Bruce Blog

Dick Meister: Home care workers need presidential help


By Dick Meister

Bay Guardian columnist Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom, has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website,, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

The country's 2½ million home care workers have been waiting a whole year now for President Obama to make good on his promise to grant them the federal minimum wage and overtime pay protections they so badly need.

The need for immediate presidential action was made abundantly clear in a letter to the White House on Dec. 13 that was released by the National Employment Law Project – NELP, as it's called. The signers include people who are receiving home care, those who employ them and those who provide the care.

NELP's figures show that the average national wage of home care workers, including those working at for-profit home care agencies, is $9.40 an hour. Which means that one in five caregivers live at or below the poverty level, even in the 21 states with minimum wage and overtime laws that cover them. Read more »

Louis Dunn: So long, Spain!


Guardian artist Louis Dunn salutes Manuel "Spain" Rodriguez, the iconic underground artist who died of cancer at his Bernal Heights home on Nov. 28 with his daughter and wife at his bedside.  He was 72.

Spain, as he was known and as he signed his work, did 12 or so front page graphics for the Guardian, each one a gem.  Editor Tim Redmond wrote in Spain's obituary that working with Spain was a pleasure and that he "was just a wonderful guy who happened to be one of the most talented artists of his generation."

He ran his "Flashman" comic strip in the early Guardian and then in the 1980s his comic strip "Factwino V. Armageddon Man," which also became a Mime Troupe play.

Tim wrote that when he went to see his wife Susan Stern, to get some pieces of art to run with his Guardian obit, Susan showed Tim the amazing unfinished mural he was doing

on the wall of his studio.  "He worked on it every day," she said.  "It was as if he had to draw or die." Read more »

Calvin Trillin: A short message to those who have signed petitions asking to secede from the union


We do respect your point of view.

We're glad to see the end of you.

Calvin Trillin. Deadline Poet. The Nation (17/12/2012)

Media Alliance SOS: Fight the FCC rush to more media consolidation (again)!


The Media Alliance, a local media watchdog group leading the media consolidation battles,  says in an SOS message  that the Federal Communications Commission is once again trying to jam through new rules during the Christmas rush to facilitate more media consolidation.  The FCC, the Alliance points out, "touts localism, competition and diversity as the hallmarks of a healthy media ecosystem. This rule change guts all three." Here is the Alliance's  action alert (b3):

New proposed rules relax media cross-ownership rules (again) paving the way for more media concentration and polishing the path for the Rupert Murdochs of the world to buy up everything that's left. 

In the now-familiar holiday season hurry-up employed by federal agencies when they want to sneak something through before the public has a chance to get outraged about it, FCC commissioner Julius Genachowski has proposed a relaxation of the media cross-ownership rules remarkably similar to Kevin Martin's try at increasing media consolidation several years ago. Read more »

FAIR: The press turns its back on Private Bradley Manning


FAIR, the national media watchdog organization, has written an excellent critique of the coverage of the Bradley Manning case, one of the more shameful episodes in U.S.military and journalism history.  KPFA's "Democracy Now" radio program headed by Amy Goodman  (9-10 weekdays) has also  done regular superlative coverage.  Here is FAIR's report (B3):

Turning Their Back on Bradley Manning: Whistleblower speaks but press doesn't listen

As the alleged source of many of the most vital WikiLeaks reports of the past several years, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning shed considerable light on how the United States has prosecuted the Iraq and Afghan wars. Other State Department cables reportedly leaked by Manning conveyed vital information about U.S. foreign policy.

Manning has, in other words, been connected to a lot of news (FAIR Media Advisories, 4/7/10, 12/16/10, 7/30/10): the video of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed several civilians (two Reuters journalists died in the attack); the revelation that hundreds of U.S. attacks on civilians in Afghanistan had been recorded by the military-- but were unreported elsewhere; the cache of diplomatic cables that uncovered U.S. efforts to stymie legal investigations into torture, U.S. involvement in airstrikes in Yemen; and much more. Read more »

Calvin Trillin: Mitt Romney explains why he lost


Obama was clever as clever could be;

To targeted groups he gave gifts that were free:

Say, healthcare for free until age 26, 

And free contraceptives (for sex just for kicks).

Debates in the primaries left our team bruised

From harsh accusations the White House then used.

Whatever the reason for losing might be,

Of one thing I'm sure: it could not have been me.

I'm perfect.

Calvin Trillin. Deadline Poet. (12/10/2012 The Nation)



Dick Meister: A free choice for U.S. workers


By Dick Meister

Dick Meister, former labor editor of the SF Chronicle and KQED-TV Newsroom,  has covered labor and politics for more than a half-century. Contact him through his website,, which includes more than 350 of his columns.

Now that the electioneering and political posturing is done with, it's time for President Obama and congressional Democrats to finally deliver on their promises to enact the long delayed Employee Free Choice Act that's at the very top of organized labor's political agenda.

EFCA, as it's sometimes called, has been stalled in Congress for three years. It would give U.S. workers the unfettered right to unionization that would raise their economic and political status considerably.  But that would come at the expense of employers, who have been able to block a large majority of workers from exercising the union rights that labor law has long promised workers.

EFCA would in essence strengthen the 78-year-old National Labor Relations Act – the NLRA – to make it easier for workers to form and join unions.  Which is the clearly stated purpose of the NLRA. Read more »

Calvin Trillin: Republican soul searching


We're searching our souls and wondering why

We got beat so badly our rivals are gloating.

It's obvious now where our campaign went wrong:

We should have prevented more people from voting.

Calvin Trillin: Deadline Poet:The Nation (12/3/2012)

Breaking news: How to watch today's Nebraska vs. Minnesota game


And so the former Jean Dibble and I, graduates of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, will soon be heading for the Final Final sports bar in San Francisco to watch today's Nebraska football  game against Minnesota at Lincoln, starting at 12:30 p.m.

As attentive readers of the almost famous Bruce blog know, Jean and I were perplexed a few games back to find that we couldn't watch the Idaho State game on national television and we were desperately trying to figure out how to watch the game. The answer, courtesy of Richard Boyce, an addicted Nebraska (and Iowa)  football fan, was to go to the Final Final bar, at 2990 Baker St., near the Presidio.

The bar has been owned for 35 years by Arnie Prien, a Nebraska native from Lyons and a 1984 NU graduate who loyally runs all Nebraska games on his big screen. He has 11 other screens for other games and will put up customers' choices.   Just ask. Final Final got its nifty name from the days when it was the final stop for the soldiers at the Presidio coming back to the barracks from a night on the town. The local Nebraska ex-pats and fans gather every Saturday at the bar to watch the games and enjoy the free pop corn, inexpensive beer, and unique NU  camaraderie. Read more »