Hurricane Ian!

Well, we here in Tampa Bay are getting ready for Hurricane Ian approaching Wednesday.

See you after its all over!

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The Vineyard and Immokolee

You all remember when our illustrious Governor Ronnie airlifted a couple of plane loads of immigrant Venezuelans to Marthas Vineyard.  It was a stunt of course meant to bring attention to himself in the white nationalist/neo-fascist base of the GOP.  He really wants to run for President.  Dyed Blond Don is already whining that Ronnie isn’t showing him enough deference and appreciation.

It was an obvious stunt because the immigrants weren’t even in Florida.  We do not have an illegal immigrant problem except for those who pick your tomatoes in Immokalee.  More about that later.

The Venezuelans were not here “illegally.”  They had no visas.  Any foreigner can turn up and any legal border entry station and request asylum from oppression.  Any Republican will tell you Venezuela is a Marxist dictatorship.    These folks didn’t cross the Rio Grande and sneak in.

Any asylum seeker is heard, fills out an application and can remain in this country until a Court decides his or her fate.  That’s the law.  Don’t like it?  Change it.  Ask your Republican representative when he last discussed immigration reform.

Back to our original topic.  Governor Ronnie had to go find “illegal” immigrants to ship to Marthas Vineyard.  We didn’t have any here in Florida so he went to Texas and borrowed some there.  Spent Florida tax-payers money to ship Venezuelans in Texas to the Vineyard.

In the process he pissed off a lot of Venezuelans living here.  Senator “little” Marco Rubio, our Cuban supported our Gov.  What a pig.  He conveniently forgets the hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees fleeing “Marxist dictatorship” who only needed to step foot on Florida’s soil to stay here.

Oh well.  Let’s take a quick look at just what part these immigrants play in modern America.   Let’s start in Marthas Vinyard.

“That island off the coast of Massachusetts is more accustomed than many places in the United States to welcoming an influx of South Americans. Not Venezuelans, but Brazilians. And not asylum-seekers lacking connections dropped from the sky, but labor migrants who follow friends and family across multiple countries.

Indeed, for decades Martha’s Vineyard has been a microcosm of much of our national hypocrisy with regard to immigration laws – violations that cross party lines. It’s also been a story of what immigrants contribute to communities when provided an opportunity.”

Replacing the mostly white college students who used to paint houses, make beds and party, thousands of Brazilians began arriving in the 1990s, prepared to work harder and reliably show up in the morning. By 2007, about 1 out of 3 children born on the island had a Brazilian mother, according to Massachusetts health data.

By 2009, local leaders testimated that of the year-round population of 15,000 at the time, around 3,000 were Brazilian.

Many Brazilian immigrants arriving on the island had entered the United States through the southern border with Mexico, crossing it illegally. Others overstayed tourist visas.  Not all were undocumented, but most lacked legal status.

All the summer residents, from world leaders to movie stars to tourists on day trips from Boston, who come to enjoy the island benefit from their labor.  Barack Obama visited the island and now owns a place there but was unable to promise overhaul of the immigration system when he was President   It will be years more before we can even try to imagine a US leader having the political will and congressional support to push immigration reform.

Meanwhile, a generation of children of Brazilians have grown up as islanders. There are marriages between immigrants and residents whose families go back generations in the United States.   Those who can have become US citizens. Portuguese is offered in the regional high school. All of the big island industries include Brazilian-owned businesses: construction, boat repair, landscaping, restaurants, cleaning, transportation and technology.

When news spread of the recent migrants being dropped on the island, members of the Brazilian community wanted to help. While some asked how these newcomers would find housing when there already was a shortage on the island, others offered their own homes.

At the start of a long and complex legal process, it is unclear where these Venezuelans will end up next. But the Brazilians on Martha’s Vineyard will remain on the island that they have made their home.

Here, in the southern part of Florida, maybe 30 or 35 miles from the money towns of Naples and Marco Island and in the same county as Mar Lago, sits another town, along “Alligator Alley”, where I-75, running south along the Gulf coast turns left and makes a bee line across the Everglades toward Broward County and Ft. Lauderdale.

About 35 miles from the left turn stands Immokalee, Florida – according to Wiki 71% Hispanic, 19% African American and the rest a smattering of whites and native Americans.  It’s one of those Florida places where tourists never visit.

What Wiki doesn’t mention is that Immokalee sits in the middle of the nation’s largest tomato growing region, providing 90% of the country’s winter tomatoes.  It is the place the migrants know very well.

No group of workers is as vulnerable to abuse as migrant farm laborers. They are often forced to work grueling hours in tough conditions for meager pay.  And, as a report by Oxfam America and Farmworker Justice documents, wage theft, sexual harassment and other abuses are widespread.  From 2000 to 2015, there were seven prosecutions for modern-day slavery in Florida alone.

It’s that vulnerability that makes the story of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers so inspiring. They’ve shown what can be accomplished when even the most marginalized workers band together to demand some basic human dignity.

And their work is beginning to help farm workers in other states.

Not too long ago, crew leaders often badgered and screamed at the workers, pushing them to fill their 32-pound buckets ever faster.  For decades, the fields here have had a reputation for horrid conditions. Many migrant workers picked without rest breaks, even in 95-degree heat. Some women complained that crew leaders groped them or demanded sex in exchange for steady jobs.

But those abusive practices have all but disappeared.  Many labor experts credit a tenacious group of tomato workers, who in recent years forged partnerships with giant restaurant companies like McDonald’s and Yum Brands (owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC) to improve conditions in the fields.

“When I first visited Immokalee, I heard appalling stories of abuse and modern slavery,” said Susan L. Marquis, dean of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, a public policy institution in Santa Monica, Calif. “But now the tomato fields in Immokalee are probably the best working environment in American agriculture. In the past three years, they’ve gone from being the worst to the best.”

The current wage in Florida for immigrant tomato pickers is 47 cents per each 32 pound bucket.  The best workers earn perhaps $12 an hour.  To earn $12 and hour you have to pick 800 pounds of tomatoes in the hot Florida sun.

So, when you hear the likes of Trump and his MAGA mob shouting “Send ‘em all back!” bullshit, be prepared to do without salads and veggies.  Seems Republicans, both growers and buyers, have no problem using them to make money.  And Dems on the island had no qualms about using them as house keepers and painters.

If any of you out there want to pick tomatoes in Florida, there are positions available.  Experience has shown that, other than for the migrants, legal and illegal, there aren’t too many takers.

I could talk about meat packing plants in the mid-west but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before.

Few if any Americans will do these jobs.   Take a look, if you haven’t already at those cutting your grass, the roofers in your area, the house painters.  Lots of Spanish being spoken.  Next time you cut a tomato this Christmas or grill a hot dog, you can bet your sweet booty that an immigrant, legal or illegal, brought it to your table.

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Jim Crow and the Nuremburg Laws

Passengers on the St Louis as it arrives in AntwerpS,

Photo of the porthole of the M.S. St. Louis as it docked in Antwerp.  It carried 900 Jews refused entry into Cuba, the United States and Canada.

There is a new documentary premiering tonight on the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) by Ken Burns entitled The United States and the Holocaust.

It is indeed timely, given the recent efforts to rewrite or obliterate history so our school children won’t feel uncomfortable.  Given his past work, I’m sure Burns will uncover the whole unvarnished truth.  And there is much to tell.

“To get to the core of race in America today, read this new book “Hitler’s American Model” by James Whitman. Whitman is the Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale Law School. Prepare to be as startled as this respected legal scholar was when he came upon a meticulous record of a meeting of top lawyers in Nazi Germany after Hitler’s rise to power. Not only did those lawyers reveal a deep interest in American race policies, the most radical of them were eager advocates of using American law as a model. Scholars and historians have argued for years about whether American’s own regime of racial oppression in any way inspired the Nazis. Not only does Whitman throw a bright light on the debate, to this reader he settles it once and for all. Carefully written and tightly reasoned, backed up every step of the way with considered evidence and logic, Whitman reminds us that today is yesterday’s child, and that certain strains of DNA persist from one generation to another.”

One year after being appointed Chancellor, Hitler called on his Minister of Justice to begin drafting the Nuremburg Laws.  The most noted lawyers in Nazi Germany attended the first meetings with the most radical calling for the creation of a new racist state.

And how did they commence discussions?

The fact is that they began by discussing American law. The minister of justice presented a memorandum on American race law that included a great deal of detailed discussion of the laws of American states. American law continued to be a principal topic throughout that meeting and beyond. It’s also a startling fact that the most radical lawyers in that meeting — the most vicious among the those present — were the most enthusiastic for the American example.

In fact, Adolph Hitler greatly admired America’s racism and considered it the most racist state in the world.

America was the leader in a whole variety of realms in racist law in the first part of the 20th century. Some of this involved American immigration law, which was designed to exclude so-called “undesirable races” from immigration. In 1924 American immigration law in particular was praised by Hitler himself, in his book Mein Kampf.

But it wasn’t just about American immigration law. There was also American law creating forms of second-class citizenship — for African-Americans of course, but also for other populations including Asians, Native Americans, Filipinos and Puerto Ricans. Not least, there were statutes in 30 American states forbidding and sometimes criminalizing interracial marriage. Those were of special interest to the Nazis.

To Hitler and his lawyers, America’s “negro problem” was similar to their “Jewish problem.”  There was “concern” in the American south about the rapidly growing “negro population” vs. white population (read replacement theory) akin to the Jewish population growth and immigration in Germany.

The Nazi lawyers loved the segregation laws in the American south and the means by which black Americans were denied the vote.  One of the great demands of the Nazis — and again, especially of the radical Nazis — that interracial marriage should be not only prohibited but criminalized. When they looked for models around the world for the criminalization of interracial marriage, though, they only found one example — well, really 30, because there were 30 American states with anti-miscegenation statutes. And it was to these statues that the Nazi lawyers turned.

To these German lawyers, American blacks were not “a desperately oppressed and impoverished people, but a menacing alien race of sub-human invaders that threatened to get the upper hand and therefore had to be thwarted.” There were Americans who believed the same thing in that regard as those German lawyers believed — that blacks were a threat to white rule. Still do.

The Nazis warmly embraced the eugenics beliefs held among such prominent Americans, Theodore Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, Helen Keller, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell; and the eugenics laws that existed in 33 states. The principles of eugenics went on to be used by the Nazis to justify mistreatment and oppression of Jews and other groups.

There was the antisemitism of carmaker Henry Ford. Ford owned the Dearborn Publishing Co., which produced an antisemitic booklet series, The Internal Jew.” which won Ford a medal from the Third Reich.  The anti-immigration, pro-white and antiwar sentiments held by pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh earned him invitations to party with the Nazi elite.

The 1924 Johnson-Reed act, signed into law by Calvin Coolidge, which established immigrant quotas didn’t spare the Jews fleeing Hiler’s Germany.  American companies continued to do business with the Nazis while American skepticism doubted the reality of increasing cruelty by the Nazis, dispelling “myths that Americans either were ignorant of the unspeakable persecution that Jews and other targeted minorities faced in Europe or that they looked on with callous indifference.”

Although some 200,000 Jews ultimately found refuge in the United States, hundreds of thousands more were denied entry as the U.S. tightened its borders to refugees. Said Senator Robert Reynolds of North Carolina, “If I had my way, I would today build a wall about the United States so high and so secure that not a single alien or foreign refugee from any country upon the face of this earth could possibly scale or ascend it.”

Seems little has changed.

The Nuremburg Laws stripped Jews of their German citizenship.  It was modeled after our early 20th century law concerning native Americans.  The “Indians” were members of their tribal “nation” and, while they lived here, were not American.  So it was to be with the Jews of the Reich.

The Nazi lawyers needed to identify who exactly is a Jew.  In this situation they thought they were actually being more lenient than America where “one drop of negro blood” was the rule.  The Germans decided on 3 Jewish grandparents or two if you practiced Judaism.

And they copied our inter-marriage laws, as well as criminalizing relations between Aryans and Jews   Here the radical Nazis went further than us.  While some 30 states forbid inter-racial marriage, relations were not a criminal offense.  We left the Klan to take care of those situations extra-judicially, where discovered.

The ghetto eventually segregated Jews from the rest of the population as we refused visas to millions, defining where they could live and where they could go.

“The institutions of our civilization are under tremendous stress. The fragility of civilized behavior is the one thing you really learn, because these people, who we now see in these sepia photographs, they’re no different from us. You look at your neighbors, the people at the dry cleaner, the waiters in the restaurant. That’s who these people were. Don’t kid yourself.”

Do you honestly think an authoritarian government here would have any difficulty in finding guards for the camp watch towers?

Wake up and smell the coffee.  You need to get out more.

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On Martha’s Vinyard

telegraph hill lighthouse - marthas vineyard stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

I am sure you have all heard that our “conservative” (read neo-fascist) Governor here in Florida packed off approximately 50 Venezuelan immigrants to the Vineyard via air.  They boarded the plane after being told they were flying to Boston where they would receive help and jobs.

Instead they were dropped off on the island and left standing on the tarmac, not even knowing where they were.  Local authorities never received any notification.

Later this “man” would smirk that he was just trying to do oood; help them get to a “sanctuary state,” using women and children to troll liberals.  And he did smirk.  He thought it was funny.

And so these 50 human beings were left standing on a tarmac not even knowing where  they were, with no shelter or food and water.

Pig.

These folks were NOT “illegals.”  They applied for asylum as the law requires, their applications were accepted and, by law they were free to remain in the United States until a Court adjudicated their case.

Don’t like the law?  Republicans need only sit down with Democrats and craft acceptable immigration legislation.  Don’t hold your breath.  Why?  Because the current version of the GOP doesn’t want immigration.  It doesn’t want Latinos, or Muslims, or Chinese, Hindus, Africans, Pakis etc.

It only wants Aryans.  You know.  Norwegians and Swedes. Like they’re gonna leave their countries and move to America.  In reality you are seeing a form of American fascism, white, Christian supremacy.

The Venezuelans were not members of the “gangs, rapists and fentanyl smugglers” whom Ronnie characterizes in his re-election television ads as “immigrants.”

Nope.

These were Venezuelans fleeing a Marxist dictatorship.

You know.  Like the Cubans in Miami.  Like “little” Marco Rubio.  An empty suit.   You remember how we opened our arms to those Cubans fleeing Fidel.  One foot on our shores and they were here legally.  Now they vote for the GOP; Obama was too soft on Cuba.  Like any of the 3rd and 4th generation born here are going back.  Perhaps just to buy a vacation condo or re-open the casinos.

Do they think it as funny as Ronnie did, shipping off hapless Venezuelans?  Florida now has the 2nd largest Venezuelan community in the nation. I don’t think they think it funny.

I hope they remember on election day.  Just remember the wise ass smirk.

Meanwhile Marth’s Vinyard leaped into action.  Virtually the entire population was out providing food, shelter, water, clothing and cell phones so these folks could call their families back home and let them know they were alive and well.  Many had not spoken with loved ones in months.

My married lesbian niece and her partner in life live in western Massachusetts with their 3 biological children.  My niece bore one and her partner two. all with the same father from the bank.  They work, pay their taxes, shovel snow, heat the house, make dinners, wash the cars, worry about schools, worry about “two mommies, have gay and straight friends, the love of their families and bother no one.

Real exciting that single sex marriage ain’t it?

This was a state that elected Mitt Romney as its Governor at a time when there were real Republicans, not crypto-fascists.

Ron DeSantis talks about freedom a lot and how free we are in Florida.  You know.  Like your freedom not to wear a mask during a pandemic. Never about your freedom to read all books.  He banns books.

If he wants to know what a free state looks like, he should visit Massachusetts.

Toritto’s niece would be glad to put him up.

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Refuge in Art

“Kiss Of Life”

44″ x 28″

Soft Pastel Chalk, Magic Marker and Colored Pencil

While Rob is in hospital in Orlando receiving chemo and physical therapy, Pam has returned with me to Tampa Bay, taking refuge in work and her art.  Family will be visiting Rob on a regular basis and seeing each other via teleconferencing.

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On the Coming of Sorrow

August 30 was a Tuesday and it was the last time I put up a post.  It was about the approach to my eightieth birthday, the vast and eternal universe and how nothing lasts forever.

Not good times.  Not hard times.

The day after I posted those thoughts, I learned that my son-in-law Rob, Pam’s husband, has cancer.

He had been rushed to a local hospital with his left leg turning blue.  Our local hospital could not handle the severity of his illness and our two major hospitals had no bed available.  He was transferred to Orlando on Saturday, September 1.

On Monday, Labor Day, his left leg was amputated at the knee.

He is forty-two years old.

He and Pam had just won parts in an amateur production of MacBeth.  He had the lead; she Witch #2 and an assortment of females.

All of our lives have changed in an instant.  He began chemotherapy the day after the surgery.  He will receive 4 rounds, 3 weeks apart.  And a day later was taken from his bed to begin physical therapy.

His father, who works from home, will stay in Orlando with family.  Pam has returned here and we will visit regularly until he can be transferred to a local facility.

Rob’s father celebrated a birthday on September 8.  Mine was yesterday.  I am now 80 years old. Marie, my grandson Clark, two nephews and Pam had a low-key dinner.

And I tried to remind her that nothing lasts forever – not the good times.  Not the hard times.

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On Turning Eighty

Well I’m sure most of you intelligent renaissance men have women have seen a number of the incredible images taken by the Webb telescope of places we have never seen.  The images are of stars and galaxies some thirteen billion light years from earth.  Thats thirteen thousand million light years.

Considering the big bang theory postulates the universe is 14 billion years old give or take, the Webb images are of the universe when it was less than a billion years old.

Many scientists have been studying these new images seeking confirmation of theories that have stood for many years. The big bang theory essentially states that the universe began some 14 billion years ago in an incredibly hot and dense state that has been expanding ever since. According to the theory the characteristics of the galaxies that are furthest away should be relatively small and disorganized. What the James Webb Telescope has discovered is that those galaxies are the complete opposite. An astronomer at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Alison Patrick, spoke about this new evidence with great panic. According to Patrick, “Right now I find myself lying awake at three in the morning and wondering if everything I’ve done is wrong.”

The new evidence might debunk the Big Bang Theory in a big way, as the initial idea is the universe exploded into existence and began to expand. In fact, it should be ever-expanding. But the new galaxies found are said to be older than when the Big Bang was said to have initially occurred. The young stars in those far galaxies should be hot and blue in color, as most young stars are.

However, the stars being discovered are all cooler and reddish in color, indicating they are older than when the Big Bang would have occurred. So where did all of these galaxies come from? Naturally, these new findings would have a massive impact on the scientific community. The Big Bang Theory being debunked would result in years of research being useless.

Of course, the religious communities that believe that God created the stars and the universe in 6 days would be overjoyed if the Big-Bang is debunked.

Billions of years and billions of Milky Ways should be enough to put humanity in its place.   Civilizations uncountable have probably risen, thrived and then disappeared without a trace.  Civilizations are probably out there now, perhaps a billion light years distance.  We will never meet them.  There will never be a warp speed or a worm hole.  We will be very lucky if our own planet is habitable in 500 years.  Meanwhile we will try to reach the moon again.

I’m going to be 80 next month.  Not a billion or a million.  Not a thousand or even one hundred.

Eighty.

Tens of billions of years went by before I opened my eyes.  And I believe it will be thus after I am gone.  Non-existence.  Existence for a moment.  Non-existence In the view of the universe my life doesn’t mean diddly-squat.  Nothing to fear really.  I am simply no more important than my late cat.

Except to me of course.  And those I love.  And those who love me.

I was born on September 10, 1942 in America; a man of the second half of the 20th century. Not in ancient Egypt or Rome.  Not in Tudor England, Mughal India or Ivan’s Russ.   Each of us is born at a unique time and place to live our lives.  The children of the Sioux lived on the great plains and hunted buffalo.

Not me.  I was raised in Brooklyn, a child of the city where one could explore and learn street smarts.  Though we were poor, I never felt want.  There was always a roof over our heads, food on our table and hand me down clothes. Mom was always home for snacks or a scrapped knee.

The day I was born the Russians were again retreating at Stalingrad and it sure looked like Germany would win the war against the Soviets.  By the time I was 4 months old the German 6th Army was lost.

The Japanese were attacking Port Moresby.  They never took it.

I never experienced war though I served four years during Vietnam.  If I had been born just 20 years earlier in Germany I might have died at Stalingrad.  In the course of eternity, it was just sheer luck.  I grew up in a loving, extended family.  No alcohol, drugs or abuse.

I skipped the 8th grade in high school, graduated and went to work in a bank mail room at sixteen.  I began attending Brooklyn College at night.  It was free.  Not open enrollment mind you.  I had to do a year with a B average in order to matriculate.  I recall my father meeting me at the bus stop, where I normally transferred to a second bus home, to drive me the rest of the way.  He was there for me in the darkness after a long day on a construction site.  He had an 8th grade education and wanted more for his sons.

I never got rich, but I made a living.  We always owned a home and my girls got out of their undergrad studies without debt.

I found love at twenty and we spent forty years together.  We had four children and buried two.  Did I mention sorrows?

Sorrows are a mother passing at 43; a father at 56.  Cousins in their forties from diabetes and heart disease.  Our youngest brother at 56.  JoAnn at 58 just when we were all set to do what we always wanted to do but never had the chance.

Those of you who reach 80 know many of those you loved will probably be gone.  It is the sorrow that comes with living a long life.

I have travelled much of the world and lived longer than I ever expected.  What with type one diabetes, a burst appendix in ’65, a heart attack in 1995, a stroke in 2004, a period of blindness in 2010, a ruptured spleen and a lung surrounded by fluid in 2020, I am amazed I still breathe.

And I still have joys.  My daughters, a grandson, in-laws, nieces and nephews that love me, call me and keep in touch.  Whenever I am in need, I can simply pick up the phone.  I can say with complete honesty that I have no enemies.

I am indeed a wealthy man.

I’ll let you know about the party.

🙂

I don’t recall which day it was
of the thousands I have lived
when I realized that nothing lasts
and what a shame it was
that perfection is for just a moment
before the downward slope begins.

I don’t know when that moment was
when the world was mine
and you were mine
and all would last tomorrow and tomorrow
and  I was at my height

for just a moment, then it passed
unrealized ‘till looking back
that nothing lasts forever

The sun is lower now
the days numbered, the shadows darker
as options fade to become commands;
no longer so distant the flashing red
above the exit door.

“All your problems can be solved
it you will just give up the ghost!
Your arms are sagging flesh
teeth in a glass
Can fantasies still stir the root cellar?
Don’t you hear the dulcet tones of Gabriel’s trumpet?”

No.
I will not go gentle through the portal
into that good night.
I will warm my face in the September sun, smiling
while  searching the memories of all my days
for that moment when all was perfect.

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Does Labor Day Honor Labor Anymore? – from the Archive

unemployment day

March 6, 1930 – thousands demonstrate for unemployment insurance in Union Square and nationwide – led by the communists.  Did you think government just gave it to you? Wake up and smell the coffee.

It’s Labor Day!

End of Summer, back to school, put away the barbecue in New England, last day for white shoes in Alabama, three day shopping weekend!

Honoring labor!! Yaay!

Huh?

The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. Where else? It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, after a number of workers were shot down by their own government during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland made reconciliation with the labor movement a top political priority. Workers were pissed; seems the government had a habit of shooting down strikers. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike – and the gunning down of workers.

Amazing how quickly government can work when it is scared shitless.

May Day 1953.  Mom, me, my 2 brothers and a friend who lived in our building at school May Day celebration.

The September date was chosen as Cleveland was concerned that aligning an American labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would remind American workers of the Haymarket Affair when American workers were also shot down by their own government. Besides, May Day was too “socialist”  All 50 U.S. states have made September Labor Day a holiday – even Texas.

Anyone notice any “honoring” of labor lately?

Three top leaders of the American Communist Party were arrested and served 6 month jail terms in conjunction with the New York events — William Z. Foster, Robert Minor, and Israel Amter.

Who are the members of the “working class” we supposedly “honor” on “Labor Day”? Meet anyone who calls him or herself “working class” lately? If you have then he or she is probably a pinko commie/anarchist.

We like to think we have three classes of folks – the super rich, the “middle class” and the “poor”.

Everyone thinks they are in the shrinking “middle class” – from those washing dishes to a Wall Streeter making a couple of hundred grand a year. Nobody wants to be “poor” i.e. unemployed for long periods, although we have more officially poor now than we have had in decades.  And millions of the poor work full time.

Does anyone call themselves a member of the “working class”? By definition everyone who doesn’t live on his wealth and has to work for a living is working class but no one considers himself a “worker”.

And the Wall Streeter making that $175G a year, who could be laid off tomorrow for any reason or no reason, thinks he has nothing in common with the guy washing dishes. The banker doesn’t think he’s a “worker” He’s “white collar”.  He’s middle class, even if he has only two weeks worth of savings and is in debt up to his eyes.  He’s bought into the “American Dream” and feels no solidarity with all the others who have nothing to sell but their “labor”, either brain or brawn.

“Solidarity” is a “red” word. When he loses his job he will find out how much he has in common with the dish washer.

My old Italian father was a member of the International Hod Carriers Union – he knew what he was – a worker. He carried cement in a wheelbarrow to the brick layers. He had no illusions about being other than what he was. He wasn’t “middle class” or “white collar”. He had no way to make a living but to sell his labor. He knew he was a worker and in solidarity with all others who had no accumulated wealth to live on. Because of the union he earned a living wage. Mom was a stay at home mom.  He had the dignity of knowing he could take care of his wife and three sons.

It was all he ever wanted. A fair wage, a little house, education and a future for his children; a comfortable old age.

Seems to me the Wall Streeter and the dish washer have much more in common than either thinks. Both are workers but have no consciousness of class. The banker thinks he is a cut above the dishwasher and the hod carrier – it’s when he loses his job, his whole identity, he finds out he is not.

Meanwhile, as we “honor” labor. attacks on private and public sector unions go on – seems like the best way to honor labor is to make absolutely sure that individual workers never band together to face the power of corporations or government on a more equal footing. That’s Red. Red is bad.

It’s perfectly reasonable for employers to have all the power over your livelihood and for you to have none. It is perfectly reasonable for employers to strive to lower wages and benefits as far as they can but not reasonable for workers to try to raise them. It is perfectly reasonable for employers to expect workers to do more with less each passing year. It is perfectly reasonable for workers in a company not to have a say on a corporate Board of Directors.  That’s capitalism.

So what exactly are we honoring on Labor Day?

The New York Times front page on 7 March 1930, the day following the march

The New York Times headline on March 7, 1930 – the day after.  As usual, the police attacked the demonstrators, injuring hundreds.

Labor Day no longer honors labor and hasn’t for decades. It is just the End of Summer – Back to School – Three Day holiday. Even the workers don’t honor it because maybe deep inside they know it’s a sham and most have no consciousness that they are “labor” anyway.  Labor is dèclassè.

And the AFL/CIO have become pussy corporatists – collaborators with the corporations – rightist corporate “Democrats”.  Sad indeed that there no longer is a real labor oriented American left.

It’s just a day off unless, of course, you have to work on Labor Day.

Attempting to abolish it might give some “middle class” folks some real class consciousness. Let’s rename it. How about “First Day of Christmas Season!” It will be good for the economy. Then you will know that neither corporations nor government give a rat’s ass about you, your job or your labor.  Nobody cares if you work full time for wages below the federal poverty line.

Happy Labor Day!

Labor Day – 1909

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http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/international-unemployment-day

photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Unemployment_Day

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Yes Becky! The Rich Really Are Different!

So young guy working at the office on Wall Street is genuinely attracted to young woman who sits in a cubicle down the aisle from his own.   He would love to ask her out but with the world the way it is and the company policy on personal relationships what it is, he is hesitant.

She might say “yes” and they eventually marry and live happily after.  She might blow him off.  Too short.  Too poor. They might date casually for a while.  Or she might report him for harassing her to company.

Who knows.  Anything is possible.  Besides, the company frowns on “personal relationships.”  I personally know individuals who have lost their jobs for marrying someone in the firm.  One of them was forced to resign.

And of course. we are talking about two equal plebes here with neither having seniority or a supervisory position over the other.  He knows people have been fired for making a bad joke; everyone laughed but one person always finds it offensive.

Now all these rules apply except, of course, you are very rich.  Then these rules do not apply.

Suppose you father twins with a woman who reports directly to you in the firm?  Outta here, right?

Well, not if you’re Elon Musk.

Musk secretly had twins with his employee, Shivon Zills in 2021. With that, the wealthiest man in the world has now brought his tally up to nine children with three women, at least that we know of.

Zills is currently the Director of Operations and special projects at Neuralink, where Musk is co-CEO.

Zilis has also been an executive for several of Musk’s ventures, working at a project director for Tesla before joining OpenAI’s board of directors and later Neuralink, further scrambling professional boundaries.

Despite weeks of public outrage over the news of Zilis and Musk’s relationship and birth of their twins, Zilis has continued to work for Musk. According to Reuters‘ sources, the two have continued to helm internal and external company meetings together.

The babies, revealed in court documents  earlier this year, cause a problem for Musk: the rules set in Neuralink’s 62-page employee handbook can’t quite account for the unusual relationship between Zilis and Musk, according to experts.

Human Resources directors everywhere are in a tizzy.

You see, the couple denies they have had a “romantic relationship.”  They claim he impregnated her via IVF.    “While experts disagree whether the relationship actually infracts on any rules in the company’s handbook, one fact remains: Musk impregnated one of his closest advisers and executive subordinates, a conflict-of-interest generator that undermines confidence in his judgment.”

Corporate governance cannot tolerate the young hooking up, having babies and then claiming there was “nothing romantic” about it.  It was IVF.  Right.

Besides, there’s evidence that the two have had or are in a romantic relationship.  They both listed the same address in the document filings, for a multi-million dollar mansion in Austin, Texas.

Then there’s Zilis’ public adoration of Musk. In a tweet back in May 2020, Zilis said that she’d “never met anyone who goes through more personal pain to fight for an inspiring future for humanity — and has done so tirelessly for decades.”

It’s enough to make a girl damp.

In short, calling the relationship non-romantic or something that doesn’t fall under the “personal relationship” or “close friendship” header, as laid out in Neuralink’s code of conduct, is a stretch.

But you see, that book only applies to the plebes.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about Zilis and Musk’s relationship. But it’s nonetheless a situation that should have anybody worried about other instances of high-level executives exploiting corporate power structures to have relationships, let alone children, with their subordinates.”

This week, Musk expressed concern on falling birth rates stating that “de-population of the planet is a bigger risk to civilization than global warming.”  He was only doing his part.

I don’t know on what planet he lives but the population and birth rate may be falling in certain countries but certainly not globally.  We are in no danger anytime soon of a de-population calamity.  This ain’t Mars.

More likely our richest man in the world has an ego the size of Jupiter, having a good time spreading his seed around in his spare time.

Rules don’t apply to him

Musk recently got himself in trouble for exposing his penis to a flight attendant for SpaceX, his aerospace company, during a flight. He just threw $250,000 at her to settle the case in 2018.

Before that, in March, the second of the 3 mothers of his children welcomed a second baby with Musk who they named Exa Dark Siderael.  Musk has already stated he intended to father more children.  I guess nine is not enough.

However it might be a family trait.

Errol Musk, Elon’s estranged father and the family’s 76 year old patriarch, is in the news after confirming he fathered a second secret love child with his stepdaughter, Jana Bezuidenhout, 35.

Nice.  Just the kind of role models we want for our kids.  You can have lots of money and still be declasse.

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More Florida Chicken-Sh-t

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A video showing two Florida police officers blocking a pregnant woman from entering a hospital has gone viral this week.

Kevin Enciso and his pregnant wife Sabrina were on their way to a hospital in Doral, Florida, when the cops stopped in front of them as they neared the emergency room on July 28.

Kevin Enciso said the two Miami-Dade Police officers “refused” to get out of their way despite his wife being in an accident the day before.

This is the kind of bull we put up with while our county sheriffs spend their time campaigning for DeSantis.

Watch it and shake your head.

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