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Archive for August 6th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues from episode 103 of The Muppet Show.

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Disappearing Clues from episode 103 of The Muppet Show.

Grab your popcorn, put your feet up on the coffee table, and try to keep the spitballs off the screen please.  This is Late Late Night FireDogLake, where off topic is the topic … so dive in.  What’s on your mind?


N.J. Gov. Christie Won’t Hear It From Shariah ‘Crazies’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

N.J. Gov. Christie Won’t Hear It From Shariah ‘Crazies’
At a news conference in late July, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie loudly defended his appointment of a Muslim lawyer to a state judgeship, saying that conservatives’ fear of shariah law “is crap.”

At a news conference in late July, New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie loudly defended his appointment of a Muslim lawyer to a state judgeship, saying that conservatives’ fear of shariah law “is crap.”


The Bizarro FDR
Barack Obama is a lot of things—eloquent, dissembling, conniving, intelligent and above all, calm. But one thing he is not is weak.

By David Sirota

Barack Obama is a lot of things—eloquent, dissembling, conniving, intelligent and above all, calm. But one thing he is not is weak.



Michael Fauntroy: Will President Obama Become Mayor Dinkins?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Michael Fauntroy: Will President Obama Become Mayor Dinkins?
The president could lose his reelection bid if enough Black voters stay home because they either do not believe the Republican nominee can win or they just do not feel the same urgency to show up on election day.

Are California Republicans Leaning Left?
LOS ANGELES — Conservative Republicans flexed their newfound muscle in Capitol Hill’s chaotic debt showdown, but in left-leaning California, moderates are trying to push the…

Jodi Beggs: With Government Spending, the When Matters as Much as the How Much
In order to begin a discussion about government spending, let’s compare two scenarios: Scenario 1: Let’s call this the “eat what you kill” scenario, although…

Chris Weigant: Friday Talking Points — More Tea, Anyone?
With the conclusion of the debt ceiling “crisis,” the media pivoted swiftly to their standard larger questions (to them, at any rate) about any political…

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden Moves To Join Bank Of America Mortgage Deal, Signaling Concerns
WASHINGTON — Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden signaled his intent Friday to intervene in a proposed $8.5 billion settlement over troubled mortgage securities between Bank…


Fox, Limbaugh Campaign Against Majority Rule In Secret-Ballot Union Elections

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Fox, Limbaugh Campaign Against Majority Rule In Secret-Ballot Union Elections

Rush Limbaugh and Fox News contributor Dana Perino have claimed that the FAA shutdown was caused by a dispute over the Democrats’ “backdoor way to help the unions with the card check bill.” In reality, the dispute involves corporate and Republican opposition to a decision by the National Mediation Board to change the way it conducts unionization elections to a method that allows workers to unionize if a union wins a majority of the ballots cast.

Perino And Limbaugh: “What The FAA Shutdown Is About Is Card Check.”

Perino: Dispute Was Over Democrats’ “Backdoor Way To Help The Unions With The Card Check Bill.” From the August 5 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

PERINO: Well, let’s remember, also, why this happened.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (co-host): Yeah.

PERINO: And that is because it was a — the Democrats were trying a backdoor way to help the unions with the card check bill, and the Republicans cried foul. They actually read the bill and said no.

TANTAROS: Imagine that. They’re reading the bill.

GUILFOYLE: Imagine reading.

TANTAROS: And this should not come as a surprise. I pulled up Obama’s agenda from 2008. If you look at what’s happening — what happened with the FAA, everything that he promised he would do with regard to unions, with regard to organizing, with regard to card check, it’s all right here in his formal agenda. He’s doing it all. So he’s just — we shouldn’t be shocked.

GUILFOYLE: He’s a man of his word.

TANTAROS: He’s not actually a disappoint-mint all the time.

BOB BECKEL: First of all, labor has been on Obama since the beginning for not bringing card check up and having Congress bring it up. It is not being back-doored in on some F.A.A. bill. I mean, there’s not a card check — there should be. There should be a card check.

TANTAROS: Well they certainly tried. [Fox News, The Five, 8/5/11]

Limbaugh: “The Democrats Want The Ability For Workers To Unionize In A Public Ballot.” From the August 4 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Rush Limbaugh Show:

If you read deep enough into this story (you know I did) you find this, and here’s what it’s really all about. “But the most politically difficult issue involves a labor provision in the House long-term bill. Republicans want to overturn a national mediation board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn’t vote were treated as ‘no’ votes.” They want to change it so that somebody who doesn’t vote just doesn’t count: A simple majority of those voting. 

So basically what the FAA shutdown is about is card check. The Democrats want the ability for workers to unionize in a public ballot. It allows these professional thugs to do away with the secret ballot in order to intimidate employees in joining a union. They want a public vote to put pressure on people to vote for the union, ’cause if you vote “no,” publicly, you’re making yourself a target (you and your kneecaps). So that’s what this FAA thing is all about. It’s all about trying to unionize more railroad and airline employees. It’s not about the subsidized airline routes. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/4/11, via RushLimbaugh.com]

In Fact, Republicans Wanted Congress To Overturn Rule Authorizing Majority-Rule Elections

NY Times: GOP Blocked FAA Reauthorization Because Of Disagreement With New Rule To Allow Airlines “To Unionize With A Straight Majority Vote.” Airlines and railroads are covered by a different law than the National Labor Relations Act, which governs most industries. They are governed by the Railway Labor Act, and its elections rules are promulgated by the National Mediation Board (NMB). From an August 3 article in The New York Times describing the controversy over a new NMB rule governing elections:

Here is what has happened since the Federal Aviation Administration lost its authorization on July 23, courtesy of House Republicans. The agency has not collected more than $300 million in taxes (money the airlines have mostly pocketed). It has had to furlough some 4,000 workers and halt construction projects worth $11 billion in 241 airports, putting 70,000 more people out of work.

[…]

And why is this happening? Republicans, who are experts at such maneuvers, have been holding the reauthorization of the F.A.A. hostage for months, trying to get Democrats in the Senate to agree to weaken transportation workers’ rights.

The tale, like so much in Washington, is a convoluted one, but it comes down to this: Last year, the National Mediation Board changed a rule to make it easier for airline and railroad workers to unionize with a straight majority vote. At the behest of the airlines, House Republicans inserted a provision in the F.A.A. reauthorization bill to undo the rule change. The Senate’s version kept the rule. [The New York Times, 8/3/11]

Old Rules For Airline Secret Ballot Elections Treated Any Worker Who Didn’t Vote “As A Vote Against Representation.” Before the new rule went into effect, ballots in secret ballot elections conducted by the NMB did not provide workers with a choice not to vote for representation, but rather listed only a choice between different possible unions. A worker who abstained from voting was therefore treated as voting for no representation. From an AFL-CIO document supporting a rule change:

The NMB’s current representation election procedure allows employees to select a collective bargaining representative by voting for one of the individuals or organizations appearing on the ballot or writing-in the name of another individual or organization.  See 29 CFR §§ 1206.2 & 1206.5 (describing the showing of interest required for an individual or organization to appear on the ballot).  If a majority of eligible voters cast valid ballots, the organization or individual receiving a majority of the votes is certified as the representative of the voting craft or class.  NMB Representation Manual §§ 13.304-1 & 14.305-2.  If no individual or organization receives a majority of the votes cast in a “valid” election – i.e., an election in which a majority of the potential voters cast valid ballots – a run-off election is held between the two individuals or organizations receiving the most votes, without any opportunity to write-in a third choice.  29 CFR § 1206.1.

“Under the existing election procedure, there is no opportunity for an employee to vote ‘no’ or cast a ballot against representation.”  74 Fed. Reg. at 56752.  Rather than providing a place on the ballot for voting against representation, “[a]bstaining from voting, for whatever reason, is counted by the Board as a vote against representation.”  Ibid.  Thus, “the failure or refusal of an eligible voter to participate in an NMB-conducted election is the functional equivalent of a ‘no-union’ vote.”  Ibid. [National Mediation Board, 1/14/10]

New Rule Requires That Decision On Whether To Unionize Is Made By Majority Of Votes Cast. From a National Mediation Board press release:

Effective today, the Board’s voting procedures for representation elections will change to add a “No” option and to provide that the majority of votes-cast will determine the outcome of an election.

The new procedure will only apply to applications received on or after July 1, 2010. Relevant references on the NMB website will be updated to reflect the changes in the near future. [National Mediation Board, 7/1/10]

New Rule Did Not Change Other Election Procedures. From the NMB’s announcement of the new election rules in the Federal Register:

As has been previously discussed, the proposed change affects only one part of the Board’s election procedure: The method used by the NMB to determine the outcome of a self-organization vote by employees after an application has been filed and an election has been authorized. [Federal Register, 5/10/10]

Under New Rules, NMB Still Says Unionization Cannot Occur Without An Election Unless Both The Employer And Union Agree. From the NMB’s list of frequently asked questions about representation:

Q:   Can a union be certified by the NMB without an election?

A:  Yes. If there is only one labor organization applying for representation, and the organization and the carrier agree in writing to a certification based on a check of authorization cards, the NMB can authorize the check of authorizations instead of an election. If a majority of the craft or class has signed authorizations, the organization will be certified without an election. [National Mediation Board, accessed 8/5/11]

Delta Airlines Moved To Overturn Majority Rule Regulation

Delta Flew Anti-Union Workers To D.C. Lobby For Majority Rule Regulations To Be Overturned As Price For Allowing FAA To Operate. From Talking Points Memo:

House Republicans want to re-establish old rules which say that when aviation or rail workers don’t vote in unionization elections, they’re treated as having voted against unionization. And now on of the nation’s largest airlines is getting involved in the fight.

The push is reflected in language in the House’s FAA re-authorization bill. In an earlier stage of the legislative fight, Democrats, joined by a few Republicans, nearly succeeded in getting the provision stripped. Now, sources say, a similar fight is likely to play out on the House floor, and anti-union employees at Delta Airlines are preparing to fly to Washington to join the fight.

In a message to its members obtained by TPM, the group “No Way AFA” — a coalition of Delta employees who want to deliberalize union rights — frames the fight this way. (AFA is the Association of Flight Attendants, the flight attendants union.)

“Title IX of the House FAA Reauthorization bill repeals the National Mediation Board’s 2010 elections rule change, which permits a minority of employees at airlines and railroads to determine whether or not the majority will be represented by unions,” the message reads. “[I]t is anticipated that an amendment will be offered on the House floor to strike these provisions from the bill and allow the NMB’s modified rule to stay in place.”

According to the note, “Delta strongly supports the bill” as currently written.

Members are encouraged to participate in a fly-in to Washington, D.C., to lobby their congressmen, for which “positive space travel” — free travel for airline employees — is permitted.

A Delta spokesperson said No Way AFA operates separately from the company itself, but that the company “allow[s] employees to travel positive space to D.C. when supporting legislative efforts that the company supports.” [Talking Points Memo, 3/25/11]


Rep. David Wu Formally Resigns From House

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Rep. David Wu Formally Resigns From House
Oregon Rep. David Wu (D) announced Wednesday evening that he has notified Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and House Speaker John Boehner of his resignation, effective at 11:59 p.m.


British MPs Call On Piers Morgan To Respond To Heather Mills Phone Hacking Claims
Though members of the British Parliament say they have no plans to call Piers Morgan to testify before them just yet, two lawmakers have called on the celebrity CNN host to answer questions about his connection to Heather Mills’ allegations about phone hacking at Trinity Mirror.

Wisconsin Expanding DMV Services For Voter-ID, After Complaints About Closures
The state of Wisconsin’s recently passed Voter ID law will now result in an increased cost to the state, as Department of Motor Vehicles offices are expanded in order to accommodate the increased demand for photo identification cards.


May you live in “Interesting Times”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

May you live in “Interesting Times”
What’s with all the bus trips? What ever happened to hitchhiking?


Cameron Wants American to Head Scotland Yard

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Cameron Wants American to Head Scotland Yard
British Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly Bill Bratton, who has led the New York, Los Angeles, and Boston police departments, to head up Scotland Yard, the Telegraph reports.

However, Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May has decided only British citizens can apply for the position.

Quote of the Day
“Frankly I pray for the president every day. I pray for his wisdom, I pray that God will open his eyes.”

— Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network.


The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry’s Prayer Event

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry’s Prayer Event
Perry’s endorsers are not just a random group of radical evangelists but part of a large and little-understood international religious movement.

Union Victory at Virginia IKEA Plant: Resistance Grows Against Race-to-Bottom Wages
The successful union campaign at IKEA’s first US factory defies conventional wisdom that a competitive future requires a lower-wage, less unionized America.

Do We Need a Militant Movement to Save the Planet (and Ourselves)?
Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Aric McBay call for new strategy to stave off environmental catastrophe.


Ransom Paid

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Ransom Paid
Anyone who characterizes the deal between the President, Democratic, and Republican leaders as a victory for the American people over partisanship understands neither economics nor politics. The deal does not raise taxes on America’s wealthy and most fortunate — who…


The Hostage Crisis Continues: Why Obama Can’t Pivot to Jobs and Growth
With the hostage crisis behind him, the President is now ready to talk about the nation’s real problem. Nine paragraphs into his remarks today announcing the nation has paid most of the ransom the radical right demanded as a condition…

Re: Obama’s Deficit Strategy in April. I Wouldn’t Change a Word Now
The following was posted on April 13, when President Obama gave his big deficit-reduction speech. What would you change here to distinguish his leadership of the past three weeks from the following characterization of it in regard to the same…


?The Oil?s Still Here And So Are We!?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 6th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

?The Oil?s Still Here And So Are We!?
Dozens of local Louisiana residents came to the BP command center in downtown New Orleans to protest on the one-year anniversary of the closing of the Deepwater Horizon gusher. “The oil’s still here, and so are we!” the protesters told BP, while the corporation was hosting the American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting nearby. Several […]

Dozens of local Louisiana residents came to the BP command center in downtown New Orleans to protest on the one-year anniversary of the closing of the Deepwater Horizon gusher. “The oil’s still here, and so are we!” the protesters told BP, while the corporation was hosting the American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting nearby. Several of the protesters were arrested. Watch footage from WWL:

Boehner?s Folly Leads To S&P Downgrade of US Debt
I’m no expert, but I don’t think S&P downgrading its rating of US debt will, as such, have any really big practical implications other than becoming the next political football. If you look at S&P’s definition of the AA rating, after all, it says: “An obligation rated ‘AA’ differs from the highest-rated obligations only to […]

I’m no expert, but I don’t think S&P downgrading its rating of US debt will, as such, have any really big practical implications other than becoming the next political football. If you look at S&P’s definition of the AA rating, after all, it says: “An obligation rated ‘AA’ differs from the highest-rated obligations only to a small degree. The obligor’s capacity to meet its financial commitment on the obligation is very strong.” Scared yet? Me neither.

The issue today continues to be what it was a week ago. For years now, if you look at a projection from CBO or OMB it shows a spending curve that steadily accelerates. It accelerates because the government currently pays for health care for old people and for poor people, and because the cost of health care services has been accelerating. Consequently, for a long time now it’s been clear that in the future either the US has to stop paying for old people’s health care, or else raise more revenue in taxes, or else reduce the growth in the price of health care services. And for a long time now it’s been unclear what combination of those strategies will be adopted. But people have generally had confidence that some combination of them would be adopted.

Once upon a time earlier in the Obama administration, I asked a senior official how he thought this would ever get resolved. A deal, everyone agreed, had to be bipartisan. But to be bipartisan, it would have to include tax increases. But Republicans wouldn’t vote for tax increases. He told me that of course that made sense, but at some point pressure from bond markets would be unbearable and Republicans would come to the table. Broadly speaking, that’s the thing that most people generally believed would happen. What we saw with the debt ceiling was a mini-test of that theory, and the theory failed. “No new revenues” wasn’t just a GOP bargaining position, it turned out to be something they were really committed to even in the face of an imminent financial crisis. You can see why that would dent confidence in the long-term fiscal trajectory of the country.

The person who looks bad here, in my view, is John Boehner. President Obama wanted to do a “grand bargain.” The Gang of Six Senators wanted to do a “grand bargain.” And it looked for a moment like Speaker Boehner was going to be part of a grand bargain. But ultimately he decided that he didn’t want to sign a deal that would fracture his caucus, so the grand bargain talks fell apart. And yet the little bargain that did eventually pass the House ultimately couldn’t pass with Republican votes alone. So what did Boehner really achieve? If he was ultimately destined to strike a deal with the White House that needed Democratic votes to pass the House, why not go for the grand bargain? According to Boehner “When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the white House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.” How happy is he now?