Despite his repeatedly demonstrating to progressives that he is not one of them, there appears to still be some on the American Left whom are intent on going down with the ship. Is there nothing that Obama can do to show these progressives that he is not willing to be the man that he campaigned as? Read on...
Don't blame nanobot. I'm only the messenger. Check here: Matt Ygelsias
That said, the evidence from political science does appear to suggest that if Republican intransigence destroys the American economy, that the voters will respond to this by punishing the incumbent President and electing a Republican.
The tax break issue is the latest in a series of developments that have recently charged the country’s politics around the issues of immigration and labor rights, with them coming together in the case of migrant workers. Last month, the country witnessed a major standoff in the Wisconsin state government between Governor Scott Walker (and his Republican-led state assembly) and thousands of labor groups and workers in the state as the Governor pledged to enact a bill to severely curtail collective bargaining. After three weeks of fierce debates, Gov. Walker managed to push the bill through. The Ohio state assembly soon followed suit, with other states such as Tennessee and Iowa heading in a similar direction. This steady erosion of worker rights presents an increasing risk not just to the economy of this country but also to its social fabric. It also echoes a past where worker rights were often ignored, especially in the case of immigrant workers.
Last month, several labor groups and organizations marked the centennial anniversary of an incident that highlights the lack of protection of workers – the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 28, 1911, in which 146 mostly immigrant workers died. To mark the centenary of the tragedy, many labor rights groups amplified their push for pro-labor rights legislation to challenge the spate of anti-union labor bills that were passed recently. The 1911 tragedy brings to light the plight of immigrant workers and the exploitation that still continues today. At a rally commemorating the tragedy, one union member, Walfre Merida, described the similarities between the condition of migrant workers today and those that perished in the fire a hundred years ago. Merida stated-
I see that a hundred years since this terrible accident that killed so many people, things have really not changed at all…Safety conditions, none. Grab your tool and go to work, no more. And do not stop. When we worked in high places, on roofs, we never used harnesses, one became accustomed to the dangers and thanked God we weren’t afraid of heights. One would risk his life out of necessity.
As stories of worker rights violations continue to proliferate, we must take heed from our past mistakes in order to avoid a degradation of these conditions in the future. This week – just as Jews around the world gather at the Passover table to recount their liberation from migrant slave labor in Egypt – Breakthrough’s Facebook game, America 2049, immerses players into discussions around labor rights, especially with regards to the rights of immigrant workers. The game utilizes several events and artifacts from the past to highlight the continued struggles of migrant workers in the United States. In the game’s world in which everyone has an embedded chip to mark their identity, players are given the mission to investigate a counterfeiting ring that helps indentured workers – primarily immigrants, though also citizens who have succumbed to crushing credit debt – to escape their unjust contracts and inhumane living conditions, and begin new lives. The game references the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire as a lesson from the past about the respect and rightful treatment of workers. It also suggests a future that is even bleaker because we as a country have failed to recognize the importance of immigrant workers and worker rights to the success of the country as a whole.
Watch a testimonial by a character in the game, Ziyad Youssef, a Syrian man who was lured into a job with promises of good pay and easy hours, but found himself in slavery-like conditions, unable to look after his sick daughter or provide basic amenities to his family:
The United States is currently grappling with an issue that will inevitably affect our national economy and social conditions in the years to come. The denial of legitimacy and basic rights to immigrant workers will only hamper the nation’s growth on the world stage. In a special report on global migration published in 2008, The Economist argued for the widespread acceptance of migrant workers by the richer countries that so desperately need them. Speaking about the United States, the report stated-
Around a third of the Americans who won Nobel prizes in physics in the past seven years were born abroad. About 40% of science and engineering PhDs working in America are immigrants. Around a third of Silicon Valley companies were started by Indians and Chinese. The low-skilled are needed too, especially in farming, services and care for children and the elderly. It is no coincidence that countries that welcome immigrants—such as Sweden, Ireland, America and Britain—have better economic records than those that shun them…Americans object to the presence of around 12m illegal migrant workers in a country with high rates of legal migration. But given the American economy’s reliance on them, it is not just futile but also foolish to build taller fences to keep them out.
Players in America 2049 will discover valuable artifacts from our country’s past that highlight an ongoing struggle for worker rights and have the agency to join the discussion and save the country’s future from the dystopic scenario the game depicts. One of the artifacts in the game is a poem titled ‘A Song for Many Movements,’ written in 1982 by Audre Lord, a black feminist lesbian poet. The poem articulates the connection between suffering and speaking out against injustices, which is what the workers rights protests around the country have been doing and which we must keep advocating until real change is made-
Broken down gods survive in the crevasses and mudpots of every beleaguered city where it is obvious there are too many bodies to cart to the ovens or gallows and our uses have become more important than our silence after the fall too many empty cases of blood to bury or burn there will be no body left to listen and our labor has become more important than our silence.
Our labor has become more important than our silence.
I was thinking about writing a post about how the left never stands together when attacked the way the right does. See Jones, Van. No need for that piece now - Senate candidate Paul Hodes (D-NH) beat me to the punch with an amazing diary at Daily Kos called "Weak Knees." Hodes doesn't call out the White House specifically, but he does mention Shirley Sherrod, so take this as a thinly veiled swipe at Tom Vilsack and the Adminstration for being the ones to "buckle." Here's an excerpt, and please, read the whole thing and support Hodes at our ActBlue page.
I’m sick and tired of Democrats getting weak knees every time the right-wing media flexes their muscles.
The firing of Sherrod over what turned out to be a heavily (and deceptively) edited video of her remarks is the latest example. When the far right bulldozes, too many of us buckle...
We have no excuse for not fully understanding what the far-right is capable of in terms of hateful and deceitful rhetoric. From Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh to Andrew Breitbart – they’ve shown us time and again exactly how willing they are to distort the truth...
The bottom line is that the longer we let the right-wing media control our political rhetoric by spreading misinformation, the more we fail to deliver the change we promised and fight for our progressive ideals.
And every time we respond to their attacks with weak knees and cowering in the corner, we give them credibility. Even worse – we encourage them to keep it up.
With the sudden death of Rep. John Murtha following complications from gall bladder surgery, the race is to succeed him is beginning to take shape. According to Pennsylvania state law, Governor Ed Rendallmust set a date for a special election within the next ten days. A likely date is May 18, when the state’s primary elections will take place. Special elections costs the state huge sums of money so it is probable that Governor Rendall will go with an already established election day in an effort to save cash in a time of tight state budgetary constraints.
While Murtha had held the seat in PA-12 since 1974, the early read is that the race will be competitive. In the 2008, the McCain-Palin ticker narrowly won the district with a 1,000 vote margin over Obama-Biden. It was the only district in the nation that voted Democratic in the 2004 presidential race that was carried by McCain four years later.
On the GOP side, there are two candidates in the race: a local business Tim Burns and the 2008 candidate William Russell who Murtha defeated comfortably 58% to 42%.
On the Democratic side, we are blessed with a true progressive with deep ties to the hard-scrabble district and with impeccable credentials who had already entered the race in a primary challenge to Murtha back in May 2009. His name is Ryan Bucchianeri.
Ryan is a seventh-generation Pennsylvanian who was born and raised in the district. He attended the US Naval Academy graduating in 1997 and later earned a degree in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He has served his country in tours of duty in the Middle East, has worked in the private sector and can speak to issues from national security to job creation to drug trade policy to military affairs.
Here's Ryan in his own words on why he's running for Congress:
In Washington, I'll focus on issues that matter most to Western Pennsylvanians:
Job creation and economic development for the entire district. I will work to diversify our economy and bring opportunity to a region that has suffered too long from economic decline. With new opportunities, young people will stay and thrive in the region - energizing it for generations to come - instead of leaving for opportunities elsewhere.
A commitment to quality education. The quality of our education remains critical to America's prosperity at home and performance in a global economy. I will ensure we redirect the necessary focus to early childhood education, reform and invest in primary and secondary education, and enable higher education opportunities for all. I'll fight to ensure equality of opportunity in our schools, fair pay for teachers, and reduce the crippling financial burden of college tuition.
Affordable and accessible health care. While debate in Washington rages on with no clear end in sight, 60,000 of our friends and neighbors in the district remain uninsured - with nearly 1,000 having to declare bankruptcy because of medical bills last year alone. I support a strong public option and believe it is the best vehicle that will allow us to adequately address the quality, cost, and coverage challenges of our healthcare system. I'll work towards legislation that truly addresses the long-term costs of health care and fully-protects Medicare. I'll fight for coverage that is affordable, universal, portable, and covers pre-existing conditions - coverage you can't lose if you're laid off or get sick, and coverage that includes prevention, mental health, and dental care on an equal basis.
I'm running for Congress to serve the people of Western Pennsylvania - not the special interests of high-powered lobbyists who continue to maintain their power at our expense. Until we have new leadership in Washington we will continue to suffer the financial and ethical consequences of irresponsible earmarks and a power structure designed to keep incumbents in office.
I count Ryan as a personal friend. When I think of Ryan the word that comes to mind is integrity. His progressive credentials are solid: he supports a public option, he's for marriage equality and for the repeal of DADT, he strongly supports a woman's right to choose. Ryan comes from a family of public educators so he understands the importance of making America's public schools second to none. But really what sets Ryan apart is that he is a humble, hard-working guy committed to making sure all Americans have the same of freedom of opportunity that we have traditionally enjoyed in this country but that is now under assault by three decades of GOP policies that have favored the powerful over the interests of our once broad middle classes.
We have a rare opportunity to replace a mainstream Democrat with a progressive Democrat that boasts an incredible life story. He's a man who has served his country and who could go anywhere and do anything in life but who feels that he has a higher calling by returning to his Western Pennsylvania roots and serving to protect their interests.
You can learn more about Ryan by visiting his campaign website. Please join me in supporting Ryan Bucchianeri by contributing to his campaign. Getting Ryan elected to Congress is my highest priority right now. Any help you can offer is deeply appreciated. Thank you!