Monthly Archives: February 2011

Why Do Business With Greedy Bastards

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that Wisconsin  Republican Governor Walker is trying to end collective bargaining for public sector unions in his state. He claims, it’s to help balance the state budget. He states, it has nothing to do with the fact that public sector unions generally back democrat candidates. If he’s not lying one would wonder why Walker’s proposal lets police and firefighter unions retain their collective bargaining rights even though their taxpayer-supported pensions are some of the most generous in the state. We’re suppose to believe it’s  just a coincidence  most of  the police and firefighter unions supported Walker in the last election.  Police and firefighter unions tend to endorse more conservative candidates, like Walker.

It should come as no surprise, there’s a provision in Walker’s new budget bill that would allow the state to sell or contract out any state-owned energy asset in no-bid deals with private corporations. Can you say, “This one is for you private energy Koch Brothers Corporation.” The Koch brothers gave Walker $43,000 in contributions and spent millions for attack ads against Walker’s democrat opponent. If you want to see what the Koch Brothers are up  to and what front groups they operate see this video.

Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill.  The governor’s response was “nothing doing.” That’s because it’s not about balancing Wisconsin’s budget it’s about breaking the union.  In 2009, Connecticut public employee unions agreed to $702 million in givebacks. Ohio workers have given back $440 million, NY also $440 million, and $231 million in New Jersey. That doesn’t matter because the governors and other politicians in those states and others states want to break public sector unions. Conservative politicians want to destroy all public sectors and privatize them to pay back their corporate contributors. You can bet when the public sector jobs are outsourced to the private sector they will be kept union free.

Gov. Walker was tricked into a phone call by someone imitating David Koch. You will hear what a toadie Walker is for the Koch brothers. Listen to parts one and two here.

Public sector workers in Ohio are under attack by Governor John Kasich. Ironically enough, Kasich’s father worked for the government as a union mail carrier. As one, he and his family got those taxpayer-funded compensation packages and benefits that raised John and paid for his college. You know, those same  benefits he  wants to deny Ohio government workers.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, shows Koch Industries is one of the nation’s top 10 polluters/emitters. The Koch’s operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. While it would be hard to boycott their oil and gas products, they have consumer products that could be boycotted. They own Georgia-Pacific products which makes the following paper products:  Quilted Northern, Soft’n Gentle,  Mardi Gras, Sparkle, Vanity Fair, Zee, Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper, and Dixie cups.  They are one of the largest plywood sellers with their Georgia-Pacific lumber division. They also market  Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra.

Another long time anti-union company is Coors Beer who makes: Coors Beer , Killians Beer and owns part of Millers and Molson Beer.  Joseph Coors helped start the right-wing think tank, The Heritage Foundation in 1973. Heritage fights against environmental laws, unions and anything else that puts people before corporate profits. The Koch brothers and Walton family give generously to Heritage.

The Walton family owns Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club and are one of the biggest contributors to the GOP.  Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club do not allow unions. Previous attempts to form unions have been shut down. The Walton family has long been interested in starting private schools. The family donates millions of dollars a year to anti-public education reform and funds vouchers to private schools. The late John Walton was the biggest paycheck in the anti-public education movement, providing tens of millions of dollars of his own money to support anti-public education ballot initiatives and organizations and sitting on the boards of the major pro-voucher organizations. “The Walton family dedicates the bulk of its philanthropy to pushing vouchers, tuition tax credits and charter schools, giving at least $250 million to such efforts over the past six years.” (USA Today, 3/11/04) If you work in  public education why would you do business with a company that wants to put you out of business?

Greedy corporations and Wall Street have wrecked our economy. We bailed them out and they gave themselves bonuses and laughed at us. Now workers are being told they are the problem with the economy. Many corporations are behind funding conservative politicians to do their corporate bidding. That is to break the public sector unions  and privatize these sectors so that the corporations can own them. These greedy corporations already own many of our politicians and now they want to own our country.

We have two options. One is to recall these governors. The other option, is  to boycott these corporations. A closed purse or a closed wallet is the only thing that will get these corporations attention. Is doing business with the above companies worth losing everything your unions have fought for? Is it worth watching more and more of our middle-class disappear?

Pete Seeger: Solidarity Forever

Dropkick Murphys: Workers Song

“All that serves labor serves the nation. All that harms is treason. If a man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. There is no America without labor, and to fleece the one is to rob the other.” –Abraham Lincoln

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising Kids and Serving Cats

Mrs E. and I were at Eastwood Mall yesterday when we ran into friends we have not seen in a few years. They were asking us about our son, Adam and daughter, Mackenzie. We explained that Adam had graduated college and was working. We told them how Mackenzie is in college in Pittsburgh, studying to be a nurse. These friends then asked, “How do you like being empty nesters?” I replied, “I guess I didn’t notice as I’ve been so busy being the doorman for our two cats this winter.”

It got me to thinking about life with my kids. First thing you need to know about having children is that there are two kinds of mothers. The first kind of mother is the type I was lucky enough to marry, they are the type that tells the  pediatrician that they don’t want to know the sex of the child. This is the kind of mother that is adventurous, realizes the world is a mysterious wonder and is willing to be spontaneous in life. The type that need to know the child’s sex are the type that to me don’t enjoy life as much because they have less of a sense of wonderment. They are people who need to control way too much in life, and are way too uptight to ride the roller coaster of life. I could be wrong but that’s the way I see it. After all, is it really that important whether you know if you should paint the baby’s room blue or pink? Paint it yellow and get the worlds biggest surprise rush that I did in the delivery room!

I thought my duty as a parent was to establish a code of morals with my children as young as possible. I thought the best way to do that was to teach them about the idea of social justice and the struggle for it. I dragged my kids to picket lines for area workers who were on strike, who were unfairly fired or for safety and environmental issues. Mrs. E. thought I was taking them to such events before they could really understand the purpose of them. I reasoned that I informed the kids with lots of information as to why we needed to support each action, we attended. I realized Mrs. E. was right, that I started them too young when Mackenzie asked me, “Hey dad when are we going to do one of those parades again?” Everything in it’s time I learned.

Speaking of time, I was trying to remember, when was the time I realized my kids were separating from the nest. When had I realized they had grown their own wings, and starting to tune us out as parents? It was the summer before Adam was a senior in high school and Mac would have been a freshman. It was the last weekend before school started and Mrs E. and I realized we hadn’t gone anywhere as a family all summer. It was decided we’d take a short trip to the, Linesville, PA. Spillway to feed the fish. It’s a place my kids had marveled at when they were younger. The marvel is that there are so many fish gathered in one place it is called, “The place where the ducks walk on the fish.”

We all hopped in the minivan and we were off. Before we had left the driveway Mrs. E.  was asleep (as happens quite often when she is in the passenger seat). Along the back roads trip I pointed out various historical buildings and events that had happened in the area. I got no response from either child. I looked in the rear view mirror to see that Mac had on her CD’s headphones and was reading the lyrical sheet of the CD. Adam had on headphones to a Gameboy and was conquering some new level of whatever the latest game was. I realized only the driver was looking around at the scenery and I’d better instead keep my eyes on the road.We arrived at the spillway and Mrs E. awoke and both kids removed their headphones and they all asked collectively, “Why are we stopped?” We exited the van, fed the fish and piled back into the van. I turned and looked into the rear seat to see each child put on first their seat belts, then their headphones.  Before we left the parking lot, Mrs. E. was back visiting dreamland.

I realized on that trip that my children had grown to the point where from now on they would be tuning their parents out more and more. All we could hope for as parents was that we had taught them enough already so that they could be creative, self-reliant, caring and lead as good a life as possible. I felt so alone on the trip home that I put on an Allman Brothers CD and sang along to, “Ramblin’ Man.”

Last weekend, Mac came home from college for the weekend. Mrs. E. and I drove her back to college on Sunday. On the way back to Pittsburgh, Mac read some things to us from one of her textbooks. The book was about environmental racism. It was a subject she was excited about learning but also wanted our take on. Comments she said  made me realize she had actually listened to things her parents tried to teach her about when she was younger. I was glad she still wanted her parents input, but I was glad she was getting backup from professors to show her that her parents had been on the right track.  She is working very hard at college because she wants to be a nurse to help others. That attitude makes her parents happy because it what she can best do to, “Honor her mother and father.”

Adam has also chosen to “honor his mother and father.” He has done that for a long time by being a kind person. Adam has taken a job for a company that takes care of travel and other needs for autistic and other special needs children. The job makes him happy because he feels like he is doing something worthwhile for others. In reality he isn’t making much money so I’m not sure he can afford to keep doing the job long-term. Then again, Adam has never been one who is into money.  He is now learning some of the harsh realities of life  involve money. Things like bills for; gas, electric, water, phone, rent and insurance. Time is flying by fast and my birds have flown the nest but have grown strong wings.

I could say more but this empty nester has a cat that is screaming to be let outside.

Allman Brothers: Ramblin’ Man (sing along with me)

Soulshine

Graduation day is tough for adults. They go to the ceremony as parents. They come home as contemporaries. After twenty-two years of child-rearing, they are unemployed. ~ Erma Bombeck

 

 

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Youngstown Makes the Today Show

My alarm clock noisily rings
like every work day at 6:45 am.
I sit up in bed and click on the TV.
I view the local news,
followed by the Today Show.
The local news features a story
about the Youngstown Business Incubator (YBI).
Reserve Data relocted from the Silicon Valley
and has moved their office into the YBI.
There is no mention of this good news
on the Today Show that follows.
On the following Sunday I shopped at
the Four Seasons Flea Market in Youngstown.
A vendor was selling T-shirts
picturing an AK-47 assault rifle.
Below the gun was the word, Youngstown.
I ask the vendor if he had any T-shirts
picturing the Youngstown Business Incubator.
He replies, “Just these” pointing
to the AK-47 shirts.

On another morning the local news
happily reports Youngstown’s V+M Steel is expanding.
The owner is spending $650 million on the project.
There was no word of this event
on the Today Show that followed.
While getting fresh fruit and vegetables
on my weekly Four Seasons Flea Market trip,
I again see the Ak-47 Youngstown T-shirt vendor.
I ask him, “Do you have a shirt with a V+M Steel picture?”
He replies, “Just these AK-47 Youngstown  T-shirts.”

Sometime later I awoke to more good news,
the local TV station was talking about an area business.
The Lordstown GM plant’s Cruze automobile
was being heralded, by automobile magazines,
as one of the best new cars
in its class and price range.
No mention of the Chevy Cruze
on the Today Show that followed.
My Sunday’s Four Seasons visit
did not turn up any Chevy Cruze T-shirts,
just the AK-47 Youngstown standby model.

This past Monday’s local morning TV news
started its broadcast on a very sad note.
One YSU student was shot and killed
and eleven others were wounded
at an off campus fraternity party.
The Today Show followed and this time
they had found a Youngstown event
that they didn’t want to ignore.
I suspect the Four Seasons Flea Market vendor
was watching the Today Show.
I’m sure he smiled widely
picked up his phone
and called his supplier
and ordered a big batch
of AK-47 Youngstown T-shirts.

Papa Roach: Had Enough

Stop the Violence

The main goal of the future is to stop violence. The world is addicted to it. ~ Bill Cosby

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Ohioans, What in the Hell Were You Thinking?

I have been thinking about the elections in Ohio this past November. I have been baffled by the results. Before the election in Nov. 2010 the people of the USA said the number one issue was jobs. Residents of Ohio agreed with that. If that was really the case in Ohio I have to say, WTF is with the candidates we elected in Ohio.

John Kasich was elected governor with 49% of the vote. As far as bringing jobs to Ohio we should remember as U.S. Congressman Kasich voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA has cost 879,280 U.S. jobs, 739,280 of those jobs, were relatively high paying manufacturing jobs. Ohio has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000.  No need to write to me and tell me about Clinton’s involvement with passing NAFTA. I also blame Bill Clinton (who was a Republican lite)  for the NAFTA agreement. That’s part of the reason I will never support his wife as a presidential candidate.

Kasich spent seven years working at Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers. John must have not been to proud of those years at Lehman as they were strangely absent from his John Kasich for Governor website.  Historians have been searching for thousand of years to learn about the missing years of Jesus. I played historian and set off to find out about John’s  missing years working for Lehman. His website offered no e-mail or phone numbers for me to ask my question. Calls to GOP headquarters thanked me  for my call and said, they’d get back to me. I’m still waiting.

Gov. Strickland ran ads talking about Kasich working for Lehman Brothers. That forced Kasich to address his amnesia years at Lehman. He stated in a campaign ad, “I didn’t run Lehman Brothers. I was one of 700 managing directors. I worked in a two-man office in Columbus.” In the first half of 2008, Lehman stock lost 73% of its value. In September 2008 Lehman filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with bank debt of $613 billion and $155 billion in bond debt. Despite Lehman’s collapse Kasich’s tax returns reveal Lehman paid him, $600,000 in 2008. It took a lot of media pressure to get Kasich’s 2008 returns, he wasn’t about to show what he made from Lehman in years where they made a profit.

How is a man like Kasich who supported NAFTA and won’t admit his part in Wall Streets failures that cost taxpayers billions the guy that is going to bring jobs and a better economy to Ohio? I have no clue, ask the fools who voted for him.

Another loser Ohioans picked to fill George Voinovich’s senate seat is Rob Portman. Portman had been an U.S. congressman and a big supporter of GW Bush. Rob served two federal cabinet positions for the George W. Bush Administration. The first was as the U.S. Trade Representative, then as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  So, how did those GW Bush trade years and his budget work out for you my fellow Ohioans? At one point Portman’s name was being tossed around as a VP for John McCain when he ran for president in 2008. GOP pundits weighed in on Portman as a VP candidate. Some stated with Portman’s ties to Bush’s budget he’d be more of a liability than an asset. One comment I read said, “No guy who was in charge of U.S. trade policy is going to talk economics to people in depressed Rust Belt factory towns.” Well, the rest of the country might not want Portman representing them as a VP but my fellow Ohioans embrace him as our senator by a 57% majority. I should note Portman outspent his opponent, Lee Fischer 8 to 1.

Republican challenger, Mike DeWine defeated Democratic incumbent Richard Cordray for Ohio attorney general. DeWine won by 48 percent of the vote to Cordray’s 46 percent. Cordray was a true fighter against Wall Street. He sued global financial institution, bond-rating agencies, foreclosure operators and subprime lenders, earning legal settlements for Ohioans that have topped $1 billion. Sadly, he was defeated by Dewine a career politicians who is a Washington beltway special interest insider.

Charlie Wilson two-time U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 6th district was defeated by Republican Bill Johnson by a 50-45% margin. Johnson is a retired veteran and businessman from Poland, OH. The Democrats ran this ad against Johnson. If it’s true why would Ohioans vote for someone who doesn’t care about U.S. jobs? Even if the ad was false I still have another question for Ohio voters. Do you think someone like Johnson who has only lived in Ohio for four years understands our state?

One term 16th district, Congressman John Boccierri, who served multiple tours in Iraq and whose district is in northeast Ohio,was defeated by Wadsworth, OH Mayor, Jim Renacci. Jim is a republican who thinks we need to shrink government. He feels we should rely on the private sector not the government to better our lives. He has made his fortune from his company, LTC Management Services, which owns and operates nursing home facilities throughout Ohio. Jim doesn’t like to discuss that his personal fortune came from government programs like, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Renacci beat Boccierri 52% to 41% with 6% of the vote going to Libertarian Candidate Jeffrey Blevins.

I remember hearing an activist in Mexico say, something I’ll never forget about elections. She said, “My hopes and dreams don’t fit on a ballot.” I’d say I certainly have to agree. If my hopes and dreams were on a ballot the voters of Ohio and this country would shatter them every time. I laugh when I hear calls for term limits. Why should we have term limits? Instead we need informed voters.
The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all. ~ John F. Kennedy

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