British billionaire Richard Branson recorded an anti-union ad for Virgin America airlines, urging the company's employees not to vote in favor of joining the Transport Workers Union. Workers overwhelmingly signed cards calling for a union election. In advance of that vote, Branson is trying to stop the union from being formed at the U.S. offshoot of his Virgin Airlines.
In the video, he tells flight attendants of the consequences to the company of joining a union after the Transport Workers Union filed to represent these employees. Branson asks the employees of Virgin America, a carrier in which he has sworn no control in, to think about what is at stake for the company if the TWU is elected. He then urges them to protect their "independent spirit" by rejecting the TWU because the union will take their "uniqueness away." Actually, what is unique about these employees is that they have to sit at the table, on their own, and negotiate with a billionaire over wages and benefits without a union voice. That's a "uniqueness" I wouldn't cling to.
In telling Virgin America employees to "say no to the old way of flying and say no to the TWU," Sir Richard couldn't have been clearer -- he is at the helm making sure that his (sorry, I meant Virgin America's) employees remain non-union. Branson is taking Virgin America down this path, an airline he allegedly doesn't control. Odd.
At HuffPo, Edward Wytkind asks if Branson is secretly running Virgin America in violation of U.S. law:
In 2005, British billionaire Richard Branson came to America to launch a new airline for Americans, owned by Americans and controlled by Americans. At least that was the story he was selling.
First, you have to understand that under current U.S. law, foreign interests cannot own more than 25 percent of the voting stock or 49 percent of the equity in a U.S. carrier. To further ensure this is crystal clear, the law requires the "actual control" of the airline to be in the hands of U.S. citizens. This is no small matter not only for national security purposes, but also because of its impact on U.S. airlines, safety, jobs and the collective bargaining process.
But Sir Richard doesn't get involved in many things he can't control, so you can imagine our skepticism at the outset. You think he would have let someone else control the introduction of his self-proclaimed 'sexiest spaceship ever'--Virgin Galactic?
So I have a question: If Virgin America is independent of U.K.-based Virgin Group, why is the group's founder talking to Virgin America's flight attendants about the evils of unionizing?
Hold that thought, I'll get back to the video-taped evidence in a moment.
Since the end of 2005 when Virgin America first filed an application with the U.S. Department of Transportation to operate as a U.S airline, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO and others argued that Virgin America is controlled by foreign interests, which is counter to U.S. law.
But time and time again founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group Richard Branson, who is no stranger to arguing against U.S. ownership laws and regulations, was able to convince U.S. authorities that he was not controlling the airline and was, therefore, compliant with our laws. Eventually our regulators agreed.
Therefore, we find ourselves in a place where -- more than four years since it actually began flying in the fall of 2007 -- Virgin America is vying for highly sought-after slots at Washington Reagan National Airport. And while it battles it out for these slots with its competitors, its compliance with foreign ownership and control laws must again be scrutinized.
This time, it is not about speculation that at some point in the future Mr. Branson might play a role in controlling the operations of the airline. This time, there is a video produced by the Virgin Group and shown to Virgin America employees of the great founder taking the time out of his busy schedule (what, no space launch that day?) to speak to them about what is supposed to be their unfettered right to vote on unionization without employer interference.
First, I want to say why I'm writing this post. It's because I hate this stuff.
Money buys the world, both the Dem side and the other. In fact, I've said far too many times ? the goal of Money is to enable Republicans and neuter the Dems. It's why the rachet works.
And by Money I mean the big boys (Our Betters) who own both sides of every bet. Money is why progressives never win, even when Democrats do.
Case in point, Howard Dean. Lee Fang, writing at Naked Capitalism (my emphasis and some reparagraphing
One of the biggest problems with lobbying in Washington D.C. is the extent to which so many influence peddlers work behind closed doors, refusing to disclose their clients or register their work with the ethics office. Newt Gingrich became the poster boy for this phenomenon[.] ...Howard Dean's not alone in this. The same charge has been levied against Tom Daschle ? another (ahem) Democrat ? one who also "not-lobbies" the health care industry.
But Gingrich isn?t the only politician working as an unregistered lobbyist. I have uncovered video that shows liberal icon Howard Dean discussing his government affairs work for corporate interests.
Dean has been lobbying without disclosure for about three years. In 2009 after his stint as chairman of the Democratic Party, Dean joined the law/lobbying firm McKenna, Long & Aldridge as a non-attorney ?Strategic Advisor.? The firm?s lobbying practice has a wide range of clients, from health care, to insurance, to even Keystone XL beneficiary TransCanada.
The firm website says Dean ?focuses on health care and energy issues, as well as providing expertise derived from his extensive experience in public office.? The firm seems to advertise Dean as a lobbyist, despite the fact Dean has not registered as a lobbyist.
I clipped a portion of a video posted online by McKenna, Long & Aldridge that features Dean discussing the post Citizens United campaign finance world along with former Republican Party chief, Michael Steele. Dean candidly disclosed that he works primarily with health care corporations, and that he advises that if they do contribute, they should contribute to both Republicans and Democrats[.]You really do need to read this, and watch that embedded video (it's only two minutes, and fascinating).
What?s more troubling ... is how Dean uses his powerful platform as a pundit and political leader without disclosing his work as an influence peddler.Did I mention I hate this stuff?
Because "demanding" such a reasonable request would sound too socialist?
When cows were first given antibiotics decades ago, consumers were told it would never have an impact on humans. We now know that the drugs such as antibiotics and steroids given to animals do impact humans. That's why there's a problem with some antibiotics no longer working on humans, and why an increasing number of young girls have breasts far before their time.
Kindly asking industry to do the right thing is weak, and ignores the real world problems (it also ignores the fact that the administration asked Wall Street to do the right thing and how did that work out for them?). But hey, it's not socialist and the administration wants to avoid that tag at all costs.
The Food and Drug Administration called on drug companies Wednesday to help limit the use of antibiotics in farm animals, a decades-old practice that scientists say has contributed to a surge in dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria.Joe reports on AMERICAblog Gay that rather than require federal contractors not discriminate against gays, the administration is simply going to "urge" them not to discriminate. Good luck with that.
Antibiotic drugs like penicillin are routinely mixed with animal feed and water to help livestock, pigs and chickens put on weight and stay healthy in crowded barns. Scientists have warned that such use leads to the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs that can be passed on to humans.
The FDA has struggled for decades with how to tackle the problem because the powerful agriculture industry argues the drugs are a key part of modern meat production.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran yesterday released a video and launched a letter-writing campaign following up on a July 2011 report culling views from Iran’s human rights community and civil society groups opposing military action against the Islamic Republic. One academic commented that an attack would “give the regime a perfect excuse to oppress the people even more.” An interactive webpage also outlines bios for and quotes from activists, artists and literary figures who unanimously view a Western attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities with trepidation, fearing that, as one imprisoned activist put it, “If war breaks out, democracy, human rights, and civil society will be the main losers.” Watch the video:
Yesterday, Mitt Romney’s campaign enlisted Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) to attack President Obama’s record on women’s issues, despite the fact that both had voted against two signature Obama administration efforts designed to fight pay discrimination against women. Today, the campaign announced a conference call to continue the bizarre attacks featuring three Republican women. The call will feature Rodgers and another Congresswoman, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), who also voted against both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. A third Romney supporter on the call, first-term Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), was not yet in Congress when the votes came up.
Some things shouldn’t change. Our Indiana values, stewardship of the land, and the protection of our Second Amendment and hunting rights. But over his 36 years in Washington, Dick Lugar HAS changed. He’s become the only Republican candidate in Indiana with an F-rating from the NRA. It’s time for another change. Time to elect a senator who will protect our rights. Time to elect Richard Murdouck for Senate.
Watch the video:
The radio ad is more explicit with the group’s grievances, claiming that Lugar voted for gun bans, a hunting ban, and to confirm “both of Barack Obama’s anti-gun nominees to the Supreme Court.”
But Lugar’s record of supporting some gun-safety legislation is hardly a change. He voted Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban in 1993. He even ran a TV ad during his unsuccessful 1996 presidential run highlighting his assault weapons vote, explaining “being a conservative doesn’t mean you have to lose your common sense.” His 1994 NRA score was 50 percent and his lifetime NRA score as of 2000 was a C-.
In recent years, Lugar has actually cast several key votes with gun rights advocates, backing a 2009 amendment to allow Amtrak riders to check their guns on trains and 2004 and 2005 bills to shield gun manufacturers from liability and lawsuits. In 2006, the Gun Owners of America gave Lugar a 100 percent rating.
Now the NRA gives Lugar an “F,” which it says means he is a “true enemy of gun owners’ rights,” and “a consistent anti-gun candidate who always opposes gun owners’ rights and/or actively leads anti-gun legislative efforts, or sponsors anti-gun legislation.” Why did they sour on Lugar even as backed a number of gun lobby priorities? It appears that it isn’t Dick Lugar whose changed, but rather the NRA itself.
The top complaint on the anti-Lugar website is: “He voted to confirm both Elena Kagan, and Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, one of only four Republican Senators to vote for both. (Vote 262, 8/6/2009, and Vote 229, 8/5/2010).” Yet, prior to the Obama administration, the NRA had never jumped into a Supreme Court nomination battle. The group came out against Sotomayor’s confirmation and announced it would count the vote on its legislative scorecard. Some reports suggested that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the Senate Republican leadership pushed the NRA to score the vote. The group similarly opposed and scored the 2010 confirmation of Kagan. Both were confirmed easily, despite the NRA’s efforts.
So rather than really being about his record on legislation, the NRA-PVF appears to be punishing Sen. Lugar for not giving it a veto over judicial nominations — and betting that a Sen. Mourdock would.
Ultimately, however, it’s not clear how many potential judicial nominees could ever satisfy the NRA’s absurd standards — in its brief history in the business of judicial politics, the NRA has routinely opposed nominees who did nothing more than refuse to ignore binding legal precedents that the NRA doesn’t like. In other words, lawmakers who support judges who faithfully follow the law could be subject to the same attacks that Lugar now faces, while supporters of conservative judicial activism will get off scot free.
Kaiser Family Foundation has put together this very helpful tool to track the federal funds distributed to the states under the Affordable Care Act. Click over to play with the map, but note that even the strongest opponents of health care reform have benefited from it:
– FLORIDA: $278 Million
– TEXAS: $742 Million
– NEW HAMPSHIRE: $50 Million
The internet was buzzing this week with the news that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had gotten word of a Tumblr called Texts From Hillary that painted her as a world-dominating, sunglasses-swiping badass?and made her own contribution to it. It was a delightful moment of self-awareness and unexpected hipness from a woman who’s rebounded from a tough loss in the 2008 presidential campaign to become one of the most powerful people in the world. But it’s been part of a long process, one by which Hillary Clinton’s become cool by embracing the very things that used to mark her as a dork.
It’s a process that begin in 2007, when Clinton dressed up the decidedly gimmicky process of having supporters vote on a campaign song by turning the big reveal into a spoof of the ending of The Sopranos:
What’s great about the spot is not just its piggy-backing on the cultural capital of one of America’s most iconic shows, but the way it played with popular conceptions about the Clintons themselves, the idea that Bill has a weakness for junk food, that Hillary can be a nag and possess an epic side-eye.
She displayed the same kind of self-awareness in her speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver the next summer, when she thanked “the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuit” for supporting her during the campaign. This time, the cultural artifact wasn’t as universally applicable?it was gender specific, and itself considered a little dorky and sentimental. And rather than using it to transform herself, Hillary used it to double down on something about her that had been widely remarked on, her preference for blocky, brightly-colored coordinating ensembles.
She owned her dorkiness, the way she seems to be owning the scrunchies her staff reportedly wants to take away from her today. It’s easy to forget how hysterical people were about Hillary’s hair during the first Clinton campaign and during the Clinton presidency. But she couldn’t do anything right, and now she seems rather determined to do what she wants whether it’s au courant or not. I saw her rocking a particularly elaborate scrunchie with a tweedy coat at a screening at the MPAA earlier this week, where she spoke about watching Luc Besson’s Aung San Suu Kyi biopic The Lady on the plane on her recent trip to Burma.
Maybe it’s just that Clinton is finally legitimately powerful enough, and powerful in her own right, not to have to care one whit about whether anyone thinks she’s cool. But after so many years of trying to please everyone, Clinton appears to be trying mostly to please herself when it comes to her personal style and presentation. And the rest of the world’s caught on to the idea that Hillary is someone whose approval they should want, rather than the other way around.
Newt Gingrich, who just a year ago was on the payroll at Fox News channel as a political analyst, attacked his former employer at a private campaign event yesterday, accusing the conservative cable news channel of being in the tank for Mitt Romney.
Real Clear Politics was granted access to the event, and flagged Gingrich?s remarks:
?I think FOX has been for Romney all the way through,? Gingrich said during the private meeting — to which RealClearPolitics was granted access — at Wesley College. ?In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and we?re more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That?s just a fact.? [...]
?I assume it?s because Murdoch at some point [who] said, ?I want Romney,? and so ?fair and balanced? became ?Romney,? ? Gingrich said. ?And there?s no question that Fox had a lot to do with stopping my campaign because such a high percentage of our base watches FOX.?
Fox News ended its contract with Gingrich last spring as it became clear that the former Speaker intended to launch a presidential campaign.
The decision to admonish Fox News is a departure from other recent unsuccessful Republican presidential candidates, several of whom have converted their elevated prominence on the national stage into lucrative contracts with the network. Former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin signed a deal with the network, and 2008 candidate Mike Huckabee now has his own weekend show.
Outrageously offensive comparisons of same-sex marriage to incest and pedophilia aren’t unique to American social conservatives, as opponents of Australia’s push for marriage equality are echoing the very same sentiments deployed stateside by groups like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage. The Australian reports that a representative from a group called Family Voice Australia told a House of Representatives committee in Sydney on Thursday that same-sex marriage is as wrong as wanting to marry a close relative. “I rather liked my cousin, and I was told that’s really not recommended, so we had a discussion in the family about those things. You can even marry an uncle, from memory,” Dr. David Phillips told a House of Representatives committee in Sydney on Thursday. “To suggest to someone that sexual attraction, at one point, is locked in concrete, there’s nothing they can do about it, they have to live with it, is cruel for those people,” he said. One marriage supporter had the best retort, noting that “murderers, rapists and pedophiles had more rights than gay people wishing to marry.”