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Christmas Time in Harlem

Happy Holidays, from Delco Nightingale!

Site maintainance

Two things: Barring any last-minute glitches, we’ll be switching over to the new design sometime this weekend. So if you want to save a copy of the girls with guns header, grab it now. (I think you’ll like the new one just as much. Someone designed it for me, and it’s pretty cool.)

Second, if you use the blogroll links from Banter Media, you need to bookmark your faves or put them in your RSS feed. They won’t be here much longer.

This was written by Janalee Filer, an unemployed worker from Pueblo, Colorado. (She’s the blonde woman on the left.) She was in D.C. yesterday to tell her congressman she wants to work as part of Take Back The Capitol, an event organized by unions and activist groups:

I came to Washington, D.C. with a group of fellow Coloradans to tell our Congressman, Representative Scott Tipton, to create jobs and put Colorado back to work. What I heard back from him fell short.

As a construction worker for 26 years, I moved up through the ranks, saw my wages improve over the years and really enjoyed my job. But over the past 10 years my wages steadily declined. In 2008, my wages fell to $10 an hour, that’s $2 less than what I made in 1985!

I decided to leave work and take care of my ailing grandparents for a time, trusting that I’d have a job when I was ready to return. Well, here I am trying to get a construction job now for 2 years without any luck. My unemployment insurance has run out, and I am desperate for a job.

Unfortunately, my story isn’t unique. Pueblo, where I’m from, is experiencing an unemployment rate above 10%. Every family is affected. I believe in extending unemployment insurance for other people who still qualify, who are still struggling just to get by, who are still searching high and low for work.

That’s why I marched into Rep. Tipton’s office today and demanded a meeting. There is a crisis in Pueblo—and across the country—that requires leadership and commitment, and so far we have seen neither from our representative.

Rep. Tipton came and spoke with us for a few minutes in the lobby. When we asked him if he would vote to extend unemployment insurance, what I heard is that he is “pondering” it. I don’t understand how there is even a question about it!

One of his aides met with us in the lobby as well. When we asked him again about if Rep. Tipton would vote to extend the unemployment insurance, he told us he had to listen to both sides and then he told us a strange story. He heard about a disheveled guy going in for an interview and purposefully not getting hired just to get an unemployment check. We all sat there for a minute in disbelief. When I realized, that he was saying that my representative was considering not voting for unemployment insurance because he thinks there are lazy people milking the system, I was compelled to act.

I jumped out of my chair and told the aide that there are a lot more unemployed, hard working, good valued people in Pueblo and across Colorado who are looking for jobs than a handful who may not want work. I said, “I’ve worked for 26 years in road construction and paid into the system. Here I am, without a job for 2 years and my unemployment insurance has run out. I can’t milk the system. I want to work. What will you do for people like me?”

It was so offensive to hear him say he thought the unemployed were largely a lazy group looking for a handout. I am looking for work every day.

This visit actually opened my eyes to how Congress thinks—they live in a different reality. I didn’t expect to hear that they think of the unemployed as people just looking for a handout. It was shocking.

Congress is supposed to be supporting the people, their constituents. I came to him, basically begging for help, and they told me they wouldn’t help because I am lazy.

Well, lazy I am not.

I will be writing more to my local newspaper, organizing my neighbors, and speaking out more. I want to tell my Coloradans back home not to lose hope. You need to raise your voice. They can ignore a few of us, but they can’t ignore all of us. Let’s unite. It takes everyone.

And of course, I’d be very dismayed if any unemployed readers called Rep. Tipton’s Capitol Hill office (202-225-4761) and told them what they thought of his position.

America’s secret wars

Go read the rest. Charlie Pierce:

Secret war is anathema to free government. Period. Now, you can argue that it’s necessary, that the world has changed, that dangers come upon us too quickly, that the length and breadth of the evil in the world has made the perils Madison described quaint and irrelevant. You can do all that and people will applaud you and elect you president. But you cannot make the argument that secret wars conducted by the Executive are consonant with constitutional government, because they are not, and they never will be, and because, sooner or later, you wind up lying about the rape and murder of nuns.

(Hell, you can’t really even argue that open warfare conducted by the Executive, even with fig-leaf legislation from a cowardly and compliant Congress, is consonant with constitutional government. The Founders would laugh at you.)

I bring all of this up because I just recently caught up with this piece in National Journal which describes how “comfortable” Barack Obama has become with waging his secret wars in Pakistan and in other places. Some of the quotes in the piece, especially from the people at the CIA, are mindbogglingly banal in their illustration of just how far from the Constitution our presidents have strayed, and how happy everyone is that they’ve done so….

One senior official inside the CIA is forthright about the issue, at least when speaking anonymously. “It’s a lot simpler and easier for a sniper to shoot or to use a Predator to launch a lawful attack than to detain and interrogate prisoners,” he says. “Once they’re dead, then Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International doesn’t bring a habeas [corpus] case for them. If we’re not going to hold them, we’re ‘pure.’ We may not have information or intelligence, but we do ensure that no one in the human-rights community is yelling and screaming at us.” 

Well, god forbid that should happen. It might ruin an entire afternoon.

And, no, this is not about killing Osama bin Laden. This is about conducting a general war overseas in an ad hoc fashion entirely from within the Executive branch. The constitutional distance between what President Obama is doing and “The Enterprise,” which was the Reagan administration’s term for the foolishness that ended in the Iran-Contra scandal, is not vast.

We can applaud the president’s “strong leadership” in this area. We can even re-elect him based on it. But it doesn’t have anything to do with what we were designed as a nation to do. We can fool ourselves that all of this is constitutional, but it’s not, and no hack White House lawyer can make it so. Secret wars are lies institutionalized and, sooner or later, we’re all praying for the repose of the souls of nuns murdered so long ago that hardly anyone remembers them.

Cranky

Turned down an all-expenses-paid trip to D.C. this week because I didn’t want to be away from home if I got another attack. No point to getting all those tests (and the radiation) all over again. All my friends are there, and here I am. Bummer!

UPDATE: Glad I didn’t go. Bad attack with vomiting – again.

I need a man to love

Janis:

The honey badger don’t care

This is some of the funniest shit ever:

Occupy Congress

Today they asked Darrell Issa for a jobs bill.

Denied

When you’re at the end of the road, food stamps are the only thing left. Most people don’t qualify for welfare, the unemployment extensions for 99ers are gone, and there are no jobs to be had. Many people will read this and shake their heads at what this desperate mother did. I look at it and think of all the politicians who didn’t lift a finger to help people like this:

(Reuters) – A woman in the border city of Laredo, Texas who was angry because she had been denied food stamps killed herself and shot and critically wounded her two children late on Monday, authorities said on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old woman entered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission office in downtown Laredo on Monday afternoon and demanded to speak to a supervisor, said investigator Joe Baeza of the Laredo Police Department.

The woman, whom he declined to identify, pulled out a handgun and started walking through the office, threatening several employees, he said.

“She had issues and felt that she had been let down by social services in general,” Baeza told Reuters on Tuesday. “She was making all sorts of outlandish claims.”

She took an office supervisor hostage in a room in the office, he said, and a SWAT team managed to evacuate the other three dozen people in the office and clear the area.

After two hours of negotiations, the woman allowed the male supervisor to go free, but she remained in the office with her two children, a 10-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.

“About 11:45 last night, she hung up the phone with negotiators, and a little bit later, negotiators heard three shots,” Baeza said on Tuesday. “What had happened was that she had shot each of her children once and herself once.”
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Sam Seder:

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