America The Good Fight

If pulling down a slave trader’s statue “ruins your way of life…”

Sign that reads: “If pulling down a statue of a slave trader ‘ruins your way of life,’ you are either (a) a racist (b) a pigeon.”

Two years ago today…

Editorial cartoon by Mike Luckovich featuring the January 6th crowd gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol Building and Donald Trump in a director’s chair yelling “Action!”
Tap to view at full size.
America The Current Situation

ChatGPT’s advice for Kevin McCarthy

With Kevin McCarthy failing to win the vote to become Speaker of the House for the 11th time, he’s probably looking for fresh advice. Has he tried ChatGPT?

If he hasn’t, that’s okay — I asked on his behalf:

Here’s the text of my question and ChatGPT’s answer:

Me: I just lost the vote for Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 11th time in a row. 11 consecutive losses is unprecedented in the entire history of the United States. The number of votes against me has increased over these elections. Should I try again?

ChatGPT: It is understandable that you may be feeling discouraged after losing the vote for Speaker of the House of Representatives 11 times in a row. However, it is important to remember that each situation is unique, and it may be worth considering whether continuing to pursue the position is a worthwhile use of your time and resources.

If you believe that you are the best candidate for the position and have a strong vision for how to lead the House of Representatives, then it may be worth continuing to advocate for your position. However, it may also be worthwhile to consider the reasons why you have not been successful in the past and whether there are any changes you can make to increase your chances of success. This could include seeking feedback from your colleagues, adjusting your approach, or building alliances with other members of the House.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to try again will depend on your goals and the specific circumstances you are facing. It may be helpful to seek advice from trusted colleagues or advisors before making a decision.

America The Current Situation

Apparently, ONE paid sick day was one sick day too many for 207 Republicans

Vote on the “H Con Res 119” resolution — paid sick leave for rail workers. Democratic: 218 yea / 0 nay / 0 pres / 1 nv; Republican 3 yea / 207 nay / 0 pres / 3 nv; Independent 0 yea / 0 nay / 0 pres / 0 nv

From Yahoo! News:

Railroad workers are unionized and their contract is set to expire on Dec. 9, which has prompted speculation about a possible railroad strike that could disrupt travel and cripple supply chains.

President Joe Biden and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh helped broker a tentative deal earlier this year, but four out of 12 rail unions voted against it, mostly because the proposed contract included just one single paid sick day. In their current contract, the workers have zero sick days.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted on a bill to adopt the tentative contract, which passed 290-137. Many Democrats were also furious about the sick time issue, so the House also voted on Resolution 119, which would add seven days of paid sick leave to the contract. A whopping 207 Republicans voted against it. The resolution still passed with 221 votes, from 218 Democrats and a measly three Republicans.

Find out more

  • The Guardian: US House approves bill to block rail strike and mandate paid sick leave. “The US president, who built a reputation on being pro-labor and put himself at loggerheads with the unions after asking Congress to avert a strike, had warned of the catastrophic impact of a rail stoppage that could begin as early as 9 December and could cost the US economy about $2bn a day by some estimates, with chaos hitting freight and passenger traffic.

    On Tuesday, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, indicated they would attempt to push through a bill to impose the settlement, albeit expressing reluctance.

    Workers expressed dismay at the stance of Biden and his administration.

    On Wednesday, the House passed the bill to block the strike and, separately, voted 221-207 to give seven days of paid sick leave to railroad employees, a plan that faces an uncertain fate in the evenly split Senate. Democrats and some Republicans have expressed outrage over the lack of paid short-term sick leave for railroad workers.”

  • New York magazine’s Intelligencer column: Why America’s Railroads Refuse to Give Their Workers Paid Leave. “Unlike nearly 80 percent of U.S. laborers, railroad employees are not currently guaranteed a single paid sick day. Rather, if such workers wish to recuperate from an illness or make time to see a doctor about a nagging complaint, they need to use vacation time, which must be requested days in advance. In other words, if a worker wants to take time off to recover from the flu, they need to notify their employer of this days before actually catching the virus. Given that workers’ contracts do not include paid psychic benefits, this is a tall order.”
  • US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Paid sick leave was available to 79 percent of civilian workers in March 2021. “Paid sick leave was available to 79 percent of civilian workers in March 2021. Among wage categories, access to paid sick leave ranged from 95 percent of workers whose average hourly wage placed them in the top 10 percent of civilian workers, to 35 percent of those in the bottom 10 percent of all civilian workers.”
  • More Perfect Union: Rail Strike by the Numbers: Railroad Profits are Soaring at Workers’ Expense. “In 2001, leading American freight carriers CSX, KC Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific earned average operating margins of about 15%. That means that after accounting for all the costs associated with running a railroad (including money spent on compensation & benefits), for every $100 of revenue, investors were left with $15 of profit. Twenty years later that number has skyrocketed to over $41.”
  • Fortune: A looming rail worker strike could devastate the US economy and cost $2 billion a day
  • CNN Business: Railroad workers aren’t the only Americans without paid sick days. “The US does not have a national standard on paid sick leave, a rarity among industrialized nations.” It is the land of gun care and health control, after all.

How low-information voters are decorating their trucks these days

America The Current Situation

Happy Thanksgiving!

Comic: Owl descends on mouse, who begs for its life: “It’s Thanksgiving!” The owl says “You’re right” and gives the mouse a cinnamon stick. The mouse proceeds to give an elaborate speech about compassion and the owl speaks over the mouse, saying “RUB IT ALL OVER YOUR BODY FIRST!”

It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S., so here’s an appropriate comic. Savor the holiday, have some gratitude, share your blessings if you’re able to, and Happy Thanksgiving!

America It Happened to Me

It took TWO YEARS, but my renewed NEXUS card finally arrived!

For people who often travel between the U.S. and Canada, the NEXUS card is so incredibly helpful. It says “this person is a citizen of Canada or the U.S. and has been pre-screened for faster processing.” Not only does it mean quicker U.S./Canada border crossings, but it also includes TSA PreCheck for quicker security clearance for flights within the U.S..

My NEXUS card expired during the pandemic in 2020, when a number of government services on both sides of the border either slowed to a crawl or stopped completely. I applied for a renewal back then, and…waited.

The NEXUS program has been delayed for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol wanted American NEXUS officers to be armed while working in Canada, because America’s the land of gun care and health control.

One flight to Canada, two flights to Salt Lake City, one flight to London, and two years later, my NEXUS card arrived a good two years after I applied for renewal, and wow, am I glad to have NEXUS privileges again.