The title of an LA Times editorial by Post Op-ed Editor Harold Myerson refers to the fact that a lot of European... mainly German... modern day variations on the East India Company of our early days... are apparently investing big in the United States because they know damned well they can get away with shit here that they can't get away with at home.
The descent of this country in to third world status as far as business models and human rights is concerned has opened up a flood of European corporate jackals, jockeying and clawing for a share of the gobbets of putrescent flesh that still cling to the rotting carcass of our middle class.
The newest slumlord in Los Angeles is a pillar of German capitalism. Earlier this month, the city attorney's office filed suit against Deutsche Bank, the world's fourth-largest bank, for letting many of the more than 2,000 L.A. homes it has foreclosed on descend into squalor and decay.
A yearlong city investigation of the properties on which Deutsche Bank foreclosed turned up tenants compelled to live in crumbling apartments the bank would not fix, houses taken over by gangs, faucets from which water either wouldn't flow or wouldn't stop, and the occasional unidentified dead body. Nothing, in other words, that would be allowed to happen to bank holdings in Frankfurt, the neat-as-a-pin German city that is home to Deutsche Bank and much of the rest of German finance.
Deutsche Bank responded to the suit by blaming the loan servicers that were supposed to have maintained the bank's properties. But City Atty. Carmen Trutanich insisted the blame belonged with the owner. "We are not going to allow them to play the shell and nut game," he said.
But slumming in America is fast becoming a business model for some of Europe's leading companies, and they often do things here they would never think of doing at home. These companies - not banks, primarily, but such gold-plated European manufacturers as BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Siemens, and retailers such as IKEA - increasingly come to America (the South particularly) because labor is cheap and workers have no rights. In their eyes, we're becoming the new China. Our labor costs may be a little higher, but we offer stronger intellectual property protections and far fewer strikes than our unruly Chinese comrades.
Don't take my word for it. Check out the study released this month by the Boston Consulting Group, which concludes that when you compare China's soaring wages and still-low levels of productivity with our stagnating wages and rising levels of productivity, the price advantage of manufacturing in China instead of the US will shrink to insignificance by 2015. Investment in the US, says the group, "will accelerate as it becomes one of the cheapest locations for manufacturing in the developed world."
Those investments are well underway. The auto companies of Europe and Japan have opened factories in the nonunion South over the last couple of decades. Not one of them has agreed to refrain from waging a union-busting campaign should their workers wish to organize. Their stance could not be more different from their attitude toward workers and unions in their home countries.
As a report released by Human Rights Watch late last year documents, companies that routinely welcome unions, pay middle-class wages and have workers' representatives on their corporate boards in Germany and Scandinavia have threatened their US-based employees with permanent replacement by other workers as the penalty for protesting wage cuts (that was the German manufacturer Robert Bosch), ordered workers to report on fellow workers' pro-union activities (that was T-Mobile, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom) and disciplined workers who couldn't show up for unscheduled weekend shifts announced on Friday night (that was IKEA, according to an L.A. Times story).
In Germany, Robert Bosch, according to Human Rights Watch, has never threatened a single worker with losing his job for protesting wage cuts, and Deutsche Telekom repeatedly touts its "social partnership" with its union. In Sweden, IKEA, like the vast majority of Swedish companies, is unionized and affords its workers a range of rights and benefits that are all but unimaginable to American retail workers.
German manufacturing workers, making the world's most sophisticated products and machinery, earn on average $1.50 for every dollar that American manufacturing workers make. (Despite that, because it's German policy to foster high-end manufacturing and highly skilled labor, Germany also has a huge trade surplus, while we have a mammoth trade deficit). In the new global pecking order, the decline of American unions and the steady downward mobility of American workers are making us the destination of choice when European companies want to get the job done on the cheap.
America as the beacon for the workers of the world? No more. If anything, our relationship with Europe has become a latter-day version of the one that characterized the years leading up to the Civil War, when our Southern states provided cheap, slave-produced cotton to the mills of Manchester. (That's why British and French business favored the Confederacy.) Once again, we're where Europe comes to slum - in the low-wage factories of the South and the run-down houses of South Los Angeles.
As for you Bubba... you, with your stupid little marker crayon scribbles on sticks... your hate, bigotry and willful ignorance... your willingness to do to with less yourself if it means that the old, the lame and the poor and especially the brown and black among you have nothing at all... your willingness to give up the freedoms and liberty that made us unique in the wold for most of a century... your willingness to settle for what Wall Street says you're worth instead of what YOU should be thinking you're worth ... your failure to demand sacrifice on the part of your lords and masters at least proportionate to that being demanded of and imposed on the rest of us BY them... well, I just don't know.
I've racked my brain all day over an answer to all of that and the only thing I can come up with to say to you is... Fuck you very much. They couldn't have done it without you.
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The way that ultra-conservatives have been elected to office is by hiding their extremists views.[...]
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Here are some excerpts from the latest Harper's Index, (not yet online):
? Number of homes whose mortgages a U.S. advertising firm offered to pay in exchange for converting the homes to billboards: 10
? Number of applications the firm received in the first week after making the offer: 11,575
? Amount of federal money that went to National Public Radio in 2010: $2,700,000
? To Jerry Falwell's Liberty University: $446,000,000
? Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year: 84,740,000
? Average age at which women consider themselves to be "old," according to a study by a British funeral planning company: 29
? At which men do: 58
? ? ? ? ?
At Daily Kos on this date in 2005:
I like this story:Unsettled by a series of dry winters in this normally wet city, Mayor Greg Nickels has begun a nationwide effort to do something the Bush administration will not: carry out the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.
Mr. Nickels, a Democrat, says 131 other likeminded mayors have joined a bipartisan coalition to fight global warming on the local level, in an implicit rejection of the administration's policy.
The mayors, from cities as liberal as Los Angeles and as conservative as Hurst, Tex., represent nearly 29 million citizens in 35 states, according to Mayor Nickels's office. They are pledging to have their cities meet what would have been a binding requirement for the nation had the Bush administration not rejected the Kyoto Protocol: a reduction in heat-trapping gas emissions to levels 7 percent below those of 1990, by 2012.
I like it for a whole bunch of reasons. First, this is a good, concrete step toward actually helping the environment (even if it is a small one). Second, the bipartisan nature of this group is a great rebuff to the radical right-wing/Bushista fantasy that global warming has been dreamed up by a conspiracy of patient nerds. And third, I see no apparent reason why enterprising governors (or aspiring governors) could not sign on as well. I think this could be a great move for a guy like Eliot Spitzer, who has successfully brought a number of important environmental lawsuits.
The Speaker may have hired Paul Clement without legal or fiscal authority to do so, risking criminal charges. Spending federal funds without explicit legislative authorization or appropriation is a violation of federal law that carries a fine and a[...]
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On July 7, 1956, when Duke Ellington took the stage at the Newport Jazz Festival, his career had been ebbing for approximately 10 years. No fault of his own, but various factors- the birth of Bebop in the mid-'40s, the recording industry's shift to signing solo acts, the overwhelming costs of maintaining touring big bands- made him a seeming has-been. After a 3-year affiliation with Capitol Records ended in 1955, Ellington found himself without a recording deal.
The evening began inauspiciously. Some of Ellington's band members showed up late. The earlier numbers in his set were met with tepid, if pleasant, applause. As Ellington announced the next numbers, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue and the soloist, tenor man Paul Gonsalves, there was no indication that something very special would happen within the next 10 minutes. The band made its way through the Diminuendo section in about 4 minutes when Gonsalves approached the mic and IT happened. I'll throw it over to Wikipedia for a paragraph here:
...In what has since become jazz folklore, Gonsalves almost created a riot as he played a tenor sax solo for 27 choruses that stirred up the normally staid crowd into a frenzy. A striking platinum blonde woman in a black evening dress, named Elaine Anderson, jumped from her box seat and started dancing. This helped serve as a catalyst for the crowd frenzy that grew as Gonsalves continued his forceful, energetic solo...
A "frenzy" Take a gander at the link to Amazon below. Find the track listings:
14. Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue [Live]
15. Announcements, Pandemonium [Live]
Pandemonium ain't the title of any song performed. It's what occurred.
The day that started off at maybe the lowest point in Duke Ellington's career ended rather differently, his career revived by a legendary performance by Paul Gonsalves.
The worst of the evil slithering reptiles that are taking over the world? In a universe of evil shit, it's hard to pick out the absolute worst, but on anyone's list, the deeds and misdeeds of this fossilized old kangaroo dick has to rank in the top ten.
Here's a link to just some of the crap he's pulled in his own country where he has also helped the government and the rich wage war on the weakest and least able to fight back before showing up here to carry out the rest of his end of his deal with the devil and grab his share of the spoils.
This is one sick old bastard, and one of the most unacceptable injustices in our world today is that good people continue to wither and die solely to help maintain his grasp on the power this sonofabitch and his ilk can't live without... and he gets to live.
My suggestion? We strip him of his American holdings, take away his visa, shove him up Roger Ailes' ass and ship them both into the Outback and as far as possible from civilized humans.
The Aussies spawned this malignant old parasite... let them deal with him.
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Isn't it nice to see things working out for the healthy insurance industry? They're always there for everyone. Well, everyone in the board room who needs to buy a new yacht thanks to cushy bonuses. How fair is it that everyone else keeps doing with less or even without yet the big money never ends for this industry? NY Times:
The nation?s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.
The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the ?low level? of medical use.
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.
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The legality of Social Security and Medicare must be reversed, just like slavery was abolished in 1865, according to Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul.
"You talk a lot about the Constitution," Fox News' Chris Wallace noted Sunday. "You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all unconstitutional."
"Technically they are," Paul insisted. "There is no authority. Article 1, Section 8 doesn't say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution -- liberals are the ones that use this general welfare clause."
"Doesn't Social Security come under promoting the general welfare," Wallace asked.
"Absolutely not," Paul replied. "Maybe sound currency is general welfare, maybe markets, maybe judicial system, maybe a national defense, but this is specific welfare. This justifies the whole welfare state. The military industrial complex, the welfare to foreigners, the welfare state that imprisons our people and impoverishes our people and gives us our recession."
"That is such an extreme liberal viewpoint that has been mistaught in our schools for so long. That's what we have to reverse, that very notion you're presenting," he added.
"Congressman, it's not just a liberal view. It's the decision of the Supreme Court in 1937 when they said that Social Security was constitutional under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution," Wallace explained.
"The Constitution and the court said slavery was legal, too. We had to reverse that. So, I tell you. Just because a court in '37 went very liberal on us and expanded the role of government, no, I think the original intent is not a bad idea," Paul opined.
In a year of unprecedented attacks on women's freedom to make choices about pregnancy and contraception, there was a small bit of good news last week. Three more state legislatures adjourned. Which brings the total that can do no more damage this year to 19.But the anti-choice victories already achieved in 2011 are surely drawing high-fives among the faithful. In April alone, according to the latest tally by the Guttmacher Institute, nine states passed 33 new laws designed in some fashion to keep women from obtaining abortions. That's on top of the 15 new laws passed in seven states during March. Elizabeth Nash, who tracks legislation on reproductive rights for Guttmacher, told me the wave of proposed laws is greater than "any I have seen in my 12 years here."
You can see a list of what has passed so far here. And an analysis of the bills and amendments affecting reproductive rights that have been introduced in 2011 here. While many legislators have gone home, we haven't yet seen the end of the year's efforts to turn Roe v. Wade into a dead letter.
Not that the coerced-birth forces will be able to claim victory for all the hundreds of pieces of legislation their allies have introduced in each of the 50 states. Most of those bills will be defeated. For instance, it seems highly unlikely that Louisiana will pass full frontal attack on Roe introduced last month by Rep. John LaBruzzo. His proposal would ban all abortions. No exceptions for rape, incest or even the life of the woman, much less her health. While that is the most draconian bill, proposals for abortion bans to replace Roe have been introduced in 20 states and have passed one chamber of the legislature in five of them.
But several newly proposed laws, from North Dakota to North Carolina, have been defeated in committee or on the floor of at least one chamber of a score of state legislatures. And even when they pass both chambers, a governor sometimes stands in the way of enactment. A week ago Friday, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed a bill that would have criminalized abortion. Minnesota is considering an amendment to a bill that would not only defund Planned Parenthood but impose a gag order on any reproductive services operation that refers women to abortion providers or even mentions the word "abortion." Gov. Mark Dayton will no doubt veto that bill if it is passed by the legislature, just as he can be expected to veto the legislatively approved bill barring abortions in the state after 20 weeks of gestation.
But the foes of reproductive freedom are relentless. They move on from losses and repeat previous efforts with slightly changed language or some new roundabout approach. They have no interest in waiting for the never-may-come day that a majority of the Supreme Court changes its mind. Nearly from the moment Roe was decided, they have chipped away at women's right to choose, occasionally hammering off a big chunk of previously guaranteed rights, as they did with the 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood decision, which Scott Lemieux recently concluded is the source of so many of our current abortion woes.
Here are just a few examples of this year's attack:
? In Louisiana, where the legislative session began in late April, Abruzzo's is not the only anti-choice proposal on the agenda to make access to abortion more difficult. The state House of Representatives has just reenacted laws on informed consent, parental consent and a 24-hour waiting period. Last week, it passed the ridiculous Forced Abortion Prevention Sign Act. Action now moves to the Louisiana Senate. Louisiana is one of several states with laws already on the books that would immediately ban all abortions if Roe is overturned. Like other state, it prohibits abortion providers from obtaining malpractice insurance.
? In the final hours before adjourning last week, Kansas legislators joined five other states that have banned private insurance companies from offering coverage that includes abortion as a standard procedure. The only exception would be in cases where the woman's life is at risk. Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma have passed similar bans. This is a pre-emptive strike on federal health insurance reform that will come into force in 2014.
Kansas also joined a growing number of states, like Minnesota, that have passed or tried to pass laws banning abortion after 20 weeks, using the disputed claim of "fetal pain." The law requires women to undergo an ultrasound of the fetus shortly before obtaining an abortion. The state now requires written parental consent for abortions on minors. Another new Kansas law requires that medical staff tell women seeking the procedure that abortion ends the life of a "whole, separate, unique, living human being."
Kansas participated this session in the nationwide assault on Planned Parenthood and became the second state, after Indiana, to cut funding for the organization, something Republicans in Congress tried but failed to do. The budget Kansas just passed places Planned Parenthood at the bottom of a list of eligible recipients for Title X money. That federal grant program provides funds for low-income patients and those without health insurance to obtain family planning and reproductive health services.
In Kansas, there are three Planned Parenthood clinics, and those in Hays and Wichita received $334,756 last year from Title X funds. The clinics provide health care services, such as breast exams, Pap smears, cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and birth control. They don't perform abortions. In fact, nobody can use Title X funds for abortions. But the Hays and Wichita clinics have referred women to abortion providers, and foes want to cut off money from organizations that do that or have anything else to do with the procedure.
?This amendment will be disastrous for thousands of Kansans, particularly those living in rural counties," said Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. "By effectively eliminating Planned Parenthood as a Title X provider, patients may be forced to endure long wait times for live-saving cancer screenings and the possibility of having to drive hundreds of miles to the nearest low-income family planning provider,? he said. ?This amendment is an attack on poor women, and it is repugnant.?
This isn't the first time the Kansas legislature has tried to redirect funding away from Planned Parenthood. But in the two previous budget years, Gov. Mark Parkinson line-item vetoed the attempt. This year, the coerced-birthers have Gov. Sam Brownback in their corner.
The assault on Planned Parenthood is especially galling and illustrative of the real meaning behind the propaganda term "pro-life." According to a 2009 report. It found that publicly funded family planning services prevent 2 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions nationwide each year. But then many in the coerced-birth crowd are delighted with higher numbers of unintended pregnancies because it makes more babies available for adoption.
? Before its adjournment, the South Dakota legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that requires the longest waiting period in the country, 72 hours. Before obtaining an abortion, a woman must visit a crisis pregnancy center for "counseling." The law requires that state-accredited centers be ones whose principal mission is to "educate, counsel and otherwise assist women to help them maintain their relationship with their unborn children" and that "they do not now refer pregnant women for abortions, and have not referred any pregnant women for an abortion at any time in the three years immediately preceding July 1, 2011."
So far no crisis center has applied for the state accreditation. After getting "counseling" that she cannot now get, a woman seeking an abortion must travel to the Sioux Falls Planned Parenthood clinic. Abortions are performed there by a Minnesota physician who flies in once a week because South Dakota physicians will do the procedure. Under the law, the woman must receive counseling from the physician who will do the abortion 72 hours beforehand. This means two trips to Sioux Falls, or a week's stay. As Nash says:
"They're saying the-three day waiting period is no big deal, but it is, particularly for women who aren't well off and can't take off work and have to deal with childcare. A lot of burdens are placed on a woman when she has to make these two trips."
In effect, South Dakota politicians have banned abortion without explicitly doing so. And they had to go through the back door to do so because South Dakota voters rejected the more direct (unconstitutional) approach in 2006.
? Kansas and North Dakota also have mandated state-directed "counseling," and seven other states have introduced such legislation.
? Texas just passed a law that not only requires women to obtain an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, as do 20 other states, but also to hear a detailed description of the development of the fetus. Now on the books in Arizona is a law that requires a woman to undergo an ultrasound at least one hour before obtaining an abortion. Technicians must offer the woman the chance to hear a description of the fetus and listen to its heartbeat.
It's a sickening list that goes on and on. The range of attacks is broad and deep. While insurance coverage of abortion, restriction of abortion after a specific point in gestation and ultrasound requirements are the main areas being focused on this year, ridiculous waiting periods, mandating what passes for "counseling," requiring abortion clinics to follow the same procedures as hospitals, forbidding the tele-prescription of abortion medication and forbidding any funding to family planning organizations that provide abortions with private money are also on the agenda. The coerced-birthers are making more headway and faster than they have since they began their assault on free choice decades ago.
In the past, however, there's been a countervailing force at work. Take contraception, especially Emergency contraception, for example. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia require hospital emergency rooms to provide information about emergency contraception to sexual assault victims, and 12 states plus DC require them to dispense the drug at a victim's request. Nine states allow pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception without a physician?s prescription under certain conditions, and seven states allow pharmacists to distribute it under a collaborative-practice agreement with a physician. Only five states allow individual pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraceptives (including emergency contraception) and only one allows whole pharmacies to refuse to dispense contraceptives. This year, however, no progress is being made to extend emergency contraception laws to additional states. Why is that? Why is the fight so confined to defense?
Amanda Marcotte has addressed the issue: ?We?re understandably busy trying to fight incursions against the right to abortion, but because of this, we haven?t been doing enough to expand the right and put anti-choicers on defense.? And so has Lina Thorne:
While only 3% of all of Planned Parenthood's numerous and important services are abortions, the reason they are being targeted has everything to do with the right to abortion (contraception as well, which is inseparably connected for the anti-abortion movement). So where are the advocates in the public sphere, proudly pointing to the ways in which the right to abortion and birth control empowers women and breaks down the barriers to participation in society, advocates who angrily denounce the immorality of forced child-bearing? Where are OUR voices? There are blogs aplenty, making coherent and articulate arguments for reproductive rights, telling moving stories, and persuading people one-by-one to break through the propaganda offensive and see the true nature of the anti-abortion movement.? ?But the pro-choice movement by and large is still accepting the terrible terms set by the antis and negotiating for smaller and smaller pockets of access to this basic right.
Our failures in this arena ? "our" meaning those of us who know sex isn't evil, women who engage in it aren't sluts and fetuses aren't babies ? stem from an unwillingness to assign as much importance to reproductive freedom as we do to other issues. It also comes from a willingness to justifiably criticize some bad political and strategic choices on the part of leading pro-choice organizations like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, but not to fully engage with them, to debate with them, as allies. Yes, we stand with them in moments of crisis. But over the longer haul we do not, in solidarity, press forward their principal mission often enough or firmly enough.
That mission is our mission as progressives, leftists, liberals, whatever label you choose. And the only way to defeat the extremists now hacking away at reproductive freedom in state after state is to stop behaving as if that freedom is just a convenient add-on, something nice to have but not all that high on the list of must-fight-for priorities. Without reproductive rights, which means without unfettered access to abortion and all forms of contraception, our mothers, sisters, aunts, girl friends, wives and daughters aren't free. We need to be as persistent and relentless as the anti-choicers. We need to be pro-active not just reactive in this realm. As has become obvious this year, as on so many other issues, we need a 50-state strategy.
Matt spent the evening with the McSuedermans where McMegan served Frito-Chili pie that she whipped up in the food processor (while explaining that her grandmother could not have done this in the forties because people back then didn't have food[...]
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