Giuliani, at campaign stop, refuses to sign Packers hat

It is all here:

At a campaign stop in this southwest Florida town on Monday, the Republican presidential candidate refused to autograph a white Green Bay Packers cap. The New York Giants face the Packers in the NFC championship game this weekend.

"No, I won't sign that," the former New York City mayor says as he scribbles his name on a series of placards and papers. He has been spending almost every day here before Florida's Jan. 29 primary as it's his best chance to win a state before the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday contests.

Quote of the Day: “It’s tough for people who don’t know their frogs"

It's here, another namesake...

“It’s tough for people who don’t know their frogs,” Commission herpetologist Jeff Hall says.

So Hall and his fellow herpetologists are conducting free frog-call identification workshops to train volunteers, a sort of amphibian prep course.


American Healthcare System Kills 100,000 People Yearly

EDITORIAL: Lack of health plan kills 100,000 a year

A report released last week on the quality of health care in the industrialized world attached numbers to a problem we already recognized.

America's health care system is killing us -- at least 100,000 of us every year.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reviewed records on preventable deaths from 19 industrial nations and found our health care system to be the worst of the bunch -- well behind countries such as France, Japan and Australia that have universal health care policies.

It's not the quality of American care itself that causes 100,000 unnecessary deaths every year, researcher Ellen Nolte said. It's the inability of patients to get that care.

"I wouldn't say it (the last-place ranking handed to the United States) is a condemnation because I think health care in the U.S. is pretty good if you have access," she said. "But if you don't, I think that's the main problem, isn't it?"

Read the rest here.

Huckabee Quote - Change the Constitution to Add More God:

It's here:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution," Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. "But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view."

Owens Leaves Assembly...

From the MJS:

Rep. Carol Owens (R-Oshkosh) announced today on the floor of the Assembly she won't seek re-election.
"If I hurt your feelings, I apologize, even if you had it coming," Owens said before reciting lines from "My Way," the song popularized by Frank Sinatra.

Question: Did she do the Frank Sinatra or the Sid Vicious version?

She did it her way!

More on Vegas - Worker's Paradise

I started a thought here. Some more below (hat tip to the Chief):

According to "The Coffee Pot Wars," an essay by Annette Bernhardt, Laura Dresser and Eric Hatton in the new Russell Sage Foundation study of low-wage work, the median hourly wage of the American hotel dishwasher in 2000 was $7.45 -- a little better than the housekeeper's $7.09. Even luxury hotels seldom pay their low-end employees much more than the minimum wage. And while wages have stagnated, hours have declined, from 40 a week for low-end hotel workers in 1960 to 31 in 2000. At one hotel they studied, the authors concluded that 60 percent of the kitchen staff held down two jobs.

Garcia holds just one, but his hourly wage at the Luxor is $11.86 -- $4 higher than the industry average. He is paid for 40 hours every week, even if the company actually needs him for fewer. He has family health insurance paid for entirely by his employer. He has a defined-benefit pension. He has three weeks of vacation every year, which he likes to spend hunting in Canada.

Far from a life of quiet desperation, Garcia's seems full of noisy exaltation. On the evening I visit him, three grandchildren are careening around his house, a six-bedroom home built in 1988. Garcia's next-door neighbors are an attorney, a minister and, over the back fence, an air-conditioning mechanic. A legion of his fellow hotel workers inhabits the surrounding blocks.

How did this happen?

Something is right with this picture, so right that in an America where Wal-Mart and a thousand other unnatural shocks drive working-class living standards downward, we can scarcely account for it. The picture is incomprehensible unless you understand the role that a union -- Culinary Workers Local 226, the Las Vegas local of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) -- has played in the lives of its 48,000 members, their families and the city as a whole.

Local 226 is probably the largest -- and surely the most remarkable -- local union in the United States. While most unions have been shrinking or struggling to hold their own over the past several decades, and while hotel union membership has declined from 16 percent of the hotel workforce in 1983 to 12 percent in 2000, Local 226 has grown by 30,000 members since its low point in 1988. It has done that by organizing virtually every hotel on the Vegas Strip, so that roughly 90 percent of the jobs in the city's major hotels are unionized. Considering that Nevada is a right-to-work state where employees can work in unionized workplaces without joining the union, this is a breathtaking achievement.

The key is "union density" -- the unionized share of total jobs in a local occupation or industry. The authors of the Russell Sage study conclude that hourly wages in the hotel industry are $3 higher in cities with high union density than they are in ones where it's low. Even in unionized cities, however, the authors write that the union effect is minimal on work schedules or career ladders for such dead-end jobs as housekeeping. "This industry doesn't focus on mobility," one hotel executive told Bernhardt, Dresser and Hatton. "We've done a really poor job of recognizing talent and building our own."

Anyway, read it all.


UW Osh Economics Prof McGee: Universal Healthcare Needed

The entire column is here:

It's this simple – we need some system of universal, mandatory health coverage.

It could be a government run system like in Canada or England, or it could be a mandatory private insurance system like in Massachusetts or Switzerland. But staying with our current hodgepodge makes no sense at all.

Dingo Captured in Winnebago County?

What took much longer for the Jack Zeller family was getting close enough to capture the female Pekinese-Shih-Tzu dog they had fed countless times during much of 2007.
Yes, a wild
Pekinese-Shih-Tzu was captured - here's the story.