Open Thread 12/14

- I can’t fathom how a middle class white guy thinks it’s OK to write this piece.

While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions about whether we support a shutdown, but there are no easy answers. Instead, we ask you, are you willing to listen and learn why a one-word response is impossible? (h/t)

Film The Police

– I’m no fan of Michell Bachmann, but the Washington Post is a disgrace.

– That Made in America label

– Newt Gingrich is no Reagan, and he’s also no Howard Dean.

– That’s probably the best Rick Perry 3 things joke.

– Newt is a scary, scary guy.


  1. 1

    rhp6033 spews:

    That’s a good article on the situation involving the port truck drivers. I’ve got a couple of family members in the trucking business, as well as a good friend who works for a union shop, and it pretty well tracks what they’ve been saying for quite some time.

    The union driver’s company was acquired by another company about four years ago. It original company was financially sound, but not a market-leader. The new owners liked the old company’s assets and raided it within days. Then they insisted that the employees bear the cost of the acquisition through layoffs (one person doing three people’s work), withholding of pension plan payments, and a unilateral 50% wage cut by drivers, all claimed to be “necessary” if the company were to survive. When the union threatened to strike, the new company owners simply said it would file Chapter 11 and discharge their obligations under the union contracts, including the pension plans. Truckers like my friend, who is eight years away from qualifying for a pension after spending his entire working lifetime as a union trucker (and contributing into the system), could find that he never gets a pension at all.

    As the article points out, the non-union drivers have it much worse. Trucks aren’t maintained, but they are the ones who get a ticket if the truck fails and inspection. Owner/operaters are getting paid rates which don’t even pay for the cost of diesel, much less maintenance and wear and tear on the trucks. Any complaints are met with disdain, one privildged ivy-leage a-hole told my cousin he was a spoiled, overpaid leach on society and if he didn’t like the rates, he should just quit – after turning over his truck as “damages” for early breach of the contract. This, after a forty-hour straight drive to deliver freight across eleven states for which he earned less than $20.00 after the cost of diesel was deducted.

    On another occassion they booked him to truck an overweight load from Orlando to Seattle, promising the customer he could get it there in five days. The trailer had thread-bare tires, the company told him to buy and install new tires and they would reimburse him, but afterwards they refused to do so. Of course, an oversize load can’t be shipped cross-country in five days due to the numerous road restrictions in different states (in some states oversize loads can only travel in daytime, in others only at night), and there were a significant number of bridges he couldn’t use requiring long detours. It took him seven days, and then the company refused to pay him anything at all because he was “late”.

    Welcome to the Republican world of “competative wages”, at least as it applies to the 99%.

  2. 2

    rhp6033 spews:

    Re: Newt Gingrich: On a Civil War discussion board, there were lots of comments about how “it doesn’t matter what Gingrich (or any other Republican politician) said or did – anybody would be better than Obama”.

    These guys are 100% into Fox News, dismissing all other news sources as “pinko, commie, terrorist loving” mainstream media.

    It’s really hard to believe that there are a significant numbers in this country, albeit a minority, who have such a knee-jerk reaction that they would turn over government to the most incompetent blowhards rather than engage in a civil discussion about manufacturing base, tax policies, heath care, etc.

    But I guess those are the folks who got us George W. Bush and eight years of incompetent leadership which got us into this mess. They would rather see the country go down in flames than give up a portion of their economic and political power. Them, and their lackeys who don’t understand that they also are the victims of Republican policies.

  3. 3

    rhp6033 spews:

    I also found it depressing that a white middle-age guy would presume to write that urban minorities can “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” if only they tried.

    Are there a few that manage to succeed? Sure. Are there a few rich white kids that manage to get strung out, homeless, and in jail? Sure.

    The issue is not the top 10%, who may succeed regardless of their difficulties, or the bottom 10%, who may fail regardless of the assistance or advantages offered to them. This issue is, and always has been, the 80% in between.

    The telling statement was his casual reference to “teachers he knows” who assure him that the urban poor minorities can easily get cheap computers and internet access. Anyone who purports to be a journalist should know to investigate such stories, rather than use them as the foundation for a broad pronouncement of his understanding of social and economic issues.

    Any investigation would show that a family struggling to make rent and put food on the table, much less keep the kids in clothes, will usually find that purchasing a computer and ISP access at home – with the software required by the school and enough speed to access the school network for their homework assignments – can easily be an insurmountable burden. For those families, $350, or even $150, may be as daunting a challenge as several thousands of dollars for the rest of us. While public schools try to adjust by providing access to computers at school, their hours of availability are limited, and in the poorer areas there simply may not be enough computers to meet the demand. A student who is rationed to one hour of computer use at the school library a week can hardly get a research paper written, much less compete for academic scholarships against their more priviledged competition.

    As school budgets get cut, it just gets worse and worse. Students are expected to pay fees for joining athletic teams, clubs, attend science fairs and field trips, etc. Those that find themselves unable to bear the expense of those multiple fees for each child will find their college applications lacking in essential extracurricular activities, etc. which admissions counselors seek.

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Re WaPo piece on Bachmann: Hard to believe a newspaper can be this bad, unless you’re detained in Gitmo and forced to read the Seattle Times editorial page to make you talk.

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 Typical of the thievery uninformed people called “business.” Have you seen the driver-recruiting ads painted on trucks? Almost every truck has one. Now you know why they can’t get drivers. Oh yeah, there’s plenty of jobs, the righties will say — sure, if you’re willing to work for free or pay employers for the “privilege” of working. The War On Workers won’t end until the economy collapses.

  6. 6

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 5: The “driver recruiting” ads are there even if there are no positions available. That’s to warn drivers not to get “uppity” or they will be replaced.

  7. 7

    rhp6033 spews:

    Well, that didn’t take long.

    Craig Bergman was part of a focus group conducted last Wednesday by, in conjunction with McClatchy newspapers. He identified himself as an “undecided voter”, but in his comments he referenced favorably the views of a controversial pastor who called Mormonism a “cult”. The next day the Gingrich campaign announced that he was their new political director in Iowa. But yesterday his comments appeared in newspapers, and today he’s no longer with the Gingrich campaign.

    I suspect Bergman’s “sin” wasn’t his beliefs or his comments. What got him disavowed by the campaign was getting caught.

  8. 8


    RR @4:

    Re WaPo piece on Bachmann: Hard to believe a newspaper can be this bad, unless you’re detained in Gitmo and forced to read the Seattle Times editorial page to make you talk.

    Would that variety of torture be defined as editorialboarding?

  9. 9

    Michael spews:

    Mittens has the nomination in the bag, now that Christine O’Donnell has endorsed him.

    Explaining her pick, O’Donnell said, according to a Romney press release, “For me, this endorsement comes down to trust. I am endorsing Governor Romney because I trust him to do the right thing.

    “He has the strength of conviction to do the right thing regardless of opposition. America needs a president who is not a Washington Insider. America needs a president who hasn’t been playing the game for the last three decades. America needs a president who can turn our economy around, put Americans back to work, and will lead with stability, integrity and the values that we hold dear.” In an interview with CNN, she indicated that Romney’s changes in positions on issues did not bother her.

    “That’s one of the things that I like about him — because he’s been consistent since he changed his mind,” O’Donnell said.

  10. 10

    Michael spews:

    Am I the only one who covers his ears and chants “TMI, TMI” when Newt’s private life comes up?

    ‘Newt Gingrich is a hypocrite’, claims ex-staffer who had affair with thrice-married GOP candidate
    GOP presidential candidate has apologised for affairs
    But now Anne Manning has spoken of a ‘fling’ in 1977
    She claims they had sexual relations in Washington
    Experts say his behaviour suggests he’s a ‘sex addict’

    Read more:

  11. 11

    Michael spews:

    Senate Democrats cave.

    Senate Democrats Moving Away From Insistence on Millionaire Tax

    Read more:
    Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) — Some Democrats in the U.S. Senate say they are open to dropping a proposal that would impose a surtax on annual income exceeding $1 million to cover the cost of a payroll tax cut for workers.

  12. 12

    proud leftist spews:

    9: “That’s one of the things that I like about him — because he’s been consistent since he changed his mind,” O’Donnell said.

    I can’t quite get my brain around that one. The quote, though, does provide valuable insight into how wingnuts “think.”

  13. 13

    Michael spews:

    The whole thing doesn’t make any sense. I wonder if Romney went into the bathroom and puked after talking up the good O’Donnell’s done for the party.

    Considering the Republican boasts in 2010 all I can this my how the mighty have fallen.

  14. 14

    ArtFart spews:

    @5 Actually, it’s long been a common practice for employers–even companies otherwise regarded as having impeccable ethics–to place ads describing specific job openings in the want ads (back in the day) or on Monster or Dice or even Craigslist (now)…that are completely phony. The objective is not to hire someone, but to accumulate a file of resumes and salary histories to determine if they’re paying just enough, but not too much, to retain people with the skills they need to run the business.

  15. 15

    Michael spews:

    In todays episode of: Today In Gun Violence, we go to NYC where an investigation found that private gun sellers were perfectly happy to break the law and sell guns to people they knew to be ineligible to own a gun.
    investigators used Craigslist and other websites to contact 125 online gun sellers in 14 states. Private sellers aren’t required to conduct a background check before selling a gun, but it’s against federal law for them to sell to someone they believe wouldn’t pass a background check.

    And to Dallas where a road rage chase and crash has two people dead, one from a gun shot wound.

    Witness says Escalade driver “ranting, raving, half-laughing” before firing shot

    Read more:

  16. 16

    proud leftist spews:

    It is curious that Romney would want O’Donnell’s endorsement. That he does is testament to how crazy the GOP has become.

  17. 19

    GimmeGimmeGimme FREE STUFF!....aka OWSer spews:

    Are you going to follow up with a Today in Drunk Driver News?

    if you dont like guns, then dont own one.

  18. 20

    Michael spews:

    I own a few guns. Matter of fact, I was shooting a pellet pistol in back yard about 30 minutes ago. This isn’t about guns, it’s about their misuse. People who misuse guns, like the people that I link too, are a far greater threat to our right to own firearms than “the liberals”, many of whom own guns, or Obama.

  19. 21

    GimmeGimmeGimme FREE STUFF!....aka OWSer spews:


    people misuse guns all the time…so what….guess I dont get your point.

    poeple misuse cars all the time too, and kill a hell of a lot more people than guns do…and get a slap on the wrist as punishment….

  20. 22

    Michael spews:

    Funny that you used drunk driving in your previous comment as the rate of drunk driving and drunk driving deaths have gone down quite a bit over the last thirty years. Firearms deaths have held steady.

    Why not do something like what we did to bring down firearms deaths like we did with drunk driving? Wouldn’t it be a good thing if fewer people got killed? If criminals had less access to firearms? Most criminals get their guns through straw purchases, which is a practice that we could cut way down on with a few simple changes and more cash for enforcement of gun laws.

    Mostly, I’m pointing out how insane our current system is and that it needs changes. Changes that would have little or no effect on me could have large effects on how many people get injured and killed by guns every year.

    As far as auto related deaths, everything I talk about in regards to getting people to live in walkable neighborhoods in cities and promoting cycling helps bring auto related deaths down.

  21. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    MSNBC reports a drunk who harassed a lesbian couple outside a Bellingham bar got his butt kicked.

    “‘One of the women threw him to the ground and pinned him,’ said [a police spokesman]. Lane was booked into Whatcom County Jail on four counts including malicious harassment — a hate crime and felony — on $2000 bail. The women were not identified ….”

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: That’ll teach ‘im!

  22. 25

    Blue John spews:

    if you dont like guns, then dont own one.
    Can you promise me that I don’t get a gun, some fool won’t shoot me by accident or design with theirs?

    Or how about
    if you don’t like nukes, then don’t own one.
    if you don’t like Tuberculosis, then don’t breathe it.

  23. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 One of the features of this blog is that the liberal posters here think the daily gun violence plaguing our society is relevant to things like, oh, say, for example, Wisconsin’s Republican legislators trying to pass a bill that would allow anyone in that state to get a gun without a background check and carry concealed guns anywhere without a permit. Gun ownership is one thing, but wide-open wild-west gun laws is quite another thing. We just want voters to know what they’re voting for.

  24. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “if you dont like guns, then dont own one”

    The problem isn’t guns I own, the problem is guns other people own. I haven’t shot anyone. (But that could change if rightwing nuts who go around saying liberals should be killed actually try it.)

    Which brings us to the stupidity of #19. The obvious reason why we regulate gun possession is because it affects other people. There’s any old saying that your right to shoot your gun stops where my bunny ears start.

  25. 30

    Michael spews:

    The rates that people get killed by things is irrelevant? You’re probably one of only a handful of people that believe that.

  26. 31

    Michael spews:

    We don’t have a pro-drunk driving group in this country. But, we do have several pro-status quo on guns groups. Which is just belligerently stupid. You don’t have a right to the status quo.

  27. 33

    Michael spews:

    We also have a political right that alludes to the use of political violence (see “fire the first shot” Bretbart and Ann Coulter). Pointing out the rate and reality of gun violence helps the left counter those voices on the right, like Bretbart and Coulter.

  28. 34

    Michael spews:

    You could say the same about cars too…..

    Could? We do! We legislate and engineer ways to make cars safer all the time. Cars have been getting progressively safer since the early 1970’s.

  29. 36

    Michael spews:

    Here’s the latest on that shooting in Texas. Weird deal.

    ARLINGTON — A “ranting and raving” driver turned an Arlington intersection into a deathtrap Wednesday, slamming his speeding SUV into a line of traffic, killing one man, and then fatally shooting another man who apparently had walked up to help, police said.
    Police said they had no idea what caused the rampage, which occurred as the gunman’s twin toddlers sat in the SUV.

    Read more:

  30. 40

    Michael spews:

    People in Texas sure do like to shoot people.

    Bay City police say two children who had been on life support died at hospital Thursday, a day after their two siblings were fatally shot.

    Authorities say their father, 24-year-old Jose Avila, also shot his wife before turning the gun on himself Wednesday afternoon on a quiet street in Bay City.

    His wife, Laura Gonzalez, was shot three times and remains hospitalized in Houston. Her condition is unknown.

    Friends and authorities say the family has a history of violence, including an assault reported by Gonzalez just before Thanksgiving. After that, she’d gone to a battered women’s shelter.

    See, people with domestic violence crap on their records aren’t supposed to get guns or the bullets to put in them, but under our current system for regulating firearms it’s very easy for them to do so. Why not change it so that it’s more difficult for them to get their hands on a gun?

    And there’s this one.

    Texas school may build protective wall after 2 students shot while trying out for basketball
    Text Size PrintE-mailReprints
    By Associated Press, Published: December 12

    EDINBURG, Texas — Dozens of law enforcement officers trudged through soggy brush near a South Texas middle school Tuesday looking for casings and other evidence to help explain how two boys were shot while they were trying out for the school basketball team.

    Investigators have questioned three men who were found on adjacent ranchland after the shooting Monday evening.

  31. 43

    Blue John spews:

    Did you know we ended a war last Thursday? There was nothing about that in the main stream news? A lot about Gingrich and the Kardassians though.

  32. 44

    Liberal Scientist thinks that concentrated power and wealth should be met with suspicion, not adoration spews:

    This is very interesting.

    I googled “Lowe’s corporate office” to find where to send my nastygram about their caving to the racist knuckledraggers, and found the site above. Note the ratings on the comments – all the negative comments are down rated, all those applauding Lowe’s endorsement of racism are 5-stars.

    Do you think this reflects the readers of ‘’ or are Lowe’s employees rigging the rating?

  33. 45

    Liberal Scientist thinks that concentrated power and wealth should be met with suspicion, not adoration spews:

    Oops – my bad – the ratings are given by the posters – need more coffee.
    Still notable are all the people applauding Lowe’s for standing in the way of the implementation of Sharia!!! in ‘merka.

  34. 46

    Liberal Scientist thinks that concentrated power and wealth should be met with suspicion, not adoration spews:

    Here’s the address for Lowe’s corporate office, and the letter I sent them about their decision to pull out of advertising during “All-American Muslim” on TLC.

    Drop them a nastygram…

    Lowe’s Home Improvement
    Office of the President
    1000 Lowe’s Blvd.
    Mooresville, NC 28117

    Dear Sir:

    I am writing in regard to the decision of Lowe’s to withdraw advertising placements during the television show “All American Muslim” in response to pressure brought to bear on your corporation by various bigoted and racist organizations.

    To say I am disappointed is a severe understatement – disgusted is closer to my feelings about this. Your corporation is displaying the worst in craven spinelessness in response to the hateful and racist ranting by the Florida Family Association and other groups.

    Rest assured I will never shop at a Lowe’s store again. I am a doctor and a homeowner in Seattle. I am presently engaged in a major home remodel, doing the work myself, and over the past year I have spent thousands of dollars on tools and supplies – much of it at my local Lowe’s. Moreover, I anticipate spending much more over the coming months on lumber, wiring supplies, electrical and plumbing fixtures, doors, windows and other hardware. Not one dime of mine will be spent henceforth at Lowe’s.

    I deeply hope that you reconsider your advertising policies. Racist bigotry and religious tribalism have no place in our democracy, and your decision with regard to this advertising reinforces the worst tendencies in a very hateful and unfortunate segment of our population. Your very prominent position in the commercial community lends your decisions great influence, and with that comes great responsibility. Thus far you have demonstrated tremendous and damaging irresponsibility – I sincerely hope you take measures to repair the harm that Lowe’s has perpetrated with this decision.

    {Liberal Scientist}

  35. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @42 Eeek! A right winger found commies hiding under his bed again! Oooh! Aaaah! If Obama is so scary, why are we still here?