Thursday, July 28, 2005

Parliamentary Maneuvering

Senate majority leader Bill Frist could have been debating an enormous Pentagon bill with his colleagues this week before members of Congress went back to their home states for the August recess, but instead he has kicked that bill off the calendar and placed on the front burner the issue that concerns most Americans: gun manufacturers' liability.

Let that sink in for a second.

A 491 billion dollar defense budget, or exempting gun makers from lawsuits. I seriously wonder how any onlooker could view this without assuming that some deformed machination took place to reach this point. I would be curious to find out if a fair number of Republican senators respect the mind that is running that body right now.

What might be more insulting is that gun manufacturers haven't been hit with mile high legal bills from liability lawsuits. From David Corn's web log he cites a statistic that between 1993 and 2003, there were 57 tort suits brought against gun manufacturers, out of 10 million liability suits brought during that same time. Six suits a year on average? That is what took the defense budget off the Senate floor?

Strange days.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Laborious Movements

The split occurring within the AFL-CIO today is being generally reported as damaging. A rift such as this would appear to weaken what most call "big labor". I'm not so sure.

It is generally reported that the AFL-CIO was hedging bets towards taking further steps towards active political support in campaigns related to labor issues, while the four that broke ranks headed by the SEIU and Teamsters was looking to invigorate the unionizing process in America and rebuilding the base of union members. Without a compromise, the split took place. Nothing that I can find establishes the permanence of the break, but let us assume that it is going to stay broken.

If the AFL-CIO is right and that the only way to keep strength is through numbers and political donations, then the past ten years have been resounding defeats, yes? A loss of Congress, two consecutive lost Presidential races to a candidate not known to be particularly kind towards unions, and a shrinking membership base through lost manufacturing employment might make one scratch his or her head. Do campaign donations and get out the vote efforts improve the underlying structure?

If the Change To Win Coalition has it right, then placing higher goals on attracting new members and rebuiliding the organization's base might increase overall participation within the labor movement, and increase the vitality of an institution that has not seen the best of days lately. I don't see Big Labor being wed to the Democrats in D.C. as being the right cause to fight for at this moment. I do see AFL-CIO President John Sweney's comment, "...our future should not be dictated by the demands of any group or the ambitions of any individuals," as precisely what might be wrong within that organization. Listen intently to those who deeply care about the future lest you be left behind.

While reading sites about labor unions, I came across a decent history at the Department of Labor written by many historians. It might be good rainy day reading provided you live in monsoon territory.

And lastly, a quote from Lincoln:
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Supreme Court Nominee Judge John G. Roberts

I've tried to pay attention to his nomination. I really have... in a 'sort of' way. To date I don't have an opinion yet one way or another on his nomination. It is extremely early to call him a sure bet or not, but that is in part due to the fact that most of us don't quite know the man and his leanings.

I can't say that I'd be against him or for him if he was firmly planted on a single issue of note today. I believe the Senators will need a fuller picture to understand him, and I feel the same way. If he is conservative in his views I really don't have a problem with that. If his judicial purview borders on that of Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, than I think I would be against his ascension to the highest court in the land.

I know it is up to the Administration to put forward whomever they wish to go before the Senate for confirmation and the man chosen looks like a good, clean candidate. However, I have very serious misgivings about this Administration given their track record of being forthcoming with information.

Might it extend to this nomination, too?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Brief Introduction

Please excuse the clutter and dust, this is my first attempt at a web log entry. Only ten years on the web and just now catching up with the times.

The title for this, "Malice Towards None" is obviously taken from Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural addresss, the last paragraph reading as:

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

As a person who enjoys reading about U.S. Presidential history, I had the wonderful opportunity to read the six volume Lincoln biography by Carl Sandburg, The Prairie Years and the War Years. It had a very profound effect on how I would view every citizen both public and private based on Lincoln's life. The pinnacle of his presidency in my view was that address, and that line above. For a man who had been through so much to seek no vengence is the epitome of being a just human.

I hope that this area gives me the opportunity to explore my own thoughts on subjects here and there. If no one reads it, that is alright; I'll feel better for having written it just the same. If it appears that I indeed have malice towards one, I'll have to return to my first post and re-learn a thing or two from a great American.