Friday, April 28, 2006

Long may it wave

Seems everyone is all excited about a new version of the American national anthem--because the lyrics are sung in Spanish. President Bush has denounced it. "I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English." Michelle Malkin denounces Bush for having a Spanish language web-site.

Liberal/communitarian sociologist Amitai Etzioni in a TPM Cafe post ("No Affirmative Action for National Anthem" argues that "it has been a long and productive tradition for ethnic groups to sing both the national anthem and that of their country of origin, to celebrate both the 4th of July and --"their" independence day, and--to display both the American and "their' flag. To have ethnic specific NATIONAL anthems, instead of a shared one (which may be modified) cuts into the bone."

According to a Los AngelesHispanic dee-jay intervied on NPR , even Latinos don't like it, he said by a 60-40 margin.

Now I'm a Norman Thomas (wash it, don't burn it) and Todd Gitlin (Intellectuals and the Flag) type of leftist, but I don't see wait the fuss is all about.

After all, there is the Negro National Anthem and "How High the Moon" is the bebop national anthem.

What's wrong with a Spanish version of the SSB, when most of us don't know the English version very well

nearly two-thirds of Americans ... do not know the lyrics of the national anthem's first stanza, according to a recent Harris survey of 2,200 Americans. The song includes four stanzas, but only the first is usually sung.

What's more, of those who claimed to know all the words, only 39 percent knew what follows "whose broad stripes and bright stars," which is "through the perilous fight." One-third answered, "were so gallantly streaming," while a fifth said, "gave proof through the night." Both phrases appear later in the first stanza.
[For a source on the Harris poll, click here--March 29, 2009

Many people feel that the martial spirit of the SSB doesn't reflect the real spirit of America and feel that we deserve better music in our national anthem. Some would prefer "America the Beautiful" or "This Land is My Land." But that's a question for another day. Today, people are talking about whether the SSB should be English only.

It's easy to forget that a century ago, America was multi-lingual and that a lot of cultural diversity was wiped out in the Americanization campaigns that accompanied America's entry into World War I. I had a sneaking suspicion that this Spanish translation of the Star Spangled Banner was not so unique, so I did a little internet searching. Remember that the SSB wasn't even adopted as the official national anthem until 1931.


Here are the lyrics of the "Star-Spangled Banner" in Yiddish (albeit not in the original Hebrew characters), in a translation of Ber Grin's, which can be found in _In dinst fun folk; almanakh fun yidishn folks-ordn_, New York: Book League of the Jewish People's Fraternal Order I.W.O., 1947, p. 112.
Star spengld bener
fun Frensis Skat Ki
O zog! konstu zen in likht fun sof nakht,
Vos mir hobn bagrist in demer-shayn mit freyd?
Di shtrayfn, di shtern -- in flaker fun shlakht
Fun di shuts-vent mir hobn mit bang in blik bagleyt.
Un der blits fun raket, un der knal fun kanon
Durkh der nakht gerufn hobn zey: es lebt di fon.
O zog! di fon mit di shtern iz zi nokh tsehelt
Iber land fun fraye un iber heym fun held?
Afn breg, durkh neplen fun yam fartunklt,
Vu dem soynes makhne iz fartayet in shrek,
Vos iz es, in bloz fun laykhtn vintl fartunken,
Ot halb-farborgn, ot af a helft antplekt?
Es iz di fon mit di shtern, o, af lang zey tsehelt
Iber land fun fraye un der heym fun held.
O, azoy vet es tomed zayn, ven frayer mentsh mit gever in hant
Bashitsn vet zayn libe heym kegn farlend fun krig un zayn shnit!
Gebentsht mit zig un frid, zol dos land
Loybn di kraft, vos hot undz als folk farhit!
Undzer kamf iz a gerekhter -- undzer iz der nitsokhn,
Zol zayn undzer gebot: "In got iz undzer bitokhn!"
Un di fon mit di shtern, in zig vet zi zayn tsehelt
Iber land fun fraye un der heym fun held!

[Update:This is from discussion list of Mendele, a web forum for Yiddish literature and language.Thanks A.L.]

Another Yiddish version can be found here. and which appears below. It was published by the Educational Alliance in 1943 on the 100th anniversary of the death of Francis Scott Keys.
[Thanks A.L.]


Aue! se'i e vaai, le malama o ataata mai

Na sisi a'e ma le mimita, i le sesega mai o le vaveao

O ai e ona tosi ma fetu, o alu a'e i taimi vevesi tu

I luga o 'Olo mata'utia, ma loto toa tausa'afia

O Roketi mumu fa'aafi, o pomu ma fana ma aloi afi

E fa'amaonia i le po atoa, le fu'a o lo'o tu maninoa

Aue! ia tumau le fe'ilafi mai, ma agiagia pea

I eleele o Sa'olotoga, ma Nofoaga o le au totoa.

A SPANISH version prepared in 1919 by the U.S. Bureau of Education.

It has also been translated into NAVAJO and applauded when sung in public.

In 2002, the Cherokee National Youth Choir sang their English and Cherokee version of the Banner in a performance at the Department of the Interior! The Cherokee nation has actually revised the SSB into their own United Cherokee national anthem which can be heard here. This is the only version I've come across that actually falls under Etizoni's edict against separate ethnic national anthems.

In 1923, an article in the Scientific Monthly complained that when brought into a class to be taught "Americanism" Finnish immigrants wouldn't sing the Star Spangled Banner. Incidentally, the Finns are criticized for their radicalism and described as "Orientals."

In the early 1940s at the height of war-time unity, Metropolitan Opera Chorus & National Broadcasting Company Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Arturo Toscanini performed the Internationale sung in Russian, followed by the US anthem. MP3
There was controversy when Jose Feliciano sang the SSB in 1968 and when Jimi Hendrix turned an instrumental version into an anti-war protest at Woodstock, but those passed.
Translating the Star Spangled Banner into other languages--whether Spanish, Navajo, or Yiddish-- is not un-patriotic. It is part of the process of self-Americanization.

Update: Norm Geras discusses the controversy on Norm's blog. I like his conclusion.

Whether or not US citizens should all learn English and know how to sing the national anthem in English, it's perfectly OK to have a Spanish version. It's the land of the free, isn't it? So people can sing the thing every which way they want. And having a Spanish version is a way for Spanish-speaking US citizens to embrace the anthem to their bosoms. It may not be the only way, but it's a way.
Joshua Rosenau on the anthem (O'zog, kenstu sehn, wenn bagin licht dervacht) at Thoughts from Kansas.

Update March 29, 2009 A couple of minor spelling and grammatical changes made. In the qu ote about Harris poll, an ellipsis was added to make it clearer. A source for the Harris Poll has been added. I don't think it was the original source, but a reference is belatedly provided.

Public outrage growing over Darfur

From Think Progress

Public outrage, sporadic before, is growing over the continuing bloodshed in Darfur,” the New York Times reports. George Clooney, Russell Simmons, U.S. Olympic gold medal winner Joey Cheek, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and dozens of others will be joining Darfur rallies around the country on Sunday. As Clooney said today, “What we cannot do is turn our heads and look away and hope that this will somehow disappear. It’s the first genocide of the 21st century.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Roberts is no Pearson, no Kassebuam

Pat Roberts is showing that he lacks the moral and political stature of past Kansas Republican Senators like James Pearson and Nancy Kassebuam, who on important ocassions placed the national interest above partisan politics.

Joshua Marshall on Kansas Senator Pat Roberts nefarious delaying and obfuscating tactics as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

You'll remember how Sen. Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Intel committee, broke up the senate investigation into the Iraq intel debacle into two 'phases' and in so doing managed to push the report about President Bush's role in the bamboozlement out past the 2004 election.

Apparently it worked so well the first time he's going to try it again.

According the to The Hill, Chairman Roberts now wants to take the part of the investigation he split off to get it past the 2004 election and further split up the split off part in to two new pieces. That should help him get it all past the 2006 election.

Got that?

Again, in 2004 Roberts splits the investigation in two, pushing the investigation of the administration's complicity out past 2004, in order to protect President Bush, who instructs Roberts on what to do. He's been sitting on this 'part two' phase ever since.

Now he wants to break up part two into two new parts -- that should provide enough delay to kick it out past 2007. (Actually, The Hill article is a bit unclear about whether Roberts is now proposing two chunks or three. But who's counting. Remember how the Dems shut down the senate last fall and forced the Roberts to move ahead with phase two? Guess that didn't pan out.)

Must reading for progressive Dems

American Prospect is bringing, in installments, an important paper by Ruy Texira and John Halpin. Michael Tomasky, TAP's editor describes it this way

John Halpin of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Ruy Teixeira of CAP and the Century Foundation (and co-author of The Emerging Democratic Majority) undertook research on the state of the Democratic Party and progressive politics in America. Their chief concern: To get to the bottom of the question of why so many Americans don’t have a firm sense of what progressives and the Democratic Party stand for today.

The result of their efforts is this paper, The Politics of Definition: The Real Third Way. The paper can be read in part as a 2006 answer to The Politics of Evasion, the landmark 1989 study by William Galston and Elaine Kamarck, which described a more centrist politics and helped lay the groundwork for Bill Clinton’s ascendancy (and which they updated last year in The Politics of Polarization).

Part I looks at the basic problem facing progressives and the Democratic Party -- the “identity gap” faced within many specific voter groups -- and then surveyed electoral areas of Democratic and progressive strength.

Part II discusses areas of Democratic and progressive weakness.

I'll post links to Parts III and IV when they are available. There's already a vigorous discussion of the paper underway and sure to be more.

Keep your eyes open. Happy reading.

The other Iraq

Labour Friends of Iraq has a report on a recent fact-finding trip of British trade unionists.

Dave Anderson MP (Chair Labour Friends of Iraq) and Sue Rogers (TUC General Council) give an initial report of the recent LFIQ fact-finding trip to Iraq where we met the leadership of the Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdistan trade union movements.

Iraq may be on the knife edge of full-scale civil war but there is another Iraq and a non-sectarian future through its growing labour movement.

A million trade unionists are on the march throughout Iraq. A network of non-sectarian union federations, professional associations and civil society groups has emerged in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

They could hold the key to uniting the country in peace and prosperity but only if the federal government's repressive efforts to ban independent activity using Saddam's anti-union laws and by seeking to create sectarian client unions is reversed.

Iraqi unions want urgent assistance to retrieve their independence and to boost their clout as a social partner in reconstructing Iraq. This is a huge task.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Boyda seeks rematch

The Lawrence Journal World reports that Nancy Boyda is going to run against Jim Ryun again but plans an entirely different campaign.

Democrat Boyda says Iraq war was mistake, announces House seat rematch Scott Rothschild — Democrat Nancy Boyda said Wednesday that she had figured out how to beat U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun, a five-term Republican incumbent.

Boyda, of Topeka, said she would turn down any help from Washington consultants, and she wouldn’t spend time talking about GOP campaign finance scandals.

Instead, she said she would focus on health care, closing tax loopholes that currently benefit “mega corporations,” and getting the money-changers out of Congress.

“Nothing is going to change until we change Congress,” she said.

In setting up a rematch against Ryun, of Lawrence, Boyda told approximately 200 supporters at a Capitol rally, “My Momma did not raise a quitter, and we are going to get it done this time.”

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Coloradans for Marriage Draws a Blank

All the great things about marriage here"

Not a comedians joke. Not a parody.

This is a screen shot of a page on the website of the Colorado group pushing for a constituional amendment.

Wichita gets and doesn't get beat culture

Believe it or not Wichita, Kansas had a real connection to the beats. Allen Ginsberg came through Doo-Dah several times and wrote what I am told is one of his better poems ("Wichita Vortex Sutra") here. Several folks with Wichita or Kansas roots were significant players in the beat art scene. There's a website devoted to the Beats and Kansas Local musician and historian Pat O'Conner has preserved some of this history in his book Moody's Skidrow Beanery.

(Info on MSB and other books by O'Conner is here and a chapter is available on-line here.)

So it is cool that the Ulrich Museum at WSU is hosting from April 21 to July 9, the international traveling exhibition "Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle."

Berman was "the quintessential visual artist of the Beat era. Showcasing the artists and poets who contributed to "Semina", Berman's free-form journal published in California in the 1950s and 60s, this multimedia exhibition includes rarely seen collages, paintings, assemblages and films by Toni Basil, Jay DeFeo, Allen Ginsberg, Walter Hopps, Michael McClure, Dean Stockwell, and Berman himself."

Even better the Ulrich is has a program devoted to the films of McPherson born Bruce Conner (May 11-12) and partnering with the Murdock Theatre to show a number of movies with "beat" themes.

But just when you think Wichita gets it, the town's cultural mavens once again show that there is just about nobody more hick and gauche hereabouts than our cultural "elite."

On Thursday night April 20 there's an exclusive $20 a person for members only preview party. Bad enough. I happen to think it might make an authentic beat--or anyone with a genuine respect for the beats--a little queasy. But then there's this part of the invite

Beatnik attire encouraged

"Beatnik" is, of course, a derogative term. Years ago Wichita's beats gathered at Moody's Skidrow Beanery. It is hard to imagine a greater gulf between the Beanery and this reception at the Ulrich. Is it written somewhere that every exhibit has to have a big-donor reception. This come dressed up as a "freak" invite is just plain disgusting. It's rich folk slumming. It reminds me of the crude stereotyping of beatniks and hippies in TV shows like Dragnet and Dobbie Gillis.

Not that much has changed. Here's a paragraph from O'Conner

The artists, musicians, and poets who gathered at the Beanery were involved in expressing ideas for the betterment of society. The symbols chosen, modern art and Beat poetry, were to serve a "new generation." The humble cast of the dwelling and the shabbiness of those who went in acted as clear indictments of an insensitive majority. This same majority labeled the Wichita Beats and folk singers as deviant.

So even when Wichita recognizes the beats, it really doesn't get it.

(And, here's another question. Why hasn't the Ulrich invited Pat O'Conner to give a talk on the beats in Wichita. I imagine he knows more about this subject than just about anyone.)

Defeat for Kline in teen sex inquisition

AP reports

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- In a victory for an abortion rights group, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that abortion clinic doctors and other professionals are not required under Kansas law to report underage sex between consenting youths.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten was a setback for Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion foe.

Kline contended a 1982 Kansas law requiring doctors, teachers and others to alert the state and law enforcement about potential child abuse covers consensual sex between minors. He argued that the law applies to abortion clinics, and later extended that to other health professionals and teachers.

The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged that interpretation in court, and the judge sided with the organization. Kline said he had not decided whether to appeal.

"It's not unexpected," Kline said. "It's what we've been predicting."

Marten ruled that a plain reading of the Kansas law gives health care providers discretion to determine whether there is reason to suspect a child has been injured as a result of sexual abuse.

Kline's position was actually more extreme than this AP story conveys. He argued that even under-16 teen sexual contact even far short of intercourse had to be reported. According to Kline, what used to be called "second base" is required to be reported as illegal sexual activity between minors.

There's a better, more accurate story from the Wichita Eagle's Ron Sylvester

Marten, however, also ruled that Klines efforts to narrow the interpretation of the law wasn't proper, r. A legal opinion offered by Kline in 2003 could have forced health care professionals to report most sexual activity among their patients under the age of 16.

That opinion prompted a lawsuit against Kline and prosecutors such as Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston by a group that included doctors, nurses, social workers and psychologists from the Wichita and Kansas City areas. They contended Kline's opinion, if enforced, would invade the privacy of their young adult patients.

Marten pointed out that both sides conceded that mandatory reporting should include all cases of incest, sexual abuse of a child by an adult and sexual activities involving a child under age 12.

"Therefore," Marten wrote, "the only issue presented is whether consensual underage sexual activity must be reported (under Kansas law)."

The Eagle has the judge's opinion on-line in a PDF.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Umansky Doesn't Believe Hersh

There has been a lot of excitement in peace and left circles about Seymour Hersh's report that the Bush adminstration is planning nuclear war against Iran. But one of the best writters on the left has some questions. Eric Umansky has doubts about Hersh's story.

I have little faith in Hersh's story to begin with. I don't know he's wrong, but I'm far from convinced he's right.

Why do I say that? Let's look at his sources. There are four, or perhaps only three, backing up his main contentions. Here is how Hersh introduces them:

  • "A former senior intelligence official"
  • "A senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror"
  • "One former defense official"
  • "A former high-level Defense Department official" [Note: I'm listing this as a different source than the one above it, but Hersh doesn't clearly signal that they're different. For example, he could have written, "another former defense official"]

So number of "current" officials cited: 1--if you count the "adviser." The "Pentagon adviser," I suspect, is a member of the Defense Science Board, members of whom are also cited in the story. The DSB are civilians who work part-time advising the SecDef. They are not involved in nuts-and-bolts planning.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Lame ideas from Richard Lamm

An organization called Kansas Health Ethics brought in former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm for their annual conference last week.

According to the Speakers Platform website, Lamm's speaking fee is from $5,000 to $10,000. Let's see what KHE got for their money.

He said some loony things. But that is to be expected. Because he is a former three-term Democratic governor, he has become a favorite vehicle to deliver right-wing messages-- whether on immigration or health care. I'm not saying that is what KHE wanted but that's what they got. (It might, of course, be what Charles Koch, a big contributor to KHE wants.)

Te headline in the Eagle blars "Health care should require moral choices"

At a time when 40 million Americans have no health insurance, when America spends more for health care and get far worse health care than any other industrial country, Lamm's message is "Our current system maximizes the demand for medical services paid for with pooled resources that insulate people from cost."

According to Eagle reporter

Richard Lamm is not suggesting you kill your ailing elderly mother to save health care costs.

But he is suggesting that health care reform will require Americans to make moral decisions based on priorities that impact the greater good -- and that might mean no more transplants for 85-year-olds.

Maybe it's time to let grandpa die peacefully and naturally...
Perhaps it's time, Lamm said, for a national health policy that denies, for example, care to obese patients until they lose weight, or denies coronary bypass surgery to patients who won't quit smoking.

People need to take responsibility for their health -- and their health care costs, he said.
And this, too,
40 percent to 70 percent of deaths from the most common diseases -- like heart disease and cancer -- are attributable to individual lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet and inactivity.

Where does America draw the line at supporting these bad habits by paying for health costs once the damage is done?

Not a very precise estimate, is it?

Although, Lamm says he is for universal health care, his message is a reactionary one, right in sync with the attempts of Bush and right wing think tanks to push Health Savings Accounts.

In short, Kansas Health Ethics paid big bucks to have an expert tell highly-paid doctors that the problem with medical care is the patients.

This analysis is completely mistaken. Kansas Health Ethics would have done a better job if they had simply reprinted and discussed the recent New York Review of Books article by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells.

Krugman and Wells note that
"Comparing common benefits," says the Kaiser Family Foundation,
changes in Medicare spending in the last three decades has largely tracked the growth rate in private health insurance premiums. Typically, Medicare increases have been lower than those of private health insurance.
why does US health care cost so much? Part of the answer is that doctors, like other highly skilled workers, are paid much more in the United States than in other advanced countries.

[Wonder how that would have gone over with the doctors and movers and shakers cultivated by KHE. ]

But the main source of high US costs is probably the unique degree to which the US system relies on private rather than public health insurance, reflected in the uniquely high US share of private spending in total health care expenditure.
In fact,
if the United States were to replace its current complex mix of health insurance systems with standardized, universal coverage, the savings would be so large that we could cover all those currently uninsured, yet end up spending less overall. That's what happened in Taiwan, which adopted a single-payer system in 1995: the percentage of the population with health insurance soared from 57 percent to 97 percent, yet health care costs actually grew more slowly than one would have predicted from trends before the change in system.

(For more on health care options, see Ezra Klein fine web essay on the health of nations.)

Lamm's Ties to Anti-Immigrant and Racists

Lamm is coauthor of the 1986 book The Immigration Time Bomb: The Fragmenting of America. In recent years he has worked closely with Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, the most rapid anti-immigrant politician in Washington, D.C.

("[w]hen The Denver Post profiled an illegal immigrant high school student with a 3.9 grade point average, Tancredo tried to have the boy deported," as well as his family. The New Republic article also quotes Tancredo saying that keeping immigrants out of the United States is a question of national identity and accusing his opponents of nihilistic cultural relativism and anti-americanism

In 2004, Lamm was part of an unsuccessful attempt by anti-immigrant activists to take over the Sierra Club, the nation's largest environmental group. Lamm had never been active in the Club. In fact, he joined the Sierra Club at the same time he filed as a petition candidate for the national board .

In a letter to Sierra Club President Larry Fahn, dated October 21, 2003, Mark Potok, the editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report warned: "Without a doubt, the Sierra Club is the subject of a hostile takeover attempt by forces allied with [John] Tanton and a variety of right-wing extremists. By taking advantage of the welcoming grassroots democratic structure of the Sierra Club, they hope to use the credibility of the Club as a cover to advance their own extremist views. We think members should be alert to this."

Lamm is chair of the national advisory board of the Federation of American Immigration Reform.

Here's a Southern Poverty Law Center Report on John Tanton, the key figure in FAIR and the anti-immigrant movement. It details Tanton's close ties to racists and white supremacists.

Another revealing report is from the Center for New Community.

Here are a few of the disturbing facts about FAIR
  • FAIR has received over $1 million in donations from the notorious racist Pioneer Fund.
  • Tanton started a publishing house/magazine called "Social Contract Press." He hired as editor Wayne Lutton who has published over a dozen articles in the holocaust denial publication, The Journal for Historical Review. Lutton is on the editorial board for the New Century Foundation which publishes the racist magazine American Renaisance. He also sits on the editorial advisory board of the Citizen Informer, the magazine of the neo-confederate Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the White Citizen's Council.
  • At a 1997 anti-immigrant rally in Alabama, FAIR West Coast staffer Rich Oltmann shared the platform with leaders of the CCC and William Burchfield, a one-time leader of Thom Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
  • FAIR's weekly television show"Borderlines" has featured white nationalist leaders including Sam Francis and Jared Taylor.
  • In a 1988 memo in support of immigration control (never intended to be made public), FAIR founder John Tanton wrote, "As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night?"
  • Garrett Hardin, a member of FAIR's board of directors, has been quoted as saying that sending food to Africa encourages people to overpopulate, and that infanticide is a valid population-control method.
And, less you think that Lamm is an innocent dupe of extremists, take a look at this 2004 speech about the "plot to destroy America" by promoting multiculturalism.

FAIR and Kansas

FAIR has done some mischief in Kansas. In 2001, using a front group called the Coalition for the Future American Worker, placed anti-immigrant radio, television, and newspaper ads in Wichita and Kansas City These ads falsely sought to create the impression that they have the support of labor unions and environmental groups.

Similar ads and direct mailings appeared in the Kansas City area in 2004 in support of Congressional candidate Chris Kobach, who attempted fan anti-immigrant sentiments in his campaign to unseat Democratic Congressman Dennis Moore. Kobach was hired by FAIR to bring a lawsuit to overturn the Kansas law permitting Kansas-educated immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition.

Ethics Suggestions

Maybe next year KHE can have a session on the ethics of hosting a fradulent analysis of health care by windbags who actively work with racists and extremists and who promote division and hatred.

Here's the email for Patresa Ebersole, Executive Director of Kansas Health Ethics:

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Jake Lowen's blog: welcome

Jake Lowen, an organizer with Hope Street Youth Development here in Wichita, has started a blog.
Looks like it is going to be a multi-media site, with videos and podcasts.

Way to go, Jake!

100 Top Lies of Chomksy

Noam Chomsky has been voted the world's top intellectual. I really don't understand why. It is partly the halo effect of the high reputation of his work in linguistics and the fact that his linguistics work is virtually indecipherible. But when it comes to politics, Chomsky frequently takes indefensible positions and arrogantly never admits to a mistake. He has denied a genecide (Cambodia), proclaimed a Holocaust denier a "non-political liberal," and declared genocides that never took place (post-Taliban Afghanistan). Then, arrogantly, he denied ever making such remarks.

There are a number of critiques of Chomsky which can be found on the internet without too much trouble. The lastest (in PDF format) is Paul Bagdanor's "The Top 100 Chomsky Lies?"

I might not agree with every one of Bagdanor's points. He's a right winger, but a very high portion of the lies he identifies will be ones that deserve condemnation by honest people on the democratic left.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wildcat Strike Protects Immigrant Co-workers

A follow-up to the report on immigrant rallies in Kansas.

Workers won't face penalties for protests at Excel plant

GARANCE BURKE Associated Press

Several hundred workers briefly walked off the job at a Dodge City meatpacking plant Tuesday after company officials disciplined employees for missing work to protest proposed federal immigration laws a day earlier, union leaders said.

Just before the lunch hour, about 600 workers left the line and filed into the Excel Corp. cafeteria, saying they would not work if the company sanctioned some employees for attending Monday's immigration rally, an official with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2 said.

... after several hours of negotiations, the two sides agreed workers wouldn't be penalized for skipping work to demonstrate against legislation that would make it a felony to illegally enter the United States.

Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush said the plant's security director called earlier Tuesday requesting help. Three officers were sent to the plant, and dozens of highway troopers assembled to handle any possible disturbance, law enforcement officials said.

Union officials said members walked off the line because they felt some workers were being unfairly punished, since Excel had stated publicly that workers wouldn't be penalized for attending the protests.

Favorite State Names

Norm has a new poll. He wants votes for our favorite names of American states. Not our favorite states, just the name. And we're supposed to send lyrics to a song (which contains state names).

It is easier than I would have thought to decide on favorites. Norm says up to five. Here's mine: Arizona, Oklahoma, Minnesota, California, and Tennessee.

This poll got me to thinking that here in Kansas and elsewhere in the Midwest it has been commonplace for a while to leave out the state name and just attach it to "America." E.g., folks and signs might say "Larned, America." There is no doubt a grammar of when and where this shortcut is appropriate, though I don't know the intricacies. It's sort of like the finger wag greeting when you meet a friend or neighbor while driving on a country road. You have to be there.

Now for the lyrics. Something old and something new.

Let's start with arguably the greatest road song ever from the pen of Bobbie Troup, Route 66

If you ever plan to motor west,
travel my way, take the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

It winds from Chicago to LA,
more than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route six-six.

Now you go through Saint Louis
Joplin, Missouri,
and Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don't forget Winona,*
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernardino.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
when you make that California trip
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on Route sixty-six.

*Winona is the only city out of order.

By the way, as Norm probably already knows. "Billy Bragg also recorded an "anglicised" version of the song called "A13 (Trunk Road to the Sea)" for a John Peel session. In the song - strummed to the same tune as the original - American place names are replaced by English ones along the route of the A13 motorway."

Now for something new. From Gretchen Wilson's second CD, a reply song to the Beach Boys song.

Well I ain't never had a problem with California
There's a lot of good women, Sacramento to Corona
But them Hollywood types, after a while wear on ya
Strutin' around in their size zeros,
Skinny little girls no meat on thier bones
Never even heard of George Jones

Ain't you glad we ain't no California girls
Ain't you glad there's still a few of us left, who know how to rock your world
Ain't afraid to eat fried chicken and dirty dance to Merle
Ain't you glad we ain't no California girls

There ain't nothing wrong with plastic surgery
Well, Dolly Parton never looked so good to me
Everybody oughta be exactly who they want to be
But that Paris Hilton gets under my skin
With her big fake smile and her painted on skin
Never had a chance at a real man

Taser Update

The young people from Hope Street Youth Development here in Wichita were on the national Fox & Friends show this morning talking about the taser issue.

Click on the link below and then on the page that appears, click on the link that says, “Cruel and Unusual”

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigration: Path to Citizenship YES, Guest Worker NO Felons NO

Big demos in Wichita and throughtout the state for immigrant rightson Monday.

Wichita Eagle featured a Survey USA poll on immigrants that showed very negative results. The poll was paid for by Channel 12.

The results may have been the result of poor design and station cheapness. (Channel 12 only asked 4 questions, stations in Denver, Phoenix and Little Rock asked 15 questions, which isn't to say that the additional questions were well forumulated

This is SurveyUSA's question

Do you support? Or do you oppose? A guest worker program that would allow undocumented immigrants to register to work legally in the United .States

Support 31%
Oppose. 62%

In contrast, the latest national Washington Post/ABC poll gave three options

Here's the question in the latest Washington Post/ABC poll.

ONE: Let immigrants who have lived here a certain number of years apply for legal status and eventually become permanent citizens if they meet specific conditions, like paying a fine and back taxes.

TWO: Let them pay a fee and work here for a limited number of years after which they'd have to leave the country.

THREE: Declare all illegal immigrants to be felons and not allow them to work here legally.

Which of these would you prefer - a program that may lead to legal status and permanent citizenship, a program allowing them to work here for a limited number of years but not remain permanently, or no temporary work program and felony status?

Program that may lead to legal status and permanent citizenship 63
Program allowing them to work here but not remain permanently 14
No temporary work program and felony status 20
None of them (vol.) 2
No opinion 1

Monday, April 10, 2006

New blogs and sites on the left

Dean Baker's Beat the Press offers commentary on economic reporting in the mainstream press.

Barbara Ehrenriech has Barbara's blog on working in America. It looks like a long blogentry or short essay every week. Sure to be worth watching.

Rick Perlstein author of Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, and the pamphletT he Stock Ticker and the Superjumbo: How the Democrats Can Once Again Become America's Dominant Political Party has a new website.

Blue Force is a mega-blog with the mission "to facilitate a progressive national security dialogue, to elect politicians with a strong, progressive perspective on national security issues, and to educate elected officials and the general public on the relationships between national security and progressive values and issues."

Blog tour

Jazz journalist David Adler is posting interesting pictures and commentary on his trip to Turkey and Iraq

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Politics of Abortion

Democrats Wedge Issue: Expand Access to Contraceptives and Sex Education

Daily Kos

The Senate Democratic leadership says it has found a wedge issue to strengthen the party's position on abortion rights, which top strategists think has become a liability in recent years.

The wedge is legislation expanding access to contraceptives and sex education, which polls show a majority of Americans support but which Democrats are betting will be difficult for social conservatives in the Republican base to accept.

Democratic strategists say the time is right for action because women who support abortion rights but are not politically engaged are alarmed by the confirmation of Samuel Alito as Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement on the Supreme Court and by the passage of legislation strictly curbing the availability of abortion there.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, the hard-right of the GOP is pushing the opposite agenda.

On Tuesday, the Kansas Board of Education will meet in Wichita to discuss a proposal to mandate nine weeks of abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum in grades six through nine.

Planned Parentood of Missouri and Kansas says "We agree that abstinence is the best method and should be the foundation of any sex ed curriculum. However, it is not a perfect world, and our young people need all the information to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies and diseases."

And, the Kansas House passed by a77-48 vote Senate Bill 528 a measure that would require.according to PP, " teachers to provide medically inaccurate information, including the misnomer that the morning-after-pill is an abortion method. In fact, emergency contraception, an FDA approved contraceptive, is simply a high dose of birth control pills."

During the debate State Representative Deena Hurst commented that it was "odd that the schools [following a new mandate by the state Board of Education] must have parents opt their children into sex education, but parentswill have to opt out of the portion required by this amendment."

Rebuttals of "The Israel Lobby"

Jeff Weintraub has compiled a very useful list of rebuttals to the "Israel Lobby" paper by two prominent "realist" academics, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt. Here's his list.

Jeffrey Herf & Andrei Markovits, Letter to the London Review of Books | LRB (Vol. 28, #7) dated April 6, 2006 [also here]

Martin Kramer, "Stephen Walt's World" | Sandstorm - March 17, 2006

Lee Smith, "A Place Called Saudi Arabia" | Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal - March 20, 2006

Richard Baehr & Ed Lasky, "Stephen Walt's War with Israel" | American Thinker - March 20, 2006

Robert Fine, "The Lobby: Mearsheimer and Walt's Conspiracy Theory" | Engage - March 21, 2006

David Hirsh, "The Blame Game" | Guardian "Comment is Free" blog - March 21, 2006

Rick Richman, "Walt, Mearsheimer, and Academic Malpractice" | Jewish Current Issues - March 22, 2006

Shalom Lappin, "More on Mearsheimer and Walt" | Normblog - March 22, 2006

Ruth R. Wisse, "Harvard attack on 'Israel lobby' is actually a targeting of American public" | Jewish World Review - March 23, 2006

Forward Editorial, "In Dark Times, Blame the Jews" | Forward - March 24, 2006

Brian Marcus, "Mearsheimer and Walt's Anti-Israel Screed: A Relentless Assault in Scholarly Guise" (ADL Analysis) | Anti-Defamation League - March 24, 2006

Ami Isseroff, "The Israel Lobby Revisited" | Zionism & Israel Web Log - March 26, 2006

Christopher Hitchens, "Overstating Jewish Power" | - March 27, 2006

Noam Chomsky, "The Israel Lobby" | ZNet - March 28, 2006

Joseph Massad, "Blaming the Lobby" | Al Ahram Weekly On-line (#787) March 23-29, 2006

Max Boot, "Policy analysis -- paranoid style" | Los Angeles Times - March 29, 2006

Richard L. Cravatts, "The Paranoid View of History Infects Harvard" | History News Network - April 3, 2006

Eliot A. Cohen, "Yes, It's Anti-Semitic" | Washington Post - April 5, 2006

Alan Dershowitz, "Debunking the Newest--and Oldest--Jewish Conspiracy: A Reply to the Mearsheimer-Walt 'Working Paper'" | Harvard Faculty Responses to KSG Working Papers - April 5, 2006

Dov Waxman, "'The Israel Lobby"--Finally a Balanced Review" | The Globalist - April 6, 2006
Dov Waxman, "The Israel Lobby--Preserving an All-Around Perspective" | The Globalist - April 7, 2006

Steven Zunes, "The US Invasion of Iraq: Not the Fault of Israel and Its Supporters" | Foreign Policy in Focus - January 4, 2006

A couple of additional rebuttals that look worthwhile to me.

Jeremy Schreiber's longish blog entry
and a follow-up

Richard L. Cravatts "The Paranoid View of History Infects Harvard" History News Network

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Jewish Abolitionist Who Fought Alongside John Brown

Becky Tanner had a nice short write-up in Monday's Wichita Eagle on August Bondi, a Jewish abolitionist who fought alongside John Brown.

A more detailed biographical sketch was presented by Jewish Currents.

David Reynolds in his outstanding biography John Brown: Abolitionist notes that the ultra-Calvinist John Brown was tolerant about everything except slavery. Another of his comrades was Aaron Dwight Stevens, a Connecticut native who had fought in the Mexican war and against Indians before deserting after coming into conflict with a harsh officer. Stevens, is described by Reynolds as a agnostic and deist, who liked to read from Paine's The Age of Reason.

Like many others of his era who rejected Christianity, he became a devot spiritualist, discovering in seances and table-rappings evidence of an afterlife. Although John Brown hated both deism and spiritualism, he prized Stevens because of his antislavery militancy. ...hatred of slavery became a higher religions that bonded Brown to a person of utterly different beliefs. (p. 194)

Bondi was not the only Jewish pioneer in frontier Kansas. There is a on-line book by Lloyd David Harris, Sod Jerusalems that recounts that forgotten history.