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Why the Employee Free Choice Act Is So Important: The Power of Organization

Monday, January 05, 2009

By Trapper John
Daily Kos

At the banquet table of nature there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold. If you can't take anything, you won't get anything; and if you can't hold anything, you won't keep anything. And you can't take anything without organization.
-A. Philip Randolph, Founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, civil rights leader, and all-around American hero.
At this point, even the most casual reader of Daily Kos has probably heard of the Employee Free Choice Act. Labor unions are pushing Congress to move on it quickly, big business and its astroturf front rackets are spending untold millions to kill it, and in general, the atmosphere surrounding the bill is more akin to that of a nasty political campaign than a policy debate. But why do labor organizers care so deeply about Employee Free Choice? Why are astroturf groups funded by some of the worst employers in America popping up everywhere purporting to be deeply concerned about the rights of employees? Why is the Chamber of Commerce spending $20-30 million to poison the minds of Americans against the bill?

Why? Because the Employee Free Choice Act is, quite simply, not only the most necessary and important labor law reform in 75 years -- it's the cornerstone of any serious effort to reestablish a real middle-class in the United States. And Wal-Mart, and Grover Norquist, and the Chamber of Commerce, and the institutional Republican Party don't want a real, secure middle class. They want a docile, subservient class of workers who are utterly dependent on the tender mercies of their employers for every meal. They realize far better than many progressives that organization in the workplace -- unionization -- is the single greatest tool that workers have to ensure that they get a piece of the pie. They know that they have to do whatever it takes to prevent working Americans from joining together to "get what they can take, and keep what they can hold." And so, they will do whatever they have to do to try and kill the Employee Free Choice Act.

We can't let that happen. We have a golden opportunity to pass the Act in this Congress -- what with a Democratic president, 58 Democrats in the Senate plus Lieberman (who is a reliable vote on this issue), and a solid House majority. There hasn't been an opportunity for real labor law reform like this in 40 years. This is not a time for incremental change -- not when we have the chance to reorder the economic rules of the nation so that everyday Americans have a chance to claim what's theirs....(Click for remainder).


Police in the UK Can Hack Your Computer

Civil liberties groups raise alarm over extension of surveillance without warrant

By Nigel Morris, Deputy Political Editor

Police have been given the power to hack into personal computers without a court warrant. The Home Office is facing anger and the threat of a legal challenge after granting permission. Ministers are also drawing up plans to allow police across the EU to collect information from computers in Britain.

The moves will fuel claims that the Government is presiding over a steady extension of the "surveillance society" threatening personal privacy.

Hacking – known as "remote searching" – has been quietly adopted by police across Britain following the development of technology to access computers' contents at a distance. Police say it is vital for tracking cyber-criminals and paedophiles and is used sparingly but civil liberties groups fear it is about to be vastly expanded.

Remote searching can be achieved by sending an email containing a virus to a suspect's computer which then transmits information about email contents and web-browsing habits to a distant surveillance team.

Alternatively, "key-logging" devices can be inserted into a computer that relay details of each key hit by its owner. Detectives can also monitor the contents of a suspect's computer hard-drive via a wireless network.

Computer hacking has to be approved by a chief constable, who must be satisfied the action is proportionate to the crime being investigated.

Last month European ministers agreed in principle to allow police to carry out remote searches of suspects' computers across the EU....(Click for remainder).


Franken Victory Proves GOP Bipartisanship is Date Rape

By Bob Fertik

On Saturday, Minnesota counted more than 950 previously unopened absentee ballots and Al Franken added 176 votes to his lead, which is now 225.

With no more votes to count, will Republican Norm Coleman concede defeat? Of course not! Even though he hates trial lawyers, he will pay every one he can find to file every possible lawsuit until he finds an "activist judge" who is willing to overturn the will of the people.

OK, so Norm Coleman is a super-sore loser. But what about Republican leaders in Washington who demanded "bipartisanship" from President-elect Obama and the Democratic Congress? Will they demonstrate "bipartisanship" by recognizing Al Franken as the Senator chosen by the people of Minnesota?

Of course not! Senate Republicans plan to filibuster Franken's swearing-in.

As former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) famously said, "Bipartisanship is another name for date rape."

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Schumer: Senate should seat Minn. Dem. Al Franken

By Amy Forliti

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — New York Sen. Charles Schumer says Democrat Al Franken should be seated in the Senate when it convenes Tuesday.

Schumer, the former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement Sunday that it's clear Franken has won the election for Minnesota's Senate seat. He says Republican Norm Coleman can't get enough votes to win, even if claims of double-counted ballots are resolved.

Franken had a 225-vote lead over Coleman when election officials completed their re-count Saturday. The state Canvassing Board is expected to certify the results Monday.

But the election may not be over. Coleman has a court petition pending that seeks to add ballots to the re-count and hasn't ruled out challenging the election results in court.

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Bennet's team for 2010 Senate campaign taking shape

By M.E. Sprengelmeyer

The Rocky Mountain News

The 2010 U.S. Senate race got under way even before the last hours of 2008 ticked off the clock.

On New Year's Eve, preparations were being made to announce Denver Public Schools superintendent Michael Bennet as a replacement for Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar.

And by the next morning a team was quietly being assembled for Bennet's first-ever election campaign in two years.

"I had just unpacked my bags in D.C. and got a call asking if I could jump on a plane and come back to Colorado to help out," said Matt Chandler, the onetime spokesman for President-elect Barack Obama's Colorado campaign.

By Saturday, Chandler had issued the first press release on behalf of the Bennet for Colorado campaign, which unveiled a bare- bones Web site, a 23-page media kit and a way for people to sign up for campaign updates.

Veteran political consultant Craig Hughes, director of research for RBI Strategy & Research, is in charge of assembling Bennet's campaign team, Chandler said on Sunday.

Hughes, who cut his teeth in President Bill Clinton's campaigns, served as Obama's senior campaign adviser in Colorado.

Bennet's campaign is expected to file an official Statement of Organization with the Federal Election Commission in the next few days. Although Chandler repeatedly stressed that "there's only one senator at a time" — and until later this month his name is Salazar — he said, "We'll have a campaign structure that's up and running very soon."...(Click for remainder)


Bill Richardson bows out of commerce secretary job

By Ed Henry

(CNN) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is withdrawing his nomination to be commerce secretary, citing the distraction of a federal investigation into ties to a company that has done business with his state.

Two Democratic officials told CNN the investigation involves a California company that won municipal bond business in New Mexico after contributing money to various Richardson causes.

In a statement Sunday, Richardson said he asked Obama "not to move forward" with his nomination now.

"I do so with great sorrow. But a pending investigation of a company that has done business with New Mexico state government promises to extend for several weeks or, perhaps, even months," the statement reads. "Let me say unequivocally that I and my Administration have acted properly in all matters and that this investigation will bear out that fact. But I have concluded that the ongoing investigation also would have forced an untenable delay in the confirmation process.

"Given the gravity of the economic situation the nation is facing, I could not in good conscience ask the President-elect and his Administration to delay for one day the important work that needs to be done." Share your reaction to Richardson's withdrawal

Richardson, one of the best-known Hispanics in the Democratic Party, served as energy secretary in the Clinton administration as well as ambassador to the United Nations. The 61-year-old said he will remain governor.

Obama released a statement saying that he accepted the withdrawal with "deep regret."

"Governor Richardson is an outstanding public servant and would have brought to the job of Commerce Secretary and our economic team great insights accumulated through an extraordinary career in federal and state office," Obama's statement read....(Click for remainder).


Tim Kaine to Become DNC Chairman

By Michael D. Shear

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will become chairman of the Democratic National Committee later this month, serving as the top political messenger for Barack Obama's administration even while he finishes his final year in the governor's mansion, several sources said.

Kaine, who emerged as one of Obama's vice presidential finalists this summer, will operate from Richmond in a part-time capacity until January 2010, when he will become the full-time DNC chairman. Kaine is constitutionally barred from running for reelection.

A personal friend of the president-elect, Kaine is a gregarious chief executive who is known to relish political combat and helped put Virginia in the Democratic column for the first time in almost 50 years.

Obama transition aides declined to comment today, and Kaine aides did not return calls seeking comment. Two sources said Obama will announce his choice of Kaine for the post later this week.

The decision will make Kaine a regular face on Sunday morning talk shows and cable news programs during his final year in office. Obama plans to install a veteran operative to run the DNC's day-to-day operations, including fundraising. But it will be Kaine's job to defend Obama against the Republicans, who are struggling to find their voice after losing the White House and control of Congress....(Click for remainder).



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