Just received this email from Working America about an attempt by the Bush Administration to gut the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Not all of us has made use of this critical right, but that doesn't mean we won't need to at some point, nor that we shouldn't all have the ability to do so.

If you're a parent, think how much different those first few months would've been if the FMLA hadn't been an option. (Nevermind that it's unpaid leave, which is a freaking crime anyway, but at the very least, you should be assured that you can take time off to be with a sick family member or a new baby without losing your job. We should never have to choose between family and work.) Or if one of your beloved family members became ill and you had to take care of them, if our medical information or that of your loved ones became available to your employers and coworkers...do you want that PITA from management to know medical details without your knowledge or consent? I don't. And I sure as hell wouldn't want to have to make more visits to the doctor just to satisfy some Orwellian requirement, especially at a time when medical bills would no doubt make my financial situation precarious (thanks to the fucked up insurance and health industry perpetuated by those same Republican assholes).

Please take the time to read the following and submit your name to the list of people demanding that FMLA be left alone.

They're doing it again.

Last year, the Bush administration's Department of Labor took
the first step toward making it harder for working people to
take unpaid leave for medical and care-giving purposes under the
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

They postponed their attack--because people like you spoke out
about the importance of family and medical leave. Today, it's
time to act again.

Why? Because they've proposed new rules that will make it more
difficult to take FMLA leave. But before they make any
decisions, the Department of Labor is accepting public comments.
This is your chance to tell them you oppose the restrictive
proposed changes to the FMLA rules.

Here's one of the changes they're proposing:

:: The Labor Department wants to let employers contact medical
providers directly, sometimes without employee consent. If these
proposed changes are approved, your boss-- or anyone at your
workplace--could be allowed to call and question your doctor
without your knowledge. This proposed change to the FMLA could
open the door to violations of your medical privacy.

That's an extra burden working people don't need, especially
when dealing with serious illness. Will you tell the Department
of Labor that you oppose this proposed change to the FMLA rules?

Here's another change they're trying to make:

:: The Department of Labor wants to require more frequent
medical visits for workers who request FMLA leave. Who will pay
for these extra medical visits? You guessed it--you will, either
outright or through co-pays, and through lost time at work.
Plus, you could find yourself footing the bill for all the extra
paperwork your health care professionals will have to undertake.

Potentially sensitive communications with an employee's doctor
should be left in the hands of other medical professionals--NOT
placed in the hands of employers. Please respond now to let the
Department of Labor know that you're against this proposed
Our strength is in numbers--we will compile your comments and
submit survey results before the deadline.

We only have a few days to tell the Labor Department how we feel
about their proposed changes to the FMLA. Together, the members
of Working America can make an impact. We've done it before--and
with your help, we can do it again.


Working America, AFL-CIO


We're all wearing the blue dress now

As much as I LOATHE the Republican Party, there's a certain unabashed verve with which they perpetrate their crimes and misdemeanors that's impressive to behold, even if it makes me absolutely livid at whatever the latest shenanigan is.

Exhibit A: the entire Spitzer debacle. I'm still in shock at what happened, and it all happened so quickly that I don't think anyone's had time to absorb the magnitude of it yet. Like pretty much everyone else in the liberal blogosphere, I've been following Spitzer's career for years, since his time as a NYDA and then AG. He fucked some people's shit up, and they were the kind of people that aren't used to getting so much as a disapproving look while they lie, cheat, and steal, let alone indictments and verdicts. To say that the man has made some powerful enemies is the understatement of the year.

So the fact that he left himself so wide open with the prostitution thing is perhaps doubly boggling, and whatever else you can say about the situation, it's both sad and infuriating that he had such a massive Achille's Heel that he either couldn't or wouldn't fix.

HOWEVER. The way in which it all went down, and the severity with which they came down on his head smells exceedingly fishy, or should, to everyone that's not actually a, you know, fish. Conjuring up some 60+ year old law that hasn't been used in ages to get him on, and throwing the kind of federal resources on the kind of case that the feds normally don't even handle because they have far more important crimes to prosecute? Yeah, that's not suspicious in any way.

The good folks at firedoglake are on the case, as ever. And today, they've got a nice timeline of the whole affair (pardon the pun), with links to some very interesting documents that I think you'll all find interesting. Valentine's Day in particular.

I'm not saying we should excuse Spitzer for obtaining the services of a prostitute. It was wrong and he shouldn't have done it. But I'll note that David Vitter -- the Repub busted for visiting prostitutes for years (and whose predilections apparently involve wearing a diaper and other unusual kinks, according to the reports that floated around after that news broke) -- is still in office with nary a word that he ought to resign, even though he's in trouble for using campaign money to pay for his extracurricular activities. To say nothing of guys like Larry Craig, who's actually been convicted of a crime in relation to his extracurricular activities, and yet currently holds office AND all of his Committee assignments. And to my knowledge, there were no federal agencies involved in either of those cases, and certainly not the 5 or more that were/are apparently involved in the Spitzer case. Apparently, as in all other things political these days, IOKIYAR.


Sick Days

Ezra Klein regularly posts his graph about Americans' paid time off vs. that of the rest of the (CLEARLY MORE INTELLIGENT) industrialized world, and since he's posted it recently, I thought all y'all might be interested:

Ezra Klein: Sick Days

I think we're all aware that comparatively speaking, the paid time off (PTO) benefits in the U.S. suck massively, but that graph is a stark illustration of just how much it sucks. Note his clarifier at the bottom about how the U.S. stat is actually recorded on that graph.