Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crap/Not Crap - Pearl Jam Edition

All questions raised by the comments on the AV Club in a discussion of Pearl Jam's Ten.

1. Crap/Not Crap: STP at their best were better than Pearl Jam.

2. Crap/Not Crap: Mother Love Bone was good.

3. Crap/Not Crap: Screaming Trees were not very good.

4. Crap/Not Crap: Nirvana is a band you can like when you are "like 12 years-old," but Pearl Jam is the music for the true connoisseur.

5. Crap/Not Crap: Pearl Jam were not "really" grunge.

6. Crap/Not Crap: "Grunge" is just a media word that has no real meaning.

7. Grunge is most closely related to: a.cock rock, b.metal, c.hardcore, d.punk [sure indy rock should be on the list, but that's not the way the AV Clubbers see it]

8. Ten was part of the soundtrack of: a.middle school, b.high school d. not terribly familiar with the album

Fantasy Baseball is a Metaphor for Similies

Well, Jesus fuckin' Christ, it's fntsy baseball time again. It's a time for Wobs, ex-OG personage Dave3544 and I, among a coupla-three chums from other walks of la vie, to engage in a months and months-long exercise of nervous clicking, scannning etc. It's a time for clunky nicknames and profane poetry - not unlike that of the OG, come to think of it - and a generalized, sports-y anxiety that you'd do well to taste for yourself.

What's that, you say? Not a fan of "baseball"? Well good for you, snob! 'Thing is, that has nothing to do with this. We need you kids.

Go here to sign on. League ID = 220900
League = Skin Kin 2009
Password = 'readyondayone' (remember the Hillary for Prez campaign? EZ does.)

Like eating a pound of chocolate

One of the ideas floating around about how to "fix" EFCA so that it is more palatable to one or two Republican Senators and some "liberal" "progressive" "vehemently anti-union" business owners is the idea that unions would be allowed equal access to the workplace when conducting organizing drives.

This sounds like a good idea, but is not. Let me tell you why.

1. It solidifies the "captive audience" meetings that we are currently fighting against. We think these are bad things. The employer should not be allowed to force its workers to go to propaganda meetings as part of their employment. We mean this for anti-union meetings, political meetings, religious meetings, or anything else. When the employer buys eight hours of work, that's what they buy, not eight hours of someone's life.

2. "Equal" means whatever the employer wants it to mean. The meetings with union organizers will be held in the basement, with no coffee, no donuts at 8:45 am on Monday. The meeting with the bosses will be held in the conference room with coffee, danish, and maybe, for those Friday afternoon meetings, with beer.

3. No matter how much time the union is given, it will not be equal. The union might have half-an-hour. The employer has the next seven-and-a-half hours in the day. We cannot win the captive audience game, so we shouldn't play it.

It is not a level playing field now and never will be, we shouldn't make it easy for the bosses to pretend like it is.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The motherfucking lid blown off of EFCA

All I can say is that

I was unaware of the negative consequences of EFCA when I wrote in support of it in the past. All I can say is that I put my trust in a certain individual who I, apparently, should not have trusted. In the future, I will do my own research before endorsing this type of thing.

This Fox News story is the tragic tale of a small plant in Indiana that suffered through an organizing drive conducted by the UAW. These factory owner asshats actually let their employees decide whether to organize a union via Satan's preferred method - card check. I think we can all see what's coming (we all watched the video, right? That makes it easier to see what is coming). Two! At least two people were harassed by some union THUG. We'll one of the women mentions that he was always there and she seems like she didn't like it, but she doesn't actually say that she was harassed. The second woman is pissed because people knew she was against the union and see seems to have been harassed by her co-workers, but still UNION THUGGERY PROVED!!!

And here's the sickening thing. At least 50% of people at the plant signed a card. A union was formed. Some percentage [at least 30%, although the story keeps vague about all the numbers. Maybe so that no one has a better idea of how this really works] of workers asked for a vote. The vote was held and the union was decertified. See how horrible EFCA would be? Union THUGS can harass people, intimidate them, and force them to sign union cards that they don't want to sign. Or, at the very least, card check would create more situations where it is easy to manipulate a story to make it seem like this kind of thing could happen.

And then what happens when these union THUGS!!! get their union by threatening to kill anyone who doesn't sign a card? What happens to these poor, frightened people? Well, they are forced to sign a petition to the National Labor Relations Board asking for an election. After some mandatory employee meetings, some video watching, saying goodbye to some longtime colleagues who were total dicks throughout this whole thing, and hinting to your bosses that your spouse is looking for work, you get to vote on decertifying the union. The similarities to Communist Russia cannot be overlooked.

Thank God the fine folks at NW Republican are on top of this stuff. I doubt very much that I will be falling for whatever Lex pushes on me next time (unless it is shiny.)


For Lex, cause he's there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wow, Did We Just Lose EFCA? That Was Fast - In a Slow, Painful Way

*** Card check’s death? Did the legislative battle over the Employee Free Choice Act (a.k.a. “card check”) end before it truly began? GOP Sen. Arlen Specter’s decision yesterday to oppose the bill, even though he voted for cloture on the measure in ’07, dealt a blow to organized labor, denying them the 60 votes they need to end debate -- even if Al Franken ends up joining the Senate. We can tell you this: The White House appears to be happy (but very quietly so) to have this debate out of the way. No doubt they were for it. But it was always more of a Biden cause than a Barack cause. At this point in time, with everything else on their plate, sticking a finger in business’ eye wasn’t something the White House was looking forward to. Would Obama have signed it? Yes. But he doesn’t have to worry about it now, at least maybe not until 2011.
(from First Read)

I am really, really trying to avoid saying something about Arlen Specter's recurrent personal health struggles.

And I'm really glad to hear that those centrist Dems are off the hook for having to stand up for the labor movement.

Question: If this defeat is real and irrevocable, has it done more to dampen my (already flimsy) faith in the Dem/Labor alliance, or my faith in actually existing organized labor en general?

Question 2: Does anybody anywhere believe we can advance to a filibuster-proof majority by 2011?

('Better crawl back into the earthly comforts of my current undisclosed location, before I go ahead and join a Trot faction or the Air Force or some shit....)

You see the twist is that no one even knows any more, man

In short, it was an offer that no capitalist speculator could ever refuse.
Which reminds one of the scene from the film, The Godfather, in which the corrupt politician woke up with a bloody dead horse's head in his bed. It's a scene once again played with gamblers, corruption and politicians. Except this time there's a twist: It's the taxpayer that will wake up with the dead horse's head.

- Dr. Jack Rasmus, Professor of Political Economy
Author: Epic Recession and Global Financial Crisis, forthcoming Palgrave/Pluto Press, 2009
Which reminds me of the scene from the film, Red Dawn, where the father is standing behind the fence in the concentration camp and he screams "Avenge me, boys! Avenge me!" Except the twist this time is that it is the American taxpayer standing behind the fence and we're shouting "Screw the capitalist pigs! Screw 'em even if it means the complete disintegration and destruction of our society! A new world will rise from the ashes of the old!"

Which reminds me of a song I once sang.

Which reminds me of that scene on the show, The Simpsons, where Homer is at the Hullabalooza and there are two slackers watching him catch a cannonball in his stomach and one of them says "Oh, that's cool" in that way that slackers have and the other one asks, "Are you being sarcastic, dude?" And then the first one says "I don't even know anymore, man." Except this time it is everyone who reads this blog who doesn't know what the hell to think about the bailout because on the one hand screw the fucking capitalist dogs, but on the other hand it would be really nice not to have our nice little lives destroyed by a depression.

Monday, March 23, 2009

National Review blawg re: EFCA 'compromise'

Over at the Corner, the "Committee for a Level Playing Field"'s proposal scores something like a "not not not crap," which supports the OG consensus that the Starfucks/Whole Shit/CostFilth troika is more in league with the NAM/US Chamber Of Commerce camp than with everybody the crap else:
The three companies' compromise bill rejects both of EFCA's most noxious elements — card check (or abolition of the guarantee of a secret ballot) and mandatory arbitration. What it does include is an assurance of greater access for unions to a firm's employees during a unionization election, and increased penalties for employers who break the rules. Their proposal would be much less harmful than EFCA, but at the same time it unnecessarily concedes the false premise that the reason for unions' decline is procedural rather than substantive — i.e., fewer workers feel the need to belong to them.

Some will criticize these three companies for catering to their latte liberal customers (at least in the case of Whole Foods and Starbucks) and using this as a public relations exercise to show that they are the good guys. And this may be in part true, but it could have been much worse. There were fears, when this alternative was still under development, that it would include some form of card check.

I don't understand what was so great about it

LGM is running a series of posts comparing Brad Delong's optimism about the Geithner plan with Krugman's pessimism. LGM doesn't add a lot, so this is merely a hat tip.

I find myself in the Krugman camp, mostly due to the influence of Dean Baker. I believe that housing prices in the US were wildly overinflated and that many millions of people will continue to struggle to pay their mortgages and then won't when they lose their jobs. Loans will not be paid back. Toxic assets are not currently undervalued (I didn't realize people we arguing this! I am slightly horrified. I guess I need to follow more links.) The way out of this recession is not through reinflating housing prices. God no.

As I always say though, happy to be shown I am wrong.

One thing that makes me think Delong is deluded (Chris Matthews ha!) is his belief that the hedge fund managers who are planning to buy the assets and manage them to eventually recover their value are supposedly not going to fuck it up because they have $30 billion of their own scratch in the game. Somehow this incentivizes them to not fuck it up.
Q: Why is the government making hedge and pension fund managers kick in $30 billion?

A: So that they have skin in the game, and so do not take excessive risks with the taxpayers' money because their own money is on the line as well.

Q: Why then should hedge and pension fund managers agree to run this?

A: Because they stand to make a fortune when markets recover or when the acquired toxic assets are held to maturity: they make the full equity returns on their $30 billion invested--which is leveraged up to $1 trillion with government money.

Q: Why isn't this just a massive giveaway to yet another set of financiers?

A: The private managers put in $30 billion and the government puts in $970 billion. If we were investing in a normal hedge fund, we would have to pay the managers 2% of the capital and 20% of the profits every year. In this case, the private managers' returns can be thought of as (a) a share of the portfolio's total return proportional to their 3% contribution, plus (b) a "management incentive fee" of (i) 0% of the capital value and (ii) between 0% (if the portfolio returns 3% per year) and 9% (if the portfolio returns 10% per year)--much less than hedge-fund managers typically charge. the Treasury is only paying 0% of the capital value and 17% of the profits every year.

Q: Why do we think that the government will get value from its hiring these hedge and pension fund managers to operate this program?

A: They do get 17% of the equity return. 17% of the return on equity on a $1 trillion portfolio that is leveraged 5-1 is incentive.
Oh, is that how it works? If they didn't stand to make so many billions they just wouldn't really put the ol' brain power to it, but with billions in profit on the line, they will really get the juices flowing for us? I mean wtf? And aren't these the same McGenuises that just screwed the pooch? Were they just not trying before? Isn't it traditional that when the US gets in financial trouble it "hires" the best and the brightest for $1 a year? [How 'bout we call them dollar-a-year men? Brilliant!] See, the thinking here is that people don't need the incentive of billions in profits derived from government-backed leverage in order to save the American economy. If the American economy is saved, they will make money along with everyone else. If it is not, then no one is making money. It is already in their interest to help save the economy.

For all of these reasons, this plan looks exactly like a big gamble using leveged government dollars wherein the only people who will end up making any money will be the Wall Street finaciers who just happen to have one of their own in a position of power.

And I am off my rocker here, but why the fuck is Krugman not part of this administration? Let's offer him billions to help us out here.

Primary Text, Dean Baker!

t r u t h o u t | A.I.G. Bonuses: Class War in the Media
Of course, the bonus money is relatively small change in the scheme of things. The same people who think it's fine to give incompetent financial company executives multi-million dollar bonuses are busy crafting plans to hand several thousand times this amount to the same crew in their latest bailout scheme. They are saying that if this plan doesn't go through, the economy will be wrecked.

Just to be clear (because the media won't tell you), the people who designed this plan are the same people who wrecked the economy. Before anyone even thinks of supporting this plan, they should get a clear answer from Bernanke, Geithner, and the rest of the crowd to the question: "When did you stop being wrong about the economy?"