Friday, August 26, 2005

Bob Dole on Social Security

Bob Dole had a column in the Wichita Eagle promoting the privatization of social security. One of the most thoroughly dishonest and disgusting pieces ever written.

Shorter Bob Dole "Look at me channel FDR, er Alf Landon. Never could keep them straight. Democrats should follow the example of the great compromise of 1983 to enact a scheme that totally effectively wipes out the solution of the commission he is so proud to have been a member of. I propose a plan to save social security which actually worsens social security solvency. And, incidentally, in small print, ADD meaures to improve social security's solvency which means massive cuts in social security fro those younger than 55. But don't tell anybody that."

Monday, August 22, 2005


I recently bought Paul Buhle's Wobblies: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World. David Moberg gave it a nice review in In These Times.

I was intrigued by the idea of telling the story of the IWW using the tools of graphic novels. So I was looking forward to Wobblies. Now I have some doubts. The book captures the spirit of the IWW, but it may be seriously flawed as history.

I'm certainly not a labor historian, but I did catch a major howler. And I suspect that experts might find more.

In the story, "Mourn Not the Dead" by co-editor Nicole Schulman it is said that "34 members of the Kansas City IWW were kept in county jails for 2 years awaiting trial."

Actually, the IWWs were oil field workers in the Augusta and El Dorado areas near Wichita and they were held in inhumane conditions in the Sedgwick County jail. According to Earl Bruce White (in Joseph Conlin's At The Point of Production) government agents estimated that there were 2,000 wobblies in Kansas and Oklahoma in 1917.

The National Civil Liberties Bureau (forerunner of the ACLU) hired Winthrop Lane of Survey magazine to investigate Kansas's jails. When his story appeared, Judge Pollack found the jail unfit for prisoners and ordered the trial moved to Kansas City. They received harsh sentences.

And here's another problem. Schulman's text says "10 IWWs were locked inside 'a pie cut revolving drum' without windows....Most became ill. Many died of tuberculosis. Many more went insane." According to White, two of the defendants were judged insane and sent to the Kansas State Mental Health Hospital and were soon released. One defendant died of ifluenza in 1918.

The chief lawyer for the Wichita IWW defendants was Fred Moore, who later headed up the Sacco and Vanzettia defense. In this case he neglected to file a critical court document. This failure may have made him all the more willing, (eager?) to take on the case of the two Italian anarchists.

Also involved in this case, as well as other IWW cases, was Caroline Lowe, a SP activist who a few years later became staff lawyer for the UMW in southeastern Kansas.

Historian Ralph Luker notes that there are problems with an earlier Buhle book.

Recently, Ron Simon reviewed Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner's Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002. In passing, Simon noted that the book was "often marred by historical inaccuracies." Books are often marred by inaccuracies, but the mere slap on the wrist infuriated one of Cineaste's readers.
Martin Brady" is the pseudonym of a Cineaste reader who brings the latest charges against Burle's scholarship. In a letter published in Cineaste (Summer 2004, 68-9), Brady refers to Buhle and Wagner as the "demented duo" and cites over five dozen major errors of fact. Evenhandedly, actors, authors, critics, directors, and producers are misidentified. There are errors of character, chronology, genre, and role. Buhle and Wagner reverse the roles played by Sean Connery and Richard Harris in The Molly Maguires.
Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes have challenged Buhle's history on issues related to the Communist Party in an article in The New Criterion and in a book In Denial: Historians, Communism, and Espionage.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Doug Ireland reports that

Worldwide protests have been called against the death penalty and criminalization of homophobia in Iran in the wake of the hanging of two teen boys in thIrangay_teens_4e Iranian city of Mashad. August 11 has been designated as the day for a series of coordinated demonstrations in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

Ireland also invites us get involved
The French gay coalition has also endorsed the international petition entitled "No Gays to the Scaffold" organized by the French group Ensemble contre la peine de mort (Together Against the Death Penalty.) The petition says: "I hereby assert my solidarity and my support to homosexuals and other members of sexual minorities who are being arrested, imprisoned, and even sentenced to death and executed in the world. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Sudan, Nigeria (northern states), Yemen, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates are the 9 countries where homosexuals risk death penalty the only motive being their homosexuality. This has to stop. Affirming and living freely one's sexual orientation is not a crime and should not have its place in the penal code. In the name of liberty and elementary human rights, valid to all women and men, I ask the international community to act with vigour so that the last countries still advocating for death penalty reform their penal code, and, in the meanwhile, commute the death penalty condemnations, and set free those arrested for the only reason them being homosexuals." There's an English-language sign-on page for the petition, so sign on by clicking here.
I've added my name. I hope you'll do the same.

Did It Matter (Darfur)

Our weekly post from the Coalition for Darfur

Over a year ago, Eugene Oregon [co-founder of the CforD] wrote a post urging the Bush administration to declare the situation in Darfur a "genocide." Since then, an estimated 400,000 people have died, Doctors Without Borders is warning that millions of lives "hang in the balance," and the International Committee of the Red Cross is warning of "chronic instability."

One year later, we have to ask if the "genocide" declaration made any difference at all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Unite Against Terror

I've signed this statement. I hope you'll read it and consider doing the same:

Terrorist attacks against Londoners on July 7th killed at least 54 people. The suicide bombers who struck in Netanya, Israel, on July 12 ended five lives, including two 16 year old girls. And on July 13, in Iraq, suicide bombers slaughtered 24 children. We stand in solidarity with all these strangers, hand holding hand, from London to Netanya to Baghdad: communities united against terror.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Little Milton

Little Milton Campbell died on Thursday.'s bio starts with this observation

He may not be a household name, but die-hard blues fans know Little Milton as a superb all-around electric bluesman -- a soulful singer, an evocative guitarist, an accomplished songwriter, and a skillful bandleader. He's often compared to the legendary B.B. King -- as well as Bobby "Blue" Bland -- for the way his signature style combines soul, blues, and R&B, a mixture that helped make him one of the biggest-selling bluesmen of the '60s (even if he's not as well-remembered as King). As time progressed, his music grew more and more orchestrated, with strings and horns galore. He maintained a steadily active recording career all the way from his 1953 debut on Sam Phillips' legendary Sun label, with his stunning longevity including notable stints at Chess (where he found his greatest commercial success), Stax, and Malaco.

Little Milton never really crossed-over to white audiences the way B. B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, and John Lee Hooker did. He remained a big draw with African-American audiences.

I heard Little Milton at the last or next to last KC Blues and Jazz Festival. In addition to concerts going simulataneously at three stages, the KC festival featured a blues school--performers giving an intimate performance and talk in the afternoon inside tents. I took some pictures. I then took a couple that I liked the most and made "artistic" with Corel's PhotoPaint program. A couple of years ago when Little Milton appeared at the Cotillion in Wichita, I went and had him autograph them.

One of them is the photo above.

Every time I heard Little Milton he gave an outstanding performance. He'll be missed.

Saturday, August 06, 2005


From the Coalition for Darfur

Two weeks ago, the Center for American Progress and the Genocide Intervention Fund launched a joint initiative known as "Be A Witness" built around a petition calling on television networks to increase their coverage of the genocide in Darfur.

As "Be a Witness" noted
During June 2005, CNN, FOX News, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS ran 50 times as many stories about Michael Jackson and 12 times as many stories about Tom Cruise as they didabout the genocide in Darfur.
This week, tireless Sudan advocate Nicholas Kristof took up the call and chastised the press for its lack of Darfur coverage
If only Michael Jackson's trial had been held in Darfur. Last month, CNN, Fox News,
NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CBS collectively ran 55 times as many stories about Michael Jackson as they ran about genocide in Darfur.
Shortly thereafter, Editor and Publisher printed a piece reporting
New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof's attack on the press for underreporting the atrocities and genocide in Darfur, which ran in today's paper, has drawn the ire of some newspaper editors who said they are doing the best they can with what
they have.
In this piece, USA Today Foreign Editor James Cox offered a partial but important explanation for the dearth of coverage
Cox pointed to a two-day series USA Today ran in May on Darfur, stressing the difficulty the paper had in even getting a visa for reporter Rick Hampson to travel there. "It was excruciatingly difficult to get the permission," he said. "We had an
application that had been stalled for months."
Sudan does not want journalists freely traveling around Darfur for the sole reason that their reports are going to reveal the true nature of Khartoum's genocidal campaign.

Considering this basic fact in conjunction with the efforts currently underway to expand the African Union mission in Darfur, it might behoove all involved to consider embedding journalists with the AU just as the US did during the initial weeks of the war in Iraq.

People want information about Darfur; journalists want access to Darfur; and the UN and AU want (or at least should want) to disseminate information regarding to crisis in Darfur as widely as possible.

The US and NATO are currently providing key logistical support to the AU mission and ought to insist that any reporter who wants access to Darfur be assigned to and granted protection by an AU patrol force.

Brian Steidle served with the AU in Darfur for six months before eventually resigning his position so that he could share his photos with the world.

Steidle is a hero for doing this - but it shouldn't take personal acts of sacrifice and courage to make the world aware of the genocide in Darfur.