Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Most Important Labor Legislation Since the Wagner Act

What's the Employee Free Choice Act about?

It's needed now. Call your Congressperson and tell them why we need a stronger labor movement.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Reagan Myth

There is a new book out exploring the Reagan myth and how it was created.

Reagan's legacy; the idea that he "won" the Cold War, saved the United States economy and was widely loved and popular is one of the great deceptions of the late 20th Century. The myth was created and lives on for a specific purpose however: to rally the reactionary base to the cause of jingoism and upward transfer of wealth.

Ronald Reagan cut his political teeth ratting on his fellow actors during the Red Scare. He then moved on to schilling for General Electric as a front man for their television program and special brand of "can do" individualism and upbeat Americanism, in other words he was a corporate whore telling the masses that they too can pick themselves up by their bootstraps and to watch out for the commies.

After a very lucrative run as front man the ambitous Reagan decided he could do that job and decided to run for Governor of California. In the late 1960's Reagan appealed to the wounded white man who saw hippies burning flags, soldiers shooting up heroin and villages, women and gays demanding equality and most importantly Black Panthers carrying guns and feeding children milk and cereal in Oakland while preaching off the pigs and reading Mao's little red book. This was too much for the Frank Sinatra set who wanted to go back to the time of Ozzie and Harriet and segregation. The whole world seemed to becoming undone and we needed a leader to bring it all back home. Reagan's lock em up and don't tax the property owners of California made him a darling of the Right in the 70's as many of the County Club set started to flirt with Nixon and Ford's brand of regulation and Detente.

It was the Paul Volker's depression however that allowed the barbarian to enter the gates of the White House. To tame the beast of inflation the monetarists unleashed there most lethal weapon: a massive rise in interest rates (a weapon that works a lot better in forward than reverse). This "shock therapy" decimated the industrial base, and the predominantly white unionized workforce of the said industries, which massively undermined the Democratic base that was built by FDR. The Democratic coalition was already under massive stress because LBJ had embraced the Civil Rights movement by helping pass the Civil and Voting Rights Acts but Volker's (current Chairman of Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board) depression undermined the Democrats so fully that even the seemingly extremist Reagan was able to squeak out a victory in 1980.

Reagan's policies can most succinctly be summed up in a slogan: don't tax and spend alot. His policies, now trumpeted by the great enemy of government and taxes Grover Norquist, set the stage for the trillions of dollars we now owe the banks and governments of the world that buy our treasury bills. The so-called anti-government aspects of Reaganism were only for the poor, the rich used the government, particularly the Defense Department and the IRS to re-distribute wealth upwards. Neglegence towards environmental, workers rights, safety and health and financial regulation also help keep the wealthy fat as they were now less occupied with pesky laws like the Wagner Act or banking regulation.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Japan's "lost" Decade

Real estate lost around 85% of its value and what happened? Nothing. Interest rates were lowered from 8% to 0% (in other words negative rates) and what happened? Nothing.

Japan "hung on," with 0 growth, because they have an industrial plan, a health care system, a strong social system and a stronger social contract.

The monetarists have ruled the roost over the last 30 years and their methods have been effective in redistributing wealth upward, shifting power to finance capital, gutting the cities and the industrial sector and creating stock and real estate bubbles but when it comes to real asset investment; nada!

In the US and around the world their legacy is poverty, deficits, debt and now collapse.

Real investment is needed otherwise they will impoverish us more.

Smash the lenders, speculators and idle wealth! Towards an industrial policy and workers control!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Space Junk

Over 17,000 satellites orbit the earth these days.

Bombs, garbage and spying.

Why 60 votes in a 100 seat body?

Filibuster? Not really.

Since When Does The Senate Need 60 Votes To Pass Legislation
December 13, 2008
The much anticipated auto bailout bill failed today on the Senate, by a vote of 52-35. By the way, that’s 52 IN FAVOR, and 35 opposed. This is also one of several major pieces of legislation over the past two years that has failed to pass the Senate despite having the support of between 51 and 59 Senators.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait a second, if there are a hundred Senators, and 52 are in favor of something, why can’t it get passed?” Well, that’s because sixty votes are required to block a filibuster.

So I bet you’re now thinking that the Senate Republicans filibustered this legislation. Well, you’d be wrong. The Senate Republicans, as they have done for virtually every major piece of legislation since 2006, have THREATENED to filibuster. They haven’t actually done it. And every time they do, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries to get 60 votes to stop them, or the legislation dies.

So here’s what I’m wondering. Why doesn’t Harry Reid grow a pair, and actually call the Republicans bluff. If they want to stop health care reform, increased veterans benefits, auto bailouts, etc., why doesn’t Harry Reid actually make them filibuster. Why doesn’t he make them go through the exhausting process of talking for days on end, nonstop. If the Republicans want the whole world to know that they are holding up all processes in the Senate, and completely exhaust themselves, eating and sleeping on the Senate floor of days, let them. Maybe the spectacle will get more people to pay attention and hold our leaders accountable. Maybe the Republicans will crack and we won’t need 60 Senators to pass universal health care or increase veterans benefits or the minimum wage. But at the very least, Harry Reid and every single person who voted Democrat in 2006, myself included, won’t look like a total wuss. When someone threatens to do something over and over again, eventually you have to call them on it. Period.

Written by Andrew Sparrow · Filed Under Politics
3 Responses to “Since When Does The Senate Need 60 Votes To Pass Legislation”

JamesC on February 6th, 2009 10:41 am I came across your article while doing a web search on the need for 60 senators to get a law passed.

Doing a quick check at wiki on the concept of a “filibuster” I found this:

“In current practice, Senate Rule 22 permits filibusters in which actual continuous floor speeches are not required, although the Senate Majority Leader may require an actual traditional filibuster if he or she so chooses. This threat of a filibuster can therefore be as powerful as an actual filibuster. Previously, the filibustering senator(s) could delay voting only by making an endless speech. Currently, they need only indicate that they are filibustering, thereby preventing the Senate from moving on to other business until the motion is withdrawn or enough votes are gathered for cloture.”

So either A) you are totally ignorant of Senate procedures and should look before you leap - ie.research - for atleast 2 minutes - before you write … or B) wiki is messed up again.

However the senate does publish their rules on-line and seem to agree. Check it out: rules.senate.gov/senaterules/rule22.php

By the way, I prefer to interpret Obama’s message of hope: “Yes, we can!” to mean “Yes, we can work with folks on all sides of important issues to get things done” and NOT “Yes, we can over-ride all opposition and force our will on the people.”

There is no Democratics America, no Republicans American, there is just ONE America, the UNITED States of America.

Andrew Sparrow on February 8th, 2009 11:27 pm I’m glad you put in two minutes of research James. I put in a little more than that before I right a post.

The Senate has a process in place for amending rules; this process requires a two-thirds [67] vote. According to Congressional Quarterly, from 1919-1971, there were nine filibusters relating to Rule 22; in each case, there were insufficient votes to invoke cloture.

The “nuclear option” which Republican leaders used to threaten is actually a series of steps designed to bypass the two-thirds vote requirement to change rules: (cite) The Senate moves to vote:
At least 41 Senators call for filibuster.
Majority Leader Reid raises a point of order, saying debate has gone on long enough and that a vote must be taken within a certain time frame. (Current Senate rules requires a cloture vote at this point.)
Vice President Biden– acting as presiding officer — sustains the point of order.
A minority Senator appeals the decision.
A majority Senator moves to table the motion on the floor (the appeal).
This vote - to table the appeal - is procedural and cannot be subjected to a filibuster; it requires only a majority vote (in case of a tie, the Vice President casts the tie-breaking vote).
With debate ended, the Senate would vote; this vote requires only a majority of those voting. The filibuster has effectively been closed with a majority vote instead of a three-fifths vote.

Andrew Sparrow on February 8th, 2009 11:28 pm Additionally, there is nothing in the constitution about filibusters, they are a part of Senate rules and can be changed by the majority party.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Man on Wire

Just watched it. A fine film indeed. On Matt Cale's top ten of 2008.

Philippe Petit is one of the more fascinating people you’re ever going to meet, even if he’d likely drive you crazy inside of an hour. Still, it’s a testament to the documentary form that we can spend an entire film with his sheer reckless abandon and not be pushed over the edge. As a typically self-involved artist, Petit thinks only of his next challenge, which, in August of 1974, involved scaling a tightrope fastened between the two towers of the World Trade Center. The audacity is obvious, and the cheek almost beyond compare, but Petit’s charm makes us believe he can accomplish anything. And so he does. The story of how and when he lugged up the equipment, cased the joint, and eventually put one foot in front of the other makes for high drama, and at no point does anyone discuss the current absence of said towers. And though unspoken, we realize that the feat will remain forever unmatched, and likely the crowning achievement of athletic derring-do. One can’t really describe an unnecessary artistic statement as “brave,” but when we see him out there, a solitary figure atop a great, bottomless chasm, we find few other words that could describe something so wonderfully insane. And finally, a documentary not about the trials of war, or abuse, or death, or even the bloody Holocaust, but simply the unadulterated pleasures of risk. For its own sake, at long last.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Big Lie

The world's largest prison.

“There is no humanitarian crisis in the [Gaza] Strip.”

- Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, 1 January 2009.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Daily on the US Chatter and Gaza