WASHINGTON -- In one of the biggest successes in the history of organized labor in the South, the 4,700 janitors working for Houston's four largest cleaning companies recently joined the Service Employees International Union. The janitors, mostly immigrants, currently earn an average of $5.30 an hour -- 15 cents over the minimum wage -- without health care benefits. The mobilization of the janitors is one sign of why Andy Stern, head of SEIU, is today's most important -- perhaps the only really important -- labor leader.
Minnesota's beloved Vikings are once again out of the playoffs -- for the fourth time in five years.
George Bush's problem is that Washington is not a courtroom. If it were, he or his lawyer (Dick Cheney?) could rise and object to the mention of his "previous convictions." That way, every offense against custom, law, international agreements and common sense could be treated in isolation. Too bad for Bush, he has a rap sheet. It is his record of non-stop belligerence to anything that would limit his powers that works against him as he tries to make a case for what in shorthand is called domestic spying.
BOSTON-- So it comes down to September 11, 2001. Again. The president has drawn a great dividing line through the country, separating his supporters from his critics. Again. This time, those who see a presidency run amok are not just labeled "defeatists." They are considered amnesiacs. This time, those who oppose torture are diagnosed with short-term memory loss. Those who are outraged at domestic snooping are people who have forgotten to be afraid.
I have been receiving phone calls from various law enforcement causes soliciting funds. I would like to look at crime in a different light. I think the police are doing their job by arresting criminals. The problem, as I see it, is in our judicial system. I read the paper daily and I read officers are arresting people and they are charged with multiple offenses and by the time the plea bargaining is watered down, these criminals plead guilty to picking their nose in public. Receiving no more than a slap on the wrist, they are usually placed on probation with terms they must follow.
Iraq's huge voter turnout recently was a clear step forward for the Bush administration's policy and for a stable Iraqi government, if all sides can learn to live together. But what happened in Washington recently will undercut the war on terror and encourage those who want to reprise Sept. 11, 2001 on a much grander scale.
WASHINGTON -- With indicted super lobbyist Jack Abramoff reportedly ready to cooperate with prosecutors and his partner, Michael Scanlon, already singing, 2006 is expected to be the year of congressional scandals. Lord knows, a housecleaning in the Capitol is definitely in order. But the Abramoff scandal is just part of the corruption of our political system. There is another level of special-interest influence that cannot be handled by prosecutors: Only the voters can render a judgment on a politics of favoritism that has created a new Gilded Age.
Christmas weekend has arrived in west central Minnesota just in the nick of time. The snow outside is delightful and the temperatures are warming with Christmas cheer. It is a wonderful time of year to be with family and friends. It is also a time to remember what Christmas is all about. Americans are fortunate to live in a democracy where they may live and worship as they choose.
Thomas Jefferson said: "Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none..." The United Nations started out as a place where nations would get together and discuss their differences. That has changed. The United States was playing by U.N. rules and failed to win the Korean war. If we had operated on our own we could have eliminated the communists there and won the war. However, they were allowed to survive and to this day the issue has not been solved.
The next step in the development of state Highway 23 lies with the city of Paynesville.