Trump's Latest Disgraceful Act
On September 11, the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Donald Trump will be delivering ringside commentary at a pay-per-view boxing match in a Florida casino. What could possibly be more disrespectful to the thousands who died? How about his subsequent proposal to "box" Joe Biden?
Texas has busy day, rushing rightward
September 1: Texas legislators pass most far-reaching anti-abortion law in U.S., enact one of most stringent voter-restriction bills, and ease open-carry gun law. What's next?
MTG Update (August)
Speaking to supporters in Alabama, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) congratulated the crowd for its low vaccination rate. According to CNN, she also suggested that government volunteers who knock on a door to promote vaccination be greeted by a resident with gun in hand.
One of three recent books on the finale of the Trump administration, Frankly, We Won This Election states that after Trump was moved to a secret bunker during Black Lives Matter protests in D.C., he wanted the person who "leaked" that information to be charged with treason and executed. Early chapters of I Alone Can Fix This are packed with details about the deeply flawed response (or lack of same) by the White House to the emerging coronavirus early in 2020.
New York and California reopen (June)
With highly potent Delta variant active, not everyone is ready to ignore Covid-19 and return to "normal"
Governors of both states announced on June 15 that, with several exceptions, vaccinated New Yorkers and Californians could now eat in restaurants and attend crowded events, without concern for masking and social distancing. At the same time, the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, expressed concern to CNN about "rapidly increasing" incidence of cases involving the more contagious Delta variant.
Well, some of us weren't pleased by these re-openings in a partylike atmosphere, no less. We'll keep wearing masks and maintaining that 6-foot distance until the experts agree that the pandemic really is on the way out. Later in summer, rapidly rising case totals affirmed that caution was indeed warranted.
Well, they've done it. By ousting Liz Cheney, the Republicans have proclaimed the death of their party and the imminent demise of democracy in America. As CNN's three-column main headline put it, May 12, 2021 is "a major turning point in US political history."
One CNN columnist noted that a single line in Cheney's speech in Congress, before being removed from her House leadership position, "will haunt Republicans" from now on. That line, referring to the Big Lie perpetrated by Donald Trump:
"Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar."
The former president's response: "Liz Cheney is a bitter, horrible human being .... I watched her yesterday and realized how bad she is for the Republican Party. She has no personality or anything good having to do with politics or our Country."
TOP TRUMP THOUGHTS
"Trump incites mob"
Who could ever have imagined such a headline on the front page of The New York Times? But there it was, in large type, in the January 7 edition of the legendary newspaper.
Across the country and around the world, similar words were being used to describe, succinctly, the deplorable actions and statements from Donald Trump as Congress began the process of certifying the votes from the Electoral College. At a late-morning rally, he president implored his enraged army of thousands, gathered in Washington, to head for the Capitol building and forcefully pursue their fevered dream of overturning the election in Trump's favor.
Shortly after their arrival, the boldest of his supporters led a charge toward the Capitol itself, scampering up the steps, breaking windows to gain entry to the interior. Once there, they roamed the halls at will, entered and vandalized some legislators' offices, took selfies of themselves engaged in acts of desecration while legislators were quickly herded out of the Chamber and into safe locations.
This is America? No, this is Trumpland, where the activities of January 6 are variously deplored as "insurrection" (by Mitt Romney, among others), and an attempted "coup." At last, significant numbers of Republican officials were denouncing their president for his monstrous behavior. Even though his term would end in less than two weeks, many proposed a second impeachment, or invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office immediately.
Where have they been all this time? Anyone, apart from Trump acolytes, who's been paying attention since 2016, and especially since Election Day, could easily have predicted an assault on democracy. Implicitly endorsed if not instigated by the president himself, it was a virtual certainty somewhere along the timeline of his term.
Watch Out for Marjorie!
NO, NO, NO! A U.S. Representative who nods at the notion of shooting top officials should not be allowed anywhere near Congress. If American democracy is to have any chance at survival, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), the ardent backer of dangerously depraved, reality-deprived QAnon conspiracy theories, must be expelled.
Contrary to feeble and nonexistent responses from all but a trickle of Republicans, there is no middle ground this time. This Is Wrong. The D.C. Capitol Insurrection was Wrong. Period. If You Can't See That, What In Blazes Is Wrong With You?!
Trump Goes Too Far in Push to Overturn Election
Of all the Trump outrages over the past four years, his January 2 phone talk with Georgia's secretary of state is easily the worst. To further promote his utterly baseless allegations of voter fraud, he demanded that a major state official commit a criminal act which would itself constitute voter fraud. He even went so far as to threaten that official if he declined to follow the order of the "president," suggesting that refusal would amount to a "criminal response."
At this point, democracy is not under threat from Trump's actions and statements. No, democracy and the rule of law met their demise hours after the New Year. Worse yet, a shocking number of shamefully complicit Congresspersons (more than 140 Representatives and at least a dozen Senators) back this venomous behavior, which easily deserves to be be deemed seditious; indeed, treasonous. Their names need to go on record for future historians, as those scholars struggle to understand how such a travesty could ever have occurred in a country long viewed as a pinnacle of democracy.
the Partial President
Unlike any predecessors, Mr. Trump never even pretended to be president of all the people; only his followers and loyal Republicans. Everyone else is deemed an enemy, subject to verbal abuse.
Thinking About the Unthinkable
As the 2020 election drew to a close, voters for both candidates but especially for Biden expressed fear for the future. Some of us began pondering some intense possibilities, which would have seemed ludicrous a few months previous:
Leave the country (not as easy as many Americans think).
Intensify peaceful protests.
Turn our attention to the states.
Tune out: striving to ignore the worsening political scene.
Weigh the merits and drawbacks of splitting the country into red and blue nations: a drastic and difficult action, obviously, but possibly the only real solution.
If the latter still sounds too far-fetched, forming state coalitions could be a workable alternative. States with similar leanings might band together for their mutual benefit on such issues as trade, health care, abortion and especially, the future of America. A Pacific States of America coalition, for instance, might include California, Oregon, Washington and possibly, Hawaii. In the same vein, groupings of several red states in the center of the country could appeal to anti-liberal conservatives.
Meanwhile, we can simply declare that Donald Trump was never our president. As his utterances, tweets, and actions made perfectly clear for four years, he was emphatically not the president of Democrats and progressives.
Rush to Supreme Court
Despite her impressive qualifications, Amy Coney Barrett should be ashamed of, not buoyed by, her forced-through confirmation to the Supreme Court, derived through the unconscionable hypocrisy of Donald Trump and his coterie of Republican Senators. She and her enablers should never be permitted to forget that her elevation to the Court barely qualifies as the act of a majority, achieved solely by votes from her own party.
Wake Up! He doesn't care any more about you than about Democrats, progressives, liberals, or the media. He cares only about himself and re-election.
Mary Trump (Ph.D) chronicles her uncle's early years
Click Here for Book Review
Watch for review of Ms. Trump's latest book, The Reckoning, in this space.
White House Woes
The Trump Presidency
In News Briefs
Now available in PDF form
During first two years of his presidency, we compiled news items outlining the outrages committed by the Trump administration against American laws, values, and principles. Our chronicle begins with Inauguration Day in 2017, running to the end of 2018.
A PDF version of "Countdown to Trumpland," chronicling the three-week period prior to Inauguration, also is available.
Reports about protests and essays on various aspects of the Trump presidency, mostly from early 2017, may be seen at White House Woes.
Since 2019, teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has been speaking out forcefully about the lack of action on climate change, across the globe.
Ms. Thunberg has spoken at such events as the UN Climate Action Summit and the World Economic Forum in Davos, berating world leaders for doing "basically nothing" to reduce carbon emissions. Starting with individual protest in Sweden, she quickly became the fearless face and voice of demands for real action on the climate crisis.
Click here for additional details on Greta's activities.
Toil & Trouble
Prior to Inauguration Day in 2017, we developed Countdown to Trumpland, detailing the Trump phenomenon and its impact on American life. For the next two years, White House Woes provided news briefs and commentary on the Trump presidency. His election led to crucial urgency among progressives who feared then faced a barrage of disastrous decisions, lies, and malicious tweets. Meanwhile, Tirekicking Today began this section on work and labor, building upon the uncommon views in Work Hurts, one of our Books in Progress.
"No man is good enough to be another man's master."
George Bernard Shaw,
in Major Barbara
"I don't like to work. It tires me out."
Actor James Garner, portraying the reluctant lawman in Support Your Local Sherrif.
"Only suckers work."
Actor John Derek, portraying criminally-inclined Nick Romano in film version of the Willard Motley novel Knock On Any Door (1949)
"I work all night, I work all day,
to pay the bills I have to pay.
Ain't it sad.
And still there never seems to be
a single penny left for me.
That's too bad....
In the rich man's world"
Song lyric, ABBA, "Money, Money, Money"
Words On Work
Surprise! Some of us like to pay taxes (2021 Update)
New Ways To Look at Work
Overview: Imaginative Approaches Required ...
Reject! For some applicants, job search is futile exercise
Quit calling us consumers! (2021 Update)
Prioritize! Living with Less and Liking It
Own Nothing, Owe Nothing
Let's break the chain of consumer debt
Needed Now: Jobs, Not Careers
New essays on labor, work, money, and related topics will be added during 2021.
Work/Labor News Headlines
August 6: Labor Department announces that 943,000 new jobs were created in June. Many employers continue to report shortages of workers, even though millions remain unemployed. Critics charge that inadequate wages are a major reason. Restaurants and other employers in tourist areas, which operate seasonally, have been among the hardest-hit.
August 3: Spending too many hours on the job? The New York Times reports that for Chinese workers, a "996" schedule has become the norm: working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 6 days a week.
July 14: CEOs of S&P 500 companies made 299 times as much as average workers in 2020, according to annual Executive Paywatch report issued by AFL-CIO. Average CEO received $15.5 million in total compensation, CNN reports, versus $43,512 for average worker.
July 1: In June, 850,000 new jobs were created, according to the Department of Labor far above May total. Growing number of employees working remotely because of pandemic say they don't wish to return to the office, or prefer not to return to the job they had before.
June 7: CNN reports that Amazon warehouses and stores are among the employers offering "sign-up" bonuses to new workers. Traditionally, such bonuses went only to new employees far higher on the wage scale.
June 4: Labor department reports that 559,000 new jobs were created in May, more than double the April total.
May 7: Only 266,000 new jobs became available in April, far short of predictions. Official unemployment rate is 6.1 percent; though, as always, many experts believe the real total is considerably higher.
May: Volkswagen announces that vocational training program at Chattanooga plant is adding courses on electric-car technology, aimed at "preparing and upskilling auto workers for the EV revolution." The Tennessee facility produces VW's new ID.4.
April 9: Vote count at Amazon warehouse in Alabama gives the monolithic company a victory. Had workers voted in favor of forming a union, it would have been the first one at an Amazon facility in the U.S.
April 2: More than 915,000 jobs were created in March, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. However, at least 8 million jobs that existed a year ago have not yet resumed and may or may not do so.
April 2: The official unemployment figure dropped slightly in March, from 6.2 to 6.0 percent. Critics have long insisted that the "real" figure is considerably higher, when taking into account people who have given up looking for work. Nearly 4 million workers lost jobs over past year, and have not returned to labor force.
March 2: In an editorial, The New York Times describes Biden's speech on labor as the most pro-union statement by a sitting president, at least since Harry Truman.
January 1: Twenty states raise their minimum wage on January 1. So do more than 30 cities, to as high as $15 per hour; but many increases will be phased-in over a period of years. (The New York Times)
Additional Labor news items, especially related to low-wage, contract, and temporary work, will be posted periodically.
"No Human Being Is Illegal"
Sign carried by protester marching in support of "Dreamers" on January 19, 2018
Work/Labor in Print
In January 2018, Amazon announced that 20 cities were on the "short list" of possible sites for the company's second headquarters. Each city had offered massive incentives in its quest to attract Amazon, which promised to make some 50,000 jobs available in the winning locale.
Before a final decision was made, residents of those cities might have benefited from reading a vivid description of the working life in an Amazon warehouse, in one chapter of a recent book. Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder, chronicles lives of "houseless" Americans, many of them elderly, who live in vans and RVs, working at seasonal and short-term jobs (including Amazon warehouses) to survive.
During 2020, a film version of Nomadland was produced, directed by Chloe Zhao and starring Frances McDormand. Seen in a handful of theaters in December-January, the film was later released for streaming on Hulu and also offered in theaters. Nomadland was nominated for four Golden Globe awards and won Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actress.
On the Clock, another recent book dealing with low-wage toil, paints an even more troubling picture of worklife within an Amazon warehouse. Laid-off reporter Emily Guendelsberger spent an exhausting, painful month on the job at a massive warehouse in Kentucky. Afterward, she traveled to North Carolina for a job at a call center. Not only does Ms. Guendelsberger report in fascinating detail about her experiences and her fellow employees, she provides an excellent chronicle of aspects of labor history that led to today's low-wage worklives. Her observations of the contributions of Henry Ford and of Frederick Taylor, a pioneer in methods of industrial efficiency, are especially illuminating.
On November 29, 2019, the PBS NewsHour aired an investigation of safety records at Amazon warehouses. At a facility near Indianapolis, one worker had died on the job, crushed by a forklift. The investigation cites allegations of inadequate safety training, coupled with a constant push for speed.
"[W]hile there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
Eugene Debs (in 1918 court statement)
Five-time Socialist candidate for president
Work On Film
10 Vintage Movies About Work and Labor that should not be missed, including:
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
I'm All Right, Jack (1957)
Wages of Fear (1953)
Office Space (1999)
The Misfits (1961)
Death of a Salesman (1951)
Bachelor Party (1953)
They Drive By Night (1940)
No Down Payment (1957)
Plus Greed (2019), a scathing satirical depiction of extreme wealth and poverty.
Please Click Here for details on each film.
Turning to TV...
Revival of the Roseanne TV sitcom, renamed The Connors following the forced departure of the principal actress, Roseanne Barr, serves as a reminder that TV shows about working-class families can demonstrate excellence along with witty humor. Running from 1988 to 1997, the original series was adeptly written and expertly performed, realistically depicting the troubles and joys of an economically-challenged family. Initially, at least, the current iteration retained much of the flavor and laughter of the original and featured five original cast members, including John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf declared the finest stage actress of her generation by John Malkovich.
You know what the weirdest part about having a job is? You have to be there every day, even on the days you dont feel like it.
Jemima Kirke as Jessa Johansson, in episode 4 of the HBO series Girls, created and written by Lena Dunham
"He that has to obey the will of another is a slave."
Samuel Fielden (1886)
Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.
Typically attributed to Winston Churchill, but actual source is uncertain.
The Dunning-Kruger effect:
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge."
"I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops."
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)
Paleontologist, The Panda's Thumb
"Anyone who is willing to work and is serious about it will certainly find a job. Only you must not go to the man who tells you this, for he has no job to offer and doesn't know anyone who knows of a vacancy."
B. Traven - Author, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre