Saturday, June 9, 2012

Last Call

We can't have unions or laws that protect workers in America because they unnecessarily hurt our most important national resource, our precious job creators.  After all, we can't sell you Everyday Low Prices at the megastore or the 2 for $20 special at the watering hole chain without stealing wages from the cashiers, cooks, waitstaff and stockers.

Wage theft is a pervasive and often unacknowledged crime in our radically unequal society. Recently CNN reported a 400-percent increase in wage-and-hour violation claims over the last 11 years, a statistic that likely only scratches the surface of unreported wage thefts. While property theft is punishable with jail time, the National Employment Law Center (NELP) estimated (in 2008) that the average low-wage worker loses 15 percent of her annual income to wage theft, through underpayment and denied overtime, among other schemes. Many do not have the support of groups like Make the Road, or in other parts of the country, laws that prioritize such crimes.

NELP's analysis of the nation’s three largest cities—New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—found that over one-fourth of low-wage workers weren’t being paid the minimum wage, while 76 percent weren’t compensated for overtime work. There is no reason to think conditions are better elsewhere. Across the nation, millions are forced to work off-the-clock, misclassified as “independent contractors” to avoid taxes (which the workers then have to pay themselves), their paychecks tampered with, their time sheets altered. Walmart is an example of a national company that has indulged in almost all of these practices.

Enabled by staggering power differentials between employers and workers, these practices have become the norm in many low-wage industries (in 2000 the Department of Labor found 100 percent of poultry companies were in violation of wage and hour laws). In the absence of a strong labor movement and robust federal and state departments of labor, low-wage workers are left to fend for themselves in a weak job market. Immigrants who lack proper documentation are particularly susceptible to thieving bosses, who often threaten to turn their employees over to the police if they complain.

And the massive power of the business lobby in the GOP will assure national laws to protect workers will never, ever get passed.  Even in blue states like New York, wage theft laws are still a long and time-consuming process for the workers to handle.

Unions would make this process much easier, but of course unions are "dead" after Wisconsin's recall election and are slowly being strangled everywhere else for the sole reason that for American workers to be competitive in the global marketplace, their standards of living have to be lowered in order for CEOs to continue to make 500 times what their lowest paid workers make. 

And you'd think conservatives would be the first to say that with "taxes being theft" and all, actual wage theft would rank high on their outrage-o-meter.  Sadly, conservatives don't give a damn because only "those brown people" or "those single women on welfare" get their wages stolen, not real Americans.

All hail the job creators.

Soon you won't have any other choice.

The Thoroughbred Of Hearts

The big sports news around horse country today is of course the retirement of Triple Crown contender I'll Have Another due to tendinitis as he was pulled from this afternoon's Belmont Stakes in New York.

The breathtaking journey of I'll Have Another over the past five weeks ended with a punch to the gut Friday when trainer Doug O'Neill and owner J. Paul Reddam announced the colt was out of the Belmont Stakes and would be retired following the discovery of the beginning of tendinitis in his left front leg.

Having captured the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in spectacular fashion, I'll Have Another was attempting to become the 12th horse in history and the first since Affirmed in 1978 to sweep the American Triple Crown.

The troubles began when O'Neill first detected "some loss of definition" in I'll Have Another's left front leg on Thursday afternoon.

O'Neill said the issue appeared to be moot when the colt's legs were cold Friday morning and he still moved well when sent out for a jog and gallop around the Belmont oval. The swelling returned when I'll Have Another was cooling out, and a subsequent ultrasound revealed the damage.

"It's subtle, but it's one of those things, if you don't do the right thing, it's gonna turn in to be a problem, so we don't wanna do that," said O'Neill, who — as he has during the entire Triple Crown run — remained upbeat despite the circumstances. "It's a roller coaster. What a ride. He's given us so much pleasure. It is a bummer, far from tragic, but very disappointing."

I have no small amount of respect for O'Neill to scratch his horse.  Lesser people would have run him anyway, even if it meant a debilitating or fatal injury was possible.  And let's not feel too bad for I'll Have Another, folks.  He may not have made history, but he gets to spend the next decade plus or so in a stud pasture.

Here's hoping your kids kick some ass.

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Six Of Nothing, Half Dozen Of A Record

While I'm at the Reds game with the Zandarparents this afternoon watching the Pirates take on the boys, note the Seattle Mariners tied a record last night for most pitchers involved in a combined no-hitter as the M's knocked off the LA Dodgers.

Kevin Millwood held the Dodgers scoreless in six innings before leaving the game with a groin injury. Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Leutge, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen combined to throw for three scoreless innings to keep the no-hitter intact.

Third baseman Kyle Seager had a RBI single, scoring Ichiro Suzuki from second base in the Mariners' 1-0 victory.

It is the fourth no-hitter of the baseball season so far, following Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Johan Santana of the New York Mets and Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox.

How crazy has this season been for Major League Baseball?  Already four no hitters and the first ever for the Mets a few weeks ago.  Your trivia points of the day, Kevin Millwood threw a no-hitter by himself with the Phillies versus the Giants in 2003, and the other six-pack no-hitter was by the Astros versus the Yankees, also in the 2003 season.  They very nearly pitched a no-hitter and lost, allowing six baserunners through walks, errors and a hit batter.  The first and only time anyone pitched a 9-inning no-no and lost happened when Ken Johnson pitched one against a young Pete Rose and the Reds who beat the then Houston Colt 45's in 1964 on double groundout and an error, 1-0.  At least, that's what Wikipedia says, anyhow.

Gotta love baseball.

Gay Librarian Fired For Refusing To Sign Anti-Gay Employment Contract

Despite being a tenured librarian, 50-year old Michael Wilson was fired a few weeks after he refused to sign the Shorter University’s new contract which included a lifestyle statement which required all employees to reject homosexuality.
Rome News-Tribute reports that along with the contract, Wilson submitted a letter in which he said:
“Please find enclosed for your reference a copy of my signed employment contract for the 2012-2013 school year; the original document has been submitted to the Provost’s office. As you can see, I have redacted Clause 10; I believe, for reasons that should be obvious, that the provisions therein constitute a grave violation of the principles of academic freedom and tenure, core values in academe that were formerly embraced by the University’s administration.”

Employers should  not be able to ask their employees to sign a contract rejecting legal choices.  Personal choices that do not affect their work, or their ability to live a legal life outside of the bounds of employment.  I'm just disgusted, and I hope they are ashamed of themselves.

Their motto is "transforming lives through Christ."  I'm not sure what Bible they read, but the Christ I know taught by example, showing compassion and kindness to all, not just the popular folks.  He told us we must not judge others, because we can also be judged and quite harshly, when we lack compassion.

Bitch Slap

I had heard about this but was slow to watch the video (one can only read so many headlines!) but now I realize I was wrong to skip this one.  NPR nails it when they say we teach people better in first grade.  This man goes berserk, throws water on one woman.  What they call a slap is more like an open-handed punch.  He reaches all the way back and slaps the woman so hard I'm surprised she remained standing.

Word of advice, jackass... your name isn't respected.  Next time try the logical approach.

This sounds like something we said in first grade:
"She raised her hand and hit me first and since I respect my honor and my name, I had to defend myself. The police ought to arrest her."
He spoke from an undisclosed location because there's a warrant for his arrest.

Here is the video.  About 75% of the way through, all hell breaks loose.

Three Gazillion Miles On The Odometer

The Car Talk guys, Tom & Ray Magliozzi, are hanging up their mics after 25 years.

On Friday, hosts Tom and Ray Magliozzi, known as "Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers," announced that they would be retiring from the popular NPR program in October.

"We've decided that it's time to stop and smell the cappuccino," Ray wrote on the show's website.
"As of October, we're not going to be recording any more new shows. That's right, we're retiring," Tom added, noting that "Car Talk" is celebrating its 25th anniversary on NPR this year.

However, fans will still be able to enjoy the show after the brothers' retirement. New "Car Talks" will be assembled from archival material, the brothers wrote.

They'll also continue their regular website column.

"Car Talk" debuted in 1977 on Boston radio station WBUR and was picked up by NPR 10 years later. It regularly ranks as one of public radio's most popular shows -- including the most popular weekend program -- with about 4 million listeners.

Many a Saturday errand trip in the car with dad and my brothers consisted of listening to Car Talk on the way around town, getting everything from mulch to paint to groceries.  Tom and Ray pretty much defined my weekends growing up.  My brother?  Manages an auto parts store now.  I blame these guys.

I'll miss them, that's for sure.  I still turn them on when I'm running errands myself on weekends.

America Hangs Its Head

And our old friend Pastor Terry "Qu'ran Burning For Fun And Profit" Jones has a new hobby this month in response to President Obama's evolution on same-sex marriage and marriage equality:  hanging POTUS in effigy.

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has hanged an effigy of President Barack Obama from a gallows on its front lawn, a move DWOC pastor Terry Jones said was in response to Obama's recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, as well as his stance on abortion and what Jones called his "appeasing of radical Islam."

According to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, the U.S. Secret Service is currently investigating Jones in response to the display.

"The Secret Service is aware of this incident and will conduct appropriate follow-up," Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told the paper's "The Pulp" blog.

The effigy is suspended from a makeshift gallows with a noose of yellow rope, has a doll in its right hand and a rainbow-colored gay pride flag in its left.

In a telephone interview with The Huffington Post, Jones said the flag was meant to call attention to Obama's stance on same-sex marriage and that the baby doll is there because the president is "favorable toward abortion."

Jones also said that radical Islam is "the most dangerous threat to life and national security in America."

There is also an Uncle Sam dummy standing at the base of the gallows outside the DWOC. Jones told HuffPost that the Obama effigy had originally been positioned to be hanging Uncle Sam when the display went up two weeks ago, but that the church changed the display on Wednesday.

The words “Obama is Killing America” are printed on a trailer nearby.

Explain to me how race has nothing to do with it and that any Democrat would have been treated the same way.  Please.  I'm listening.  Convince me we're not going the full ni-CLANG by, say, July 4th.

And yes, you will have to click on the damn HuffPo link to see the photo, because screw Terry Jones with a bag full of rabid wolverines stuffed into his urethra, that's why.  I hope the USSS completely ruins Terry Jones's life over this.

Meanwhile, to let you know what kind of state Kentucky here is where I live, the two UK students who hung President Obama in effigy last fall got precisely zero indictments from a grand jury, because there's not a grand jury that can be empaneled in the Commonwealth here that would ever see any reason to charge anyone with hanging a black President in effigy for anything.

The grand jury dismissed charges of second-degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking and disorderly conduct against Hunter Bush, 21, and Joe Fischer, 22, a UK senior, lawyer Fred Peters said Tuesday.

University of Kentucky police found the effigy on the Wednesday before Election Day hanging from a tree on the Lexington, Ky., campus.

UK President Lee Todd immediately called a news conference to denounce the incident, calling the act "deplorable" and "abominal." "We've done many, many things to increase diversity," Todd said. "I know this is not a reflection of this institution."

Bush and Todd were arrested the next day. UK police said the two men told them the act was in response to news reports that an effigy of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin had been hung in California.

Material used to make the effigy, including clothes, was stolen from a fraternity house, leading to the burglary and theft charges. Neither man was a member of the fraternity.

The disorderly conduct charge was for the actual hanging of the effigy. Peters said the charge clearly violated the First Amendment.

So yeah, nothing to see here, no trial necessary, was just a prank, the real racists are the folks trying to criminalize this clearly first amendment "protected vile speech", yadda yadda amen.  Hey, let's have everyone in America do this, then we can all join in the fun of yelling FIRST AMENDMENT, BITCHEZ while we have a good laugh.

Try to burn the American flag or a Bible in this country however, well our conservative friends (and more than a few Democrats) had no problem wanting to criminalize that by changing the Constitution or by law.

Moving on.

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