Tuesday, July 31, 2007

House Dems urge impeachment of Gonzalez

It is established that 8 United States attorneys were fired for refusing to prosecute democrats for electoral advantage, refusing to halt investigations of Republican malfeasance and refusing to pursue phony voter fraud cases!

The nation still doesn't know who ordered these federal prosecutors fired for failing to use their authority for partisan gain.

Was it the President? The Vice President? Karl Rove or Attorney General (I don't recall) Alberto Gonzalez? Or was it someone else?

In response to Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez" refusal to disclose who made the decision, some democrats are calling for his impeachment. See Robert Greenwald's latest video and you decide whether Gonzalez is covering something up!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Outsourcing aircraft maintenance-"In the long run we are all dead"

During the first three years of the Bush administration American workers lost 2.2 million jobs.

In a remarkable display of political tone deafness Gregory Mankiw, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers at the time, praised the outsourcing of American jobs stating: “I think outsourcing is a growing phenomenon, but it's something that we should realize is probably a plus for the economy in the long run"

Since Makiw's remarks disenchantment with outsourcing has grown beyond job loss to include consumer concerns with lead-laced toy trains, poisoned toothpaste and pet food, contaminated fish and counterfeit drugs.

Now add to your list of fears the outsourcing of commercial jetliners maintenance.

That's right- we are outsourcing air traffic safety!

Business Week reports that commercial jetliners are routinely repaired in 698 maintenance shops around the world that hire unskilled and untrained employees.

The Transportation Dept. estimates U.S. airlines spent 64% of their maintenance budgets, or some $3.7 billion, at outsourced facilities last year, up from only 37% in 1996.

Yet, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has neither the funds nor the staff to oversee these far flung international operations.

Even more disturbing, there are literally hundreds of unlicensed maintenance subcontractors that operate completely below FAA radar. Licensed outsourcers turn to these shops to save money, according to recent congressional testimony by Calvin L. Scovel III, the Inspector General (IG) for the Transportation Dept.

The IG testified that uncertified foreign repair stations repair critical components, such as landing gear and perform complete engine overhauls. The FAA admits that it doesn't even know the extent of the maintenance performed at these uncertified and unregulated repair facilities.

Free market zealots, if they are consistent, would argue that we should rely on market mechanisms, not the heavy hand of government regulation, to weed out incompetent maintenance firms. In plane language (excuse the pun), improperly maintained planes will crash sending market signals to commercial airline companies and passengers alike to avoid rouge maintenance companies or airlines that source to them. This gives new meaning to John Maynard Keynes prescient rebuttal to laizze faire economics that "Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead."

Perhaps we should ask Dr. Mankiw, now a Harvard professor, whether he thinks outsourcing commercial aircraft maintenance to rouge, low cost facilities is a "plus?" And whether he's willing to risk his own personal safety as the market responds " in the long run" to short run airplane crashes?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Science manipulated to serve ideology!

Last week Dr. Carmona, the United States Surgeon General from 2002-2006, testified that the Bush administration had ordered him to mention President Bush's name three times on every page of every speech he delivered.

He was also instructed to withhold reports on important scientific and health issues ranging from stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues because the findings challenged Bush administration's policies.

White House officials even forced Carmona to delay for years and attempted to “water down” a landmark report on the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke.

The political censure of Dr. Carmona's scientific work was not an aberration.

The Bush administration has consistently manipulated scientific data to serve its ideology and protect the interests of its political supporters.

In 2003 more than 60 influential scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, issued a statement asserting that the administration had systematically distorted scientific fact in the service of policy goals on the environment, health, biomedical research and nuclear weaponry at home and abroad.

During President Bush's first six years in office, he denied the reality of global warming, asserting that the science was not conclusive. NASA scientists and several officials at NASA headquarters and at two agency research centers reported that news releases on new global warming studies were revised by political appointees with no scientific background to play down definitiveness or risks. Remarkably, the science of global warming became conclusive after the democratic congressional victories in November 2006!

Ideological commitment and loyalty to the administration have driven policy in other areas as well. The White House made a commitment to a pro-life position on abortion and abstinence education the criteria for selecting officials to lead Iraq's reconstruction. At least seven Attorney Generals were fired for refusing to engage in overtly partisan political activity designed to help Republican candidates win elections.

This week we learned that another Bush appointee, Julie A. MacDonald, the former deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks, had browbeat department biologists and habitat specialists and overruled their recommendations to protect a variety of rare and threatened species. She also violated federal rules by giving government documents to lobbyists for industries who had financial interests opposed to protecting wildlife and its habitat.

The Bush administration professes to abhor the heavy hand of government. Yet these apostles of laizze faire have consistently used the iron fist of the state to manipulate and suppress science. The White House has had a disciplined commitment to serving the extractive industries (gas, oil, timber and coal) and its campaign contributors, many of whom come from these very sectors. It has elevated short term economic goals over the long term health and welfare of the American people. In the process the current administration has undermined this nation's position of scientific and moral leadership in the world.

College Republicans support Iraq War but won't serve!

College Republicans support the Iraq War, but can't ("I have medical problems otherwise I would") or won't ("I have more important obligations") serve. They support the troops as long as they aren't one of them!

Guess they are following in their Commander in Chief's footsteps. I wonder if the Texas National Guard has any openings?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Romney's ignors pollution, fights metaphors!

Air America's Rachel Maddow critics Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's latest ad proclaiming support for the metaphorical environment even as he continues to promote policies that will destroy the actual environment.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Olbermann: Bush administration's scapegoating of critics is unpatriotic

Keith Olbermann responds to the Bush administration's unprincipled scapegoating of the critics of the Iraq war: "You have set this government at war against its own people and then blamed those very people when they say, 'Enough.'”

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The rich get richer and auto negotiations

The following is excerpted from Mortimer Zuckerman article that first appeared in U.S. News and World Report, June 11, 2007.

President Bush and his advisers who continue to be puzzled that working and middle class folks are dissatisfied with the economy should read it. Oh I forgot, he doesn't read magazines and newspapers!

That's too bad. Because this article neatly sums up how our winner take all economy is leaving more and more people behind!

The New York Times reports that the United Automobile Workers Union is starting negotiations with GM, Ford and Chrylser (or whatever it is called these days!).

Because of the number of layoffs, there are now more retirees in the Big Three than there are active workers. This means that healthcare and pension benefits will be a major focus of these upcoming talks.

The high cost of healthcare (more expensive in the US than in any other country) is born by the employer in our privatized system. It increases their cost of production, $1500 per vehicle for GM. It creates a significant competitive disadvantage.

The Big Three's would benefit if the federal government assumed these costs. But auto executives have not joined the growing reform coalition for universal healthcare.

That's because the men who run Ford, GM and Chrylser are country club guys. And country club guys support their class brethren.

They remain silent about healthcare reform while their companies tetter on the verge of bankruptcy, But they won't be silent in negotiations. When its working class men and women sitting across the table, they will shout loudly that they need concessions from their current employees and retirees. Class solidarity at the top and, as Doug Fraser, former UAW president said in 1978, one sided class war against labor at the bottom!

The negotiations focusing on legacy costs (a euphemism for benefits deferred) will raise the economic anxiety level of the nation's working people. Wall Street, on the other hand, will recline, cigar in one hand, martini in the other, as the Dow climbs past 14,000!

Uneasy in the Middle

By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

"The American middle class is worried-and with reason.

Middle-class workers have long been the foundation of American society. In recent decades, they have seemed more prosperously buoyant than ever, living in bigger houses with a panoply of utilities, gadgets, and entertainment systems.

So why the angst?

The roots are primarily economic. Even in these boom times, anxiety levels rival those of the early Reagan recession years. In particular, people have great and growing fear about losing their jobs. And we are at one of the rare points in our history when Americans have stopped dreaming of a better life for their children. Now the hope is negative: that their children won't be forced into a lower standard of living. Americans used to feel sure each generation would do better than the last˜but someone has run away with the ladder.

Now the middle class lives with the same uncertainties that dog the poor. So close do many feel to the economic margin that they fear they're but one illness or one job loss away from catastrophe.The paranoia is not idle. In the 1970s, a family had a roughly 7 percent chance of its income dropping by half or more. Today the odds are 17 percent. Almost two thirds of workers believe that it is harder to earn a decent living now than it was 20 or 30 years ago, according to the Pew Research Center.

Workers with fewer years of formal education feel it most, as earnings of the college educated have about doubled compared with high school graduates. Yet the public education system, once the great equalizer, is perceived to be deteriorating, even as it has become dramatically harder to finance a college education.


The economy as a whole is performing well, but most people are not sharing in it. In 2005, the average income of those in the "bottom" 90 percent of the economy dipped from the year before. That's just one broad indicator of the problems confronting many of the groups within that 90 percent˜no college education, single parent, minority.

Meanwhile, at the top end of the economic spectrum, the gains have been spectacular. Just look at CEO pay, for example, which has risen in the past decade at triple the rate of the median worker's pay.What is clear is that our richest 10 percent have gained the most. That top slice now receives 44 percent of pretax income, the highest since the 1920s and 1930s, and up from 32 percent between 1945 and 1980. The richest 1 percent has done even better, with pretax income growing from 8 percent of national income in 1980 to 17 percent in 2005. Another way to look at it is that the richest 1 percent of Americans took in 21.8 percent of all recorded income in 2005˜double their share in 1980.

This means that the 300,000 Americans at the top made almost as much money as the 150 million Americans at the bottom. Along with sluggish median earnings, these 150 million are having to meet rising healthcare costs no longer funded by government and employers.

Even Americans who went to college are now experiencing the kind of income instability high school dropouts faced in the 1970s. And many fewer can count on the fixed-benefit plans provided by larger firms: Fewer than about a third provide such benefits today, compared with 80 percent 30 years ago. Millions of people are now on their own to ride the economic roller coaster...."

This story appears in the June 11, 2007 print edition of US News & World Report.]

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Regional Cooperation, Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes Basin

The enthusiastic embrace of regional cooperation by Southeastern Wisconsin's business and political elites has been as surprising as it was abrupt. Various explanations have been offered to explain this radical departure from generations of suburban/urban competition.

Now we know it was in the water!

To be precise it is the radium in Waukesha's water. Radium is carcinogenic so New Berlin and much of Waukesha want to get their hands on Lake Michigan's clean water.

If anyone doubted this, New Berlin Mayor Jack Chiovater's response to a recent Department of Natural Resource (DNR) ruling that New Berlin can begin negotiating with Milwaukee over access to Lake Michigan Water should erase all doubts. In reaction to the DNR's letter the Mayor said: "We applaud the DNR's decision today and look forward to working in the spirit of regional cooperation with Milwaukee."

The DNR letter came only a week after the Journal Sentinel editorial board had urged the department to support the New Berlin’s request to divert Lake Michigan water outside the Great Lakes Basin to meet its water needs.

Jim Rowen who has posted a wonderful series of articles on his blog about the Great Lakes, which constitute one sixth of the world’s fresh water supply, points out that this is not the DNR’s decision to make. Milwaukee cannot send water west of the subcontinental divide under current federal policy.

Before any Lake Michigan water is diverted the Wisconsin legislature needs to approve legislation supporting the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between the eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces, which clarifies the criteria for diverting water outside the basin. Among the proposed criteria is that communities requesting diversion must demonstrate that they are maximizing water conservation efforts and that they will return the water to the lake watershed.

The DNR letter doesn't change this reality.

The Compact's conservation standards present a problem for New Berlin since the city's Board of Appeals voted 4 to 1 to uphold a Plan Commission's approval of a new $55 million, 7 story, 405 room hotel and water park!

That’s right. I am not kidding you- a community that lacks an adequate supply of clean water recently approved a commercial development anchored by a water park.

Milwaukee’s west side alderman, Michael Murphy, recognized the absurdity of New Berlin's action saying: ”This project is exactly what we don’t need - Lake Michigan water diverted for-commercial entertainment usage that will add to sprawl that has gone unchecked in Waukesha County for years.”

Similar questions should be raised about the Pabst Farms 184 acre upscale regional shopping mall which includes 2 hotels and other housing and commercial developments in western Waukesha and Kenosha County.

Before we back the trucks up to Lake Michigan and begin hauling water out of the Great Lakes Basin we also need to ask who will pay for the infrastructure to send water to New Berlin and other water hungry communities, treat it and return it to the Lake. Currently, Milwaukee's water pipes are undersized and it lacks sufficient pumps to handle the additional demand.

The Journal treats this as a minor annoyance when it writes: "New Berlin is willing to help pay the capital costs....”

help pay???

If New Berlin is only helping, who are they helping cover the costs estimated at between $4 and $8 million?

Does the Journal expect the residents of Milwaukee to subsidize New Berlin's diversion of Lake Michigan water?

For decades the same leaders who have now drunk the regional cooperation Kool Aid rejected Milwaukee's requests to work together to address problems like high poverty rates, racial segregation, inadequate school funding, deindustrialization, the shortage of low and moderate income housing and the need for a modern, comprehensive mass transit system.

As development moved west, critics of sprawl were told that developers were simply responding to the housing preferences of homeowners who preferred a suburban lifestyle. People were voting with their dollars and the market was responding. When Milwaukee asked for help, suburban leaders response was "tough luck." Milwaukee's problems were the city's alone.

The real costs of Southeastern Wisconsin's suburban development were obscured during its early stages. Taxes were initially much much lower because new suburban developments require less infrastructure and social service investment than a mature, urban area like Milwaukee. Property values are also much higher. Sometimes, as in the case of the $20 million interchange needed for the Pabst Farms regional mall, developers ignored or hid the costs until after their project was approved.

But once a critical mass of population, housing and commercial development occurs, infrastructure costs including new roads, new schools and access to clean drinking water, as well as the need for expanded services such as police and fire protection, emerge.

Now that the real costs of sprawl are coming home to roost in the form of radium in Waukesha's water, is the plan, in the words of former Governor Thompson, "to stick it to Milwaukee" one more time?

Milwaukee borders one of the world's most valuable water resources. Our elected officials and citizenry must be responsible stewards of this resource. The first step is getting the legislature to sign the Great Lakes Compact. New Berlin's water park can wait!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Keith Olbermann's comment on Michael Chertoff's "gut" feeling about terror

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC offers a new, special comment on Michael Chertoff's "gut feeling" report on terror threats to the US.

White House sacrifices science for politics

Former Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, reported in sworn testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform earlier this week that top officials in the Bush administration repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports for political considerations.

It’s not the first time that the Bush administration has been caught suppressing science to promote its political agenda. Bush political appointees have watered down or suppressed reports on global warming and the ineffectiveness of abstinence and charter schools.

Dr. Carmona, who served as surgeon general, the nation’s public health educator and advocate, from 2002 to 2006, said White House officials would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues because of political concerns.

Bush administration officials also delayed for years and attempted to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand tobacco smoke.

Dr. Carmona also testified that he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of every speech he gave. Those must have been real barn burners!

He was also asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings, at least one of which included Karl Rove, the president’s senior political adviser. Administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to the Kennedy family.

As blogger Jim Rowen wrote:

"It's a little like finding out that White House operatives made NASA deny astronomy, or told the CIA to shelve electronic espionage in favor of Tarot cards.

There is a clear Wisconsin connection to this story, and to presidential campaigning, because Carmona worked under then-Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson"

The New York Times suggested in an editorial that Congress should ban "...any effort to censor or delay the surgeon general's reports and speeches."

We've come a long way from founders like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin who believed that America's democratic promise was integrally connected to its study and application of science. This White House gang respects neither science nor democracy.

Bush admits his administration leaked CIA agent's name

When it was first disclosed that someone had leaked the name of an undercover CIA operative, Valerie (Wilson) Plame, President Bush said he would fire anyone in his administration who had participated in the leak. Shortly before Plame's cover was blown in 2003, her husband, Joseph Wilson, a former Ambassador, had accused the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraqi weapons and thus help justify the war. Wilson has said he believes his wife's identity was disclosed in retaliation.

Yesterday, President Bush publicly acknowledged that someone in his administration had been the first to leak the operative’s name.

A lengthy investigation found that several high ranking administration officials revealed Plame's identity. White House political adviser Karl Rove and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage were the primary sources for a 2003 newspaper column outing Plame. Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer also admitted telling reporters about her. Scotter Libby was the only one charged in the matter and not for leaking. And his sentence was commuted by President Bush last week.

But surprise...no one has been fired. Instead the President announced: “Its (the investigation) run its course. And now we are going to move on.”

Evidently the decider has decided that he didn’t really mean what he said about firing anyone way back then when the press and public were demanding to know what he would do if his staff was involved. The decider has decided to do nothing; nothing that is but cover up a crime.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Michael Moore demands that CNN tell the truth!

In his first interview on CNN in three years, Michael Moore demands that Wolf Blizter and the station apologize to the American people for their failure to ask hard questions about medical care and the War in Iraq.

Private Sector Practices Wreak Havoc at the Smithsonian

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say that educational institutions and government need to be more like the private sector, I’d be a very rich man; although probably not as rich as Larry M. Small!

Mr. Small is a former Citicorp/Citibank executive and president and chief operating officer of Fannie Mae. The Smithsonian, our venerable national museum, hired him to bring corporate practices to the public sector.

Mr. Small, unlike previous secretaries, had zero credentials as a scholar and no experience with nonprofit research or educational institutions. He was recently forced to resign after disclosures about lavish spending, the misuse of public funds and, incredibly, a decline in private donati0ns!

The “private sector practices” Mr. Small implemented included spending $15,000 to replace two French doors at his home and $48,000 for two chairs, a conference table and upholstery for his office suite. He also used public funds to clean his chandelier, heat his pool, and pay his chauffeur; took 70 vacation days a year; denied crucial information to the Smithsonian’s general counsel, inspector general and chief financial officer; earned $5.7 million serving on other corporate boards; and decorated his office with a stuffed Bengal tiger from the Natural History Museum.

Among the Small housing invoices sent to the Smithsonian was a $5,700 bill from a contractor to patch a roof, repair a skylight and redo walls in Mr. Small's house in January 2005.

Those repairs came three months before the Government Accountability Office reported that roof leaks were plaguing Smithsonian art museums, archives and the National Air and Space Museum.

Small's spending came to light amidst reports describing a broad decline in the Smithsonian's physical plant and the implementation of institution-wide austerity measures.

During Mr. Small’s tenure, directors of seven museums submitted their resignations. Congress also intervened after Small's cutbacks included the proposed closure of the institution's animal biodiversity research facility.

Commercial sponsorship of museum exhibitions has been another bone of contention. Donations from Fujifilm, Kmart, General Motors, and Catherine B. Reynolds for a "Hall of Achievers," sparked a flurry of letters, including an open letter from a group of 170 scholars, authors, and academics to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the chancellor of the Smithsonian's Board of Regents. "If Mr. Small is permitted to continue his agenda," it read, "the Smithsonian will become much like a shopping mall, with virtually every inch devoted to the promotion of a corporation or its product."

These and other practices were criticized in two damning reports that according to the New York Times “…describe a chief executive run amok…” who “…took the corporate approach too far by concentrating power in his office and abusing perks.”

Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley commented: "Mr. Small's champagne lifestyle turns out to be Dom Perignon…The authorized expenses are over-the-top by any measure. The manipulation of the audit might be even worse."

With a salary of more than $900,000, one would think that Mr. Small could afford to pay for cleaning his chandelier or the entire house for that matter.

But that isn’t the way the private sector works as the sordid details of corporate CEO compensation practices and malfeasance at Worldcom, Tyco, Enron and Healthsouth among others have been exposed. At least, that isn’t how the private sector works if you’re a CEO!

The next time you hear someone say government needs to do it more like the private sector remind them about that happened at the Smithsonian, when accepted corporate CEO practices were adopted! Then ask them who picks up the bill for cleaning their chandeliers?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Voce de la Frontera Lauches Reality Tour

While immigration reform may be dead in the US Congress, Voces de la Frontera, a grassroots organization that brings together immigrant and low wage workers to advocate for immigration reform and workers rights, is taking its message to the people of Wisconsin.

On July 8th, Voces began a Reality Tour to engage the people of Wisconsin in a conversation about what the "broken immigration system" does to immigrants, non immigrants and their families.

The tour includes immigrant workers and business owners who were affected by a raid at Star Packaging in Whitewater last year and workers affected by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in 1994.

NAFTA critics recognize that the trade agreement has hurt workers in Mexico, Canada and the United States, 25,000 in Wisconsin alone, destroyed 2 million agricultural jobs in Mexico and contributed to increased poverty and mass migration.

The tour will make stops in 10 different cities.

Follow the Voces Reality tour on their blog at:


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Libby commuted because he knew too much! NY Times call for withdrawal!

More than four years after The New York Times published a series of news stories that justified a US invasion of Iraq that has left 3,649 American soldiers dead and 29,950 wounded, the newspaper's editorial board has called for an end to the Iraq war.

The editorial says, "President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have used demagoguery and fear to quell Americans' demands for an end to this war. They say withdrawing will create bloodshed and chaos and encourage terrorists. Actually, all of that has already happened - the result of this unnecessary invasion and the incompetent management of this war. It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit."

In a related article Frank Rich writes that President Bush commuted Scotter Libby's prison sentence because Libby knew too much about the lies told to sell the war in Iraq and that "... cowardice, the character trait so evident in his furtive handling of the Libby commutation, is as important to understanding Mr. Bush’s cratered presidency as incompetence, cronyism and hubris."

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Scotter Libby: a fallen comrade!

In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece entitled “Fallen Soldier,” Fouad Ajami cited the soldier’s creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” He went on to declare that “Scooter Libby was a soldier in your — our — war in Iraq.”

President Bush and his handlers need a strong dose of reality!

Over 3500 America soldiers have died. Tens of thousands have been wounded, many severely.

President Bush like most of his top advisers, including Vice President Cheney who "had more important things to do," avoided military service altogether.

Read Paul Krugman's latest piece; "Sacrifice is for suckers!"

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Forget the omeg-3 fatty acids, imported fish may be dangerous to your health

For years healthcare professionals have urged us to eat more seafood.

Seafood is a good source of high-quality protein, low in saturated fat, and rich in many vitamins and minerals. It is the source of most of the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, found in the American diet, credited with helping reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also thought that infants whose mothers consume EPA and DHA during pregnancy may gain benefits such as longer gestation and better vision and brain development. But the New York Times recently reported that more and more of the fish we eat is dangerous because it is contaminated with dangerous chemicals and bacteria.

Most of us don't realize that 80% of the seafood we consume is imported. And more and more of it is from China whose seafood imports have soared from about $550 million in 2001 to $1.9 billion last year.

According to the Times much of the fish we import from China is produced on fish farms infested with fish excrement and bacteria or caught in highly polluted waters in China's heavily industrialized coastal regions.

While twenty-two percent of our imported fish comes from China, 60 percent of the seafood shipments that were refused entry by American regulators came from China.

Now the Food and Drug Administration has announced it will restrict a number of Chinese seafood companies from selling certain types of seafood in the United States because regulators keep finding Chinese imports contaminated with carcinogens and excessive antibiotic residues.

The list of contaminated fish from China is alarming. In May alone, regulators tagged “filthy frozen scallops”; catfish, eel and shrimp laced with banned chemicals; unsafe additives; pesticides; and cancer-causing agents.

This is the dark side of globalization.

Free market zealots continue to dogmatically cling to David Ricardo's 18th century theory of comparative advantage despite a preponderance of evidence that global "free trade" has cost millions of American jobs (2 million to China alone); undermined hourly wages even as productivity has soared; contributed to the growth of sweatshops, child labor, and a growth in international poverty. Nobel prize winning economist and former World Bank VP, Joseph Stiglitz, notes: "A growing divide between the have and have nots has left increasing numbers in the third world in dire poverty, living on less than a dollar a day. ..the actual number of people living in poverty has actually increased by almost 100 million...at the same time that total world income actually increased by an average of 2.5 percent annually; and now we are learning that global products from fish to toys to toothpaste fail to meet minimum health and safety standards.

The global economy is designed to serve the interests of financial elites and global corporations who scour the global in search of high rates of profit and low cost production. Those who have questioned the globalization's failure to establish even minimal labor, health and safety and environmental standards, cornerstones of every modern national economy, have been attacked as protectionists or worse. Now the chickens, or in this case contaminated fish, are coming home to roost!

For more about Chinese seafood imports read the NY Times article.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Valerie Wilson's husband accuses Bush of Obstruction of Justice

Former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, ripped President Bush's decision to commute the prison sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the CIA leak case. (See the video at the end of this blog)

Appearing on MSNBC's "Countdown," Wilson called the move the latest evidence that the administration is "corrupt to the core." He accused the president of participating in the "obstruction of justice."

Wilson called on both the president and Libby's former boss, Vice President Cheney, to "come clean" on their roles in the leaking of his wife's name, now that Libby has been spared prison. He called the leaking of the name "treasonous."

Asked by host Keith Olbermann if there was a "quid pro quo" - Libby would remain silent about crucial details of Cheney's role in the case in exchange for a pardon or commutation - Wilson answered, "absolutely."

Libby was convicted of several counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. President Bush commuted his 2 1/2 year sentence, calling it too severe, after a Federal Appeals Court ruled that Libby must begin serving the sentence immediately.

Wilson warned that the message of the commutation might lead to fewer people being willing to risk their lives as covert CIA operatives.

He vowed to continue the civil suit with the aim of getting Cheney and Libby on the stand. And he called on Americans to protest the move by contacting members of Congress. Democratic leaders quickly condemned the Bush act.

Libby, a convicted felon, is now free. At the same time, there are thousands of young black men serving time for less severe offenses. The Innocence Project has demonstrated that many are entirely innocent. Their only crime is that they were black. poor and in the wrong place at the wrong time. President Bush has not suggested that their sentences were too severe. As a result,the United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.1 million people currently in the nation's prisons or jails -- a 500% increase over the past thirty years.

When President Bush was the Governor of Texas he presided over 150 executions. All asked that their sentences be commuted. Not once did he rule the death penalty too severe!

Milwaukee Alderman, Michael Mcgee, who has been charged but not been convicted, remains in jail. Former Alderman Paul Henningsen served time for a victimless crime.

Libby's outing of an undercover CIA agent destroyed her career and threatened her life and the safety of those she worked with. This commutation coming two days before we celebrate the Declaration of Independence with its revolutionary proclamation that "...all men are created equal..." makes a mockery of this nation's commitment to equal justice.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Basta!! Patrick McIlheran

Basta!! Patrick McIlheran!

In his latest "Quick Hit"Patrick McIlheran implies that the very foundations of American civilization are threatened by Spanish speaking residents refusing to learn English.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth!

Spanish speaking immigrants and their progeny are learning English. They must to survive in the United States.

It is true that adult immigrants often struggle with learning a new language, just as earlier generations of non-English speaking immigrants did. Adult brains simply aren’t as adaptive as those of younger people.

The children and grandchildren of today’s Spanish speaking immigrants, like the children of previous generations of immigrants from Europe and elsewhere, adopt the language of their new country. Travel anywhere in the world and you will see people of African decent speaking French, German, and Italian, Iranians speaking Swedish, Norwegian and Spanish and Latinos speaking English!

Second generation Latinos speak English, most as their first language. They may also continue to speak their native language, just as German, Polish, Italian and Jewish immigrants before them. This enables them to communicate with and assist their parents and grandparents who often lack English proficiency. It also allows them to serve as a bridge between the United States and our southern neighbors who are almost all Spanish speaking.

My Minsk born grandmother spoke very little English. But she successfully raised eight children all of whom spoke English as their first language, even those not born in the US. One, a Harvard educated physicist wrote IBM’s first programs. Three others took the truck their father used to transport eggs and turned it into a regional trucking business. Another became a photographer who took the earliest photographs of Rosa Parks before she refused to move to the back of the bus. Three were WWII veterans including the youngest son who was wounded at Normandy. One was my mother. All retained Yiddish so they could communicate with their parents and other older relatives, assisting their transition to this new and very different world. All I know of Yiddish are the few words that all Americans have adopted! The transition took all of three generations!

Earlier generations of immigrants didn’t have television shows in their first language. They didn’t even have television for that matter! But they did have newspapers, radio shows and even public schools in their native language. Milwaukee had Polish and German language public schools and papers. The UP had a Finish radio program until a few years ago! None of these institutions prevented these immigrants or their children from learning English and becoming productive members of society. Nor did they undermine the foundations of western civilization! They actually helped smooth the transition by teaching immigrants about the institutions and practices of their new homeland just as Spanish language TV does today!

Senor McIlheran swung and missed with his "Quick Hit." What will he propose next? Banning guacamole and margaritas?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

USA ties South Korea-FIFA U-20 world championships

USA 1-South Korea 1 FIFA U-20 World Championships

The United States tied South Korea 1-1 in their opening FIFA U-20 World Championship game in Montreal Saturday.

The American goal was scored by Danny Szetela of the Columbus Crew, on an assist from Freddy Adu, here. The Korean goal was scored by ShinYoung-Rok of the Suwon Samsung Bluewings, here.

U.S. Roster:


Brian Perk (UCLA)
Steve Sandbo (SMU)
Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)


Tony Beltran (UCLA)
Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution)
Ofori Sarkodie (Indiana University)
Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy)
Julian Valentin (Wake Forest)
Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)


Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake)
Bryan Arguez (D.C. United)
Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen/NED and son of US national team coach)
Dax McCarty (F.C. Dallas)
Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew)
Anthony Wallace (F.C. Dallas)


Andre Akpan (Harvard)
Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls)
Gabriel Ferrari (Sampdoria/ITA)
Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)
Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV/GER)
Sal Zizzo (UCLA)

COACH: Thomas Rongen

Olbermann Questions London Bomb Scare

"...the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days."

Franklin D. Roosevelt's first inaugural address, 1932 .

Milwaukee PIC Makes 1st High Wage Job Placement!

Milwaukee’s new workforce development agency has successfully placed its first dislocated worker - none other than former Milwaukee County Private Industry Council (PIC) President and CEO, Gerard Randall.

Randall, who unsuccessfully fought Mayor Barrett’s effort to transfer control of millions of federal workforce dollars from the county to the city, has landed on his feet quite nicely thank you.

He will be the paid $61,000 for six months as the city of Milwaukee PIC’s assistant CEO.

Let’s give the Barrett administration its due. If the Randall placement is a model, the city’s workforce development agency will not only train and place dislocated workers, it will create family supporting jobs! Who even knew there was a shortage of assistant CEO’s?

Randall, like all dislocated workers, will experience some job skidding, ecospeak for the fact that most dislocated workers who find new jobs are generally paid significantly less than they previously earned. But spare Randall your tears since his 6 month salary is almost twice the area’s annual median income of $35,765.

Randall’s salary will no doubt help the new agency’s placement data-raising the average wage of all Milwaukee PIC placements as soon as the new workforce development agency starts placing Milwaukee’s other unemployed workers.

Perhaps the agency could start with the 8 PIC employees, front line staff who worked with unemployed and dislocated workers, Randall laid off recently due to lack of funds!