The first time I canoed Long Pond was in 1961 or 1962 with my cousin Dan. It was an amazing experience. At the embarkation point by the bridge on Kuhenbeaker Road you can reach both banks with your paddles. A few miles later the pond is at least a quarter mile across, although the entire way we could touch bottom with the paddles. The current moves so slowly that you sometimes must look down to see which way the reeds are bent so you don't paddle the wrong way. I have since learned that some plants common to Canadian bogs can be found at Long Pond. The pond is a remnant of the last ice age. This is unique habitat, and I know what the word unique means.
As Dan and I neared the takeout point on Long Pond Road, we could hear the roar and scrape of bulldozers. I learned that a racetrack was being built within view of the water. The track eventually became a huge raceway with a seating capacity of about 75,000 and acres and acres of land devoted to parking. When the builder, Joseph Mattioli, was stymied in his expansion plans by the Tunkhannock officials, he tried to convince the Pennsylvania legislature to create his own borough, which I believe had a population of 12. Cooler heads prevailed.
Most of Long Pond is now owned by the Bethlehem Municipal Water Authority and the Nature Conservancy (full disclosure--I am a member of the Nature Conservancy), so it is reasonably well-protected except for the area around the raceway.
"Doc" Mattioli died in Allentown last week. He was 86. The Pocono Record touted him as a wonderful guy who purchased a 1000 acre farm and turned it into a Nascar venue for the enjoyment of thousands of people right here in the Poconos.
So we gained a place where drivers go at high speeds round and round a track, burning precious fossil fuels and making lots of noise while thousands of drunken louts cheer them on. I'd trade the whole lot for one snowy egret.
Monday, January 30, 2012
I know that I tend to repeat myself, but some policies must be attacked until they are changed. One of them is the section of the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the United States government to detain suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, indefinitely without trial. The Act, supported overwhelmingly by Democrats and Republicans, thereby overturns habeas corpus protections that go back to the Magna Carta of 1215.
Here is what Rep. Jeff Landry, freshman Republican of Louisiana and member of the Tea Party Caucus said of this act: “Any statute that could possibly be interpreted to allow a president to detain American citizens without trial is incredibly alarming.” I couldn’t agree more.
The President himself issued a “signing statement” that said he had “serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists.” He also promised not to use the provisions. That doesn’t help much--suppose Newt or Mitt or Ricky is our next president. (Ron Paul opposed the Act.)
When Dianne Feinstein introduced an amendment to exempt American citizens from the provision, it was rejected 45-55 with most Republicans voting no. GOP senators who backed Feinstein were Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Mark Kirk, Susan Collins, and Jerry Moran. Obviously quite a few Democrats also opposed Feinstein’s proposal.
No person, citizen or not, should be kept indefinitely in prison without trial. Habeas corpus rights should be universal, and even prisoners of war can expect eventual release when the war is over. The “War on Terror,” of course, seems to go on indefinitely.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Bill Mardo was a sports writer for The Daily Worker. He only had vision in one eye, which kept him out of World War II, but as a sports writer he could see the future. He called on major league baseball teams to sign black players during and after World War II. He asked fans to write to the team owners urging them to recruit blacks. The pressure on the owners included petitions and picketing.
When Jackie Robinson debuted with the Montreal Royals, Mardo covered his progress and said that black baseball players would do as much “...to arm and educate the American people against this monstrous lie [racism] as do all the pamphlets in the world.”
I don’t know how much Mardo’s work and that of The Daily Worker contributed to Branch Rickey’s decision to sign Robinson. I do know that Mr. Mardo was correct about integrated baseball affecting American society for the better.
If you would like to read the whole obituary, go to <http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/sports/baseball/bill-mardo-writer-who-pushed-baseball-to-integrate-dies-at-88.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Bill%20Mardo&st=cse>.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
I just finished The Politics of Normalcy by Robert K. Murray, published in 1973. It’s a short book, but you have to be some sort of political junkie to read anything about the Harding administration. One thing I did learn was that Republicans in Congress from 1918 to 1920 had no interest in helping the Wilson administration solve problems. They desired a bad economy and hard times, believing that would propel them into the White House. Sounds familiar.
Harding died on a western speaking trip after visiting Alaska. He gave a number of speeches on that trip and made quite a few proposals. He urged a wise use of the nation’s natural resources, and called for federal-state cooperation in the development of water power. He urged the creation of a Department of Public Welfare to coordinate all of the federal government’s welfare activities on behalf of the American people. He predicted that Alaska would one day be a state. He called for the U.S. to join the World Court. He prophesied that if railroads didn’t increase their efficiency, bankruptcy and government ownership would result. He predicted increased development of commercial aviation, the automobile, and radio, and noted the need for regulation. He called for a national integrated highway system.
Finally, he expressed his belief that labor unions were beneficial and workers had a right to organize and strike. When is the last time you heard a Republican leader say that unions were beneficial? Come back, Warren G., come back.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Today’s New York Times features an article about Jessica Ahlquist, a 16-year-old atheist who lives in Cranston, Rhode Island. She was involved in a lawsuit to remove a prayer from the wall of her high school auditorium. A federal judge ruled in her favor because of the “establishment clause” in the First Amendment.
What a brave girl she is. I was an atheist when I was 16, but I didn’t tell anyone except one high school classmate. I attended church with my father until his death in 2006, pretending the whole time. I still attend church with Linda, but the minister knows I don’t believe, and she’s ok with it.
So what was the reaction to the lawsuit? Ms. Ahlquist’s state representative, Democrat Peter G. Palumbo, called her “an evil little thing.” School board meetings are crowded with people demanding the district appeal the ruling. Ms. Ahlquist has received death threats and must be escorted to school by police.
Whenever I hear of this type of reaction, I wonder if the people making the threats and saying the mean things have ever read their scripture. Do they know what Jesus preached? What exactly do they think about the Golden Rule, the Sermon on the Mount, and the admonition to love one another? What church do they attend that preaches hatred?
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Who would have thunk it. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, on a 4-3 vote, overturned the gerrymandering of state legislative districts by the Republican-dominated legislature. Since time is short before the primary, I think what will happen is that the districts put in place after the 2000 census will remain for the 2012 elections. Don’t take that as gospel--I’m guessing here.
I should note that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to overturn even the most blatant of political gerrymanders. It has ruled that the districts must be relatively equal in population, and legislatures are not allowed to overtly discriminate against racial minorities, but political gerrymanders are not unconstitutional. The reason the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the way it did is because of the state constitution, which says that communities should not be unnecessarily split.
Second, and I’m pretty sure this is correct, the Congressional districts are not affected by the ruling. That means that most of Carbon County will be in Rep. Holden’s district for the November election. In addition, none of the statewide candidates are affected by the ruling.
Third, if I am right and the 2001 lines are used, Rep. Heffley is toast.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I was asleep when President Obama delivered his “State of the Union” address. Sorry, but I’m old. I did read it this morning, and my reaction was, Yes! This is the guy I voted for!
My friend George said he thought it was the best speech Obama ever gave. I’d agree with that assessment. Of course the Republicans in Congress won’t agree. Fortunately by this time next year many of them will be long gone.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
When President Dwight Eisenhower proposed taxing dividends at lower rates than wages, Rep. John W. McCormack (Dem., Mass) said this:
“The Republican tax bill is indefensible in that portion which gives great benefits to corporations and constitutes a bonanza to stockholders, the large ones in particular. It is unjust and in my opinion morally wrong to make a person with earned income pay considerably more in taxes than persons with unearned income from dividends.”
Notice two things about McCormack’s remarks. First, pay attention to the use of the term “morally wrong.” Why should a person who has money to invest in stocks pay less taxes on his or her income than a person who receives an hourly wage for stocking the shelves at Wal-Mart? A policy like that is immoral.
Second, look at the term “unearned income.” People who make money because they already have money, often inherited, don’t really earn their income. They receive it. I’ve always been irritated when Parade magazine publishes its yearly issue on what people “earn.” If some CEO gets $10 million a year, that is received, not earned. No one ever “earns” that much.
Up to 2003 dividend tax rates were the same as ordinary income tax rates. In 2003 (George W. Bush was president, to refresh your memory), dividend tax rates were reduced to 15%. That is an immoral tax policy.
Monday, January 23, 2012
In my on-going effort to de-clutter my life, I’ve been throwing out old American government textbooks. Burns and Peltason, Harris, O’Connor and Sabato--all go into the recycling bin. I’m not even sure if professors use textbooks any more--maybe the readings are all on the internet.
As I was dumping them, I started reflecting on how hard it would be to teach American government in 2012. I’d have trouble with the Bill of Rights. The National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress passed and President Obama signed, allows American citizens to be held without being charged with a crime. That material about habeas corpus is obsolete.
When I discussed the “March of Suffrage,” I’d have to cover the backward march by Republican legislators, doing their best to suppress the vote of the old, college students, and the poor.
I would have a tough time with campaign finance laws. Basically they don’t exist since the Supreme Court overturned restrictions on secret unlimited donations and Super Pacs.
My remarks on how Congress makes a law would sound quaint. My explanation of the rules of war would have to be rewritten to take attacks by drones into account. The lecture on organized labor would now need to reflect that unions are under attack across the country. I’d probably need to convince students that global warming was real before I could even discuss measures to combat it.
When I did teach, I frequently had to battle the cynicism of students. They thought I was too idealistic, too patriotic, too naive. I would tell them they were too young to be cynical. I don’t know if I could even do that anymore.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Congressman Tim Holden and Pennsylvania House of Representatives candidate Ron Rabenold were introduced to about 40 Democratic activists today in Jim Thorpe. These activists included Linda, George White, and me. Congressman Holden, who is the dean of Pennsylvania Congressional Democrats, has been redistricted into Carbon and parts of Lehigh and Northampton Counties. Ron Rabenold, a teacher in the Lehighton School District, will oppose Doyle Heffley in the fall.
Holden has represented a district with a Republican majority. Understandably, he has been a rather conservative Democrat, siding with coal companies and opposing a number of Obama administration polices. When I introduced myself to him, I noted that I was a member of the Sierra Club. I told him that given his district, I would cut him some slack for his past votes, but that I would be watching him. He seemed to take this well.
As for Ron Rabenold, he is perfect for the district. He is intelligent, and he will work for the interests of his district rather than be a lackey to his party leaders. In other words, he is completely different from our current representative.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Advocacy groups frequently sell or exchange their lists of members. As a result I receive many solicitations from environmental and liberal political organizations. Today I received one that began:
People like you and me are getting pushed to the sidelines in our own democracy as special interests buy access in the halls of power with big campaign contributions.
And it’s costing us dearly.
Wall Street’s casino capitalism wrecked our economy.
The U.S. Supreme Court okayed voter identification laws that trample on our democratic rights, then turned around and gave corporations the green light to secretly spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections.
The solicitation was from the League of Women Voters. I have spoken to L.W.V. groups on at least two occasions in the 1990s. I liked them--they were informed, reasonable, and interested in good government reforms. They were not at all radical; I would have characterized them as middle-class college-educated people who believed they could have a positive impact by studying issues. Now they are downright angry.
They should be angry. Today’s Morning Call featured an article detailing how the pro-drilling Marcellus Shale industry is outspending the environmentalists by 20 to 1.
The system is not broken, it is fixed. We should be angry. We should be furious.
Friday, January 20, 2012
Sociologists often use the term “the other” to describe the out-groups in society. Such people are often seen as foreign, marginal, not one of us. Mr. Heffley (Rep., Carbon County) actually used the slogan “he’s one of us” in his 2010 campaign for the Pennsylvania House, implying that his opponent was “the other.”
This attack on “the other” is common Republican strategy. The Republican presidential candidates have been working this line against Obama. He’s different. He’s not mainstream. He’s a socialist. He’s exotic. He’s not one of us.
It ain’t working. Four Republican candidates are still in the race. The front runner has more money than God, banks in the Cayman Islands, took a drive to Canada with his dog strapped to the roof of his car, thinks corporations are people, and made his reputation managing a business whose main purpose was to fire workers.
We have another candidate who asked his wife for an open marriage and cheated on two successive wives. Now on wife #3, he says he has asked God for forgiveness. He used his connections to make millions as a lobbyist, but says he wasn’t really lobbying.
The third candidate, who opposes all forms of birth control and constantly preaches morality, used the earmark process to reward campaign contributors and made millions as a lobbyist after his re-election defeat for the U.S. Senate.
The fourth candidate, who ran for President in 1988 as a Libertarian, has so many bizarre ideas that he is a joke. He wants to get government totally out of our lives, although it would still be watching to make sure women didn’t have abortions.
President Obama is one of us. These Republican candidates are not.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
1. The Keystone Pipeline has been halted. This is because the Republicans in Congress put a two-month limit on the President to act. President Obama did act. He said no.
2. We hear that Newt Gingrich asked his second wife for an “open marriage.” Newt, you dog, you.
3. We learn that Romney pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than I do and keeps some of his money off-shore.
4. Governor Perry drops out. Rick, we hardly knew you. What we did know of you, however, was enough to realize that you aren’t even qualified to be on the Shickshinny Borough Council. Amazingly, Perry was reelected Governor of Texas. What is the matter with Texans?
5. Rickie Santorum won Iowa. Go Rickie.
6. Finally, we have an intelligent, reasonable, well-known, and hard-working candidate to run against Doyle Heffley, Carbon County’s current representative in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. More on this later.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
I’m about two-thirds of the way through Heidi Cullen’s book on climate change--The Weather of the Future, subtitled “Heat Waves, Extreme Storms, and Other Scenes from a Climate-Changed Planet.” Ms. Cullen was at one time a commentator on the Weather Channel, but I think she was removed because she kept talking about climate change resulting from human activities.
In The Weather of the Future (HarperCollins, c. 2010), Ms. Cullen discusses coral bleaching, permafrost melting, the Sacramento Delta, the Sahel in Africa, and Greenland. I know most of the readers of this blog are busy people; I’ll review the book for you so you don’t have to read it. In fact, I can sum it up in two words--we’re screwed. If this weren’t a family-oriented blog, I’d use the “F word” instead of screwed.
Meanwhile, five Republican candidates blather on in South Carolina.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
I’d like you to think back on the teachers who meant the most to you. In your mind, list the ones who affected your life, how you think, your moral character. I would name Mrs. Brown, my first grade teacher. In high school I’d list Mr. Gordos and Mr. Geiger. In college it would be Dr. Zucker and Mr. Hudnut. For grad school I’d name Dr. Atwater and Dr. Hennessy.
Now think back on how you scored on their tests. Did you get A’s? B’s? You can’t remember, can you? Yesterday a New York Times reporter analyzed a major study on teaching. Researchers tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years to determine if good teachers made a difference. The study, which analyzed such things as zip codes, jobs, and income, found they did.
Under Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and Obama’s “Race to the Top,” how are good teachers determined? By test scores.
The article noted two important items. First, the teachers labeled “good” were identified before No Child Left Behind went into effect, so test scores were not relevant. Secondly, can we really quantify the results of good teaching by the income you receive or the job you hold? I believe I am a better person for because of Mr. Gordos. It doesn’t matter how much I have in the bank or how big my house is.
I don’t know how you measure a “good” teacher, but I do know it is not by standardized test scores.
Monday, January 16, 2012
In earlier postings I’ve said some nice things about John Huntsman. He seemed to understand global warming, he wasn’t all creepy about gay rights, and he was a good ambassador to China. I even liked his three smart and funny daughters. I was sorry he didn’t do much better in New Hampshire.
But.... Now he drops out of the race and endorses Chicken Poop Romney. Here were his other choices.
1. Note that the other Republican candidates are irrational moral pygmies and endorse Obama.
2. Although unable to endorse Obama out of some misplaced sense of party loyalty, announce that he would not endorse any of the current candidates--that was a decision for Republican voters to make.
3. Keep his mouth shut and quietly slink back home.
A note on Martin Luther King Day: I think it is worth recalling that the reason Dr. King was in Memphis was to support the public employees who picked up the garbage. We sure could use him now.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
I feel like goofing off tonight, so I decided to pass along some laws and maxims.
Agnes Allen’s Law. Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.
Allen’s Distinction. The lion and the calf shall lie down together, but the calf won’t get much sleep. (Woody Allen)
Colson’s Law. If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow. (Poster alleged to have hung in the office of Nixon aide Charles Colson)
Dirksen’s Three Laws of Politics. 1. Get elected. 2. Get re-elected. 3. Don’t get mad, get even. (Sen. Everett Dirksen)
Ettore’s Observation. The other line moves faster. (New York Times Financial Writer Barbara Ettore)
Getty’s Reminder. The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights. (J. Paul Getty)
Hull’s Warning. Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river. (Secretary of State Cordell Hull)
Merrill’s Maxim of Instant Status. In a democracy you can be respected though poor, but don’t count on it. (Charles Merrill Smith)
Runyon’s Law. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet. (Damon Runyon)
I found these in the Feb. 26, 1979, issue of Time Magazine.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
This morning Linda and I drove to Wilkes-Barre to participate in a labor rally against Cooper Tire. We had about thirty people with signs and a giant blow-up rat representing the management of Cooper Tire. Let me give you some background.
In 2008 Cooper Tire in Findlay, Ohio, was suffering financially. The United Steel Workers Local 207L, recognizing the company’s problems, sacrificed $31.2 million in concessions. The Ohio state government also helped, providing the company with $2.5 million of taxpayer funds.
Since January 1, 2009, Cooper Tire has made $448 million in operating profits. In 2010 the top five executives took home more than $9.5 million and bought a new corporate jet. Two wage increases and bonuses were given to management personnel.
The members of Local 207L were willing to continue working while a new contract was negotiated. Instead of negotiating in good faith, the company locked out the union members and brought in out-of-state worker replacements.
Meanwhile the Republican candidates blather on about class warfare.
If you would like to see a two minute film on Cooper Tire, go to <www.stopcoopertire.org>.
Friday, January 13, 2012
The E.P.A. just released a map of the major producers of greenhouse gases or GHG. I am not proud to say that Pennsylvania ranks second, after Texas. The main producers of GHG are coal-fired power plants.
Carbon County has two sites on the list--the power plant outside Nesquehoning and Horsehead Industries in Palmerton.
To read the EPA’s press release and view the map, go to <www.epa.gov/newsroom/> and click on the release for January 11.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
You may have seen the T-shirt that says “It’s only class warfare when we fight back.” Well, we are fighting back. A survey by the Pew Research Center, a reputable polling organization, found that conflict between the rich and poor now is now perceived as more important than conflicts between blacks and whites or between immigrants and the native born.
According to a report on the poll results in today’s New York Times about 2/3rds of Americans now believe that there are “strong conflicts” between the rich and the poor. This is up from 47% in 2009.
The scales are falling from our eyes. I think we have two groups to thank for this growing class consciousness. One, of course, is the Occupy movement. The other is the Republicans in Congress. Their efforts to protect the top 1% are too evident to ignore.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Those of us on the left have had some serious problems with our president. He compromised too much, he wasn’t forceful, he wasn’t the agent of change we thought he would be. Thomas Frank, the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas, has written a new book (Pity the Billionaire) accusing Obama of being the friend of the plutocrats who cavort on Wall Street.
He quotes a portion of Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope about “people of means” whom Obama met at fundraisers. Here’s that portion:
As a rule they were smart, interesting people, knowledgeable abut public policy, liberal in their politics, expecting nothing more than a hearing...in exchange for their checks. .... They had no patience with protectionism, found unions troublesome and were not particularly sympathetic to those whose lives were upended by by the movements of global capital. ... Frank notes that Obama then wrote that as he hung around with these people, he became more like them.
Damning words, right?
But here is what Michael Kinsley said in a review of Frank’s book:
It seems to me that a Democratic president who gets us health care reform and tough new financial protection for consumers, who guides the economy through its roughest period in 80 years with moderate success (who could do better?), who ends our long war in Iraq and avenges the worst insult to our sovereignty since Pearl Harbor (as his Republican predecessor manifestly failed to do, despite a lot of noise and promises); a president who faced an opposition of really spectacular intransigence and down-right meanness; a president who has the self-knowledge and wisdom about Washington to write the passage quoted above, and the courage to publish it: that president deserves a bit more credit from the left than Frank is willing to give him.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Our daughter in California recently sent us a clipping from the Chico Enterprise Record listing some of the laws that took effect on January 1. New California laws include the following:
• girls as young as 12 can get vaccinated against the leading cause of cervical cancer without their parents’ permission;
• public schools must teach the contributions of gays and lesbians;
• a Dream Act allows students who entered the country illegally to receive private financial aid at California’s public colleges;
• a restriction on people under 18 from using tanning beds as a way to lessen the growing incidence of skin cancer;
• no sale, trade, or possession of shark fins;
• a restriction on carrying an exposed handgun in a public place;
• testimony by jailhouse informants will no longer be enough to convict a suspect without corroborating evidence; and
• jurors are prohibited from texting, tweeting, and using smart phones to discuss or research cases.
Did I mention before that I sometimes miss California. I believe I did.
Monday, January 9, 2012
Our friend and neighbor George White and his wife Marie compete in the Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest midwinter agricultural exhibition in the nation. We asked him for a report. Here it is:
We departed for the 95th Annual Pennsylvania Farm Show on Sunday, Marie’s Angel Food cake in hand for the contest. This was our 20th annual trip to the Farm Show. After registering the cake (66 entries this year), our first stop was the Pennsylvania State Grange booth for a discussion of the Grange’s legislative agenda with state president Carl Meiss. The Grange is firmly opposed to Sunday hunting and to closing the state-owned wine and liquor stores.
Next we walked through the food vendor area, tasting product samples. We bought several items that we enjoyed, including a white bean soup mix, spices from the Spice Man, and our annual supply of maple syrup.
Back at the contest Marie and her competitors from this area were catching up, giving me a chance to wander the hall. The crowd consisted mostly of families. The kids really enjoy the indoor merry-go-round, and DEP has a hands-on exhibit that teaches children and adults activities that are good for the environment. Shaver Creek Environmental Center has talks with all types of critters, including owls and snakes; the kids love it. A high point for me was free sample cups of ice cream from Turkey Hill.
Marie and I then went to the Culinary Stage to watch the chefs. Young adults attending the Pennsylvania College of Technology had to make a dish from secret ingredients in 35 minutes. They were really good and fun to watch. Anyone who watches “Chop” on the food network can relate to the pressure and stress.
Our last stop of the long day was the Food Court where we had to decide what to eat before departing for home. I did want to get some potato donuts, but the line was completely across the court area, so we settled for a grilled chicken sandwich and chocolate milk.
We expect to make another trip on Tuesday. You just can’t see the entire show in one day. Marie had no luck with her angel food cake, but two years ago she took the Grand Champion prize in the entire state for her chocolate cake.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
When I was in high school, some of the basketball players from other teams would cross themselves before a foul shot. This always annoyed me. Were they praying? Did God take sides in high school basketball games?
Now we have the Denver quarterback doing this very public praying. At least I assume it is praying.
Bill Endicott, writing a column in the Sacramento Bee entitled “Ignoring Matthew, athletes parade their faith,” noted that in Matthew, Chapter 6, Jesus is quoted as saying “Be careful not to perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do.”
Endicott then goes on to quote Earl Weaver, former manager of the Baltimore Orioles, who was told that one of his outfielders had learned to walk with God. Weaver is supposed to have replied, “I’d rather have you walk with the bases loaded.”
Saturday, January 7, 2012
The Carbon County Labor Chapter is sending out the following letter to selected union members:
Last year active and retired union members in Carbon County formed the Carbon County Labor Chapter, the first step to becoming a county-wide Labor Council. It is important, given proposed anti-union legislation in Pennsylvania, that we are a strong voice for working class Americans.
We meet at the AmVets In Lansford at 215 West Ridge Street on the third Thursday of every month at 7 p.m. The schedule of meetings is:
January 16 July 16
February 20 Aug. 20
March 19 Sept. 17
April 16 Oct. 15
May 21 Nov. 19
June 18 Dec. 17 (Holiday party)
To visit us on Facebook, look for us at <The Carbon County Labor Chapter PA>.
If you would like to receive our newsletter by email, contact <LAChris@ptd.net> or call 610-377-0235.
Our president is Terry Whiteman. You can call him at 610-379-0162. His email is <email@example.com>.
The more members we have, the stronger we become. Join us.
We’ll see what happens.
Friday, January 6, 2012
The January 5th edition of the New York Times featured a full-page ad by a group representing the 1% comparing American labor unions to the government of North Korea. The ad was sponsored by “The Center for Union Facts,” and, as these things are done now, gives no clue as to who actually paid for the ad.
The ad was in support of the “Employee Rights Act,” to provide that union members would be required to vote every three years on whether to continue paying union dues.
Actually, I could go for this provided all workers, including Wal-Mart employees, McDonald’s employees, the Mercedes plant in Alabama, hospital workers in Texas, fruit pickers in Washington, and every other worker in America had to vote every three years on whether or not he or she wanted a union.
Fair is fair, right?
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Since some of the regular readers of this blog are in California and Belgium, let me give you some background. In Carbon County, two Democrats and two Republicans run for County Commissioner. Voters can vote for two positions, but the top three are elected. This guarantees that neither party will control all three seats. (Other parties, such as the Greens and Libertarians, are frozen out under this system.)
In the November election Republicans Wayne Nothstein and Tom Gerhard received the most votes, with Democrat Charles Getz coming in third. Bill O’Gurek, the other Democratic candidate, was about 150 votes behind Getz.
Mr. Getz, disgusted with what he regarded as a smear campaign against Mr. O’Gurek and unwilling to serve as Commissioner with Mr. Nothstein and Mr. Gerhard, decided to bow out. I heard Mr. Getz say, with some passion, that he could not bear to be in the same room with two people that he regarded as dishonest and dishonorable.
His departure left a vacancy, to be filled by appointment by senior Carbon County Judge Nanovic. Last week the Carbon County Executive Board met to recommend a replacement to Judge Nanovic. I am a member of that Board and part of the unanimous vote to recommend Mr. O’Gurek. Mr. Nanovic, following the party’s recommendation, appointed Mr. O’Gurek to fill the vacancy.
My personal belief is that Mr. O’Gurek knows the issues concerning Carbon County and was supported by thousands of voters. The system was set up to ensure that a minority voice would be heard, and that the County government would not be dominated by a single party. Judge Nanovic made the right choice.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
In 1996 the Clinton administration, led by Mike Dombeck, head of the Forest Service, declared that 58 million acres (roughly the size of Nebraska) would remain roadless, although available for hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, and natural habitat.
Nine lawsuits were almost immediately filed by lumber and mining interests to overturn the new Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Unfortunately, when the Bush administration took over in 2001, the Forest Service refused to support its own roadless policy.
A number of environmental organizations, with Earthjustice in the lead, then stepped up to defend the policy. Over 600 hearings were held, and over a million and a half comments were received. Over 90% of the comments were in favor of the Rule. Environmental groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours in legal action. It worked. In October 2011 the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Roadless Rule.
I’m a member of Earthjustice, and right now I’m feeling pretty good.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Instead of writing about the clowns and jokers running in the Iowa caucuses, I want to print a portion of a letter that Abigail Adams wrote to her sixteen-year-old son John Quincy, who had accompanied his father John to Europe. John Adams was in Paris representing the newly-independent United States.
She notes that because John Quincy went abroad at such an early age, he didn’t get a chance to be acquainted with his country. She writes:
Let your observations and comparisons produce in your mind an abhorrence of domination and power, the parent of slavery, ignorance, and barbarism, which places man upon a level with his fellow tenants of the woods:
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty
Is worth a whole eternity of bondage.
...may you be led to an imitation of that disinterested patriotism and that noble love of your country, which will teach you to despise wealth, titles, pomp, and equipage, as mere external advantages, which cannot add to the internal excellence of your mind, or compensate for the want of integrity and virtue.
May your mind be thoroughly impressed with the absolute necessity of universal virtue and goodness, as the only sure road to happiness, and may you walk therein with undeviating steps--is the sincere and most affectionate wish of
John Quincy Adams was later elected the sixth president of the United States. Defeated for a second term by Andrew Jackson, he then served in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was a leader in the fight to rid the nation of slavery. I believe his mother would have been proud.
Monday, January 2, 2012
In The Ethics of Authenticity (c. 1991) political philosopher Charles Taylor discusses the problems inherent in what he calls “instrumental reason.” He explains that we calculate everything according to its cost-benefit ratio without regard to other values. Taylor says there is “...a widespread unease that instrumental reason not only has enlarged its scope but also threatens to take over our lives. The fear is that things that ought to be determined by other criteria will be decided in terms of efficiency or ‘cost-benefit’ analysis, that the independent ends that ought to be guiding our lives will be eclipsed by the demand to maximize output.”
Let me give you a few examples. The Postal Service is losing money, so we must end Saturday deliveries and close local branches, even though that inconveniences millions of people and eliminates an important aspect of our communities. Governor Corbett proposes to bring in revenue by privatizing liquor stores, even though that will mean a decline in our quality of life and the elimination of thousands of jobs. Fracking for natural gas must proceed, even though it will mean polluted groundwater and environmental degradation. People shop at Wal-Mart because items are cheap, even if the employees are mistreated and small shops are driven out of business.
A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I googled that line, and supposedly Oscar Wilde said it first. Whoever said it, it is an accurate description of Republican members of congress, Republican presidential candidates, and way too many American citizens.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Fight evil and ignorance no matter where it occurs.
Buy a Glock., (Why should conservatives be the only ones armed?)
Lose ten pounds.
Finish the plays of Shakespeare. (I’m 1/3rd of the way there, he bragged.)
Ignore any technology developed after 2000.
Be nicer to my lovely wife Linda.
Win Carbon County for Obama.
Canoe Long Pond, again.
Build the Carbon County Labor Chapter.
Double the readership of “Sajeonogi.”
Publish a poem.