Jackie Robinson’s Court Martial

Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in America when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947,  (See: “Jackie Robinson’s Contribution to America” Here; He was charged and court martialed while an Army Second Lieutenant in 1944. He was found not guilty. An account of that court martial can be found Here;. It is from Real Clear History.

Robinson was a remarkable man for many reasons as this account shows. Of great interest is the fact that due to the charge, he was transferred from one unit to another and the one he was transferred from saw very heavy combat in Europe, including 183 days of constant contact with German forces following D Day. The unit he was transferred to saw only limited duty in the US. 

This article is well worth reading as it shows an important episode in this remarkable man’s life.. 

Volkwagon’s Tennessee Workers Reject the Auto Workers Union and Management!! This is a big _____ deal!!!

The sea change that has occurred in labor relations is described below. In essence, workers have caught on the the fact that unions are for union management and Democratic candidates and do not benefit them. That means dues money goes to pay huge salaries to union officials and hundreds of millions of dollars go to Democratic campaigns.  Dues do not result in higher salaries, as many non-union plants pay higher salaries, don’t provide job security as forming a union may actually cost jobs. If this takes root nation wide, it will cause a major change in our politics and will result in a much better work place for workers who will not be subject to union discipline.  The growth in “right to work” states will be resisted in “non-right to work” states that force union membership on workers. Of course, this is so those compelled dues go to the Democratic governors and legislators. Times will change.  

The article follows

The United Auto Workers union suffered a crushing defeat Friday, falling short in an election in which it seemed to have a clear path to organizing workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.,” the Wall Street Journalreported Saturday. “The setback is a bitter defeat because the union had the cooperation of Volkswagen management and the aid of Germany’s powerful IG Metall union, yet it failed to win a majority among the plants 1,550 hourly workers.”

One cannot emphasize the magnitude of this loss. What it clearly spells out is the irrelevance of the old industrial unions in today’s world. They have become nothing less than reactionary institutions. It is no longer the heyday of the union movement, which once was necessary and helped create a middle class in our country in the 1930s and ’40s.

How different a situation existed in that bygone era. When Ford and GM workers tried to gain representation for collective bargaining, they were met with an onslaught of fierce opposition from the auto manufacturers. First there were the sit-down strikes in 1936 and 1937 at GM and Chrysler, and the brutal attack on workers by Ford management. They responded to organizing with the famous attack on the workers by company thugs, goons, and the local police, who cooperated with management. The culmination was the most famous event in modern labor’s fight to organize, the Battle of the Overpass at the River Rouge Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

In our own era, the workers at the Tennessee Volkswagen factory had the support and encouragement of Volkswagen for unionization. Both the UAW and the European IG Metall union convinced Volkswagen management to engage in talks with the UAW in the United States, and not even to propagandize against unionization among the workforce. As the WSJ article notes, “the election was also extraordinary because Volkswagen chose to cooperate closely with the UAW.” As a labor lawyer who previously worked for the leftist SEIU put it, “usually, companies fight” union drives.

So when a major corporation urges unionization and sides with the UAW, and the workers vote in a free NLRB-supervised election to not unionize, it is a very big deal indeed. Nationally, the decline in the strength of unions has had its effect on the UAW. During the heyday of the union, it represented 1.5 million workers; now, it represents only 400,000. If Walter Reuther were still alive, he would be stunned at the reversal of the fortunes of the union he worked so hard to build. Indeed, in Michigan — once the very stronghold of the union –the state has put into place a right-to-work law that allows workers to drop their membership in unions, including the UAW, if they choose to do so.

The other issue in the campaign was the effort of the UAW and Volkswagen to create what is called a “works council,” a committee composed of both union and nonunion employees who negotiate with management on day-to-day work issues that arise in the factory. Such councils are standard arrangements in German factories, as well as in other countries in Europe. They allow for settlement of issues in a manner that creates labor peace and promotes better conditions in the workplace, without the threat of a strike. But according to American labor law, they cannot be established unless an outside union like the UAW legally represents the workers.  Because Volkswagen wanted one, they chose to support the UAW organizing effort.

When it comes to wages, it turns out that at the Southern plant, a starting worker earns $19.50 an hour without a union, while his counterpart working in Michigan earns only $15.50 an hour. So wages do not compel a worker to support unionization. The foreign- owned plants, it seems, pay better than the American auto manufacturers.

Then there are the unspoken social issues, which I’ll discuss on the following page.

Workers voting against the union are most likely socially conservative, standing against abortion and for the NRA on the issue of guns. They know very well that union dues go to PACs (in fact a union creation) and left-leaning candidates .

So how does the union explain its defeat? It does so by saying it lost due to “outside interference.” The union said in a statement that it lost due to “a firestorm of interference and threats from special interest groups.”  What were these groups doing, in particular? The union is undoubtedly referring to billboards paid for by one of Grover Norquist’s groups opposing unionization. Signs! Does the UAW really think an anti-union billboard forced them to lose? A sign is hardly anything like attacking workers with billy clubs and rifles, which was standard fare in the 1930s. Those attacks created sympathy for the union cause. The union undoubtedly had its own signs and literature, which workers freely read.  As the union statement acknowledged,  “While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and (German union) IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union.”  (my emphasis)

Back in July of 1941, the CIO’s favorite singing group, the Almanac Singers (composed of many different people, including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Millard Lampell, Josh White and others), put out a famous album titled Talking Union. Its first verse went like this:

Now if you want higher wages let me tell you what to do
You got to talk to the workers in the shop with you
you got to build you a union, got to make it strong
But if you all stick together, boys, it won’t be long
You get shorter hours, better working conditions
Vacations with pay. Take your kids to the seashore

It went on to say that “if you wait for your boss to raise your pay/We’ll all be waiting till Judgment Day.” Now the bosses pay unorganized Southern labor better than they pay Michigan’s unionized autoworkers, plant conditions are good, and every worker in the plant gets vacation. The old fight was won long ago, and no wonder Southern workers are now singing, “You can’t scare me, I’m not sticking with the union.” As another modern-day singer put it so well, “the times they are a-changin’.”



What Important Facts 26% of Americans Don’t Know

In an NPR article Here  on a National Science Foundation science survey, shows, among other interesting results, that 26% of Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth!! How can this be? How many times is a student told the truth about the earth revolving around the sun before the third grade? How can a quarter of the population believe in Ptolemy’s geocentric model from more than 2000 years ago that was debunked by Copernicus 600 years ago?

The survey was taken in 2012 and was released recently at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago. The survey also indicated that 39% were aware of the universe starting with a Big Bang and less than half knew of evolution of the human species. US respondents did better than Chinese and EU respondents on the astronomy question, but, by contrast, 66% of Chinese and 70% of EU residents were aware that humans had evolved from earlier species.

Just half knew that antibiotics were not effective against viruses.

In an increasingly complex world, it is very important that citizens be properly and accurately informed on scientific matters. This survey indicates that the basic scientific literacy is lacking and the ability to analyze scientific claims is badly impaired. This leaves the country open to scientific charlatans who would impose policies that injure the nation.

Our educators are urged to “ramp it up” with regard to basic scientific education so that the people have the knowledge necessary to make correct decisions on economic and political issues.

Sochi’s Warmth

This morning I read that athletes at the Sochi 2014 WInter Olympics were fearing the end of Winter due to global warming. This is due to the warmth at Sochi, a Black Sea resort, 43 degrees North Latititude. To put that in perspective, Nice, France, and the Cote d’Azur are at that latitude.  Clearly, this is not a winter resort. This is not Oslo, Lillehammer, Turin or the other Winter sites where snow and cold are common. Story and photos of sunbathing athletes Here.

Sòchi was selected by the Olympic Committee after exteme lobbying by Vladimir Putin who wants to publicize this beach resort town on the Black Sea.  To get the games, the Russians had to promise to make snow and even “store” snow to protect against its absence.  The Winter Games are not in danger as long as sites are selected that are appropriate and snowy. 

The alarming aspect of this story is that people actually, after drinking the Kool AId, believe that so called global warming is the culprit. This is understandable as young athletes like to be politically correct and say the “cool” thing to the press.  But to have it reported is absurd.  However, this in no more absurd than the story today that the continiung arctic conditions over North America have been caused by warming!! How about that? Of course, people who can change passed law, a la ACA, on a whim, can certainly repeal the laws of thermodynamics.

A Tribute To Joan Mondale

The Minnesota community paid tribute to Joan Mondale yesterday in a wonderful funeral at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. The musicians, some from the Minnesota Orchestra, and the superb choir provided a beautiful musical background for the service. Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn, Bach, Stravinsky, and Vaughan Williams wrote the music played in this celebration of a noted patron of the arts. She was, after all, known as Joan of Arts. 

Rochelle Olson wrote a wonderful account of the ceremony in the Star Tribune here that reports on what people said. Jimmy Carter was perfect. 

I attended the funeral with my friend Jay Swanson and his wife Ellen Dahl. Jay was  kind enough to drive. I ended up seated next to Minnesota State Senator Terri Bonoff and her husband Matthew Knopf.  We shared a hymnal.  Matthew and Jay are lawyers and are Dorsey Whitney partners, where Walter Mondale has been working for the last decade or so.

I had the distinct pleasure of knowing Joan Mondale, who actually lived for several years down the street on James Avenue.  In one memorable discussion of cooking and spices,  I found myself advocating for Tellicherry Black Pepper as the superb spice.  I think I used the term “piquant” to describe it. Joan was not so sure, so I went to my stash of Tellicherry, ground some fresh, and delivered it to her home. She was very gracious about the gift.

I am honored to know and count the Mondales as friends and neighbors. Ted was a law school friend and is running the local Stadium Commission. From all accounts given yesterday, Joan was the charming and talented equal partner in this dynamic family.

IRS Scandal: All You Need to Know in 7 Minutes and 3 Seconds

Cleta Mitchell is a lawyer in Washington who represents citizens that have been harmed by big governement. The current administration offers ample opportunity for such a practice.  She is preeminent in the representation of those organizations who have sought or who are seeking §501(C)3 or §501(C)4 status that would allow them tax exempt status. These are primarily conservative goups who have been denied such status or whose applications are delayed beyond reason and for political purposes.  

Her recent testimony before Congress can be found here, This is the 7:03 minute video you need to watch as it details the illegality and lies involved in this scandal. 

Who Will Win SuperBowl XLVIII?

I will make a prediction as to who I think will win the Super Bowl that starts in about 5 hours. I have not studied this matter all that much, but I have listened to hours of commentary on this game.  I also watched Broncos beat the Patriots and the Sea Hawks beat the 49ers.  Much has been said of the Sea Hawks vaunted defense, but there are those who point out that it was earned against the less stellar offenses. The Broncos offense is similarly extolled with Manning, the quarterback,  described as having almost divine skills.  

My observations from the two games I watched are that Manning is very good, but so is Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers, in fact, Kaepernick may be more explosive as he is a gifted runner. The Sea Hawks shut him down, not completely, but enough.  The Patriots could have won against Denver, but it was handicapped by not having several of its better players and Brady, its quarterback, was just a little off.  Manning, on the other hand, was “on.”

My conclusion is that the Sea Hawks will win a close game because I don’t think Wilson, its quarterback, will be a bit intimidated against Manning and will score enough to win. The Sea Hawk defense will contain Manning just enough, on the other hand, to win the game. 

Now, let’s talk about the unknowns, like fumbles, interceptions, and official’s whim. 
Fumbles speak for themselves. Ball carriers will lose control of the ball and that may result in a turnover. Each loss of possession in football results in points. The closer to the goal line, the more predictable the points.  No one knows who will fumble or where they will occur, it any, but if they do, the outcome can change, as change of possession has huge impact on games. 

Change of possession occurs on interceptions as well. The quarterbacks in this game are both very skilled, and, especially Manning, is unlikely to make the bone-headed throw to a linebacker that we see in Minnesota. The pure chance here is from the tipped ball. No one can predict the tip, or predict where the ball will land. If an interception occurs, it is by chance, but may change the outcome.

Now for the great unknown, official’s whim.  I once helped judge the great tomato contest with DIck Cullum, a venerable Minneapolis sports writer, who laid out the criteria for judging. The last such critieria was “Judge’s Whim.”  He said that’s the “only one that counts in the real world.”  Today, there will be over 100 plays and a referee and six officials who can call penalties on every play. There is a theory that each one can call a penalty on each play, that’s seven flags per play. That doesn’t happen because only blatant errors are called, but there is the whim element that determines whether the tackle is called for holding or the cornerback for interference.  There will be several such calls and a few will result in changes of possession and that possession is what, ultimately, determines the outcome of such games.

In brief, I think for reasons stated that the Sea Hawks win this one, but the variables will have an impact.