Only Terrorists Support a Living Wage: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Wal-Mart

crossposted at Daily Kos

My friends at Wake-Up Wal-Mart and I have seen something remarkable:

In what we might presume to be the most bone-headed, most egregious iteration yet of the right-wing media's effort to convince <del>us all</del> itself that Wal-Mart = America, and that those who fault the company are in fact terrist sympathizers who no doubt also hate baseball and apple pie, this weekend the New York Post provided us with a nearly three thousand-word manifesto on Wal-Mart's unassailable decency, penned by intrepid regurgitator Charles Platt.

Memeorandum featured it, some right-wing blogs slobbered over it, and Sadly, No! decisively slapped it.

But surely I'm being hyperbolic here! I mean, we have differences of opinion in this country, but it's not like anyone's comparing workers' rights advocates to the Taliban. Right?

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Looking Back at Wal-Mart, and Looking Forward to Something Else

As a community we've had a lot of discussion here at MyDD, most of it around a month ago, surrounding the tragic death of Djimytai Damour at a New York Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

We discussed what it meant to live in a society in which human beings would trample one another underfoot for a deal on a TV. We pondered what Wal-Mart might have done differently, and we argued about whether Wal-Mart was even at all responsible.

I do some work with Wake-Up Wal-Mart, an organization that has worked to bring relief to Damour's family.

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Black Friday, Corporate Responsibility, and Walmart

A lot of my posts here pertain to corporate responsibility-- most specifically and most often, with the halting attempts of America's largest retailer to fully grasp and embrace the meaning of that term, especially as it pertains to its employees.

This is because of my association with Wake-Up Wal-Mart and my dedication to the group's agenda.

Generally in this pursuit, I oscillate between a tone of detached snark and one of outraged derision toward the company, so I've been fairly described as having "an axe to grind."

I've been speechless since Black Friday. No snark, and it's hard to even muster outrage. There was a great thread here on the events of that day, and one as well on Daily Kos.

I still don't know what to say, but Meghan Scott of Wake-Up Wal-Mart has just issued the following statement:

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Walmart's War on Women

Supposedly, Walmart is family friendly.

Supposedly, the company is specifically focused on facilitating the needs of mothers.

Walmart's silly, pandering, new "Eleven Moms" campaign-- consisting, no kidding, of 19 rather than 11 bargain-hunting, values-beaming women bloggers-- will probably serve its intended purpose of buoying the brand through the upcoming holiday season.

But to peel back the facile PR facade-- to examine real real stories of women's experiences at Walmart's stores-- is to see something else entirely:

Heather Silvis says she felt bullied when Wal-Mart associates told her she could not breastfeed her baby in the store on Two Notch Road.

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What's Bad for America is Good for Walmart

It's official: The United States economy exists in inverse proportion to the share price of Walmart stock.

The San Diego Union-Tribune has the deets:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s share price posted the biggest jump in 20 years, surging 11 percent to $55.17, after the world's largest retailer forecast "low-single" digit same-store sales growth on a percentage basis going into 2009. The company plans to increase international capital spending in emerging markets as it scales back U.S. expenditures.

So to keep track: as we experience the most devastating blow to our economy in 20 years (measured in terms of Dow percentage) Walmart experiences its largest gain.

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Walmart's Sustainability Gambit

Al Norman's got an interesting piece on the pace of Walmart growth, over at Huffington Post:
Wal-Mart holds a Wall St. analyst's meeting every October---right before Halloween---to announce its growth projection plans for the year. Wal-Mart opponents applauded the company's announcement this week that it would continue to slow down the production of new stores.

Even the Bentonville Behemoth's cheering section, aka the Murdoch Street Journal, notes this trend in financial-speak:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) sees fiscal-year capital spending at the low end of its reduced expectations and said such expenditures might not increase next year. The retail giant continues to ratchet back its once-breakneck growth and focus on nurturing existing stores.

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Worker Intimidation in 08 Election Goes International

Remember the stories just a few months ago about Walmart executives sitting all their employees down and sternly warning them to vote Republican? Because if they didn't, the evil unions would take over the world, and then there would be no jobs?

From the August 14 Nation article:

Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal reported that Wal-Mart, fearful of mandatory labor laws, is politically bullying its employees to vote Republican in this year's election.

...
Wal-Mart strongly opposes the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), which supports unionization and seeks to establish higher penalties for violations of employee rights. The EFCA would likely be passed under a democratic leadership, so Wal-Mart educates its employees about its strong rejection of the bill, but doesn't tell them how to vote, according to David Tovar, Wal-Mart's spokesman. With the EFCA still dormant, the company's managers are told to call a special hotline prepared to swiftly diffuse any type of situation that may involve potential employee organization.

Well... Walmart's now flexing its muscles to indicate its preparedness to back up its ugly threats. Details below the fold.
 

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Hijinks in Political Advertising

I was just over at FiveThirtyEight, which I read compulsively, and I was bothered by the McCain ad that's been running at the top of the page.

Obama TALKS BIG on Equal Pay for Women

--as a disembodied Obama head, eyes askance with an ominous shadow darkening his brow to better convey the appearance of a scowl, actually floats across the screen--
But the Women in His Office Make $0.83 on the Dollar. Obama All Talk LEARN MORE

To click on the thing, of course, is to be directed to the McPailin campaign page. If the pseudo-Ebonics of the ad itself aren't enough to clue you in: you're going to lose brain-cells if you even attempt to follow the logic of this gambit.

So why does this ad feel like deja-vu?

It just hit me: because it completely rips off the theme of an anti-McCain ad that's been out for a couple weeks now-- a Wakeup Walmart ad highlighting McCain's slimy work against Equal Pay legislation in the Senate:

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Walmart Wants to Poison You

(Cross-posted at Daily Kos and Calitics and BlueNC)

We know that the public water supply in some U.S. cities contains trace amounts of things we don't necessarily want to be drinking.

And we also know that the bottled water industry has lots of ramifications for the environment-- non-biodegradable plastic bottles littering the landscape, for one.

But did you know that Walmart, in its ceaseless drive to sell crap to Americans, has managed to dovetail these two problems?

The Wakeup Walmart blog (I do some work with them) has got a great piece on this development:

Wal-Mart's bottled water is:

-bad for the environment, like all bottled water
-bad for your health because it contains dangerous pollutants, toxins, and pharmaceuticals
-sometimes just tap water in a bottle
-incredibly expensive compared to tap water

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Walmart's Public Relations Coup

Cross-posted to Daily Kos

In a brilliant, stunning move indicating their mastery of the PR field, America's largest retailer has just released a press release, the real meat of which is how good they are at press releases... press releases that are so transparently phony that my cat rolled his eyes at me when I read it aloud.

Walmart dance

The thing is, they release press releases about their policies all the time-- about as often as they proclaim that they're ~rolling back prices~ or ~helping you live better~ or whatever truckload of utter crap they're using for a slogan these days.

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