put on my friends... 

monday quote:   Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. (Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader and clergyman, 1929-1968) 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Eye Recommend --- Guns for God

GUNS FOR GOD, by Steve Benen --
Every Saturday, MSNBC and Rachel Maddow publish an article they call "This Week in God".  This was yesterday's headline story:

"First up from the God Machine this week is an unexpected approach to evangelism:  Baptist leaders who believe giving away guns will help fill the pews.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention wants to 'point people to Christ' by giving away guns at Second Amendment Celebrations hosted across the state.

In the words of spokesman Chuck McAlister the strategy is 'outreach to rednecks,' and 1,000 people are expected to attend the next event.  To lure the nonreligious into the fold, the churches are offering a handgun, shotgun, or long gun as door prizes.  Winners attend church for a photo-op with their new gun, but they must pass a background check before collecting their prize.

McAlister boasted that 'unchurched men' in particular will show up because of the gun giveaways, which will in turn offer evangelism opportunities.

And it's not just in Kentucky.  The Rev. John Koletas, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in upstate New York, is raffling off an AR-15 assault rifle at an upcoming service.

'We're honoring gun owners and hunters,' Koletas told the New York Daily News.  'And we're being a blessing and a help to people who have been attacked, viciously attacked, by socialists and anti-Christian people--the politicians and the media.'"
Feel free to write your own rebuttal.  I'm struck speechless.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Quick Note: Republicans Really Not That Interested in Minority Outreach After All

The Conservative Political Action Conference began on Thursday, one of the Republican Party's premier annual events.  One of the presentations was a panel targeting the GOP's need to reach out to minorities.  The panel consisted of Republican strategists Jason Roe, Elroy Sailor and Robert Woodson along with Ed Gillespie, Republican candidate for the Virginia Senate.  

As reported by Brookings Institute's John Hudak, the panel discussed Republican attempts to reach minority voters, pointed out their numerous failures and stated, in clear terms, how the party must do better. 

With all the lip service being given by Republican leadership about this very topic, it was expected that the presentation would be well attended and it was scheduled into a large ballroom to reflect that expectation. This, however, is what the ballroom looked like 10 minutes after the panel had begun their discussion:

It appears that CPAC believes minority outreach is an important issue, but Republican politicians themselves don't think the subject is worth their time.  The talk of Republican minority outreach seems to be garnering the same energy as the Republican effort to appeal to women voters--they'll talk about us, but they don't really want to hear about us...or from us.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quick Note: 50th Time is the Charm?

Since 2009, congressional Republicans have been saying that they are working on an alternative to the Affordable Care Act.   They've been working for five years and uncounted deadlines have passed, but now they're finally getting serious...sort of.

January 30th of this year -- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia):  "This year, we will rally around an alternative to Obamacare and pass it on the floor of the House."

February 21 -- Mr. Cantor announced that his Party is working "to finalize our Obamacare replacement plan."

February 24 -- A spokesman for Mr. Cantor said his office is preparing to "begin" work on an alternative to Obamacare.

February 27 -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he is ready to "have conversations" with his fellow Republicans to discuss an alternative to Obamacare.  "We're going to continue to go through a lot of ideas."
On Wednesday, the Republican dominated U.S. House of Representatives voted--for the 50th time--to repeal the ACA.  I wonder which one of Mr. Boehner's "lot of ideas" that was?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Quick Note: Mass Murderer Wants Better Video Games, His Victims Get a Memorial

I know there is a lot going on now at home and in the world, but sometimes it's items like this that catch my attention:

In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik of Norway, upset at his country's liberal government and what he saw as its "Islamisation," bombed a government building in Oslo killing eight people.  He then went to Utoeya Island, posing as a policeman to gain access to the Norwegian Labour Party's youth camp there, and killed 69 young people before being apprehended.

In 2012, he was convicted of mass murder and terrorism and given the most severe sentence possible under Norwegian law.

Mr. Breivik is serving what is expected to be a life sentence at Skien Prison where he has complained that the handcuffs used when he is moved from his cell are uncomfortable and he feels rushed when the guards watch him brush his teeth in the morning.  He recently threatened to go on a hunger strike unless he is given better video games, a sofa and a larger gym.
 I'd be reducing the grocery order.
Norway has chosen a design for a memorial to Breivik's 69 young victims.  Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg calls his winning design "Memory Wound" saying that it "reproduces the physical experience of taking away, reflecting the abrupt and permanent lost."

A slice of Utoeya Island will be removed near the tip of the island, forming a gaping wound in the rock.  The rubble will be used to build part of a memorial to Breivik's bombing victims in Oslo.
I think the Utoeya Island design is chilling and beautiful.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Republicans Say the Darndest Things - Rape Isn't All Bad

Maine State Representative Lawrence Lockman (R)

"If a woman has the right to an abortion, why shouldn't a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?  At least the rapist's pursuit of sexual freedom doesn't, (in most cases), result in anyone's death."

Maine Democratic leaders called for Mr. Lockman to resign and House Republican leader Kenneth Fredette issued a statement saying, "I do not condone these or any statements that are intentionally hurtful toward others on account of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation."

Mr. Lockman later apologized, explaining "I have always been passionate about my beliefs, and years ago I said things that I regret."
I note that his apology did not make it clear whether he was apologizing for his stated beliefs or for voicing them out loud and getting caught.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quick Note: Does Todd Staples' Anti-Obama Campaign Ad Go Too Far?

Yesterday, on the eve of Texas' 2014 primary election, the New York Times ran an article highlighting some of the tactics Republican candidates are using to make themselves stand out in their crowded field.  Conservative election strategist Mark McKinnon was quoted as saying, "In a Republican primary, most candidates are trying to convince voters they are the most conservative. And the easiest way to do that is to broadcast that you hate Obama more than anyone else."

Several strongly worded anti-Obama/Pro-me ads were cited in the article; but one of them literally took my breath away.  Todd Staples, candidate for lieutenant governor, is running an ad that shows him standing in a gun store.  He looks directly into the camera and says "You're not a king, and Texans bow to no one."  He then picks up a rifle, aims it over the counter and vows to "fight Obama's liberal agenda."  He ends the ad by listing his conservative credentials and challenges the President:  "So, Mr. President, if you still want to mess with Texas, we've got a saying for you: Come and take it."
The imagery of that ad scares the be-jeezus out of me.  All it takes is one nut-case with a firearm to take that ad literally, and we have our next Kennedy.  
I realize this is only one ad in a political setting; but why should that make it acceptable? When did we lose the ability to disagree without being virulent?   I look at my country today and I wonder: What happened to respect? To civility? And with all the conservative focus on religion, why is there so much hate in their public rhetoric?  
And, Mr. Staples, what happened to common sense?     

Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3 - Monday Quote(s)

In honor of last night's Oscar ceremonies:

monday quote(s):  Acting is all about honesty.  If you can fake that, you've got it made. (George Burns, actor, 1896-1996)

We're actors--we're the opposite of people. (Tom Stoppard, playwright, 1937-     )

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Update: Will VW Workers in Tennessee Get a Second Chance?

Update:   Republican Union Interference, Major "Fail?"

A few weeks ago I wrote about the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee and how, with the co-operation of Volkswagen ownership, the plant was about to vote to join the U.A.W.--until anti-union Republican politicians led by Senator Bob Corker (R), forced themselves into the mix, threatening to withhold state support for the plant and making statements that, according to VW, were untrue.  The vote failed by a small margin.

It is beginning to look like the Republican plan may have backfired. 

Shortly after the failed vote, Bernd Osterloh, head of VW's works council and member of the company's supervisory board, hinted that any new VW facility will be located somewhere where the company can "run its business without political interference."

Last week, the U.A.W. asked the National Labor Relations Board to order a new election arguing that VW workers' right to an election "free of coercion, intimidation, threats and interference" had been denied by statements like those made by Mr. Corker who claimed that the company would move its entire operation to Mexico if the workers voted to join the U.A.W. (VW has flatly denied this claim, pointing out that other VW plants in the U.S. are unionized.)
Volkswagen ownership is not stupid.  As one writer pointed out, "Republicans didn't intervene at the behest of the company; they intervened out of an anti-labor animus despite the company's wishes.  It wouldn't come as too big a shock if top officials at VW noticed and came away unimpressed."