So you want your kid to fly as an "unaccompanied minor" plus politics
I was to fly my 11 year old daughter from Chicago Midway to Austin, Texas in order to return her to her mother. I had done this before and had used Southwest Airlines due to their low fares and, until now, good service.
I live in Peoria (about a 2 hour, 45 minute drive away) but the only service to Peoria involves chaning planes, with an extra $50.00 fee per plane change (or an extra $200.00 for the round trip).
So what happened? Well, we make the 2:45 drive, check in and finally get through security (now 3:45). Eat lunch, wait until 1 hour prior to boarding (4:45). Then we are paged.
There *might* be a snowstorm; so she can't fly!!! They won't let unaccompanied minors fly in bad weather!!!! NOW we are told that!
So, what to do: pull the bag that she checked in, go to a hotel, right? Or maybe drive back home.
We are told to go to baggage claim, then told to wait at the oversized bag place. We wait, and wait, and wait...1 hour and counting. "Oh, the conveyer belt is broken" we are told, never mind that the regular bag conveyers are working. Finally, it gets repaired....no bag.
Go back to the office "oh, we don't guarentee that the bag would be pulled but we'll see what we can do"???? Then we find out that evidently the bag was routed to us, but then rerouted by an agent back to the plane, which indeed took off sans problem.
*&^%$ No, I didn't yell at the incompetent bastards but I did walk off in a huff and I did a fair amount of yelling at the rude Chicago drivers as I drove away.
Anyway, remember to check the carrier's policy and to check the weather.
Now, for some politics:
Nobody likes the incredibly popular wartime president
Posted on Thursday, March 16 @ 10:36:50 EST
This article has been read 744 times.
It hasn't been a good week for Dear Leader.
Nope, nobody likes Bush. Nobody, that is, except for Senate Democrats.
By John Nichols
The Republican National Committee has made a remarkable discovery.
U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long been thought to be an outsider in the Senate Democratic Caucus, is not a maverick at all.
It turns out that Feingold is a "Democratic leader" who, according to RNC researchers, is pretty much setting the party's agenda.
In one of a series of memos distributed from the Republican headquarters in Washington since Feingold proposed censuring the president, Feingold's photo appears next to a bold headline that declares: "THE DEBATE IS OVER: DEMS FIND THEIR AGENDA." A subhead reads: "Dem Leaders 'Ecstatically' Embrace Sen. Feingold's Plan To Weaken The Tools To Fight The War On Terror."
AP Photo/C-SPAN 2
Sen. Russ Feingold introduces his resolution to censure President Bush on Monday on the floor of the Senate.
Apart from the fact that the underlying suggestion of the memo is inaccurate - there's no Democratic plan to weaken the tools to fight the war on terror, which has already been effectively undermined by the misguided invasion and occupation of Iraq and determination of the White House to treat "homeland security" as a slogan rather than an imperative - the RNC's announcement comes as a fascinating revelation.
Not only has Feingold proposed censuring President Bush for authorizing illegal eavesdropping on the telephone conversations of American citizens but, according to the Republican memorandums sent to reporters, this is now the "agenda" of the Democratic Party.
In a breathless headline, the RNC announces: "Dem Leaders (Are) Embracing (Feingold's) Plan To Censure President For Intercepting Foreign Terrorists Before They Hit Us Again."
It would probably be a bit picayune to note that Feingold does not want to stop intercepting foreign terrorists. He just wants the president to follow the law when listening in on phone calls placed by American citizens on American soil.
But what's really intriguing about the "news" that Democratic leaders have gotten on board for the Feingold plan is the fact that, well, they haven't done so.
Only two senators, Iowa's Tom Harkin and California's Barbara Boxer, have expressed clear support for Feingold's censure proposal.
The statements of support from Harkin and Boxer are prominently quoted in the RNC memos, which have been widely circulated to reporters in Washington and beyond. But so too are statements from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry that are portrayed as endorsements even though Reid, Durbin and Kerry have only said that Feingold is a "man of principle" and that the censure motion is "interesting" as a "catalyst" for debate.
Feingold read those comments as a tepid response from Democratic leaders and said so."I'm amazed at Democrats ... cowering with this president's numbers so low," he told reporters. "The administration ... just has to raise the specter of the war on terror, and Democrats run and hide."
MoveOn.org, similarly concerned, launched an online campaign to get Democratic senators to back the censure motion. The campaign proved so popular, gaining more than 200,000 signatures on pro-censure petitions in a day, that MoveOn upped its goal from 250,000 signatures to 350,000 signatures. But MoveOn still expresses concern: "Right now it's unclear how many of Senator Feingold's colleagues will stand with him in this important fight."
The online activists must not have gotten the memo from the RNC.
Of course, the MoveOn folks are a cynical bunch. They may think that these RNC memos suggest a "they doth protest too much" scenario in which the Republicans are trying to "spin" the censure debate in a manner that causes the actual if spineless leaders of the Democratic Party to distance themselves from the one member of the Senate Democratic Caucus who has decided to raise fundamental questions about the illegal actions of the administration.
Really cynical folks might even suggest that the Republicans have an ulterior motive: that of forcing the censure issue back in the closet because it could develop into a serious threat to the White House much like the threat that Karl Rove admitted he feared could have emerged in the 2004 presidential election if, instead of Kerry, Democrats had nominated an aggressively anti-war presidential candidate.
But the Republicans need not worry. As long as most congressional Democrats continue to "cower," the wedge that divides those "leaders" from the party's base voters as well as the many Republicans and independents who worry about warrantless wiretapping will remain firmly in place.
John Nichols is associate editor of The Capital Times. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: March 16, 2006
Stephen Pizzo: 'Self-screwing voters'
Posted on Thursday, March 16 @ 10:07:55 EST
This article has been read 1696 times.
During the Ronald Reagan era Republicans learned something remarkable. They didn't have to personally screw working Americans, because working Americans could be tricked into screwing themselves. Imagine that!
Please accept my evidence:
Exhibit A: those self-screwing "Reagan-Democrats." That little screwing cost us billions -- $165 billion from Reagan's deregulated savings and loans alone! Then the Reagan tax cuts let those who stole all that S&L money keep more of their booty. And let's not forget the billions we let them pour into defense industry coffers for all that Star Wars stuff that, two decades later, still doesn't work.
Exhibit B: self-screwing working class (Red State) voters for Bush. They voted for lost jobs, lower wages and a war their kids could fight and die in. Hot digitty - screwed blue and tattooed too. Self-screwed -- not once, but TWICE!
So, Republicans have the proof -- self-screwing works! Voters can actually be convinced to support and vote for people and policies that 180 degrees against their own interests! Amazing.
Now say hello the next GOP gambit - self-screwing Latinos.
Exhibit C: (work in process) By supporting what appear to be "humane," laissez-faire immigration schemes -- amnesty and guest worker programs -- while opposing strong employer sanctions, Republicans hope to win the hearts and votes of America's growing Latino demographic. If they succeed, (and it looks like they just might,) it would be akin to convincing chickens to vote for Col. Sanders.
By luring the Latino vote Republicans hope to remain in power and continue policies that drive US wages down. Their weapon of choice is cheap Mexican labor -- and to make sure it stays cheap.
The logical outcome of this scheme is an end of the American middle class. That extinction is already underway. And labor unions would be powerless to do a thing about it. What's the use of threatening to strike when employers have non-union hombres lined up around the block ready to work for less?
Nevertheless, just try to get a straight answer from Democrats on immigration. Forget about it. The best you can get out of Democrats is an admission that America - the most powerful immigration magnet on earth -- has no immigration policy. But when asked what their solution is they contend it's not their problem.
"We are not in charge," Dems coyly coo. Republicans are in charge. It's not our job to come up with a solution, it's the Republicans job - and they've failed to do so."There you have it. Even as uncontrolled immigration pushes US wages lower and lower, Democrats - the alleged "party of working Americans," does nothing. Why? What angle do they think they're playing?
It's sickeningly transparent.
- Polls show a growing percentage of Americans unhappy about the uncontrolled, illegal immigrants crossing from Mexico. Since voters are likely to blame Republicans Democrats are in no hurry to solve the problem.
- Also, speaking tough on immigration might alienate the fastest growing voting demographic, Latinos. Democrats see Latino voters as the ethic replacement for black voters who have now lost faith in Democrats.
The only trouble with the Democrat's plan - aside its inherent cynical, immoral dereliction of duty -- is that it won't work. In fact it will backfire on Democrats by playing right into the GOP's hands -- again.
To understand the Republican's immigration gambit you first must understand what immigration means to their corporate supporters. In word, cheap... cheap labor and plenty of it. Cheap labor is critical now, thanks to another GOP sacred cow, free trade.
Here's the situation Republicans face:
- Free trade has created an devastatingly non-level playing field for American manufacturers,
- In response to competition from cheaper foreign sources American companies have moved more and more of their manufacturing jobs off shore,
- That's resulted in a wholesale gutting of America's once robust manufacturing base, seen by many as a core national security asset,
- The only way to stop that hemorrhage is to force US wages down so that goods produced here can compete with goods produced off shore,
- The only way to accomplish that is with a flood of immigrants willing to work significantly less than American workers.
Still not convinced? Need more proof? Okay, here comes.
The administration, and its Republican allies in Congress, have thrown out a lot of ideas about how to secure the border; a fence, more border guards, high-tech surveillance systems etc. All that stuff would cost billions of dollars, money that, like Star Wars, would line the pockets of the usual suspects, Halliburton, SAIC, and other favored contractors. And, like all that Star Wars stuff we paid for -- none of it will work.
What Republicans have not proposed is something far less expensive that would work - employer sanctions. Real employer sanctions. A law that made hiring illegal aliens a crime. Such a law would do more to stem the uncontrolled flow of job seekers across our border than a ten mile high wall stretching from San Diego to Florida.
So, why hasn't Congress passed, and the President signed such measure into law? Because they know it would work. And that would defeat for their hopes that immigration will drive US wages lower.
And yes. despite what conservative think tankers contend, uncontrolled immigration from Mexico does drive wages lower, despite what the US Chamber of Commerce says to the contrary.
George J. Borjas, a scholar with the Center for Immigration Studies finished a study on the ct of immigration on wages earlier this year.
"There are 16 million foreign-born workers in the United States right now, " Borjas said. "What does that do to the marketplace? It creates more competition, particularly for low-skilled workers."So, what position should Democrats take on immigration reform?
Borjas reported he found that the immigrants who entered the country between 1980 and 2000 lowered wages of native-born workers by an average of 3.7 percent. The reduction in earnings occurred regardless of whether the immigrants were legal or illegal, Borjas found. He also said a new guest worker program, such as that proposed by President Bush, could further threaten the earning power of U.S.-born workers by creating more competition with foreign workers. (Full Study)
- Lower wages in other countries are not the only reason their products are cheaper. After making something with their cheaper labor they still have to incur additional cost of shipping their product half way around the world. Free trade needs to become free and fair trade. That means companies overseas that want to sell products to American consumers must comply with a few fundamental rules. They must provide a baseline of worker safety and the comply with the same environmental rules that apply to American companies producing similar products or services. Such requirements would increase the cost of production for offshore manufacturers thereby leveling the playing field for American manufactures here.
- Border security is a national security issue, not a jobs issue. I am not worried about Jose' sneaking across the border looking for work. I'm worried about Abdullah and friends sneaking across the border in the dead of night looking for a target.
- Illegal immigration is not a border issue, it's an employment issue. You don't look for illegal workers at the border, but at the places that hire them. Pass laws that subject employers to very large fines for employing illegals and then use those fines to hire additional INS agents. (Oh, and for repeat employer offenders - jail time.)
- A guest worker program is fine, as long as it requires that foreign guest workers are paid exactly the same as American workers for the same work.
- Finally, the national minimum wage is currently an unlivable, unconscionable $5.15 an hour, (which when adjusted actually is $4.15 in spending power.) Had the minimum wage kept pace with inflation it would be $9 an hour today. Raise the national minimum wage to $10 an hour. Ignore BS form the right that raising the minimum wage costs workers jobs. What it would actually do is make more lower wage jobs attractive to American workers. That in turn would reduce the demand for imported labor willing to work for a lot less.
Time will tell.
Email me at: stephen(at)pizzo.com
Source: News For Real