Monthly Archives: July 2013

Communists and Fast Food

[This post is adapted from one I wrote yesterday for]

On Monday, the conservative website The Gateway Pundit posted an article by Jim Hoft about the recent fast food worker strikes and protests, entitled “Young Commies Demand Corporations ‘Quit Stealing From Us’ and Double the Pay.”

The very first sentence of the Pundit article (as well as the title) describes the workers as “young communists.” It implies that they view their minimum wage as “stealing” by their employer. Regarding Shenita Simon, the subject of a Fox News interview and a New York Times article, Hoft states, “It’s obvious from the interview that Shenita is a community organizer and not a fast-food worker.” Of course, he offers no substantiation for this claim, which isn’t surprising considering his track record, one that has earned him the title of “the dumbest man on the Internet”. As usual with Hoft’s pieces, there’s more to the story than he wants his readers to know.

First, contrary to The Gateway Pundit’s hyperbolic lede, attempting to obtain a higher working wage does not make one a communist. In fact, it is quite in the American tradition. If, as a conservative or libertarian, you believe that businesses are under no obligation to pay more than they can get away with, then likewise you must accept that workers are free to seek the highest wages that they squeeze out of their employers. It’s the free market at work. If these fast-food worker actions result in higher wages for themselves, then good for them.

The Gateway Pundit also seems confused about the issue of “stealing,” implying that “stealing” is just the worker’s misguided way of expressing the fact that they should be earning more than minimum wage. While Ms. Simon isn’t clear about this in the Fox News interview, the issue of “stealing” has to do with wage theft, in which employers illegally withhold wages for overtime, or illegally pay employees less than minimum wage.

Last month the New York Times covered a hearing before the City Council’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor in which fast-food workers gave testimony describing rampant wage theft by their employers. According to article, “[a] study issued last month by Fast Food Forward, a coalition of groups seeking to improve conditions for fast-food workers, found that about 80 percent of employees in the industry in New York City had experienced some form of wage theft in the past year.”

The Huffington Post also covered the hearing and reported:

New York’s council members are just the latest public officials to look into what labor advocates say is a wage-theft “crime wave” sweeping the country. In the past year, Texas, Kentucky and New Mexico have all cracked down on wage theft by passing new laws or strengthening old ones. Just this week, Oregon’s legislature approved a bill aimed at stopping wage theft in the construction sector. (An anti-wage theft bill in California, however, recently died in the legislature, after the Chamber of Commerce portrayed it as a job-killer.)

An extensive study of wage theft in 2009 found that of the more than 4,000 low-wage workers surveyed in three cities, 26 percent said they were paid less than minimum wage and 76 percent of those who worked more than 40 hours a week were not paid overtime.

According to that report and others, employers can steal from workers in a variety of ways: They can deprive workers of the legally required overtime pay rate of time-and-a-half; take illegal deductions from worker paychecks to cover the costs of meals and uniforms; pressure workers to take out the garbage or put away boxes before clocking in or after clocking out; and refuse to reimburse delivery workers who are robbed on the job.

In Ms. Simon’s case, The Times reported, “Often, she said, she finds her check is hours short. And when she works overtime, she receives two checks, each at straight time, as if she worked for two different employers rather than a single KFC across from Bargain Land on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn.”

The Huffington Post describes in more detail how employers do this. “Simon, the KFC worker, explained in detail one particular method her employer used to ensure she didn’t get overtime: After she worked 60 hours one week last year, she said, her manager paid her for just 40 hours and then added the remaining hours to Simon’s next three paychecks, so that she never totaled more than 40 hours per week. At the time, Simon says, she didn’t realize the practice was illegal.” This, and other similar practices, are examples of wage theft; that is, stealing from the employees. It’s no wonder they’re fed up.

Deriding the workers “communists” and ignoring the very real issue of wage theft are simply ways that The Gateway Pundit diminishes the workers as nothing but undeserving money grubbers.

I do find it odd how invested the right seems to be in preventing these workers from seeking a higher wage. It’s as if conservatives take it as a personal affront and resent the apparent audacity of the workers. I’ve never worked in a restaurant of any kind, nor have I ever been a member of a union, so perhaps I’m missing some perspective that conservatives possess. But I think the level of vitriol expressed by conservatives has more to do with them than the workers. One interviewer complained that if the workers are paid more, then he, the interviewer, would have to pay more than a dollar for his hamburger. Oh, the horror!

In his worldview, what’s important is that his hamburger costs as little as possible, no matter the consequences on others. It really boils down to “what’s good for me is good.” Conservatives seem to be truly threatened by the prospect of having to pay more than a buck for that burger. And make no mistake, a dollar for a hot burger, provided on demand, is a pretty good bargain. If the workers succeed and, as a consequence, the cost of that burger rises to two bucks, then people will decide whether to keep buying that burger. As conservatives are fond of telling us, the market will decide. And what could be more free market than that?


Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Politics, Progressive Thought


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Is it 1984 yet? Or if you can’t spell Frederick Douglass, the house bets you’re a Tea Person.

I will state up front that Mother Jones has a left leaning, progressive bias.  Their history is rooted in investigative journalism and they use facts, not deceit, opinion or the shrill alarm of congenital paranoids to substantiate the stories they write. The group which is the focus of this story could care less about the American public. They serve themselves, their social connections and the industries whom they are paid by to lobby for. (Lobby: a civil war era term used to describe people who hung around in the Lobby of the capital hoping to gain access to elected officials.) These folks can pretend with all the bluff and bluster of an award winning actor that they have the public good at heart, but they do not. They cannot stand the very idea of America. Every effort this group is making is to disseminate propaganda, not to improve the lives of people or to improve the efficiency of government. They want to return to 1850 or 1950 and scare the shit out of the fearful and those incapable of critical thinking in order to accomplish their goals. The bad news? This group exists. The good news? They can’t spell.

One picture is of a fictional character describing his observation of reality.

The other is of reality.191005_10151034626191275_834158265_o download

Comments Off on Is it 1984 yet? Or if you can’t spell Frederick Douglass, the house bets you’re a Tea Person.

Posted by on July 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


Fibber McGee and Molly? Ma and Pa kettle? No, they only pretended to be clowns.

It’s double the pleasure for many Americans. Sunday night, Politico reported Cumulus radio network will be dumping Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. This has much to do with the concerted efforts by  fed-up citizens and activist groups nationwide, who have been diligently working to rid Limbaugh’s hate speech from public radio, with boycotts, petitions and protests. Hannity – is a bonus. Politico reports:

In a major shakeup for the radio industry, Cumulus Media, the second-biggest broadcaster in the country, is planning to drop both Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from its stations at the end of the year, an industry source told POLITICO on Sunday.

Cumulus has decided that it will not renew its contracts with either host, the source said, a move that would remove the two most highly rated conservative talk personalities from more than 40 Cumulus channels in major markets.

More will be revealed this week, as Cumulus announces its 2nd quarter earnings report on Wall Street. This will be another telling tale in the fate of Limbaugh (and Hannity), at least with Cumulus. CEO Lew Dickey has been known to ‘talk’ during earnings reports, which have all been pretty dismal ever since Rush Limbaugh’s attack on Sandra Fluke (see video below). Last quarter, Cumulus reported  a loss of over $2 million, and has been claiming for a year, that losses are due  to the national protest against Rush Limbaugh. A Cumulus spokesperson claimed, 48 out of 50 major network advertisers now  include, ‘No Rush Limbaugh’ clauses when buying airtime.

On the other hand, Clear Channel, the media giant that carries Limbaugh and Hannity on 600 radio stations, continues to stand by Limbaugh’s side, while boycotts have caused well thousands of  sponsors to pull ads from Limbaugh’s show, this past year. Run by Bob Pittman and John Sykes, Clear Channel reported  hundreds of millions in revenue losses (in compared to Cumulus measly $2 million+)  during the network’s 1st quarter earnings report in May. They refuse to say it had anything to do with the Limbaugh protests. Revenue numbers prove differently. Some boycotting groups are contacting major recording artists to boycott iHeart Radio – owned by Clear Channel, until Limbaugh is dropped.

So it’s no longer ‘will Limbaugh go down?’ It’s ‘when will Limbaugh go down’ –  along with Hannity and  the rest of ‘hate radio’. As with any major protest and movement, good eventually trumps evil. Sometimes it happens quickly – sometimes slowly, but eventually happens. And it’s happening here.

Our public radio network was created to give voice to the American people. It was not created to be used by hate-mongers like Limbaugh, who make millions promoting lies, racism, and sexism and lgbt-hating bigotry.


Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


Oh boy. Another fuel pod for the perpetuation of right wing freak out. Loosing it doesn’t come close.

Lost? They have no map, no plan and no sense. Just wait. This interview will cause right wing apoplexy.

Courtesy of the liberal NYT.  You know, the nations newspaper of record. The one Cheney used by way of Judith Miller.

Me? I am a Polar Bear.378861_2750734603533_1112660254_32938800_1956727230_n


Posted by on July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


Andrew Sullivan nails it. Again.

“The Republican attempt to nullify the last election and engage in unprecedented sabotage of a law for universal healthcare intensified today. It seems we effectively have no politics in this country right now – just political warfare, in which one party refuses to accept the legitimacy of election results. I once thought it would get worse before it got better, but it seems there is no bottom to the Republican spiral. It just gets worse and worse. There’s partisanship and then … there’s this derangement.

The moderate pundit, Norm Ornstein put it best; Obama’s attempt to lay out what he’d like to accomplish if we had a working political system was an attempt to frame the looming battle. I should realize this by now, but the current GOP clearly believes it is the only legitimate governing party in the US and its response to a loss is to intensify its rage. They never forgave Clinton for being re-elected; and the idea they’d let a black president leave a legacy behind is obviously inconceivable to them. And yes, that’s calling them irrational and not a little racist. But how else do you explain people who are actively attempting to persuade young adults not to get health insurance?

I’m trying to understand where the motivation comes from to actively keep people vulnerable to catastrophic debt and untreated illness. I couldn’t do that morally for my own interns. And yet here is a party seeking to ensure that young people are denied basic healthcare. I keep re-reading that sentence and trying to qualify it or make it less repellent to anyone with a conscience; but I cannot. I try to see how this fits with conservative principles of personal responsibility, but it doesn’t. It’s a campaign to persuade people to have less personal responsibility, to free-load on others, and at massive expense to everyone else.  It’s a rejection of a decade of conservative thought on the issue. Which is why nihilism and vandalism are the only words I can come up with to describe these fanatics and haters.”hammer_hits_nail-500x250


Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Uncategorized


Supreme Court decision brings out the inner Birchers in North Carolina legislature. Koch Brothers ecstatic.

Itsabeautifulday            Courtesy of Slate Magazine.


Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


More to life than politics and art.

How about music? Specifically The Blues. The town in which I have lived in for more than 1/2 my life is not only home to Jazz, but Blues as well. We have some of the greatest venues for live music in the country. Here is a sampling of one of our home town artists.

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Posted by on July 23, 2013 in Uncategorized