Peter Dreier, professor of politics and director of the urban and environmental policy program at Occidental College in Los Angeles, writes in today's L.A. Times that the paper should revive its history of reporting on labor issues:
Up until the 1980s, most major newspapers, including The Times, had a regular labor reporter. Today, few papers, The Times among them, have even one reporter exclusively assigned to cover labor.
That may be a consequence—even a cause—of declining union membership. But The Times serves a metropolitan area that has become the U.S. capital of the working poor, where more than 800,000 workers (almost twice the national rate) are union members and where (unlike most parts of the country) labor union membership is actually growing.
I couldn't agree more.
It seems a train conductor in Chicago had some musings about the new Chicago smoking ban, which he shared with riders on an inbound commuter train yesterday.
Seems these musings contained a bad word:
Veering from his script notifying riders about the ban, the conductor used a vulgar sexual epithet over the Metra train's public address system to describe the city officials who enacted the ordinance.
Seems he's looking for a new job now.
For my part, I can't figure out what epithet he used, but I'm guessing it was close to "putz."
The Administration would have you believe that the $400 billion deficit the U.S. will have this year is because of Hurricane Katrina clean-up.
Reports the Chicago Tribune (reg.req.):
Even with December's surplus, experts are predicting that the budget deficit for this year could well surge above $400 billion, reflecting increased government spending to help with reconstruction efforts in hurricane-ravaged states along the Gulf Coast.
Katrina clean-up accounts for, oh, $1 billion—0.25%—of the deficit. The other $399 billion comes from a deliberate sequence of ideologically-driven tax cuts that have (a) left the Federal government vastly under-funded, which (b) is what the Administration wanted in the first place.
The Tribune goes on directly:
President Bush has vowed to cut the deficit in half by 2009 and still preserve the tax cuts he pushed through Congress in his first term.
I don't need Anne's math degree to find fault with that goal.
Let's review the Administration's record:
- The GOP cuts taxes severely.
- The GOP cuts spending on Federal programs (FEMA? CDC?) and staffs them with incompetent flunkies.
- The programs fail miserably.
- The GOP claims that, because the programs are failing miserably, the programs and the taxes that fund them should be cut further.
- Rinse and repeat.
This is the program outlined by Grover Norquist and his homeys almost 25 years ago.
Happy New Election Year, folks.
First, I'd like to welcome my mom to broadband. She's been on dial-up since she got her first home computer (in, I think 2001), but she finally got a cable modem. I clocked the thing at 9.1 Mbps downstream, which is about 160 times faster than her 56.6k analog modem.
I mention this because yesterday she asked me to pick up a copy of Turbo Tax at the store. I pointed out that, with a super-fast Internet connection, she could simply download the product and save a tree.
In an unrelated train of thought, Borowitz was funnier than usual today:
[O]ne day after published reports alleged that author James Frey had fabricated sections of his bestselling memoir, A Million Little Pieces, Mr. Frey was named chief spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department.
Finally, the new Webcam arrived from Logitech. I'll be testing it in the lab for a few days before replacing the main one—assuming the replacement works as hoped.
Yesterday's post about the flaming mouse is apparently so much hooey, says the Associated Press in a follow-up report today:
A small-town rumor that sparked world-wide interest about a mouse burning down a house has been found to be untrue.
"It's really humorous more than anything that a mouse burned down the house," [81-year-old Chano Mares] told KOAT-TV in Albuquerque. The mouse was dead when it hit the burning leaves.
Mares said he trapped and killed the critter and tossed it on the fire.
So This American Life remains the only verified rodent-running-around-on-fire story I have, though there are still two verified rodents flambés on record.
Update: The following entry may be false. Or maybe the guy just changed his story after the A.P. got ahold of it.
The Associated Press reports today that a New Mexico man destroyed his house when he threw a mouse into a pile of burning leaves, only to have the mouse run into the house and set it on fire.
This reminded me of a segment on This American Life involving a rookie cop and a squirrel, except that the cop didn't intentionally set fire to the squirrel.
Sic transit gloria musi.
I debated even calling attention to this latest bit of drivel from the mental midget extraordinaire, Pat Robertson. But he had this to say about critically-ill Ariel Sharon last night:
[The prophet Joel] makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.' ... [Sharon] was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America.
Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman said, essentially, "STFU, Pat:"
His remarks are un-Christian and a perversion of religion. Unlike Robertson, we don't see God as cruel and vengeful.
So why not post this tidbit? Because it's never good to wrestle with a pig. You both get muddy, but the pig likes it.
Interesing news stories of the day:
The President yesterday made 17 recess appointments to positions requiring Senate approval, which gets the people into office until the Senate can meet.
In other words, the White House knows or has reason to believe that the Senate would not confirm, or would in some other way obstruct, these appointments. So the President just put them into office, where they stay until the Senate can hold confirmation hearings. This gives the Senate the opportunity to allow the appointments to stand without actually having the kind of "up-or-down vote" that the Republicans continually demand—the kind they refused to give more than 100 of Clinton's judicial nominees.
The Washington Post (reg.req.) reports:
President Bush yesterday made a raft of controversial recess appointments, including Julie L. Myers to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau at the Department of Homeland Security, in a maneuver circumventing the need for approval by the Senate.
Myers, a niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Richard B. Myers and the wife of the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, had been criticized by Republicans and Democrats who charged that she lacked experience in immigration matters.
Chertoff's chief of staff's wife? Well, I did make my wife my corporate counsel, but the confirmation process didn't involve the U.S. Senate or 50 million voters...