Monday, November 30, 2015

Walmart's Illegal Retaliation on Union Organizers

Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

"I have not been in a Wal-Mart since 2002 and I plan never to enter one again." -- Comment

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page
29 November 15
almart has undertaken secret surveillance of employees suspected of wanting to form a union – hiring an intelligence-gathering service from Lockheed Martin, contacting the FBI, staffing up its labor hotline, ranking stores by labor activity, and keeping tabs on employee activists. The details (published by Bloomberg Businessweek, below) are part of a case before the National Labor Relations Board alleging illegal retaliation against Walmart employees who have pushed for a union.

The case should be decided within a few months.

This Friday, in addition to the strikes and protests outside Walmart parking lots that have marked the last three Black Fridays, organizers are mounting a nationwide food drive for Walmart workers in 1,000 cities and towns who are unable to make ends meet on wages that start at $9 an hour. The goal is to feed 100,000 Walmart workers and their families in all 50 states.

No American who works full time should be in poverty. As America’s largest employer, Walmart should be a model for other employers. Instead, it continues to lead the race to the bottom.

What do you think?


+30 # PeacefulGarden 2015-11-29 16:03
What do I think? I think I will never shop there, added to the fact that I have not shopped there in 10 years.

That is more than what I think. It is what I will do .

Robert, you need to go beyond thinking, the question is, What can we do?
+26 # wrknight 2015-11-29 23:06
Quoting PeacefulGarden:
What do I think? I think I will never shop there, added to the fact that I have not shopped there in 10 years.

That is more than what I think. It is what I will do .

Robert, you need to go beyond thinking, the question is, What can we do?

Likewise, I have not been in a Wal-Mart since 2002 and I plan never to enter one again.

The other things we can do are 1) convince others to avoid Wal-Mart as well, 2) stand with Wal-Mart strikers when they picket the stores and support them with food, coffee and whatever else they need while picketing, 3) write your congressmen and state representatives and demand that they reverse the anti-union legislation imposed over the past 30 years and finally 4) only vote for politicians who fully support unions.

You could also enter the store, request to see the manager, tell him/her you fully support the strikers, flip him/her the bird and walk out.
+27 # PCPrincess 2015-11-29 23:25
Agreed. I personally tire of reading 'thoughts' on the issue. We KNOW the problem. The only real step towards a solution that has actually been presented, a man named Bernie who has offered to run for President and who has promised to do the very same things he has done his whole life, attempt to change policies that allow corporations to rule the roost and we have people who don't seem to 'get it'. I really wish I could snap my fingers and wake some people up from the daze they appear to be in and say, "hey"! Voting is not a damned popularity contest and it is not based on who can be the most witty during a debate. Why in the world would anyone willingly throw away the only chance we've had in a long long time to actually elect someone with the balls to stand up to the fascist system we've morphed into? Phew, sorry bout that, I turned a reply to say I agreed with your post into a big rant. Thanks, I needed that ; )
+5 # ritawalpoleague 2015-11-30 06:05
Don't think we can do much, besides sending WalMart 'biggies' a message via our commitment to never/ever shop there again, until union membership by their employees is in place (ain't holding my breath).

However, NLRB, National Labor Relations Board, can (and let's hope will) be able to do a whole, whole lot, on this egregious one. I will never stop being impressed by and thankful to the NLRB for what it did to assist me in a similar anti-unionizing mess that came my way in the 80's. NLRB took our 'no unions allowed' case against the YMCA all the way to the Supreme Court, and we YMCA employees prevailed. So.....

0 # bmiluski 2015-11-30 11:45
I have met a couple of the Walton family. Aside from one or two being out and out racists (try talking the bible with them where they believe that God made people of color so as to be slaves to white people), they are typical republicans and could care less about the "others".
I think they need to be tried for treason because of how many American jobs they forced over seas thus weakening my country.
+25 # sharag 2015-11-29 23:13
I don't shop at Walmart, nor purchase anything from their online service. If you don't like Walmart, don't shop there. I do support their employees rights to unionize and for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Did Hobby Lobby's Pious Owners Smuggle Ancient Artifacts for Their Bible Museum?

The planned Museum of the Bible. (photo: Museum of the Bible/Daily Beast)
The planned Museum of the Bible. (photo: Museum of the Bible/Daily Beast)

By Brian Boucher, artnet News
27 November 15
obby Lobby, a company previously best known for winning a Supreme Court case that centered on religious freedom may have been a little too free in their standards for importing religious artifacts. The Green family, which owns the popular craft store chain headquartered in Oklahoma City, is under investigation on suspicion of importing looted artifacts, reports the Daily Beast.

The case centers on a 2011 shipment of more than 200 clay tablets that were bound for Oklahoma City from Israel and were to be part of the Museum of the Bible, which is planned to open in 2017 in Washington, DC, just blocks from the National Mall. The Greens sunk $50 million into buying the property and $30 million on a collection of about 40,000 historic religious texts.

Federal authorities have been investigating the Greens ever since, the museum's director, Cary Summers, confirmed to the Daily Beast. In what may have been a telling slip, he said that the problem was that “There was a shipment and it had improper paperwork—incomplete paperwork that was attached to it." The shipment is just “held up in customs," Summers continued.

The tablets, inscribed in cuneiform, the script of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, the territory now known as Iraq, were classified on FedEx shipping labels as “hand-crafted clay tiles" and “tile samples," a source tells the Daily Beast. The paperwork indicated a value of about $300, which would drastically underestimate their value, said the source.

Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green seems pretty unconcerned. “Is it possible that we have some illicit [artifacts]? That's possible," he tells the Daily Beast.

Worst of all, ancient artifacts have proven a huge source of funds for ISIS, which, in addition to destroying ancient sites (occasionally killing people into the bargain), has reportedly made tremendous amounts of money by smuggling antiquities. Earlier this month, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova condemned ISIS's “cultural cleansing" of Iraq. So it seems conceivable that some of the Green's family money could have been channeled to support shadowy causes abroad.

In the 2014 Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the company won an exemption from an Affordable Care Act provision that requires companies to provide contraception, having argued that doing so would violate their religious liberties. Crafty protesters voiced their outrage over the company's anti-contraception campaign in appropriately crafty ways.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Prominent Republican: Trump and Carson "out of their f*cking minds," other candidates "all nuts"

Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)
Robert Reich. (photo: Perian Flaherty)

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog
08 November 15
he other night I phoned a former Republican member of Congress with whom I’d worked in the 1990s on various pieces of legislation. I consider him a friend. I wanted his take on the Republican candidates because I felt I needed a reality check. Was I becoming excessively crotchety and partisan, or are these people really as weird as they seem? We got right into it:

Me: “So what do really you think of these candidates?”

Him: “You want my unvarnished opinion?”

Me: "Please. That’s why I called.”

Him: “They’re all nuts.”

Me: “Seriously. What do you really think of them?”

Him: “I just told you. They’re bonkers. Bizarre. They’re like a Star Wars bar room.”

Me: “How did it happen? How did your party manage to come up with this collection?”

Him: “We didn’t. They came up with themselves. There’s no party any more. It’s chaos. Anybody can just decide they want to be the Republican nominee, and make a run for it. Carson? Trump? They’re in the lead and they’re both out of their f*cking minds.”

Me: “That’s not reassuring.”

Him: “It’s a disaster. I’m telling you, if either of them is elected, this country is going to hell. The rest of them aren’t much better. I mean, Carly Fiorina? Really? Rubio? Please. Ted Cruz? Oh my god. And the people we thought had it sewn up, who are halfway sane – Bush and Christie – they’re sounding almost as batty as the rest.”

Me: “Who’s to blame for this mess?”

Him: “Roger Ailes, David and Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch, Rush Limbaugh. I could go on. They’ve poisoned the American mind and destroyed the Republican Party.

Me: "Nice talking with you.”

Him: “Sleep well.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Is There Room Under the Bed for All 320 Million of Us?

Firearms. (photo: Getty Images)
Firearms. (photo: Getty Images)

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
26 November 15
Terrorism need not force its way into every discussion—there's enough to be afraid around here already.

ver the weekend, a woman and her daughter were shot to death in Des Moines.

The chief suspect is the husband and father. One more domestic dispute gone to gunplay and murder because there was a firearm handy. I heard about it in the shuttle van on the way to the airport. The local news reader said that Des Moines police "were confident" that the murders were not part of any "larger action."

Damn, I thought, has it come to that? Do we really have to be reassured that this unfortunately too-commonplace scenario in American life—something that simply is part of the price we have to pay for our Second Amendment freedoms—has nothing to do with terrorism? Do journalists, even the ones who simply read copy for a living, feel obligated to provide that reassurance? Is there room under the bed for all 320 million of us?

I accept that things changed after 9/11. I take off my belt and shoes at the airport just like the next guy, unless, of course, I luck into the blessed TSA Pre-Check line, for which I regularly thank Big Government Jesus. But I don't accept, and I never have accepted, the fact that "everything" changed on that awful day, let alone a week ago in Paris. I don't think "Eeek! Terrorists!" should invade every institution of daily life in this country the way it has. I don't think local news stations have any business constantly running B-roll of Paris while the local "security consultant" waxes on about the old boogedy-boogedy. And I certainly don't need any more evidence that America is a gun-addled violent place, and that it became such quite on its own.

Also this weekend, there was a mass shooting at the Bunny Friend Playground in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. Seventeen people were shot, none of them fatally, thank god. Here's some of what we know.
Witnesses saw a man with a silver-colored machine gun flee toward Louisa Street. Gunfire continued in the park after he left. It is the largest mass shooting in New Orleans since the Mother's Day second-line of 2013. Between then and now, the shootings that injured the most people took place on Bourbon Street, June 29, 2013, where 10 people were shot, one of whom died; and on Burgundy Street, August 10, 2014, where seven people were shot, two fatally.
​A "silver-colored machine gun."

In an American city.

Good thing the guy wasn't Syrian.


+51 # Thomas Martin 2015-11-26 18:12
We're parsing and obfuscating "terrorism" in a political way, aren't we? Can we deny that the woman and her daughter who were murdered in Des Moines didn't feel terror when they were being shot? Can we deny that in our country domestic crime like this is the norm? I think "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
+30 # Cappucino 2015-11-26 19:57
You are absolutely right. Death by domestic violence IS THE NORM.For one thing, the facts back it up. For another, I've had several conversations with police seargants, and that is exactly what they say. The overwhelming majority of the time, murder has nothing to do with random violence. Maybe all the yapping about terrorism serves another purpose-- focusing on the rarest events helps us to deny what violence really means 99% of the time.
+39 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2015-11-26 18:47
In this country there is more than one mass shooting (defined as 4 or more people shot) PER DAY. If that isn't domestic terrorism, I don't know what is. Yet it's rarely described as such in the news media. If it were, people would understand that we're at far greater danger from our fellow citizens than we are from any foreign terrorists.

Problem is, such a realization could lead to an even greater police state than what we already have. What to do?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving for a Grateful Empire

US fighter jet takes off. (photo: Getty)
US fighter jet takes off. (photo: Getty)
By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
25 November 15
“Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear….”

o begins the official Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving Day, 2015, signed and issued by Barack Obama. While it hearkens back to earlier Thanksgivings in St. Augustine in 1565 and Plymouth in 1621, this is an essentially imperial document than gives only vague lip service to giving “thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us.” When his proclamation gets specific, in the third sentence, the President gives the highest place of grateful honor to the source of global American imperial dominance:

We also honor the men and women in uniform who fight to safeguard our country and our freedoms so we can share occasions like this with loved ones, and we thank our selfless military families who stand beside and support them each and every day.

This is, of course, fatuous pandering and a patent lie that is widely and unthinkingly shared by much of a preoccupied populace. Our country and our freedoms have needed no serious military defense for decades. Even amidst the popular revival of terrorism hysteria these days, our country and our freedoms need no military protection, because they face no credible military threat.

It is a nice thought to imagine Americans quietly sharing an inclusive and comforting community in which we express gratitude for our gifts and share them with others wherever in the world they meet our military. That might actually achieve the aspiration of showing “appreciation for all we hold dear.” But the sad reality seems to be that, as a nation, we no longer know what we hold dear, or even what we once believed we held dear.

Our country and our freedoms are unthreatened by others around the world despite our well-cultivated baseless fear. At home, our country and our freedoms are daily attacked by the cold dead hand of the unelected corporate state. Our country and our freedoms are daily attacked by the shrill, vicious demagoguery of divisive factions that are as dedicated to the dominance of minority views as any Taliban or ISIS or other monomaniacal evangelist. Our country and our freedoms go daily undefended by a feckless, reckless government that would rather control a cowed population than seek conciliation and general well-being for all.

As things now stand in a nation more exceptional for its fragmentation than its collective sense of confidence and purpose, a more honest sampling of appreciation for what some Americans hold dear might include:
  • Almost all American people can be thankful that their nation is not involved in any serious wars, just turkey-shoots in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, much of Africa, and other places that produce few American casualties while maintaining the constant expense of ordnance to no useful purpose, but steady profit to the international arms industry. 

  • President Obama and his administration can be thankful that almost none of their totalitarian surveillance and permanent-war-making powers face serious challenges, not even the President’s assassination-by-drone terrorism. 

  • American Muslims can be thankful that they have not been rounded up and confined to internment camps (yet), for the duration of the preferred endless hostilities. 

  • All minority-Americans can be thankful if no one in their family was hurt or killed by police this year. Black families in that category can be super grateful. Even white families can be a bit grateful, since cop brutality isn’t as completely bigoted as it sometimes seems. 

  • Media-American performers can be thankful that they will never be held accountable as journalists for their culturally destructive and dishonest hucksterism.

  • Police-Americans can be thankful for their special above-justice status, since even the most violent among them typically goes unpunished. 

  • The American prison complex can be thankful for another year of high profits at the expense of decent people jailed for non-violent crimes by a judiciary that has lost its sense of justice (with the significant assistance and insistence of Congress claiming to act for an infantilized and fearful American majority). 

  • Women-Americans can be thankful that it is still mostly lawful to be a woman. 

  • American terrorists can be thankful that they can go on assassinating doctors, torching clinics, executing church congregations, or shooting up mosques without fear that anyone will call them “terrorists.” 

  • The American public in general can be thankful that it remains generally undisturbed by these or other American realities and that it lacks a widespread feeling that it has any personal responsibility to fix anything. 

  • Ben Carson and the rest of the Republican field can be thankful that they have yet to be deemed a danger to themselves or others, and have not been forcibly hospitalized. 

  • Any Americans still nurturing the hope of living in an advanced, civilized nation can be thankful that we have two presidential candidates, a man and a woman, who actually have credible records of espousing humane values with regard to at least some of the critical problems we face. Obviously one of them is Bernie Sanders. The other, better one is Jill Stein. 

  • Upper-income Americans can be thankful for the country that cares for them and neglects others, making sure, year after year after year, that people who could learn are not educated, that people who could work are not hired, that people who could eat are not fed, that people who could be free are not. 

  • Any Americans who feel no shame for the state of their country can be grateful for their psychic numbness and failed humanity.
As some were wont to say back in the day: “Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they start getting worse.”

So we can be thankful that things aren’t worse already. 

Blessing on all, regardless of just deserts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law Might Say at Thanksgiving Dinner

Dave Johnson

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Wingnut Week In Review: Ugly Americans

Terrance Heath

There are always consequences for this kind of rhetoric. Muslim communities across America are on alert for misguided retaliation after the Paris attacks. And with good reason. An FBI report released the week showed that while the total number of hate crimes in the US declined last year, hate crimes against Muslims increased by 14 percent. Since Friday, the DC-based Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported a spike in calls about anti-Muslim incidents. Mosques and Moslems in at least eight states have reported vandalism at religious centers and violence against individuals.

This is what ISIS/Daesh wants. It wants the western world to turn against Muslims. It wants westerners to be hostile to Muslims in their midst. ISIS/Daesh wants us scared, angry, and lashing out. ISIS/Daesh wants Muslims to feel alienated and isolated from the communities where they live, because of a belief that Muslims will then have nowhere left to turn but to ISIS/Daesh. Recruitment well be a lot easier if all they will have to say is, “See? We told you so. They are not your friends. These are your enemies. These are enemies of Islam.” And, no, Ohio governor John Kasich’s proposal of “a new government agency to push Judeo-Christian values around the world,” wouldn’t do much to counter that alienation. (How it would even get past the First Amendment?)
Nicholas Henin was held hostage by ISIS/Daesh for 10 months, and knows them better than any politicians or pundits. After the Paris attacks, Henin wrote that it is our unity ISIS/Daesh fears most, not airstrikes.

Central to their world view is the belief that communities cannot live together with Muslims, and every day their antennae will be tuned toward finding supporting evidence. The pictures from Germany of people welcoming migrants will have been particularly troubling to them. Cohesion, tolerance, is not what they want to see.
Why France? For many reasons perhaps, but I think they identified my country as a weak link in Europe; as a place where divisions could be sown easily. That’s why, when I am asked how we should respond, I say that we must act responsibly.

There were some hopeful signs, from leaders who stood against this madness. French president Francois Hollande led by example, announcing that France is still committed to welcoming 30,000 refugees. Though he noted that “some people say the tragic events of the last few days have sown doubt in their minds, Hollande said that a ”humanitarian duty“ to help those fleeing extremist violence in the Middle East need not conflict with ”our duty to protect out people.” Hollande said refugees would undergo thorough security checks.
President Obama blasted Republican candidates and governors for their panic-fueled, uninformed, fearful reactions to the Paris attacks, and their refusal to admit Syrian refugees. The president made these comments during a press conference with Philippines president Benigno Aquino.

“When candidates say we should not admit 3-year-old orphans, that’s political posturing. When individuals say we should have religious tests, and only Christians, proven Christians, should be allowed, that’s offensive and contrary to American values.”
“I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate. ISIL seeks to exploit the idea that there’s war between Islam and the West, and when you start seeing individuals in position of responsibility suggesting Christians are more worthy of protection than Muslims are in a war-torn land, that feeds the ISIL narrative. It’s counter-productive, and it needs to stop. And I would add these are the same folks who suggested they’re so tough that just talk to Putin or staring down ISIL (will work) … but they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. First they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates, now they’re worried about 3-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (R-Mass.) took to the Senate floor to denounce efforts to block refugees seeking asylum:

“We are not a nation that delivers children back into the hands of ISIS murderers.” She added, “It is easy to proclaim that we are tough and brave and good-hearted when threats feel far away—but when those threats loom large and close by, our actions will strip away our tough talk and reveal who we really are.