Sometimes looking back helps clear up the vision as we look forward.
From an FDR campaign speech nearly 80 years ago at Madison Square Garden (October 31, 1936). Some things just never change:
“For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.
I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.”
Something to consider on a Memorial Day weekend.
The American song that celebrates the heroic warrior returning from battle “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” is thought by many to be a rewrite of the old Irish anti-war song “Johnny, I hardly Knew Ye.” This weekend Americans remember the sacrifices of the men and women who have served their country in war and peace.
Today is also the 99th anniversary of the birth of John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was a veteran of World War 2 who knew the horrors of war and thus fought for peace.
Below is a video containing excerpts from Kennedy speeches on a variety of subjects including war and peace. You may note that issues from 50+ years ago still plague us. about 7 minutes
Were you paying attention?
1) Which old foe of the US had a US arms embargo against them lifted last week?
2) One of the most severe food crises in decades appears to be gathering steam on what continent?
3) “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Happy 280th birthday today to what revolutionary figure who spoke those words?
4) It is incredibly hot in India and critters get cranky. A camel did what to his owner after the camel was left out in the heat all day?
5) Sometimes the campaigns get silly, we hope anyway. What businessman was floated as a possible veep for Hillary Clinton?
6) The Chilcot Report in Britain, to be released in July, may lead to calls for investigation of what former Prime Minister for war crimes?
7) The US Supreme Court threw out a Virginia congressional map for what is known as what practice?
8) Schools in 20 states were disrupted Monday by what?
9) At a rally in North Dakota, Donald Trump stated “ You have to be,” what “to be great?”
10) In the ironically ironic file. Who was fired as Baylor’s president this week due to ignoring a sex scandal in the Baylor football program?
11) Federal prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Dylan Roof. What did Roof do?
12) The Center for Disease Control released smoking data for 2015. What percentage of people currently smoke in the US?
13) At the Iowa Republican state convention last week Chair Jeff Kaufmann claimed that Donald Trump was “a heck of a lot better than “ who?
14) Baltimore Police Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty in the highly publicized death of who?
15) President Obama, on his trip to Asia, visited what infamous site Friday?
16) What percentage of Americans smoked fifty years ago?
17) Donald Trump picked up another notorious endorsement when what embattled Pharma CEO endorsed him?
18) In SCOTUS news, a death sentence in Georgia was nullified because the jury was what?
19) According to a GAO report released this week, the computer systems that launch nuclear missiles are run by what outdated technology?
20) The Federal Reserve released a study Wednesday that showed that nearly half of America’s households would struggle if they had an unexpected expense of how much?
21) One question on Memorial Day. When did Memorial Day become an official federal holiday?
It is somewhat surprising that the anyone is still smoking tobacco in this country.
2) Africa due to climate change
3) Patrick Henry
4) bit his head off and killed him
5) Mark Cuban
6) Tony Blair
8) robocalled bomb threats
9) wealthy. So Jesus Christ, Mahatma Ghandi was not great
10) Ken Starr – the lawyer who relentlessly pursued Bill Clinton’s sex life.
11) Last June, Roof went into a black church in South Carolina and murdered 9 members in a racially motivated attack
12) 15% – the lowest ever and dropping fast
13) Hillary Clinton – and he said it with a straight face
14) Freddie Gray
15) Hiroshima where the first nuclear bomb used in war was used
17) Martin Shkreli the ‘pharma bro’ who jacked the prices of needed drugs through the roof
18) all white with blacks purposely excluded from serving – Thomas dissented
19) the old 8 inch floppy discs that really flopped
20) $400 in unexpected expenses.
21) Memorial Day was not an official federal holiday until 1971.
Smoking costs the US well over $300 billion per year in lost work days and medical expenses.
Have a safe and solemn holiday all.
Recent actions within the Iowa Republican Party serve to illustrate that their focus is totally on party with little thought of the consequences for the state and the country. Actions by Republican office holders and candidates taken individually are often head slappers, but viewed collectively the pattern emerges that allegiance to party is much more important than the good of the state or country.
The most glaring example of their party first mentality is Iowa’s oldest politician, Chuck Grassley. Taking his orders from Mitch McConnell, Grassley has willingly taken up a potential career suicide mission blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Actually Grassley has made it his mission to block any Obama nominations to any federal bench, thus creating a federal judicial emergency. However, nominations to the Supreme Court are more in the open than the other federal court nominations and any monkeying with the standard procedure becomes big news.
I would daresay that Grassley is fully cognizant that he has bent the rules way past a tipping point. He appears to feel he can get away with it based on his personal popularity at home and a bet that the voting populace will not revolt. Grassley’s very cynical move to put party first may well be a bad bet on his part. Thanks to Iowa’s status as the first in the nation presidential test, most Iowans like to pride themselves on their political savvy. One way that savvy shows up is when Iowans call out BS on the part of politicians. Iowans across the spectrum have called BS on Grassley on this.
Heck, when Grassley tries to defend his position in public it doesn’t even sound like he believes what he is doing is right, but he is taking orders.
Another excellent example is 3rd district congress member David Young switching his vote from yea to nay on concerning LGBTQ protections in a defense spending bill. Republicans suspended the clock on the vote and six Republican members were “persuaded” to change their votes. As explained in a dailykos article concerning this switch:
“Oh, and if you’re wondering why the GOP was so insistent on making sure the Maloney amendment failed, Rep. Charlie Dent, one of the provision’s Republican supporters, explained that the more conservative members of his party didn’t want to get stuck voting for a defense bill with a pro-LGBT amendment attached to it. So House GOP leaders figured they’d sacrifice a few congressman in bluer seats to protect the ultra-wingnuts from possible primary challenges. The Republican war rages on—and only Democrats stand to benefit.”
Finally there is the question of the GOP’s presidential choice with Donald Trump. Trying to cover Trump’s huge inadequacies as a presidential candidate Republicans in this state have come up with a clever little slogan – “Anybody But Hillary.” Really?
Donald Trump himself has created enough division not only in his own party but throughout the country with his speeches that endorse hate for groups based on their religion or origin and denigrate women. Trump has also offered an economic plan that could trigger the worst depression ever. This from the same party that gave us the Great Depression and the Great Recession.
Anybody? How about word salad Palin? She almost became vice-president within a heartbeat of being president. Yet to hear her speak it is quite clear she has little idea what she is talking about.
Anybody? David Duke maybe? Would Republicans back a man who is openly racist?
Anybody? Bobby Jindal was among the choices for president this year. This is a person who led Louisiana for 8 years and left it in tatters.
Really Republicans, it is way beyond time to put away trite phrases and show concern for the country. Time to stand up for the people of the United States. Lincoln showed the way. Believe me, Donald Trump is no Lincoln. Sadly Trump even pales in comparison to George W. Bush a president who gets plenty of votes when people talk about the worst president ever.
A couple of interesting items that took place Friday.
Governor Branstad signed the Medicaid oversight bill Friday. Since Branstad pushed the privatization and prioritization of Iowa’s medicaid program through as if he answered to no one there was much trepidation that he would veto the bill that established much needed oversight.
In a statement released yesterday, Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic said:
“We’re glad Governor Branstad listened to the will of Iowans and the legislative process. Progress Iowa is pleased that Govenor Branstad both signed all of the Medicaid oversight provisions into law and did it in a relatively timely manner on this Friday. The Governor’s privatization scheme remains a serious mistake that has caused a multitude of problems for the 560,000 Iowans who depend upon it, but at least we can move forward with some semblance of oversight and transparency.”
Muscatine Campaign Office Opens
In an unrelated but interesting event, the Muscatine County Democrats opened their office in Muscatine for the 2016 campaign season. Such events are usually ho-hum affairs with the same folks attending that attend most such events.
However last night’s opening drew over 60 people, many of whom were new faces. There was an electricity in the room as guest speakers Sen. Bob Dvorsky and Sen. Joe Bolkcom spoke on behalf of Muscatine’s senate candidate incumbent Sen. Chris Brase. Both spoke of Senator Brase’s tenacity in getting the aforementioned oversight bill put together and then passed.
The crowd was then treated to a speech by Congressman Dave Loebsack who spoke on how important this election is at both the state and national levels.
The significance was in the size of the crowd on a Friday evening of a holiday weekend and the mix of the crowd which was younger than the normal crowd. Let us hope this bodes well for this year’s campaigns.
We have a very important race in the Democratic Party this year. We need Democrats to vote to choose the opponent for stumbling Senator Chuck Grassley.
In case you feel that you may forget to vote on June 7th, you can vote early at your county’s auditor’s office during normal business hours.
If you want to vote absentee, you can download an absentee ballot request form here fill it out and take it to you county auditor’s office by next Friday at 5PM. But since you have to make the trip to the auditor’s office anyway, you may as well vote while you are there.
Just be sure to vote in the June 7th primary. Then it will be time to get to work for our candidates from the courthouse to the White House.
Yet another extremely sad story of death by guns in America. The Sandy Hook massacre produced the same punch in the gut response. Tragedies like these are preventable.
As we remember those who lost their lives in war, also remember those who die at home in what seems to be an undeclared war on America by Americans. 33,000 a year is a lot to lose with another 100,000 injured. The devastation for families, loved ones and acquaintances is indescribable. Add to that the hospital bills and the loss of earnings for those who survive but are crippled. It is time for America to address this problem.
“On April 9, 2013, we had to watch my sweet, beautiful, 6-year-old boy take his last breath,” Christine Holt told a judge during a sentencing hearing in 2015, according to the Asbury Park Press. “We used to imagine what he would be like when he got older and grew up. Now all we can do is imagine what he could have been.”
This week’s court proceeding, NJ.com reported, unfolded in less than two hours and included more wrenching testimony from Brandon Holt’s mother, who recalled encountering her badly injured son; he was gasping for air after being shot, his eyes open, his mouth bleeding, according to NJ.com.
“I was rubbing his legs, telling him to breathe,” Christine Holt said. “I kept telling him I loved him.”
So far in 2016, at least 95 children younger than 18 have picked up a firearm and accidentally shot themselves or someone else, according to data from Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun-control group funded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. The advocacy group, which compiles shooting data using news reports, found that 278 such shootings occurred in 2015.
Join the effort here
Women’s Global Leadership Program – Part 1
In March, I had the privilege to participate in the first-ever AFLCIO Women’s Global Leadership Program alongside nearly fifty other women from a broad spectrum of trade unions across the US. It was an eye opening and inspiring experience that few know takes place each year. The program I participated in ran parallel to the UN Commission on the Status of Women, and participants in both events were able to join together in side panel discussions about issues relating to women’s empowerment, economic status, exploitation, access to potable water and medical care, and human trafficking. The following article examines the Economic Status of Women.
Every year in March, global leaders and their ambassadors along with 3rd World village women converge on New York City to participate in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. And despite the fact that few know this takes place, March 2016 was its 60th year.
Many of the official meetings take place on the UN Campus, which is dominated by a gigantic skyscraper, towering above the food trucks and polluted East River, inching toward the clouds and skirted by the ubiquitous array of the flags of the world that only fly when the UN is in session. Inside, where you need a special badge to gain access, diplomats and agency heads discuss their version of our truth.
But on those days when the flag poles stand bare, women from non-governmental agencies continue to meet across the street at the UN Church Building and other less-stunning locations to provide another side of the story of the status of women. And this year, for the first time, the AFLCIO hosted a Women’s Global Leadership Program to run parallel with the UNCSW, bringing together fifty women from unions in the US to participate in side panels and discussions about the conditions for women workers. Outside the steel UN security gates, watched by cameras and guards brandishing military grade weaponry, we women gathered to tell our own story. And it is far more intricate than any spreadsheet could convey.
Often, US workers will tout a sort-of Monroe Doctrine in economics with “Buy American” themes as an answer to our economic woes. Trump is succeeding quite well among US workers hit hard by the economy by vilifying China and Mexico for “taking our jobs away.” However, by ignoring the mechanics of the global supply chain and by lacking global worker solidarity, we remain disempowered to improve working conditions around the globe as well as fail to stop the deteriorating conditions for US workers.
The Global Leadership Program focused on how to understand the intersectionality of worker rights along the global supply chain, how our organizations work with international labor groups to counteract the detrimental impacts of globalization.
While AFLCIO unions exist in the US to represent the interests of US workers, and the International Trade Union Confederation similarly represents trade unionists globally, the International Labor Organization brings together governments, employers and workers to set global labor standards. The ILO emerged after the horrors of World War I based on the premise that a lasting peace can only be achieved if it is based on economic justice. The ILO has established the following as its fundamental labor rights:
– No Child Labor
– No Discrimination
– No Forced Labor
– Freedom of Association
– Collective Bargaining Rights
Unfortunately, the US has only ratified two of these ILO rights, the provisions against child labor and forced labor. While the US Congress has established laws like the National Labor Relations Act to provide for labor protections, the fact that the US has not ratified the other ILO Conventions means it has not promised the world that it wouldn’t take these away – with the exception of slavery and child labor.
In addition to the fundamental rights, the ILO has also established four Governance Conventions, of which the US has only ratified one; 177 Technical Conventions, of which the US has only ratified 11. In comparison, the nation of Uganda has ratified all of the fundamental conventions, and three out of the four governance conventions. Uganda joins countries like Turkey, Tunisia, Argentina, and dozens of others that have ratified more labor rights than the US. In comparison, the US is more similar to Afghanistan in the labor rights it has ratified and pledged to guarantee to its citizens.
Transforming Women’s Work
In conjunction with the UNCSW, the AFLCIO, working with the Solidarity Center and Rutgers University Center for Women’s Global Leadership, also released a report in March, “Transforming Women’s Work.” Although the report acknowledges the strides women have made over the past thirty years in gender equality, it exposes how the neoliberal consensus for economic development causes harm to women.
Neoliberal Trade policies, like NAFTA, GATT, CAFTA, the Permanent National Trade Policy with China, KORUS, and now the TPP and TIPP currently under consideration, are built on gender inequality and further tilt power away from workers in their focus on increasing profits and productivity (GDP) above all other concerns.
The agreements make it easier for foreign-based corporations and hedge funds to invest in low-wage countries while doing little to nothing to establish safety standards, job protections, decent wages and benefits, or address environmental protections. While “women are good for economic growth,” said a representative from Action Aid, “economic growth is not always good for women.”
Women in countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam who had previously lived in extreme poverty with few wage earning opportunities are moving into paid work in factories making clothing for Western consumption. But because of the absence of a labor movement or other wage guarantees or safe working protections, the AFLCIO report found that “a recent analysis of apparel-exporting countries found wages for garment workers fell in real terms between 2001 and 2011.”
One of the most well-known examples of how trade policies harm women specifically is the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, when a nine-story garment factory making clothing for Benetton, Walmart, JC Penny, The Children’s Place, and other western retailers collapsed killing 1,134 and injuring thousands more. Many of the dead bodies remain missing, unable to be unearthed from the debris. The dead were from the ranks of the 4 million who work in Bangladeshi apparel industry, 80% of whom are women.
After the disaster, due to international pressure, the minimum wage was raised from $38 per month to $68. Additionally, minimal safety measures and building inspections and remediation were implemented by three international watchdog groups, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, and one National Tripartite Plan for Fire a Structural Integrity. But two of the agreements to allow inspection will expire in 2018, while thousands of factories have yet to be inspected.
As the Rana Plaza disaster recedes deeper into the past the world will lose focus on industry practices there, and in the absence of a robust labor movement or trade policies that protect workers all along the supply chain, it will only be a matter of time before another tragedy occurs.
Despite the international outrage and mourning, the deaths of thousands of women in Rana Plaza did little to damage the garment industry in Bangladesh. Clothing exports jumped 16 percent, to $23.9 billion, in the year following Rana Plaza, and are now at $30 billion and expected to grow.
The worker organizers at UNCSW reminded western women that though we may be inclined to simply boycott clothing made in their countries, the women in Bangladesh and Vietnam want and need the work, just as western women do, as paid work can help ease their poverty. Rather, they point out, we need to change the terms by which women in the 3rd World are brought into the economy and actively participate with campaigns that work with governments, trade unions, buyers, brands, and stores in our home countries, especially those affiliated with the International Labor Organization.
Next: Part 2 – No Such Thing As Gender Neutral
Will the Democratic convention be messy? Of course. “Democracy is messy. Families are messy. Primaries are the family fight.” Top progressive radio hosts #StephanieMiller and #ThomHartmann talk progressive unity and GOP trolls.