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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Odds and Ends

My squirrel  friend that I have been writing about--the one I feed every day, is getting a paunch.

The Dream Act has passed the house, only to be temporarily shot down today in the Senate. The Republicans were planning to filibuster the house version in the Senate and with the clock ticking on the current session, Harry Reid forced a vote to table, winning 59 to 40.  That allows him to call back the same bill before the end of the session.  Senate Republicans have been firmly against the bill, ruling from the minority on the matter.  Another way to get the Dream Act passed might be to make it a rider on the Agricultural Bill, forcing some of the Senate Republicans to vote for it.   For those of you who want to read up on immigration there is the classic "The Uprooted" by Oscar Handlin copyright 1973, showing how we are a nation of immigrants. The Uprooted won a Pulitzer Prize.  And on immigrants as agricultural workers, "Workers in the Fields, Spiders in the House"  by Ernesto Galarza, 1970 views it from the perspective of a farmworker organizer.  Also: Factories in the Fields, by Carey McWilliams, 1939 is the best early study of migrant farmworkers.

And More retreat on the labor front: the Robert C Byrd Mine Safety Protection Act was defeated in the house although it carried 214 to 193.  More minority rule at work. The measure was brought to the floor on a mechanism requiring a two thirds vote for passage in order to get around parliamentary maneuvers by the Republicans.  Since Senate Republicans stood firm against it and threatened  filibuster, the majority vote was largely symbolic. The bill was an attempt to fix mine safety problems after the Upper Big Branch explosion, the worst mining accident in 40 years. The owners of the Big Branch claimed it wasn't there fault, but I remember the old mine worker song  going "Union miners stand together, heed no operators tale."

And more in the minority rule department, house democrats are unhappy with the compromise virtually ending inheritance taxes and radically extending income tax breaks for the wealth.  The Republicans, after saying that no one should get a tax increase, made sure that most minimum wage workers would get a tax increase under the legislation.  In a parallel fight the minority Republicans, in order to reward the seniors who mostly voted Republican in the mid-terms, have stopped motion on giving senior citizens a  $250 bonus this coming year. Got to balance that budget somehow.   Oh, its a great time to be rich in America.  Otherwise, hold on to your job and your house.

I went to a seminar at Work Source on how to get an unemployment extension for going back to school.  It looks like it may be difficult, but possible.  The other difficulty may be in getting money for going to school--community college now cost about $1000 a quarter for 12 units.

Last nights mass at Blessed Sacrament for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was uplifting.  Mary lavishes her motherly love on me, and then points me to her son..  Great homily by Fr. Chris, who also always points me to the Son.  

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