My (Gay) Valentine’s Day

As usual, David woke up before I did. Once I was up, he was in the living room, as usual, reading the paper, then typing away on his computer. I fired up my laptop from the sofa to read the news. Our two chihuahuas sat next to me, licking, nuzzling, chewing a toy and occasionally mugging for attention.

It was a good half hour later when I went down to my office in the basement to get something. The dozen roses with a big "I love you" helium filled balloon were all in a vase on my desk. I opened the card, brought the flowers upstairs and gave him a kiss. (more…)

Late Nite FDL: Burress for Senate? Nevermind!!

What’s all this about Burress for Senate?  I don’t understand it, and I’m against it!

First of all, what has football got to do with making laws?  Oh, I know, some of you will tell me that football has a lot of laws.  I suppose it does.  I mean, there’s illegal use of the hands.  But then, we don’t need any more Mark Foley pervert or Rick Warren busybody type laws.  And catching passes doesn’t make you a senator, no sir.  Most senators I’ve ever heard of are always making passes, not receiving them.  I mean, look at them!

And then, who carries a gun into a club like that?  Plaxico Burress would have to be patted down every time he goes through one of those scanner things on Capitol Hill.  And what if he insults Jim Webb on the Senate floor?  It would be a shoot out, a bloodbath, Wild West!  That’s hardly appropriate for the United States’ Senate, I can tell you.  And Burress is up on charges and may go to jail, and Senators are not supposed to be indicted until AFTER they serve some time in office, as everybody knows!

And another thing. . .

"Um, Pach, that’s Roland Burris, not Plaxico Burress, and it’s Illinois, not New York."
 — The Editors

Oh. . . 

That’s different, then.

Nevermind.

Happy New Year!

Obama Transition Reaffirms Commitment to Employee Free Choice Act

obamamike3.jpg

Yesterday I wrote of my attempt to get the Obama team on the record to reaffirm its support for the Employee Free Choice Act after Rahm Emanuel demurred on the question when asked. Team Obama has now responded:

An aide to Barack Obama reaffirmed the President-elect’s support for the labor movement’s chief legislative priority in a one-word statement issued to the Huffington Post on late Tuesday.

Asked if Obama’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act remained as strong as his public proclamations suggested on the campaign trail, transition spokesman Dan Pfeiffer responded, succinctly, "Yes."

The reaffirmation may not seem like a political breakthrough on its surface. But in the current political climate, in which the Obama team has steadfastly refused to comment on various legislative priorities, it does signal that the President-elect is not shying away from progressive pledges made during his campaign.

Moreover, it clears the air of some confusion that was prompted by a statement from Rahm Emanuel in late November.

Kudos to the Obama team for clearing that up. I would have been happy to have gotten that such a statement when I asked for one, and would have printed it. The statement is not exactly a response to the question I asked, but it does help to clear up any mixed signals that got sent in the wake of Rahm Emanuel’s comments.

Obama Transition Reaffirms Commitment to Employee Free Choice Act

Obama

Yesterday I wrote of my attempt to get the Obama team on the record to reaffirm its support for the Employee Free Choice Act after Rahm Emanuel demurred on the question when asked. Team Obama has now responded:

An aide to Barack Obama reaffirmed the President-elect’s support for the labor movement’s chief legislative priority in a one-word statement issued to the Huffington Post on late Tuesday.

Asked if Obama’s support for the Employee Free Choice Act remained as strong as his public proclamations suggested on the campaign trail, transition spokesman Dan Pfeiffer responded, succinctly, "Yes."

The reaffirmation may not seem like a political breakthrough on its surface. But in the current political climate, in which the Obama team has steadfastly refused to comment on various legislative priorities, it does signal that the President-elect is not shying away from progressive pledges made during his campaign.

Moreover, it clears the air of some confusion that was prompted by a statement from Rahm Emanuel in late November.

Kudos to the Obama team for clearing that up. I would have been happy to have gotten that such a statement when I asked for one, and would have printed it.

The statement is not exactly a response to the (more…)

Will a President Obama Fight for the Employee Free Choice Act?

I’ve been in communication with the Obama transition team since last week, unsuccessfully seeking an answer to the question, "Will an Obama administration make passage of the Employee Free Choice Act a top priority, and will it use all resources at its disposal to persuade lawmakers to pass it?" Representatives of the Obama transition team have so far declined to clarify or affirm the incoming administration’s commitment to the legislation.

Questions about the new administration’s commitment to the Employee Free Choice Act arose after Rahm Emanuel, who has been selected to become Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, recently declined to affirm an Obama administration’s commitment to the Employee Free Choice Act when speaking to a group of prominent business leaders. Emanuel’s unwillingness to make a statement about the Employee Free Choice Act stood out because Barack Obama made strong, unequivocal statements of support for the legislation during the presidential campaign.

According to a Wall Street Journal report on November 19:

(Emanuel) was asked his views on the push by labor unions to allow workplaces to be organized with the signing of cards attesting to union support rather than a secret ballot. Mr. Emanuel declined to say whether the White House would support the legislation, but he said the unions are addressing the concerns of a middle class that has seen U.S. median income slide over the past eight years, while health care, energy and education costs have soared.

The Employee Free Choice Act would make it possible for a majority of workers in an organization to certify a union through a process uncontrolled and uninfluenced by agents of management. Accordingly, the bill has become a major point of anticipated controversy during the new administration, where it would be subject to vehement opposition by big business groups like the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, and likely subject to a Republican led filibuster in the U. S. Senate. The U. S. Chamber has pledged to spend ten million dollars to fight against the bill’s ultimate passage.

Business groups claim it would eliminate a secret ballot to certify a union, though the Act does not prevent unions from becoming certified through traditional ballot processes controlled by management. It is already legal for unions to be certified by one of two processes: a management controlled election or by majority sign up.

However, current law allows employers to exercise sole discretion over which method will be recognized. The Employee Free Choice Act would allow workers to choose which already legal method to employ. Advocates for labor say that companies routinely prefer the ballot process because management can manipulate it to intimidate and punish pro-union employees, thereby preventing unions from forming. (more…)

Schumer Signals McConnell on Big Stimulus

McConnell Bait

Chuck Schumer released a statement (below) calling for a big economic stimulus in the order of $500 billion to $700 billion. This is in line with what the Economic Policy Institute calls for, at a minimum of $600 billion.

Schumer uses coded language to get Mitch McConnell interested in the plan, such as "big package" and "it has to be deep." Crafty guy, that Chuck. I’ve long been a critic, but gotta give him props on this one.

Schumer’s statement follows (h/t Matt Stoller):

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday that he thinks the economic stimulus package should be between $500 billion and $700 billion.

In an interview with ABC’s "This Week," Schumer said, "I believe we need a pretty big package here." He added that Congress is working on getting the economic package to President-elect Barack Obama by Inauguration Day. "I think it has to be deep. In my view, it has to be between $500 and $700 billion, and that’s because our economy is in serious, serious trouble."

"It’s a little like having a new New Deal, but you have to do it before the Depression. Not after," Schumer added.

Shuster Cites Hamsher on The Lieberman Cave In

David Shuster quoted this post by Jane on MSNBC tonight. Peter Slutsky, the liberal guest on the show, reacts to the quote. Peter, a good friend and a genuinely good guy, argues that if Obama made a mistake about Lieberman’s chairmanship, it will be Obama who pays the price.

I don’t think that’s right. Lieberman promised to investigate the Katrina response when he ran for reelection and then refused to do so, to the pervasive harm of a lot of Katrina victims.

Lieberman oversees 50 billion dollars in no bid Homeland Security contracts, a system rife with graft, abuse and corruption. Seems to me some real oversight in that position could free up some money to help save three million automobile industry jobs.

So, this is not just a situation where Obama is playing with only his own risks. The risks are all too real and all too human, though outside the protected confines of Beltway Washington.

Shuster Cites Hamsher on The Lieberman Cave In

David Shuster quoted this post by Jane on MSNBC tonight. Peter Slutsky, the liberal guest on the show, reacts to the quote. Peter, a good friend and a genuinely good guy, argues that if Obama made a mistake about Lieberman’s chairmanship, it will be Obama who pays the price.

I don’t think that’s right. Lieberman promised to investigate the Katrina response when he ran for reelection and then refused to do so, to the pervasive harm of a lot of Katrina victims.

Lieberman oversees 50 billion dollars in no bid Homeland Security contracts, a system rife with graft, abuse and corruption. Seems to me some real oversight in that position could free up some money to help save three million automobile industry jobs.

So, this is not just a situation where Obama is playing with only his own risks. The risks are all too real and all too human, though outside the protected confines of Beltway Washington.

Ted Haggard Resurfaces, Flames Out

Ted Haggard

Ted Haggard has resurfaced via an article in the Denver Post. He claims he was sexually abused as a child and that’s what led to his later sinful sucking.

Sigh.

The quote I found most telling:

"I hate this thing, but there were times I loved it," he told himself. "I hate this thing, but there were times I loved it. I hate this thing, but there were times I loved it."

Ah, love.

I can’t quite find it in me to heap hot coals on the broken, twisted, traumatized mess that is Ted Haggard. Okay, I’m a shrink, so I’m not going either to trivialize or automatically presume the veracity of his childhood sexual abuse explanation. The "abuse excuse" has been fabricated before by any number of people, and reports of such childhood victimization cannot, clinically, either be dismissed or presumed to be true with certainty.

Let’s suspend belief or disbelief for a moment in Haggard’s neatly structured tale of victimization in search of a redemption narrative of forgiveness by his Evangelical constituents. None of us has direct access to observe what may have happened to him as a kid. But we have observed a real trauma in his life, and he talks about it in the article: (more…)