December 07, 2013

A bon mot

I'm not as fond of Winston Churchill as some neo-cons out there, but he did have his moments. One of which transpired when he came up with this line:

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

December 06, 2013

High water everywhere

As the week draws to a close, Bob Dylan's song High Water is going through my head. I like the song, but it's a bit too real at the moment. The ongoing rain has mucked up the barn, is filling up the creek, and is likely to cause the mighty Mud River to rise up in its wrath. This is one time I'm hoping for snow.

Like Dylan said, it's gettin' rough out there. High water everywhere.

 MORE ON THE MINIMUM WAGE. Here's coverage from yesterday's action in Charleston. Speaking of fast food, it looks like the article fed a couple of trolls.

GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS. The good news from the world of corrections is that WV Governor Tomblin's decision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act could save the state millions in inmate health costs. It could also reduce the size of the pipeline to prison and make reconnecting to community life easier.

On the other hand, it looks like a prominent private prison profiteer is looking longingly on the WV "market."

GETTING REAL. Here's Paul Krugman on President Obama's inequality speech and why it matters.

SAIL ON.  Finally, here's a fond farewell salute to Nelson Mandela. By coincidence, today I finished listening to Joseph Ellis' His Excellency: George Washington. This passage from the end of the book seems fitting. I hope I'm getting it right:

"Unlike Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell before him, and Napoleon, Lenin, and Mao after him, he understood that the greater glory resided in posterity's judgment. If you aspire to live forever in the memory of future generations, you must demonstrate the ultimate self-confidence to leave the final judgment to them. And he did."

December 05, 2013

"The defining challenge of our time"

President Obama's recent speech on economic inequality is certainly one of the strongest statements on that subject from a major bully pulpit for a long time, although it remains to be seen whether anything will come of it in this political climate. 

Here are three takes on the subject, from the NY Times, Oxfam, and The Nation.

One issue highlighted in the speech was the need to raise the minimum wage, which the president noted "right now is below where it was when Harry Truman was in office."

Meanwhile, at hundreds of locations around the country today, people took to the streets to protest low wages at actions targeting fast food restaurants. The one I attended featured the song in yesterday's post, which turned out to be quite a hit. More on the minimum wage drive from WV Metro News here.

Momentum is building.

December 04, 2013

Deck the halls

El Cabrero, a true son of West Virginia, has a friend or two in New England. A Spousal Unit too, come to think of it.One of these friends, my co-worker Arnie Alpert with the  American Friends Service Committee in New Hampshire, is a true latter day Wobbly--an heir to the working class rebels of the Industrial Workers of the World. A post-modern Joe Hill.

My friend's Wobbly handle is New Hampshire Slim and he's achieved a degree of apotheosis that most of us only dream of--one of his songs made into the legendary Little Red Songbook of the IWW. Read more about his glorious songs and deeds here.

His latest masterpiece is this version of Deck the Halls. Add the fa la la la las as appropriate:

Deck the halls with higher wages,
Raise the minimum in stages,
Index pay hikes to inflation,
Workers need fair compensation.

Higher pay for low-wage labor
Is the way to aid our neighbors.
Mickey D will you be willin’?
Help your workers feed their children.

Wages less than nine an hour
Gives too little buying power
Put it on your year-end wish list
Win a wage hike by next Christmas

AND ONE TO GROW ON. In case I've been too subtle so far, here's a straight-up argument for raising the minimum wage. 

December 03, 2013

It just got more affordable

For all the problems associated with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, it looks like its cost is going to be lower than anticipated.

WHO VOTED FOR WHOM? Here's an interesting graphic that looks at how voters broke down by income in the last presidential election.

OFF THE RAILS? An influential right wing policy lobbying group seems to have lost major funding since the Trayvon Martin tragedy. The group is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it was one of the big supporters of the Stand Your Ground law in Florida.

EXPECTATIONS IN GASLAND. A recent poll of Central Appalachian residents showed strong support for environmental safeguards when it comes to shale gas drilling.


December 02, 2013

We all could use a mind mess

El Cabrero is something of a literary snob. I mean, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Aeschylus, Melville, Dostoevsky, Austen, Bronte, name it, I'm there. You can find all of the above discussed at length if you search this blog's archives (see upper left).

Still, every so often you gotta blow things out. And for the past few days, I've done this by listening to a Stephen King book. And it stoned me.

Some of you may recall the book or movie The Shining, about a haunted resort in the Colorado Rockies. You may also recall the little kid who said "Redrum" when things went south. King's latest, Doctor Sleep, is about that kid when he grows up.

I listen to books all the time when driving, running or doing mindless tasks. No big deal. But this one crawled up my inner quarters. If your mind needs messed with, give it a try.

OK, SO THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SOCIAL JUSTICE BLOG. Well, for one thing, Stephen King is pretty progressive. For another, here are two great op eds by two of America's greatest columnists. Here's E.J. Dionne on Pope Francis, who is almost making me switch from the Anglican to the Roman team, and here's Paul Krugman on raising the minimum wage, which some of us are going to try to do in WV.


December 01, 2013

"Feathered primates"

Image by way of wikipedia.

Years of living on the farm where wild and semi-domesticated birds abound--and being married to a birder--have caused me to realize that the term "bird brain" isn't very apt when intended as a put-down. Quite a few of them seem pretty sharp to me and some exhibit emotions and parental behavior that reminds me of mammals.

Crows seem to be particularly intelligent. There are some extended families in our holler and they seem not only to stay busy but to have a good time as well. For some reason, they remind me of a merry band of pirates, minus the ocean and ships and all.

Recent research has shown that crows are even smarter than previously believed. In fact, their use of tools, memory and complicated social behavior has led some biologists to refer to them as "feathered primates."

I'm not sure whether crows would be flattered or insulted by that.

FROM THE WORLD OF WHACK, here are some recent right wing rants. The pope in particular seems to set them off these days.

JUST SAY NO.  The first part of this statehouse Gazette column by Phil Kabler mentions WV's current flirtation with private for-profit  prisons. El Cabrero devoutly hopes this union won't be consummated.