01/12/2014 archive

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Fagor Goes Bankrupt – Trouble in Camelot by Geminijen

No one should be surprised these days when yet another company goes belly-up in these difficult financial times, especially in devastated economies such as Spain.  Yet the bankruptcy of Fagor, the flagship cooperative in the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (MCC) has shaken many anti-capitalists around the world as akin to witnessing the ending of Camelot. The fact that at least two of the other largest cooperatives in the Mondragon network, Caja Laboral (the bank and financial center of the corporation) and Eroski (a chain of retail stores throughout Europe)  are in dire financial straits has only added to the ominous threat.

Fagor, with its 5,600 workers, is a relatively small part of the whole. Even so, Trevino (Fagor’s CEO) warns that its fall “will have an uncontrollable domino effect on the rest of the group with major social implications.” He believes Fagor’s liquidation would create a €480m hole at Mondragon, including inter-group loans and payments the group’s insurance arm would have to make on Fagor workers’ unemployment policies.

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Mondragon has promised to find new jobs or offer early-retirement terms for as many as it can of Fagor’s Spanish workers, but this is a tall order in a country with 27% unemployment. Besides their jobs, workers stand to lose the money they had invested in the co-op if it is liquidated.

Demystifying the Mondragon Myth

For the last 50 some years, the growth of what is now the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation has given many anarchists, socialists and other progressives in the cooperative movement the hope that yes, Virginia, there really is a viable alternative to Capitalism or, at the very least, an economic system that could provide a transition to socialism. Moreover, although many socialists won’t easily admit it, there is often the underlying hope that somehow this transition could occur “peacefully”, without a real class struggle ending in state ownership; that somehow, within the belly of the beast of capitalism, the cooperative model could “out compete” the capitalist multinationals at their own game and become the dominant economic paradigm.

Yet, as one blogger commented in Alternatives to Capitalism,

“There is no escaping the need to challenge Wall Street and the other big financial centers across the world for political and economic power which requires a well-organized and intense class struggle […] something the promoters of these cooperative schemes try to evade as they try to convince workers there are ways around bringing mines, mills and factories under public ownership which is going to require the nationalization of entire industries.”

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart: Email Chains, Lanes and Automobiles

Email Chains, Lanes and Automobiles  – Chris Christie Bridge Scandal

The Chris Christie administration allegedly closes a lane on the George Washington Bridge as a means of political retribution.

Did probable Republican presidential favorite Chris Christie personally order a controversial traffic hit on Fort Lee, New Jersey?

2014 Throwball Conference Playoffs: Chargers @ Broncos

On paper the Ponies should have no problem, after all they have the Payton Manning who is the most over rated Quarterback in the NFL.

That said, I just can’t see the Chargers winning this one.  The Broncos have a great program.  On the other hand the Chargers have already won at Mile High, and played them close in San Diego.

2014 Throwball Conference Playoffs: ‘9ers @ Panthers

This may be quite the upset.  The Panthers won the in-season clash, but by a mere 10 – 9 margin in a defensive struggle.  The ‘9ers are healthier than they were back then whereas the Panthers may have lost wide-out Steve Smith.

I suppose I hate the ‘9ers more in this one for abandoning Candlestick Park.  The Panthers on the other hand own their own stadium, something few NFL teams can boast.

On This Day In History January 12

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 12 is the 12th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 353 days remaining until the end of the year (354 in leap years).

On this day in 1932, Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (February 1, 1878 – December 21, 1950), a Democrat from Arkansas, becomes the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Hattie Wyat was born near Bakerville, Tennessee, in Humphreys County, the daughter of William Carroll Wyatt, a farmer and shopkeeper, and Lucy Mildred Burch. At the age of four she moved with her family to Hustburg, Tennessee. After briefly attending Ebenezer College in Hustburg, she transferred to Dickson (Tenn.) Normal College, where she received her B.A. degree in 1896. She taught school for a time before marrying in 1902 Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, whom she had met in college; they had three children, Paul, Forrest, and Robert. The couple moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas where she cared for their children and home and her husband practiced law and started a political career.

The Caraways settled in Jonesboro where he established a legal practice while she cared for the children, tended the household and kitchen garden, and helped to oversee the family’s cotton farm. The family eventually established a second home Riversdale at Riverdale Park, Maryland. Her husband, Thaddeus Caraway, was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1912, and he served in that office until 1921 when he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until he died in office in 1931. Following the precedent of appointing widows to temporarily take their husbands’ places, Arkansas governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office on December 9. With the Arkansas Democratic party’s backing, she easily won a special election in January 1932 for the remaining months of the term, becoming the first woman elected to the Senate. Although she took an interest in her husband’s political career, Hattie Caraway avoided the capital’s social and political life as well as the campaign for woman suffrage. She recalled that “after equal suffrage I just added voting to cooking and sewing and other household duties.”

n May 1932 Caraway surprised Arkansas politicians by announcing that she would run for a full term in the upcoming election, joining a field already crowded with prominent candidates who had assumed she would step aside. She told reporters, “The time has passed when a woman should be placed in a position and kept there only while someone else is being groomed for the job.” When she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for reelection. Populist Louisiana politician Huey Long travelled to Arkansas on a 9-day campaign swing to campaign for her. She was the first female Senator to preside over this body as well as the first to chair a Committee (Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills). Lacking any significant political backing, Caraway accepted the offer of help from Long, whose efforts to limit incomes and increase aid to the poor she had supported. Long was also motivated by sympathy for the widow as well as by his ambition to extend his influence into the home state of his rival, Senator Joseph Robinson. Bringing his colorful and flamboyant campaign style to Arkansas, Long stumped the state with Caraway for a week just before the Democratic primary, helping her amass nearly twice as many votes as her closest opponent. She went on to win the general election in November.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guest this Sunday are New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and crisis management expert Judy Smith.

The roundtable guests are Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; and former Obama White House senior adviser and ABC News contributor David Plouffe.

Guests for a special panel on women in the workplace are former Hewlett-Packard Chair and CEO Carly Fiorina; U.S. Air Force Col. Jeannie Leavitt, the first female fighter pilot and first female active duty fighter wing commander; Atlantic contributor and New America Foundation program director Liza Mundy; and Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr, Schieffer’s guests are Sen.Marco Rubio (R-FL); Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD); and  Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

Joining him at the roundtable are Rana Foroohar of Time, Michael Gerson of The Washington Post, John Harris of Politico, and Gerald Seib of The Wall Street Journal.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: MTP guests are Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Maria Shriver.

Guests at the roundtable are Democratic Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake; Wall Street Journal Columnist Kim Strassel; former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs; NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director, Chuck Todd; and TIME Magazine’s Mark Halperin.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and  Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

Joining her on her panel are RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer, DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee, and Karen Tumulty, National Political Reporter for the Washington Post.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Ariel Sharon: Peacemaker, hero… and butcher

 He was respected in his eight years of near-death, with no sacrilegious cartoons to damage his reputation; and he will, be assured, receive the funeral of a hero and a peacemaker. Thus do we remake history

ROBERT FISK Sunday 12 January 2014

Any other Middle Eastern leader who survived eight years in a coma would have been the butt of every cartoonist in the world. Hafez el-Assad would have appeared in his death bed, ordering his son to commit massacres; Khomeini would have been pictured demanding more executions as his life was endlessly prolonged. But of Sharon – the butcher of Sabra and Shatila for almost every Palestinian – there has been an almost sacred silence.

Cursed in life as a killer by quite a few Israeli soldiers as well as by the Arab world – which has proved pretty efficient at slaughtering its own people these past few years – Sharon was respected in his eight years of near-death, no sacrilegious cartoons to damage his reputation; and he will, be assured, receive the funeral of a hero and a peacemaker.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Al-Qaida’s brutal effort to build a caliphate prompts growing fury

After 12 years, £390bn, and countless dead, we leave poverty, fraud – and the Taliban in Afghanistan

Out of the Abyss: Looking for Lessons in Iceland’s Recovery

Black rhino hunt permit auctioned in US

Deja vu in Nicaragua? President Ortega and first lady wield ‘dynastic’ power

What We Learned This Week

Steve Kornacki’s guests share the news tidbits that they learned this week.

Share with us what you have learned this week.

2014 Throwball Conference Playoffs: Bolts @ Patsies

This is the hard one.  Despite my deep and abiding hatred of the Patsies for the way Bob Kraft treated Hartford I have to say what Irsay did to Baltimore was worse.  I can root against the Patsies next round.

Not that the outcome is in doubt.  The Wildcard Bolts just don’t have Tom Brady and that’s it.  Besides, if you want to see another Manning/Brady matchup you have to hope the Bolts and the Chargers go down.